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!