Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Giving Quicken a whirl...and a Book Tour!

Last month I chronicled some of the tools I use to keep track of my personal finances. I related that each of the ones I use has some shortcomings. In the comments to that post, Quicken was mentioned as a possible solution. I had also been looking for some sort of simple business software to keep track of income and expenses from another website that I maintain. Get some low-level experience at running a business, if you will. So I bought Quicken 2005 Premier Home & Business . I have never seen a product so severely ravaged by reviewers on Amazon.com. I decided to get it with an open mind and see if it could help me out.

I only had time to quickly set up the software and enter a few things. My first impressions was that this was going to take some time to get used to. Predictably, the things that would not sync up nicely with Money (my Credit Union, my TIAA-Cref retirement account) worked great with Quicken. My credit cards (CapitalOne) and my Money Market account (VirtualBank) did not have online features. I need to figure out the business side of things, though I was able to create an invoice, and even add my logo to it. I will continue to try it out. (While keeping my Money program updated and see where I decide to stay.

Book Tour

On another note, there is a new book on the market entitled Free Gulliver: Six Swift Lessons In Life Planning. Next month on April 18th, the author of the book, Tripp Friedler will be a guest on this web site. He will post an introductory comment, and then check in periodically during the next few days to respond to comments posted in response to his. It should be a great opportunity to share some knowledge and get some good information and advice.

Here's part of the introduction to the book, and I will have some more from it as we get closer to Mr Friedler's appearance.

Never Retire

by Tripp Friedler

According to older dictionaries, the definition of retire is "to put out of service, to withdraw." Anyone who has been lucky enough to retire his debt knows this and hopes it never returns. But when your old car gets retired, it doesn't move to the beach. It ends up in the salvage yard. Given the definition, most people would not like to be retired.

How is it that retirement came to be seen as such a good thing? Everyone you talk to wants to retire by the time they reach 60. This book takes a different view of retirement by starting with a very simple premise:

No one wants to retire from work they love.

Beverly Sills, who enjoyed a long and respected career as a star soprano, retired from singing to become chair of the Lincoln Center. In her early seventies she retired from that position, only to reappear six months later as chair of the Metropolitan Opera. "So I smelled the roses and developed an allergy," she told The New York Times.

Ms Sills, like most of us, did not want to be put out of service. Many people in their eighties lead productive, active lives, whether they're working or not. My grandfather died at 95 and worked until he was 92. He didn't do it for the money; he did it for the love of work.

The average age of retirement has plummeted from 70 in 1930 to 62 today. In the same time, the average American's lifespan has increased from 48 to 72. If we start working at 22, expect to retire at 60 and live to age 82, then our retirement comprises almost 27 percent of our entire lives. The implications of these statistics are serious, both personally and financially -- as well as for the national budget deficit.

We no longer worry about living long enough to enjoy our retirement. Now we worry about living so long that we run out of money. We have put a lot of pressure on ourselves to have a large nest egg ready for retirement. Out of fear, too many of stay in jobs we hate in order to save a little more. It bears repeating:

Staying in a job you hate is crazy.

Stay tuned for more to come...

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Still thinking...

Still haven't decided the best way to handle my investments. What I am doing starting immediately is to start taking $25 each week and putting it into my savings account. This way, once I decide, I'll already have a little bit set aside to start with.

It's slow, but I'm getting going. $25/week automatically going into VirtualBank, (Emergency Fund) and now $25/week going into savings, but earmarked for an investment account. I routinely pay $100 more a month on my Jeep Payment, and around $50 extra on my Credit Card.

The rest is towards bills.

I'm looking forward to the release of the upcoming book "Degunking Your Personal Finances" which will be published next month by Paraglyph Press. I hope to be able to bring you some excerpts from it fairly soon.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Investment Dummies

Another column for which I obtained the right to re-publish here.

Are You An Investment Dummy Like Me?

by: Jack Humphrey

I am good at a few things. I can certainly market well and I consult with others about how to bring more attention to their products and services on the internet for a living.

I am a fair musician. I love music and play all sorts of percussion instruments and even dabble with the guitar.

I can cook better than most guys. I can survive in the wild with nothing more than a good sharp knife.

But ask me how to best manage my investments and grow and protect my wealth, and I am like a deer staring into the headlights of oncoming traffic. Paralyzed with doubt, fear, and inexperience.

Much like my clients are when they come to me for marketing advice.

