Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wamu has "Become" Chase


If you are a current Washington Mutual Customer, you've probably heard for months that Wamu is becoming Chase. It appears that the other day Wamu infact "became" Chase. I recently went to Wamu.com to do some online banking, and ran into some complications. I could log in and see my balances, but it wouldn't allow me to transfer any money. In order make the transfer, I had to log in at Chase.com. Now I can no longer log in to Wamu.com, and must do all online banking through Chase. The user interface seems to be pretty similar, and I haven't come across any problems yet. Good bye Wamu and hello Chase!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Simple Credit Score Breakdown






All the information regarding your credit score on the Internet can be overwhelming. According to a simple Google search, there are 66,500,000 pages on this topic alone. Instead of having to swim through all the articles trying to figure out what hurts credit, and how to improve credit, here is a simple breakdown of how your score is determined:



  • 35% Payment history- Not making a payment, or making late payments will severely damage your credit score.

  • 30% Total debt owed to available credit ratio- It's good to have at least 75% available credit on all credit cards. Car loans and mortgages are also a factored in you score.

  • 15% Length of time establishing credit- Keep established credit cards open with a zero balance, the longer the better.

  • 10% Types of credit established- Try to have at least few different credit cards, and maybe a car loan or mortgage.

  • 10% Inquiries and New accounts- Running a credit check, and opening new credit cards will temporarily affect you score in a negative way. Running multiple credit checks in a short period of time can be interpreted as one credit check. Checking your own credit does not affect your credit score.

These are the factors the determine your credit score and hopefully this article will give you a better understanding of how to maintain your credit.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Only use Cash when Traveling


Despite the economy, some of you decided to travel this memorial day weekend. After returning to work today, you probably checked your account balances and found yourself up to you eyeballs in debt. The harsh reality of having to eat macaroni & cheese with ketchup until your next paycheck is probably starting to set in.


Unfortunately I can't go back in time to unspend your money, but I can show you the benefits of traveling with cash:


If you want to survive your next vacation without spending more than you can afford, it is crucial to save as much money as possible before trip. Once you have saved up some cash, take the total amount of the money saved and divide it by the number of vacation days to determine the your daily spending limit.


$500 Saved ÷ 5 days = $100 per Day


Cash is Good-If you're confident that you won't misplace the money or be robbed, I recommend withdrawing all of it at once, and putting each days ration in a separate envelopes. As you venture out from the hotel each day, grab you allocated money envelope. This will provide a ceiling or cap for your daily spending. If you get back to the hotel with money left over, then you can roll it over to the following day. If you run out of money, then you're vacationing outside your means, and you probably shouldn't buy the matching "I'm with Stupid" souvenir T-shirts anyway.


Credit Cards are Bad-The modern convenience of credit cards make it way too easy to rack up an enormous debt regardless of whether you have the means to pay. It is amazing how fast your debt will increase after paying for breakfast, the forgotten bottle of sunscreen, parking, admission to the attraction, souvenirs, lunch, gas, and dinner on the way home. All these small purchases will sneak up on you until WHAM!!!! You are confronted with a credit card bill that looks more like an overgrown ogre with a club, than a monetary exchange medium.


We take vacations to escape the demands of daily life, but if these vacations cause more financial stress upon return, we are better off without them.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Stop Working Late




  • Many of us feel the need to sacrifice our lunch breaks and stay late at the office, but is it really necessary? Will it really solve world hunger and bring peace on earth? Odds are probably not; it will only build resentment towards the workplace and feelings of discontent. Granted there are times when it might be critical to stay late to finish a major project, but these occurrences should be far an few. Take control of you life stop burning the midnight oil.

    How you're paid can make a difference
  • Hourly- If you are paid hourly, overtime is a way to make some extra cash. Especially if you don't have anything else better to do. Just be careful because the greed of overtime dollars can quickly consume your life.
  • Salary-If you receive a salary, it's simple "stop working for free." It is easy to think that the well being of the company rests on your shoulders, but I assure you it doesn't. The reality is: If you were hit by a car tomorrow, the business would continue to function without you. On top of that, most bosses won't even notice your extra effort, and if they do, it won't be to the extent that you're expecting.

    No Self Esteem
    Employees that lack self esteem can easily be coerced into working extra hours, because they are too nice to say no. Be assertive and stand up for yourself. Don't allow everyone in the office to nominate you as the scapegoat for tying up loose ends.

