Saturday, December 30, 2006

Stand up! (musings)

Ok stay with me for a second. There are two guys both drowning in only three feet of water. Both screaming for help. A nice bystander on the beach sees what is happening and yells back, “Stand up!” One guy puts his feet down and stands up, saving his own life, changing his future. The other guy continues to thrash about and eventually drowns, still wondering why no one came and fixed his problem for him.

That, overly simplified, is how I see people most of the time. It is not about color, money, height, weight, looks, or nationality. No, for the most part there are only two types of people; those that act upon Life and those that make excuses and wait for Life to act upon them. From the outside you can’t tell but talk to someone a little, ask a few questions, listen to them complain about their job some or talk about their future plans, and you quickly find whether they are willing to stand up or not.

If you want some glowing examples take a look through some of the post on
MSN money message boards. WOW, you quickly find examples of both. Some people post asking for advice on how to get out of a difficult situation. Tons of good people spend their good time replying to only have their advice dismissed out of hand. “I couldn’t possibly cut back on (take your pick), no a second job is impossible for me.” The excuses flow almost faster than the advice can be given. It drives me nuts. Why ask for advice if you aren’t willing to take any? “Help I’m drowning in 3 feet of water.” “Stand up!” but they won’t.

Then I come across this (
post) today. It is about some 19 year old kid going to school, working two jobs, and already looking toward his future. On the surface this seems like the type of guy that acts upon his life. The way I see it if he keeps working to impact his life and future then one day (perhaps at my age) he will realize his life is good and just the way he designed it. Good for him making the effort to stand up.

What makes someone believe they can impact their lives and someone else content to offer excuses and take whatever live gives out?

That’s it for today. Encourage and help those willing to stand up and keep an eye on your EveryDay Money.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A little extra pt. 2 (budgeting)

So here we are at the end of another month and the New Year rising fast to meet us. End of the month brings with it the ongoing cycle of bills. As I wrote in (part 1), several of my extra nickels and dimes get thrown as extra on my mortgage. It just rubs me to be in debt. Don’t get me wrong, I really like my house I just wish that ALL of it was my house. One day.

There was an interesting comment left on part 1. In short it wondered if I would not be better off to invest instead of paying extra on the house. Well I was pretty sure I knew the answer but after spending a morning with the calculator I found was wrong. It is far better, for me, to max out my ROTH than use that money as extra on the mortgage. The greatness comes in the tax free compounding. If I was putting that money somewhere that I had to pay taxes every year out of it then the benefits narrows.

It doesn’t really matter because I didn’t max out my ROTH this year. So here’s the bottom line starting in January I am shifting my primary focus to maxing my ROTH before sending extra to the house. (Mentally I am just going to have to adjust to seeing the mortgage drop slowly. I still hold out faith that I can get some extra on the house during the year. We’ll see.) I would like to take a minute and thank the person that left that comment. Your comment made me take a fresh look at the numbers; I appreciate your time in leaving the comment.

Do you max out your tax advantage accounts every year?

That’s it for today. Here’s to leaving interesting comments and to keeping an eye on your EveryDay Money.

part 1

part 3

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

CROX daydreaming (trading)

CROX at $100 or something equally eye catching was the title of a thread on one of the boards I frequent. I couldn't resist and wrote back asking what made them think that Crocs could see a $100 by year's end? Awhile later someone put forth their idea, earnings of $2.50 per and a P/E of 40. That would indeed put CROX trading at $100 by year's end. Kind of fun just entertaining such a notion.

Just thinking about that possibility got me off the track of reality and daydreaming for a bit. At a $100 per share that would more than double my investment in a year. I'll take it…if you insist. Next thing I know I am calculating dollar amounts and already picking the next great stock to roll all of that money into. If I could double my money by December 2007 then again in 2008 (surely I can pick another winner… don't you think.) I would have a big O pile by this time come 2008. Perhaps not an eye popping amount for some, but at least an eye stretching sum.

With the market being closed yesterday my daydreams ran amuck for most of the day. CROX at $100 raced around and around the track in my mind. Around and around, compounding faster and faster, I only need one great pick every year that doubles. Then my money doubles EVERY year, seven years from now I could buy a NASCAR stock car. Or anything else that is equally worthy of my investment windfall.

Well the daydream came to a close at today's…um…close. CROX traded up a half percent to finish at the grand total of $42.33 (my investment is still underwater). A long way from $100, a long way from doubling my money every year for the next 7 years. But, the New Year hasn't even officially begun yet.

Have you ever caught yourself daydreaming about how a stock pick might turn out?

That's it for today. Focus on today, dream about tomorrow and keep an eye on your EveryDay Money.

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Patience with Sandisk (trading)

I have no idea where my patience has gone. When I bought my first stock and enrolled in their DRIP I knew, deep down, I was in for the long haul. Now I get impatient if a stock pick drags on for more than a month or two. I have set this money aside to trade with and I want my picks to move. October 30th, that is when I first pushed money into Sandisk. Since then it has fallen steadily, mocking me and burning holes in my money and patience. I try to remember that 2 months isn’t all that long to wait. It is hard, at least for me. Just a few days ago I was ready to throw in the towel but have been dragging my feet since then.

With CES (Consumer Electronic Show) right around the corner and earnings release shortly after that I feel I should wait and see. It is just that being under water makes my mind and patience do crazy things. It isn’t the market makers or the institutions or even the shorts that I battle. No, for me the greatest battle is mostly with myself. The next few weeks should tell the tale. If we can’t get a move up going into and shortly after earnings then all this waiting will be in vain and I will have to admit the mistake by taking a realized lose.

How much patience do you have with stocks that are under water?

That’s it for today. May your blessings be many and your patience great during this holiday time. Speak kindly and keep an eye on your EveryDay Money.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Car insurance (budgeting)

Received my auto insurance bill yesterday. Like clock work it shows every six months rain or shine. Thought maybe it would get held up in the snow at Denver’s airport. Nope. So I will fork over my money and hope that I get nothing in return for it. Over the years of driving I have gotten a small return on my money; three stolen radios and a crash that I walked away from. All of them covered. “Here take my money and I don’t want to talk to you for another six months.” We can only hope. That and watch for those freaking deer that always seem to want to play tag.

Anyway, the one thing that my company does that I like is it gives a discount for paying in full as opposed to making payments. I called them today and asked if there was a set percent that people saved by paying in full? After the customer service guy spoke with someone else I was told that the saving percent ranged form 8-13% depending on “factors”. I am happy to report that my “factors” put me on the 13% end. Of course that is not the only reason I went with this company, they also offered the best rates for us. Out of curiosity and because I was writing this today, I called a few other insurance companies this morning. Not one that I called offered a discount for paying in full. What they did have was a fee if you chose to make payments. The bottom line, for those of you following along at home is there is money to be saved if you pay the bill in full. So stick it on a line in your budget, stack it up over 6 months and save a little.

Doing the research this morning I also found out there are discounts that can lower the cost of auto insurance that I hadn’t thought of before. Edmunds has some information about how you might lower your insurance. Check (here) for the article. I also found the government no less has compiled 9 steps you can take to get better rates. At the end of the 9 steps they also provide a cool check list to have out when you are getting a quote. Government’s article (here).

