Wedding Gifts

I have wedding for a friend to go to tomorrow. My girlfriend and I are both going. Usually I spend around $40-$50 on a gift when I go solo. However, since we are both going I plan on spending around $100. Seeing as I am the last minute type, tomorrow we are going to purchase the gift. I haven't really thought about what to get this couple. I have known both of them for quite awhile, but they are one of those couple that have everything.

One thing I won't do is purchase something just because it is on their wedding gift registry. In fact, I don't even know what stores they are registered at. I've always been a person to put thought into a gift of what someone would really want. For instance, the last couple I purchased a gift for I ended up purchasing a gift card at the apple store because I knew they were going to buy a computer soon and also knew that they were most likely going to purchase a Mac. Even though I didn't know where they were going to purchase it, I knew that some money at this store would make them pretty happy and I figured they could always buy some accessory or software when they do buy the computer. I later found out that the bride and groom loved their gift!

So what to get them? I better figure this out soon!

What do you spend on a wedding gift? Am I too cheap?


What I Want for the Holidays...Yeah Right!

It's here. The Neiman Marcus Christmas book is out for 2005! What a special Christmas it could be if someone would buy me a private concert by Elton John for $1.5 million dollars! It would be for a good cause to raise money for Sir Elton John's AIDS Foundation, and I would get to keep a signed, special edition Piano as well. Please hurry there is only one concert being sold, buy it for me now!

Give me a break. Whoever buys this, should get to have Sir Elton John be their butler for a year. Heck, I would be someone's butler for $1.5 million. Any takers?

More Bad News About Credit Cards

According to an AP article, the percentage of credit cards that are 30 or more days past due climbed to an all-time high of 4.81 percent in the April-to-June period. Analysts mostly blamed high prices for gasoline and other energy products, but said savings and higher borrowing costs also played a role.

More great news from the article:

"The personal savings rate dipped to a record low of negative 0.6 percent in July. The negative percentage means that people did not have enough left over after paying their taxes to cover all of their spending in July. As a result, they dipped into savings to cover the shortfall. When people have less money available to pay for energy costs or emergencies such as a big car repair, many resort to credit."

Besides education, how can we make better spenders so that these numbers start going in opposite directions?


Mad Money Challenge - Stock Picking Game

Here's something interesting from the Cramer Camp, a Mad Money Challenge fictional stock picking game to take place from October to December. I've got to admit his marketing "squad" is pretty good. Imagine all the data of the show's fans they will have after all of them sign up for this game. Can you say "opt-out"?

I'm not reversing what I've already said about Jim and his show, however these games can be fun for the passive and boring long-term investor. I had to play one of these in an Investing class in college. While I didn't win the highest return in the 3 months during the course. I can say that I was up over 200%, when I went back five years later and looked up the portfolio on Yahoo! Finance that I created to track my investments (considering only that I purchased 1 share of each stock). I should go back and check to see where I would be today!

UPDATE 10/05/05: The Mad Money Challenge starts tomorrow!!

Wealthy Blogger Disappears?

There was some news about a month ago about the team who wrote for Wealthy Blogger and their decision to sell the blog. The sale of Wealthy Blogger took place at the Sitepoint forums. The original announcement was made by one of the bloggers at his site. This was very big news (it sold for $2000) and was the talk over part of the blogosphere.

For about 3 weeks the site was never updated and many of the comment sections were filled with spam. I decided to stop by today and check it out and all I got to see was a nice teal screen that said "There is no website configured at this address". One of the great tools they had on this site was a financial blog aggregator which seems to be history now!!!

What a waste of money for the buyer...

UPDATE: There is a new screen mentioning that WP is not installed. I assume that's Word Press and it's not installed on their new host. Anyways, I still think this guy is losing a lot by buying a blog and having it disappear for over a month. Not very prudent if you ask me.

Carnival of Personal Finance #15

This week's Carnival of Personal Finance is up at Free Money Finance

Check out all the good submissions, including mine which is first (early bird, gets the worm!).

