April 30, 2009, 5:00 am

What I Have Learned From My MBA Colleagues Part 2

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: MBA

conspiracy_theory– Conspiracy Theory Man –

I’m writing this title and I am smiling thinking that some people will automatically know who I am talking about. This guy is one of the most analytic people I have ever met in my life. He is the type of guy who will dress according to the teacher’s style to make sure he creates the good impression. As a matter of fact, we all know that the teacher’s perception of a student will definitely influence the student’s marks. But very few of us is trying to make this play in our advantages. Conspiracy Theory Man is just not taking any chances 😉

What I like the most about him it’s his capability seeing everything as a game (school, work, family, life in general), understanding the game rules and play them. If you want to win a game, you don’t have to be the best player; you simply have to know how to play the game the right way! I am not saying this in a pejorative way, he actually never crossed any lines or not even playing with the fine prints, he just has this ability to optimize his time and effort according to the game rules.

As human beings, we have been raised to follow rules set by parents, teachers, laws, employers, etc. So we automatically listen to the rule, understand them and follow them. But how many times are we trying to find how those rules where designed and what is their effect on the whole game? If you understand the way the game was built, you know how rules were made, why they were made that way and you can even predict when and how they will change to make sure that the “game” will still be respected.

I was already doing a part of that analysis but this man showed me how to push it to another level and understand fully how to master any kind of game and turn any situation in my advantages.

The most important thing; he doesn’t look like the guy who understand everything or know-it-all. He looks like the average Joe. This is remarkable as he is one of the big brains of the class and most people don’t even notice him… and it is part of his own “game” ;-). Flying under the radar, gives him the time to make the first move before anyone notices.

Another great asset he has it’s his poker face. I would actually never play poker against him (not with real money though!). No matter what it is happening, he shows the very same face. He doesn’t seem to be nervous about anything. Staying calm is his motto. He will burn his energy on what matters, not on emotion 😉

Here are the three things I learned from him:

#1 Whatever you are doing is a game; understand it and play the game, not the rules.

#2 People don’t have to know when you are successful; this won’t bring you anything anyway.

#3 Stay calm, analyse what is going one. You will have time to vent later on; now it is time to be effective!

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April 29, 2009, 5:00 am

What Can You Do Against A Lack of Inspiration?

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Miscellaneous

It’s been 3-4 days in a row that I don’t find anything to write about. Every morning, I sit in the bus, open my laptop and stare at a white Word document for 10 minutes and I start a movie or I close my eyes (I am really tired these days!). So today I am trying something new; I will write about my lack of inspiration… this should get me started on another post 😉

While inspiration is definitely not related to personal finance, this post is not only for bloggers. As sources of inspiration are very similar to creativity sources, I thought that it may be useful for most people. We all have to create for our job, when our kids are bored or to impress our new girlfriend 😉 So here are a few tricks to keep going even when you “don’t feel like it”.

Get ahead in your stuff

This is probably the best trick I found against lack of inspiration while blogging. I always have for at least a week of post in draft. Therefore, I can stop writing for 2-3 days without having readers pissed at me; they still have something to read and they don’t even notice!

Time and pressure are both inspiration killers. The more you think about the fact that you have to create/write/produce something, the less idea you have to do it. When I start thinking that I need to write a post now since I am late in my posting schedule, I close my laptop and start doing something else.

Do everything but creating

Creativity is like a little beast; it doesn’t show when it is expected as it is scared 😉 Therefore, if you do anything else but what you should be doing, your subconscious will start creating and you won’t even be aware of it.

A great trick is to get to sleep. Sleep is probably the biggest producer of inspiration. It clears up all the mess in your head and your brain can finally create without being disturbed by daily thoughts such as “I’m going to be late”, “I’m hungry”, “oohh… this one is pretty cute!”… just kidding 😉

Take down all your ideas

Sometimes, inspiration comes in a rush and you suddenly get a ton of good ideas. Instead of starting on working on your favourite one right away, I suggest you write them all on a piece of paper (or on your laptop) but without working on any of them. You will then be able to create a “creativity basket” through this brain storming. Our brain is a marvellous engine; we don’t know how exactly we an start it up, but once it is up and running, it does awesome things!

