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Virtual Stupidity

August 11th, 2007 at 08:50 am

Apparently the biggest "bank" in Second Life has frozen withdrawals and converted deposits into perpetual bonds that are trading at a steep discount to face value. The thought that avatars might be throwing themselves off virtual sky-scrapers in financial ruin would be funny, except that I'm sure that many people have spent lots of real hours accumulated Linden dollars with the expectation to eventually convert them into real USD. Where they ran into trouble was investing the Linden dollars with a virtual bank that was offering an interest rate equivalent to 44%pa. With the Linden:USD exchange rate fixed this was never going to be sustainable in the long term, and the recent "run" on the virtual bank was inevitable.

Copyright Enough Wealth 2007

DFS(FP) Update 4

August 3rd, 2007 at 07:28 am

I checked through some of my email accounts yesterday and noticed that my assessment items for the DFS1 course had been marked and feedback emailed to me last Wednesday. The turnaround time for marking (3 business days) was very impressive. Three out of the twenty assessment items weren't quite right and will need to be ammended and resubmitted. That won't be any trouble as the feedback email explained what areas need to be improved and provides references to the relevant pages of the study guide to use as a reference.

Doing this course is a lot like the Certificate courses I've studied at TAFE (technical college) rather than the courses I've done at uni - everything you need to know to pass the course is provided in the printed course notes, and provided you work methodically through the course it's almost impossible to fail. Again like TAFE, doing the DFS(FP) course provides a sound foundation of the basics and the technical requirements (eg. rules and regulations), but, unlike a uni course, doesn't require much creative thinking or independent investigation to pass.

I've only completed the first one of the twenty assessment items for the DFS2 module (insurance) so far - I'd better get cracking on some more of it this weekend. My GradDip Ed course commenced last week and I don't want to fall behind in the readings for that course. Unlike the science and computing/math courses I've done in the past, the education course material isn't hard to comprehend and absorb, but does require a TON of reading. The assessment items are all essays, which means lots and lots of background reading and recording tons of quotes with referencing (in the approved "style").

Copyright Enough Wealth 2007

DFS(FP) Update 3

July 28th, 2007 at 05:37 pm

I finished off the last of the 20 assessment activities for the DFS1 course at work during lunchtime of Friday and mailed them off for marking. This first module "Financial Advice" is mostly about the regulatory requirements and contains a whole lot of templates for the Fact Finder used to get relevant information about clients who want personal financial advice, a Risk Analyse to give a rough gauge of ow risk tolerant a client is, and sample Statement of Advice and a letter acknowledging the client has received all the relevant information, notifications and warnings. It very briefly mentions aspects of financial planning that should be considered when developing a financial plan for a client, but doesn't go into much detail about the various strategies and how to select the most appropriate one. Someone who passes this course will know what they are supposed to be doing, and how to dot all the i's and cross all the t's when providing advice, but whether or not they know HOW to do it well will depend on natural ability, background, and knowledge of the various strategies that can be employed for clients in different circumstances.

I'll start working on the next module DFS2 "Insurance" next week - it's likely to be the most boring and the one I know least about. The final two modules "Superannuation" and "Investment" are likely to be mainly revision and shouldn't take very long to complete.

I want to get all the DFS(FP assessment items finished as soon as possible as my GradDip Education course starts again next week and I'll need to start working on the assignments for that by the end of next month.

Copyright Enough Wealth 2007

Good News Day

July 24th, 2007 at 04:32 am

Mum is OK - she had a tetanus shot and a diptheria booster for the wound on her hand, and is on antibiotics, but she was lucky and didn't break anything or get a concussion when she passed out and fell head-first into the bedroom wall. She was even feeling well enough to have us over for dinner this afternoon.

Meanwhile, my AUD/USD forex trading has been doing well - going long the AUD in the recent strong uptrend has made back some of my previous trading losses. I put a total of A$4,000 into my forex trading account and was down to A$1200 at one stage. My balance is now back up to A$2240 with the AUD at US$0.8847. If the Aussie dollar reaches 90c US I'll be close to break-even on my trading account. I've still managed to lose a bit of money every time I try to "day trade" the short term ups and downs, but the general uptrend has continued as I expected. If I'd just started out my forex trading with a smaller positions and thus allowed a larger margin buffer (so I didn't get liquidated on short-term dips in the AUD) I would have made a profit from the overall trend. Then again, any gains I make from my forex trading are really just hedging the currency losses on my US stock portfolio.

Today the Australian stock market was back up 40 points, more than making up yesterday's drop to close at a record high. So my stock investments and superannuation account balance are looking good.

Copyright Enough Wealth 2007

Mini Medical Mayhem

July 23rd, 2007 at 08:23 am

Today was a day for medical mini-crises. First, DS2 was awake all night with a nagging cough, and by 5am we weren't sure if he was suffering from asthma of just badly conjested lungs. We've all had the same lingering chest cold for more than a month, but DS2 is only 10 months olds so it's more of a concern. He already had one course of anti-biotics several weeks ago, which got him over the worst of it, but the slight "rattle" and cough never went entirely away. Then last week he developed another runny nose, and his cough got worse over the weekend. So at 6 am we were debating whether to take him to the hospital emergency department, or just to our local GP. As the wait in the ER would probably be at least 2-3 hours we decided to go to the GP first. We managed to see the doctor at 9am despite not having an appointment, and it seems that DS2 probably doesn't have asthma, just a bad chest infection - maybe a spot of pneumonia. We then dropped DS2 off at my parents place for baby-sitting along with the first dose of new course of anti-biotic, and managed to get to work only a couple of hours late.

