Grass is Greener on the other side

I love my front lawn and I try my best to maintain it. It's been raining alot lately so the grass has gotten greener. This weather has saved me time and money. However, during the summer months, it gets dry so it needs more attention and upkeep.

Currently, a gardener is hired to service my lawn. He is paid $25 to mow and hedge my lawn twice a month. DH thinks this is a waste of money spending $300 a year just cutting grass. But I feel this money is well spent. It helps to maintain the look and vitality of the grass since most of our neighbors outsource this kind of service to a gardener. Our community also fines a penalty if grass is not well kept and maintained a certain height. I also think it's beneficial that we are giving our business to someone since so many have cut back on spending during such tough times.

As I buzz down my neighborhood in my luxmobile, I can't help but admire the front lawn of this certain neighbor. I have pointed this out to DH everytime we drive by. Their grass appears to be healthier, greener, and more luscious. I sometimes wish I could trade lawns with this neighbor.

But today my DH pointed out to me as we pushed out of our driveway that our grass is just as green and nice as that neighbor's. I realized he made a good point. Our grass is just as green and well kept.

As the old saying goes "Is the grass always greener on the otherside?"

It's human nature to want what the other person's got. After all, we have greed in us. I know this term often times apply to relationship, but I also think that it applies to money, wealth, and material things.

We're always going to compare ourselves to what our neighbors have - bigger houses, nicer cars, bigger boats, nicer clothes, and a nicer lawn (as with my case). But this constant comparison won't make us happy. We need to be happy with what we currently have.

I need to stop looking at my neighbor's lawn and start noticing that I have as good as a lawn as theirs.

Sometimes the "grass is just as green on our side".


Prize: a $2,000,000 house

Hello everyone, sorry that I've been MIA. Work has kept me busy. Usually around this time, I have to prepare financial statements to be sent out to all our clients. Before the release, all financial data has to be checked for accuracy. This is a long and tedious process so it's kept me from blogging.

I came across this article in our local news about a raffle winning of this $2 million home a few miles away from San Francisco. It is actually located across from the famous Golden Gate Bridge in a very expensive upper middle class community. The person who won this is only 26 years old. I heard from a friend who knows of this winner that he only purchased 2 raffle tickets for a total of $300. Can you imagine the luck he had a few hundred dollars into a couple million dollars? I knew about this raffle from advertisements and commercials, but never did I imagine that this was a legitimate contest.

He has the choice to either move into this $2 million house which would require him to pay $22,000 in property tax a year. Which is not bad if you think about it as being $1,833/mo which is far less than a monthly mortgage on a single family home. His other choice is to redeem the cash prize of $1,600,000.

If you were him, which choice would you make?

I would highly consider the sweeping view of the SF Bay in this nice and secluded neighborhood. Moreover, the monthly payment is less than 1/2 of my $3500/mo mortgage which is a plus. However, it would cost me $6 every time I cross the Golden Gate Bridge back into the city. Alright, Mrs. Bee can dream!

Click here for more reading: $2million Larkspur Home


Deadly Sin: Gambling Addiction

This is going to sting because I just found out from my best friend a few days ago that her husband is in $12K of credit card debt. She inadvertently found the statement and confronted her husband about these charges. He had no other choice but confessed to having advanced the cash to support this addiction.

When I was told of this along with my other friends, we were appalled! We all are very close and often share our personal life stories with one another. It just threw me off track because I never knew my friend (her husband) had this kind of problem. This is very serious because they recently had a kid and are saving to buy their first house. My best friend is currently living with her parents.

I consoled my friend and told her that she is lucky to have found this problem early on. $12K in gambling debt is not too serious if the buck stops here. It's comparable to traders that sometime lose this much money over bad investment decisions. As of now, my friend is thinking of dipping into her own savings account to pay off this debt that her selfish and irresponsible husband has created. Could this be an early indication to a serious problem? Should my friend bail out her husband so easily without letting him realize how long it takes to save $12K? I just hope she is able to convince him to go down another path and put his family first before himself!

On a personal note, I know first hand how this addiction can tear a family apart. My DH's dad leads this kind of life. He has always been a gambler. He has no self control and frequents the casino on a daily basis. The mentality of these gamblers is that they believe they are able to win back their losings. But next thing they know, they get deeper and deeper into debt. Their whole paycheck helps pay for the existence of the casino. We have another friend of whom we do not keep in touch with anymore that has this problem. He constantly bet on sport games and also has an affinity for casinos. He works just to pay off his bookie.

