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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Coming up with Money for Down Payment

I have to put a down payment for my house but I don't have all the cash available, so I'll have to liquidate my long-term investments. I had set up a 5-year CD ladder of a thousand dollars each in the beginning of this year with ING DIRECT, but I'll have to withdrawal early and take the penalty. The penalty is half the interest earned, so it's better to withdrawal now than later. Does anyone know if I can report the loss interest on the 1040, and do I get deductions on that? I usually do my own taxes, but this year's tax form is going to get complicated so I may hire an accountant. I also will have to liquidate my long term stock holdings. I really don't want to sell my stocks because they've gone down during the stormy market. I want to wait until my portfolio recovers a bit, but I may not have a choice. I'll have to transfer my money from stocks and CDs over to the house, so I hope this real estate property is going to cover all my opportunity costs.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Philadelphia Investment #2

I put down an offer for a house on Wednesday and I heard the seller accepted the offer. The asking price was $149,900. I placed a bid for $142,000. The seller tried to push back, but eventually accepted my bid. This is going to be my first house. The house is located in Mayfair, in a very quiet neighborhood and near a deli and pizza shop. I'm looking to rent out the house for 800-900/month.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Fool Message Board

I see this URL in my site traffic. I'm curious what it says in the message board, but I can't get in. Can anyone help? http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=22887314

Comment Spammers Out

I have been receiving a lot of comment spam lately. Every time I post I get a bunch of feedbacks immediately from anonymous. It looks like a bot. There must be a script out there that automatically generates a message on someone's blog. Look at these messages:

This blog is awesome! I'll be bookmarking it and sharing it with many others. If you get a chance you may want to visit this Free Software site, it's pretty awesome too!
I agree with your post. Hey check this out--you're going to love this site. Visit this work at home site!
I can't believe spam is attacking my blog. I've change my comment settings to allow Only Registered Users.

Quote of the Day

Wall Street is the only place that people ride to work in a Rolls Royce to get advice from those who take the subway. - Warren Buffett

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Philadelphia Investment

A few friends and I went to Philadelphia last Saturday to check out the houses. I want to buy a house to rent out and Philly is the only place I can afford. Houses range from 120K to 160K in good neighborhoods. The prices have gone up 30K since the last time I visited Philly, about nine months ago. I feel if I wait another nine months, the houses will go up even more. Everyone seems to be buying in Philly now. When I was in the broker's office, he was swarmed with appointments. He had to cut us short to close three houses with another guy in the middle of our appointment. The funniest thing is that my friend knows the guy closing the three houses. It turns out to be his old high school friend. What a small world. But there’s another point. Everyone is buying in Philly now. People are scooping up houses like ice cream cakes. I have a few friends who have bought investment property in Philly and they seem to be doing well. However, they do say you have to get your hands dirty. Unlike paper investments, this is something you have to be prepared for -- dealing with tentants, complaints, repairs, phone calls, etc. I guess that's comes with any real estate investment. There are positives and negatives for investing in Philly. Advantages:

  • Affordable
  • Rent can cover mortgage, insurance, and property tax
  • Tax reduction (as with any house)
  • Interest rate still low (historically)


  • Far from New York City (where I live)
  • Too many people are buying -- may be hard to rent out
  • Bubble burst
  • Bad tenants
  • Higher interest rate for rental unit

I will have to claim the house as an investment property which means I will have to pay a higher interest rate for the mortgage as opposed to a residential property. I'm still thinking whether I should jump into this Philly real estate craze. Because so many people are buying now, I'm afraid of being left with the short end of the stick. But at the same time, I don't want to miss a wonderful opportunity to buy a real estate property and it is the only place I can afford right now. I'm thinking maybe I should give it a try. I feel if I do this for the long term, it will pay off pretty well. As long as the rent can cover all my expenses, I'll just let the house sit there and appreciate. Even if the value doesn't go up, at least the rent can pay off the mortgage for me over time. At the end, I can still have a house all paid for. That sounds really good.

Feel free to share your real estate investment stories and what do you think about me entering the Philly market now. If you have purchased a house in Philly, I'd love to hear it. Since I'm new to real estate investments, feel free to give me pointers.

Wealth Class

This is how I fair in the Class categories for Occupation, Education, Income, and Wealth. Let me know yours. It looks a lot higher than I expected. I'm surprised my bachelor's degree puts me in the 91st percentile even though I feel almost everyone has one these days. Probably there's a huge portion of a different gerenation that didn't have college degrees. EDIT: The Occupation scale appears to be inaccurate. It puts Statisticians at 58th percentile and computer programmers at 65% percentile, but most of those positions make at least 50% more than I do. I picked Computer Support Specialists, but I must be one of the least paid ones.