When we collected DS2 this afternoon he was looking well and had been resting comfortably all day and not causing Grandma too much trouble. So all seemed OK for DS2 to stay with Grandma tomorrow as usual (DW is working 2 days a week now). Then, at 9pm my Dad phoned to say than Mum had hurt her hand and then fainted while walking to the bedroom to lie down for a rest... Unfortunately she apparently hit her head when she passed out, and hurt her nose and some teeth. Last I heard Dad was going to take Mum to the ER for treatment and will phone with a progress report in the morning...

So I'll be taking a day off work tomorrow to look after DS2 (and check up on Mum's condition). I may need to take Mondays and Tuesdays off work for a couple of weeks if Mum isn't up to baby-sitting for a while.

Copyright Enough Wealth 2007

How Much Does Insurance Cost?

July 18th, 2007 at 09:13 am

The answer of course is personal, as it depends on what type and how much cover you decide you need. For interest I added up my main insurance costs to see how much I'm paying:
Cover $ Policy Type Premium /mo
$400,000 Death or TPD $89.84
$62,340 pa Loss of Income' $59.81''
Private Hospital $151.45'''
Car CTP $27.58
$340,000 House & Contents $82.93
TOTAL COST /month $411.61

' 2 year waiting period applies, paid until age 65
'' Premium is tax deductible
''' After government premium discount has been applied

The recent tree fall that could easily have destroyed our rental property shows the value of insurance, but I wish it was possible to buy insurance "direct" from the insurer and get the commisions rebated - most insurance policy premiums pay a large chunk of the first years premium and a considerable trailing commision to the insurance broker who "sold" you the policy.

Copyright Enough Wealth 2007

Account Keeping Software

July 7th, 2007 at 08:52 am

My subscription version of Quicken 2006 Personal Plus expires in a couple of days. I'd got it free with a copy of Money magazine last year but never really used it much. I used to enter all my financial transactions into Quicken back in the mid 90s, but I no longer had to time to enter everything regularly once I got married. I want to start recording my transactions in detail again, especially my stock transactions, so I'll need some software, but I'm not sure if I'll pay for the 2007 version of Quicken Personal Plus or try something else. I had a look at expensr.com but it doesn't seem to cater for stock transactions (at least not in the detail I'm used to with Quicken). I ordered the 90-day free trial CD of Quicken 2007 Personal Plus, so I'll try it out and see if it's worth buying or not.

Copyright Enough Wealth 2007


July 4th, 2007 at 02:03 am

I was enjoying a nice relaxing afternnon at home when the phone rang. The nextdoor neighbour of our rental property asked "Do you know that there's a big tree fallen on top of your house?" [our rental property]. It was news to me. So, we all jumped into the car and drove over to our property to inspect the damage. The tree was bigger than the house and had just missed landing on the house and flattening it completely. As it is, few large branches have gone through the roof, and the lounge room was full of debris.

Luckily the tennants weren't home at the time - they usually park their car where the trunk of the tree landed. As no-one was home at the time I'm a little disappointed that the tree didn't drop two metres further to the left, in which case it would have entirely demolished the house. The house is insured for aroung $385,000, which would have gone a long way towards building a nice, new house on the block. As it is, I guess that the house is probably repairable, so we'll just get the inconvenience of getting repairs done and end up with the same 50-year old house as before.

Apparently the tree fell over in a strong wind gust around 2pm this afternoon. All the heavy rain in the past month has made the ground very wet and spongy, so any strong winds are likely to make lots of tree uproot. When we got to the property at 4:30pm and saw the damage I called the local State Emergency Service (SES). The SES volunteers arrived within 15 minutes and will clear off the branches embedded in the roof and cover the gaping holes with a tarpaulin (to keep out any rain).

When we got back home at 5:30pm I called our insurance company to lodge a claim. The assessor should inspect the property tomorrow and let us know if the tenant can stay there while repairs are made, or has to move out, and the extent of the damage. Our insurance also covers loss of rent, but I've no idea what happens if the tennat decides to just give four weeks notice and move our (their 6 month lease expired last month).

I'm also not sure if the insurance will cover the cost of getting the main body of the tree removed, or just the actual house repairs. Best case we'll be out of pocket for the $100 excess. Worst case we'll also have to pay for getting the tree removed, landscaping the damaged rockery, lose some rent while the property is getting repaired, etc. etc. That's why, since no-one was home at the time, I'd have preferred the tree to land square on the house and demolish it completely.

Alexa Ranking

July 3rd, 2007 at 12:14 am

My Alexa ranking is hovering between 800,000 and 900,000. Although there's probably some bias in the stats due to higher uptake of the Alexa Toolbar in some countries compared to others, it's still interesting to see that this site has more users from the US and Canada than Australia, and that as many users come from Coatia, Sweden and Vietnam as come from Australia! Anyhow, if you use IE for you browsing, and wish to download the Alexa toolbar, the link above will provide it. The main benefits of using the Alexa toolbar are:

* real-time information about the sites you visit.
* helps identify phisher and scammer sites
* Alexa's Related Links helps find related information

Copyright Enough Wealth 2007

Diploma of Financial Services (Financial Planning)

June 28th, 2007 at 03:28 am

I saw an ad for a financial planning course and decided to visit ps146.com.au to see what was available. The Diploma course takes 8 days to complete (not quite the years of study I had to do for my Graduate Diplomas in IT and chemistry, but hey, it's probably a stretch for most insurance and investment salespeople to stay awake for 8 days of coursework!) and costs $4,360, or can be done by distance education over 4 months, for a reduced fee of $2,360.

