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Archive for February, 2008

OK, I Lied…I Have to Post This

February 29th, 2008 2 comments

So I’ve complained about Zecco a lot. I feel that their site is pretty much a mess. Being a software engineer doesn’t help me look past their issues either.

Today I tried to make my first trade, and of course I ran into another issue. My order was “rejected” because “Trading of any kind is not allowed on this account”. What the hell did I go through all the trouble of setting up the account and send them over $2,500 if they aren’t going to allow me to trade. Here Zecco, hold my money, I just want to put it in your non-interest bearing account for a little while…

Rejection from Zecco

I’m definitely at the point where I wouldn’t recommend Zecco to anyone. Yet I have some sort of masochistic need to keep trying to use their site just to save some $$.

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Be Back in a While…

February 29th, 2008 No comments

I have to take a couple of weeks off from this blog.  In an attempt to earn some extra cash, I’m going to put off making posts and focus on another project.

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Frugal Painting: Buy Enough Paint

February 27th, 2008 No comments

This is the first of five articles in a series about frugal painting.

Over the last couple of months, the wife and I have put in quite a few hours of painting. When we bought our house from KB Home, we had the option of having everything be white, or having all the walls painted a certain color (for a fat chunk of change, I might add). Since we knew in advance we wanted to paint a couple of different colors, we chose the frugal option: do it ourself.

Everything was white. No contrast whatsoever.  None.

When the sun hit our windows in the mornings, our bedroom would light up like it was noon with the light bouncing around off all the white walls.  We had to fix this!

The first thing we did was go get a couple of sample cans of paint.  One thing to keep in mind is that Lowes allows you to buy really small cans of paint for a couple of bucks.  Home Depot on the other hand will only sell you a pint size can for your samples.  Definitely head to Lowes if you think there is a chance you might need a bunch of experiments before you find the right color.

The wife and I decided on a color and bought a gallon of paint.  We started painting and got 2 out of the 3 walls finished that we were painting in the living room.  Of course at this point we had to drop everything and make another run to the store.  This was costly for us for a couple of reasons.  Time is money, and making unnecessary trips to the store wasted time.  Also, the gas used to get to the store can add up with multiple trips.  That gallon of paint just cost you an extra $1.50.  This is not the way to go if you’re trying to be frugal.

In summary though, it’s better to buy a little extra paint and be safe, then to try and squeeze by with only one gallon of paint for a big room.  If you’re curious, we found that one gallon was enough to paint a really small room.  Our bedroom required a gallon and a half, though the room is pretty big and we have textured walls, which suck up the paint.  Also, keep in mind if you have to do any touch ups in the future, you’ll be glad you bought a little extra.

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Frugal Investing: Bond Ladder

February 26th, 2008 No comments

I was perusing Smart Money Magazine while my truck was in the shop, and I came across an interesting article on bond investing.

While I’m not at the point where I feel I have enough money to be investing in bonds, I do think at some point information about his will be valuable. Basically the article talked about how expensive it used to be to buy bonds. They claimed that an extra $40 to $50 was sometimes tacked on to the price when the average Joe bought a bond through his brokerage. This is no longer the case though. Many online brokers such as E*trade and others now allow you to buy a bond for as little as $10. And to take this even further, you can buy bonds directly from the government at www.treasurydirect.gov for basically no commission.

One piece of advice the article mentioned was how to form your own bond ladder. The basic premise of the ladder is that you buy a series of bonds with the same risk profile that have maturities staggered into the future. For example, you could buy a series of bonds, where each bond matured 6 months after the previous one. When each bond reaches maturity, you would reinvest in a bond that would mature 6 months after the bond you hold with the latest maturity date. This is essentially what many bond funds do, but you can do it yourself without paying anyone’s salary.

The main benefit of doing this is to mitigate fluctuations in interest rates. If you were to buy only short term bonds, you might miss out later down the road if interest rates drop. If you bought only long term bonds you would miss out if the rates increased. If you hold the bonds you buy until maturity, the other benefit is that you know exactly how much your return will be.

In short, take a look at being your own bond manager if you have the inclination to do so. It’s no longer inaccessible to the individual investor, and it could save you some serious $$ over the long term.

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Zecco has One More Chance

February 25th, 2008 No comments

If you look back on the archives of this blog, you’ll see all the issues I’ve been having with Zecco. All I want to do is fund my account and their website doesn’t want to let me do so.

Up to this point I’ve jumped through hoops to get my funding account set up, and have been really confused in the process with weird pages that don’t make sense and error messages that are very confusing.

Zecco error

I’ve finally got to the point where I’m ready to transfer cash into my Zecco account, but once again, I get an error. All I do is click on a link to “Move Cash”.

Zecco error 2

Needless to say, my confidence in their ability to keep my information and money safe is waning. I figure I’ll give them one more chance. If their site isn’t up and working 100% by tomorrow, I will no longer even consider funding my account. Usually I would have said “The Hell with them…” long ago, but their site does promise to save me money. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out.

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