It wasn't until a new client came to me with an idea for a new book he had written on active investment strategies called "Scientific Wealth Strategies" that I realized I might not be far from figuring this whole investment and wealth protection thing out for myself.

In fact, just by consulting with him on the marketing of his book I picked up a lot of new information that has taken a grand portion of my doubts and fears away.

As I began to wrap up our contract I found I was looking more and more at the information in his book from a personal interest as a solution to my worries about whether I was doing everything right with my investments.

First thing I learned is that I was following the vast majority of others who think the same way about investing. "Throw it in something we think is safe and leave it there." And I realized that we are all being lulled into low return funds and investments masked as great returns in a bad economy.

Then I learned what I could do to take the same amount of capital I had in low return investments and actively manage it for far greater returns than what most people generally assume are the best returns you can get these days with 401ks, IRAs, and stocks.

In short, I was learning about investing on my terms. I was learning because my client, C.C. Collins, had chosen to write for people like ME instead of a bunch of learned investment "geeks."

Finally someone had written about investing strategies in a language that I could understand and about strategies I could feel comfortable in applying without feeling as though I was being a risk taker or putting my money in jeopardy.

This is no small feat. I feel most people who are like me are conservative with their investing, and don't become active in the management of their investments, because we much prefer the relative piece of mind we get from letting a "professional" handle the decisions.

Now that I feel more comfortable in the knowledge I have gained from this easy to understand yet incredibly powerful source of investment and wealth buidling knowledge, I have no doubt my investment future is much brighter and is going to bear much more fruit than the track I was on before I met C.C.!

So if you are an investment "dummy" like me, I strongly urge you to take the first step in becoming a relative investment "whiz" by checking out Scientific Wealth Strategies for yourself.

It will really empower you to take charge of your investments and push you to get more from your hard earned dollars than you are currently netting!

Scientific Wealth Strategies
eBook and Software with calculators, investment terminology definitions, and many, many more useful tools. http://wealthscientist.com

Copyright 2004 Jack Humphrey

About The Author

Jack Humphrey is the author of a popular website promotion course called Power Linking at http://power-linking-profits.com and CEO of WebFoxMedia.com http://webfoxmedia.com where he consults for companies in online marketing strategies and traffic generation.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Decisions, Decisions

I appreciate the various bits of advice and encouragement in the comments to my last post. (No Neville, I'm not sending my money to you) I looked around here and there, especially at Vanguard. That site was recommended to me in a couple of comments as well as by a friend of mine last summer. I thought I had checked it out at the time, but decided to double-check. Now I remember why I didn't do it at the time. It seems to me, maybe I'm wrong, but the minimum you can starting investing there in Mutual and Index funds is $3000.00. I don't have that in my checking account to use, and I don't want to take my emergency money and invest it all in that fashion.

I still may use Sharebuilder, if I did that, I would need to find specific stocks I want to invest in...which takes a lot of time to research everything...and I would set up a $25/week transfer to the Sharebuilder MoneyMarket account, and then, perhaps once a month I would take that $100 and invest it. That's about the best I can come up with. I think I really want to do Mutual Funds or even Exchange Traded Funds. I'm still such a dummy at this, that I can't really even tell if I can invest in those through Sharebuilder.

So I guess I'm still trying to figure out where to start.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Back in December, I took my first babysteps in the field of investing. A mere $200 in a Sharebuilder account. I think I want to do more. I can't do a whole lot, but I need to be making some of my money work harder for me. I have about $4500 sitting in my VirtualBank EMoneyMarket account, currently earning 2.57% APR. It's not bad, but it's not at the inflation rate either. The reason the money is there, is that it is my emergency fund. I need to to get a reliable return and still be easily accessible.

I'd like to do more with the Sharebuilder. Right now I send $25 a week toward to the eMM account, I'd like to send the same amount to Sharebuilder. It seems the safe thing is an Index Fund. The S&P 500, something along those lines. Would that nominal amount even do anything for me? Would I be better off taking that small amount and going for some stocks?

There are a lot of "beginners" websites out there for investing. They're still all over my head. You're supposed to "research" thoroughly any stock you invest in. How do you do this? Inquiring minds want to know simple answers. I haven't gone out and bought "Investing for complete Idiots" but I'm tempted.

What's the best resource for someone starting completely from scratch? No background. Just the facts, ma'am. Where do I turn to find a simple, easy guide for what I want to do, namely take $25 a week and put it somewhere where it generates more than the current inflation rate, so that I'm actually getting ahead a little bit?

