Thursday, December 31, 2009

Netflix Online Review

Our new Blu-Ray has a very nice feature that should allow us to save some of money. Through the internet, it allows us to download movies directly to our television. It was a breeze to hookup (wired) and works like a top.

With it, we would have very little need for movie channels.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Don’t Forget Investment Income!

With both stock and bond prices rising, investors are in a good mood. Indeed, many of us have recovered most of our losses from last year's crash. Although increasing values is part of that recovery, investment income (dividends and interest income) is an important factor in that recovery.

Let's say you have $100,000 invested in a balanced portfolio of stock and bond funds. If that portfolio throws off 3% of its value in dividend and income, it is generating an average of $250 per month for you. In bear markets, it protects you from losses. In bull markets, it provides you with a nice kicker.

Our strategy: Income from mutual funds is reinvested in the fund automatically. For stock and ETF dividends, we are reinvesting the income in a Fidelity Target date fund.

Save Taxes – Live a few more days?

According to the Wall Street Journal, sick and elderly are literally holding on for dear life to avoid the estate (aka the Death) tax. Amazing.

Rich Cling to Life to Beat Tax Man


Nothing's certain except death and taxes -- but a temporary lapse in the estate tax is causing a few wealthy Americans to try to bend those rules.

Starting Jan. 1, the estate tax -- which can erase nearly half of a wealthy person's estate -- goes away for a year. For families facing end-of-life decisions in the immediate future, the change is making one of life's most trying episodes only more complex.

"I have two clients on life support, and the families are struggling with whether to continue heroic measures for a few more days," says Joshua Rubenstein, a lawyer with Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP in New York. "Do they want to live for the rest of their lives having made serious medical decisions based on estate-tax law?"

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Investment Strategy - 2010

In preparation for next year, I am doing the following with our investment funds:

  1. Dumping our Ginnie Mae bond fund. With their long duration, Ginnie Mae's will get killed when rates rise.
  2. For 2010, I am reallocating "new" 401k away from large caps investments to international and small cap funds.

Friday, December 25, 2009

PPV – How much for HD?

Rather than spend $24+food to see a movie, we decided to get a movie on PPV.

Regular Price = $4

HD Version = $6

Although it is only $2 more, that $2 represents a 50% markup. Since it wasn't an action movie, we decided for low-D.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Madoff Assaulted

There is a Santa Clause. Bernie Madoff was beaten up in prison.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

ObamaCare – Taxes for Everyone

If there really are 30 million uninsured people who will gain coverage under ObamaCare, it is going to cost the US taxpayers a ton of money. The attached link indicates 10 New Taxes we will face.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sad – Open for X-Mas Day

After spending a good hour shoveling the driveway, my wife and I went to a local restaurant for a hot breakfast. While the food is good, let's just say it is is not high class. It is a classic Greasy Spoon.

As we walked in, my wife and I noticed a sign indicating they were open on Christmas Day. Heck, even Denny's closes for Christmas Day. It made us both sad that the restaurant would feel the need to open on Christmas Day.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Prepaid Wireless – Good Value

If you do not use the web or need a fancy phone, check out pre-paid wireless options. IMHO - they are a valid option for the following groups of people:

  1. People with bad credit. For them, it may be the only option.
  2. People with low usage. Combined, my parents do not burn through 200 minutes per month. For them, it is an emergency phone.
  3. Tiger Woods – had he used a "burner" phone, he might have avoided a lot of pain.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Free Coin Counting – TD Bank

Although we use ING Direct for most banking purposes, we maintain a relationship with TD Bank in order to have access to local, branch banking. In addition to rebating any ATM fees, they have taken customer service to another level.

  1. My branch is open 7 days per week.
  2. They have a machine in the lobby that counts coins for free. As a result, I do not have to roll my change anymore. They even offer this service for people who are not bank customers.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

175sqf Apartment - $150K?

Today's NY Post has a fascinating story about a couple who purchased a 175 square foot apartment in NYC for $150,000. In addition to the purchase price, they have to pay $700 per month in maintenance (For people who have never lived in NYC, the "Maintenance" fee includes taxes, heat, the doorman, etc.) . While not in a horrible neighborhood, Morningside Heights is not exactly the best neighborhood either.

Having had a chance to read the story, I think their solution to living in the city is ingenious (if crazy). For example, they don't keep work clothes at their home. They keep them at various dry cleaners and pick them up on the way there. Because they never cook (very common in NYC), they are not paying for kitchen space they never use. While I don't believe they can live as a couple like that indefinitely, I think they have made a good investment because the Columbia University is located in Morningside Heights. If they need to , they should be able to rent out the apartment for much more than their maintenance fee.