Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Affordable Wine

Eric Asimov of the New York Times put out an interactive list of $10 and under bottles of wine that are worth every penny. I enjoy wine every now and then, but most of the stuff that pleases my taste buds are out of my price range. I haven't tried any of the wines on Asimov's list, but I plan to try a few in the coming weeks. If you've tried one (or have another favorite affordable bottle of good wine) leave a comment below.

Eric also blogs at The Pour. If you're into wine, you'll like this one.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Saving Money with DIY Baby Wipes

I'm on my third child and I still can't believe how much money we spend on diapers, wipes and baby food. I watch our budget pretty closely, so it's easy to tell when you start shelling out an extra $100 per month on those items.

My wife had a friend at church tell her about a way to save money on baby wipes that I thought I'd pass on. A Google Search for homemade baby wipes brings up 175,000 hits so it's no secret, but in case you missed it, here's a link to one of the better explanations (although we do it without the power tools).

There is a small initial investment, but you recoup it by the second batch because the homemade wipes cost less than half as much. We even like the homemade wipes better than the ones you buy in the store. They work better, feel better and smell better. Not to mention our 4 month old has had no diaper rash since we started using them. We only wish we would have discovered them with our 1st, 4 yrs ago.

Anyway, here's the recipe:

One roll of paper towel cut in half (preferably a mega roll of Bounty)
2 cups of water (we don't boil first as some suggest and it works just fine)
2 TBSP Johnsons baby wash
1 TBSP baby oil

Lay paper towel roll on its side and cut in half with a serrated bread knife. Place 1/2 roll cut side down into a tupperware. Mix the baby wash and oil in water and pour over roll. After the roll absorbs the water, pull out cardboard center (it slips out pretty easy). Pull out your wipes from the center as needed.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Investing in clean energy

There was a very interesting article in the lastest issue of Business Week on the latest investment gold rush: clean energy. Entitled, Wall Street's New Love Affair, the article lists dozens of investors looking for opportunities and companies looking for dollars. Here's a few:

Investors:

Companies:

Analysts and Researchers:

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Skype says: Stop paying for long-distance calls!

A while ago, I received an email from Skype alerting me to their new promotion: free SkypeOut calls through the end of the year. That means, if you download their software (which I did), you can call from your computer to any landline or mobile phone for free.

The sound is crystal-clear and I haven't lost a single call. In addition, I actually prefer making the calls from a headset. Yesterday, I participated in a 74 minute conference-call from work with Skype; that's a savings of about $6 for my employer.

I got my brother to sign up and I'm going to get my mother-in-law on Skype so that she and my wife can talk for free after the end of the year (that alone should save a lot on long-distance bills). My four-year old daughter (pictured here) thinks it's pretty cool to make phone calls from Daddy's computer. Gotta go make some calls!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Money for used books

A few weeks ago, I went to ebookdrop.com to see what they'd give me for some books that I had listed but not sold with Amazon. They bought four books for $16.33 and PayPal'ed me the money 18 days after I mailed them. Not a bad way to earn a little cash from books that I've already read and don't plan to read again.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Learning to Earn More

I went to my library again in recent days to pick up a couple more learning resources. The first was an audio book appropriately titled Learn to Earn, written by famed stock picker Peter Lynch.

One of the most interesting of Lynch's theses was about the dangers of market timing. In order to get the full benefit of being in the stock market, Lynch points out that you have to put money in that you can leave forever. He talks about a good stretch for stocks in the 1980's, when "stock prices gained 26.3 percent per year." But the most interesting thing about this profitable stretch of 1,276 days was that most of the gains occurred 40 days. As Lynch writes, "If you were out of stocks on those 40 key days, attempting to avoid the next correction, your 26.3 percent annual gain was reduced to 4.3 percent."

Although the book is ten years old and somewhat dated (he mentions tracking stock prices in the newspaper), his primary message is still relevant: pick stocks based on the earnings of the company. If the earnings of a company go up, the price of its stock probably will as well.

The second was Financial Peace Revisited by Dave Ramsey. If you're a fan of his show (as I am) there isn't a lot here that will be new to you, but it's a quick read and has some beneficial nuggets. I enjoyed his chapter on negotiating and on investing. One particularly interesting point in the book (page 120) is the importance of investing early in your life. He shows two investors who invest $2,000 per year at 12 percent. The first one invests from age 19-26, for a total of $16,000, and then never invests another penny in his lifetime. The second invests nothing until he turns 27 and then invests every year until he turns 65. His contributions amount to $64,000 or four times the first investor's total. Who ends up with more at age 65? The first investor. The more of the story: INVEST EARLY AND INVEST NOW!

The book also has almost 30 pages of financial management forms that assist in budgeting and planning, some of which are available on Ramsey's web site. If you're just getting into financial planning and budgeting, this book is a great place to start.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Free Credit Monitoring from PayPal

PayPal is offering two free credit monitoring services from Equifax for PayPal account holders. One monitors balance changes (in amount and percentage) and the other will send you wireless alerts when inquiries are made to Equifax about your credit.

With all I've been hearing about identity theft these days, I signed up right away. If you don't have a PayPal account, it's easy (and free) to sign up. If you need any other incentive to sign up with PayPal, their Money Market Fund is currently earning 4.62 percent.