Thanks for hosting this week FMF!


Good Savers, Bad Investment Choices

Found an article titled, Living on the Edge over at Money Magazine online. While this couple have become very good savers, more than 70% of their money is in high-risk emerging market ETFs and their only child's college funds. are in one volatile ETF.

This goes to show you that one can have all the discipline to save, but if you aren't investing it properly you could be in real serious trouble. Asset Allocation is sooo important!


Oooh....Look at the Pretty Colors

Gotta love pretty things that help explain something important!! Below is a picture of the Callan Period Table of Investment Returns:
Download the Callan Period Table of Investment Returns (85-04) here

This chart clearly shows that the what asset class leads in percentage return one year, is not necessarily going to lead the market the next. It supports the academic financial publications that say 90-92% of a portfolios returns are generated by being diversified in different asset classes. So if you own a group of asset classes you are protecting yourself and mitigating downside risk of a particular asset class.

U2 is the Bomb!

I had the opportunity to see one of the best bands of my time. Yep, that's right I went to the U2 concert last night (thanks Sis!)

I have liked U2's music for quite awhile now and this was the first time I was able to see them in concert. Usually, I am a cheapo when it comes to concerts. I would rather not pay high ticket prices to go see a band, usually no matter who it is. However, these were at face value and in my opinion U2 ranks easily in the top 3 bands of my time. So what did this splurge cost me:

$108.00 for a pair of tix
$13 for parking
$6 for a six pack of beer to tailgate (split with girlfriend...I didn't want to pay the rip-off price inside too many times!)
$28 for 4 beers (yes, you read that right, $7.00 a piece, of which I had two)
$35 for U2 t-shirt (come on it was my first U2 concert!)
$190 total for two.....OUCH!

All in all this hurt the wallet, but it was one of those great experiences in life. We even had cool people sitting next to us...Andrew W. and Liz were having a blast as well, especially since Andrew got to hear the two main songs he wanted to hear (Sunday Bloody Sunday and One)!

So who goes to a plethora of concerts and who is a lot like me and doesn't? Speak yo mind!


Why Take a Cab?

For those of you folks who don't live in a major metropolitian city, either be thankful and laugh at us or don't read on...

My girlfriend and I go out about once a week. Not that we go out to expensive restaurants all of the time, but we may walk to a bookstore, the lake, a street festival, or a restaurant for dinner. This is great when the location of these destinations are a six block walk or under and my girlfriend does not have to get dressed up (like she would if going out to dinner or out for a couple of drinks with friends).

However, when she gets dressed up she always requests to take a cab from where we live...even if it is a 4 block walk. It happened this past weekend and of course, I said "what the heck, can't you buy shoes that look good when you are dressed up and are also COMFORTABLE to walk in (and stand in!)." Then she pouted at me, explaining that once in awhile she wants to "dress to impress" and go out, which includes wearing high heels. She insisted we take a cab and I wanted to walk 5 blocks to the El (elevated train, read: subway). Parking was not an option. Taking a cab would have run us about $10 bucks. However, if we walked to the El it would have cost us $3.50!!! So we negotiated (I would like to say I won, but she wouldn't let me get away with that!), and took a bus that stops right outside my building for 5 blocks and then got on the El. The additional jaunt on the bus is considered a transfer so it only added 50 cents, which brought our one way traveling cost to $4.

So we saved roughly $14, by taking the bus and an El to the restaurant and then reversing it on the way home. This doesn't seem to be an abnormal choice either, as there were a lot of people dressed up to go out on the El. Imagine the savings if 2 times a month we went to places that we could not walk to. Oh wait, I don't have to imagine...I just have to open the calculator and punch in the numbers.....$336.

By the way, we went to Rock Bottom Brewery, they have quite a few locations throughout the nation, and their Rocktoberfest special brew (brewed onsite) was absolutely splendid! The food is very good for the price as well. We ended up meeting a group for 8 and had a great time.