I guess I will never understand what drives a person to gamble away their life savings that they work so hard for on a daily basis. There's so much potential in these people and the money that could have been used to fund for their retirement, savings, buying a house, vacations, and just living an ordinary day to day life outside the casino.


Stay the course with your 401K

I learned a huge lesson since the start of the recession in early 2009. No matter what happens to the financial markets, don’t stop contributing to your 401K. In fact, during a downturn and when everyone panics, we should be doing the opposite. Stay calm and invest like there's no tommorrow. The real winners are the ones that goes against the crowd; the non-herd followers. I know many coworkers, friends, and family panicked when the financial market was spiraling out of control. For example, my mother did not feel safe during that time with her investment choices. She invested in mid caps, large caps, and foreign funds. With her balance decreasing daily, she panicked and moved all her money out of these funds and into more stable ones. By her action, I felt she had declared defeat by realizing a loss. Had she left her investments alone until today, she would have been able to recoup most of the negative return during that time.

What have I learned from this? I learn that the following three formulas matter in order to stay the course to a healthy retirement: Savings, Employer contributions, and Prudent investing.

Savings. Continue to invest in your retirement account and ignore the performance of the current market. Don’t stop saving. In fact, save at least 10% if you can or better up to the maximum allowed.

Employer contributions. Take advantage of free money your company has to offer you. If your employer matches 6% to the dollar, try to contribute up to this 6% in order to get the match.

Prudent investing. Keep stashing away cash from each of your paychecks. Stay the course and don't get distracted from all the negative news around you. Retirement money is here to stay and for the long run. 1 to 2 years of bad returns should not have an impact to your retirement approach. Most importantly, remember to diversify and not put all your eggs in one basket. And above all, be patient and give it time so your money can grow.

Loyal financial bee followers, what is your approach to your 401K?


what a trip!

I'm going against the notion of "What ever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" by blogging about it. Well let me tell you, there was alot that happened to me in Vegas. It was the best Vegas trip I've ever had maybe because I came back a winner. I know winning close to $900 is not much to some, but a win is a win especially from Vegas. 100% of this amount came from table games. I'm not a big fan of slot machines for I feel that it's rigged by robots. With table games, you have more control of your destiny by playing your card correctly. And of course luck has to be on your side to be dealt nice favorable cards which increases your chance. Unless you're playing a game such as poker, then skill might dominate as some would say. But I won't go into that topic since I'm not an avid PP.

If I factor in my winnings and the expense for the whole trip, DH and I would pay no more than $220.00 for this 3days/2nights trip. I had estimated prior to our trip that our expense would run up to $1,500. Now that the tallys are in, we managed to avoid around $1,280 worth of expense thanks to my luck. So that's $110 per person which included flights, hotel, meals, transportations, souvenirs, and tons of gambling. This was a great vacation because there's no other vacation destinations out there that offers you the chance to break even or even pay for itself.

On an off note, we ran into several celebrities while having lunch at a cafe inside Planet Hollywood. A red carpet was laid out expecting the arrival of several stars to promote the grand opening of a candy store. Within an hour or so, celebrities such as Mel B (Spice Girl), Holly Madison & Kendra Wilkenson (Playmate former girlfriends of Hugh Hefner and from the show "Girls Next Door") made the appearance. We were within inches away. I was so starstruck along with all the revelers.

Please share your wonderful vacation stories where you felt your trip was justified by the great deals or therefore lack of with extravagant expenses.

short update on Las Vegas trip

Hi Everyone! Sorry I have been MIA for the past few days. Like I mentioned on my post below, DH and I took a trip to Vegas for Valentine's Day. I have so much to blog about but have been really busy at work. Promise to provide update in a day or two. Please check back.

But the good news is that I won close to $900 on this trip and attended a red carpet session with the celebs from a close distance.


Valentine's Day can complicate finances

Love is in the air! It's almost Valentine's Day. Everyone is giddy and in a romantic mood. But for some, this may spell doom especially for the couples that are never on the same financial page.

I'm glad DH and I are pretty much on the same page with our perspective towards money and the way we handle our finances. But I do admit turbulent times during our dating years and early marriage life. We'll be celebrating our 3rd Anniversary in October.