With a little effort you may be able to save some real money. We did, when we switched companies and asked about every discount that we could think of. Don’t forget the money you save can go directly to paying down debt, fully funding a ROTH, or even the occasional dinner out with the wife. (Oh, that last one is just a little reminder to myself... sorry.)

What discounts does your insurance company give you?

That’s it for today. Always ask about the discounts and always keep an eye on your EveryDay Money.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Coupon time (budgeting)

76%. That is the percent of the population that are using coupons according to Promotion Marketing Association (PMA). PMA has a great coupon info site (here). Sad to say I was not one of those 76% till I got married. Talk about wasting money… the coupons not the marriage. Now we use coupons as much as we can, mostly on food. Again PMA has a stat for the food coupons. They report that on average people save 11.5% on their grocery bill. We are close to that, we save about 8-10% each week on food. That 8-10% turns into real money by the end of the month.

To do even better my wife trades coupons with another lady at work. Trading this way we get extra coupons that we actually want without having to buy an extra Sunday paper.

What I really want to know is where do these people shop? I rarely see people with coupons at the checkout. I do see signs of them, an extra coupon left behind on a shelf for someone else to claim. The first time I saw my wife leave a coupon I was lost. We didn’t need it and it was close to expiration was the reason she gave me. At the time I thought it odd. Now I pay more attention to the shelves and every so often I see an extra coupon just sitting there on the shelf. No doubt left by one of those 76% people. If you aren’t doing coupons you should. There is money to be saved. So grab a Sunday paper, clip a couple and join the majority.

Do you leave extra coupons you don’t need on shelves?

That’s it for today. Whoever left that yogurt coupon last week, Thanks. Keep an eye on your EveryDay Money.

CROX update (trading)

Just sold January $45 calls on half of my CROX stock. I saw the stock jump up this morning and felt like I need to do something. The Jan. $45 calls were sold for $1.40 per. Truth be told I am looking for them not to be called away come January. They expire January 19th and earnings release will be after that at the end of the month (I think). If they do get called away I figure I will make around 8% on that half of my position in two months. That is fine with me. Still think that the stock will move up after we get the new numbers. I just didn’t feel like sitting on it while it trades sideways for another month. The call premiums from today more than off sets the margin interest for the next month.

Do you use covered calls on any of your holdings?

More later

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Paint drying (trading)

Finally I got a whole day off during the week. I planned to watch the market all day. Call me a little money nerd, I’m fine with that. At work I don’t get to see the numbers much. There have been times I have gotten home to find a big move, up or down, and wonder what happened. Not today. This morning I got up about an hour before the market opened, flipped on the computer, got a big glass of Dr. Pepper and settled in. I spent some time looking at to see if there was anything interesting going on. Spent some time getting caught up on what was being debated on the boards, but mostly just killed time till the opening bell. Truth be told I was looking for something, anything I owned to have a big day. No particular reason I just thought it would be a nice way to fully enjoy my day off.

So what happened today? Nothing. SNDK closed down a few cents (nothing new there) on near anorexic volume. Still dragging my feet. And CROX was just as lackluster to watch. CROX traded in a near perfect flat line pretty much all day. Look at today’s chart, around 1:00 p.m. it looks like someone else got tired of watching too. They hooked up one of those medical defibrillators and tried to shock the crap out of the stock. No luck. All said and done only about half of the 3 month average daily volume traded today.
The good news is I got a day off. The bad news is the market was like watching paint dry.

Given the chance would you watch your stocks for much of the day?

That’s it for today. Here’s to tomorrow being entertaining and I won’t get to watch much. Remember watch the market when you can and keep an eye on your EveryDay Money.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Freebies (budgeting)

There’s money to be made, well gift cards anyway, for merely managing your money well. I have always tried to pay my credit cards off every month. My Mom told me when I first got one, at 18, it would keep me from getting “out of control”. Over the years I have had to carry a balance a few times, but for the most part I do as my Mom told me. Until about two years ago that money management didn’t get me anything.

A little over two years ago I took another hard look at rewards programs from the credit card companies. I had looked at them before and knew that lots of them had some kind of yearly fee. I had crunched the numbers and figured it wouldn’t be worth it if they had a fee. Times change. This time around after some hunting and research I found one that didn’t have a yearly fee. (There are several programs now that don’t charge a fee, if you just look.) The program is simple; I charge stuff to the card and collect points. The points accumulate till I have enough to exchange for a gift card. I can get a gift card to a variety of stores. In order for this to work and get me more than some lousy $10 gift card every year I have to charge everything. The “pros” tell you that this “charge everything mentality” is a sure fire way to lose control of your money and your mind. Charging McDonald’s… naughty naughty. I paid them no mind and set about charging groceries to auto insurance in an attempt to rake up points. And it has worked.

My wife and I have decided to use the gift cards on things that will last for awhile (no dinners out). The first year it was a digital camera and rechargeable batteries she wanted. I had to throw in $12 and the rest was gift cards. She was happy. There’s a great return on my twelve dollars. We are now saving points for a camcorder.

None of my friends are doing this. Many are still trying to get their money to what they want it to do (for some of them it is like herding cats). About the time I am feeling that we are the only ones doing this crazy gift card chase I hit upon an article the other day. Come to find out there are lots of people with this idea, so many in fact that it got a write up on MSN Money. (here’s the link) The lady that put her remodeling on her credit card takes the cake. I am thinking she has complete control of her money. Pulling this to a close I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the benefits don’t work out very well if you are carrying a balance and paying interest. If you are not, look around, there are rewards for good money management just waiting for you.

Do you participate in a credit card rewards program? How is it working for you?

That’s it for today. Here’s to free money. Keep watch over your charge slips and an eye on your EveryDay Money.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Dragging my feet (trading)

So I have been dragging my feet on selling Sandisk. Last week I was looking for the towel and today I sit with the stock still. You never can predict luck. This morning the company announces that they are buying back $300 million of stock. Some analyst says he thinks they can beat estimates coming up and like that the stock is off and running yet again. One part of my brain says, "stick with the plan and sell. Take the loss and move on. You are down enough and that is the smart thing to do." While the other half of my brain is screaming, "the quarter’s numbers will be great, end of January, sell now and you will be watching it climb all through February." And in the mist of those two competing voices the margin interest keeps a humming its own little tune.

All said and done if I wait and cash out at $45.73 I pretty much break even. That is if we get to $45.73. The only thing I would lose is a few pennies of margin interest and two months of time. Anything over $45.73 is some kind of profit. The problem is that I don’t have hard and fast trading rules. I know, I know, all the books say you are supposed to have rules. After all that is how the “pros” do it. There in lies the problem; I am just your average guy battling my own fear and greed demons.

If I am right and this stock buy back plan puts a floor under the stock we should move up from here going into the earnings announcement. If the earnings and gross margins are good then Sandisk continues to climb into February. Maybe. If the numbers are bad or even mediocre then everyone says, “I told you so”. If that happens then $44 won’t even be a bus stop on the express way to the $30’s. Maybe. All I need from here is a little over 4% to the good and I could get out without a loss and watch it all play out from the sidelines. The problem with that is I have found the view is never as good or as rewarding when you are on the outside looking in. So for now I am still dragging my feet on selling. Peering out from the inside at those on the outside watching that have nothing at risk.

