Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I've made my Vonage Losses Back!

I had initially invested $3000 in Vonage because I thought the idea of VoiP was a great one, and I thought they had real name recognition and an advanced lead in the market.

Boy was I wrong....and the world began to crash in on my $3000 investment. I sold half of it about half way down and then by the time I sold the second half, my $3000 had turned into a nice small $2000.
(which was easier to fit into my pocket for sure....but that's hardly a GOOD thing when it comes to investments)

So I set along to make my money back.

I decided that I needed to invest in a higher risk item, and that a Chinese stock would be just the ticket.

Well, I chose CHU (Chinese Unicom) and FXI (a Chinese IShare of 25 stocks).

Well, I am happy to say that the value of my investment as of today is $3032.95....so I am back in the money again! in fact, on about July 23rd, my investments here were worth $3436.....so I actually missed a nice high about a month ago. (But then I am more of a buy and hold investor with small reassessments every 6 months or so)

So I am sitting here reassessing once again....it is time. Should I sell? (or do I actually have much bigger fish to fry in my ever larger retirement account.....yes, I think I do. I will "let it ride" for now!)

It still feels good to make money.....

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Surprised by a calculation and a few words on what money is to me

Last night I was facing down my two girl's college tuition bills and trying to figure out where exactly to take the money from.

I began my investigation by making a list of the various places we have money invested. (I'm a bit of a worry-wart, so I like to be pretty well diversified.)

So I made a list of both retirement and straight savings.....of money I have and money the girls have too.

My first observation was that I was surprised at the money we had saved. Well, not shocked....but it had grown to level that was slightly higher than I thought. Very close to a goal Cheryl and I had a while back......before the great stock market melt-down early this decade. But here it was, after losing about 25% back then. (and many lost much more.....but being a conservative investor, I don't chase risk....so I also don't make as much as I could either, but it's not about who dies with the most money anyways....right)

So after the pleasant net worth surprise, I also remembered some bonds that my mother and father had been buying for Kimberly and Kristen all those years.....earmarked for their education.

You see, over the years my mother bought them EE savings bonds with the idea that they would be used for their education. They were not very large denominations....mostly $25, $50 and a few $100.....but she would do that maybe twice a year...birthday and Christmas.

The idea was that it showed the girls that she was supporting our country and helping them save for college. (My parents were not at all wealthy, but were big into saving.....I believe they only had one credit card, from Sears, and that was just in case a home appliance failed and they needed to get one. They taught me to be a saver.....a cash buyer if you will)

Anyways.....over the years, these savings bonds added up....and over half of them have surpassed their face value. (ex: a $50 EE bond costs $25 to buy, but gets to $50 according to the rule of 72 "Doubling time" depending on the interest they pay....and they keep getting that interest for I think it is 30 years)

NOTE: To be fair....I always talk about my mother when I speak of money....she held the purse strings, but bothy my mom and dad were very good savers...and while my mom knew the value of a buck, I think my dad had a better handle on "the math" any how compound interest was your friend....if that makes sense.

My mother started this bond buying as soon as the girls were born. Kim has 31 bonds and Kristen 18. (It looks as though Kristen was short-changed, but she seems to have larger denomination bonds for some reason)

Kim currently has $12,767.56 and Kristen $10,346.66. (I knew my mother would NEVER have favored one over the other...and the totals show that.)

So why think of this at this point......Kimberly is a senior. This is her last year to use this money for school, and therefore get the interest tax-free. Kristen has three more years to user hers....and since she is planning to go on to a PhD, she has even more time.

My parents were really the best......yes, I suppose I am biased, but I truly mean that. (yes, they were far from perfect....let me state that for the record...but who is anyways?)

My parents were product sof the great depression, and they started out very poor. Bother were not well educated, having dropped out of High School for different reasons (My mom to take care of her mother, and my father to go into the war) but they didn't have a hate or fear of money. (or education for that matter)

In fact, they really appreciated the value of both...and they also saw the negatives and pitfalls each offered too. To some, it doesn't seem as though money or education can have a negative side...but my parents felt that if you let money rule your life, you might never be happy.....and if you let education get you to think you were somehow better, superior or better than others.....you would suffer as well. (and not live up to your potential in terms of your value to society)

So they always taught me that money was a tool....a means, and in no way an end. We didn't work and save to amass money for power...or in any way for greed. If we saved, we did so for good, honest reasons.....and we saved money for a particular purpose.....not just for the sake of saving money.

Saving for a house was great.....we have to have a place to live, and owning a house brings a certain level of stability to life. Saving for education was great.....making ourselves better with knowledge would allow us to be more valuable to the world so we might be able to give back more. Saving money to help others in time of need was good as well.....to them it was ok for money to help with security......but not power and in no way was it the reason to save in and of itself. (saving for retirement was important to them because it allowed the parents to be self-sufficient and NOT become a burden on their kids.....who BTW, they felt had an obligation to help their parents.....so if the parents saved, they would be further helping their kids by NOT becoming a burden)

Bottom line is what my dad used to day all the time:
"Money doesn't make the world go around, but it sure greases the wheel."
It is important....it must be dealt with, perhaps even respected.....it is a tool, but it can not be the end in and of itself.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Layooff announcement makes me think about my budget

The recent annoucement of layoffs by Sun Microsystems has once again made me think a bit about my household budget.

It's not that my budget is out of control....on the contrary, it is running quite well. My cash outlay for my daughters school was never part of the regular monthly budget because it is just too much to be paid for that way. (We saved for it, so it sort of comes out of a pool of money set-aside for that)

But I should get "selected", it is not clear that the severance package will be very big, and I already know what unemployment pays. (eeek....time to go back to the Airport to suppliment my income?)

The good news is that it was only last night that I was called by a start-up company in North Carolina about a job there. Let me be perfectly clear though....I am NOT excited about going to North Carolina.....for many reasons! So even if I was laid off two minutes from now, I would not consider that kind of move. (too many reasons to want to stick around.....friends and family being the big things)

But I would have to look at money saving things.....perhaps taking the van off the road......changing my driving habits to go back to 40MPG in the Civic. Turning off the water heater every night. (OK, so that's a very small savings) You get the picture......

But let me reiterate.....I have no plans to get laid off. I'm not sure that my position at work makes me more or less likely, but at this point I refuse to worry about it since it is totally out of my control.

We actually have a fair bit of money saved, and I would go and talk to Larry about perhaps putting more of it into "more" risky investments in order to gain a bit more income......but I'm not crossing that bridge unless I have to.

In the mean time, I will continue to save and do my best at work.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Stock Market Analysis Report