So about once a week, I simply sit and write down ideas. It appears that the more I write, the more I have in mind as one idea leads to another. The key is to not stop your brain by putting barriers. Don’t analyze the ideal; simply write it down and try to find another right away. You will have plenty of time to wonder what you were thinking while you wrote some really stupid ideas… however, creativity bursts don’t happen all the time. Out of 10 ideas, you might have 3 or 4 good ones, 1 or 2 awesome and the rest will be crap or not feasible. Don’t even delete them; just put them in a separate worksheet. One day, you might find a way to get them working 😉

Hey! This post really worked out for me! I just got a 600 words + article done in 15 minutes! But more importantly; the white word screen fear is gone!…. for now 😉

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April 28, 2009, 5:00 am

What I Have Learned From My MBA Colleagues

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: MBA

I am almost done with my MBA (only one class left and my final paper!) and I wanted to write a “tribute” to some people in my class and what I have learned from them. Overall, I don’t think I have learned much from classes but I definitely grew as a human being with my classmates.

I won’t obviously name people on my blog (some people in the class actually read The Financial Blogger 😉 ), so I decided to give them name (no offence 😉 ).


This is actually the person I learned the most and we even became friend along the way. Genius got his name because he was on top of his game in everything: MBA, work, family… this is very impressive.

Most impressive, we have several common points and it showed me how I could evolve (as he is 10 years older than me 😉 ). I have the tendency of going straight to the point without caring much about how things are said. If I don’t like something, my main concern is to get my point through… regardless if it could hurt or not. Genius showed me that there was a way to get your point through, speak your mind, but still do it in a nice way.

I was encouraged to know that he was like me at my age. This shows that I can change and still get my point.

He also taught me to choose your battle and sit back when it is unnecessary. For me, “fighting” is a sport. Every time I see something wrong, I have to stand up and talk about it. However, it is very tiring and it doesn’t always give what you expected from it. I hope to remember this lesson when I feel the urge of joining the fight next time ;-). Sometimes, you have much more to lose when you win!

Being a manager for several years, he also showed me to take a global point of view on a situation. I learned take a step back and think about the situation once more before jumping into the jungle and start working. I am usually successful in what I do, but I understood that I would become even more successful and productive by taking that step back.

So if there are 3 lessons that Genius told me, there are:

#1 You can fight, but you have to do it with tact.

#2 You should choose your battle, you can lose more energy than what you will win out of each battle.

#3 Take a step back before doing something.

Genius is not the only person that I am grateful in my MBA. I will continue this small series in the upcoming days in order to make sure I don’t forget anybody!

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April 27, 2009, 5:00 am

Why Buying a New Car When You Can Lease?

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Personal Finance

Before I start with today’s topic, I have to talk about my last experience in car dealerships. I decided to go with my wife so she can try a few cars. When we get in a Toyota dealership, nobody looked at us when we came. Then, I was looking at the Rav4; opening doors, looking at the trunk, my wife sat in the car… still nobody. So I go see the girl at the door and ask her for a car salesman. She looks at me without great enthusiasm and ask if I had an appointment (is it just me or the car industry is supposed to go sideways these days?). I told her that I was here to buy a car, not to take appointments. “Well we don’t have anybody available right now”

“Well I’m going to buy my new car elsewhere then!”.

I don’t know if it’s because we looked like to kids (jeans, sport top for my wife and leather coat for me….), but it was definitely poor client service…. I guess they are selling too many cars to care for the one they loose 😉

So, back to our main topic: I wrote yesterday about buying new instead of buying used. Today we are looking at buying new instead of renting… Great debate indeed 😉 So I decided to give my own reason why I decided to buy instead of leasing:

Financing opportunities

As I previously mentioned while I discuss the difference between buying new or buying used, car financing opportunities are very generous these days. It appears that carmaker realized that managing leases become a pain when people are giving away their car instead of buying it at the end of the term. Therefore, they can’t concentrate on making, advertising and selling cars, they have to manage a huge amount of used cars as well.

Less restriction

I remember when I leased my Mazda; I couldn’t take the insurance I wanted (they usually require a $500 franchise but insurance premium becomes way cheaper for a $1000 franchise). Between you and me, below 2,5K I would simply pay it and not even bother claiming it… the consequences on your insurances is too high to claim such small amount. On top of that, you are restricted in term of mileage. You never think you would drive that much, but it always come down that you have to pay an extra fee for mileage.

Leasing is really expensive!