We recently refinanced our house so I was able to get a report on my credit score. Mine is 805 and DH's is 780. I believe the reason for my high score is due to a luxury vehicle I had financed 6 years ago. It was later paid in full shortly after. This may have contributed to a bump in credit score and also by paying off my credit card in full every single month.

Looking back, we did not enter into a marital agreement until we both made decent money. Our income has doubled in this 3 year span. Not just that, we did not commit into buying a house together until we both had stability in our jobs, comfortable incomes, and a decent down payment.

We fight about money from time to time. DH feels I spend money frivolously. He was raised with a conscience to spend money wisely and carefully. He does have his occasional splurge here and there but not as often as I. Although he makes around 60%of the income, I admire him with his money principles because he can easily afford to spend recklessly, but he doesn't. Therefore, we make a great team together. I remind him to spend sometimes while he motivates me to save a bit.

VEGAS here we come

Want to wish all you lovers out there an early Happy Valentine's Day!

DH and I will travel out to the desert this Valentine's Day weekend. It's not just any desert, it's LAS VEGAS. We wanted something special this year and not just the usual stay in town celebration. Because of the rare sunday/monday holiday combo, we saw it as an opportune time for a short getaway.

We made plans to book this back in January. The economy must still be in a doldrum because there were some amazing deals on flights & hotel. Our stay is at MGM's newest hotel and casino called ARIA. After doing an estimate on other costs for this trip, it turns out to be quite expensive. Close to $1,500!!! (That is if we really do lose all of the $500 allocated to gambling)

Fixed Expense
Flight & Hotel - $519.96 which includes a $75 casino credit for us to spend freely at the resort. We can redeem it at their restaurants, shopping, spas, shows, or in the form of money to gamble.

Variable Expenses
Shuttle/Taxi - Shuttle transportation is needed to and from the airport. Taxi cabs will be used to get to far away casinos and venues.

Dining - There will be 3 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 2 dinners. This is a total of 7 meals. I would guess an average of $40 per meal is enough although breakfast tends to cost less so extras will be allocated toward dinner or other munchies.

Shopping - I probably won't be doing too much shopping. But if I was, it will go towards souvenirs and maybe clothing.

Gambling - Now this is the fun part. Who goes to Vegas without trying out their luck? Who knows, maybe I'll come back a lucky winner. But we plan to do some serious light gambling at the tables, slots, and poker room.

This pretty much covers everything. We don't have plans yet to watch any shows since we've seen a couple from trips before. No plans either to hit the clubs or bars.

Recently, President Barack Obama made a remark on people that takes vacation out to Las Vegas. He said “You don’t blow a bunch of cash in Vegas when you’re trying to save for college.” I feel this comment was a bit harsh. At first I thought maybe I shouldn't go ahead with this trip since so many Americans are still struggling financially while I blow away money in Vegas. But then I realized that our jobs are pretty stable and we deserve to have a mini vacation from all the hard work. So I didn't feel as bad.

Do you agree with Obama's comment and what are your plans for these special days?


Steps to Saving Money or Getting out of Debt

A poll was set up at the bottom of my blog asking my viewers to rank what their highest money priorities were for 2010. Even though voting doesn't seize until next month, we can see so far a majority of voters elected to pay down debt. I would like to thank all of you that participated so far in this poll.

It is interesting to see that people get hyped with money resolutions once New Year hits. But statistic shows that often times most people abandon such goals within a few months once their “moneymoon” stage (as I would call it) is over. There are others that only make it pass a few weeks. So here we are barely the 2nd week of February 2010 and the feeling of the New Year celebration seems so far behind us. Therefore, I am here to remind not only MYSELF but YOU the faithful FB viewers to not lose sight of these money goals.

To make these money resolutions stick, it’s important to take baby steps toward your goal. As with anything in life such as dieting, recovering from an addiction, or trying to better oneself, it’s important to set your sight on it one step at a time and don’t lose focus. Next thing you know by year end, you would be alot richer and that mountain of debt will either be out of sight or more scalable.

Here's a tip or two as my approach.

BEEE SPECIFIC - Like a bee, map out your honey route. Come up with the amount of honey you want to dispense or save for the whole year. Once you have that magical number, dissect it into smaller monthly goals, then weekly ones, and finally a daily goal. Thus, the number will not look too BIG or too daunting and you won’t need to fly around with all that honey.

