Friday, August 28, 2009

Think & Grow Rich

Napoleon Hill - Think & Grow Rich (1937)

"Learn the secrets of the super achievers and how to use them for your success!"

I read this book because several of my previous readings were quoting it as a great read, a book that opened these authors' mind.
This book reminded a lot of the movie "The Secret", the message is very similar. Like the movie, they keep giving very detailed examples from the life of famous dead people to illustrate each idea.
For example Napoleon Bonaparte was a master in sex transmutation and was victorious as long as he was with the woman he loved. The style feels old and it reminded of these stories of apothecary sellings miracles and secrets.

There are still some good and valid points of necessary behaviors for success.

Below are some quotes I liked from the book

"Any person who wins in any undertaking must be willing to burn his ships and cut all sources of retreat. Only by so doing can one be sure of maintening that state of mind known as a burning desire to win, essential to success"
=> if you want to succeed you need to give yourself no other option. It requires full dedication, full energy, full risks. It needs to be an obsession.

"Every human being who reaches the age of understanding the purpose of money, whishes for it.


"If you think you are beaten, you are,
If you think you dare not, you don't
If you like to win, but you think you can't,
It is almost certain you won't.
Soon or late the man who wins
is the man WHO THINKS HE CAN!"


The Emil Coue formula "Day by day, in every way, I am getting better and better"
=> influence your subconscient

Specialized Knowledge

"The truth is that schooling does but little more than to put one in tthe way of learning how to acquire practical knowledge."
=> the most important is to know how to get people of knowledge work for you.

"The way of success is the way of continuous pursuit of knowledge"


Organized Planning

"A quitter never wins - and - a winners never quits"

A successful leader "knows that most men will work harder for commendation and recognition thant they will for money alone"
=> let the honors go to your team.

Sex Transmutation
"Sex is the most powerful of human desires. When driven by this desire, men develop keenes of imagination, courage, will-power, persistence, and creative ability unknown to them. So strong and impelling is the desite for sexual contact that men freely run the risk of life and reputation to indulge it."

The one "who knows how to take his mind off the subject of sex, and direct it in efforts with as much enthusiasm and determination as he would apply toits original purpose, has acquired the art of sex transmutation"

This book can be read online at

or downloaded from the Soil and Health Library

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Secret

The secret is some kind of documentary explaining the Law of Attraction.

I believe the Law of Attraction is true in part (if you don't wish for something, you're not gone get it, you will not even look for it!) but here it is presented in a pretty shallow way that involves a lot of mystery. The author just seems to say "close your eyes and order every thing you want from the catalog of the universe and you will get it; provided you wish for it thruthfully and constantly"

Below are some notes and remarks I took while watching the movie.

The secret is "the law of attraction" - hold on to the thought of what you want.
You attract what you want and think about the most.

"Thoughts attract things"
"Thing positively so positive things will happen to you"

I do believe that genuine positive attitude does attract generaly more positives responses from others and will help you in life.

Set yourself a goal, "You don't need to know the whole way how to get where you want to be. Think of when you drive a car at night, you can only see 200ft ahead, but then you will see the next 200ft, etc... till your destination.

"Focus on what you already have and feel grateful" that will boost your positive level. keep a token with you to remind you of it every day, all day.

Emulate in your thoughts what it would feel like to have what you want. Imagine the happiness.

"This is where magic and miracles happen"

Explains the placebo effects, your mind is the strongest factor into recovery.
=> at least something here that can't be refuted. Placebo effect is proven, but it is a case where the mind affects the body (not the universe).

"Focus on what you want, not what you don't want". Don't be anti-xxxx be pro-xxxx (the opposite: anti-war => pro-peace). Focus your energy on what you want, don't give free advertising to what you do not want. Being against something, gives that something exposure.

Ignore what you don't want, don't talk about it. => this will help you stay more positive.

"Whether you think you can or you can't; you are right". Ford

They're desperately looking to establish credibility. They boast long futile titles and degrees; that we are reminded of every 20 seconds; They keep quoting famous dead people out of context, since they're not famous themselves and dead people won't disagree.
They keep showing sugar-sweet testimonies of easy success and lavish lifestyles to create envy. That's what you'll get if you wish for it and a month is enough.

They quote mother Teresa as someone who understood the secret and applied it. Such a great person wishing so ardently for peace. However in the whole 20th century, there has only been 27 months of peace throughout the world.
What a poor result! On the other side, we see a simple-minded-looking guy who started wishing for a good parking spot everywhere he goes and he always gets it after only a month. He should have wished for a chauffeur!

If you want to know more
They have an online shop and two free ebooks there
- The Science Of Getting Rich
- The Master Key System

All in all, it's not badly done, it can create positive changes in people by giving them a motivation to change their behavior for the better and look forward their future with hope. However I'm afraid these changes would be based on loose reasoning.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Never Eat Alone

Keith Ferrazzi - Never Eat Alone

This is a very interesting book that illustrates the importance of networking for succeeding in life: Professionally and personally.
I enjoyed reading it.

Keith gives several practical tips on how to build and maintain your network. The book gives enthusiasm and energizes to do things differently.

You won't go anywhere by yourself. Hence Keith suggests that for every goal, one should write a NPA or Network Plan of Action.
Define the people that could help you reach your goal, either by their knowledge, their own network, their position...
Then strive to meet these people. (research for the most successful people in the field you are interested in, find out where you could meet them)

Before meeting the people you want to meet, do your homework and research who they are, what they like etc...when you finally meet them, flatter them by letting them know you researched them.