Crappy TV -- Jim Cramer's Mad Money -- Let's Turn It OFF!

One thing wrong with our consumer driven society is the crap on TV, including Jim Cramer's Mad Money and the Keeping up with the Jones' shows like, The Fabulous life of...on VH1.

Where I'm coming from
Our consumer driven society's current saving level is the lowest since the government began recording this number in 1959, while the national consumer credit outstanding revolving (credit card) debt is up to $806 billion as of June 2005. It is absolutely sickening to see facts such as these and then consider the consumer driven garbage that is on television. What about shows that could teach us the value of the basics of personal finance, not the buy/sell opinion of a TV personality?

Is it TV in general or just shows like this?
I'm sure we can all come up with TV shows that are not financially prudent to watch. I think we also all know that advertisements are the biggest offender! If instead of watching TV and advertisements, we spent our time reading books on our hobbies, personal finance, or even great literary works I think our world would be better off. With regards to TV, for now I'd like to focus on Mad Money, Jim Cramer and the ill effects of active trading and preaching to to a world-wide audience.

Me vs. Jim Cramer
Perhaps, Jim Cramer ran a hedge fund and has other "Wall Street" experience, but I really think it's bad TV for the general public to watch TV shows like Mad Money. According to what I've found, Cramer worked at Goldman Sachs and then formed Cramer & Co., a hedge fund in 1987. "After a stellar 2000, Mr. Cramer's fund finished up the year +36% vs. -11% for the S&P and -6% for the Dow Industries. Mr. Cramer decided it was time to get out and he now devotes all his attention to TheStreet.com" and his TV show on CNBC, Mad Money. Yes, he also did graduate Harvard and Harvard Law School. This brings me to some questions I would like to answer:

Does this validate giving stock advice to millions (sorry couldn't find a statistic that shows the audience size of Mad Money) with regards to what he believes and what is not necessarily prudent for that investors personal situation? Clearly NO, but Cramer isn't the only offender, think about the broad brush strokes of folks like Dave Ramsey. Ramsey fans don't murder me, I am merely stating that his responses to radio shows hardly dig deep enough to give prudent financial advice for that particular caller's financial situation. Ramsey does do the world some good by preaching to get rid of debt and spend less than you earn, so don't burn me at the stake. Heck, he even advocates turning off the TV and reading a book, which I definitely agree with. What I am merely pointing out is that Jim Cramer, nor Dave Ramsey, know the exact financial situation of the caller and shouldn't be giving some of the advice they give. Yes, Cramer says he is just giving advice to those that have side money and want to dabble in the market, but does he know if that person's portfolio is already overweighted in the sector that he is recommending a buy of a certain stock in that same sector?

What's Jim's portfolio record? If you take a gander over at Booyah Boy Audit one can see an unbiased record of Jim Cramer's Performance Scoreboard for the last month and a half. Has he beat the market?...yes (Cramer 2.11% vs. S&P500 -0.47%). Does he have a 70+ year record of annualized rates of return of 12.74% for Small Stocks (Small Cap) or 10.43% for Large Stocks (S&P 500)? NO

Should the typical investor be in and out of the market to "Back up the truck and buy" or "Sell, Sell, Sell" as Cramer's soundbites suggest? Let's rack up another NO for this one! One thing I don't think is reflected in Jim's return at the above link, is the commission charges for executed trades, or the short term capital gains one would have to incur on a winning pick. Yes, you would have to pay to buy the stock, then pay to sell the stock, and then pay the government if you made money on the stock. What a great arrangement, I wonder why Jim Cramer isn't recommending buying the stock of On-line brokerage firms who are making the money off of Jim's advice.

Is Jim Cramer doing any good for the general public? Hmm....I'll give this a MAYBE. The reason for the maybe is that while he is giving specific recommendations that I think would be crazy to act on alone, he does provide market insights and sometimes backs up his recommendations with an explanation. However, this should only be the beginning of one's research into investments in general or a specific investment (if they have determined that they want to dabble in individual stocks, which I don't agree with in the first place). Do you think a lot of viewers are doing anymore due diligence with regards to what Cramer is saying...or seeking the individual advice of an investment professional? I don't.

