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Archive for February, 2009

I get strange reactions when I ask that question. Everyone has been conditioned to put as much as possible in their 401k and for the most part, that’s a good idea. 401k is an excellent retirement tool as it is tax deferred and most companies also offer a certain percent match which is essencially free money. However, you need to diversify your tax liability just as you would diversify your stock portfolio. If you are putting too much towards your 401k, like much more than your company match, you may be doing more harm than good. Especially if you do not have any other source of retirement savings like a Roth IRA. This is only one of many quick and easy fixes that can put you in a better tax position. The end result would be putting the same ammount aside without any increase in your monthly contribution but giving you a diversified tax liability at retirement. Sort of  like investing in stocks and bonds instead of just stocks. This is just one small example of the benefits of having a financial advisor.
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One of the wealthiest people in the world is Warren Buffet. Does anyone know where that wealth came from or how? More importantly – when? The beginning of his big wealth started in 1974. Little history lesson here – that is the last time our economy was in a similar state as it is now. But arguably worse. Does anyone remember waiting in line for gas?  If you knew the numbers of inflation, stock market  losses etc… from then compared to today, you would have thought that the world would have come to an end and there was no way we could ever recover. The simple fact of the matter is, we will. Warren Buffet started investing when everything was cheap, like it is now. In a Forbes magazine interview from that time, Buffet describes what is now an unbelieveable hindsight of advice – “Now is the time to invest and get rich”. Here is the link to read for yourself – http://www.forbes.com/2008/04/30/warren-buffett-profile-invest-oped-cx_hs_0430buffett.html . Now I am not saying that if you sell the ranch and invest that you will become a billionaire, but the basic philosophy of investing is – are you ready – Buy low, Sell high! So why is everyone selling when it is low and waiting to buy when it is high? I want to be like Warren Buffet – time to buy. Who do you want to be like?

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Model falls down

Model falls down 

Every once in a while you need a good laugh. Today I thought you could use one. I dare you not to laugh while watching this! Double dare!

