Archive for July, 2006

CLUE for Assessing Home Insurability

CLUE is a database of insurance claims and insurance company use CLUE to assess the property’s risk profile to determine your insurance premium. Read more here.

The site recommended that a CLUE report to be part of the Contingency, just in case any red flags show up. Also if you don’t mind sharing your SSN and DOB, you can get a free copy of CLUE by requesting one from ChoiceTRUST.


July 22, 2006 at 2:46 pm 2 comments

Is Your House a Starter Home?

This entry by “Tire but Happy” totally resonant with my own home purchasing experience.

July 22, 2006 at 2:34 pm 1 comment

FREE Summer Fun

I love summer because I can go play under the sun after work (during winter, it’s always pitch black when I leave work). Unfortunately, my spending also goes way up (You can tell when summer start by just looking at my credit card statement *DOH*).

Thanks to this LA Times article, hopefully my expense will go down as I attend some of these free summer thrills instead:

  • Hammer Museum (waiving admission until Labor Day)
  • MOCA (free every Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. MOCA After Dark on Saturdays livens up the downtown scene with its extended hours, gallery tours, DJs, art workshops, readings and music until midnight for the cost of general museum admission ($8). )
  • Getty Villa
  • LACMA Free admission after 5 p.m. Also held free music nights (Fri 5:30p.m. Jazz, Sat 4:30 p.m. Latin, Sun 6 p.m. Classical).
  • Page Museum at La Brea Tar Pits (first Tuesdays free).
  • Grand Performances at California Plaza
  • Outdoor Movies – Fri & Sat nights at One Colorado, Pasadena

Contact me if you want to go to any of these with me (or want me to go to some other ones with you).

July 13, 2006 at 10:04 pm 1 comment

Negotiation 101

I believe negotiation is one of the most important skill one needs to have to succeed in life. Unfortunately, I need more practice.

JLP found a great list of negotiation tips:

1. You can’t negotiate anything unless you absolutely know the market. Only then will you be able to recognize a good deal when you see it.

(Whole heartly agree. I personally would be too timid to negotiate if I don’t do the research first.)

2. If you can’t say yes, it’s no. Don’t sugarcoat it. Don’t talk yourself into yes just to seem like a nice person. No one ever went broke because he or she said “no” too often.

3. The biggest tool in any negotiation is the willingness to get up and walk away from the table without a deal.

(This is the hardest part when you become emotionally attached to the thing you’re negotiating for)

4. Before you begin any negotiation, look beyond the title and make sure the person you’re dealing with is in a position of authority to sign off on the agreement. If not, don’t deal until you can negotiate with someone who is.

(Good tip)

5. It’s not how much it’s worth. It’s how much people think it’s worth.

6. Many people listen . . . few actually hear. You can’t learn anything if you are doing all the talking.

7. In negotiation, the given reason is seldom the real reason. Find the real reason, and your probability of success goes up dramatically.

8. No one ever choked to death swallowing his or her pride.

9. In the long run, instincts are no match for information.

10. There’s no more certain recipe for disaster than a decision based on emotion. Or another way of saying this is: Make decisions with your heart, and you’ll end up with heart disease.
11. A dream always is a bargain no matter what you pay for it. If it’s something you’ve always wanted, and this is your big chance to get it, go for it and make it work.

12. The most important term in any contract isn’t “in” the contract. It’s dealing with people who are honest. As the old adage goes: You lie down with dogs . . . and you get up with fleas.

13. There is no such thing as a “final offer.”

14. Try to let the other person speak first.

15. Never give an ultimatum unless you mean it.

16. You cannot get dealt in with a straight flush unless you are in the game.

17. Smile and say no, no, no, no, no . . . until your tongue bleeds.

18. Agreements prevent disagreements. You have to fight your guts out for an agreement, and then you won’t have a disagreement.
(I’m not sure I understand this)
19. If you can afford to buy your way out of a problem, you don’t have a problem.

20. More deals result from whom you know than from what you know. It’s not just whom you know but how you get to know that person.

21. The walls have ears. Don’t discuss any business where others can overhear. Almost as many deals have gone down in elevators as elevators have gone down.

22. People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan. Top negotiators debrief themselves. They keep a book about themselves and their opponents. You never know when that information may be gold.

23. Your day usually goes the way the corners of your mouth turn. Your attitude determines your altitude.

24. People go around all their lives saying: What should I buy? What should I sell? Wrong questions. When should I buy? When should I sell? Timing is everything.

Mackay’s Moral 25: When a person with money meets a person with experience, the person with the experience ends up with the money and the person with the money ends up with the experience.


A great example of negotiation: This guy trade one paper clip for a house!!! (Thanks Szu)

July 11, 2006 at 11:10 am 5 comments

The Fallacy of Goals

While chatting with Quoc (a HS friend that’s also learning about investing), I realized that my goals are nothing but lofty wishes and will remain so unless I have a plan to achieve these goals. For example, my medium term goal is to save $100K in 5 years (2011) but I have no plan on achieving it. I guess I thought by setting a goal, something brilliant and magical would happen and I would achieve this goal. Of course, realistically, when 2011 rolls around, I probably would not have $100K in the bank if I have no plan.

Assuming I just hide the money under a mattress, to save $100k in 5 years, I would need to save $1,667  per month.

5 years * 12 months / year = 60 months

$100,000 / 60 months = $1,667/month

There’s two way to achieve that:

1)      Get another job that would pay $2,000 more per month while maintain current standard of living.

2)      Invest.

Since it’s unlikely that I can find a job that would pay me $2,000 more per month right away, so the best way is to invest. Let’s say I start with $3,000 in a index fund that pays 11% return every year, then with 3% inflation (and not counting tax) to have $100,000 by the end of 5 years, I would need to save $1,200 per month (according to this calculator). This is a teeny bit more reasonable but still tough to meet without an increase in income. Hence, I probably need do a combination of 1 & 2 or do option 3:

            3) Get a part time job or start a business on the side. This way, no time to have fun (aka spend money) while generating more income.


July 11, 2006 at 9:01 am 3 comments

As a Thank You for Renewing Your Contract, You get to Pay More Each Month!

That seem to be the message that Yahoo/AT&T DSL is telling me when I called them to renew my contract. For the same service, they told me I would be paying 88% more per month (WTF). After negotiated with them for several minutes, they lowered the rate to 18% more per month. That’s still unacceptable. The alternative is to cancel the service then sign up for it again and be paying 24% less per month. The trade off for cancel the service: 30 minutes to sign up for service again, a few days without internet, and another 30 minutes to set it up.

It’s more hassle but I think I can live without internet for a few days.

July 5, 2006 at 10:58 pm 3 comments


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