Whenever you decide to reach a certain position, start immediately to network in that domain.
Before changing career, build the network in that new domain, work for free to get references in that domain.

Establish a Personal Board of Advisors, similarly a company has a board of administrator, once should seek advise from several wise people or mentors.

Judge someone by how they treat people below them, not the people above them
Never forget who helped you get where you are in the present. Keep in touch. Don't hesitate to keep in touch with several people at the same time, for example you can very well meet 3-4 people for dinner and introduce them to each other.
Be an organizer, events, dinners, conferences, be a speaker at conferences...

Focus on giving and helping your network rather than receiving. Strive to be a connector and introduce people that can help out each other.
When you help others, they often help you.

After a talk, be among the first to ask a smart question and introduce yourself, that will probably be the only question most people will remember.

Don't be afraid of failure or rejection and rest in inaction:
"The choice isn't between success and failure; it's between choosing risk and striving for greatness, or risking nothing and being certain of mediocrity"

"Is it what you know or who you know that leads to success?
Both. Who you know determines how effectively you can apply what you know."

You need to broadcast who you are and your achievements
"Everyone sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are"

After meeting someone, always follow-up.
- Express your gratitude
- remember an item of interest from the discussion
- reaffirm whatever commitments you both made (meet again?)
If you met someone at an event where they probably met a lot of people, be the first to follow up, or get noticed, with a picture, a sentence remembering the discussion...

Check out Keith's blog at

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Home Buying Seminar

About 2 months ago I attened a Home Buying Seminar presented by Keller Williams

This was a friendly 2h long basic introduction of the buying process.
This was more oriented towards "home" buyers than investors and really insisted on the emotions involved with finding and buying the "dream home".

Their talk was followed by a presentation from Chase introducing the basics about mortgages.

Below are some notes I took.

- all the California Realtors offer Job Loss Insurance till 31 dec 09 (a $1500 value over 6 months)

- When buying a house never use the seller's agent as the buyer's agent (conflict of interest)

To pick the rigt buyer's agent, interview at least 3 of them before picking the one you want to work with.
Ask them question, How long have been in the area? how many customers at a time? average time to find a house...

For 1% increase in loan interest rate => your purchasing power decreases by 10-12%!

Different types of sales:
- Short sales a.k.a. pre-foreclosures
=> the sellers owes more than the value of the house
=> if the sale goes through, the lender will lose the missing money
=> the lender has to approve it
=>the house is sold AS IS

==> these sales are often stuck for up to 6 months, they are hard to close, you can cancel your offer at anytime, more offers can come in.

- in foreclosure
=> the owner stopped paying mortgage for 5 months or more
=> the bank tries to foreclose

- bank owned a.k.a. R.E.O. a.k.a. foreclosed
=> the bank owns the house
=> the bank will give quick responses on offers (2/3 days for a yes/no)
=> the house is sold AS IS, but a contract can force repairs or credit towards closing costs (= pay for the repairs)

- Property inspection of a house $450
- Termite inspection $150
- Closing Costs => 3%

Before buying a house,
- inquire whether there has been any new projects on the house? any add-on? or rezoning (flood zone, earthquake...)
- meet your future neighboors (even for investment property! good tenants will want good neighboors)
- home warranty => generally covers equipment and appliances such as dishwashers, plumbing systems, electrical systems etc. that fail due to normal wear and tear.

The Buyer's remorse
- I paid too much, I bought too fast, I didn't see enough homes...


Loan qualification will check
- Capacity to pay back: income, work history, debt
- Credit Score (need over 720)
- Capital
---Down Payment
---Cash Reserve (at least 2-6 months of expenses required)
---Cash for Closing costs (if seller doesn't pay them)
- Collateral : Appraisal of the property

Debt to income ratio should be below 38%
You can withdraw 10K penalty free from the 401K to use as down payment.

FHA loans have the same rate for everyone.
- down of 3.5$
- 1st time buyer or not

ACORN program
- down of 3%
- doesn't require mortgage insurance

- down 5%

Loan Pre-qualification is free => just give your data (do it online !)
Loan Pre-approval will usually have a fee ($300), is valid for 90 days only, all paperwork is verified Hard credit pull, W-2s, bank statements, employments....

You can improve your FICO score by 10-30 points within 30 days by opting out from Credit Card's mail list at

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rich Dad: Learn To Be Rich

2 months ago, I attended one of Rich Dad's free "Learn To Be Rich" session in a Hotel conference room close to me.

You can see the next ones at

The hotel parking was $11 and there were no other parking in 1/2 mile radius.
The room was not indicated, no drinks served, no warm welcome.

I sat in the room along with some 70 other people. We watched a video from Rich Dad's website while waiting for the session to start.

Our speaker greets us, I must say I was very impressed, he was one of the best public speaker I have seen. His talk was well built, well organized, perfectly mastered, funny and he was always anticipating the audience's reactions.

About 60% of the talk was actually a very convincing sales speech to have us sign up for a 3-day real estate seminar coming up at the same location in 3 weeks.

In short the seminar "normally" cost $995, but if one signs up tonight, it's only $495, for 2 people, you get pretty much every book, video and manual Rich Dad ever published, you get access to the web site, the advisers, and all sorts of pre-written contracts worth thousands in attorney fees. A quick search on the web reveals that they've been doing these free seminars, every week, with the same deals, for at least 3 years and I didn't find anyone happy with the 3-day seminar which seems to be more of a 3 days sales speech for a 7 or 15 days training camp. The planning they showed us for the 3-day seminar had something like 100 sections, way too many to do anything more than define each topic quickly and give simple tips.

I took a few notes on the non-sales part of the talk.