As I said, I started to lease my Mazda before buying it. At the end of the term, I had the chance to pay $2,000 in penalty or buying the car for another 13K. I paid the 13K from my investment and I was done with my car payment (it’s been 2 years in a half now :-D). However, if I would have take another car on a lease contract, I would keep paying the $300-$400 a month on top of having my insurance premium increase (since the car is new, it has a much bigger value!). Leasing is good for company because it is 100% tax deductible. For individual, this is definitely nice to get a new car every 2-3 years… but you are not saving a penny with this technique 😉

So I keep looking for a new car… I now added the Ford Sport Trac Explorer, the Ford Explorer and the GMC Acadia to my list of car to try… they offer much more space in the back for my kids!!!

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April 25, 2009, 5:35 am

Carnival of Financial Planning – April 25, 2009 Edition

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Reviews

Best Personal Financial Planning and Personal Investment Articles this Week from Personal Finance Blogs

Welcome to the April 25, 2009 edition of the Carnival of Financial Planning.

The Carnival of Financial Planning takes a long-term view of personal financial planning for individuals and families. We focus on efficient and sustainable personal financial planning practices that can lead to lifetime financial security.

This edition is arranged by subject heading, so that you can browse efficiently.


The Skilled Investor, Editor


Silicon Valley Blogger presents The Dave Ramsey Budget: Budgeting Tips For Successful Savers posted at The Digerati Life, saying, “Thanks!”

Michael Gvirtzman presents Expense Allocation Between Wants and Needs posted at Mind Listings, saying, “Elaborates on golden rules of expense distribution between needs, wants, and savings.”

Pasadena Financial Planner presents Living Expense Tracking Methods posted at Pasadena Financial Planner, saying “Many people do not track their living expenses and do not understand the magnitude of their consumption. Failure to monitor your consumption expenditures means that they are flying blindly regarding their future finances. If you do not understand how much you spend and how much you are saving and investing, you simply do not have a financial plan. This situation dramatically increases your family’s long-term financial risk.”

Momma presents Engineer A Debt Free Life posted at Engineer a debt free life, saying, “One way you can stretch your budget is by getting free groceries! Our post will show you how to do just this!”

Gregory E. Rouse presents Budgeting posted at Frugal-Living-Skills Blog, saying, “Money is a funny thing, if you don’t decide beforehand where you want it to go, it will still go. An old friend mine use to say, “money is like gas it expands to fill the space”.”

Larry Russell presents Financial Planning Reading List posted at Pasadena Financial Planner, saying “When I work with clients to develop their customized lifetime financial and investment plans, they often ask what they should read to improve their financial literacy. This article provides a list of recommended reading from among the many hundreds of articles that I have authored in the past several years.”


Dorian Wales presents On Causality and Correlation in Economics posted at The Personal Financier, saying, “Causality is perhaps the most fundamental element of empirical evidence available to economists. However, it is also the source of many misconceptions due to its elusive nature.”

Estate Planning

Tushar Mathur presents Getting finances in order posted at Everything Finance, saying, “Keeping organized records is a gift to your family and to yourself. It helps ensure that your wishes are followed, that your assets are accounted for, and that your money is available to meet your family’s needs in a timely fashion.”

Financial Planning

Patrick @ Cash Money Life presents How Much Life Insurance Do You Need? posted at Cash Money Life, saying, “This is a question everyone should ask themselves – particularly if they have a family that relies upon their income.”

jim presents Buying Municipal or State Bonds posted at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity.

Financing a Home

Summer Munyon presents How To Find The Bottom Of The Real Estate Market posted at Tallahassee Real Estate Blog, saying, “If you want to know the beginning of the next phase of the market turn, just keep an eye on the green line in the graph below. You can visit this graph (updated twice per week) at The Market Bulletin.”

Alex Fotopoulos presents When is it Smart to Refinance a Mortgage? posted at My Trader’s Journal, saying, “Some key points to consider when refinancing your home.”

Jacqulyn Richey presents Hope for Distressed Homeowers posted at News – Las Vegas Real Estate by Jacqulyn Richey, saying, “The Making Home Affordable Initiative program is designed to help 9 million homeowners avoid foreclosure.”

Summer Munyon presents First Time Homebuyers Qualify For An $8,000 Gift posted at Tallahassee Real Estate Blog, saying, “The First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit. People want to know what it is, where is the information on the program, who qualifies (meaning even if you have owned a home previously you might qualify), and what resources exist for people to find out more.”


The Investor presents Opportunity cost when starting a business posted at Monevator.com, saying, “Internet pundits will call you lazy or timid if you don’t think quitting your job to start a business is a good idea, but in reality you may truly have too much to lose.”