Social Class in the U.S.

This is a great site for all you financial fans. Class Matters Income by Education Thanks to J. for the link.

Sold Shares of PACT and Rebought

I had a sell order of 500 shares of PACT for $8.75 and it was executed on Monday. On Tuesday the stock price dropped to the 7's and I rebought 500 shares at $7.75. I'm waiting for the price to go back up.

Switching back to Netflix

I'm switching back my online rentals to Netflix after hearing that Blockbuster is going to charge the same price as Netflix. I think Netflix has a larger selection and a much more intuitive website. After I logged in Netflix, I clicked two buttons and I added two entire series of a TV show as opposed to tens of clicks on Blockbuster's website. I'm going to cancel my Blockbuster account right before the next billing cycle.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Quote of the Day

Rule #1, in my book, is: Stop listening to professionals. 20 years in this business convinces me that any normal person using the customary 3 percent of the brain can pick stocks just as well, if not better, than the average Wall Street expert. - Peter Lynch

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Link Exchange

It looks like I rank pretty high in Yahoo searches. But to stay on the top, I would need more links pointing to my website. So, let's play the link exchange game. You put me up on your site, I put you on mine.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Terrible Market

The market is not showing any mercy to small cap stocks. Since most, if not all, of my portfolio is in small caps, I'm getting slaughtered right now. I hope this wave of financial massacre will pass soon. I'm not doing anything with my portfolio right now. I will hold and ride it out. In the mean time, I want to generate some revenue through other means... like ebay or Adsense??

Blockbuster Raises Price

Just when I complained their services are terrible and I'm staying because of their low price. I'm going back to Netflix. From Blockbuster's email:

We hope you are enjoying renting DVDs from BLOCKBUSTER Online™. In the year since we launched, we've had phenomenal growth thanks to people like you. We value you as a customer, and we hope you value our ongoing efforts to make BLOCKBUSTER Online the most convenient way to rent DVDs. Beginning August 19, 2005, we will be raising the price of our BLOCKBUSTER Online rental plans. Here is how your membership plan will be affected: Your Current Plan: 3 at a time Your New Monthly Price: $17.99 (plus tax) The payment method you provided will be billed the above amount on: September 06, 2005

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Blockbuster vs. Netflix

  • Blockbuster’s website sucks. It has technical errors that always give me a page not found.
  • Blockbuster's queue is amateurish. It hardly rearranges in the order I want.
  • Blockbuster's delivery time is sluggish. It takes a week to get three discs.

These are the top complaints that makes me miss Netflix so much. When I was with Netflix, I remember logging in the website with problems. The site was intuitive, easy to use and the queue was great. Also, I watched a lot of TV series. The blockbuster site lists an icon for each episode. I thought that was kind of stupid. It takes up so much screen space and it was hard to scroll through shows that had multiple seasons, like Friends. On the Netflix site, I can click on "Add All" and it will add all the discs of that season for me. It's not a life-threatening issue, but after I've used Netflix, I noticed a downgrade. The worst part is slow service from Blockbuster. I don't know why it takes them so long to send a disc. I thought Netflix was slow with 3-5 days turnaround, but Blockbuster takes 5-7 days. Sheesh, if it wasn't for Blockbuster competitive $14.99/month and my busy schedule, so I don't mind the slow service as much, I'd have gone back to Netflix.

Citibank Dividend Card vs. AT&T Universal Card

I wanted to sign up for the Citibank Dividend Card, which has 5% cash rebate on supermarket and gas purchases, and 1% on everything else. But I already have an AT&T Universal Card that pays 5% cash rebate on supermarket and gas purchases, and 1% on everything else. I realize the Universal Card and the Dividend card are the same in terms of cash rebates. They're both from Citibank. In that case, I don't need to sign up for another card. Good, I will not inquire a hard pull on my credit report.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Blockbuster at a cheaper rate

I posted about the Blockbuster deal a while ago. I had cancelled my Netflix account and Blockbuster would give me two months free and then charge me 17.99 (same as Netflix) for each month thereafter. However, Blockbuster normally charges only 14.99 for it. So I was going to cancel my account, but it turns out that I can switch my plan to $14.99 with the click of a button. My free two months are over and now I'm on the $14.99 3-at-a-time plan. Now that's a Blockbuster deal. As a bonus, I got a free DVD to keep and I picked Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Quote of the Day

Every young man should have a hobby; learning how to handle money is the best one. - Jack Hurley

My hobby is learning how to manage time and money.