Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Take my Survey on Tipping Practices

I've started a new series on Queercents on Tipping Ettiquette and am looking for people to respond to my Survey there.

Also my new regular blog is Broken Cupid, a dating blog for single gay men. If you're into that sort of thing, check it out.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Triumphant Return

I will be returning to the world of Personal Finance blogging!!! Not here but as a regular contributor to, a financial site for the GLBT community.

My column will appear on Thursdays starting on Jan 10th. :)

Friday, April 28, 2006

Closure: Last Entry

A lot of issues have come up in my life involving my job and career development that have made keeping this blog a low priority. It's really a shame because I got to (sort of) know and build relationships with a lot of other bloggers like frank, dawn and mapgirl. I never earned my * from madame X or got to submit to any carnivals.

It was almost over before it started.

But now is the time to focus less on how I manage money and turn towards how I make it. I'm learning ruby on rails development language, SQL and AJAX to get my resume up to snuff so that I can enjoy my life and what I do for a living again.

However if you are by any chance interested in my real life outside of finances-- there's plenty of job-bitching, wine drinking, club going, code hacking, graphic design goodness happening over at my livejournal:

When my life settles down again who knows. In the mean time I have y'all on my RSS and will be reading up as I get the chance.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Credit Card Belt Buckle.

Ever want a really handy place to store your credit cards? How about your belt buckle? No? I thought it was a bad idea too but a Swedish company seems to think there's a demand:

Now I can't imagine thieves would think to mug you for your belt, especially since the buckle would have to be larger and thicker than your standard credit card. And there is a certain James Bond appeal to the whole thing. But seriously... if I started pulling Amexes out of my trousers to pay for things that would raise more than a few eyebrows.

Unless you're in Sweden-- they're very permissive.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Coupon Feeds and $400 Email

Two financially related new web services launched today. One potentially good, the other just ludicrous-- coupons via RSS and Millionaire Email. is still in beta [and currently their site appears to be going in and out]. Basically it offers coupons for local businesses via RSS feed, which means if you use bloglines you get notified when the coupons come in. Of course it's all a matter of how worth it the coupons are. I get huge value packs of coupons every week that just go in the trash because it's too much to search through all those Madame Alexander doll offers and personalized checkbook coupons to find something I might conceivably use.

Michael Arrington of Tech Crunch had this to say on why it's a good idea: "In the long run, Zixxo should gather incredibly valuable information on consumer demand. Zixxo can then go to local or national retailers and offer to sell into this demand. For example, if Zixxo has ten thousand bay area users who are looking for deals on flowers, Zixxo can take this information to 1800Flowers and offer to sell a coupon into this demand stream. It's pull advertising at its best."

And then there's the bad: "Do you belong to high society? Then take this chance to demonstrate your position in an unambiguos manner. The digital era has begun and free email accounts are available for the ordinary joe. Rise above the crowd!"

Yep you've heard of the personal concierge and the black Amex cards. Now you can have a basic email service that costs 399$ per month from millionaires24!!! A sure sign that you have way too much money.

And it's not even good. It looks like they threw a custom template on one of the free email packages that comes free with web hosting software. Given the fact that I was able to partially log into it by using the default username, I don't think it's very well-coded. This is a total rip off.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Finance and Religion: Islamic Banking

I just had a fascinating financial discussion with my Muslim co-worker. According to her beliefs it is against her religion to earn interest. Interest is a form of usury, which is to say charging a fee for the use of money. The interest rate accrued on accounts can by that definition be considered money lending. Both the Bible and Q'uran condemn it in many passages.
I don't think many Christians, adhere to this philosophy. Certainly not in capitalist America. The economic ramifications of a no usury economy would be devastating. But it raises so many questions about personal finance for people who don't believe in usury. How does one plan for retirement? Because a diversified portfolio like a 401k may include savings accounts and stock in companies which profit from pork, alcohol and gambling -- that's probably out of the question.

Wikipedia has an interesting article about how Islamic Banks work and get around the problem of usury. For example instead of offering a mortgage loan, a bank would buy the property itself and sell it for a profit (and in installments) to the buyer.

Other moneylending practices emphasize shared risk between the borrower and lender so that it is more like a partnership. In one case a business loan interest rate is variable, based on the profits and success of the business.

Personal savings accounts don't offer interest but the bank, in gratitude, may offer a "gift".


Side note: It's been tough maintaining two blogs, especially with my current workload so I'm going to cut back on the updates. Just add me to RSS and you won't miss anything.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Budget Billing for Electricity.

Our power company offers a budget billing program where you can basically pay the average of all your yearly electrical payments as a monthly sum. I had it at my last place and now that I've been at my new apartment for a year I was considering signing up for it again just because I like the idea of my bill being the same every month.

But this is probably a case where it would hurt me rather than help me. The program is great if you're on a limited budget and a monthly utility spike could send your checkbook into the red. But in my current situation where I can more than cover my utilities, it doesn't make much sense from a practical of financial standpoint.

For one, it would mean overpaying about 50% of the time. That's money is rolled up into a hidden balance used by the program to calculate my annual rate... in other words-- it's pretty much out of my hands until I leave the program; if there's a balance. It's not a major issue but having control of my money allows me to save more when costs are low.

The second thing is that it masks energy consumption. I admit I don't really look at my online electric bill and try to make sense of my killowatt hours. Seeing the actual amount due go up or down though is a pretty good indicator of my electrical usage. If there is anything out of the ordinary I'm more likely to notice and research it.

I'm going to stick with paying a variable amount every month since I don't need to budget.

Blogging is the New Get Rich Quick Scheme

For only $280 you too can learn how to earn tons of revenue from blogging.... Riiiight.

A review of the contents of the program looks like stuff that's freely available online and has been since the 90's (replace "blogs" with "websites" and "google juice" with "meta tags"). The problem with creating a really successful blog that gets lots of links (which is where your real traffic comes from) is that you actually have to do something unique, not just optimally place your adsense according to some arcane feng shui. There is no formula for success.

Being a really amazing writer covering an interesting topic that the general public wants to know about is a good start. According to A-list blogger, Hugh Macleod, It all comes down to porn: "Does your blog suffer from low traffic? It's probably because there's not enough porn on it. Sex Porn, Real Estate Porn, Wine Porn, Biz Porn, Soul Porn, it doesn't matter."

It should be noted that I in no way expect to earn even three figures from this blog. I think the pfblogging community may not be the best place to make adsense revenue, but there is a lot to be learned about money/spending/saving/frugality/simplicity/investing and that translates into real value.