Do you have and follow hard and fast rules with your trading?

That’s it for today. Here’s to being part of the game. Take a risk and keep your eye on your EveryDay Money.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

What’s in a name? (investing)

American Express (AXP) has been a part of my long term holdings for over 15 years. It has done me well over the years. From the beginning I have had their anorexic dividend reinvested through their DRIP. It is tiny but every little bit helps over the years.

Thursday last, AXP jumped up over 3%. Rumors that Citi Bank maybe looking to buy AXP was suggested as the main driving force for the upward move. I don’t really know, but it is nice to see AXP over $60 per. I just feel a little better when my stocks go up. The reason I’m not more excited is that I have heard this tune before. It seems every so often for the past few years some “pro” starts talking about how great a “fit” AXP would be with (your bank of choice). Nothing has happened yet. Citi and American Express have no comment right now. I think that is what AXP said last time the rumors started.

Let’s say for argument’s sake this time is different, Citi does buy American Express. Two things come to mind quickly. What would they use as a name for the new company? The American Express name is worth its weight in gold, at least I think it is. It would make me a little sad, after all these years, to see the name erased from the corporate landscape. The other thing is would Citi make a cash offer or would we receive Citi stock? I already own a bank and not really sure if I want my money tied up in two.

It is all speculation anyway right now. If I had to guess probability, this Sunday afternoon, it would be less than 20% chance that Citi throws money on the table. Now if come Monday morning Citi announces an offer in that $75 - $100 share range we will know I was wrong. Wrong and a few dollars better off than I was at Friday’s close.

That’s it for today, good luck during the new trading week. And as always keep an eye on your EveryDay Money.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

DRIP DRIP (investing)

You put a bucket under a steady drip and in time the bucket gets full. Give it a little more time and it overflows. This is precisely the idea behind Dividend Reinvestment Plans (DRIPs). Those smallish dividend checks that we don’t seem to really know what to do with now have a purpose. Many companies offer the chance to reinvest those checks back into fractional shares. Your dividends buy more shares, which throw off more dividends, which buys more shares… DRIP DRIP DRIP.

Make no mistake; these plans work best over the long haul. I have had a couple of my DRIPs for over 10 years and counting. With DRIPs and a long term view you will see the market different, at least I do. You may even catch yourself looking for the stock to drop some so your dividends will buy you even more shares. The natural ups and downs of the market becomes an advantage over the long run. Your checks buy more when the stock is down and less when the stock is up allowing you to average a good buy price.

Companies that have a strong track record of paying dividends are good places to start looking. You also want companies whose payout ratio is not super high. If the payout ratio is high then they may be using all of the profits to pay dividends instead of using the money to grow the business. Ideally you want a company that is still growing, it doesn't need to have rocketing growth. This growth allows them to not only pay consistently but also increase the size of the dividend, yearly would be nice. Think bigger and bigger drops in the bucket.

A few companies that pop into my head are MO, XOM, GE, and PG. (The fine print: these are ideas only; please do your own homework, make your own decisions, and take responsibility for the good and bad things that result.) Here are some of the companies that mange all the paperwork and details of the DRIP programs for many companies (a place to start).,
Bank of New York, and Mellon Investor.

Remember the sooner you get your bucket under the DRIPs the quicker it will get full and start overflowing.

That’s it for today. Have patience with the DRIPs and keep an eye on your EveryDay Money.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Flashbacks (trading)

As I thought, option expiration day draws to a close and I still have all of my CROX and SNDK. I am down dollars on both positions and ready to make adjustments. SNDK is already on the delete list. I am looking to get out next week, take my modest loss and move on.

Crocs is a little different story. For the past month CROX has shown all the consistency of the girl I dated, long ago, in high school. One day things could not get better and the next she would turn into this chaotic, irrational energy that threatened to propel us both into the abyss. Watching CROX race up yesterday and then drop over 3% today I’ve had all too vivid flashbacks.

Unlike the old girlfriend, my desire to hold Crocs has not changed. I just have decided that with its little tantrums, that always cost me money, I am no longer willing to hold shares that are on margin. Between the banging of the ups and downs and the margin interest clanging everyday it is like insanity in stereo some days. So I will trim down ever so slightly and hold CROX free and clear and wait to see if she can grow up a little. The next few quarters hold great promise, unlike the High School romance I hope Crocs can deliver.

That’s it for today. Here’s to rolling with the punches. Keep your hands up and one eye on your EveryDay Money.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Coming expiration (trading)

So… around 10:00 am my time (11:00 am market time) I don’t see much to get excited about. From the look of it, I figured, today may shape up to be like yesterday. A little underwelmed was one way I would describe how I was feel this morning. In between work, I get a quick look in the afternoon. $44 plus. Hitting refresh was the first thing I did thinking my browser must have a glitch. Nope. Seems that a bunch of good reports came out and some other companies reported solid numbers and everyone came a running dollars in hand. A fat 2.57% up for the day, worth getting out of bed for.

With today’s run being called out tomorrow on my December $45s is now a real possibility. Maybe not a great chance but a greater chance than there was yesterday. If I get called out that would cut my position in Crocs in half. Not sure how I feel about that right now. If half gets called away I don’t plan on writing covered calls on the remaining shares. Continued growth; that is what I am still betting on going into the New Year. The new spring line has made me believe the company understands the need to diversify its product line look and appeal. Building a brand is never an easy thing to do and I am willing to give this management some more time to see how they do.

If half of my stock becomes cash going into next week I am not sure where I would put it next. Unfortunately a few days ago when I mentioned Garmin I didn’t have the reach to get a few shares. Now with them sitting $53.44 I’ll wait. But it won’t really matter unless CROX finishes tomorrow over $45.

That’s it for today. For those of you sitting with options hope tomorrow goes the way you need it. Remember to keep an eye on your EveryDay Money.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Fired up (musings)

There are the longs, the shorts, the ones trying to spin people up, and occasionally your ordinary idiot. Stock message boards attract them all. The two key traits seem to be passion and intensity. Nothing gets the blood flowing and the fingers typing like making or losing money and on the boards you have both in quantity everyday. Threads range from the inane to stock analysis that will equal any the “pros” put out.

With so many threads going in so many directions it may seem better and safer (to the ego) to just watch. Don’t! It isn’t double dutch jump rope; there is no “good” place to jump in. Just jump. Be prepared to take your knocks (there’s usually is no shortage of people ready to take a poke at you, no matter how great your post). Have a thick skin, a sense of humor, and some passion. Ask some questions, answer some back, try calling a bottom or a top, take sides, and have some fun with it.

Watching people surf is nice, catching a big wave is better. Before you go to bed tonight find a board and post something, anything. Let me know how it goes.

That’s it for today. Here’s to wanting everyone involved. Between posting and reading keep an eye on your EveryDay Money.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Where did I put that towel? (trading)

So… I’ve slept on it and then watched as Sandisk continued to throw off money again today. It is all but a done deal that my December covered calls will expire this Friday without anyone wanting to give me $50 per share. Too bad, at $50 per share I was going to throw in a big Thank You card, a cleverly wrapped box of chocolates, and a music playing Christmas card.