The only thing you need to do to become is rich is " FIND THE DEAL "
or in other words, find a house that you will buy for very cheap and that you will rent for very expensive after minor or no repairs.

Everyone can look for the DEAL, it does not cost a dollar, just time and passion.

once you found the DEAL, you have the First Mover Advantage
=> have the seller sign a 30-day contract to sell to you only (to lock him)
=> then you have 30 days to find the money to make the deal happen
=> and since it's a great deal, you won't have problems with that
if banks don't lend you money you can search the web for Hard Money Loan: investors that will lend you the money and take parts of the benefits.

Look for FSBO (For Sale By Owner) => there is no agents.

a 401K is savings, it's bad, it's wasted money.
Real Estate or owning a business is investing.

Economic Cycles: describe the regular ups and downs of the economy.
In average every 6 years the market will go up and crash.
In average a recession last 18 to 24 months.
The recession starts at the highest point of GDB preceding 2 quarters of negative growth.

We've been in the current recession for 18 months, hence in average we should have about 6 more months before it ends.

=> you need to act before, BUY NOW

There are 3 ways to get rich
- stocks
- creating a business, wholesale something = quick cash
- real estate => easiest, cheapest to start with

To identify & make the DEAL, it's all about having the right spreadsheets, forms, contracts.
=> Learn before you do, take a Real Estate Class.

When a recession ends, usually the economy goes in a phase of expansion that lasts 5 to 6 years.
=> you should only leverage at the beginning of the expansion
=> you should sell (stocks, real estate) before the market reach the peak, don't wait for signs of weakness.
=> sell some real estate, and pay off your 'best houses to keep' before the dump !

Use the 1031 transfer to build your wealth avoiding taxes
=> you need to keep buying for a higher value and in the same type of housing (single family home)

create a Real Estate Investment company
=> deduce from your taxes, gas mileage, trainings...

All in all, this was a great & fun experience, and if you decide to try it, I would suggest to go without cash, nor checks, nor credit cards, nor phone... just to be on the safe side. These guys are just too good at doing their business: selling you seminars.

Suggested reading: Randy Pausch - The Last Lecture

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Let's Get Some Free Money (2)

Open an ING ShareBuilder Brokerage account and get $25 for signing up

I will get 5 Free trades :)

You can also open a ING Orange Savings account and get another $25 for signing up then link both accounts for instant transfers, send me your email and you will receive a referral link.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Restoring a SqlServer DB causes login problems

I often see problems when migrating a SqlServer 2000 DB to SqlServer 2005, the database logins do not have a database server login, the db server doesn't let you modify the login throwing the error "Login name must be specified. (SqlManagerUI)".

Also often when doing a back up of a database then restore on a different DB server, the logins attached to the database at the DB level will not match the logis at the SqlServer level.

- With SqlServer 2000, you can simply delete the login at the database level, then recreate it at the SqlServer level, and re-assign access rights to your database
- With SqlServer 2005, this is trickier, as the UI doesn’t let you modify or delete the login at the database level.
The solution is to create the login at the SqlServer level, assign it access right to the database then run the command
sp_change_users_login 'auto_fix', myLogin

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Building Wealth One House at a Time

Building Wealth One House at a Time: Making it Big on Little Deals - John Schaub

This books provides many tips about all the aspects of becoming a real estate investors.

This is not complicated however it takes a lot of time and skills, once you acquired the knowledge, it can become easy and require less time.

Below are some ideas I found interesting in the book and worth nothing down.

It is better to buy a house than an apartment, tenants stay longer and tends to be cheaper. Houses have lower vacancies than apartments.

You want to rent to tenants that are not good at bargaining or have lawyers: avoid companies and commercial buildings.

Don't buy from another investor, he may be a better negotiator than you.
Don't sell to an investor, sell to someone who likes the house, he'll pay more

Diversify, Invest in cheap houses and more expensive houses.

Public records are online, compare neighboorhoods of houses you like
Buy in a town which grows in population

your first investments should be starter houses 1000-1200 sq.ft, 1-2 small bedrooms, no goodies... easy to rent
nicer houses gets nicer tenants, who take better care of the house.

more expensive house tends to bring less cash flow, but better capital gain (less taxed).

Long term tenants have a lots of furnitures, they like 3 BRs houses the best.

Avoid houses with pools, jacuzzi, fancy backyards, corner houses...

Don't let a seller simply refuse an offer, ask him what he is ready to accept.

Don't let a seller "shop" your offer == use it to show it to another buyer.
=> make the offer valid only for a short period of time (today only!, don't let them time to find a higher offer)
before making the offer, ask the seller is he is ready to sell the house today.

=> Justify this because of course there is another house you are interested in and you can't offer to buy both. This one is your favorite 

house, thus your first offer.

While negotiating the price, never tell a price first. Offer what you want to pay (at least 15% lower).

if the seller comes with a counter offer several thousands $$$ lower => he wants to sell.. make a small increase on your original offer and 

keep going.
if the seller comes with a counter offer very close to his original... he is not ready to sell yet

Realtor usually represents the seller's interests.

Negotiate the least important first (repairs, keeping washing machines, fridge....) and lose.... then invoke fairness when negotiating the 

price.... plus the seller will be happy to have won before, and would have been thinking about selling to you for a while already (after 

having negotiated a lot of small points)

Be careful of sellers that try to be your ally, and 'help' you do an offer that 'his manager' will accept. He pretends to fight for you!
Car sales do that systematically, when they know very well, since the beginning, what the minimum sales price is. They are professionnals.
turn them around, have them bid against themselves, call another salesman from a dealership of the same brand, and ask him if he can beat 

this price.
then tell the seller in front of you that you like his dealership better and if he could do better, you'd go with him.