So, what is my point?
My basic point is this. America turn off your television, pick up a book (or read blogs like this one!), and learn. Is Jim Cramer the only offender of bad TV? No, but it was fun to highlight a show and drill down why it's bad for America to watch it.

On another note, if you would like to know my opinion on investing (not very valued, I know) here is the very, very simple version:

Spend less than you earn and pay off your debt if you have any.
If you don't have any debt, invest the remainder.
For short term goals, liquidity is your friend.
For long term goals such as retirement, buy passively managed, low fee ETFs or Mutual Funds.
Allocate/Diversify these funds in different asset classes according to your risk tolerance and time constraint for being in the market. It's been proven that that your Asset Allocation Policy provides 91.5% of a portfolio's return (Financial Analyst Journal, May-June 1991). Also, according to the William F. Sharpe (Stanford Univ.) Study of 1990, 90.9% of a portfolio's return is based on the style selection (read Asset Class), compared to only 9.1% coming from the security selection.
Rebalance your portfolio once a year.

Sound off and let me know what you think!

PS - If anyone wants to sign up for ActionAlerts PLUS by Jim Cramer, it's $349.95 a year to get emails of what and when he trades. Sorry, I don't endorse it so I won't provide a link to it!!!

Carnival of Personal Finance #14

This week's Carnival of Personal Finance is up. There are some good articles over there, including mine on Weight Loss and Gym Memberships. Check it out when you have a chance and thanks for hosting Optimized Living.


New Masthead for Financial Fruition - What City Skyline is it?

Being the creative person I am...I took about 10 minutes to crop one of the photos I have taken of the city skyline that I live in and made a quick logo (if that's what you'd like to call it). So what city skyline is this, or more simply put, what city do I live in? C'mon take a guess!


Apple, Macs, and Ipods

So let's learn a little bit more about who I am...I AM AN APPLE FREAK! There, I said it.

It all started when I was a boy and my parents would not buy me Nintendo. Instead, at the age of 8, I was given an Apple IIC by my parents. Within 2 weeks I wrote a program in BASIC that asked for three different passwords when you booted up, or it would not run. My Dad was really happy with that. As time has gone on, my Dad purchased some Macs including a Centris 650, as a matter of fact he still has his Performa that he still uses on occasion.

Once again during one of my ramblings, I must come back to the question....What does this have to do with Personal Finance?

Well, actually quite a bit. With out my exposure and love of Apple and Macs, I don't think I would be in the industry I am in. As a creative marketing person I am spending most of my day on a Mac using Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, and QuarkXPress. However, in my job position, I still do some analytical marketing. Not only do I get to "play" on the creative side all day, but it is also in another area of great interest to me, Investments and Financial Planning.

As a relatively intuitive person I run our Mac server and maintain about 10 Macs. For personal use I have a Power Mac at my house and use a Gen 3 iPod along with an iPod shuffle for my music needs. Never have any one of these pieces broken or become a hassle in any way. The only problem is keeping up with the latest toys Apple comes out with. It hurts the wallet a little bit.

Anyways, my girlfriend just jumped on the bandwagon and bought a iPod Nano the other day. This is a great little piece of iPodware that features a 2gb flash drive for memory with a very nice color screen like the one on the iPod Photo series. Anyways, my only complaint is that it is so small. It really doesn't fit in the palm of my hand very nicely which makes use the buttons kind of hard. Oh well, though...it isn't mine and my girlfriend just loves the thing!!

So what latest gadgetry do you spend money on?


