Category Archives: Uncategorized

Moved!

Please check out the new blog at:

fabmoneylife.wordpress.com

See you there!

Sallie Krawcheck, new Treasury Secretary?

Krawcheck

Aside from Elizabeth Warren, another woman I’ve always admired in the corporate world is Sallie Krawcheck – I first read about her in Marie Claire,. She was once known as the Most Powerful Woman on Wall Street, has been ousted from Citibank and Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, is interested in protecting consumers, known for honesty and integrity, has been cheated on by her first husband, and has come out of all gracefully and kicking more ass than ever. And she’s pretty. I love it. Since she left BOA/Merrill last year, she’s been relatively quiet, but now that Mary Schapiro has decided to step down on Dec. 14 as current head of the SEC, there has been much to do about Sallie being appointed.

Below, some notable quotes from Krawcheck:

1. If you don’t get fired at least once, you’re not trying hard enough.  In today’s world, the pace is quickening – if you’re not making enough mistakes to be noticed and disliked, then you’re not going anywhere. Just like when people say “I’ll worry when they stop talking about me”.

2. Cut the cord with the old workplace quickly. Once you’ve decided to close that door, shut it, firmly and politely. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t leave some lines open for future opportunity, but don’t linger in current drama. Make a clean break and start anew.

3.  Choose your husband carefully… you don’t want to gloss over the romantic part. But it’s also important… how your day-to-day life is going to work. If you’re caught in a meeting and walk through the door late, …you want a spouse who says, “Can I get you a glass of wine?” versus “Where were you?” with an eye roll. Having been in a relationship with someone who does the eye roll vs the one who asks you if you want a glass of wine and tells you he already picked up dinner, it’s waiting (I married that one!), I can tell you that it makes all the difference.

 

Holiday gifts

Santa

I sort of hate the holiday season. Of course seeing family and all the get-togethers are great, but it’s really the shopping for holiday gifts for others that gets to me. I feel similarly about other holidays that are forced upon us, like Valentine’s, Christmas, even birthdays. There shouldn’t be a specific day where you have to buy something for someone.  There is a reason why companies make most of their profit during the holiday season!

Now, during the holidays, you’re expected to buy gifts for significant others, family, friends/kids, co-workers, and so on. How absolutey horrible. I’ve mostly pared things down the past few years, to something that feels comfortable to me.

1. Significant other:  We have an agreement to not buy each other gifts unless we are together and see something we really like.  We don’t really exchange holiday/valentine’s or bday gifts, but we go out for a nice meal that we both enjoy and spend time together.

2. Family: See #1

3. Co-workers: I bake cookies or make scented salt body scrubs. It’s inexpensive and brings out my inner Martha Stewart

4. Friends: I think we’ve all come to the point where we’re settled and have budgets, so I might buy something for their kids, or we’ll do a Secret Santa with a fun theme party, like this year’s theme of “Best Ugly Christmas Sweater”

This way, we only buy meaningful gifts, not buying something just to buy something!

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Year end tax planning

Now that 2012 is coming to a close, I’ve been thinking of what we might do to mitigate some tax impact. This year, we had several things happen –

1. My husband sold his business

2. We purchased a house

3. We still have 1099 income tax to pay from 2011

Given these, I am a little nervous about what taxes we’ll have for 2012. The home purchase won’t have any tax implications (except mortgage interest deduction, of course), but the business sale sure will. So in anticipation of that, I haven’t been completely disappointed by stocks tanking. I recently sold all the ones that had the biggest loss so we would have write-offs, but still not sure what else we can do.

I am expecting to write off the following:

– home office

– cell phone

– auto lease (his)

– Investment into SEP IRA

– property tax  (I know interested is, and I’ve read conflicting reports that this is or isn’t deductible. I’ll need to confirm with CPA).

Does this sound like a comprehensive list? If there are more, please let me know!

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More proof America is going down the toilet: I am a product of American schools

As if I didn’t need anymore evidence of just how challenged I am, I was monitoring election results online and realized that I don’t know what the majority of the states without mousing over for “help”. Excellent. My asian tiger mom would be so proud.

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My version of extreme couponing

My latest scheme to save money has to do with one of my favorite things, shopping! I realized that I could buy a gift certificate for less than face value from a site like PlasticJungle.com or Giftcardrescue.com, and use it on a site that also gives me cashback!

So my latest deal was:

1. I went onto PlasticJungle.com and found a giftcard for Ann Taylor worth $300 for $255, 15% off

2. Then I log onto Fatwallet.com for the 3% cashback on all purchases

Every quarter or so, they will have a 40% off sitewide sale, which is pretty great – combining all the coupons means I can actually save 58% on all purchases, and they offer free shipping on any purchases over $150!

I feel like this opens up a whole new world of savings, and it’s so exciting!

In Southern California real estate, 4 is a negative number

From the LA Times:

Did you know that in Southern California (and I am sure this holds true for any asian buyers out there), that having a number “4”in your address is bad, terrible, horrible luck?  “4” sounds like death in Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese, Japanese, and several other languages.

