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Monday, December 24, 2007

Too Old For Christmas

Don't you have that yearly feeling that, when Christmas season comes around, you don't get excited about the holidays anymore than when you were younger? Does it have something to do with age? Or maybe times are getting tougher? Or do we get too busy with our careers we don't have time to slow down and feel the holidays anymore?

After all, what's an adult to look forward to when there are no more toys being opened on Christmas eve, no more going from street to street caroling for small bills and change into our pockets, no more "Mamamasko po" and Santa Clauses dressed like ninongs and ninangs, lolos and lolas, titos and titas, no more being taken out by parents for small outings and carnival rides...

Boring... the price of being an adult. But, hey, if you're feeling that way, then you must be an adult.

And you might just be onto the biggest reality check of your life... That is: Christmas is for kids!

Yep, no need to worry then. It's your turn to wear Santa's hat and make the kids around you feel the season of giving. Your turn to give and share, and make it your business that they have fun throughout the season. Make your kids, nephews and nieces feel special. 'Cause you know, one day too, that they'll be missing that feeling the same way we adults do.

Spread love and happiness... Have a wonderful Christmas, folks!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Get-Rich Formula

Here's another nice article about compounding:
The World's Greatest Get-Rich Formula
By Brian D. Pacampara December 5, 2007

You should be highly skeptical of any and all get-rich schemes ... except for the super-simple formula I'm going to show you below. Because this one really works.

It works so well that it's been used by the world's billionaires -- from moguls of yesteryear such as Rockefeller and Ford to today's tycoons Carlos Slim and Warren Buffett.

Though it's a little more "mathematical" than my previous blog about compounding, it drives the same point: that the factor of time is very important. You have to start now, because time waits for no one.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Gratitude Journal

A little bit late for a Thanksgiving thought, but better late than never...

Belated Happy Thanksgiving to folks in the US. I was just wondering whether this holiday is exclusive to the North Americans. Wouldn't it be a nice idea to have an International Thanksgiving Holiday? For one, I'd be thankful that I wouldn't have to go to work.

But seriously, having a personal thanksgiving habit I think is good for the soul. I once watched an episode in Oprah as she talked about the idea of having a gratitude journal. The idea is simple: get something to write on, and everyday find at least three things you are grateful for, then write it down. They don't have to be something spectacular; sometimes it's the small things we take for granted that would make up the list. The point in the exercise is being able to see, in spite of the daily stress, what good things you've received for the day. It gives us a chance to realize that we're actually more fortunate than others; that it's just that we're too tired and distracted with worry that we fail to see the nice things done for us, and around us.

Sadly I don't practice what I'm preaching here, but I think I should start setting aside some time for it (probably like every Mondays, or every first day of the month). A good time would be during the commute to the office. What's in it for us? A happier, more grateful and positive disposition no less. And I bet the person I say thanks to would also appreciate it.

Let me start a quick one:
  1. I'm grateful for my industrious wife for the best homekeeping work ever. I virtually don't have to do a thing at home!
  2. My pretty daughters who dance my stress away.
  3. My parents and family for an always wacky and feastful get-together.

There, that felt good! Try it out some time... if you're not too busy.

Oh, and in case you feel you're way behind financially, you bet you are! Check this out.

In our daily lives, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy. --Albert Clarke

Thank you for reading.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Buffett's Philanthropy

This was a story of last year, but it keeps resonating in my head whenever the name comes up.
Buffett donates $37bn to charity

Warren Buffett says he was "wired at birth to allocate capital"

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has said he was waiting for decades to make a huge charitable donation.

He said he was overjoyed as he spoke for the first time since revealing he would donate about $37bn (£20bn) to Bill Gates' charitable foundation.

"This has been coming for 50 years," Mr Buffett said. "There's never really been any other plan in terms of where the money should go."

The donation is thought to be the largest charitable gift ever in the US.

We've seen Forbes' world's richest, but wouldn't it be a better idea if they publish "The World's Biggest Givers"? I think it's time to give more credit to those who have the biggest of hearts. Secondly, if a wealthy guy is in the richest list but not in the top givers' list, wouldn't he feel obliged to give away more to charity?

If you can't take it with you, you might as well buy yourself immortality. The rich are admirable, but philanthropists are sublime.