    Have Plans Outside of Work
    Ever noticed how certain people never work late because they have kids to pick up from soccer practice, a bus to catch, or some other kind of plans outside of work? Nobody seems to give it a second thought. After all, they are put in a full day just like everyone else. They're just not getting suckered into working the extra long hours. This is why it's so important to always have a top secret ninja back up plan. If your boss asks if you can come in on Saturday, tell him that you have plans with some friends, or that you have some important errands to run. More than likely he will think nothing of it and ask someone else.

    Someone Always has to Play the Martyr

    I've worked alongside plenty of people who volunteer to work late unnecessarily, and then hold it against everyone later. They eventually get upset with co-workers because they feel under-appreciated, and constantly complain about the unfair work load. A martyr is the kind of person that spends the whole shift gossiping over coffee, and then tries to save the day by putting in some extra hours after everyone else went home. A true hero doesn't have to advertize.

    What is Actually Getting Done
    Working late is never as productive as it seems. It's easy to burnout after too many consecutive hours at the office, and it will diminish your quality of life. It's pointless to work late, especially if it makes you a zombie the next day.

    Look at the Bigger picture
    If you have the kind of job that regularly requires you to work late and sacrifice your lunch breaks, then consider a procedural change like a redistribution of the work load, working more efficiently, or hiring some extra help. Things that may seem important are usually not, and most job tasks can wait until tomorrow.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Get Advice from an Expert



In order to succeed in life one must learn when to put pride aside and ask for advice from an expert. When remodeling your home, or assembling your child's bicycle, it's easy to pretend that you know what you're doing. Unfortunately, not listening to that little glimmer of doubt can quickly cause catastrophic damage.




WHEN TO ASK:
A good rule of thumb is "If the thought crosses your mind to ask, ask!" You can choose not to take the advice, but two heads are always better than one. Sometimes I will even ask an expert for advice on important decisions just to confirm what I already know.


WHO TO ASK:

  • Google - I have found that the all seeing, all knowing, expert of everything is Google. I constantly use google to conduct Internet searches which can unleash tidal waves of knowledge.


  • Friends - If you are having trouble hanging ten with Google, sometimes simply seeking advice from a knowledgeable friend can prove very valuable.


  • Networking - When your small group of friends can't solve your problems, consider seeking advice from a friend of a friend. Social Groups like Myspace and Facebook are proof that we are all connect to each other in some way.


  • Ask the Pros - If you aren't acquainted with anyone that can help, pick up the phone an call someone in the related field or industry. Call your local Bike shop to find out the proper way to put a tire on a rim, or visit your local hardware store to find out the difference between Spackle, and joint compound.

By constantly seeking the advice of others, it will not only help you from making unnecessary mistakes in life, but it can also provide a viewpoint not clouded by your own personal feeling and emotions. It is better to have someone show you how to unload a gun than trying to figure it out on your own.

Friday, May 15, 2009

AT&T Gives .Gov .Edu .Mil Discounts

If you are lucky enough to have and email address that ends in .gov, .edu, .mil than you will be happy to know that many companies like AT&T gives discounts. The discount can be like 15% off you bill or on accessories. Just enter you email address to qualify in the box on the right of the page for discounts.


If your email address doesn't qualify you instantly like mine, you can still get the discount by bringing proof to an AT&T store.

Also, many hotels have Government discounts, and some office supply stores will have teacher discounts.

I heard that Comcast might even offers some kind of discount for those of us in the Public Sector, but I haven't been able to find anything online.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Get Rid of Your LAN Line Phone


I have not had a lanline phone for over 7 years and haven't even noticed. Most people these days have a cell phone able to accomodate all of their calling needs. According to the Los Angeles Times, the average lanline phone bill is about $40.00. That means that over the last 7 years, I have save roughly $3,360.00. Occasionally when filling out forms, I am asked for my home phone number. I just put my cell phone number instead, and haven't had a problem yet. Having a lanline is only justified if you live somewhere with little to no cell phone reception, but for most of us a lanline is just a waste of money.


Some cable companies will try to sell you there lanline phone service by incorporating it in their Internet and Cable package. This isn't always cheaper, especially if you don't need the lanline, so make sure to understand the contract before you sign up.

Stamps are Now $0.44


Starting May 11, 2009 postage for a standard envelope went up to $0.44. Hopefully you stocked up on the Forever stamps. If you pay your bills online as mentioned in Never Worry About Bills Again, then it's no be a big deal. I just thought I would let everyone know.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Stop Orders vs. Limit Orders


As a beginner investor, I just learned a valuable lesson. I purchased my first shares of stock a few months back and they have actually been performing quite well. Ford (F), which I started buying at $2.19, dropped a little today from over $6.08 to $5.26. Feeling adventurous, I tried to place a more advanced type of order to sell my shares if the stock dropped below my determined price of $5.00. I accidentally placed a Limit Order instead of a Stop Order, and since Ford stock was already above the limit, it sold all my shares instantly at $5.26. After I realized my mistake, I bought them all back, but ended up paying $5.46 per share plus commission fees. Since I only have a small amount invested it only cost me about $30.00, but I will never make that mistake again.