FMF presents Make Six-Figures Walking and Watching Pets posted at Free Money Finance, saying, “Who knew you could make so much walking dogs?”

FIRE Getters presents Why do we get laid off? A complicated corporate work culture …. posted at FIRE Finance.


The Smarter Wallet presents S & P Index and Crude Oil Market Trends: Next Steps? posted at The Smarter Wallet, saying, “Where are the markets headed? Here’s a look at where the S & P index and the crude oil market could be going.”

Curt presents Take Advantage of the Market Rally, Before the Economic Collapse Resumes posted at PennyJobs.com.

Frank Vertin presents Just Buy Index Funds Directly posted at NoLoad Index Fund, saying, “Buying an S&P 500 index fund through an investment counselor can substantially increase your initial purchasing costs and and drive up your annual management expense fees. Unfortunately, the vast majority of individual investors buy mutual funds and ETFs through brokers and investment advisers. Rarely do financial advisors recommend that you buy index funds with low fees. This is because low cost, no load mutual funds do not pay them as well as loaded, high fee mutual funds.”

Todd presents Green Mutual Funds posted at Gloomberg News, saying, “As nations all over the world unite to educate, and more importantly act to clean up the environment, there are ways to participate as an investor as well! Below are three green mutual funds that you can support and invest in!”

Zach Scheidt presents ZachStocks Podcast 7: Bankruptcies, M&A, and Playing Defense posted at ZachStocks, saying, “A discussion on current economic reports and their effect on the markets, Bank stress tests as a catalyst for selling, and defensive strategies to protect your portfolio from losses.”

Richard M. Rothschild presents The Top 14 Low Cost Taxable United States Bond Mutual Funds (Low Minimum Deposit) posted at Bond Index Funds, saying, “The top 14 low cost taxable US fixed income funds with a $10,000 or lower initial deposit. Low investment management fees are very important with fixed income funds. Simply put, if you pay higher bond mutual fund fees, then these bond management expenses tend just to be a deadweight loss to you. When you pay more in bond mutual fund fees, you are just wasting your money.”

Zach Scheidt presents Allegiant Travel – Bucking the Trend posted at ZachStocks, saying, “Allegiant Travel Company (ALGT) reported strong earnings despite a difficult economy. The company does not hedge fuel prices and enjoyed record operating margins. The stock is still trading at an attractive multiple despite a 70% run in a few weeks.”

Pinyo presents Is It Time To Get Back Into The Stock Market? posted at Moolanomy, saying, “If you got out of the stock market, an Investment Policy Statement will help you get back in and be more effective in the future.”

Investing School presents OptionsXpress Review posted at Investing School, saying, “OptionsXpress is great for options trading. Good commissions, free tools and more.”

Walter Fouse presents 7 Ways to Pick the Best Noload Mutual Funds and ETFs posted at Best Index Funds, saying, “The vast body of investment research studies show that there really are better approaches to buying and owning mutual funds and ETFs. You do not need to frantically chase fund performance. Performance chasing simply does not work.”

Jae Jun presents Fortune 40 Best Stocks to Retire on: Part 1 posted at Old School Value, saying, “Putting a fair value estimate on 40 of the best stocks to retire on. This is part 1 where we take a look at the first 10.”

Dividends4Life presents Procter & Gamble (PG) Increases Dividend 10% posted at Dividends Value, saying, “If you closely follow the daily financial news, it is easy become jaded and start believing that there isn’t any good news good news out there. Don’t be confused by the noise. There are still great companies committed to generating superior returns and rewarding their shareholder. PG Is one them.”

Darwin presents How to Invest in Cuba – Does Obama’s Cuba Deal Spell Gains? posted at Darwin’s Finance, saying, “With Obama’s recent olive branch to Cuba, a CUBA focused Fund rallied 40% overnight. Will the trend continue?”

Larry Russell presents 7 Ways to Pick the Best Noload Mutual Funds and ETFs posted at No Load Funds, saying, “Taken as a whole, the vast body of investment research studies show that there really are better approaches to buying and owning mutual funds and ETFs. You do not need to frantically chase fund performance. Performance chasing simply does not work.”

Alex Fotopoulos presents SPY Chart – April 24, 2009 – Premarket posted at Chart Analysis, saying, “Chart of the large S&P 500 ETF, SPY. Alex analyzes the SPY chart using trend lines, moving averages and the Williams %R indicator.”

