Monday, October 30, 2006

Where Was I?

I was planning on writing something before going to bed, but I got caught up returning calls about properties. Seems like a lot of people are trying to let go of houses in the Baltimore area. This is completely anecdotal, and based on my sleep deprived state of mind as well. But wow! Guess a lot of legs have alligators wrapped around them.


SUNW hasn't gone much of anywhere today. Oh well. To drop XLP or not to drop XLP? That is my question. But we'll worry about that after some sleep. I'm dying here.

Later all.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Price of Procrastination

Just got back from working out. Feels good to get back into my routine.

Anyway, this post is about procrastination, or rather, the effects of procrastination.

How it starts is that yesterday I called my brokerage in order to get my account setup to trade equity options. This is required for the covered call play I have been salivating about for the last few weeks. Well, of course, the brokerage has to send me documents which I must read and return. These documents will be sent by postal mail. Even after I complete and return them, they have to be evaluated by the risk department to see how much margin they will extend to me. Needless to say, since I wanted to trade the options by Wed, 25 October, none of this will be in place in time. Now, I should have known better and I should have prepared in advance of this week. I can recall the machinations required to open my commodities account, where I trade options and futures. Instead, I procrastinated. And here I am, unable to write calls against Sun Microsystems as I had hoped. All because I was too lazy and not thinking ahead.

So there you go. That's the name I've been talking about for the last few weeks. SUNW. The dot in dot com. I've been following them for a while, and based on all the things I've observed, and some things (non-specific things, mind you) I've heard about how busy my best friend has been, I think Sun is going to present some good news when they report on Thursday. Now, I could be entirely mistaken. I could be hallucinating. (Could it be the demerol?) It doesn't matter as much now. I still own the shares, and we'll see what happens. I'm looking forward to it, but if it does pan out, then I'll be kicking myself for my procrastination that will have cost me real money.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Weekly Recap

Last week worked out fairly well. Straightened out a few things on personal finance side, updating records for the 401(k)s and closing out the currency account. Hopefully that check is waiting for me to pick up tomorrow from my parents. (I recently moved and some postal mail is still being forwarded.) That will go toward my commodity account equity balance.

As well, I received some positive news on the real estate side. My partners and I are in the final stages of negotiating a new contract for a house to rehab and rent. That one looks fairly promising, and I'll keep you updated as that progresses. As well, I found out that another property I've had my eye on for some time can probably be acquired at a very favorable price. I'm maneuvering to put that together this week, once I can make contact with the owner. I think that one will make a very good rental as well.

As for the coming week, I'll be moving around some money from bonds that I cashed last week and managing inflows and outflows for various regular expenses. My tech stock play will finally come to fruition; we'll see how that works out. While I won't go into the name of the company just yet, I'll say that I am eyeing a covered call play which I hope to close out by week's end. While I don't expect to put too much into the position, I think it will be profitable, ex fees and commissions. In fact, now that the morning is over, I can say that we're off to a great start. I got a refund check from Comcast for $14 which I deposited along with some consulting proceeds. (Unfortunately, the currency account check has yet to arrive.) I changed my subscription to annual from monthly which dropped by monthly cost to $11.25 from $14.95. And I'm about to call my equity brokerage to add the ability to trade equity options so I can make the covered call play I've been mentioning for a while.

If I haven't already said it, I again recommend reading "Twilight in the Desert" by Matt Simmons. Awesome read. Scary stuff, but hey, that's life. Better to be scared yet informed and aware than ignorant and surprised.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

I loved this thread!

Over at "The Big Picture", reminisces about the '87 crash. Fascinating stuff!

Net Worth Hump

My net worth has plateaued and I've yet to figure out what I can do to get over the hump. Last year, things were cruising along fairly well. Made some records then all of a sudden, I hit a wall. I didn't think the traveling would take the kind of toll it seems to have. I was long overdue for the trip to Trinidad for Carnival. 8 years overdue. I've taken a few other trips this year, even though my grand plan for a new job didn't quite work out as expected.

I don't know. I've never considered myself a spender, and I think most people would agree that I am frugal. I do, however, spend money on things important to me. Such as first class travel over long distances. (I have a medical condition that makes me highly susceptible to DVT, if not flat out predisposed.) Nice cars are a weakness, but I rent rather than own so as to avoid taking on a permanent expense. I've cut back my book spending. Realistically, I've cut as far as I can and save as aggressively as possible without impinging significantly on what is already a spartan lifestyle. (And if I kill another spider in my apartment, which will probably occur later today, I think I'll go nuts.)

Anyway, breaking through the 6 figure net worth barrier seems to get increasingly more difficult. I guess I need to spend more time attacking it from the increased income side as opposed to the savings side. I haven't given them equal mindshare just because the savings angle is more within reach. Something else to add to the to do list. The rest of the month of October will be used to do some deep analysis on these matters.