Stop Orders
As mentioned above, a Stop Order is used to "buy or sell a certain quantity of a certain security if a specified price (the stop price) is reached" according to investorwords.com.


[Example from Investopedia.com] If you own stock ABC, which currently trades at $20, and you place a stop order to sell it at $15, your order will only be filled once stock ABC drops below $15.


Limit Orders
Are used to "buy a specific quantity of a security at or below a specific price, or to sell it at or above a specific price (called the limit price) according to investorwords.com.


[Example from Invetopedia.com] If you want to buy stock ABC, which is trading at $12, you can set a limit order for $10. This guarantees that you will pay no more than $10 to buy this stock. Once the stock reaches $10 or less, you will automatically buy a predetermined amount of shares. On the other hand, if you own stock ABC and it is trading at $12, you could place a limit order to sell it at $15. This guarantees that the stock will be sold at $15 or more.


I really like using Tradeking.com because it makes everything so easy, but next time I won't just click on things without knowing exactly what I'm doing.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Art of Email


It seems like emailing has become the primary way to conduct business these days. Nobody calls each other, or walks over to their co-workers' desk. Simple one line messages are fired back and forth like lightning bolts containing easily misinterpreted information.



Sample Conversation

  • Tony: " Out of office, be back next week"
  • Megan: "Sorry Not sure maybe Tony"
  • Travis: "Cc: Megan see if she can"
  • Glen: "don't know, maybe on the website."
  • Travis: "Who idea was that? I need info ASAP"

Unfortunately, these types of conversations are very common even in the business world. Just because it sounds alright in your head, doesn't mean a readers will have a slightest clue of what you mean. A poorly written email can make even an educated professional look like a babbling 5 year old.

In emails, words are easily taken out of context, and can portray the wrong emotions. A misinterpreted message can quickly escalate office drama, and causing co-worker rivalry.

Think of an email like a formal letter. Try to write in complete sentences, and state whatever "it" is clearly. Write the messages so that even a complete stranger could understand it if necessary.

Too many important business decisions are fouled up everywhere due to the misinterpretation of emails. Do everyone a favor, and take the extra time to state exactly what you mean. Proof reading doesn't hurt either.


Friday, May 8, 2009

The Ginzu Paycheck Slicer





Do you ever wonder where all the money from your paycheck went? Are you bad at budgeting? With the new Ginzu Paycheck Slicer from Live for Improvement, you can enter the dollar amount of your paycheck to quickly calculate how much money to set aside for bills. The Ginzu Paycheck Slicer can even show how big a bite each expense takes from your paycheck. Download it for Free by clicking on the link and selecting Download File:


Thursday, May 7, 2009

No Limp Hand Shakes




Whether it's a simple introduction, or sealing a multi-billion dollar deal, shaking hands is a customary form of acknowledgement here in the United States. We've all experienced shaking someone's hand that feels more like a rubber glove filled with spaghetti than a part of their skeletal structure. It's very uncomfortable, and can be construed as a sign of weakness.






Make an effort to look people in the eyes, and shake their hand firmly. People will inadvertently consider you more sincere and speak higher of you character. On the other hand, If your body type is the kind that makes approaching people cross the street, then be careful not to cause injury with your gorilla like grip strength.


If you are someone who gets clammy hands, try running your wrists under cold water before meetings, as mentioned in Nailing a Job Interviews. This will constrict the blood flow in your an keep your hands from sweating.


The act of shaking hands may seem trivial, but not being able to shake hands properly is just poor manners.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Look More Productive By Walking Fast




Simple mannerisms can greatly affect how people perceive you, and can even change the outcome of events. As mentioned in the first step of my article How to Own the Night, it's important to be assertive and have confidence in yourself. This is especially important in the workplace when you want to get ahead. If your boss constantly sees you on your cell phone making personal calls or always on break, he may wonder how much work you are actually getting done. If you appear to be more productive and always doing stuff, you might be considered among others for a promotion.






One of the best ways to look productive is to walk around the office at a faster pace. I am not suggesting doing laps all day long in a jogging suit. Just walk with a purpose. If you retrieve documents from the central printer, don't casually saunter over hoping that someone will stop and chat with you. Walk as if you have things to do, and time is critical. People will notice, and you will gain an underlying form of respect from your peers.