Under the Australian Financial Services Reform Act 2001, all individuals who provide incidental personal or general financial product advice to retail customers must meet the minimum training standards as outlined in ASIC Policy Statement 146. (Hence the catchy website domain name ps146). I'm not planning on becoming a professional financial planner or investment advisor (I'm already doing a Graduate Diploma of Education in case I want to become a high school science teacher as a form of early retirement), but the subject matter looks quite interesting, and I like collecting bits of "continuing education" paper to stick on my home office wall Wink So I decided to enrol in the course by distance education. I'll let you know if I learn anything interesting in the next four months. The subjects in the course are:

Subject Topics

Financial Planning (DFS 1) Generic Knowledge (GK)
Financial Planning Skills (FPS)

Insurance (DFS 2) Insurance (term, TPD, trauma & income protection insurance)
General insurance
Business overheads insurance
Consumer credit insurance
Travel insurance
Health Insurance

Superannuation (DFS 3) Personal superannuation
Retirement income stream products, pensions, roll-overs and annuities
Property ownership structures
Business superannuation

Investment (DFS 4) Managed investments (listed property trusts, primary production)
Securities (shares)
Foreign exchange
Fixed-interest products

Enough Wealth

An Interesting Gamble

June 27th, 2007 at 03:46 am

The following ad caught my eye - "Bid to Buy an Apartment for less than 5% of it's value!". It turns out that this is a sort of a lottery (although it appears that it probably is classified as a property auction, as there doesn't appear to be a lottery permit number on the site) with the entry (bid) fee costing $5 and the prize value being a Queensland apartment "valued" at $350,000. You have to pay $5 for each "bid" you enter in a reverse auction for the property, with a maximum of 20 bids allowed per bidder each week. The winning bid will be the lowest bid (below $17,000) that is unique at the time the auction closes - either a set date (although the site doesn't display that anywhere I could find) or when the required number of bids has been received (also that's also not listed anywhere that I could see).

In lotteries the total ticket sales generally add up to around twice the total prize pool value, so I'd guess the required value of bid fees is around $750,000. This would mean 150,000 bids. As bid amounts include dollars and cents, this means that a maximum bid of $1,500.00 would allow each bid to be unique, in which case the person who bid $0.01 would win the prize. In reality most people will be trying to bid as low as possible, so low bids are unlikely to be unique when the auction closes. High bids have more chance of being unique, but are unlikely to win.

Aside from the question of what the actual value of the prize may be, it's interesting to think of what the "best" strategy would be to employ in this contest. When you place you first bid you are emailed if it is
a) not unique
b) unique, but not the lowest unique bid
c) currently the lowest unique bid

In case a) you've obviously not won, but a lot of contestants would then proceed to place a higher bid (the email will tell you if the current winning unique bid is higher or lower than your bid). This will reduce the number of bids placed at low prices once the current "winning" bid has passed that price point.

In case b) you have to wait and see if all the lower, unique bids become "not unique" by the closing time of the auction.

In case c) you have to wait and see if anyone else bids this same amount before the auction closes.

The promoter states that if there are no unique bids when the auction closes the lowest price with two bids will be used to determine the winner - the person who placed the first bid at that price. However, with a price limit of $17,000 and $5 fee per 1c bid, this would mean that $8.5 worth of bid fees had been paid for a $350,000 prize! The promoter must be dreaming that this ends up being the case, but I doubt that that many entries will occur. In which case you'd get the best information and have the best chance of winning if you placed your bids close to the end of the auction. If I was going to enter this contest I'd contact the promoter to find out what the "stated date" for the auction to end actually is.

Assuming that the value of all bid fees ends up being around twice the prize value (like most lotteries), we can deduce that a bid of around $1,500.00 has a good chance of being unique. SO one strategy would be to enter an odd bid value around this number, say $1,384.73, and if you get notified that this is unique but no the winning bid you could enter a second bid for half this amount - say, $692.36. Assuming that all your bids came back as unique (but not the current "winning" bid) you would repeat this process until you bit a price that was not unique. If the current "winning" bid was less that this, you could then use of the remainder of the 20 bids you're allowed to place each week in small steps below this price, hoping to hit a unique value that had a good chance of winning the auction.

An alternate strategy would be to make a first bid at a much lower price point, say $236.57. The email notification would then tell you if the current winning bid is higher or lower than this price. If you made this initial bid too low there is a high probability that the bid won't be unique.

Although this contest is a bit more interesting than your run of the mill lottery, I don't think I'll enter this first auction. (I don't gamble much anyhow - and recently losing $3,000 on forex day trading has used up all my "play" money for the time being!). On the one hand no-one will know much about how many entries this auction will eventually attract, so you could be lucky and the contest doesn't attract many entries, boosting your chance of winning. On the other hand, in future auctions you could estimate from the previous contests winning bids what amount the winning bid is likely to be (say, $300-$400 or whatever), and roughly how many entries there were. If the number of contestants in future auctions doesn't increase, this extra info would help you target your bids at the prices most likely to win.

I may check back in a couple of months to see what the winning bids were for the first couple of auctions - assuming this contest is a success and the promoter stays in business.

ps. I doubt that the emails sent out to bidders will be encrypted. So a hacker that knew how to intercept emails could monitor the autoresponder emails for bids that have been entered, and therefore track what the current "winning" bid is, and ignore bid values above this price that have already been entered. Combine this info with the date the auction ends and the hacker would be in a good position to enter 20 bids that have a very high chance of winning, just before the contest closes...

I don't know how to do this sort of email hacking, but it's another reason I probably won't enter this contest - I'd hate to find out that the eventual winner was some pimply computer nerd Wink

Enough Wealth

Number 28 with a Bullet

June 26th, 2007 at 04:10 pm

Credit Card Lowdown has me listed as #28 on their list of the 100 most influential personal finance bloggers. Cool Wink The list seems a pretty good starting point, with most of the listed blogs being ones that I've enjoyed reading. I'll have to go through the entire list carefully to check out any ones that I haven't visted before.

Enough Wealth

Ten Years is a Long, Long Time

June 22nd, 2007 at 04:05 am

My boss came over today and mentioned that he'd noticed something odd about my application for a day off next August. For the first time I'd used the category of "long service leave" rather than "annual leave". He asked if I'd received the notification from payroll about my long service leave* and I replied that it probably hadn't come yet because I'd joined the company in July.