Now, I got fresher news (as fresh as June 2007), but before that, allow me a brief intro... When we talk about bridging the gap between the rich and the poor, the answer seems very simple: just distribute wealth more evenly. I think that's the concept that socialism is built upon (if kids ruled the Earth, that would be called "sharing"). For capitalist economies, however, that couldn't be done. Capitalism says, to be fair we must reward the smart and the hardworking. Unfortunately, such a system has a downside: it promotes wealth inequality.

So, why not higher taxes for the rich? Robin Hood legitimately taking money from the rich to give to the poor? Not really exactly new.

But what's more interesting is, Mr. Buffett seems to have found some flaws in US tax laws which uncovers that the average Joe seem to be paying at higher rates. If you're in the Forbes 400, you will hate the following article. If you're not, you probably won't like it too. Looks like the playing field isn't that level.

Warren Buffett: Tax the Rich!

Warren Buffett's cry of 'tax the rich!' is being heard across the Atlantic. Warren Buffett Watch highlighted his comments to CNBC's Brian Shactman the other night, in which he said the gap between the 15% tax rate for public partnerships and the 35% rate for public corporations seemed "illogical." (That's become one of the more contentious issues in Washington following Blackstone's big IPO.)

In his appearance at Hillary Clinton's fund-raiser later that same night, he spoke more generally, in effect complaining that he, and very rich people like him, should be paying a higher percentage of their income in taxes.

You really have to admire Mr. Buffett's altruism.

Friday, November 2, 2007

A Crystal Ball That Predicts Your First Million

So you like magic and mysteries, fantasies and fairy tales, eh? Sorry, but this blog is nothing about the sort. But when it comes to talking about having one million, it never fails to bring anybody to enter into some dreamy state. Imagining the places you can go to, stuff you can buy and whatever else you can do with it, who wouldn’t want one million? A short while later, you snap back to reality and get back to your job. The scene is just too familiar.
Nothing wrong, of course, with this habit of daydreaming. After all it’s a nice way to motivate yourself to keep on doing, or being better at, what you do. But one practice that’s probably being overlooked along with this habit is asking yourself one important question… “How do I get my first million?” (Is that a blank face?)
There are lots of answers out there, but what I’m going to explain here is probably the most simple, yet most powerful tool you’ll ever come across. It’s called compounding. (Rich folks are laughing at us, 'cause this concept is like the alphabet to them.)
This is how Webster defines it:
to pay (interest) on both the accrued interest and the principal

Don't be too scared, it’s less complicated with an example. Say you have 100 and deposit it in a savings account that earns 10% per year. For three years, this is what you get:
100 x 1.10% = 110 (first year)
100 x 1.10% = 110 (second year)
100 x 1.10% = 110 (third year)
Total interest: 30
With compounding, you put back your interest or profits so that it helps increase your deposit amount. Here’s what it looks like with compounding:
100 x 1.10% = 110 (first year)
110 x 1.10% = 121 (second year)
121 x 1.10% = 133.1 (third year)
Total interest: 33.1
Can you see that difference?! With the same 100, compounding generates far better profits than you could ever imagine. Unbelievable!
OK, that really shouldn’t convince you just yet. To demonstrate how powerful compounding really is, I made an Excel sheet where you can put in your current age, how much you can save monthly, how many years you want to save and how much annual interest you can get.
In the example below, a 25-year old who commits to saving 2,000 monthly for five years at an annual interest of 10% can reach his million by age 50 (without compounding, at age 67). With just a measly 2,000 with consistent effort for just five years, it's written in the stars that you're going to be a millionaire by age 50!
And if you came late in the game, say at age 35, all you need to do is double your monthly savings and you’d be a millionaire too at about the same age.
This is so simple, why hadn't I known this before?!
So if that got you curious as to when you’ll get your very own million, feel free to download this crystal ball compounding calculator (virus free, but scan it nonetheless). Play with it and see what age should you start, how much should you save monthly and for how many years for you to reach that goal.
For those who are familiar with pension plans and other insurance products, this is the same concept why you get a significant amount of money at the end with the little contribution that you make.
There’s really no magic, just math folks doing a trick with numbers.
When you’ve downloaded the calculator, try this one: monthly savings = 0, annual interest = 50%. You get very neat results.
So start saving, investing and compounding now! If I had embraced this concept ten years ago, imagine what difference that would’ve made. Well, daydreaming is over… Plan your future accordingly!

