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Virtual Stupidity

August 11th, 2007 at 08:50 am

Apparently the biggest "http://www.smh.com.au/news/web/jitters-in-second-life-as-ban..." 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 http://enoughwealth.com 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 http://enoughwealth.com 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 http://enoughwealth.com 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 http://enoughwealth.com 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 http://enoughwealth.com 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

Notes:
' 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 http://enoughwealth.com 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 http://enoughwealth.com 2007

Disaster!

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 http://enoughwealth.com 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
Derivatives
Fixed-interest products


http://enoughwealth.com