Archive for May, 2007

I’ve counted down the top 10 excuses I’ve heard over the last ten years from friends, family, peers, and others as to why they’re not getting rich; I’m recapping them today as tomorrow I’ll be writing about the #1 excuse I’ve heard for not getting rich.
10. I don’t have a college degree.
9. I don’t have well connected friends to get a high paying job.
8. I wasn’t born rich.
7. I didn’t have great parents.
6. I wasn’t born the right gender or color.
5. I didn’t graduate from Ivy League School.
4. It’s too complicated to run a business.
3. The government taxes me and interferes with me too much.
2. I don’t have the time or money to do x.

After having hit a bad streak of rants over the past few months it seems like I’m turning the corner.  My Nintendo Wii experience was a great and now I’m happy to report that Mastercard PayPass is pretty cool.

Once again, I wasn’t sure what the big deal was with the PayPass card; How excited can a person get with a card that has an embedded RFID chip.  It wasn’t until I was at a drive thru at Jack In The Box that it finally clicked.

I whipped out my card, tapped the card reader and was on my way.  The whole transaction took 2 seconds!  I was amazed and overjoyed.   It made me wonder how a credit card company can process billions of transactions around the world with modern technology yet we can’t seem to provide the same level of identification in places where it’s really needed.

Places like checking if a person has valid insurance after a car collision. One tap and you’d know to arrest someone for not carrying insurance on their car or issue a citation.  Why can’t we do this at a job engagement to verify legality of the person applying for a position?  It would seem that this would work great at bars to verify the age of people buying liquor too.

It’s pretty obvious to me though that this is the wave of the future.  I can easily foresee a future where RFID enabled documentation, tags, or cards will be required to transact in the future.  Heck, it doesn’t even need to be on a card, the chip is so small it can likely be placed on a ring or under the skin.

Wow, the more I think about it the more it creeps me out.

As I wrote yesterday, I picked up a Nintendo Wii for the kids for the dog days of summer. I finally got a chance to play with it (along with the kids) and it is AWESOME! Having owned an Xbox, PS2, GameCube and other consoles, I didn’t know what the big deal was with the Wii but now that I’ve got one, I’m HOOKED!

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First,

The wireless remote game controller is great! The Wii comes with a group of sports games: Baseball, Golf, Boxing, Bowling. I played Boxing for about 30 mintues. I was SWEATING intensely as I went round after round with computer generated boxers, each one more robust than the last!

Second,

The gaming action is “life-like” so that you have to physically be involved in the activity. With the boxing game, you literally bob, weave, stick and jab. You can even throw a little dirty punch now and then so it’s the best thing next to real life!

I had finished at 2.5 hour work out at the gym and was a little tired but after playing the Wii, I was exhausted! My arms were so sore from throwing punches that the workout seemed like a cakewalk!

The kids loved bowling, golf and baseball and I enjoyed those as well but boxing was my favorite.

Lastly,

A wonderful benefit from this toy is that it might actually help me lose weight. I’m addicted to the boxing game and you really work up a sweat playing it. My son has worked up a sweat playing baseball as I write this post!

Considering that the Wii is $249, it is a great value in my opinion.  Compare/contrast this with XBOX 360 and PS3 coming in at $700 value, I can finally understand why PS3 is doing so horribly in the market.

The Wii is AWESOME!

With summer almost here and school almost out, I decided to get the kids a Wii for the dog days of summer. I must confess though, I didn’t think finding a Wii would be that big a deal. Much to my surprise, I couldn’t find one at the usual retail outlets: Best Buy, Circuit City, Fry’s, Target, Costco, etc.

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The only reputable place I could find that had the Wii in stock was the dreaded Wal-Mart. I say “dreaded” because I don’t like shopping there. I made an exception this one time because I would be ordering the Wii online and wouldn’t actually have to set foot in one of their stores.

