Financial Samurai Guest Posts For Wise Bread!

My Victory Sign

My Victory Sign

One of the main reasons why I returned my Macbook was because I failed to get published on Wise Bread before my return policy ran out.  I figured why not have this goal in order to justify spending such a large some of money?  After all, a writer needs his tools!  Well, I’m excited to announce that my guest article on Wise Bread is now live!  Better late than never.

Please enjoy reading: “Knowing When To Walk Away – Financial Planning For An Unknown Ending”

A snippet: “People have a notion that they must amass a certain amount of money, no matter how long it takes, before they can retire. But what if it took you 40 years of work to reach $1 million, and the very next year you died?”

A special thanks to Senior Writer Linsey Knerl at Wise Bread for accepting my guest post submission and taking the time to edit.  Linsey was always so responsive, even in the wee hours of night when I was pounding away and asking her questions.  Thanks for the support Linsey.  You rock!

Please follow me and Oprah over at Twitter @FinancialSamurai.  It’s getting addicting!

Keigu,

Financial Samurai

“Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”

Laptop Returned, Money Saved, Old Computer Optimized!

Goodbye my pretty.

Goodbye My Precious!

After much debate, I walked over to the Apple store and returned my oh so sweet Macbook Pro.  Today was the last day until the return policy expired.  I actually felt a little bit sad, because I got to see the laptop when the store clerked cut open the sticker to make sure I wasn’t returning a couple cement blocks instead.  My reasoning to return were quite simple:

  1. No reasonable bids came in for my 8GB, iPod touch for $199 because the day after Apple stopped their promotion of a free iPod with every Macbook purchase, they lowered their price from $239 to $199!  I didn’t change my pricing until the second week, and by that time, it was a little too late to negotiate.
  2. My guest post failed to get published within two weeks at this large personal finance site.  I made a submission with outline, thesis, and bio which was immediately responded to and accepted the very next day.  Several hours were spent writing 1,350 words, as well as several more hours revising.  Although they have confirmed receipt of my 2nd draft, it’s still in the queue.  At least I got a nice $10 gift card at Amazon! :)
  3. My cash flow cannot afford $1,465 for September because a $1,700 bill is coming due for a couple airlines tickets purchased at the end of August.  I try to only buy stuff through cash flow, and never touch savings, otherwise how will I ever build a big enough nut for retirement?  Going into revolving credit card debt is NOT an option and never will be!
  4. I made a promise not to buy anything in September and feel guilty breaking a promise.  With only 6 more days left to go for the month, I need……… to……. stand…….. strong……… and fight the spending addiction!  I wonder if this is how a recovering addict feels, where every day of non-use, and in my case non-spend, is a victory?  It feels good to go 24 days in a row without buying anything other than food!
  5. Finally, my wife actually fixed my old iBook G4!  Its speed is as good as new thanks to several updates and clean ups.  Too bad the battery life only lasts 25 minutes now.

Zillow Says I’m $400,000 Wealthier! Why Net Worth Is Rubbish

Primary Residence Zestimate

Primary Residence Zestimate

To prove our point regarding “Your Net Worth Is An Illusion” I took a look at Zillow’s latest zestimates of my primary residence and rental property.  Apparently, in a span of 3 months, my primary residence gained a whopping $300,000! I’m popping open a bottle of  Crystal, buying a rose gold Patek Philippe Calatrava at Tiffany’s, and ordering the Audi R8 on as we speak.  Just kidding, especially since September is frugality month. Besides, Zillow isn’t writing me a check for $300,000!

The dollar sign shows the purchase price after a 4 month escrow that began in late 2004.  In other words, the purchase price was $250,000 below what the zestimate measured as fair value in the middle of winter.  You’d think that after 4+ years of existence, Zillow’s price algorithms would be more refined.  Perhaps the data is legit, but I’m not buying it. Since net worth calculations don’t include one’s primary residence, let’s strike this example and look at a rental property.

