Monday, October 15, 2007

Interest Rate Freefall

Long story short. Fed cuts overnight interest rates from 5.25% to 4.75%. Result: Interest rates fall off a cliff.

Glad I locked in a 5.36% 12 month CD at E-loan before the carnage, but kicking myself for not locking in for 18 months. Unfortunately 2 CDs expired after the freefall and blah. My Wamu CD i rolled into a 4month CD @ 4.65% APY (They were offering ~2.7% for all other maturities!). My Emigrant Direct CD I transferred into my savings account earning 4.75%.

So there's little options out there as all banks seemed to have followed suit. There are higher rates at Countrywide and IndyMac, but their exposure to subprime worries me. Although they are FDIC insured, I don't feel like the small bump in rate would be worth the headache should they fail. So for now I'm going to sit tight and see how the rates play out in the coming weeks.

In other portfolio news, I'm roughly 50% cash which is way to conservative for my age bracket. Sadly, this is probably the lowest cash ratio I think I've ever had for my porfolio showing my uber conservativeness. I've been ramping down this cash number, however. I set up an auto-investment with Vanguard into my VTRIX mutual fund. I'd invest more, but with the market so hot right now and everything trading at all time highs, I'm hesitant to do more.

Well I guess we'll see what happens in the coming weeks.

One Love,

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Pearly Whites

So in an impulse buy to get me to $49 for free shipping on, I decided to get some Listerine Whitening strips. All the years of soda drinking has been catching up in my old age, and I've noticed some yellowing in my teeth. I've been wanting to do something about this for a while (started with drinking more water instead of soda), but I finally made the plunge to actively reverse the yellowing. I was going to spring for the Crest Whitestrips, but I was a little hesitant about hurting my gums after reading some of the reviews, so I went with the less drastic choice.

Some pros for the strips: easy to use, no trays and stuff to mess with, subtle change in teeth coloring

Some cons for the strips: as with all whiteners - possible damage to enamel, sensitivity in the gums, questionable noticeable difference in shade

My order's been processed and the package should be on its way soon, so I'll let you know how it goes.

One Love,

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


So since switching jobs I haven't had much time to go to the gym. Paying $80/mo. @ Equinox didn't seem like a worthwhile investment so this weekend I visited Sports Authority to get some gear.

Long story short, I went with the Bowflex Selecttech 552 dumbbells. The major appeal being a compact, multi-weight option that saves space and is easily interchangeable. I pondered getting plated weights but the spinlock never seems to stay locked and its a bit cumbersome to change weights. Other options were similar Bowflex-style quick changing weights, but none of the options had the same quality as the Bowflex ones. In the end paid $399 for the weights + tax, but I also got the "free" stand thrown in. Some possible worries however is the quality as the salesperson tried hawking the 2 year extended warranty because of problems with the spinlocks...

Seeing that I also needed a bench I went with the Bowflex 3.1 Bench. Kinda regretting this pick up as I could've probably gotten a cheaper bench for about the same price, I just kept it within the Bowflex family. O wells.

A review to follow after I put together the bench and start workin it out.

One Love,

Monday, August 6, 2007

Free (or Almost Free) Verizon LG VX8700 Ringtones

With a little bit of work, you can side step Verizon's crippling of the LG VX8700 to make your own ringtone.

Step 1: Choose song
Step 2: Cut song to about 30 seconds (use a program like Adobe Premiere)
Step 3: Convert song to an mp3 with a bit rate apprx 80kpbs (should be about 300kb or less)
Step 4: Email yourself the song or put it on your SD card
Step 5: Send yourself a pix message with the song attached
Step 6: The message should be waiting in your inbox... Open and save as ringtone
Step 7: Enjoy! (Will be free if you have unlimited TXT/PIX. If not, will still be cheaper (tho more work) than buying a ringtone from their site.

One Love,

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Chase Freedom: Free Money

So seeing that I need to build my credit history I decided to sign up for another credit card to add to my Citi Professional Card. I was waiting for a card to give me a signup reward and a worthwhile cash back program. Enter Chase Freedom.

While reading @ work, I came across the post for a $250 signup reward when applying for the card. I was hesitant at first seeing that you only saw the signup on the landing page occasionally and on the application form there was no mention of the bonus. Regardless, some posters had detailed their success in getting the reward so I took the plunge.