You’d think I’d be grateful that Wal-mart had the Wii in stock when no one else did but there was one big catch! I had to buy the Wii in a “bundle” which forced me to buy 3 games, an accessory, and a warranty. For the record, I NEVER buy warranties on ANYTHING. At this point though, I had little choice since I simply couldn’t find the Wii anywhere else.

Ultimately I plunked down $500 so the kids would have one to play with and it’ll be well worth it to keep the kids busy. I also have heard that various people have lost 10 to 30 lbs while playing the game actively so my second ulterior motive was to try to lose a few pounds this summer while I spend time with the kids on full motion games.

The second most often heard excuse I’ve heard over the past decade as to why my friends, peers and others aren’t getting rich is, “I don’t have the time or money to do x.

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X represents many different things. For some, X means finishing a college degree plan, for others X means completing that certification to advance a career, for yet others X may be starting a business.

It doesn’t matter what X is though because the critical component of the excuse that they don’t have the time or money to do it.

Although it’s the second most often heard excuse, second only to #1, it is, in my opinion, the weakest of all the excuses.

Not having the money is a fairly poor excuse because there are a near infinite ways of getting money to do x.

If you want to finish that college degree, student loans, government grants, and other programs exist for you to be able to do it.

If you want to start a business, the government has plenty of small business loan programs to help you get started.

If you want to complete specialized certification, credit cards, loans, company sponsorship or other programs exist for you to complete that certification.

If it’s a question of time, then there are a variety of places to look to find the time to get things done. Most of the people that complain to me that they don’t have time to do anything fell into three categories: TV Couch Potatoes that spent 30+ hours/week watching TV shows and could recount every prime time program for that week easily; Sport fanatics that spend their free time playing volleyball, football, softball, basketball, and other sport activities for 30+ hours/week and finally the party goers who spend their time partying, going to clubs, bars, dancing trying to “hook up” with people for a “fun” time.

Do you fall into one of these three groups? There are others which I didn’t include such as the family engulfed types who spend a great deal of their time with kids activities: sports, boy scouts, swimming, piano, etc. but it doesn’t really matter.

The issue at hand is that these people have made a decision that their PRIORITIES are elsewhere; they are NOT FOCUSED on doing the things that will get them rich. It’s not a right/wrong choice; it is simply a choice that has been made that will not lead them to the wealth they want.

Personally, I am focused on getting rich via a two-pronged approach: Get Rich Slow with traditional investment methodologies and Get Rich Quick with more aggressive strategies. The net result is to Get Rich Slick. It won’t take you a but a few moments of your time to check out http://www.etfcoveredcalls.com to find out how I’m getting rich slick. Stop making excuses and take a peek, you won’t need too much time or money to stop by….

Next week I’ll give you the number #1 excuse I’ve heard over the years. Be sure to click back to see it here next Friday!

Health care, Energy & Technology fields are red hot right now and various colleagues have been asking me how they can get in and make some real money in these industries. Most of the people I’m hiring these days are starting close to or above 100k in base salary and earning 10% to 20% bonuses on top of various other incentives (e.g. stock options) so they’re all licking their chops asking me what they can do to get in.

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I’ve come up with a list of things you should have in your resume toolbox to get you in the door and hired:

1. Although I don’t particularly feel it necessary to have a college degree for many positions, most HR people won’t let you through the door unless you have a college diploma. You toolbox should include a degree, ANY degree to get you in the door. For goodness sake, even a liberal arts degree will help! Just don’t LIE about it because that will get you fired and tarnish your reputation.

2. Speaking of reputation, if you don’t have a college degree, it helps a great deal to have a network of references that will vouch for you and your work. I have a standard policy of writing letters of recommendations, recognition and commendation for people that do good work and am happy to be a reference for people that do quality work. NEVER burn any bridges, you’ll eventually come across them again in your lifetime.

3. If you are a manager or plan on being a manager (of any kind) you should consider training and certification in Project Management. The Project Management Institute is a great place to start – become a member. As a manager, it is inevitable that you’ll work on projects and having this certification and/or training is a great plus.