Aside: Don't EVER think of working for Unisys on a government contract. I'm not sure who I should be angriest at, so I pick Unisys since they ultimately hired and fired me 3 weeks later w/o having a clue what they needed. I could have stayed at my old job for all of that and kept my 3 weeks of vacation. Oh well.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

INVESTools + thinkorswim

Anyone out there using INVESTools? What are your thoughts about it? I saw a piece in the latest Barron's about being purchased by INVESTools. Sounds like a good deal to me. A former co-worker of mine was relating very positive experiences about using INVESTools, and now they have an online brokerage component they can integrate with their educational tools.

Speaking of thinkorswim, do any readers out there use them? If so, what has been your experience with them? What kind of securities can you trade with them? Using Barron's review of online brokers from earlier this year, optionsXpress seemed to have a slightly richer offering on the web-based platform side. This new pairing looks promising from an education + trading perspective. But I need a broker with whom I can trade equity and futures options, and I don't see mention of options on futures on their site. From my read, they only offer trading on index futures. Reader thoughts on the quality of thinkorswim's offerings are much appreciated.

John Mauldin's Insights

This will be a short one.

If you don't already subscribe to John Mauldin's e-mail newsletters, Outside The Box and Thoughts From The Frontline, then slide on over to his site and check them out. In the few short weeks I have been reading them, they have shown themselves to be very insightful and thought provoking. (Guess that makes sense for a company named InvestorsInsight Publishing.) While I don't always agree, it always makes for good reading.

Until the next time...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Wheat & Random Noise


I really shouldn't be awake right now. But while I work on this project, I have been thinking about wheat. Mainly about how I didn't hold on to it. Wheat seriously popped while I was in Cali and I figured I'd take my profits and get back in later.

Fuggin' stupid.

Lesson learned: let your winners run.

Oh well, guess missing out on big returns is the best way to learn this lesson. I can't imagine how much I would have made had I stayed long on the wheat. Even if I got in late (as in early last week).

On the asset allocation side, things look good. I'm weighing whether to roll over my old 401(k) into a self-directed Roth IRA. But the potential trading fees and commissions would hurt my regular rebalancing. And after the horror story a friend of mine told me the other week, I am loathe to roll it into my current 401(k). If I wanted to own so much damn company stock, I'd buy it on the open market like everyone else. That old 401(k) was soooo great.


But I did have to go through a good exercise, figuring out (again) all my assets so I could complete this loan application. That's the price of investing in real estate, right. Slow progress is being made, but I'm still looking for a way to ramp up even faster. And hopefully my deal to sell some old speakers and amps from my DJ enterprise of a few years back will put cash in my pocket shortly.

Alpha any way you can get it, right?


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I'm Back

Ok, I've been absent a while, so lets get caught up. I'm back from Orange County, CA and ready for work.

First, I have to say that the Audi A8L is a *very* nice car. If you have the chance to test drive one, I highly recommend it. I know I would have to seriously consider one if my trusty steed ever broke down. OMG!! Of course, maybe it had something to do with smokin' yuppie yugos (read: BMW 3 Series) at 120+ on the PCH Friday night. Great fun! I can't stand the 3 Series.

On the flights to and from Cali, I spent some time cuddling up with Matt Simmons' "Twilight in the Desert". Fascinating book. (Thanks, LTB. Good lookin' out!) I'm not too far in yet, and I'm sure there are tons of reviews floating around the 'Net on this book, so I won't contribute to the byte pollution with one more. But its definitely worth a read.

So I'm working on closing out my currency account. That experiment will get taken up again later. Nothing else to see here. Move along.

On the commodity side, I'm looking at coffee and possibly wheat (again) in the near future. Gold just got slaughtered so I had to get out. I do see long term upside but in this arena, it clearly doesn't pay to wait. We'll see what else looks promising. Gotta do some research before I roll out of here tonight. The currency funds will get rolled over here eventually.

On the more personal side, I need to check up on my new 401(k). I am an asset allocator after all, and with the last few hectic weeks, I've totally neglected this. And my taxable equity portfolio. We draw closer to earnings announcements for the stock I've been tracking, and I have a good feeling. Time to load up is near. I'll let you know what the play is after I have my position. Here's a hint though - it is a tech stock.

My man "G" passed along an interesting paper, which looks like it may be a dissertation (?) of some sort, about creating a stock market trend application. Looks interesting, if a bit rough. Will have to take a gander at that later this week when I have some spare cycles. But "G" always sends along good stuff to read. I wonder where he finds the time. Probably due to all that consulting work! Talk about a job that isn't. But I still love him. I'll keep you all posted if I see anything interesting in this paper. Which I'm sure I will.

So last month was a bit slow. I'm going to work on making October more robust and readable. And feel free to prompt me. I live and die by you, my readers. So let me know what works for you and what doesn't.