KEEP TRACK OF SPENDING & SAVING - Tracking your daily spending is an important exercise in financial management. Just like how a bee tracks where they have deposited their honey in a honeycomb. If you don’t know where it all goes, you won’t know how to plug up the holes! On the flipside, tracking your saving at the end of each day is helpful as well. Then at the end of each week, add it all up. It’s important to be able to see figuratively the progress you’re making. Make it a habit to keep a money diary on paper or by a mental estimated calculation.

USE YOUR HONEY JAR AS A CHANGE BANK - It’s practical and you can find one in your house. Each time you pay cash on something, you’ll be sure to find change lying around in your wallet. Empty out the loose change and accumulate them into the jar. It doesn’t necessarily have to be coins, it can also be bills. I like to sneak in a few dollar bills or even bigger bills from time to time. By folding the bill since they’re all colored green, it will keep as a suspense when the time comes to count up your savings.


$900,000 of fraud money

Okay, I know $70 is not alot of money since that is the amount siphoned from my credit card by an unknown intruder. It is a pea-sized concern compared to Dave's massive fraud amount in this featured story. But a theft is a theft no matter what the amount is. It is the intention that has me worried. So here lies another interesting article related to ID fraud. This horrible event is so prevalent that it is happening every minute of the day to someone.


In fewer than six months, some $900,000 in merchandise, gambling and telephone-services charges were stolen out of his debit card. His attempts to salvage his finances have cost him nearly $100,000 and have bled dry his savings and retirement accounts. His credit score, once a strong 780, has been decimated. And his identity – SS#, address, phone numbers, even historical information - is still being used in attempts to open credit cards and bank accounts. The new credit card rules that go into effect on Feb. 26, 2010 are supposed to protect you, but will they?

"I have no identity," said Crouse, 56. "I have no legacy. My identity is public knowledge and even though it's ruined, they're still using it. "It really ruined me," he said. "It ruined me financially and emotionally."

Crouse is among the 11.1 million adults - one in every 20 U.S. adults - last year who have the dubious distinction of breaking the record of the number of identity-fraud victims in the U.S., according to a recent study. The cost to the victims: a collective $54 billion. The odds have never been higher for becoming a fraud victim. It's an easy crime to perpetrate, a crime that's almost impossible to catch when done in a sophisticated manner and a crime in which enforcement is very limited.

Endless paperwork
Crouse can attest to that. Once an avid fan of online shopping and banking, the Bowie, Md., resident would auction on, download songs from and use his ATM card like a credit card. He first noticed suspicious activity in his account in February of 2009 for small charges of $37 or $17.98. He had a full-time job then and was spending out of an account that generally held $30,000. "All of a sudden it really got bad," he said. "In August the charges hit big time -- $600, $500, $100, $200 - all adding up from $2,800 to $3,200 in one day."

He called his bank immediately and started what began a tiresome process of filling out what he said finally amounted to about 20 affidavits swearing that he was not responsible for the charges. He said one day he filled out an affidavit about a charge and the next day the bank had accepted similar charges approaching $4,000.

Now he is in double jeapordy after being unemployed: His $2,300 a week net income had dwindled to $780 in unemployment checks every two weeks and his accounts were getting drained daily - even after he closed his debit account. He opened a new account at a new bank and the next day both accounts got hit with a $1,100 charge. The new bank told him it was keystroke malware that had likely done him in. Someone had hacked into one of the sites he visited regularly, his computer got infected and picked up all his personal information by tracking every key he struck.

While much of the fraud came from online purchases and at gambling sites, there were new accounts opened in different names but linked to his bank account. There was one purchase of a plasma TV from a Best Buy in Florida that was shipped to a New York address. In another case a woman in North Carolina was writing out checks tied to his account.

High-value targets
Identity thieves steal mostly through two means. They take an established address and phone number of an identity that "has some value," like a doctor or a lawyer. In many instances, they can go to the Internet and acquire the matching Social Security number for as little as $50. They then have enough information to get an address changed with your bank account or a credit card account. They apply for new accounts as you. Others take over existing accounts through keystroke malware that you - and probably hundreds or even thousands simultaneously - have picked up through the Internet. Listening software then sits on your computer, perking up when you go to a bank site. It copies all your key strokes -- your user name, password, challenge question, account numbers, everything.