Your Net Worth Is An Illusion, Sorry To Spoil Your Delusion!

Net Worth IllusionUnless your house is fully paid for, and unless you can access your retirement accounts today, your net worth is an illusion.  Although we’ve recovered quite a long way over the past 18 months, I don’t think we can really count on property, stocks, and private equity investments to be there when we need them.  The recent market volatility reminds us to get realistic!

The only thing we can really count on is cold, hard cash.  I find it very misleading, as well as a little disingenuous that some say they are millionaires, when 70% of their net worth is tied up in an illiquid asset called “home equity.” Your home is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it.  Even your 401K and IRA are suspect because those accounts can easily collapse.

A TYPICAL ASSET SIDE OF A NET WORTH CALCULATION:

Fortunes, Fortunes, Everywhere!

Back in 2002, the Oakland longshoremen went on strike because they were against new technology which could cut their jobs.  The issue was quite contentious, and it was a matter of “national security” the union get back to work according to many politicians.  What I remember most clearly, however, were salary figures that just boggled my mind.

According to widely spread documentation at the time, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) required their longshoremen to work no longer than 35 hours a week.  Furthermore, it was cited that the average income for an Oakland longshoreman was between $100,000-$120,000, with many senior employees earning $160,-190,000.  When I read the news, it was about 8pm and I had been in the office since 5:45am.  For that one day, I dreamt I was a longshoreman.

HOW DOES MAKING $229,000 A YEAR SOUND, RETIRED?

Mea Culpa – I Just Spent $1,450 At The Apple Store

The Apple IIc!

The Apple IIc!

Despite making a promise on August 31st to buy nothing this September, I broke down and bought a 13-inch Apple Macbook Pro yesterday.  You see, I was tempted by two things.  1) Apple’s promotion of getting a free $230 i-Touch with every notebook purchase, and 2) Steve Jobs is back in  San Francisco this week to address new product launches!

EXCUSES

  • I have been looking for a new laptop for two years now given my current 12″ i-Book is a hand me down from my wife.   It’s got only 512megs of RAM, a 20 gig hard drive, a sticky space bar, and is slower than a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter!
  • My wife, on the otherhand, has a shiny 1-year old Macbook I bought her for Christmas.  Clearly, I am a little bit envious.
  • I walked down aisle 7 at Walgreens and a Loreal shampoo bottle told me, “Because you’re worth it!”
  • Nobody really buys me anything for my birthday and the holidays except for my wife.  I take it back.  My mom got me a nifty plastic cube with a clam in it last winter.  I think she found it in an old cubbard.  So who’s going to buy me anything?  Cue the violins!
  • Furthermore, $1,450 really isn’t $1,450 once I get my $230 rebate in the mail for my i-Touch.  I can then sell the darn thing on Craigslist for $199 and bring my total outlay down to $1,051!
  • Besides, how am I supposed to be a prolific personal finance writer on such old equipment anyway?  I can barely do any editing on my 12-inch screen.  Oh, the justifications of spending come spouting out now, and I can’t help it.

Revenge of The Nerds: Golf & Tennis Are #1!

According to Harris Interactive,  the most popular male athlete in America is Tiger Woods, and the most popular female athlete is Serena Williams.  This got me thinking…. hmmmm, America is absolutely obsessed with football, baseball, and basketball and yet golf and tennis are #1!  Since High School, the stereotype has always been that nerds played golf and tennis, and jocks played the other sports.  So, what’s up with this latest poll?

The Financial Samurai theory:

* Whoever controls the most amount of money is the most influential, and therefore, the most popular.   The reason why Tiger Woods makes $100 million a year is because he generates billions in incremental revenue.  Since nerds by definition get better grades,  they may go to better schools  and get better paying jobs.  Therefore, their chances of making more money increases.  More nerds play golf and tennis, and therefore spend more on those sports.