Short term lease option contract (some kind of owner financing, but safer for buyer who do not qualify for loan)
Good option to sell the house for more.
The buyer pays a small down payment, then pays a rent, till he qualifies for a bank loan and pays off. Give them advise on how to improve 

their finance or credit score so they can get a bank loan soon. If the buyer doesnt qualify for a bank loan within the timeframe in the 

contract (1, 2 years). You get the house back, and keep the money.
It's better to offer the buyer to pay for a small options, low rent, but high buying price, he'll see less risk, and you get more chance to 

sell your house for a good price. (advertise $5000 moves you in)

=> since the house price is fixed, you take the risk that the house value increases during the contract, so shorter is better (you can do 

1-year extension with higher house price and rent price, at least +5%, if the market doesn't raise so fast you can lower it)

A monthly amount goes towards a credit that the buyer will receive if he buys the house within the contract period
=> use $100/month, a low amount avoids that the buyer buils equity, then don't buy the house but claims or feel entitled to shared-

=> about 50% of these sales close, for those that don't close, make the buyer a good tenant, extend the contract, don't force him out, give 

him half of hist deposit back to move out without doing problems.

Investors want to buy in a live-in home-owner neighboorhood, easier to resell for more expensive.
Avoid areas where all owners are investors.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The 4-Hour Workweek

The 4-Hour Workweek - Timothy Ferriss

Reading the back of this book, this guy has had an amazing life and is only 29!
It sounds very exciting to learn about his experience. and it is!

Tim convinces us that this is all not so hard and we can do it.

I wouldn't agree 100%, Tim is not anyone, he graduated from Princeton, created a company and made sure 80h/week for 3 years that it was working. And now he is managing it 'smartly' cashing in huge salary and working little.

The take home message for me is
- it's possible, anyone can immediately take several steps towards this
- Don't give importance to matters that don't deserve it. (80% of our time is used for 20% of our productivity)
- Remove interruptions from life to increase efficiency (emails, news, phone, coworkers)
- Don't Work For Work (W4W), being productive enough doesn't take 8h/day for everybody. Don't fill up your day with non-important tasks just to fill the day. Do your work fast and well then get out.

Of course, I'm going to critize some details he gives to convince us :)

Tim makes $80,000 a month and then he tells us he bought a magazine because there was a coke coupon and he wanted a coke? When he is trying to convince us of the value of our time.

Tim probably doesn't live in the same world, His world is - or was in 2001 - extremely cheap
- He could eat at a 4-5 star restaurant in Buenos Aires for $5?
- Rent a really nice apartment in downtown Berlin was $350?

=> my experience 2007 in Buenos Aires: for $25, you could only afford a 3 star restaurant and don't drink too much and 2005 in India, the 5 stars restaurants were $25.
=> Ok the $ lost value, the Euro and Argentinian Peso gained value, this still sounds out of proportion.

I liked his image that vacation are not that expensive if you compare it to rent in the US (even better if you're in California or New-York), but for most people it would be tough to stop renting, store/sell their stuff and go travel with the money saved. I like this idea.

Tim tries to convince us to write down your dreams for the short term and figure out how we can afford it.

I loved his concept of taking mini-retirements throughout your carreer: don't wait to be old to start enjoying. Also, if not, when you will retire you will not be used to it, you will not know what to do, and you will not enjoy it. You might end up saving money all your life, to have a great time once you retire, to find out you actually don't want to do these things. (And you will miss work, miss feelling useful and productive)

Below are some quotes I liked (couple are ideas that I re-phrased)

You are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too.

99 percent of people aim for mediocre.
So competition is harder for simple things.

A person' success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.
Resolve to do one thing every day that you fear.

Ask for forgiveness, not permission.

'Someday' is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you.

If the worse happen, how permanent would it really be? How hard would it be to go back to your starting position?
What's the probability that the worse will happen?
What's the probability that the best will happen? Will the best be permanent?

Information is useless if not used immediately.

Convince people using the Puppy Dog Close => make it a one time trial and reversible.
Offer better guanrante than competition, and longer return period (people will take their time and finally forget to return products)

Am I going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000? No, I just spent $600,000 training him.

Thanks to the interstate highway system, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything.

Suggested readings

David Schwartz - The Magic of Thinking Big
Dan Kennedy - How to Make Millions with Your Ideas: An Entrepreneur's Guide
Michael Gerber - The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It
Rolf Potts - Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel

More readings

Roger Dawson - Secrets of Power Negotiating: Inside Secrets from a Master Negotiator
Peter Bieler - "This business has legs": How I Used Infomercial Marketing to Create the$100,000,000 ThighMaster Craze
Richard Koch - The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Success by Achieving More with Less
Randy Komisar - The Monk and the Riddle: The Art of Creating a Life While Making a Living
Use orbitz then expedia, bid from 50% of regular price

Tim's Websites
This one is dedicated to fast reading, Tim give a quick sample tip in the book
1- read super fast for 2 min
2- for each line do not look at the 3 words from left and right (peripheral vision will read them)
3- train to read a line in 2 snapshots
4- read superfast doing the above for 3 min (too fast to understand)
=> now your normal reading speed should be double !

Finding manufacturers for your ideas:

It's a good book, enjoy!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

How much car insurance is enought?

This week I was trying to answer the question: "How much insurance do I really need?"

All over the web, the only answer is 'the minimum legal' or if you have valuable assets 'the more you can afford to protect them'.

I will try to answer this question here.