Identity fraud on the rise - up 12% to 11.1 million adults affected in 2009

There was an article that came out today pointing out the severity of identity theft. As you all know, I fell victim to this sort of fraud a few days ago. It amazes me that up to 11.1 million people are affected by this silent and invisible crime. But it comes at no surprise since society nowadays rely so heavily on credit cards and other form of identifications for transactional purposes.

So please remember to reconcile your financial statements on a monthly basis to make sure all transaction are accounted for. You should also request from the credit bureaus to send a report showing the number of credit cards open under your name. And when making purchases on the internet, be sure to check if the site is secured. Lastly, I know how we all hate getting spam/junk letter mails soliciting us to apply for credit cards. Before throwing them in the recycle bin, shred them in a paper shredder first.

Be Safe and Happy Spending!


Credit card fraud

Bad News! Just logged onto online banking and noticed two suspicious transactions pending in the account. Called billing dept and voiced my concerns to them. They said they cannot do anything about the charges until it hits my account. In the meantime, a new card will be issued to me in about a week. Now this is really scary because I still have the credit card in my possesion so I'm really not sure how the perpetrator managed to charge up the card. The inconvenience in all of this is that I only have 1 credit card. So in the meantime, I would need to go to the ATM to withdraw cash for all my usage. I feel so helpless without the plastic.

Has this happened to you before or anyone you know of?

How long have you gone without needing to use your credit card?

About Me... Mrs. Bee

Mike from the blog "PersonalFinanceNinja" asked if I can write a bit about myself and background into my field of work. So here's my response. Hope I don't bore you.

I graduated from a State University with a major in Finance and a minor in Accounting. Yes, you can call me a number geek. Anyhow, business has always been in my blood since childhood. I recall having an entrepreneur spirit during fund raising week at school. No matter what the weather was rain or shine, I would go door to door around my neighborhood in pursuit of selling the most candies/books/gifts/etc. Growing up, my parents were into stocks and talked alot about their rental properties. That intrigued me as I began to realize that we can do so much with our earnings by the way of investing and tinkering with it creatively. And so my goal was to learn as much as I can about this field through school, magazines, internet, and television. That was when I decided to Major in Finance. But while attending college, I was lucky to work part time in an Accounting position. That was when I decided to also graduate with not only a Finance degree but a minor in Accounting.

Upon graduation, I immediately landed a job with a medium sized investment management firm. This is where I got introduced into the basics of equities and fixed income securities. Had worked there for a few years and ventured into the world of hedge fund working to settle trades alongside floor traders and portfolio managers. Found that hedge funds operate differently than investment management firms. The salaries were higher with bonus options and security structures were traded differently. Lastly, after leaving the hedge fund due to the company’s bad financial standing, I am now settled into this current company for over 5 years as a financial reporting analyst. So you can say I have pretty much worn the hats of a few if not some positions in my short investment career span since college. I intend to stay in this securities investment field for many years to come due to the nature of the work where I find challenging and ever changing due to the economic climate and the attitude/demand/philosophy of the client investors.

My job is not investment banking such as Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan where the hours are so demanding but their salaries sure are high with great bonuses. My job is quite at ease and not as stressful as these high flying firms. I enjoy this balance in my life currently. Thus, if you’re a people person who enjoy looking at numbers all day and working in a so-so fast pace dynamic environment dealing with stocks, bonds, mutual funds, derivatives and all these crazy “jargonic” investment terms, then this field maybe right for you.

Speaking of the Devil

The MONEY devil to be exact. I just received a call earlier this morning for an interview tommorrow. I'm estatic at this point to hear back from the hiring manager. The meeting is scheduled with 2 different managers. It's so sudden so I better start prepping.

This position is a bit different from my current role. Currently, I perform financial reporting on portfolios invested in Fixed Income and Equity securities and some mutual funds. So this is more on the operational side so to speak. However, this new role offers the chance for me to broaden my knowledge into the world of Municipal Bonds and Derivative Products on the investment accounting side.


Another JOB but only 15% higher

It's been exactly a week since I've applied for the job that is 28% more than my current salary. The depressing news is that I have yet to get a call back from that department. Now I'm beginning to doubt my chances and qualifications. It's hard for me to swallow that a follow up call was not even made. You see, it has been 5 years since I've applied for a new job, so testing the water is foreign to me. Before then, every job I applied for, I would always get a call back and even an offer. But the market has changed and is no longer the same environment as 5 years ago when it was easy and not as competitive.