In all seriousness, I feel the odds of making money on this stock, near term, going against me. I feel there is something I am missing or not understanding about something going on with this stock / company. That is not a position that I want to still be in come earnings time. I will be looking to unwind my position in the coming days, take my lumps and move on to the next opportunity.

Just writing this is aggravating. For me making a bad call is like taking a UFC elbow to my brain and confidence. The money loss is just a (BEEP BEEP BLEEPING) exclamation point on the whole thing. A not so subtle reminder to do better next time. I’ll let you know how it unwinds.

That’s it today. Here’s to taking the medicine and getting better. Keep an eye on your Everyday Money

Monday, December 11, 2006

Concerned (trading)

With the 2% drop today I am officially concerned about this stock. The January 50’s call prices are getting bad and I am starting to think of outs. This week looks like it will pass with SNDK under $50. I will still have the stock next week and need to decide whether to try and wring out some more nickels and dimes by writing January covered calls or just throw in the towel. Can’t really say right now which way I will fall. I try and not make any big decision after a down day without first sleeping on it.

That’s it for today. Here’s to everyone holding stocks that let them sleep well. Sleep tight and remember to keep an eye on your EveryDay Money.

Just looking... Thanks (trading)

Garmin LTD (GRMN) still pops up on my radar every few days. I had some Oct $47.50s covered calls get called away and still keep an eye on it. Today Soleil upgraded them from Hold to Buy. The company is solid, makes cool stuff that more and more people seem to think is a necessity. Their products are everywhere from airplanes to people’s pockets. The problem, and this has happen more than I care to think about, is lack of available funds right this minute. My whole trading account and margin too is tied to CROX and SNDK.

But let us pretend for a minute that I have room for another stock. Because the other two are taking longer to work out than planed I would see GRMN as a short term play. (Give me my money and let me go back to worrying about SNDK.) Covered calls would be my vehicle of choice for this play. Here’s one scenario: Close today was $50.25. A buy at that price and writing Jan $52.50 covered calls for about $1.60. I would fully expect (and hoping) to get called out come January. $2.25 price appreciation plus $1.60 premium is $3.85. That is around a 7.6% return for less than 40 days, not counting margin interest and commissions. If I didn’t get called it would still give me a shade over 3%. The 3% is enough to cover the margin interest and I would still be holding a stock that I like.

Ideally I would like GRMN at a price south of $50 and would be ready to wait a few days for that chance. This stock seems to rock up and down. I’m pretty sure I would be forgoing some upside by letting the stock go at $52.50 but for a quick short term play I’ll take 7.6% for 40 days. Thoughts and ideas welcomed.

This is just me thinking out loud. Please do your own research and take responsibility for the good and bad things that happen in your life.

More later.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Rolling along (trading)

Friday Heelys Inc (HLYS) started trading. Like other IPOs that I didn’t invest in they started sprinting right out of the gate. After being priced at $21 the day before they traded as high as $38.75 and closed at $32.60. If it wasn’t for my money in CROX and Heelys being debated about on the CROX boards I don’t even know if I would have looked at this company. One. That is the total number of kids I have seen around here that have had these shoes. But I will give Heelys this; their sales have been rocketing the past two years. Being in Middle America it just might take a bit for the craze to get to us.

As a rule I don’t do IPOs, scared I guess. Too often with the IPOs I can’t find enough information to allow me to invest and be able to sleep well. Since I have a job other than picking stocks sleep is important. I saw Google below $100 and passed, with hindsight 20/20 I think we all know that that pass was costly. First few months of an IPO still seems too much like lottery tickets and I told my Mom long ago that I wouldn’t waste my money on such things. Putting money into CROX, going on a month ago, is as close as I have been to an IPO. When I started it was nothing but big, old, dividend payers. Look at me now, years later, money pushed into CROX, which doesn’t even have its baby teeth. Progress?

In closing let me add my two cents into the Heelys / Crocs debate / comparisons. There isn’t one past the fact they are both a kind of footwear company. Crocs is already expanding their line of offerings. The new Spring ling is a long way from the fun loving clogs of the past summers and should help drive sales going into next summer. The Heelys product line is limited to variations of the same design. My opinion is that if Heelys doesn’t come up with another type of shoe then their market is limited. Your guess is as good as or better than mine on how limited that market will end up being. Don’t get me wrong money will be made on HLYS stock. Those that got shares at $21 must be feeling pretty smart right now. I just feel the growth of Heelys will slow sooner and with more suddenness than Crocs. With both stocks throwing around a P/E in the 30’s growth is what we are all paying for. That growth slows and so does that P/E.

As Sergeant Phil Esterhaus used to remind all of us,
“Let’s be careful out there.”

That’s it for today. Here’s hoping you have a good start to the trading week. And as always keep your eye on your EveryDay Money.

Crocs Spring line pics (trading)

Here is a link (Crocs Spring line) to the new Crocs shoes for the Spring and Summer. Good to see the company expanding the look of their offerings. I think that these will attract an even wider range of customers and should help keep sales strong. But will it keep sales strong enough to move the stock up and pacify the nay sayers? Only time will tell. Let me know what you think about the new looks.

More later.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Buffett way (musings)

So I DVRed this profile on Warren Buffett last night. I have read several books and articles about him and his investing style. I have seen him on 30 seconds sound bites but never in an extended interview. This show was an hour. Most of the interview took place in Omaha with Mr. Buffett driving the reporter around showing off his fair city talking about a wide range of topics.

He drives himself, still lives in the same house he bought 40 some years ago, eats cheeseburgers, takes time out of his day for visiting college kids, and has a good sense of humor. You would think an old man worth billions would have a well groomed driver, personal secretary following him around managing his every minute and like muscle bound ex-Navy SEALs type for bodyguards. Nope.

As the hour came to a close two things kept racing around my head. 1) Mr. Buffett found something he loved to do first then the money followed and flowed. There is a lesson there somewhere. 2) How would serious money change me?

Let’s say we aren’t kidding ourselves and the investments and trading we do eventually makes us some money, money. Would our wealth change us? And if so how?

Many people would love to be able to invest like Mr. Buffett and have the same results as he. For me, after watching that show the thing that I wish and hope to do just like him is to be able to remain myself. I want to get to his age, with my piles of money, and have a long ago friend walk up and say, “Damn. You got old. But you ain’t changed a bit.”

That’s it for today. May we each find a little bit of the Buffett way in ourselves. While we are looking remember to keep your eye on your EveryDay Money.

Building blocks (investing)

Picked up a good book from the library the other day,
“Building Wealth with Dividend Stocks”. The book is not a nail biting page turner but well worth the read. This is more of your foundation type book. The book walks you through how to pick solid companies with growing dividends. There is also a nice section on DRIPs (dividend reinvestment plans), how they work and the long term benefit of being involved with a good one. In the back of the book is a huge listing of companies that offer DRIPs to their shareholders. The list makes getting started a snap. It provides web addresses, summary of the DRIP plan, and even a phone number to the company. If you are new to investing or just want to get some consistent pieces in place before short term trading then spend sometime with this book. I admit, I had a little smile as I scanned down the list of top quality companies and realized that I had DRIPs with some of them. I make all my own decisions after my own research, and take full responsibility for the ups and downs. But, it is still nice every now and then to see someone else agreeing with those picks. If you get a chance to take a look at it the author’s name is Joseph R. Tigue.