Bodily Injury and Property Damage is what we are concerned about.

Bodily Injury
Let's say you injured Bill in a traffic accident.
You will have to pay bill for his pain, mental anguish, lost wages, loss of family time and more... Yes you will have to pay damages if Bill can't have sex with his wife for sometime!.... how much is she worth? His employer can also come after you for productivity loss.

Unfortunately if the worse was to come, it will all be settled by numbers.

So here's the question that comes next:

How much does a serious injury cost?
How much would it cost in case of a death?

Find below the US national average for 2006 per injured

Incapacitating injury$201,100
Nonincapacitating evident injury$50,400
Possible injury$24,400
No injury$2,200

Property Damage Crash

(Data from the National Safety Council

Remember, if there are 2, 3, 4, 5 people in the car, the costs will multiply and unfortunately not your coverage.
So you should adjust your coverage with the number of people usually in your car, and in the cars around you.

Also, remember that all this does not need to be covered only by a car insurance, you can buy a global 'liability' insurance that will cover you for liability with your cars, houses...
some $200-$300 for $1Million then $50 per additional million.

You may be safer inside an SUV/Pick-up, but you have 6 times more risk of killing others in the event of an accident. SUV/Pick-up don't handle as well as cars and are four times more likely to roll over.

Public transportations are the safest, 10 times!

Below is a table of the coverages that my insurance offers me. You can select the different options you want and see the total. In red is what I believe appropriate for someone in a case similar as mine.
I drive a 4 years old VW Passat, which I consider safe.
I park it in a safe neighboorhood.
I live in California, bay-area => the chances of hitting a Mercedes, Porshe or Lexus are pretty high: I need a good Property Damage coverage.

Bodily Injury
This pays for the people you injure and protect your assets from lawsuits

Uninsured Motorist
This pays if you are injured by an uninsured

Property Damage
This pays for cars and properties you damage and protect your assets

This pays if you car gets damaged by theft or nature

$1000 Ded.
$500 Ded.
$250 Ded.
$200 Ded.
$100 Ded.
$50 Ded.
$0 Ded.
This pays for repair or replacement in case of an accident

$1000 Ded.
$1000 Ded./Waiver
$500 Ded.
$500 Ded./Waiver
$250 Ded.
$250 Ded./Waiver
$200 Ded.
$200 Ded./Waiver
$150 Ded.
$25 Ded.
Rental Reimbursement
This pays for rental car while you car is repaired after a collision

$25/Day, $750 Max
$50/Day, $1,500 Max
Medical Payments

Current Selection

Bodily Injury
Uninsured Motorist
Property Damage
Rental Reimbursement
Medical Payments
Grand total

Hopefully this will help you drive without worrying.

Good Day!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Investing For Your Future

Investing For Your Future is an online class offered by the Oregon State University extension service.

It covers pretty much every aspect of personnal finance at introductory level and encourages you to learn more by practicing yourself.

I like the fact that I can (hopefully) trust this source has unbiased information.

Below are a few information and investment tips I found worth writing down.

On a Company's Balance Sheet, the value of a company’s assets must equal the sum of its liabilities and shareholder equity (the total value of all shareholders’ investments in a company.

Current ratio is current (less than a year) assets divided by current liabilities. A 2:1 ratio ($2 of assets for every $1 of debt) is considered adequate.

Debt-to-equity ratio is a company’s total liabilities divided by shareholder equity. It should be less than 1:1.

Earnings per share is net income divided by the number of outstanding shares.

Price/earnings (P/E) ratio is calculated by dividing the share price by earnings per share

Types of Stocks

Growth stocks are those of companies that are expected to increase in value. They may have high P/E (price to earnings) ratios. This means that the price of the stock is high compared to the forecasted earnings. A high ratio tends to indicate a more speculative situation. A low ratio tends to indicate a more conservative investment.
Income stocks are expected to pay regular, relatively high (compared to other companies) dividends.
Speculative stocks are those that have potential for the future. They generally do not pay much in dividends and their prices may be relatively volatile.
Value stocks currently have relatively low prices compared to their historical earnings and the value of the company’s assets.
Blue chip stocks are those of established companies with relatively stable stock prices and relatively predictable earnings. Dividends have accounted for about 40% of the stock market’s total return, price increases for the remaining 60%.
Penny stocks are sold for $5 per share or less. They may be initial offerings with prices set intentionally low or stocks of companies that are experiencing difficult financial times. In either case, they are speculative stocks; if you invest in them, you should be prepared to lose all of your money

You can invest in/purchase real estate indirectly through
- Real estate limited partnerships
- Real estate investment trusts (REITs) They are required to distribute almost all of their annual income as dividends to investors (capital gain)
- Mortgage ownership

Online Stock trades are generally executed within seconds of placing an order

Municipal bonds are generally attractive to persons in the 25% marginal tax bracket and higher. Even though municipal bonds pay a lower return than other bonds, investors keep more of what they earn because the interest is generally federally tax-exempt. Interest is also state tax-exempt, if bonds are issued by an investor’s state of residence.

Use bonds to hedge stock investments. Buy a zero-coupon bond to guarantee the return of principal and use the balance of principal to invest in ownership assets (e.g., stock).

Many companies also allow their employees to borrow up to one-half of the funds from their 401(k) plan for any reason. Interest paid by the employee on the money that is borrowed from his 401(k) is paid into the employee's own account

Dividend Reinvestment Plans (DRIPs) and Direct-Purchase Plans (DPPs or "no-load stocks") allows you to buy stocks sometimes with no-fee or discount
see and

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Russian: Братья Карамазовы (Brat'ja Karamazovy)

The Brothers Karamazov is the final novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and is generally considered the culmination of his life's work.