A short while later he came back smiling and asked me to cancel the leave application and resubmit it as a day of "annual leave" instead. I'd miscalculated - I joined the company in 1998, not 1997, so the ten years required for long service leave isn't up until next year. D'Oh!

Well, it SEEMS like I've been in this job for ten years! Wink

* Long Service Leave is an entitled to 8 1/3 weeks paid leave after 10 years continuous full-time service for the same employer.

Enough Wealth

The Sale That Wasn't There

June 21st, 2007 at 04:23 am

Having paid $490 for s set of professional photos of DS1 and DS2, we're planning on giving one of them to my mum for her birthday next week. I just need to find a frame the right size. I don't want to pay for framing as that will be more expensive that the photos cost. I thought I had struck it lucky this afternoon when Target had a 40% off sale for all "discontinued photo frames"...

There were labels advertising this sale all over the shelves where the photo frames were displayed, and no price stickers showing a reduced price, so I thought all the frames were on sale. After picking out three that were very nice and just the right size, I took them to the checkout. When they were scanned the original price came up, so I queried why the sale discount hadn't been applied. It turned out that only a few photo frames (with a price reduction sticker on them) are on sale. Having expected the discount, the effect of them not being on sale was as if the price has suddenly gone up 66%! So I didn't buy any photo frames at Target.

Looks like I'll be looking for photo frames this weekend.
Enough Wealth

A Wet Weekend in Sydney

June 16th, 2007 at 02:07 am

It's been very windy and rainy in Sydney for the past couple of weeks - good for breaking the drought that had reduced the dam level to below 40%, but causing some localised flooding and power outages for around 30,000 houses last week. Today I had to visit a local shopping mall to return some library books that were due. It seems that everyone wanted to go shopping today - the car park was full and it took 15 minutes to find a parking space. When I was leaving a short while later the traffic had gotten even worse. It took 52 minutes to get from the top level of the car park down to the exit! While I was at the library I had to argue about some fines that computer system said were due on the books I returned. Even though we had borrowed them three weeks ago and they were due back today, the computer system had the wrong borrowing dates for them, with one of the books allegedly borrowed back in March! We'd checked that we had no outstanding books or fines when we borrowed these books three weeks ago, so I was certain that they weren't overdue. The librarian agreed to "waive" them $11.20 in fines, but the fine will be recorded as "waived" on their system. In future I'll keep the docket that get printed when we borrow books so I can prove when the books were borrowed.

Enough Wealth

$1.3m lost in a Nigerian 419 Scam

June 16th, 2007 at 01:27 am

Here's an example of how easy it can be to be scammed out of a large amount of money unless you're very, very careful. A Queensland lost over $1.3 million in legal fees, administrative charges and local taxes to forward a friends inheritance to Australia. They seem to have been reasonably careful checking out the bona fides of the scammers, flying three times from Australia to Europe where they had meetings with a range of people posing as government officials and providing authentic-looking forged documents. I'm just amazed that when large sums of money are involved people still try to handle things themselves. If I was in this situation the first thing I'd do was randomly select legal professional out of the phone book and get them to check things out thoroughly.

[url=http://enoughwealth.com]Enough Wealth]/url]

Bait and Switch by Citibank

June 14th, 2007 at 08:07 am

Just as well I don't need to use credit to buy anything, Citibank just sent me a letter advising that the APR on Redicredit accounts is being raised from 11.99% to 16.5% I'm sure it was only a few months ago that they lowered the rate from around 13% in order to tempt their customers into using Redicredit to make purchases that they might otherwise put on a credit card or use a personal loan to finance. Although there are no annual fees or cheque book charges for using the Redicredit account, the higher interest rate means that I'll only keep this account open for use in an emergency.

Enough Wealth

Magical Thinking is a Poor Investment Strategy

June 12th, 2007 at 03:50 am

At the risk of losing some readers, I'd like to post my views on the dangers of succumbing to "magical thinking" when analysing the performance of your investment strategy, or when deciding on making a particular investments.

In my view investing should be a rational, logical process in which all available (at a reasonable cost in money and time) data is analysed. This data includes historical investment/asset class performance (return and variability), known constraints (tax laws, how credit ratings and borrowing limits are calculated and used, details of investment fees etc), and well-tested investment hypotheses (such as benefits of diversification, effects of asset allocation on return and risk, efficient frontier, etc.). There's enough uncertainty introduced into the investment decision making process via dodgy annual reports, truly random events, and investor herd psychology without making your own thought processes more 'messy' than need be.

It is also beneficial to bring a historical context to your analysis by reading up on previous booms and busts (the "madness of crowds"), scams and schemes (eg. Mr. Ponzi, Bros. Hunt) and so on, so you can avoid making mistakes that so many others have made before you.

What isn't useful is to indulge in what is known as "magical thinking" - that just by really, really wanting something to be so, it will become so. This covers a wide range of common practices, some obvious and some not so obvious. To go through some that I think are likely to hurt you investment performance:

* Prayer. Although it does no harm for a devote person to pray for financial success in general terms, praying for divine intervention when your forex trade is rapidly heading south seems to me to be a recipe for disaster. Just as it seems silly when players on both sides of a football match pray to win their match (although praying not to get hurt during the match seems OK). Better to try to be objective and know when to cut your losses. This isn't to say that there's no place for faith in investing - your beliefs may place valid constraints on your investment choices eg. not investing in unethical businesses, how you choose to distribute your wealth to charity etc.

* Positive thinking. A positive attitude and an acceptance of some risk will probably help you grow your investments in the long term. But thinking that positive thoughts alone can "make" good things happen won't. I'd put the "Law of Attraction" in the same category as talking to your houseplants to make them grow. It might make you feel better, but is unlikely to improve you net worth. (I'm tempted to say it's a total waste of time, but, like many beliefs, it's strength lies in the lack of any testable hypothesis).