More later

Friday, December 08, 2006

Got a dime? (trading)

The idea seems simple enough, borrow money from your brokerage costing X percent in interest and then buy stock returning Y percent. The difference between Y and X is pure profit. By doing this the returns on an account can get a good size boost. The small print: your loan is secured by the value of your stock. The value drops below a certain point and either the stock gets sold out from under you or you have to put more of your money into the account to offset the decline in stock price. Caution! Any bad trades you make the losses will be magnified by use of margin loans.

I have been buying stock on margin for awhile now. Day in and day out the value of my account ticks up and down. The loan amount sits right above my current value and remains steady day after day. A nice, red, steadfast reminder that my picks and decisions need to be right. In the back of my mind I can hear the interest stacking up day after day.

I will admit that using margin over the years has helped my returns. It has also upped the stress level a notch at times. I try not to overreach. I always leave a good cushion percent wise so that I can suffer a drop and not face a margin call. (Margin calls are when your stock is sold for you or its pony up some more cash time, depends on your broker.) I have yet to have to deal with a margin call. Knock on wood.

Some of my SNDK and CROX were bought on margin. So as the stock prices bounce around the one constant to my day it that the interest bill is still clicking upward.

Click the comment link and let me know if you do or do not trade on margin and what you think about it. I am always interested in hearing other’s take on things.

That’s it for today. With the interest meter running here’s a reminder to keep your eye on your EveryDay Money.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Good foundations

Before I start I want to give a nod to the Pearl Harbor boys getting together, perhaps for the last time. Deepest thanks to you and all the ones that wear the uniform THEN and NOW.

It is again today, with CROX and SNDK falling off the table that I am reminded why you don’t trade with your retirement money. That and how much I like the steadiness of dividend reinvestment programs.

I would urge everyone to look into creating a solid foundation of top mutual funds and dividend reinvestment programs before going off and trading stocks. And if you still have a balance on your credit cards… I would fix that before playing in the Street. Don’t get me wrong I really like trading and the research and the ups and downs and trying new strategies and well all of it. But I don’t think I would enjoy it as much if I hadn’t first strung a safety net. I was told and stick with one simple reminder:
“Don’t push any money into the market that you aren’t totally ok with it disappearing… forever.”

If you need ideas take a look at the post Do you Roth?” Do a search on index mutual funds, dividend reinvestment programs, and ROTH IRAs. That should get you started. I’ll be doing a more in-depth piece on dividend reinvestment soon (it is the get rich slowly theory).

Trust me, build that solid money foundation so when you have a SNDK fall 3% from under your feet in a day it will be easier to remember the sky really isn’t falling.

That’s it for today, here’s to hoping you always remember Enron, until tomorrow keep your eye on your EveryDay Money.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

When it rains it pours (trading)

Today it rained buckets of goodness as both my SNDK and CROX took off running. My confidence was climbing with every tandem up tick. I will admit my excitement was somewhat tempered by the memory of yesterday (see A kick in the teeth). But still by the end of the day Sandisk’s 3%, that’s a nice fat 3%, rise on good volume was a really nice sight to see. Almost Pavlov like I see green and feel smart. When the numbers turn red I feel dumb. Maybe it’s only me?

I would like to send out a big Thank You to all that watched the ticks, fingers crossed, this whole day while I worked. Your positive thoughts and mojo directed at Sandisk (SNDK) did not go unnoticed. With that said it does make me wonder where all of you were yesterday?

As for Crocs (CROX) they finished a nice 1.70% up ($43.05). It was reported that they introduced their Spring line-up at some conference thing yesterday. I still haven’t been able to find pictures of the new shoes. With half of my shares having Dec. 45s calls sold against them (see Ugly Shoes) I am starting to think I might lose them next Friday. Not sure how I feel about that possibility right now.

That’s it for today. Here’s good luck to all of you trying to get ahead tomorrow. Until then keep your eye on your
EveryDay Money.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A kick in the teeth (trading)

So… I sat and watched as the rocket ship took off this morning. Sandisk (SNDK) was racing up on good volume faster than the closet longs could get to their keyboards and post the
“I told you so”s on the boards.

As the stock and volume continued to rise I started running numbers as visions of a Money Christmas danced in my head. If this go go feeling stayed for a couple of days then, hey, I might actually get called out on my Dec 50s. Then what am I going to do? If it pulls up slightly under $50 by next Friday then the 52.50s or 55s calls of January may be good to sell. And I could make even more money. (Never a bad thing) Work beckoned and I had to push away from the computer and the party going on throughout the message boards. Funny how being right is contagious. For the rest of my day I walked with that little spring in my step. You know the one, the one that comes from being up nicely at the start of your day. (Don’t tell me I am the only one that gets that bounce?)

Finally, I got to check back towards the close. And like that… my air of a good day was kicked out of me. When I left this morning we were closing in on $46.50 up 3 some percent and cruising. At the close THAT stock sat at $45.23. Crap! Screw work. I should have kept watching. My watching was the driving force this morning; I was THE good luck charm. (I am not the only one that has had those thoughts run through their head … am I?) I have been trying to look on the bright side, and just be happy with a positive close. But I can’t. Giving up almost all of this morning’s gains is just a kick in the teeth. Crap!

That’s it for tonight. Here’s to tomorrow being another day. Until then keep your eye on your EveryDay Money

p.s. don't forget to throw your vote in the poll (Hang On) Thanks

Monday, December 04, 2006

Green is good (trading)

What a nice close today to see SNDK and CROX both in the green. Perhaps Mom was right about playing nice with others (see Momma said… & pound of sorry entries for the beginning of that story).

Volume wasn’t that terrific for CROX today, but still an up day is an up day. I think, for the record, that with the large amounts that institutions hold and all the shares that are shorted we will not see much of anything in either direction until some kind of sales numbers are reported. Or at least leaked.

Nobody really knows which way this is going to go yet. We are all just trying to guess right. I am still holding long thinking positive things about positive numbers. Just guessing again, I think the deal with the University Crocs will far out strip the Disney deal at least in the U.S. Overseas I give the edge to the Disney Crocs.

A reminder to cast your vote in the poll (Hang On)

That’s it for today. Here’s to seeing another up day tomorrow. Until then keep your eye on your EveryDay Money.

Oh... you mean that drug. (Investing)

So how is that one drug? Which one? The new cholesterol one in clinicals. Which? The one you guys have pumped $800 Million into. What one? The one replacing Lipitor as it gets closer to patent expiration. Oh… that drug. We had to pull it today. It was… killing too many people.

With the report of Pfizer (PFE) pulling Torcetrapib shares fell off the table just as soon as trading started today. Here’s one for the WOW category; 3 month average shares traded is a shade over 32 million. Shares traded today… just shy of 290 million… WOW!!