Weeks passed and I was worried whether or not I'd actually get the card. I gave my email address and everything, but I'd had no word from Chase for a good two weeks or so. Eventally the card came but no mention of the rewards. I quickly signed up for the online account and scoured the pages for the reward. Nada.

So I thought I'd been screwed, but low and behold when checking my account balance one day the rewards showed up in my account. Clicked on "redeem" and received my $250 check in the mail about a week later.

So what's the good and the bad with the card?

  • Accumulating $200 in rewards is good for a $250 check (Otherwise you can cash out $50 in rewards for $50). Effectively that's a 1.25% cash back instead of 1.00% if you can wait to accumulate $200.
  • 3% on Gas, Grocery and Quick Service Restaurants. I rarely buy gas or groceries, so that really doesn't matter for me. I do go to places for lunch, but I've yet to see getting 3% back at the delis and sandwich shops I go to... I wonder if its only for fast food which I've been trying no to eat...
  • Online account is easy to use. No hassles
  • Ridiculous APR. I pay my balances in full every month, but if you miss a payment on this baby you're screwed. So definitely sign up for the email reminders when your bill is due.
  • No 3% back on regular restaurants.
All in all, I think I'll use the Freedom card over the Professional for everyday purchases and the like and reserve the Professional for restaurants. In the meantime I'll be on the lookout for possibly another card with a different type of reward.

One Love,

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Incredible Falling Interest Rate

The Fed announced today that the fed fund rate would remain unchanged for the time being. So what does that mean for interest rates? So far online savings rates have stayed the same. E-Loan remains at 5.25% and Emigrant at 5.05%. In recent weeks, however, the CD rates at these two institutions have dropped to 5.26% and 5.10%, respectively. E-Loan had a huge drop from 5.41% to 5.26% over the last week or so, while Emigrant has been holding at 5.05%. My CD at Emigrant expires tomorrow, so what to do? Open an account at E-Loan and hold it at 5.25%? Or will the rates drop at E-Loan too and converge to the rate at Emigrant? Sigh.. Missing the rate hike!

I'll let you know!
One Love,

Monday, April 30, 2007

Decisions, decisions... Which phone will you hear me now on?

So my Verizon contract is set to expire with my "New Every Two" discount kicking in May 10, 2007. While Verizon phones are notoriously worst in class of any provider (unfortunately they can get away with it by having the "best" network). So which phone to upgrade to? My current phone the Motorola E815 has served me well, but the antenna/reception in the last couple of months has been lacking. Verizon boasts the least dropped calls or whatever, but I seem to have tons of trouble getting reception here in Brooklyn.

Anywho, these are the two options I've been looking at:

LG VX8700

Pros: Pretty. Sleek. Slim. Lightweight.
Cons: Supposedly speakerphone works only w/ the phone open. Odd front screen.


Pros: Sleek. USB port capability. Touchscreen face.
Cons: Bigger portfolio - shape and weight. Odd shape (haven't gotten used to that extra bottom nub on RAZRs).

Unfortunately I think the LG VX8700 is only available online right now. And since I'd like to actually see/feel the phone before I get it I think I may end up going with the MOTORAZR maxx Ve. As I ponder the decision I hope some new fangled phone comes out or the LG Vx8700 goes in stores so I can compare. I'll keep you posted.

One Love,

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

And so it happens... Toyota #1

The 1Q results are in and after years perched on top of the automotive world, Detroit automaker GM was handily beaten by 90,000 units to rival Toyota. The results marked record results for both automakers, but was the first time Toyota outsold GM. Analysts expect similar results throughout the rest of the year as Toyota's finally achieves the dominance that seemed all but an eventuality. Should this occur, this will mark the first time in 76 years that GM was not the top automaker in the United States.

That being said, will Toyota be able to sustain its dominance? Even the mighty must fall and with Chinese upstarts, formidable South Korean players and the resurgence of American brands will Toyota be able to maintain its lead over the competition? As the Tokyo juggernaut rolls along, however, its stock (Toyota: NYSE - TM) seems to be a relative bargain at $125, down from a high near $140 mere months ago. As such, TM seems like a BUY and its dominance? Only time shall tell.