4. You should have professional certifications: If you are an accountant, you should receive and maintain your CPA; If you are in Technology, you should be certified in your specialty (e.g. Oracle, Microsoft, Cisco); If you are in Payroll, you should become a Certified Payroll Specialist; If you are a mechanic, you should get ASE certified. I could go on but you get the point.

5. You should have a professional wardrobe. I can’t tell you how many people I “skipped” over despite great credentials because a person dressed like a slob. When you’re climbing up the corporate ladder, you’ll be dealing with various executives, the media, and to some extent Wall Street pros, no one wants to see how frugal you can be with your money & wardrobe.

6. If you want to make some really big money, you’ll likely need to work for a public company that can issue you some juicy stock options. If you are a manager for a public company, you need to train yourself in Sarbanes Oxley compliance NO MATTER WHAT YOUR FIELD IS. I don’t care if you’re in HR or Marketing, knowing SOX compliance in a public company will make you MORE valuable than the person who doesn’t know it. Hence, when it comes around to issuing those stock options, the key people will remember how valuable you are to them with that SOX training.

7. If you’re working for a public company, you should know how to read the company’s financial statements. I don’t care if you’re in sales, marketing, technology,operations, human resources, or other department. If you’re lost, go over to http://help.yahoo.com/l/us/yahoo/finance/quotes/quote-03.html or http://help.yahoo.com/l/us/yahoo/finance/tools/research-21.html and start learning. As a manager, if you can intelligently discuss the company’s potential, problems and opportunities via the company’s financials then you’ll be much more valuable than someone who doesn’t.

8. If possible, learn a foreign language; real growth is coming from overseas these days and every edge helps. You don’t have to become fully fluent in another language but being able to get by helps tremendously.

9. You should have a mentor. You need someone to go to be able to talk about things when the going gets tough. Someone that can help you with salary negotiations when settling on a new job or help you through employee disputes or simply someone to celebrate your successes with; a person that you can trust implicitly.

10. You should have a career plan. I recommend 3 to 5 year goals, 8 year goals and 15 year goals. In essence, what title and salary do you want to earn 3 to 5 years from now, 8 years from now and 15 years from now. Write it down and work toward it everyday by doing 1 thu 9 above.

One of the other cool things you can do with credit cards other than arbitrage is to stagger your payment schedule and get a float for 45 days. How does it work?

First you’ll need at least two credit cards, preferably with high credit limits. This “system” only works if you have the cash flow to pay off BOTH credit cards at the end of the payment cycles.

Assume that we’re starting on June 1 for this system with two credit cards A & B. Credit Card A has the bill due at the end of the month (e.g. June 30th) while credit card B has the bill due on the 15th (e.g. June 15th).

The “system” is simple. You charge all of your expenses on Credit Card A from June 1st thru June 15th, the payment won’t be due in full until June 30th so you have 15 more days to pay for the expenses on credit card A. On June 15th, you switch to credit card B and charge all your expenses until August 14th. By doing this, you’ve effectively borrowed money for 45 days interest free. You got 15 free float days on Credit Card A and 30 days free float on Credit Card B for a total of 45 days. Rinse & Repeat. Be sure to PAY OFF your cards at the end of the month or you’ll incur interest fees.
Is it worth the hassle? For me it is worth it and I’ll give you a few reasons why.

1. It’s about managing cash flow. The more time you can keep cash in your high yield savings, the more money you’re earning. Free 45 day floats help.

2. Reward credit cards have reward limits and at some point, you’ll need to switch cards to maximize rewards. It’s likely you’ll be switching anyway so better to take advantage of 45 day float.

3. Credit Report help. Inactive accounts can actually end up hurting your credit score. It’s usually a good idea to charge something on your card every now and then to keep the FICO people and your bank issuer happy and make them feel useful. Using and paying back accounts shows you’re responsible and worthy of credit.