Please check these other articles about compounding:
For where you can get high interest rates, there are available bank deposits and mutual funds around where you can invest in. Check these PinoyMoneyTalk threads for some info:

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Get On The Bandwagon

Do you have savings or time deposits sitting to make 2-5% profit a year? Don't be too excited, with the current year's inflation at 2-3%, you're really not taking home a lot.
Stock market pays for experts, amateurs
By Alcuin Papa, Elizabeth Sanchez-Lacson
Last updated 02:03am (Mla time) 10/14/2007

MANILA, Philippines -- The profits they make in the stock market on a weekly or even daily basis can easily equal, if not rival, most monthly salaries of fairly high-level corporate executives.

But Danny Go and Bonner Dytoc, middle-class blokes who are not even 40 yet, consider themselves no different from the rest of us. Except for the fact that they are smiling all the way to the bank.

The mass of Filipinos may not yet be feeling the effects of the new highs in the Philippine Stock Exchange Index (PSEi). But market traders like Go and Dytoc have been making a killing since the local market started rising around a year ago.

If you want to get serious about making your money grow, please invest them. For the young ones new to the word investing, it's a way of making your money grow without you having to lift a finger. Or, at least not that much. There are a lot of instruments around that can make that happen for you, from bonds, mutual funds and stocks. Your choices will just depend on how much "reward" you want to get.

Have you heard of NAVs, UITFs, portfolio, diversification and asset allocation? If these are too foreign, how about "taking profits"? Now, we're talking... To put it simply, those are but a few words that go along making passive income.

If you're a little anxious, don't worry. There's a crowd of investing newbies and experts that are grazing the PinoyMoneyTalk forums, sharing knowledge and ideas about financial matters. The threads are very inspiring and informative. Here's to share a few:

How to budget money, manage time and maximize your money-making experience

Malaki na ba ang makaipon ng P1M by age 30?

I hope everybody takes time to sit in the forums and educate themselves. A lot of what you'll learn here are stuff they never teach in school. Get out of the rat race and be prosperous, Pinoys! Don't be left behind!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Myanmar Unfolding

You probably heard already what's going on in Myanmar...

Myanmar: Nine dead in crackdown

YANGON, Myanmar (CNN) -- Nine people have been killed in a crackdown on anti-government protests in Myanmar, after attempts to clear demonstrators from the streets of Yangon on Thursday, authorities say.

The dead include eight protesters and a Japanese man, Myanmar authorities said, adding that another 11 protesters were injured.

An American witness told CNN soldiers waded into a crowd of protesters in Myanmar and beat several of them mercilessly, at least one of them to death

"All of a sudden, the police and military guys started coming toward the crowd, and all of a sudden started beating them and running after them," said the woman, who witnessed the incident from atop a nearby building.

"And in one corner they got around, maybe, five or seven people, and they started beating them so bad for almost five minutes, and then they took them and put them in trucks.

"And there was this one guy, laying down on the floor, and he was dead. And then these same police came a few minutes later and picked him up and took him to the police station."

Red-robed Buddhist monks who had led several days of marches were largely absent from the streets Thursday after soldiers raided monasteries the night before. Monks reportedly were beaten and taken into custody or confined to the monasteries.

It was just a few weeks ago when I saw Jim Carrey at YouTube, not his usual comic self, trying to raise awareness in Myanmar and Aung San Suu Kyi's pro-democracy crusade. Now, it has caught the eyes of the international community.

Philippine history of not too long ago would probably bear the closest semblance to these events, and I don't think Filipinos would have a hard time relating to the Burmese people. Napagdaanan na natin yan, di ba? Somehow I can't help but feel fortunate that we've dug ourselves out from the same predicament (at least, to some degree).

How bad is it over there that the military junta has to govern from hidden headquarters? If you have a few minutes to spare, check this site out and know the answer.

No one would be willing to trade places and liberties with the Burmese. Ninety percent of the population is living under just one dollar a day.

"Please, use your liberty to promote ours." - Aung San Suu Kyi