One Love,

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Interest Rate Roundup

I opened a couple of CDs at WaMu while I was in college and have since been rolling them over. My returns haven't been too great, with some of my earlier CDs locked in at rates around 3%, but recently trending around 5%. This weekend one of my CDs expired so I was forced with the decision of rolling it over again or pulling the money out. Interest rates at online banks have trended downwards over the past few months, so I decided to stay locked in another CD for 8 months with a rate of 5.10% APY.

My old faithful in online savings, Emigrant has served me well, but I think I held my money in these accounts for too long. Currently I have 2 CDs with 6 month maturities locked in at 5.20% APY and my regular savings account at 5.05% APY. In the past couple of days, the CD rate has fallen to 5.10% and I'm fearing a draw down on the regular savings account will soon follow.

That leaves me with E-Loan. I was late to jump on the boat when they were offering 5.50% APY on their online savings account out of sheer laziness on my part in my unwillingness to open yet another online account and shuffling money from Emigrant to my Citi Checking to E-Loan. In hindsight, I should've gone through with all the hassle for the better rate. Currently, they're offering 5.25% APY for their online savings account which is higher than any interest rate I currently have. Suffice it to say, my money is locked in various things and I'd have to do some money management/stop spending my paychecks to roll the $5,000 minimum into an E-Loan account. Boo. I guess better late than never, however, so in the coming weeks I shall do some portfolio shuffling and open yet another account. I'll report back later on my progress or lack thereof.

One Love,

Monday, April 2, 2007

Nike Shox

So every now and again Footlocker comes out with their 30% off coupons which drives me to buy some new shoes. Lately, I've gone with some "fashionable" Pumas, but although they're quite flashy and cool they're wickedly uncomfortable.

As such, I'm thinking about getting a pair of Nike Shox. The ones I'm eyeing have a mesh shell (as opposed to the leather-ish type sneakers I have now) and are actually made to provide support and cushioning. After my two pairs of Pumas, I think its time to return to the good ol' swoosh. Hoping they'll come out with some better styles tho, as I'm not completely sold on the look. Seeing that my feet haven't been too comfy, I guess I'm willing to forgo the appearance for some feet pampering.

One Love,

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Hands on with the Garmin Nuvi 350

So I plopped down $400 or so for Garmin's Nuvi 350 from for my dad's Christmas gift a while back. At that time, it was one of the better rated models and was a steal considering other big box retailers were selling it for $500+. Since then, the price has come down as the model will probably be discontinued for its bigger and "better" successor the 660.

Some quick notes. The actual device itself is very lightweight and pretty easy to use. I thought the screen would be a little too small and clumsy, but it actually works quite fine. Switching between maps is sometimes a pain and I haven't quite gotten it figured out yet. The device works well, using mostly main roads (so side street detours can prove troublesome), but unfortunately it doesn't have any construction information about detours, etc. So if you are off the suggested route, you'll hear endless directions to try and put you on something where you can't go.

So far, so good, however. Further review after continued use.

One Love,

Monday, March 5, 2007

The Incredible Shrinking Interest Rate... Citibank eSavings

If you've been paying attention to interest rates in the past few months, you've noticed they've leveled off after the Fed stopped raising its rate. Banks have quietly reduced the APYs offered on their accounts, with Citibank being the sneakiest (to me) of them all.

So without warning I've noticed the rates they offer have freefalled. From a high of 5.5% it decreased to 5.0% then 4.75% and now 4.65%. Having so many different webpages and different ways to access the site, I didn't even notice the decrease to the recent 4.65% rate until recently. I think they should show the rate on the login screen or at least show you the eSavings details including interest rate/APY when you log into your account.

As such, I've moved most of my money in the Citibank eSavings account to Emigrant Direct and locked in a CD at 5.20% APY. With its current trajectory Citibank will fall to a level of ING at which point I will take most of my money there out. The only reason I leave money in there is for bills and such. O wells. Citi, kiss my $$$ goodbye.

One Love,

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Getting TiVo/DVR

Well, seeing that I enjoy sitting down and watching some tube, makes sense that I should buy TiVo/DVR device. It's annoying to spend an hour watching a show that is only 30 mins sans commercials. Think of the time saved by getting rid of commercials!

Sadly, however, how much "quality" TV is available? A Look fav, The O.C. just ended its run forever. Grey's Anatomy is getting boring. Smallville is putting out repeats. The White Rapper Show (yes I'm a watcher) is almost done... Sigh. That leaves me with the endless Real Worlds/Challenges and other MTV nonsense.