Managing Debt

Mr Credit Card presents Ready Debit Card Review posted at Ask Mr Credit Card, saying, “This is a review of the Ready Debit Card for people who have bad credit and are trying to rebuild their credit scores.”

Mr Credit Card presents A Reader’s Question posted at Ask Mr Credit Card.

Dr. Alan Singer presents Recession Depression? Maybe You Suffer from Hyperopia, Like Me posted at FamilyThinking.com, saying, “Why is it that i can’t spend more than the 25 bucks it takes to fill my gas tank? Is it because i have Hyperopia, which means that i’m always thinking about the future and cannot enjoy the present.”

PFCreditCards presents The Credit Card Debate posted at PF Credit Cards, saying, “Love it or hate it, credit cards are apart of our society.”


hall monitor presents Two Colts Neck High School students accused of counterfeiting money posted at DetentionSlip.org, saying, “To be filed in the “What NOT to do” column.”

Mr. Self Development presents 4 Simple Steps to Financial Success posted at Mr. Self Development.com, saying, “This article is about 4 simple steps to financial success. The first step is to become an expert. The final step is to deliver the goods.”

nickel presents How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft and E-mail Scams posted at fivecentnickel.com, saying, “Tips for protecting yourself from fraud, identity theft, and e-mail scams. Stay safe or pay the price.”

RateNerd presents Black Market Prices for Stolen Credit Card ID’s posted at Rate Nerd, saying, “Your credit card information is now only worth between $0.06 and $30.00 on the black market, according to a new report by Symantec. Your bank account information will fetch between $10.00 and $1,000.00 depending on how much money you have in the account.”

Retirement Planning

Super Saver presents Playing the Hand that’s Dealt posted at My Wealth Builder, saying, “The economic and stock market downturn have reinforced that there are no guarantees in life, or retirement. Financial success is not as simple as “investing in a diversified stock portfolio””

Risk Management and Insurance

MoneyEnergy presents How To Protect Your Wealth From Hyperinflation posted at MoneyEnergy, saying, “Recently there has been much speculation about the prospect of the looming inflation headed the US dollar’s way, leading some to even toss around the “H” word. This post covers the basics of what you can do with your money now to protect yourself against the possibility of hyperinflation, or even just high inflation in general.”

KCLau presents Bad Experience of Car Insurance Claim posted at KCLau’s Money Tips, saying, “a story of bad experience with vehicle insurance claim”

John Russell presents In An Accident? Don posted at The Low Cost Auto Insurance Guru, saying, “You pay your premiums, but when your car is damaged, you balk because you fear a claim will mean higher insurance rates. Here”


Wise Bread presents Financial Literacy Month Project: Setting Your Financial Goals | Wise Bread posted at Wise Bread, saying, “Here is a brief overview of the three kinds of savings goals, and how you might wish to use each to achieve your financial aspirations.”

Paul Piotrowski presents The Importance of Saving Money posted at Inspired Money Maker.

MoneyNing presents What Drives You to Be Frugal posted at Money Ning, saying, “The reason why I’m frugal is not strictly about necessity. What is the real reason for you?”

The Skilled Investor presents Most Individual Investors Are Poor Personal Portfolio Managers | Personal Investment Management posted at Personal Investment Management, saying, “Investors more easily understand investment costs that are directly measurable, such as fees deducted on investment statements. However, many investors ignore or are unaware of the opportunity costs of their sub-optimal investment behaviors. Opportunity costs are usually much more difficult to measure directly, but these investment costs can be even higher than more visible investment fees.”


Patrick @ Military Money presents Free Tax Deadline Extensions for Military Members posted at Military Finance Network, saying, “Tips on how military members can file for a free tax deadline extension.”

Madison presents File an Extension to Lower or Hedge Your Tax Bill posted at My Dollar Plan.

Jacqulyn Richey presents Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Tax Credits posted at Las Vegas Real Estate News, saying, “A breakdown of the new and expanded tax credits for renewable energy and energy efficiency upgrades for homeowners. It pays to go green!”

Barb A. Ryan presents Asset Allocation, Investment Asset Tax Location, and Emergency Cash Management posted at Fee Only Financial Planner, saying As you move your cash, bond, and stock financial assets into lower cost, more broadly diversified investment mutual funds and/or ETFs, you should also consider how to locate your investment asset allocation with respect to more optimal taxation. This article will discusses some ideas about where and how to hold your cash assets and how to make emergency cash available.”

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of Carnival of Financial Planning using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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