* Looking for the secret to success. Many people will try a succession of different investment theories - going from charting (with a vast array of potential "indicators" to work through before admitting defeat), through to theories based on some measure derived from 'fundamental' analysis (the "Zulu" principle, "Dogs of the Dow", PEG, High Dividend Yield, High Growth, Small Cap, Large Cap, Emerging Markets, BRICs, whatever). While I'm sure many of these techniques work for some investors some of the time, it's very hard to tell if any of these successes are due to a real "insight" that will provide you with outperformance in coming years, or were just a random event. It will be a bit late to decide in 20 years time that the various methods you experimented with didn't work after all. And bear in mind that some techniques may be legitimate, but only if you have access to the correct data and the necessary computational tools and techniques. For an individual investor, the cost of getting the required data and time to do the required analysis or calculations may be disproportionate to the absolute gain that can be produced, given the amounts that are being invested. On the other hand, if the techniques and tools will be applied repeatedly to improve future results, it may be a reasonable investment in your investor education.

* Other irrational techniques. This would cover a whole range of common inputs into peoples decision making such as Astrology, Numerology, Feng Shui, urban myths. It's important to try to differentiate genuine underlying principles (bearing in mind that they may still be based on historical evidence and not apply in the future) from "rules of thumb" that are really just over generalisations. Sometimes its hard to tell the two apart.

Enough Wealth

Blog Performance and Monetization Update: June 2007

June 3rd, 2007 at 04:38 am

Readership continued to increase during May, with the bonus of enoughwealth.com site getting a big one-off boost from a specific mention and link to my site by one of the more popular personal finance blogs in the middle of May, which provided an extra 350 or so visitors on the day of the post. This spike trailed off rapidly and readership stats were back to normal after a couple of days. Hopefully some of the visitors liked what they read and have become part of the loyal band of regular readers who return day after day.

Cumulative visits (for sites enoughwealth.com and enoughwealth.savingadvice.com combined) passed through 25,000 during May. With monthly visits now above 6,000 EnoughWealth might reach a total of visitors by September, and has a chance of hitting the magic 100,000 mark by the end of this year!

After a period of initial rapid growth in visitor numbers from launch until Dec 2006, I stopped submitting posts to the various "carnivals" that are available each week. Coupled with a lull in producing daily posts in early January this produced a noticeable loss of momentum in gaining readers. Posting at least once a day in the last few months seems to have helped build up readership more quickly again.

I initially created the mirror site (hosted on savingadvice.com) late last year due to problems with "old" blogger at that time. Since then I've migrated to the "new" blogger, which is much more reliable, and setup the enoughwealth.com domain to redirect to the posts hosted by blogger. There are consistently about double the readers attracted to the enoughwealth.savingadvice.com site each month (eg. 2,910 in May compared to 2,018 visiting my "custom" domain. Hopefully if I resume promoting the enoughwealth.com domain via "carnival" submissions this month I may be able to increase readership of that site. The only reason I prefer readers to visit the enoughwealth.com site is because that site is monetized (savingadvice.com allows limited editing of the sidebar content). The only significant amounts of blog revenut have come from the odd sponsored post (PayPerPost and ReviewMe). With low readership numbers the amounts accumulating each day from AdSense and AdBrite are only 1c - 3c. The exception to this was few days after the mention by xxx which boosted my AdBrite revenue to over $1 per day, at which level ad revenue becomes worthwhile.

My Technorati rating is stuck around 30, as I haven't been requesting links from other sites for the past few months. My Alexa rank is slowly improving - hopefully it will be below 900,000 soon! A hearty thankyou to those of my regular readers who visit using the Alexa toolbar, marked this blog as a "favourite" in Technorati or added a link to enoughwealth.com on your website Wink

Enough Wealth

Wi-Fi at Last

May 24th, 2007 at 07:13 am

The setup and configuration of the Belkin Wireless Router attached to my cable modem and Dell PC went *relatively* painlessly. After moving the cable modem from my Laptop to the Dell and checking that it was working OK (after power cycling the modem to get it to recognise the new system), I simply plugged the modems ethernet into the Belkin router and connected the router to the Dell PC using the supplied ethernet cable. The internet worked on the Dell via the router, so I then connected the supplied Belkin configuration webpage and setup security settings for my router. The router rebooted with the new settings and everything was working OK on the Dell.

Next I installed the Belkin software on my Laptop and was able to then connect the USB adapter. I had to muck around a bit getting the network connection working (initially it found a Linksys wireless network with a signal strength of 40%, which soon dropped off and disappeared. I guess this was a Wi-Fi network from one of the neighbours!). After a bit of mucking around and a reboot of the Laptop my Belkin network was identified and the Laptop showed that the connection to the router was working, but not the connection to the internet. A few cycles through powering everything down and up again, and rebooting the laptop eventually got everything working OK. It seems that the Norton Security only recognised and permitted the new network connection when I rebooted the Laptop after the connection to the network was working OK.

Eventually everything was working OK, with both the Dell and the Laptop having access to the internet. Now my only problem is why Firefox loads enoughwealth.com OK on the Laptop but freezes up every time I try to access that page on the Dell (Firefox accesses other websites via the Dell fine). Oh, and the fact that every now and again Vista seems to lose the cable modem internet connection and can't reconnect (it seems to be trying to do a dial up to a cable connection!) - so I have to power cycle everything to get things working again. And that the version of IE that came preinstalled on the Dell includes to Google toolbar, and when I installed the Alexa toolbar it seems to be doing strange things (its seems to be referencing a blank 'page' above the main browser page, rather than getting info on the page you're currently viewing...

Anyhow, overall it's been one of the less painful network setups I've done (then again the last one I did was an mixed PC and mac ethernet wired network ten years ago - things have got more plug 'n play since then).