Pfizer’s troubles are out there for you to find during your DD. The big ones are patent expirations the next few years (going to hurt a lot.) And the pipeline seems to be a little thin in the blockbuster category. But still I wonder? Could the new few weeks be a great time in history to try and catch this falling knife? The company is slashing people and expenses as I type. The dividend stands around 3.5% with today’s closing price. Pfizer also has a good dividend reinvestment program. If I was sitting on a stack of dimes I didn’t know what to do with and plenty of time. I would have to think about it. It would have to be strictly long term time horizon and making use of the dividend reinvestment program. Makes one at least pause and think. And thinking if never a bad thing.

What do you think?

More later.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A little extra (budgeting)

I blinked and November left me. It is the dawning of a new month and a new set of bills. The mortgage is still one that I write out by hand, no online banking for the house. Again this month we decided to send in a few extra nickels and dimes. Every little bit extra sent in goes straight to principal and pays the loan off earlier than designed.

Depending on your interest rate, I have read just one extra payment a year (13 instead of 12) gets your loan finished about 7 years early. That early finish saves you thousands of dollars in interest. Send in more and it goes away even faster. A side note. I have had friends ask me my feeling toward the bi-monthly payment programs that basically works out to an extra payment a year it is just someone else managing the effort. As Nancy Reagan once said, “Just say no.” Most of these programs charge some kind of fee. If you just send in extra every month on your own you accomplish the exact same thing only there is NO fee. (Check with you loan provider to see if you have to specify that the extra is to be applied on the principal or not.)

Sending in a little extra gives me a little feeling every month of goodness, of controlling my money and future. That’s why I still put it on a check. I like to see the extra in writing on paper. I joke with my wife that one day we are going to wake-up and there won’t be a house payment. I create grand ideas of what we will spend all that money on when we don’t have a house payment down the road. Those little visions keep me motivated every month. So again this month licking the envelope I thought the same thing as months past, here’s a little extra and one more step toward freedom.

Click comments and let me know if you do or don’t send in any extra and why?

That’s it for today. Remember; happen to things instead of always letting things happen to you. And as always keep your eye on your EveryDay Money.

part 2

part 3

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Baby Gear (budgeting)

So with a baby due in March I thought back in September we should get started buying baby stuff in order to be able to space out the outflow of money. So with the stride of a new Daddy to be I strolled into Babies “R” Us hand in hand with her. I couldn’t believe all the cool stuff they had and I couldn’t believe how much stuff matched. You can get a high chair, stroller, diaper bag, car seat, and Pack-N-Play all the same color pattern. WOW! As we walked around looking at all the miniature stuff (clothing, toys, beds) something else struck me, harder than the color scheme, and that was the prices. WOW!

We talked about all the stuff we needed to get by March and decided that there had to be a better more cost efficient way, at least for us. Garage Sales were the ticket. Let me tell you upfront it takes loads of time and lots of visits and drive bys of worthless sales to find those unbelievable bargains. The kind of deal that when you get in the car and look at each other and you bust out laughing because you got such a great deal. Besides the hours we spent driving around and talking about our future and the baby’s future, well I’m not sure how to put a dollar figure on the time.

But find great deals we did. A Graco stroller (little scuffed but not bad) $7. An almost new Graco Pack-N-Play for $20. Nice 6 speed Graco swing for $20. Two exersaucers, one for $6 and the other for $1, both usable. There’s more but you get the picture. I figured everything we found at garage sales compared to retail saved us about $700 or more.

Here’s my thinking about our baby not having new and matching stuff. If I invest $700 and get a 10% return then in 18 years that’s $3,891.94. In twenty-two years it is $5,698.19. In 30 years the $700 becomes $12,214.58. I told my wife we could give her $3,900 for graduation or $5,700 for college graduation or $12,200 when she turns 30 for a house down payment. With that in mind hopefully she will forgive the scuffs on the stroller. Drop me a comment if you have ever found a great deal on something at a garage sale.

That’s it for today. Focus on what’s truly important and keep your eye on your EveryDay Money

Friday, December 01, 2006

A few pounds of sorry

My Mom always told me to play nice with the other kids and not say bad things about them. Yesterday I took a poke at the Nollenberger Capital analyst and his Buy rating (see yesterday's Momma said... post.) It was all in fun, but like my Mom used to tell me, “What goes around, comes around.” She was right. I made fun of his Buy rating last night and today CROX falls off the cliff. (2.82% DOWN)

So here goes. Nollenberger Guy I’m sorry for suggesting that your Buy rating caused our beloved company to finish in the red yesterday.

Now with that settled I am fairly certain that we will be on the positive side come Monday’s close. Sleep tight longs.

That’s it for today. Play nice with others and keep your eye on your EveryDay Money.

P.S. Don’t forget to give your vote on the poll (Hang On) a couple of posts down from here. Thanks.

A few ounces of hope (trading)

Back to back days in the green for SNDK. Today was a squeaker but it held. Perhaps the bottom is in and it is up from here. The cost of flash drives is nose-diving and it seems everyone (including me) is wondering how it will affect the bottom line. I figure Sandisk is the dominant player and can take the thinning margins, not sure if the smaller companies can?

Lots of hope is placed on the semi new U3 flash drives. These drives are not just storage on the go. They can let you tote around secure software applications, literally, in the palm of your hand. Fascinating. The future so bright I gotta wear shades. (Oh man... am I that old to make that reference? Anyway.) Check it here (U3) if you are interested.

After two green days I am back to looking down the road. If the stock can continue to rise and doesn’t get called away in a couple of weeks, because of the December 50’s covered calls, then I am thinking about writing January $52.50’s if I can get a good price. I am thinking $52.50’s because I want a little more room for it to run but still a little hedge with the covered calls.

Do you own a flash drive? Sandisk or other brand?

More later.

Hang on (Poll closed)

Here's how it came out on this vote. 36% of people said they usally hold on to a stock less than a month. 36% report they hold less than a year. And 27% tend to be buy and hold thinkers. I have no idea where the other 1% went to. Thanks to everyone that voted.


Thursday, November 30, 2006

Momma said there'll be days like this

When the market finally closed and the last blinking numbers came across the ticker I wonder if the Nollenberger Capital guy thought he might have trouble hitting water if he were to fall out of a boat? This Nollenberger Capital guy initiated coverage on the shoe guys (CROX) today with a BUY rating to start. Does the market give this guy any love? Nope. CROX closes in the RED. Although in fairness it was down only .69% and on volume less than their 3 month average. But still, it was a BUY rating. Momma said there’ll be days like this… I can hear tonight’s dinner conversation already:

Wife: “Hi honey. How was your day?

Nollenberger Guy: “Well, I started coverage on the company that makes those shoes you like so much. Started them with a BUY rating.”

Wife: “That’s great! Those shoes are so comfortable. You know they come with Disney characters now right? Well anyway what did everyone think about your BUY rating?”

Nollenberger Guy: “The market said, “Shut-up!”

That's it for today. Nollenberger guy keep your head up there is alway tomorrow. Until then keep your eye on your EverDay Money

Duck and covered calls

So I have never dabbled in options before now. From what I have read trading options is a gold brick road to riches… if you are right in your trades or guesses. If you aren’t then you can disappear a pile of cash in a blink of both eyes. That being said I have found a more conservative use of them that seems to fit me better.