So while TiVo is definitely something I'd think about getting, for now I'll put it on hold till more quality time-wasting TV comes on air. I've decided to start reading more and here's what I just ordered on Amazon:
  • The Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell

  • Freakonomics - Steven Levitt

  • When Genius Failed: The Rise & Fall of LTCM - Roger Lowenstein

Gotta start getting myself educated again. I know those books have been out a while, so I figure'd now is as good a time as ever to take a stab at em. Will let you know what I think. Till next time...

One Love,

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Porsche 911 Turbo

Beautiful, simply beautiful. If I had the dollars to drop, this little dandy would be high on the list. MSRP of 123-126K, such beauty does cost a pretty penny.

So what do you get for this little (0r big) status symbol? 480 horses w/ a top track speed of 192.6 mph. All while going 0-60 in 3.4-3.7 seconds. Does it make sense for living in the burbs of NJ or the streets of NY? Probably not. You'd hardly be able to open it up without gettin' in trouble with the fuzz. But if you're a baller. This ride is definitely sweet.

One Love,

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Washin' your clothes in style.

How do you wash your designer duds in ordinary washers? Pssh. Silly.
Enter Samsung's Hauzen washer. Designed by Andre Kim this washer features a stainless steel door door and is frosted in a unique pattern you can't find on just an ordinary washer. To top it off, as you watch your clothes in the spin cycle, you can admire the golden coat of arms adorning the center window.
Worth it? You decide. No word on price points or other features, but a designer washer? Now that just seems ridiculous.
One Love,

Monday, January 8, 2007

Coke vs. Pepsi... Who Cares?

The debate over Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) and Pepsi (NYSE: PEP) seems to never end. Just today, some co-workers of mine debated over the qualities of each and which was the superior cola beverage. A professed Pepsi drinker, I can say I do have a preference. However, its crazy to me when people launch tirades over which is the better beverage. To me, bubbly is bubbly. If Pepsi is available, I'll go for that. If it isn't, I won't cry about it I'll simply just go with a Coke. Sometimes if I'm feeling adventurous I'll just go for Coke to switch things up. Call me crazy.

Now there's taste tests and all that jazz on the drink people prefer. Now if you like Coke or Pepsi, so be it. But that doesn't mean you should go biblical on others and force your beverage of choice upon them. Yes they do taste different. I'm no expert, but I'd say Coke is a bit more bubbly and Pepsi is a bit more sweet. I don't know if anyone else notices this, but I'd definitely say that Coke/Pepsi in a can tastes different than Coke/Pepsi in a bottle and still more different than Coke/Pepsi from the tap. It also depends what type of glass you put it in (plastic/glass/etc.). I'm sure at restaurants you order one thing, but they give you whatever they have there. Also, I'm sure most people go with "I'll have a coke (not specifying brand)" rather than sounding like a tool and saying "Make mine a Pepsi." Well at least thats what I say. The restaurant could give me some third party brand (RC Cola anyone?) and I probably wouldn't know the difference. Truth is, fountain sodas are way too inconsistent on their syrup to whatever ratio and it never tastes the same.

Alas, no matter what your cola of choice is, I say if you feel so strongly about it you end up looking like a silly fool. Yes, thats right silly fool. I'm a silly fool for wasting the time to write this entry. Anyway, by being so brand-loyal you've fallen for their multi-million dollar marketing campaigns and have become enslaved to the corporation. Call me frugal/cheap or what you will, but if I'm in the grocery store I'd go with whatever costs less because at the end of the day, are those seconds you have the bubbly dancing on your tongue worth that extra dough just because its from a particular brand? To me it ain't.

So as you chug down your cola (you actually shouldn't it's bad for your teeth... wash it down with water after you're done or go brush your teeth) in the end it doesn't matter. There's plenty of room in this world for both of these outfits. As seen in the charts below, both Coca-Cola and Pepsi have done quite well for themselves. As poor chaps like me continue to drink the stuff even with all the health warnings (not unlike tobacco...), these stocks seem to have a solid customer base that keeps refreshing itself. So maybe you should just invest in these stocks instead of drinking them. This way you can stay brand loyal by choosing your company and have a brighter smile by avoiding the stains these colas bring.

The Coca-Cola Company (KO)

Pepsico (PEP)
One Love,