Enough Wealth

Disappointed and Annoyed

May 24th, 2007 at 02:49 am

DS1 needs a new monitor for his old PC, and I would like to add a second monitor to my new Dell PC, so I checked out what monitors were available from local electronics shops via the internet. I thought it was my lucky day when I saw that Dick Smith Electronics have a 17" HP LCD monitor on clearance sale for only $90 (this size LCD monitor is usually around $300 in Sydney). The website listed the Warringah Mall "Superstore" as an outlet that had some in stock, and I phoned them from work this afternoon to confirm that they still had some in stock. After checking the front desk advised that there were three in stock at the moment (4pm), so I decided to go there straight after work to buy one or two of these monitors (DSE is open until 9pm on Thursday nights).

When I got there and enquired in the computer section about the monitor, I was told that in fact there was only one broken monitor in the repair section, and that the other two were "missing" ie. stolen. When I complained about the fact that I'd been told over the phone that there were three in stock I was told that their inventory system didn't adjust for broken or pilfered stock! I told them that they should tell the front desk that this item wasn't available. The best they could do was to promise to pass on my complaint to the Computer Section manager.

This really pissed my off, and I will phone the store again tomorrow to see how many of these monitors they say are available then. If they still advise three are in stock I'll contact the store manager or owner and make another complaint. I've had bad experiences with inventory control at another Dick Smith Electronics store previously. When a game that I wanted that was on special was out of stock in one store I got them to phone around and see if it was available in another outlet. They finally tracked one copy down in another store, and that store "put it on hold" for me in the stockroom. However, when I drove all the way there to collect it later the same day the game was nowhere to be found! It was only after waiting for half an hour and eventually getting three different staff to search the stock room that it was finally located "on the wrong shelf"!

I have a sneaking suspicion that whenever DSE has some bargain items on sale, the staff tend to put some aside in the back room for their friends to buy the next weekend. Either that or the company has a "bait and switch" policy in operation.

While I was at the Mall I went in to a different electronics store (JB Hi-Fi) and purchased the Belkin wireless router and USB adapter I need to connect both my new PC and my old laptop to the internet via my Optus cable modem. I had ordered the same gear online from Mitec.com.au last month, but it never arrived, and Mitec stopped taking new orders on the 12th, so it seems that they are going out of business. They haven't replied to my email enquiry about my order, so I'm assuming that it will never arrive.

Hopefully setting up the wireless router and getting my internet to work over the wireless network will not be too much of a hassle this evening...

Enough Wealth

The Good Old Days

May 22nd, 2007 at 06:01 am

Nostalgic references to "the good old days" have long been a bit of a joke (eg. see "The Good Old Days Skit" from the 'At Last the 1948 Show', 1967*.) But just how good we have it these days compared to our grandparents time (and before) was again brought home to me when I was browsing through the latest annual HILDA** report and came across this data on how much time off work Australian full-time workers typically had in 2006. Looking at those workers who had been in their current job for more than 1 year (and were thus entitled to the usual 20 days paid annual leave), the typical full-time worker took 16-days of paid leave, plus another 3 days of paid sick leave and a couple of additional days of "other" paid leave (eg. workers compensation). This means that, combined with the 10 days paid public holidays we have, the average Australian full-time worker worked around 229 days in 2006. (And they also accumulated 8.3 weeks of "long service" leave if they stayed in the same job for ten years.)

With the average working week being around 37 hours in Australia, this means full-time workers clocked up a total of 1,695 hours in paid work during 2006. This translates to spending 29% of their waking hours in paid work during their working years. With the average retirement age being around 58, this means a "typical" worker might work a total of just over 15% of their total "waking hours" during their entire lifetime, assuming they started full-time work at 20 and lived until 72. Of course, some people work at lot more than 37 hours a week, and don't take time off work for holidays - but the HILDA figures show that as many people took more than 20 days leave in 2006, as took less than 10 days leave.

Some people may still think that this is a large chuck out of their valuable time, but most people get some enjoyment from their work, even if it is just from the social contact with co-workers. In comparison, my grandfather started working "down the pit" in South Wales when he was 15. In those days you worked a twelve hour shift at the coal-face, had to walk for an hour before and after work to even get to the coal face, plus time spent walking from home to the mine. Oh, and they also worked a six-day week with only Sundays off and few (if any) public holidays. No wonder he jumped at the chance to do a plumbing apprenticeship in London when he got the chance!

If nothing else, history provides a sense of how well off people are these days (at least in the developed countries).

Enough Wealth

** The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey report from Melbourne University.

* Just in case you don't have a copy of "The Golden Skits of Wing Commander Muriel Volestrangler FRHS & Bar" handy, I'll append it here - its only 2 and a bit pages out of a 128 page book, so we'll call it "fair use" for educational purposes, shall we?

The Good Old Days Skit
by MV, Marty Feldman, Graham Chapman and Tim Brooke-Taylor; 'At Last the 1948 Show'. 31 October 1967

It is sundowner time at a tropical paradise. Four north-countrymen, in late middle-age and tuxedos, sit contemplating the sunset. A dusky waiter pours some claret for one of them to taste.

Joshua ...Very passable. Not bad at all.

The waiter pours the wine for the rest of them, and departs.

Obadiah ...Can't beat a good glass of Chateau de Chasselas, eh, Josiah?

Josiah Aye, you're right there, Obadiah.

Ezekiel ...Who'd have thought ... forty years ago ... that we'd be sitting
here, drinking Chateau de Chasselas ...?

Josiah Aye! ... In those days we were glad to have the price of a cup of tea.

Obadiah Aye, a cup of COLD tea ...

Ezekiel Without milk or sugar.

Josiah OR tea ...

Joshua Aye, and a cracked cup at that!

Ezekiel We never had a cup ... We used to drink out of a rolled up newspaper.

Obadiah Best we could manage was to chew a piece of damp cloth.

Josiah But y'know ... we were happier in those days, although we were poor.