Can’t even tell you how I first heard about covered calls a few months back. They have been there the whole time just for some reason I haven’t really looked into them until now. From what I have read and understand selling covered calls can get you some money coming in right now. That is never a bad thing the way I see it. The downside is that your upside is limited to the strike price. Which in a nutshell means you pick a winner it takes off galloping past the strike price then you miss all the money above the strike price. This is the part that stresses me some.

I am always looking for an edge and new trading strategies are fun to read about even if later I decide they aren’t for me. But with covered calls (CCs) I thought that it would be worth the effort. I was looking to do one strike price out of the money and one month out. With price increase plus the premium I wanted to find trades that would give me 3%-5% for the month’s time. Sounds good don’t you think?

In August I did September CCs for Best Buy (BBY) and Starbucks (SBUX). Both got called out and the stock price continued to go up. Made money but missed some upside. In September I wrote EBay (EBAY) and Garmin (GRMN) both called out and the stock continued to rise. But still made money and still missed some. In October it was Yahoo (YHOO), Advance Micro Devices (AMD), and Sandisk (SNDK). Yahoo was called away. AMD was not and I sold the stock shortly after because I didn’t think the following options premiums were that great. SNDK didn’t get called. (See Batting Single A for the first chapter of what so far is a less than happy X-mas story.)

I have decided to stay with covered calls for at least awhile longer and try to give the strategy a fair shake to see what I can do with it. I have eased up a bit and don’t have CCs on everything now. Only half of my Crocs (CROX) have contracts on them. (See Ugly Shoes for the start of that story. Which may or may not turn into a best seller?)

More later.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

X-mas day (trading)

SNDK red 2.32%, CROX green 1.53%. With these one up one down red and green days I don’t know how to feel at the end. This is not the first time they have gone in opposite direction. Red and Green what am I freaking Santa.

Microsoft reported that they now have 9% of market with their ZUNE. (What is this pick a product name by committee?) With their 9% that puts them in the number 2 spot ahead of Sandisk MP3 players. Is that why they continued to fall today? Some on the boards seem to think that is it. Well it was that or simply SNDK is the worst company ever. I would like to think today was more of the first and less of the second. I am glad that my retirement and life style doesn’t ride on the nickels and dimes that I have in this account. Knowing that, it is fun and interesting to watch (all be it painful at times). I am not ready to let it go, at least not yet. Have been looking at the Jan. options already. The plan right now is to sell covered calls again in December to generate a little money coming in. I’ll let your know. And now the GREEN ( yea!)

CROX, my ugly shoe guys bounced a little today. I am not even going to hazard a guess as to why. Some bodies somewhere bought shares and some bodies sold shares and when all was said and done today it was up 1.53%. Good. If they could get back to $45+ and I was called out in Dec. (on half of my position) I would be fine with it. Average price for me is $44.26. I received $1.60 for the calls. If called out in December then .74 + $1.60 = $2.34 divide by $44.26 give me 5.28% return on half of my position for what 25 days. I’ll take that. See I am so much more positive when talking about green stocks. On green Days I almost have that winning stock picker swagger. It is just these freaking X-mas days that my emotions get whipsawed.

That’s it for today, may more of your days than not be Green. And keep you eye on your EveryDay Money

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Ugly Shoes

I admit it I was seduced by the story (it is a great build your own company, create your own destiny type of story) and the sales growth is something just shy of straight up. Plus I see tons of them on people’s feet.

Crocs (CROX) has had stellar growth since coming public this year. I stayed out even as the stock doubled. When it hit $50 a share I was thinking Holy Cow!! The pull back to the $45’s, I thought, offered a good entry point.
Bought some at $45.50 (11-20-06) I know, the day before insider lockup expired. Not one of my greater decisions. The next day it started dropping and when it hit $42.95 I doubled my position on margin this time no less. I thought of all those on the message boards screaming about one trick ponies, fads, and catching falling knives. Well I was a little gun shy so I sold some covered calls on half of my position (Dec 45’s @ $1.60) Still think that was a good idea.

Yesterday I watched as the market sold off and my SNDK took a real big hit and my ugly shoes drifted lower. Today CROX comes back a little and SNDK drops more. Now the head games start. How far do I let either one of them go? Buy back the options and sell the stock? Admit a mistake? Hang on write some covered calls in Dec. that way I at least have some money coming in? The mind does crazy things when you’re bleeding money. I’ll let you know.

That’s it for today keep your eye on your EveryDay Money

Monday, November 27, 2006

batting single A

Well with SanDisk (SNDK) taking almost a 5% hit today it is hard to think my picking it anything but a mistake. Of course if it had GAINED 5% today, instead, I would be thinking, “… I knew it, never had a doubt.” And there in lies the rub. Today was a little confusing to watch. The CEO had nice things to say about the company this past weekend. Then boom! Red numbers today that trickled lower as the day wore on.
Perhaps I should start back a bit.

I poked at Sandisk (SNDK) at the end of Oct. (10-30-06). Pushed the chips in at $48.20 and knew almost immediately that it was going against me. Looked at the numbers again (P/E, sales, cash flow, the usual suspects) and still thought the company worth my dollars. Instead of selling out I wrote Nov. 50’s covered call options at $1.25 that same day. I then spent the next few weeks watching it drift downward. November expiration came and went and I still had the stock all be it underwater. Not ready to call it a mistake I wrote the Dec. 50’s at $1.35 on 11-20-06. The stock has been treading water in the 47’s most of the time, until today. I wait and watch as the Dec. expiration draws closer. Some days I rationalize the buy and the covered calls were the smart thing and other days (like today) I feel like I stepped on a landmine.

The difference between the “pros” and the others is the ability to take small losses and move on. (Read that somewhere) The way I change my mind on whether this was a good or bad trade and hang on to it in the mean time makes it look like I will be batting single A for awhile longer. Stay tuned I’ll let you know how it all works out. Maybe tomorrow I will tell you about buying Crocs (CROX) on margin and still hanging on to that too.

That’s it for today. Keep your eye on your EveryDay Money

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Do you ROTH??

ROTH!!! So now it has finally hit me that tax FREE is tax FREE forever. And that boys and girls is a great thing. Funny how as I get older the idea of death and taxes seems.. I don't know what the word is?? REAL.

$4k is what can be thrown into an account this year and everything that it earns is tax FREE when you start to take it out. There are some strings about age and income levels and such… so read up before you put money anywhere.

But really folks if it is inertia keeping you from reading and learning and then investing read up. There are about a million web sites that can point you in the right direction. My only desire today is merely to light that fire. Did you learn something new today? If not then the ROTH IRA basics would be a good trade of your minutes. The new knowledge could be worth thousands down the road.

That's it for today. As always, keep your eyes on your Everyday Money.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Are we all doomed??

