Archive for September, 2006

401K – How Much Should You Contribute? (Part II)

I asked about contribution to 401K back in May and received many good advice. I also found some good articles regarding 401k as well. However, thus far, I had not increased my 401k contribution.

The general accepted tactic for contribution is what DTC suggested:

1) Contribute to 401k up until you do a company match.
2) Contribute to Roth IRA until you max it out.
3) Continue to contribute 401k up to your affordability.

However, after taken consideration of my investment-prowness, the best strategy for me at this point would be:

  1. Contribute to 401k up to maximum of my affordability.
  2. After max out 401k contribution, then contribute to Roth IRA

My reasons for doing this is:

  • Tax: I’m single with no dependents, thus I get the biggest tax hit. By contributing as much as I can to 401k, I would reduce my taxable income while saving up for my retirement.
  • Investment Prowness: I have none! I have set aside $3,000 play money (though I have not start playing with it) to start learning about investment. Once I feel more knowledgeble, then I will go with the investment strategy that DTC recommended.

To do list for tomorrow:

  1. Evaluate 401k funds (re-balance profolio if necessary)
  2. Increase 401k contribution to max of my affordability

September 30, 2006 at 10:18 pm Leave a comment

Airfare

After weeks of reading and researching for the Asia Trip and at the same time, calling numerous travel agents. After I determined places to visit and visited/called a handful of agencies, I bought a round trip flight (LAX – BKK, with one stopover at Taiwan) from China Airlines today for $1,039.10 (included tax).

The research indicates that to get the cheapest ticket, I need to be flexible with departure dates and destination. Thus, the only requirement I have is:

  • Leave between 12/15 – 12/27
  • Destination can be Singapore (prefer), Bangkok, or Kuala Lumpur.
  • A stopover in Taiwan

I heard for international flights, travel agents can find better deals.  I contacted everyone. My friend who is a travel agent, my friend’s dad who work in the travel industry, and my friends’ travel agents, and called up at least a dozen travel agencies from yellow pages*. However, turns out travel agents did not like a range of dates, they want me to give them 1 date and 1 destination before they would do a search for me. Those that did provided quotes are priced either the same as what I found via Booking Buddy or higher.

I also looked into tours. There are only 2 cities on my must-see list: Angkor Wat and Chiang Mai.  I did found one great tour package with SmarTour, but there is no more space for December.  Many agencies also did not have tours to Angkor Wat. Just so I can capitalized on the best deal, I started looking into Thailand tours. There are many tours to Thailand, especially among Chinese travel agencies. I found many great packages, such as this, but when I called to inquire about that package, the agents told me the price for leaving in December would be $300-$500 more even though the website indicate elsewise >=(.

Thailand have military Coup last week, though part of me think I should just change vacation spot, another part of me was hoping that the airfare would tank. (Un)fortunately, Thailand is still very calm. This past Saturday, I visited a few agencies to do more inquiries and pretty much got the same answers as what I got over the phones.

Although I do wish the fare would be cheaper, the price from China Airlines is reasonable and I do not foresee the price getting any better; I booked the ticket online today.

Conclusion: Despite everything, internet still provide the best price (I’m surprised).

—————-

*Rant: What is wrong with chinese travel agents? Here I am, eager to spend a few thousands on tour (or $1k on flight) with them. I’m bringing business to them. And yet, when I called, even before I speak, they answered the phone very rude and when I inquired about airfare, they go off for 5 minutes lecturing me for wanting to travel to SE Asia during high season. If they were thinking, they would realize that if they are nice to me and give me a reasonable quote, I would do business with them, regardless of high or low season. The few that were nice did not follow up. That is almost as bad as being rude. If you have no intention of providing a quote to me, don’t tell me you’ll call me later with a quote. The rudest travel agency I encounter is America Asia Travel Center. I called them and got transfer to several people before someone even bother to ask me when I want to leave, then got rudely dismissed. My friend called them a day later and got the same treatment. Because of the rude service I got from them, I vowed to never do business with America Asia Travel Center. I think it’s because of agents like these that internet reservation is thriving!

September 26, 2006 at 5:10 pm 1 comment

Sweeet!!!

My coworkers and I filed a patent a few months ago and I found this in my inbox today:

Congratulations on the filing of a
U.S. patent application, as identified above.  Intellectual property is an important and valuable asset in today’s world.  “Name of my Company” recognizes the value of new ideas generated by its employees in the daily performance of their jobs, and is dedicated to the appropriate protection of intellectual property.
  Pursuant to the “Name of my Company” Invention Award Program, and to show our appreciation for your persistence and hard work as reflected in this patent application, each of you will find included in your next available check a cash award of $1250.00 (less taxes) for your work on your invention. It will likely be two or more years before this application matures into an issued
U.S. patent.  In the interim, we look forward to your assistance in working with the patent attorney assigned to this case to successfully obtain a patent on this important invention.

This will be going into the Asia Trek fund (which turn out to be more expensive than I thought)

September 21, 2006 at 10:36 am 1 comment

Itinerary

OMG, I JUST WROTE A LONG ENTRY AND IT GOT DELETED. F******

Not goingn to rewrite it so here’s the summary of what I wrote:

  • I finalized my Asia Trek Itinerary.
  • I hope to find a 3-7 days tour to start the trek.
  • If no tour available, hope to find LAX-SIN or BKK or KUL for under $1,000 after tax
  • Hope the whole month trip would be under $3,500
  • However, still plan to splurge on things such as massages, spa, and food.

September 16, 2006 at 9:49 pm Leave a comment

Itinerary

September 16, 2006 at 9:44 pm Leave a comment

Asia Trek

I want to go to Asia during company shutdown.

Best case scenario (aka I’m dreaming):

  • 12/20/07-1/20/07
  • Flight have layover in Taiwan and cost around $700 (I want to know where did that site get those price for Dec time).
  • Singapore for 3 nights.
  • Malayasia (tour or self-guide) for 4-7 nights.
  • Join a tour group for Cambodia and part of Thailand for 7-10 nights.
  • Self-guide around Thailand around Thailand for 5-7 nights.
  • Taiwan for 4-6 nights.
  • Tour book say $20-$30 per day is enough for decent travel, $15 for budget
  • So whole trip can be done around $1,500 (theoretically speaking)

Realistic Estimates:

  • 12/26/06 – 1/20/07 (because airfare is $300 cheaper after xmas)
  • Airfare will cost around $1,200, perhaps with even a few hundreds extra if I choose to stay a few days in Taiwan
  • If find a tour instead of just flight, probably around $2000 for 10-14 days tour around just Cambodia and Thailand. And probably pay a few hundreds extra for return at later dates.
  • Probably will spend $40-50/day due to peak traveling season.

Asia Trek Plan:

  1. Determine where are the must visit locations (9/8/06)
  2. Call travel agency & surf internet for best deals on flight and tour (9/9-9/16)
  3. Tell Boss the vacation dates 
  4. Get deposit from those that wants to go with me and reserve the tour/flight (9/19)
  5. Research locations that I will be on self-guide (Sept – Dec)
  6. Prepare for the trip (Sept – Dec)

Post 9/19 Activities:

If have any money left, plan a weekend trip for somewhere nearby

September 7, 2006 at 12:51 pm 1 comment


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To Do List


* Retirement: 401K, IRA, Roth IRA
* Investment
* Research life and disability insurance
* Buy a car
* Credit Check

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