The story is a little bit complex to grasp at the beginning, it took me some 200 pages to be "in" the book and start appreciating it.

Dostoyevsky spends a lot of time showing the struggle all the characters are going through and explaining their way of thinking.

The further you go in the story the more exciting it gets, the style and level of details of the story are remarkable. I particularly liked how the author understands the inner reasons that pushes his characters to act and explains their acts threw that. In this book, Dostoyevsky definitively shows that he is a master in psychology and that there are many ways of interpreting the same events.

Every detail has been thought through perfectly, and it all nicely takes shape as the story goes.

A quote: "Living as I do in conditions that render the exercise of hospitality impossible"

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Free Investing Courses

University of California has put online an investment course.

Yale also has put two videos courses online

I put these in my To-Do-List :)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Cheapest Kirkwood Pass 2009-10

Take advantage of this Unlimited Network Pass

Sold $379, a $200 reduction, and the group will send you $10 back via PayPal.

Get your pass at
login : deal
password : kirkwood

before the price increases on April 30th

Find the group details at

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Don't want to see Ads on the web?

The easiest way is to use Firefox and install the "AdBlock" add-on
This works really well for me and no maintenance needed.
Surf lighter!

My first time on the web

I was 18 when I first surfed the Internet.

This was back in September 1998.
I was joining a new school which had a computer lab with Internet access.
I was very excited, and the first day of class, for the lunch break, like many other students, I rushed to the lab to see this 'Internet' everybody was already talking about. (I was reading many computer magazines).

I knew I had to open a browser and type an address, I had written a couple addresses on a paper, which I obviously forgot.
I sat down at the computer, I was so excited that I could hardly remember any address, they were all mixed in my head, finally I typed "". Something comes on the sceen, I didn't understand what it's for, it wasn't intuitive, no pictures. I tried another address "" (the french USPS), nothing to do there either, I can see information but it's not relevant to me, I have no interest for it. I knew I was on something amazing but I couldn't grasp why. I saw it as a great tool for companies, professionnals seeking information about other companies, nothing really fun yet.
I quickly discovered the IRC chat rooms with their online friendships, love stories, bot wars, MP3 music, games, created my first HTML page... this was just amazing and so far less than we have today, this was when we had never heard of google yet :)

How was your first time?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Removing unwanted or pay-per-view TV channels

Many of us have access to 100s of TV channels and of course our TV is not smart enough to not show us the channels we don't pay for. Every time you change channels and go over one of them, you're TV will freeze some 30 seconds, then display that you need to buy this channel in order to view it.

Which is true, but how frustrating. I'd rather have my TV only show me the channels I can see, and if it could also skip these advertising channels that would be a bliss.

This is actually possible and even simple, activate the parental control on your TV and set all these channels as 'restricted/adult only', now enjoy surfing through your TV channels.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rich Brother, Rich Sister

Rich Brother, Rich Sister - Robert & Emi Kiyosaki

This book is like a memoir of the two authors retracing their life and how they find their own path to wealth or spirituality.
This is an easy read, and show the life path of these two interesting characters. Below are a few quotes I liked.

There have been only 29 years in all of human history during which a war was not underway somewhere.

Methodists are going to heaven and Catholics are not. Because our cross does not have Jesus hanging on it. The Catholics still have jesus on their cross, which means they do not believe in the resurrection, which means Catholics will not go to heaven.

While my sister was looking for spirituality in the wilds of the Big Island, I was looking for sex in the wilds of Waikiki.

Many people believe in god, but very few people trust I god.

It took getting cancer to wake me up to the reality that money is useful.

What is the quickest, easiest, most convenient thing to do so I can reach enlightenment right away?

We would not be happy being poor, working at a job we did not love, working with people we did not like, living below our means in a dangerous neighborhood, not being able to afford health care or the finer things of life.

Suggested reading:

R. Buckminster Fuller - Critical Path

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Don't Sweat Guide To Your Finances

The Don't Sweat Guide To Your Finances - Planning, Saving, and Spending Stress-Free (2004)

This is an introductory level book on finances.
It's principaly a list of simple difinitions and well known/obvious tips.
I disagree with several of them, or rather judge them not worth of being given.

The author is too much trying to convince people, that if they have debts, it's not their fault, it happens, and it's almost normal.
He's also full of saving money tips that starts by buying more.

Also several of his points sounds already outdated.

Still for people with little knowledge about finance, the book covers a wide range of aspects with a 1-2 minutes description of it.

Few notes:

Before investing look for some market indictors such as:
- the Labor department unemployment report (released 1st friday of each month)
- the Department of Commerce consumer activity report
- Inflation rate

You can take a credit line out of your home equity, you should get a loan with low rate. In case you need money for something else this could help you pay for it at a low rate, also interests are tax deductible.
It is sometimes interesting to get the paperwork done but not take the money out, if an emergency situation occurs, the loan is already approved and the money is available.

Dow Jones Industrial Average (30 largest stocks of NYSE) (Blue Chips company)

Growth stock/fund => no/low dividend, its value is expected to raise.
Value stock/fund => for dividends
Stocks are taxed at a lower rate than traditional income, and typically are protected from inflation (value grows with inflation)

Define your goals with deadlines and let people know what they are and update them on how far you are to reach them.

Corporate bonds are usually less interesting than stocks.
=> if a company gives you 10% over 10 years for your money, it means they believe they will make better than that.
So if they are right, you'd better buy their stocks and get that better return (on dividends or value).