Having an address with 4’s in it can cause your house to sit on the market for months, even if it’s in a hot area, like Arcadia or San Marino, many buyers will not even consider viewing your property. Numbers like “8”, and “168” are good luck, and those houses often sell for asking, if not over.  Asian culture is very superstitious, and if you are in any sort of sales, it’s always a good tip to know in case you deal with them.

This story cites an example of where a house was appraised at $1.4 million, and because there were two 4’s in the address, it could potentially knock $300,000 to $400,000 off the property.  And it’s true – having been in real estate for a short stint, I knew hot to even bother showing the houses with too many bad numbers to my clients, unless they were more Americanized or specifically told me they didn’t care.

So, if your home has the poor fortune of having one too many “4s” in its address, the city of Arcadia now proposes a solution for you – you can pay to have the house number changed, which would hopefully lead to better luck and later, resale value.  I think it’s a smart way to close the budget gap, if there is one, and if it creates multiple offers, why not?

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Why “Daily Deal” sites are not always really deals

I’m not a big fan of trying to save money using daily deal sites – they advertise their services to be 40% – 60% off, but are they really such great deals? Below are some reasons why they may not be so awesome:

1. Not really the % discount they claim. Keep in mind that even though it might say 50% off, it may have been marked up to make it appear that there is a higher discount.

2.  Will the business still be around for you to use the coupon? Many companies that offer daily deals are “mom and pop” (which was originally Groupon’s intention to promote).  Having owned a small business myself, I can attest to how desperate things can become, and to what lengths we will go when offering deals or coupons, even when/if on the brink of shutting down. What options would you have if the business were to go under?  Can you go back to the daily deal site and ask for your money back?  Will they just issue you a credit and you have to buy something you didn’t really want?

3.  Will you actually use the coupon?  How many times have you had a great coupon and had every intention of using it, only to have things come up here and there, until you finally realized that the coupon was expired, or just didn’t have the energy to go use it?  Businesses count on a certain percentage of buyers to not use the pre-purchased coupon. Same economics goes for giftcards.

4. Pre-payment required.  I hate the idea of parting with my money before enjoying whatever it is I’m purchasing. I know that it doesn’t matter, I’ll still have to cough up the funds after, but something about paying for it beforehand doesn’t sit well with me. I have always been “anti” businesses that float cash as part of their business model.

5.  It may end up hurting the business more than helping.  I’m all for supporting small businesses over large corporations. One of my friends used one for his business – it turns out that the daily deal site not only takes 50%, but charges service fees on top of it, leaving my friend with only about 35%, which didn’t even cover the costs. On top of that, the phone was ringing off the hook, the customers were cheap and trying to lowball him on everything, and it turned out to be a bad experience, for him at least.  He said he will never do it again.

If you’re using them for a one-time experience or for a place your frequent, it’s not a bad idea. Just make sure you’re really going to go and use it before purchasing. Also, there’s such market saturation now, I think even Facebook is trying to get in on the action – I wonder if Groupon doesn’t regret, even a teeny, tiny bit, not selling to Google for $6 billion just a few short months ago.

Zombie Attack – CDC offers advice

I love that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  is playing on the claim that today is the end of the world.  They’re typically thought of as a serious and rather stuffy bureau, and by doing this, all the news outlets are reporting this, so they are getting free advertising too.  Good move.

One especially hilarious note:

“4. Plan your evacuation route. When zombies are hungry they won’t stop until  they get food (i.e., brains), which means you need to get out of town fast!  Plan where you would go and multiple routes you would take ahead of time so  that the flesh eaters don’t have a chance! This is also helpful when natural  disasters strike and you have to take shelter fast.”

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Running a food truck isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

Like many others, I’ve definitely toyed with the idea of opening up a food truck, especially with the massive amount of food trucks there are roaming around LA.  I sure do spend a lot of time stalking the trucks to see if they’ll be around for lunch. It seems fun, rushing around and Twittering/Facebooking like crazy about your location to try and create buzz, but when I really sat down to run some numbers, it wasn’t worth it.  If you’re planning to start a actual restaurant, it can be a great way to market yourself, brand, gauge clientele, test the menu.

1. Unlike a B&M location, no one knows where to find you

2.  The energy invested into tweeting your new location every few hours could be better spent marketing and improving your menu

3.  Cities are cracking down on where you can park now, as restaurant owners are very unhappy about trucks parking right in front of their stores

4.  By relying on social media alone, you miss out on potential customers who may be more “loyal” to your place once they discover they like it, instead of hopping onto the next trend

5. Where the heck do you park this thing at night?

This article on MidtownLunch discusses why Manila Machine shut down, and I agree with the author – it would have been really interesting to the operators’ honest opinions about why the truck shut down – either it wasn’t profitable, they genuinely have other interests and feel that they’ve achieved everything they set out to do, not long-term sustainable, etc.  Too often, businesses (people!) can’t or won’t admit the real reason something isn’t suceeding, choosing to spin.  If it was me, I would have said – “Look, the food truck business was a fad. Here’s why….”   Sure, food trucks are definitely fun, but it’s quite saturated around here and already dying out, like the frozen yogurt meltdown that’s currently taking place all over.

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