The cash keeps tumbling in and the system is working good for me.  I made another $1300 yesturday by scooping up 200 shares of OIH and selling June in-the-money call contracts for $500 a piece.   Also made another $300+ selling GDX in-the-money call contracts for $115 a piece after I scooped up 300 shares at $39.00.

Both of these trades will result in about a 3 pct return, respectively, for just under a 30 day investment.  If OIH and/or GDX fall below the strike, then I’ll be in a position to sell more calls for July, Sept, or October time frames.  If I get called then I’ll take a breather and look for another 3 pct return in under 30 day investment opportunity.
You can read more about these trades at http://www.etfcoveredcalls.com.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words but this picture is worth $3050.

In round 5 of ETFs vs Mutual Funds, I’m going to conclude this “fight” with the final numbers on SMH. I got called on Friday so my SMH shares were sold off at $35 which brought me another $750 in profit.

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A quick review.

12/4/2006 Buy 1000 SMH @ $34.25

12/4/2006 Sell 10, January 2007 $35 strike calls for $850

1/22/2007 January Calls EXPIRE WORTHLESS

2/02/2007 Sell 10, March 2007 $35 strike calls for $750

3/16/2007 March calls EXPIRE WORTHLESS

4/10/2007 Sell 10, May 2007 $35 strike calls for $700

5/18/2007 May Calls CALLED/ASSIGNED at $35, made $750

Do the math: $850+$750+$700+$750 = $3050
Initial Investment: 1000 @ $34.25 = $34,250

Return = 8.9% Time Frame = Dec 06 – May 07 (5 months)

Click on the image below to see money making in action.

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Now click on the comparison image and ask yourself if you would have been better off doing ETF Covered Calls or investing in Mutual Funds!

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Oh yeah, I didn’t include DIVIDENDS I received for owning SMH as you’d receive them as well with the mutual fund.

So I’m calling this FIVE round fight to ETF and grand champion SMH by TKO!

Last week I wrote the fourth most often heard excuse for not getting rich was “it’s too complicated to run a business” and this provides a great lead in to the third most often heard excuse I’ve heard why my peers aren’t getting rich. The third excuse is best described as a sentiment that “government” interferes too much in the affairs of a person trying to conduct business. What is government interference? Taxation, Regulatory Compliance, Ordinances, and various other laws or requirements for a particular business.

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While I wrote last week that starting a business was as easy as filing a form with a state agency, running a business can get complicated when dealing with the government but there are plenty of ways of dealing with the issues.

A relative who used to run a restaurant complained once to me that the city was making his employees go to a health safety education class before he could officially hire them and put them to work. Of course, he was required to pay their salary during the training and had to pay for the class as well. This “bureaucracy” seemed to have bothered him a great deal but in the end it probably provided some benefit to his business in that his customers were likely kept from getting sick because of better food handling training.

I recently wrote about a friend who’s getting dinged for government required “equality” for health insurance premiums and he also had griped about having to file quarterly sales tax reports with the state.

Of course I know others who ended up owing the IRS a ton of cash and when unable to pay, had various property seized to settle the debt.

What really irks me however are the people that don’t even want to ATTEMPT to start a business because of what they’ve seen happen to others: IRS seizures, Fines for non-compliance w/ ordinances, etcetera and the perception that it’s impossible to start a business because of government rules or laws. It’s NOT that bad people! And if you properly plan for the beginning (e.g. expenses, taxes, government requirements) then you’ll have absolutely no problem.
Speaking of government regulations, every third Friday of the month is Options Expiry and on Monday I’ll update you on how my Power Funds account and Mini-Funds Account have fared over the past 6 months using my ETF Covered Call Strategy. You can read the update on Monday or visit http://www.etfcoveredcalls.com to see it in action.
We’re closing in on the top 2 excuses I’ve heard over the years from peers and family as to why they’re not getting rich and I hope you’ll click in to read them. Here’s a sneak peak to #2, “I don’t have the time or money to do X