How Financial Planners Can Help

In Jonathan Clements most recent WSJ Getting Going column titled "Why Worry? Well, Here Are Four Reasons" (sorry, no link as it's not free any more!) he discusses four things you should (or could) worry about regarding your finances. The first 3 are:

1) Bad Ideas - assuming that the market will make 10% or 12% in your planning among other things
2) Monthly Mentality - thinking in terms of monthly payments vs. monthly cash flow with cars, dvd rentals, etc.
3) Penalty Play - not planning and needing to withdraw from your IRA or other retirement account and having to borrow from it and othe penalties

His last one was a very complete thought titled, Debtor's Prison that stated:

Suppose you own a $250,000 house and you have $200,000 stashed in stocks and bonds. You also, however, have a $200,000 mortgage and $30,000 in auto loans and credit-card debt.

Add it up, and you have $450,000 in total assets and $230,000 in total debts, giving you a net worth of $220,000. Doesn't seem particularly risky? Usually, it wouldn't be.

But imagine you lost your job during a weak housing market. After some scrambling, you land a new job, but it is on the other side of the country. That means you have to sell your current home, relocate your family and buy another home, while continuing to cover living expenses and service debts.

With any luck, thanks to your new job, you won't have any problem qualifying for another mortgage. But you still have to come up with a down payment for the new house.

That may not be easy. Given the housing market's weakness and your need to sell quickly, you might end up unloading your current home for $225,000. After forking over a 6% real-estate commission and paying off your $200,000 mortgage, you would net just $11,500.

Fortunately, as you cobble together a down payment for the new house, you can draw on your $200,000 in stocks and bonds. Unfortunately, much of this money is in retirement accounts, so tapping your portfolio could mean paying income taxes and tax penalties.

One way or another, you would probably muddle through, somehow managing to relocate, keep your creditors at bay and buy a new home. Still, if all this seems a little precarious, there's a reason: It is.

My goal here isn't to dissuade you from ever taking on debt or ever funding a retirement account. But bad things happen, so you need to give yourself some financial breathing room. That means limiting your debts, holding down monthly financial obligations and having some savings in a regular taxable account.

But most of all, you need to think ahead. What if you don't have steady employment from now until retirement? What if real estate doesn't always appreciate? What if stocks don't return 10% a year? You need to build such possibilities into your financial plan -- before something goes wrong and it's way too late for planning.

Some bloggers and blog readers have been bashing financial planners recently. However, there are many complex financial decisions that I think most consumers would need the help of a true Financial Planner, one that is trustworthy and aligned with the client's goals (and I'm sorry to say, some (or is that most?) aren't!). We can not see into the future, so I think most people need help to plan for situations like the above and be able to make the right financial decisions with the help of a Financial Planner. Are you ready if some situation like this hit you square in the face?


The High Cost of Smoking

If you are a regular reader here, then you know I'm currently losing the battle of trying to quit smoking (1, 2, 3). This is one of the hardest things I've ever tried to do. I am getting on the healthy bandwagon by going on a diet and joining a gym, however I really need to quit smoking!! Previously, I've talked about waiting till a group of weddings and the holidays are over to quit. It's advice I received from some who had quit smoking. However, I am now asking myself, "Why am I putting it off?"

Well, I found a great article over at MSN's Moneycentral titled The high cost of smoking. More fuel to the quitting fire!!

I've already figured out that the future value (FV) of my smoking habit if put away for 30 years at 8% a year is $194,393.99! However, according the article rather than an average of $5 a pack, "researchers at Duke University found that the total cost of smoking -- the cigarettes, lost earnings, impact on insurance mortality, even the impact of secondhand smoke -- runs about $40 per pack for the average 24-year-old." Dare I calculate that FV!! Other financial snippets highlighted in the article:

1) Decreased resale value of your vehicle due to smoke smell, ashes all over, and burn marks in the fabric.
2) Increase cost to get your house "saleable", citing that most houses with smokers need to at least be re-painted if not new carpet installed.
3) Higher cost of life insurance and homeowner's insurance compared to non-smoker.
4) Higher dry cleaning bills because clothes stink.
5) "Smokers due to higher mortality rates, obtained lower lifetime benefits compared to never smokers, even after accounting for their smoking-related lower lifetime contributions."
6) Mints for bad breat and teeth whitening for yellow teeth add up as well.