Throw me a fricken' bone people. I'm the blogger...need the info...

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


I came across this article recently and obtained permission to re-print it here. There's nothing really profound contained within it, however I think that it contains some good overall strategy for keeping your financial life organized. (The author is from Australia, thus the usage of "organise" throughout.) It's simply a series of good reminders and and overall strategy for keeping things under control.

Make the Most of Your Money

by: Lorraine Pirihi

I'm always amazed that so many people spend most of their life at work and totally neglect their personal affairs.

Many of the business people I work with want their professional lives to be in order, and admit that their personal affairs are in chaos.

They have no systems for handling this most important area. The household paperwork is disorganised…piled up in a corner of the house…somewhere. They have no idea where they spend their money and often have no plan for their financial future.

If you do not organise your personal life, you won't have much of a future to look forward to.

Avoid the excuses that you are too tired, don't have the time, and don't know how.

Here are several tips to get you started:

Set up a filing system to store your paperwork.

File your papers in categories: Bank, Car, Children, Home, Medical, Insurance, Investment, Tax, Utilities etc.

Organise direct debits for regular bills.

Read, sort and action your snail and e-mail daily. This will avoid a big build-up.

Make a note in your diary when you need to remember to do things.

Check your bank accounts weekly via phone or the Internet to keep tabs on your money.

Allocate a particular day and time each week to review your personal affairs.

Get educated - attend seminars, read books and listen to information on wealth creation. (Our fortnightly Event Update often advertises worthwhile events that will help you). Having knowledge will make it easier to make decisions and take action.

Organising Your Financial Future

This area should be top priority. If you do nothing because it's too much effort well think about this.

What would happen if you lose your job, have an accident and receive no income for 6 months? How would you (and your family) survive financially? Do you have your insurances in order?

Where will you be in the next five years? Maybe retired and on a pension? Or perhaps you have superannuation you hope will be enough to live on? Unfortunately too many people are under false illusions about how superannuation will be the answer for a secure retirement.

Hope is not enough. You have to be pro-active and seek out people who can help you. But be careful who you take advice from and what is the motivation behind them "selling" you their ideas.

Educating yourself on how to make the most of your hard-earned money so you can create wealth should be a high priority. After all, if you're not interested in securing your financial future, who is?

The Final Word

If you take control of your personal affairs you will have peace of mind and know that you are making things happen.

I once heard someone say: Some people make things happen, others watch things happen and others wonder what happened. What do you choose to do?

About The Author

Lorraine Pirihi, principal of The Office Organiser is Australia's Personal Productivity Coach. She specialises in working with businesspeople showing them how to dramatically boost their productivity, reduce the stress and the mess in their lives and have more time for enjoying their life.


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Show me the money!

Multiple streams of income.

That's a phrase that has resonated in my head for a number of years. It's absolutely a solid idea. You have a number of sources of income coming in, and that means that if you happen to unexpectedly lose one, you have other places to turn for income.

Sounds simple in theory. Putting it to practical application in your life may well be another. Time constraints are a factor, the amount of work you have to do to generate that additional revenue may be another. The ideal is something that you set up, have very little maintenance to perform, and just sit back and collect the money. Realistic? I haven't found one yet.

I currently have two sources of income. My day job, and another website that I operate. On that site, which I prefer to keep separate from this, I don't sell anything. Revenue is generating from Google Adsense, occasional advertising from people who approach me, Amazon.com affiliate sales, and a couple PBS-style "fundraisers" that I do during the year to raise funds and reward the work I put into the site. However, this isn't close to a full-time venture, though I'd like it to be. I spend a couple hours on that site each morning, and in total bring in anywhere between $100 and $300 a month on a regular basis, but my last fundraiser brought me a significantly larger sum in one month. I didn't start out with the intention of making money from that site, it's more of a passion, a little money is a nice side benefit.

I'd like to do more. Obviously, if I lose my day job, I'm not going to be able to support myself and pay my bills based on the website. The amounts are unbalanced. I need a couple more sources of income. More websites come to mind, but you've seen my track record in updating this one, so time is a factor.

What are some ways of creating multiple income streams:

Get a second job

Create a side business that generates regular income

If you have some money, you can have income from interest, dividends and investments...

I'm stumped after that. The second one would be the most realistic for someone in my position, but I wouldn't be able to spend a whole lot time on it. Then I have to come up with the idea. If it's something I enjoy doing already, then all the better, because I'm going to keep up with it.

I'll need to think about this more.