Can be purchased via Treasury Direct website.
You get interests every 6 months, at the end you get your principal adjusted to inflation, interests are calculated on bond value adjusted to inflation.
Deflation doesn't change the value of the bond.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Getting Things Done

Getting Things Done by David Allen - "The Art of Stress-Free Productivity"

GTD is an interesting book, that gives you advises on how to become more efficient in your everyday life.

More efficient meaning
- 1- always know what you have to do
- 2- always know the things you are not doing
- 3- Focus better because your mind stops worrying about 1 & 2

Basic idea stripped down to its core is to use to-do lists.
The author explain several ways of creating, organizing and processing them for maximum optimization.

Most of us already do lists, or more probably one list, however we would gain more by doing this if were following this process all the way.
=> do not leave anything unlisted
Then your mind really stops worrying, and you will feel better and be more focused.
Also don't only list the things you have to do, list also the things that you are waiting for (from others, or at a particular date/event)

Another good advise that I will keep is that, you should write your to-do list(s) in terms of actions. You should write the first physical action you need to perform to get that project going. The thinking and decision making must be done beforehand so your mind won't mind picking up the task anytime and doing it.

The first part of the book explains this theory.
The second part of the book is very detailed explanations and tip on how to implement it. This part is probably better for people that feel like they can't manage with a single list or that they are still overwhelmed and need more rigorous methods.
You will spend more time getting things off your head, but if it is what it takes to free your mind this is what you need to do.

This organization will help you trust yourself on what you choose to do and what you choose to not do. You will feel better with your decisions, knowing that you sacrifices item X for item Y because it was more important to you.

It is crucial that your list must be available anytime, anywhere, simple and fast to update.

Maintain your email inbox at less than 10 items: act on, file, delete or put in to do list all emails as soon as possible.

One state of mind that the book tries to convince you to adopt is that everything that will take more than 2 minutes should be done immediately. You will waste more time to postpone it, add it to your to do list or keep worrying about it and finally do it.

so do not delay any short tast that you can do right at the moment, work, personal, even something misplaced.

Having a list of short /easy things to do will allow you to multi-task better in dead times (waiting for someone, on hold, etc).

This need to become systematic, a habit, you will be seen as a more reliable personne and with this gain of reliability and efficiency you will son be doing much more, and be given more to do. Be ready!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

.NET Web Services incredibly slow

Recently I was working with a customer that had very poor performance with an application using web services.
After studying the network trace, it seemed like every call would lag some 20 seconds between the time it goes out from one server and the time when it reaches the other server.
However, when doing the same call manually, we would not experience such a lag.

Traces within the application would not show any lag either.

Thankfully it is possible to activate traces at the .Net Framework level as explained here.

basically you can add the following to your machine.config file
      <source name="System.Net" tracemode="includehex" maxdatasize="1024">
          <add name="System.Net"/>
      <source name="System.Net.Sockets">
          <add name="System.Net"/>
      <source name="System.Net.Cache">
          <add name="System.Net"/>
      <add name="System.Net" value="Verbose"/>
      <add name="System.Net.Sockets" value="Verbose"/>
      <add name="System.Net.Cache" value="Verbose"/>
      <add name="System.Net"
    <trace autoflush="true"/>

Add it for example just before the </configuration> tag.
then restart your .NET application (if it is hosted in IIS, IISRESET)

You can also change network.log for C:\network.log.

This will give you great details about what .NET is doing after the call left your part of the code.

In my case, the application was running as a service under a specified user account which had an invalid proxy server defined in its Internet Options, thus every call was timing out trying to use that proxy before being successull with the DIRECT route.

Don't forget to remove it once you're done debugging :) 

Robert Kiyosaki: October 2008 teleconference

Presenting the Rich Dad's point of view on the current economy.

Robert is foreseeing a depression. He compares the current stock market crash to the 1989 crash.
It is time to start investing. Keep your emotions low and look for opportunities. Invest at the bottom of the market.

It is not time to save, Hyper-inflation is about to come.
FDIC doesn't protect anyone, they have no money, they will only keep printing more money and devaluating more and more the money.
"The U.S. Federal Reserve Bank isn't federal, there are no reserves, and it's not a bank."
The bailout is going to top $5 trillion. The Bailout rips savers off. FDIC increased insurance to $250k because there is no money, they don't want people to come ask for it, and so repeat it is safe 'in the banks'. FDIC doesn't protect your money, it protects the banks from crashing.
Banks have no money, this is why they don't lend. Today cash is king, but soon cash will be trash.
We have 2-5 years to get rid of our cash before the inflation comes.
There is a risk that the currency completely collapses, this just happened to Iceland, their currency is worth nothing.
Gold, silver, oil, Real estate are good stores for your money, get stocks in solid companies. Don't do all of this, pick a domain and become an expert at it.
Invest for cash flow & dividends, not capital gain, don't hope to sell an asset for more than you paid for it.

Affordable B class Real Estate is more interesting, people can afford to rent it.
high-end is riskier.

Get Trained, follow courses in Stock trading, Real estate investment, Sales, accounting.
Look for very depressed markets that have a chance to go back.

401K workers are screwed:
forget about compounding interests, look at compounding mutual fund expenses, inflation and taxes at the exit.

Young people think "it's OK, retirement is far away, I have time to catch up..."
=> It's gone take 25 years to go back up and it's gone happen again moron !

(Suze Orman says the opposite, keeps advising to save in 401k, but her targeted audience is people who are already deep in bad debts)

The last depression lasted 25 years (1929-1954). Statistically there is one depression every 75 years. You're gone live through it.