Where to go from here? I wish smoking was as easy to quit as it is to pick out a shirt in the morning for work! I will win! I will keep you abreast of my continual struggle!!


Weight Loss and Gym Memberships

Well the time has come to join a gym. Being an athletic person in high school and college, my weight since joining the "real world" has fluctuated way too much. A couple of years ago I did the Atkins diet, and lost 40lbs. only to gain 40 of it back after I went off of it. After a year gaining that weight back I decided to go try a new diet. This was overall healthy system of eating called The Abs Diet. The Abs Diet is a diet designed by David Zinczenko, editor-in-chief of Men's Health Magazine. In two months I lost about 15 pounds and felt good....then it all went down from there. During one of my biggest projects that I complete every year, my boss went into the hospital and had surgery. Needless to say, the entire project fell on me. I was pulling 70-80 hour work weeks (norm is 50-60) and began eating fast food and junk because I felt that was all I had time for. Once the project was complete, I never got back on track.

So now I am overweight and want to do something about it! I am going to go back on The Abs Diet and my girlfriend is going to try it for the first time. This should help immensely because having two people doing it at the same time keeps you both in-line with the goals of the diet. Soooo...the big question is...why join a gym and what does this have to do with Personal Finance?

My girlfriend and I would like to join a gym to get some fitness activity going in our lives. We realize that you need some cardiovascular excersice, combined with some weight lifting to properly tone your body and turn fat into muscle. In relation to personal finance, I have made the decision that this is so important that I will be diverting a small monthly fee to working out, instead of using that money to pay down debt. Hey, Sound Mind, Sound Body...and let's add Sound Money!

In my area, there are only two gyms within walking distance. One is a medium sized chain of gyms that are very, very nice. The other is a small, one location gym that has become quite popular. The costs compared like this:

For a 12-month contract (not a loan like at Bally's) for a couple's gym membership
Small Gym: $125 enrollment fee, $105 monthly couple membership fee.
Medium Chain Gym: $200 enrollment fee, $129 monthly couple membership fee.

The Medium Chain Gym, which is 3 stories tall and much nicer than the small gym, includes free admission to their classes (yoga, pilates, spinning, etc.), and a bunch of savings because of the building I live in. This included cutting the enrollment fee by over half, first two months free, and a free personal trainer session to put you on to a fitness regiment.

The first two months free basically removed the enrollment fee, but was it worth it to each pay $12 more a month to join the nicer gym? Well, seeing as winter will be soon approaching (think 30 degree fahrenheit days) and the small gym is 8 blocks away and the nice medium chain gym is only 2 blocks away, we chose the Medium Chain gym. What does this look like from a personal finance angle:

Total Cost for 1 year at Small Gym: $1,385
Total Cost for 1 year at Medium Chain Gym: $1,490

That's about $100 more per year, which would be about $50 more each for my girlfriend and I...I can handle that for the closer...and nicer gym.

Special Note: If you don't have a spouse or partner, most gyms will let you sign up for a couples membership with a friend or roommate and this will save you a lot of money in the monthly membership fee!!

Do you have a gym membership? Approximately how much do you pay a month? Would you recommend joining a gym to others?

Carnival of Personal Finance #13

This week's Carnival of Personal Finance #13 is up at Smart Money Daily. My piece on Budgeting Money is in it this week. Take a look at the best of personal finance for last week when you get a chance.


Budgeting Money

Many people use Money or Quicken to track their personal finances. I tried Money a couple of years ago but had trouble getting it to do exactly what I wanted it to do. Being a hands on person, I really don't mind using Excel to set up a budget. Therefore, I wanted to find a free budget worksheet so that I didn't have to create an entire budget from scratch (think...decrease opportunity cost of time) and could modify it as I saw fit.

