The Brazilian Coffee Shop, Aikido, Internet Scene

As I recover from a great aikido class last night, my body still asking “why the hell did you do that to me,” I am sipping a cappuccino (with the obligatory whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and Jimmies on top), finalizing the rest of my flights around the country for the coming month. The coffee shop I’m sitting in is playing what sounds like the greatest hits of the 80’s (“Alive and Kicking,” “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” “Every Breath You Take,” “Pride (In the Name of Love),” etc.). Continue reading “The Brazilian Coffee Shop, Aikido, Internet Scene”

Virtualizing Windows XP Professional for Fun and Profit

Today I decided to finish virtualizing my copy of XP, so that I could run all of my XP apps (except my beloved World of Warcraft) under XP, while actually using Ubuntu as my native OS. This eliminates the hassle of having to maintain multiple copies of Windows, freeing up disk space, and improving performance.
But that performance comes with a price… Continue reading “Virtualizing Windows XP Professional for Fun and Profit”

Jim Cramer?s "Stay Mad for Life" – Part Two

Continuing where I left off reviewing this book, chapter 3 covers planning for retirement, and the five biggest mistakes people make with their 401(k) plans. Since I own a small company, we currently have no 401(k), but we do offer a SIMPLE IRA for our officers, and most of these points hold true for me as well. They are:

  1. Buying the employer’s stock
  2. Investing in stable-value funds
  3. Accepting the default offerings in their company’s 401(k)
  4. Cashing out their 401(k)s when switching employers
  5. Not paying attention to where the money is going (which seems to me to be the same as point #3)

He then covers a few practical tips to make the most out of your 401(k), such as automatically contributing to it each month, instead of waiting ’til year end. I’m guilty of not doing this, but luckily cash flow isn’t an issue right now, so I can still contribute. Cramer also advises that you contribute the maximum amount to your 401(k) that your employer will match. After that, you want a separate, self-managed IRA, which gives you more flexibility than your employer’s plan.
So far, I’m liking the advice I’m getting from the book. Check back in thirty years to see how it worked out.

Jim Cramer's "Stay Mad for Life" – Part One

Despite Amazon’s best efforts to delay our Christmas festivities, one of the presents I received was a copy of Jim Cramer‘s “Stay May For Life” Apparently he’s an investment guru whom my mom has been following for a while. Despite the criticisms he’s received (see the Wikipedia link above) I’m inclined to hear what he has to say. Why not, right?
I’ve decided to share some of the highlights of his book as I read through it.
In chapter two, he mentions three important things:

  1. Create a budget for daily, monthly, and annual expenses.
    Okay, so far, I’m with him on this. Although I’ve rarely budgeted my personal expenses, putting together a budget is something I’ve wanted to do for a while now, so this seems as good an excuse as any.
  2. Carry health insurance.
    This is also a timely piece of advice. Given that we are seeing another double-digit (18%) increase in health insurance premiums this year, I asked my wife to investigate alternatives such as self-funding insurance or a health savings account. Unfortunately, it appears that the best course of action is to pay somewhere around $800/mo. for health insurance, with a $10,000 deductible. Crisis? Maybe. Ridiculous? Definitely.
  3. Carry no balances on credit cards.
    This one’s a no-brainer for me. I can remember once in my life when I carried balances on a credit card intentionally, and that was to get me into college when I showed up to find that financial aid hadn’t come through as planned. I paid them off within a year, but other than that, I am well aware that carrying 20%+ interest rates for a short-term cash loan is insane. If you need short-term loans, seek out your local credit union. I know, (from experience, as I’m a member of my local credit union‘s board of directors) that they are there to help you.

Assuming the book continues to hold my attention, I’ll post updates as I read through it.