But in the meantime, there is another position that caught my eye which is 15% higher than my current salary. I realize the range is not as high as the previous position but an increase is still an increase to my overall current pay. In addition, the location is a few floors up in the same building. Now I'm thinking to submit my resume for this job.


Is it worth taking a PTO?

Mrs. Bee was not feeling well yesterday and had to dip into the PTO jar for a day off from work. I realized my action cost me a few hundred dollars. Was it worth losing out on $260.66 by not going to work? It sure felt nice lounging around the house in my PJs especially being sick, but I felt somewhat guilty to lose out on this chunk of money. Perhaps I could have toughed out the 8 long miserable hours at work. Anyhow, I understand it's not all a lost since PTO days are designed for employees to take. My workplace dishes out 25DOP on the 1st calendar day of the year. If my company would have gone with the accrual system, I would slowly accumulate 2.083/DOP per month instead of all 25 days at once. Therefore, this program is very appealing.

I did an analysis which assumes that in a perfect world where sickdays nor vacation time was taken, I would have accumulated 125DOP during my 5 year tenure at work. If I decide to quit my company today, they would owe me $33,000. Now let's assume if I didn't leave the company today and my salary increases over time, that means my company would have to pay me for the unused PTO days multiply by the salary I'm making at that time. This translates into even more money. But is forgoing 5 years worth of vacation time and other paid time off worth the $33,000 or even more in the future?


randomness: is Blogging soooo 2006?

A survey came out and reported that teenagers and young adults now spend less time blogging. They just don't blog as much since the introduction of social media sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. 28% of teens age 12-17 and young adults age 18-29 use to actively blog in 2006. Fast foward 3 years later, the percentage dipped to 14.5% for both group. That is a massive drop by about 50%!

I have to fess up that I don't have membership to either of the 3 social media outlets. My friends and family think I'm an outcast for not joining in on the social networking craze. But I think I'm perfectly normal and sane to withstand my own. Besides, I've enjoy blogging though I've enter onto this scene rather late (helping to increase the number up to an even 15%). And I am not just blogging about ANYTHING, it's about the CASH MONEY Honey baby!

To become rich, stop acting like it

We all fall victim from time to time with the "Keeping up with the Joneses" effect. I admit, quite often than not, to having a hard time differentiating between my NEEDs versus my WANTs. Thus, by the hopes of me blogging and bringing awareness of my spending to light, I hope to dampen this urge. I remind myself that delayed satisfaction is the key to becoming rich in the long run.

I'm currently reading this book called "Stop Acting Rich . . . and Start Living Like a Real Millionaire" and would like to share a few interesting facts.

Fact #1: 86% of all luxury vehicles are driven by people who are not millionaires.
Mrs. Bee response: True! I drive an old luxury vehicle and I am no where near miilionaire status (YET). But I hope to be one day in hopes to become that 14% that is a millionaire who continues to drive a luxmobile.

Fact #2: $16 is what most millionaires pay for a haircut
Mrs. Bee response: False! I'm so guilty of paying around $55 for a nice haircut every 6 months. Again, it goes to show I am not a millionaire (YET). However, this excerpt is misleading because some places around town charges less than $16 (tips included) for haircuts. And those people sure don't look like millionaires or are they!

Fact #3: The #1 shoe brand worn by millionaire women is Nine West. Their favorite clothing store is Ann Taylor.
Mrs. Bee response: This again I feel is misleading. Nine West shoes are not cheap nor are Ann Taylor clothing. I don't own either brands so again this proves that I not a millionaire but my shoes are compareable to their prices.

The author points out that many people end up in financial trouble because they PRETEND to be rich. He believes there is a cure to this pretentious disease and quotes "But for the treatment to work, you must take a cold hard look at your balance sheet and at your life, and determine if you would be wealthier if you would stop acting rich."

Do you agree that there are way too many people in this soceity that act and pretend to be rich? Will the recession motivate pretenders to hit the reset button and not just act rich but live modestly like many real millionaires?

Please share your thoughts.


Where Are the Women on Wall Street?