Below is a screen shot of the budget worksheet I use:

You probably can't read any of it...but it is the most comprehensive free budget worksheet I have found. Under the different sections are expenses I did not even think about, which definitely helps to identify the little things that I can now control because I see the outflow. An example of this is under the Personal category, which includes clothing, gifts, salon/barber, books, and music. I really didn't track these expenses at the time, but now they are relatively under control.

Another way this budget worksheet helps me to realize is how much monthly expenses add up over the course of the year. The far right hand column is a running total of each budgeted expense for the year. If you calculate the Future Value of some of the expenses you could cut down, you really see how much these items are costing your future savings and have more motivation to par things down or cut them out completely.

As of now, I really don't use the spreadsheet anymore, except for annual personal finance planning or to allocate unexpected money, such as a bonus (no I don't calculate bonuses into my annual budget because I may or may not get them, even though it is usually the former). By using this sheet for 2 years, I am now able to mentally calculate expenses for the month. If I think I am getting a little out of control, I use envelopes the next month to make sure my money is being spent the way I want it to.

If you like Quicken or Money, great! If you use an Excel spreadsheet, great! If you don't use any system, please try to get on one so that all of your money is allocated and put to use before you start spending it and wonder where it went. For those of you who want a copy of the free budget worksheet, I linked to it fifteen words before the period at the end of this sentence.


The Cost of Boating

A friend of mine who,, I would consider a semi-pro fisherman put $100 worth of gas in his boat this past weekend. It ended up filling half of the 60 gallon tank. Seeing as gas prices are so high, he pondered how much gas he has used since he purchased his boat. Fortunately for him, the gauges on his boat monitor everything in his engine and this information was readily available.

In the past 2 years he has used just over 1200 gallons of gas. At a conservative gas price of $2.50, that's over $3,000.00. He didn't even know that it was that much. All I can say is that I am glad I don't own a boat!


Best Financial Advice

My submission on the Best Financial Advice I have received appeared over on FreeMoneyFinance's site. Thanks goes to FMF for posting it!!

My grandfather saved quite of bit of money over time with the 3 points I made in that submission. However, since he lived to the ripe old age of 94, he used a lot of his savings on expenses such as 24 hour in-home care and life's necessities over the last 5-7 years of his life. Still, his four children should be very thankful for the mini-legacies he left each of them.


Lessons Learned in Saving Gas

While we have all seen articles and blog topics on rising gas prices and money saving tips for gas, I have my own two tips that haven't appeared anywhere yet (or so I've seen).

1) If travelling, drive at night. Where I am located we have humid summer/fall days that range from the low 80s to mid 90s. If you are going on a trip, drive at night. The scenery doesn't really matter, and in my climate the temp drops when the sun goes down to about 70 degrees, allowing you turn on just the fan in the car to cool you down, rather than turning the air on.
2) I do a lot of stop and go traffic and experimented with my driving style recently. I get the best mileage if I am very conscious of keeping my RPMs below 2,000 while accelerating from a light. Granted, people kind of run up your bumper, but they soon figure out that you aren't Mario Andretti and back off.

Carnival of Personal Finance #12

This week's Carnival of Personal Finance #12 is up at Savvy Saver's blog. My piece on The cost of vision made it in this week. Take a look when you get a chance.


Wealth Management

I have heard the term wealth management used many times. But what exactly is it and why is it used so much? The definition from About.com of Wealth Management is:

Wealth management services are provided by banks, professional trust companies, and brokerages. For those with sizeable assets [usually over $500,000], professional wealth management can help you plan your estate or invest your assets based on personal criteria and financial goals.

This definition is very broad and lacks the detail of helping the wealthy with the comprehensive financial planning needs of investment management, risk management, liability management, estate preservation, as well as overall assistance with all financial decisions encompassing their life including important business decisions, for those that own their own companies.

I think the word "Wealth Management" has become marketing slogan. Most comprehensive Financial Planning tools have been made available to general consumers and somebody tried to come up with a name to try and hype their services to High Net Worth Individuals.