Read another retirement nightmare article this morning. If you are between 35-44 there is a 50% chance you don't even have 25 grand set aside for retirement. Sad. Have no idea what this really means down the road but it can't be good. What do you think is going to happen to all these people if they really don't have money down the road? I for one am trying to save now and hope to be off the treadmill at around 55. That would be grand. Do what I want, when I want and damn the Man. For all you out there that have your big butt parked in front of that BIG screen TV that isn't paid for yet, I say this; "Get off you butt and save some money. Don't expect your kids or your government to keep you afloat in your golden years."
That is it for today. Keep your eye on your everyday money

Saturday, April 29, 2006


It is so easy, it seems, to lose sight of good things we already have. Well, lose sight is perhaps a bad choice of phrase. Re-value (is that even a real phrase?) would be more descriptive of the feelings flowing through my head a few weeks ago. Routinely my wife and I go for walks in the evening. We try to walk together at least once a week. The walking is not so much exercise but rather a way to spend time together and share ideas. There are times when there is everything to discuss and others when a setting sun gobbles up all the words and treats us to a quiet, free nature’s painting.

The other day, to be different, we walked around the neighborhood across the street. How easy it is to get caught up re-valuing what you own. All of those houses have three car garages, mine has two. All those houses have professional landscaping, ours has a single starter tree and some purple and some white flowers my wife planted. I am sure if I looked they all have four bedrooms and finished basements. Our house has three and exposed concrete and insulation in the basement.

Funny how in the time it takes for a brief walk I can go from being totally great with my house to feeling that it is the “small” one in the area. It did flash through my mind as I walked, “what can I buy to make my house look and be better?” I re-valued for the rest of the walk back. That night I resisted running out and buying something “well deserved”. For the next few nights I thought about what I should buy so my house could “compete” a little better against surrounding houses.

Finally after a few days I stopped contemplating and returned to the thinking I had a year ago when we first moved into the house. I like the home, I like the yard, I like the neighborhood, and above all I love who I am living with. Let others compete against that.

That is it for today. Keep the re-valuing to a minimum, and keep an eye on your EveryDay Money.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Money Books I

If you haven’t taken a look at Dave Ramsey’s book “The Total Money Makeover” then you need to. Even if you have your financial life in order it is still a good read. Throughout the book there are stories from real people that are “getting it done”. Some of these people have pulled themselves out from under a truckload of debt. If these stories can’t get you pumped up about fixing your own money life then you may already be too far gone. The ideas are neither totally new nor particularly hard to understand. Some may say just common sense advice.

Another good guidebook I have read lately is “The Automatic Millionaire” by David Bach. Another straight forward easy to read and understand money book. The main idea that I got out of reading both books is spend less than you make. After that there are ideas and advice on what to do next and how better to utilize money but is still comes back to the spending.

Why do you think so many people screw up their money when there are good money books aplenty? Is it a lack of intelligence? Or is it a problem of focus, discipline, desire to get it all under control? Perhaps a better question is do they know their money life is screwed up? When exactly does a drowning man know for sure he is drowning? Let your thoughts be known, anonymous or by name. I would also like to hear if you have read these books or know of others that are worth sitting down and reading.

That’s it for today. Keep an eye on your EveryDay Money

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Mortgage free?

Quick question: Is being mortgage free a realistic goal?

I am sure you have heard the idea, pay an extra monthly payment once a year and you drop like 5 years off your mortgage. Go really wild and you can get it done in 15 years. Push really hard and it is 7 years. But is that realistic? I read an article that says the average credit card balance for those that have a balance is like 9 thousand. If we can’t even get a hold of our credit cards balances do we really have a hope of being mortgage free? Well mortgage free before we turn 90. So what do you think? Mortgage free a reality? Are you trying to get yours done before the stated term? If so how quick of a goal do you have?
For me the answers are: yes, yes, 6 years total.

That’s it for today. Keep an eye on your EveryDay Money.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Paying for Credit Cards

So I get this very nice envelope in the mail the other day. And inside this very nice envelope is a very nice letter telling me that because of my years of customer loyalty that I have been pre-approved for no-other than a (or should I say) no-other than THE gold card. The first year totally free. I looked closely at the fine fine fine print and after the first year THE card was going to cost me… like 9 million dollars just to have in my pocket. My shredder got an early evening snack.

Folks, People, Smart guys and gals… STOP!! If you are paying any dollar amount every year merely to have the card. Well that behavior (not you personally) is stupid. There are like hundreds of cards that cost you nothing. And if you are good and pay what you owe every month then it is stupid (behavior not you :-) ) not to have a cash back or rewards card making you money every month. With our rewards card that earned us gift certifs my wife now has a digital camera and rechargeable batteries all for a grand price of $10 out of pocket.

Short answer:
1) Don’t pay to have a card
2) Pay your balance off every month
3) Get a good rewards or cash back card
4) Make money off your spending.

That is it for today. Keep an eye on your EveryDay Money

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Check cashing

Welcome to EveryDay Money,
Let me jump right in from the beginning. People, me included, do some of the dumbest things with money. If we can minimize the number of stupid things that we do with our money, then we may find that we can simply do more things with our money.

Hmm.. Perhaps I should stop, jump halfway back out and mention a few things first. I am NOT a professional money person, any and all information, pictures, ideas, stories, mistakes of the dollar, clever thoughts or usage of same are not meant to solicit, force, demand, you to buy, subscribe, read, think or ponder your EveryDay Money. Make no money or life decisions without first being ready to take responsibility of said decisions. If you do any of these things, let’s see, it is because you are a free thinking responsible human being. In short reading, thinking, doing is your own responsibility and can not be delegated or transferred to another every time you screw up.

Back in we go. The other day I am standing in line in the lobby of Bank of America waiting to cash a small check. I was in Bank of America because they have my small account, so I bring them my small checks to cash. They are happy, I am happy. So, I am standing there in line, two people behind me was this young man about 18-19 years old. He too had check in hand. Come to think about it the guy behind me also had a check. Perhaps a trend for that day? As it would happen we all get to the counter within second of each other. I have one on each side of me. My BOA lady takes my check and is using the drive-up computer on the other side so I have a minute. The kid beside me is cashing an AMC theater payroll check. (Sound travels in a quiet bank.) I am thinking good for him, has a job and everything. (I always try to applaud those that can work and do, beats those that can and won’t.) The lady asked him if he has an account. No. (What! A job and no savings account... say it ain’t so. Hasn’t your mother ever told you… perhaps not?) The nice lady informs him that since he doesn’t have an account it will COST him $5 to cash his check. He replies, “No problem.” He says no problem to someone taking $5 of his money for a 2 minute conversation. Interesting. Stay with me here: Pay check every two weeks (I am guessing, I know nothing about AMC theaters besides they are big and evening shows cost enough that they should come with an autograph of every actor in the movie. Free.)

Cost of cashing check: $5. Cost of two cashing per month: $10. Cost of cashing 12 months in a year: $120. $120 of his money in the bank’s pockets at year’s end: price…. Oh! Can’t say that, lawsuits and all. Anyway, I submit $120 a year to cash checks is stupid. I know of at least two banks and there may be more around here that $100 will open a basic savings account, no fees. Cost of cashing checks Zero, interest on the $100 in the account something greater than Zero.
Teach your children better. That’s it for this one.

Keep a close eye on your EveryDay Money.