5 Things entrepreneurs should know

notes from Robert Kiyosaki: November 2008 Webinar

Entrepreneurs should work ON the business, not IN the business, they should not do the work, they can't handle everything.

1) Have a Global Phylosophy
Remove borders worlwide, have an unselfish goal.
Create a brand and stick to it.

2) Public Relations
Be media trained, know how to speak to television, to a journalist, to the internet.
Know how to lie.
Investors that get PR go way further than those who don't.
One of the best way to promote your brand.

3) Marketing
Umbrella around your promotion, events, advertising

4) Sales
If 1, 2, 3, are strong, sales are easy, and then money pours in.

5) Money

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Rich Dad TV Podcasts

I have listened to the 11 Rich Dad TV Podcasts.
These shows are about 30 min longs and here are the ideas I found valuables:

If you have an idea, protect it with the help of a lawyer, this means copyright, trademark, patent and more!

There are several type of companies that will provide different advantages:

Sole-proprieatorship is bad
=> good for taxes but not protection

general partnership is horrible...
=> you are responsible for all partners !!!

C-Corporation has no protection and more taxes

S-corporations are good.

Use LLC & LP to hold assets, to protect properties.
You should use 1 LLC for each property.
$675 attorney fee for LLC + filing fee
Create your corporation in Wyoming or Nevada => These states have the best asset protection laws, then qualify the corporation in your home state.

Investing in stocks is not too risky if you use tools like "put" and "calls"

If a stock starts to go down, you can set automatic sell order.
"Stop losses" use "put" and "calls"

If a stock goes up buy a put at current value, it's like an insurance.
buy another one later on if stock keeps raising...
if market drops... you get your stock at put value...

Mutual funds or stocks should be insured => automatically sell if loses 5%.

The rich are trying to get deeper into debts.
A bad debt, is the debts you pay off yourself.
A good or investment debt is paid by tenants.

Get Rich by taking companies public!
You wanna be a private investor in a company before it goes public
You wanna be a "selling Shareholders" (sell for 10 times what you paid)
Company going public => IPO Initial Public Offer ("buying shareholders" get the share, usually multiply by 2 or 3 quickly)

How to find companies that might go public soon?
=>Ask brokers what's hot, then find out which private companies do that, and try to invest in them and take them public.

Real estate could give you 100% return
$100 000 property
$20 000 down
$10 000 net income after expenses.
=>cash return 50%

If you could get the same house if $10 000 down your return would be 100%

Investors looks for apartment complex which are badly managed then fix the problems: reduce expenses, increase rent, reduce vacancies, restore the property...

After some time, mainly if you fixed the property and the asset value or equity has increased, you can refinance, and get the down payment back tax free because it's a refinance and you improved the equity, so no need for down, then your ROI is infinite (0 down payment)
Take your down, start something else.

In real esate, flippers are losers.
=> They have lot of work, pay a lots of taxes, and risk that the house depreciates

Rich move their money, The velocity of money.
example, you start investing in a 10 units => 100 units => 800 units => 1200 units... and you don't pay any taxes building your wealth thanks to the 1031 program.
=> cash flow of $50k / month (passive income)

Debters are winners with devaluation of currency
saves are losers with inflation

Fiat Currencies don't store value. They are not money. Fiat Currencies have value because an authority/the government says so.

If you would measured the stock market in Gold Value instead of Dollar Value, it shows that the stocks are crashing, down 50% for more than 10 years.

Government keeps printing more currency and devaluates the existing.

You should put some of your portfolio in gold, when the value of the currency goes down, the value of gold goes up.
Gold is a tool to help stabilize your portfolio.

Avoid Negative People.

When you take the money out of 401K (growing tax free), you are taxed as earned income,
so unless you are planning on retiring poor (meaning taking out a little money every year) you will pay the highest rate of taxes!

Hard Work will not make you rich.
You don't wanna be a 'W2' worker, no tax advantages, nothing to save you !

You want to convert earned income into passive or portfolio income.

The Game 'CashFlow' Punishes you for making more money, buying doodads and rewards you for investing.

Fast Track => When your passive income is higher than your expenses, then you become free.

"Mutual fund morons think they are investors"

"Diversifying is like going to a horse race and betting on every horse. The only way you win is if the darkest of dark horses wins."

How to pick a Location to invest in Real Estate
- Jobs
- Demographics, Population retiring, Population Growing
- Affordability

(Las Vegas will grow, baby boomers will go soon and keep working for cheap as they can't afford retiring fully)
(Location with lots of immigrants, they are good renters and don't buy houses)
(21 Year olds population)

Proforma financial Statement = As If = best case scenario = Lies != Actual financial Statement

Opening a franchise is an easy way to go on the B side (business owner), the franchise will help you, but don't do it your way. build a good team, hold people accountable, show leadership

Choose your advisors but take the decisions yourself and assume them.
Women investment clubs beats Men investment clubs

My assets buy my luxuries.
My goal is to create a business, then buy 2 houses a year.

Suggested Readings

Why We Want You to Be Rich: Two Men - One Message by Donald Trump & Robert Kiyosaki
Rich Dad's Advisors®: The ABC's of Real Estate Investing: The Secrets of Finding Hidden Profits Most Investors Miss by Ken McElroy
Rich Dad's Real Estate Advantages: Tax and Legal Secrets of Successful Real Estate Investors by Sharon Lechter
Rich Dad's - How To: Get Your Banker to Say "Yes!"
Rich Dad's Advisors: Own Your Own Corporation: Why the Rich Own Their Own Companies and Everyone Else Works for Them by Garrett Sutton

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

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