Joshua BECAUSE we were poor ... My old dad used to say, 'Money doesn't bring
you happiness, son.'

Ezekiel He was right! I was happier then and had NOTHING. We used to live in
a tiny old tumbledown house with great holes in the roof.

Odadiah A house! You were lucky to have a house. We used to live in one room,
twenty-six of us, no furniture, and half the floor was missing. We
were all huddled in one corner, for fear of falling.

Josiah You were lucky to have a room! We used to live in the corridor.

Joshua Ooooh! I used to DREAM of living in a corridor. That would have been a
palace to us. We lived in an old water tank in the rubbish tip. We were
woken up every morning by having a load of rotting fish dumped on us.
House, huh!

Ezekiel Well, when I said HOUSE ... it was only a hole in the ground covered by
a couple of foot of torn canvas, but it was a house to US.

Odadiah We were evicted from our hole in the ground. We had to go and live in
the lake.

Josiah Eee! You were lucky to have a lake. There were over 150 of us living in
a small shoe box in the middle of the road.

Joshua A CARDBOARD box?

Josiah Yes.

Joshua You were lucky. We lived for three months in a rolled-up newspaper in a
septic tank. We used to get up at six, clean the newspaper, eat a crust
of stale bread, work fourteen hours at the mill, day-in, day-out, for
sixpence a week, come home, and dad would thrash us to sleep with his

Obadiah ... Luxury! We used to get out of the lake at three, clean it, eat a
handful of hot gravel, work twenty hours at t'mill for twopence a month,
come home, and dad would beat us about the head and neck with a broken
bottle, IF we were LUCKY.

A pause.
Josiah ... Aye, well, we had it TOUGH. I had to get out of the shoebox at
midnight, lick the road clean, eat a couple of bits of cold gravel,
work twenty-three hours a day at the mill for a penny every four
years and when we got home dad would slice us in half with a bread-

A longer pause.
Ezekiel Right ... I had to get up in the morning at ten o'clock at night half
an hour before I went to bed, eat a lump of poison, work twenty-nine
hours a day at t'mill and pay boss to let us work, come home, and each
night dad used to kill us and dance on our graves, singing.

A very long pause
Joshua ... Aye, and you try and tell the young people of today that, and they
won't believe you.

The Routerless Wireless Router

May 21st, 2007 at 07:39 am

Setting up my home network with my new Dell PC is taking longer than expected. I had ordered a Belkin Wireless router and USB adapter combo for $112 from an online supplier, and originally had a delivery ETA of 5th May. After that date had come and gone I chased up the supplier and was advised that the new ETA for the equipment to arrive from their wholesaler was 18th May. As it still hadn't arrived last Friday I thought I'd check with their online order tracking service to see if there was an updated ETA for delivery. The tracking page gave a "page not found" error (a *very* bad sign), so I went to the companies home page. Apparently they stopped taking new orders on the 12th May, and are working their way through old orders that are outstanding. I sent another email checking on the status of my order, and hope to get a reply tomorrow. At least my initial payment for the order (via Paypal) never was finalised - Paypal initially confirmed my payment, but then cancelled it three days later when the "eCheque" money transfer from my bank account into Paypal was declined (I'd forgotten that I can only transfer funds from my Paypal account into my bank account, not vice versa). This means that possible outcomes are:
1. I get sent the equipment and the supplier never gets around to invoicing me because they're going out of business.
2. I get sent the equipment and they invoice me for the outstanding balance - which I'll be happy to pay by CC once I have the goods.
3. I never hear from them and end up having to buy the wireless router from some other supplier.

None of these options are terrible - although I'd like to have setup my home network a couple of weeks ago. If the original payment via Paypal had gone through OK, I'd be in the unhappy position of having paid for goods and never receiving them. Trying to get money refunded by Paypal is a financial adventure I'm happy to do without.

Enough Wealth

Blasts from the Past

May 12th, 2007 at 08:28 am

My Mum is clearing out some old junk and found a folder of my old receipts and financial records. Looking through it I found some interesting tid-bits:
* My accounts record book from 1978, when I was working part-time in a market garden and at the local supermarket on weekends while in High School. One entry records that I was paid $10.50 for an 8.5 hour day's work.
* I found the cost of my very first computer system - a Sinclair ZX80, with accessories - bought in 1980 for around $550. If I'd saved this money (the computer was outdated and superceeded by the IBM PC soon after) I could have bought Microsoft for the equivalent of 8c per share (adjusted for splits since then), and my $550 investment would now be worth around $250,000 - even without any dividends being reinvested. Contrary to what you might expect, I actually find this reassuring. I'd always remembered thinking when I first heard about Microsoft being listed that it was already expensive on p/e basis, and that all the big gains had been made by private investors pre-IPO, so I didn't investigate how to invest in a US stock (at that time it was hard enough to trade Australian stocks, let alone arrange to buy a foreign stock directly). Now that I realise that even if I'd invested 10% of my entire net worth in this one US stock when it listed, it would only have added about $150K to my current net worth. So I can forget about this "one that got away".
* I also found some annotations in my accounts books listing my total assets back then (I didn't have any debts, so this is the same as net worth). I'll add some of these ancient figures to my long term net worth plot. As an example, I had the following;
date net worth
30 Aug 79 $1,330.00
30 Aug 80 $700.00
30 Aug 83 $2,518.00
30 Aug 84 $3,168.00
30 Aug 85 $5,070.00

* I also realised that I was a lot more enterprising in those days than I remember. I have entries for my casual weekend jobs, but I also have some cash entries for payments received for getting computer programming articles published in an electronics magazine in 1981, and some payments for some craft works I sold in a local gallery. It seems I had the drive to make some extra money back then, but I had a problem finding a money-making scheme that was scalable during my uni days. That's probably why I stuck to a salary job and concentrated on learning how to invest my savings.