Scroll down below to read the article. In the meantime, here's my reaction:

Mrs. Bee's reaction: This featured article has some substance to the truth. A few year's back before this current job of mine, I landed a FT position with this hedge fund company. To my surprise, it was a small size firm with less than 30 employees. All of them were men except for myself, my manager, and the receptionist being the only women. (Can we say too much testosterone and not enough estrogen?) However, I did find another FT job shortly after working at my current job. That job just didn't work out the way I had hope mainly due to the long distance commute. But I was surprised by the ratio of the gender inequality.

You will also notice if you tune into MSNBC in the morning where they show the trading floor of the NYSE, not only is the floor littered with paper, but also MEN. There is hardly a women in sight except perhaps for a reporter on site. My DH works on the trading floor and he admits that his coworkers consist of all male. Do you see this kind of disparity in your workplace or anywhere else?

Here's the article:
When Sallie Krawcheck was hired six months ago as president of global wealth and investment management at Bank of America, she was besieged with e-mail messages from current and former Wall Street women celebrating her return to the fray.

The outpouring over Ms. Krawcheck’s return reflects deep anxiety among women in the financial industry that their career paths are narrowing even as business picks up again. Women have always been drawn to finance in smaller numbers than men. But after nearly two decades of increased hiring and promotion of women on Wall Street, their ranks appear to be shrinking again.

Even though women are gaining ground on men enrolled in business school — they constituted 39.3 percent of full-time students in American business schools in 2009, compared with 34.1 percent five years earlier, according to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools — the percentage of those women headed for finance or accounting jobs is dropping.

Of those female graduates, 21.1 percent were pursuing finance or accounting in 2009, down 6.6 percentage points from 2005, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council, a nonprofit group of business schools. The rate also dropped for men, but less drastically — falling 4.7 percentage points this year to 25.4 percent.

But in the heart of Wall Street, the aggressive environment on the trading floor is often cited as a reason that women are rare at the top. Others cite the dearth of women to aid in career networking. Whatever the reason, ascending the ladder is much harder for women, said Bruce C. Greenwald, a professor of finance and strategy at Columbia University Business School.

“It is more difficult for women to come back because the environment in financial institutions is generally more hostile to women,” he said. “This culture has developed over a very long period of time, and it has been exacerbated as the firms’ emphasis has shifted from traditional investment banking to sales and trading, which is an even more macho culture.”


Yearly return of 28%. Would you take it?

I found some down time at work today and was mindlessly browsing around my internal job site and came across this posting that grab my interest. My annual review is just around the corner but I doubt we will be getting a hefty raise. So I'm wondering if I should make a leap into this new position which pays 18% more. On top of that, there is a 10% bonus. I currently do not get any bonus in my position eventhough I work closely with PMs and clients. My position elsewhere would for sure get a bonus. Here are a few things I would need to consider.

SALARY - This is the biggest factor to making the switch. We're talking about a 28% increase. And the employer matches dollar for dollar up to 6% into retirement. The more money I make, the more I would get out of the match which in this case is $700 which is not much. But any increases are still good.

COMPETITION - The advantage I have is that I only compete with internal employees. The job does not solicit outsiders.

CULTURE - I have been with this firm for over 5 years so I'm pretty familiar with the firm's vision and culture.

LOCATION- It is very close to my current office. Therefore, I would not need to worry about revising my commuter route.

I remind myself everyday about how much I enjoy working with my current coworkers. We all get along very well. The hours are super flexible with little to no supervision. However, my salary is average and it could be better. The learning curve is plateuing because I just feel like I need more stimulation/challenge. But my fear is that if I leave, I will not find such nice coworkers like the ones I have now. Suze Orman says "People first, then money, then things." And what if my hours are not flexible where I can't even blog at work?

My title is misleading since I have not been accepted by this job yet that will guarantee me a 28% return. But what if I had a chance for this kind of high return? If you were in my shoes, would you take it?

January 2010 Net Worth Update

Ding!Ding!Ding! I'm excited to blog about our first ever Net Worth Total. The numbers are in but I have nothing to compare it against.

Although I know we've lost close to $5K in our retirement plan since the pull back of the stock market. On a parallel note, Both DH and I have increased our 401K contribution for 2010 from 6% to 15% for me and 10% to 12% for DH.

The credit card balance will always be zero since we usually pay it in full the first day of the first month. Therefore, it would be a decrease towards our checking/savings number which would then be reflected in the following month's net worth total.