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Hello world! This is my first blog. I am actually not too sure how this works or what the purpose is. I only know that I need to blog. My first order of business is, unfortunately, to pass along my bad experience for the better of my fellow man. I am writing in hopes to make people aware of some deceptive ad practices on facebook. I, like many many people, are addicted to Facebook. My day starts like this: wake up, check facebook. Shower. Dry off while checking facebook. Go to work while checking facebook mobile. Try to get some work done without spending too much time on facebook. Eat lunch while updating facebook status trying not to get the keyboard sticky. And that is my day only up to @ 11:30 am! You get the point. It has been a great tool refreshing old friendships,  keeping current ones solid, and even for a little networking. It’s a time vampire but lots of fun and very addicting. So a few months ago, I got a pop up that one of my friends challenged me to an IQ Quiz. Not having the time at the moment, I passed on the idea. However, it seemed that every day another one of my friends was challenging me to a Quiz off and the scores seemed to be getting higher and higher. Now I consider myself of average to above average intelligence, but more than anything, I like a good challenge. Especially from a friend. So I decided to accept this challenge from a friend of mine named Jim and was determined to score higher. After completing my 20 question quiz I was ready for my results. It seems that the only way to get my results was to have them texted to my cell phone. Ugh… What a buzz-kill. I just want to see what I already knew – I am a genius and my friend is the moron we all knew he was. Everyone knows I am smarter than Jim. Well I was too busy at the moment and opted not to proceed. I was confident I did well anyway. It still kept bugging  me though… So a few days went by and lo and be hold! Another challenge.  I’m in! Everyone knows I am smarter that Jim anyway, no problem. Here is my chance to prove it and tell the world. Can you feel the excitement building here? After totally aceing the test it came to texting time. Funny, but you would think the alarms would go off at this point. I should have stopped right then and there but nooooooo, I have to see the results. So I entered my cell number and whammo! 10 seconds later, there were the results. I beat Jim and was practically a genius. Nothing I didn’t know already. So life continues and now that I know I won, time to rub it in. So then I make the call to Jim. Almost laughingly, I asked what he thought of my beat down of a score. Jim played stupid, like I knew he was and swore he did not challenge me. Sure… I get it. OK. Whatever. Nothing more was said and we moved on. So a few weeks later I get my cell phone bill and noticed a strange charge of $9.99 plus tax. Huh? What is this? It didn’t take me long to realize that it was from this quiz. So I moved the bill away from the keyboard to uncover the fact that I was still on facebook and I would look for the quiz again to figure out what happened. No sign of the quiz on Facebook. I went thru my phone to review the text and figure a way out of this. There clearly was some kind of mistake. Afterall, Facebook is huuuggggeee and would never allow any kind of deception or fraud. And even if it did, I am sure there is an easy way to get ahold of someone and get this resolved. Do you know that there is no contact info for Facebook what so ever? Anywhere? Really! I challenge you to find it! OK, so the company that charged me HAS to be reputable because it was on Facebook, right? And I am sure they will credit me those charges back once I tell them I had no idea of the recurring charges and that will be it. Nope, nothin’. Not gonna happen that way.  Upon further review, I noticed that when I entered my phone number, I didn’t scroll down far enough to see the fine print. And fine print it is. The very fine but legally clear print states that by processing the text, I agree to a subscription and a fee of $9.99 monthly.  Are you kidding me?  So mildly upset but mostly embarrassed, I tried to figure out how to rectify the situation. It appears that all you need to do is text them back – standard text message rates apply – and your charges will stop. Done. Finito. I went about their standard protocol of stopping the charges and in a separate text, even asked for a refund. I completely didn’t think I would get one but hey, if you don’t try, you won’t get! I basically wrote it off and thought nothing more of it. I’m out $10. Ha ha, they got me. At this point, I am still smarter than Jim. Until I got my next cell phone bill. Imagine my surprise when I saw the same charge again! After I had cancelled my “subscription” none the less. So I instantly went from being upset to down right pissed! Can this even be legal? So doing some more investigating, I realized there was a number to call and cancel. I quickly called and was greeted by a machine – because no human would be able to tolerate angry consumers call after call.  Oh, and I was ready. I was prompted to once again enter my cell number and was confirmed to be “un subscribed”. Feeling a bit better but still upset, I investigated on the internet. What a moron I am now! It took a total of 17 seconds to find out that not only am I not the only one, but it is very widespread and happens every day. I am actually lucky because the stimulus scam-too much to get into right now- charges your credit card over $50 monthly. I read of many horror stories of not being able to stop the charges. Here is a link for your additional reading > http://sprawl3.com/blog/2009/02/04/facebook-misleading-users-with-display-ads-grant-access-club-scam/ . I hate to think how many people got sucked into that one. I am still smarter than Jim though. At this point, I found an email for both Facebook and the quiz company. I sent them both your run of the mill ” I am upset and you need to make it right” email. Well all I received from the quiz company was an automated reply and nothing else. Facebook sent an auto reply and then responded the next day by saying that they were not responsible and would only offer to get me the company contact info but never did. I sent a follow up email stating that even though they are not affiliated with their third party companies, it was accessed thru their website and not making it right harms their reputation, implies they are responsible and even makes them guilty by association. Nothing back. You would think they screen their ads for this kind of stuff? Being smarter than Jim, I decided to call my cell phone provider and see what they can do. I had everything I wanted to say memorized and I was ready! Do you know that before I could get 30 seconds in to my well rehearsed spiel, the nice lady stopped me and knew why I was calling. Wanna know why? Because she takes several calls daily on the same problem! Again, are you kidding me? Wait, it actually gets better! She told me that there never was any attempt by the quiz company to cancel my monthly charges. Had I not called, the charges would continue monthly and she told me that the only way to stop the charges was to contact the cell phone company directly. I was assured that there would be no more monthly charges and thanked her several times. I can’t believe this can actually happen… Once again, doing some more internet surfing, it appears that Facebook looks the other way as this is how they make money. I understand about having to make money but doing it in a deceptive manner is rediculous. And this way seems almost criminal. I guess I am not as upset about the first charge because I was sooooo excited to see how smart I was, I was blinded by the need to know and wasn’t my usual thorough self. What really got my goat was the fact that after I made contact with the company to cancell further charges, they never made any attemp to stop them, and were never going to. Total scam. I mean really… Well, that’s my story. I am a little embarrassed but I felt the need to share so something like this doesn’t happen to you. Ever. If you actually took the time to read this, please know that it took atleast that long to write it, so share it with any friends and especially with your kids and anyone you know that uses Facebook. Learn from other peoples errors so you won’t make them yourself. And on a final note –  I called Jim and told him about the quiz and scam and he said” Oh, that quiz? Total scam. Don’t do it”. Thanks… I guess I am not as smart as the quiz said I was – but I am still smarter than Jim 🙂     >>> Update – Just a reminder, the ONLY way to stop the charges are to call your cell provider. Texting “stop” to the quiz only uses up your monthly texts.

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