Enough Wealth

Vista vicissitudes

May 7th, 2007 at 05:03 am

After a call to the CMC Markets helpdesk I got the CFD trading software running under Vista using XP compatibility mode, and everything seems to be going OK. The wireless network router and USB adapter didn't arrived today, so I don't know how setting that up will work out. Meanwhile though, I'm having problems running both Firefox and Explorer. Firefox freexes up ("not responding") every time I try loading my blog site (although it loads perfectly well using the same version of firefox on my laptop running XP), and on a couple of occasions Explorer has tried to "connect" to the internet when it is launched, even though the internet is already available (as I have the CFD displaying live data in the background).

I'm not sure if the fix will end up being upgraded versions of Firefox and IE, or a fix to Vista. I've also had one "blue screen of death" event, even though only application (the CFD trading app) was running at the time. As I haven't changed anything from the initial configuration of Vista that came with the new PC from Dell, it looks like these problems may be with Vista itself.

Vista looks very pretty, but so far I'm not overwhelmed by the reliability.

Enough Wealth

A Little Bit of Extra Money

May 6th, 2007 at 09:58 am

After posting about the large bill the plumber had sent for some recent work ($850+), I received a number of comments prompting me to negotiate the amount with the plumber. Although I'm normally reticent about arguing about charges (I hate haggling), I thought I had nothing to loose in at least discussing my concern with the plumber. It took a while for the plumber to finally call back after I had left a message querying the bill, but, in the end, he called to say that he could see me point of view (although they had spent the amount of money charged in finally getting the work completed) and I should just send in a cheque for whatever amount I thought was reasonable. This was a good move on his part, as we have had work done on both our home and rental property so he wouldn't want to loose our business. Also, when left up to me I didn't want to be unreasonable about the bill, so I ended up just knocking $100 off the orginal invoice amount. So, thanks to all those who commented - you saved me $100!

Another easy $120 came in the form of gift vouchers I earned for scanning the barcodes of snack food items in my grocery shopping for a survey company during the past year or so. The scanning didn't really take any extra time or effort while packing away the shopping at home, so it was easy money. Unfortunately the survey company has now terminated the home scanning program.

Enough Wealth

New PC Looking Good

May 5th, 2007 at 08:13 am

So far the new PC is going well. I got my cable modem working and registered the McAffey security suite that I'd bought with the system (15 month rego). I then had a go at installing the MarketMaker CFD trading software that we use for our forex trading. After downloading the installer .exe I tried running it - no go. However, having a background in chemical engineering as well as computers, I knew enough to try the "if it doesn't work give it a kick" approach - I simply ran the installer .exe a second time. Vista somehow recognised that the app needed to be run in "compatible" mode, and this time the installer ran OK. Then the fun began...

Unfortunately MarketMaker is written as a whole lot of java code, and every time you launch the app it first checks for updates, which it will install before allowing you to login (it also only loads additional modules as you use various features). Every time I tried running MarketMaker it simply stopped midway. After emailing CMC Markets help regarding any tricks getting their software to run under Vista, I browsed through their help FAQs and noticed the bit about having to configure any firewall to allow three programs to both send and receive data via the internet. (I remember this happened on my laptop - but in that case I was running Norton security, and in "learn" mode it automatically prompted me to flag these programs as "trusted" when they tried to transfer data via the internet). I managed to find where the relevant firewall settings were configured, but, MarketMaker still fails to run properly. I'll have to wait until Monday and see if I get a reply from the helpdesk - I may also have to phone them while I'm at the PC at home - hopefully they answer the helpdesk phone outside business hours!

Meanwhile the cable modem is back with the laptop. I'll shift it to the new PC again on Monday if the Belkin wireless router and USB adapater arrive on schedule during the day. If I get the wireless network working I can then leave the cable modem permanently connected to the desktop PC, and run MarketMaker on the laptop until I get it working under Vista.

Once I get the wireless network and MarketMaker app working I'll do a full system backup onto a DVD, so I can restore to this "basic" configuration. I usually dive straight in and start loading heaps of software onto a new PC, but this time I want to be more methodical about what I load on, and also take the time to sort out all my personal data files and copy them to the new PC in an organised structure.

The new PC/Vista will run dual screens, so I may hunt around for a very cheap, small LCD screen to add on - that way I can leave the forex trading window running on the second screen to keep an eye on our trades, while using the main screen for blogging etc.

Enough Wealth

A Win:Win:Win Situation

May 3rd, 2007 at 07:57 am

One of those pleasant days when everything worked out nicely
- I didn't spend anything today,
- The stock market was up 13 points, which meant my geared Australian Stock portfolio was up around $2,000,
- I did one forex trade, selling $50K AUD/USD spot at 0.8254 and closing out at 0.8243, making a $55 profit.*
- My US Stock Portfolio is up, currently having a calculated annualised return (XIRR) of 19.55%

Of course, not all days are like this, so it's good to savor them when they occur.

* A slight fly in the ointment was the fact that immediately after I closed my position the AUD dropped further to 0.8227 - if I'd held on for another few minutes I could have made an extra $85 profit, which would have moved me closed to an overall break-even position in my forex trading account. Then again, the last time I was too greedy when trading I ended up with no profit at all.

Enough Wealth

Intelligence doesn't lead to Wealth

April 27th, 2007 at 06:20 pm

A little while ago I wrote that I'd be interested to see any research on whether or not wealth is correlated to intelligence. Well, a recent study, has found that there is no link between how intelligent people are and their net worth. Although income is related to intelligence this doesn't translate into wealth. Having a big income doesn't guarantee wealth if you spend more than you earn, and it seems that the discipline and motivation required to accumulate wealth isn't related to intelligence.

Enough Wealth

So THAT's how to Blog!

April 26th, 2007 at 09:15 am

Today's Dilbert is apropos

Enough Wealth

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