January 8, 2015 § Leave a comment
If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older – by Tom Stoppard, Czech-born British playwritter. From Bloomberg.
December 6, 2013 § Leave a comment
Being a finance professional, I read about Consumer spending being weak this year during black Friday, but as a mother, and as a consumer, I don’t believe in it.
My example is very simple. My younger daughter wants to have a Lego Friend Dolphin Cruiser for Christmas, so I have been tracking the price of it – thanks to third party website and smart phone apps, it is very easy now.
I was being stupid when I saw the price under 52$ but thought there could be better deal over black Friday and passed. Then, the price only went higher, and finally the toy gone completely out of stock for at least a week till now from Amazon. On Amazon, you still can have it at 99$ from a third party retailer.
Looking at other places, I found it is completely sold out in Walmart and target, online and in local stores. It is still available at Toys r Us, at 69.99$ but no coupon can be used as it is a “hot price item”, together with a sales tax of 6$, I am looking at 24$ more expensive then 2 weeks before. 24$ may not be a big amount, but that is 46% higher than what it was at 52$ 2 weeks ago! What’s most crazy is that I found it at 159$ at Barnes & Noble:
I am not trying to say Barnes&Nobles is evil, because no business is evil. If they over price, then they are stupid. I believe in efficient market, I believe it is really a “hard to get item” to justify such a crazy price on their website.
Okay, Dolphin Cruiser is on fire. I don’t want to pay the 46% premium although I love my daughter to death, and it is the top item on her Christmas wishlist. I started looking for similar replacements. Lo and behold, the same story happened to many other Lego friends products. For example, Olivia’s house can be found at around 75$ now from third party retailer on Amazon, but it was less than 50$ 2 weeks ago from Amazon itself.
Not sure if it is a marketing strategy, and I am still debating if I should take the 46% loss. What I know for sure is, man, consumer spending is NOT weak!
February 24, 2012 § Leave a comment
Copied from Wenxuecity.com
1. manualy on form 1040: Enter the total distribution on line 15a. enter “0” on line 15b. enter “Rollover” next to line 15b.
your AGI keeps unchanged that way.
2. TurboTax: You enter the 1099-R at
Federal Taxes (Personal if using Home and Business)
Wages & Income
choose Explore on my own
Scroll down to
Retirement Plans and Social Security
click start or update on the appropriate line, –
Enter all of your information exactly as it appears on the 1099-R form. If box 2a is zero or says unknown then leave it BLANK!
After you enter the 1099R be sure to answer all the follow up questions on the next screens to determine how much is taxable or not. Go all the way to the end of the section. You have to enter it from the 1099R because there are codes on it you need to enter properly.
at the end, proof-read your form 1040.
for details, please read instruction carefully on line 15a/15b and 16a/16b as follows:
February 20, 2012 § 1 Comment
I ran into this youtube video about saving taxes. It is super thorough. I wish I had seen it earlier.
The only drawback is that it is in Mandarin. Sorry for my English readers.
February 17, 2012 § Leave a comment
As you might have noticed, I started this blog since I lost my job at an investment firm.
What does that mean?
1. I have good knowledge of investment, so I should be able to handle my own money well.
2. Investment firms have good pays, including retirement benefit.
So now I have some 401k money to deal with. Many people hate to deal with money, considering it a big burden. That is definitely wrong! You should always feel blessed to have money to deal with!
OK, now the Investment 101 tutorial begins: Where should I put my 401k when I quit/lose my Job?
Choice #1: Leave it there
The simplest choice is just to leave it there with wherever your employer has selected. In my case, it is fidelity.
This is a big NO! Investment firms usually contract with employers to provide less investment options in 401k accounts. In my case, Fidelity usually offers hundreds of investment choices to its IRA accounts, while I have about 30 in my 401k account. This is a normal practice. You do not want to stay there!
Choice #2: Cash out the 401K.
NO!!! NEVER DO THAT!.
I wish I had managed my blogging skills better to make the font even bigger. This is NEVER a smart option!
Cashing out the 401k will induce an immediate tax punishment of 10%, and you will owe the income tax of the entire amount of cashed-out 401k. In my case, I have about 50k$ in my 401k. Cashing them out will result a 5k$ tax punishment, and my taxable income of 2012 will be increased by 50k$. I will probably end up with 30k$ cash in year 2012, but what do I have left when my clock rings at my retirement? None. With a very moderate 7.2% annual gain in retirement account, I should be looking at 400k$ in 30 years for the 50k$. With the strategy of cashing them out now, I traded my 400k$ in 30 years with 30k$ now. What kind of idiot would do that?
Choice #3: Rollover to Another 401k
This only happens when you get another job, which is not my case. However, I still want to articulate that this is not a recommended route, even if you have the choice. Reasons are: 1. another 401k usually have less investment choices. 2. 401k has other strings attached, including the loan option for primary residence and college loan (related posts attached at the end of this blog). It is nice to have the options, but when your kids are applying for need based financial aids, 401k assets really hurt you.
Choice #4: Rollover to an IRA
This is the route I am going to take and recommend. However, you still have a lot of options, such as a self-directed IRA, or a completely managed IRA. I will talk more about it tomorrow.
February 13, 2012 § 5 Comments
My most recent investment property was built in 1990, – it would probably be considered very new in Boston, but it is the oldest property I have ever purchased.
The last time the property was sold was in 2001, for 92k$. Since it was foreclosed in March 2011, it has been on the market from April to Oct. The listing price, not surprisingly, has been heading south since then, from 99.9k$ to 74.9k$. I closed it at 50k$. Of course, I paid stamp fee, title insurance, etc., anything related to a REO sale.
The carpet was new and even the paint was fresh. The cosmetic changes they, I assumed the bank, did made me very light-headed. I started posting “For Rent” sign almost the next day after getting the keys, without a single check, not to mention improvement.
The timing was bad. It became obvious after a few shows. It seems those who are looking for a place to live before Christmas are those irresponsible enough to be kicked out during holiday seasons. People with quite a few eviction records within a year, people who do not keep promises, people who are not willing to take any credit checks.
I wasn’t nervous, as this wasn’t my first time as landlord. I was ready to stay vacant during the holidays, or even longer – who wants to move in winter? However, that doesn’t mean I was not annoyed – I was, really. The house was 40 minutes away from mine. And the guy I used to hire to show my other property was on vacation too. I really hated to take my 2y old and drive 40 minutes to meet someone who may not even show up! I started losing my patience. I decided to do a few cosmetic things for it – including painting the stairs, and entrance. The most significant change was lowering my rent. For a 3b2.5b two story house with a nice yard, I am only asking 985$ for rent. I even offered half off for the first month.
The house got rented, but the story did not end. The tenant was not able to give me the security deposit and the first month rent (which was already half off) immediately. They offered to give me 500$ deposit. The check bounced. The next time we met, they gave me part of the deposit. I had to meet them three times just to collect enough security deposit!
By the time they collected the keys, they did the regular walk-through, which I thought they already did three times during the first three times we met, for showing, and first and second deposit attempts! Anyways, they were very thorough with every details, and they wanted to have three windows tuned. – I called three contractors, and the best price was 942$ to have all of them changed, as they are too old to be tuned.
After they moved in and had all the electricity, gas, and water turned on, we had another set of problems. The bathrooms started to leak, one after another. ‘Cause that was quite an emergent thing, I did not have time for price comparison. Those three bathroom bowls costed me 1725$.
I learned a lesson – whether how great the property looks, I need to have it checked.