Thursday, August 24, 2006

Extra !! Extra !! Newspapers and magazine for free!!

That's right. I am not talking about reading your newspaper or magazines on the internet for free. No, no, nothing but the real thing: real colorful weeklies, oily newspapers or perfumed fashion magazines. I am currently subscribed to a handful of them, all for free. Not a penny out of my pocket. Well, I paid with airmiles currency. Normally, I do consider airmiles as any other currency, but since I had a few thousand expiring Delta Skymiles, I either used them for something good, or lose them. Through the Delta Skymiles, Magazines for miles, you can subscribe to many magazines. Take a look on their website. Renewal offers are also quite reasonable. Magazines have you rather as a subscriber at bottom prices, than not at all. They don't make their money with subscriptions, but with advertisement. And the advertisement fee is correlated to the number of (paying or non-paying) subscribers. For that reason, Forbes, kept sending me free magazines for years!

Be aware: It is common to forget about which magazines or newspapers you ordered. And you don't really know when they are supposed to start. Finding the contact info is often difficult. So let me share you two numbers for the Delta Magazines for Miles program:

  • Awards Processing Center - 1-(800)-586-7046
  • Magazine Customer Service, 1-(800)-961-870
Time to go and read my paper newspaper!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Will the real maestro please stand up?

Get Rich Slowly posed the question What is the best personal finance book you’ve ever read? The truth is that I read few personal finance books. I have a copy of David Bach's Smart Couples finish rich. I mostly enjoyed the (auto)biographies, such as Losing my virginity (Richard Branson) or Greenspan, the man behind the money. Recently, I came across a great set of interviews by Charlie Rose with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, following Buffet's $31Billion gift to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation : Charlie Rose - Warren Buffett: The Man - Part One in a Three Part Series (Part 2 and 3 can also be found at

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Life Insurance for geeks

When we bought our little house, we invited also a bunch of spam mail looking to lure us into a 1% ARM (ha!) or trying to sells us mortage protection insurance. Little did we know about mortgage protection insurance. My dad mentioned that, at home in Belgium, the bank obliges you to take out mortgage protection insurance, prior to agreeing to loan you money.

A year after we moved in, we started looking into mortgage protection insurance. It became quickly clear that this is a form of life insurance in a sheep skin. For one, the death benefit often decreases over time (as your mortgage decreases). When you compare with a regular life insurance, the rates are quiet similar and your death benefit does not decrease.

I remember having read several articles at the time about the different types of life insurance. I took away that simple term life insurance is the best value. We shopped around with several big companies for 30 year term life insurance: AAA, AIG, Farmers, Metlife, Prudential, State Farm, NY Life, All State, and Forresters. For $500K, prices varied between $100-$150/month premium for both my wife and I. We were close to going with AAA or Forresters, until a friend of ours mentioned the IEEE insurance program. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is a non-profit organization for geeks. They organize conferences, publish several publications, create engineering standards, etc. IEEE has over 350,000 members. This gives them great cloud when offering benefits such as term life insurance.

I do have life term insurance through my employer, but since my employment is at will, things can change rather quickly. As an engineer, so long as I pay my IEEE dues ($156/year), I'll am eligible for life insurance. And with that many members, they aren't going away anytime soon. Life insurance is offered through NY Life and came out to be about $250/year. Per year! That is big difference for in essence a better term life insurance. For example: until 65 years of age the death benefit remained the same ($500K) and then decreases gradually until the age of 100. Your spouse can participate as well, even if he/she is not an IEEE member.

If you are an engineer, or know of organizations for your profession, do check out if they offer life insurance of health care benefits. You can save a bundle.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Opening day

Since moving away from Quicken several months ago, I have been on the look out for personal finance spreadsheet tips and tricks. How do YOU keep track of your personal finances? In my search, I've come across several interesting personal finance blogs. Some discuss the basics on investing, others have frugality tips, others show detailed snapshots of their personal finances. I also learned about a the Carnivals phenomenon: the Carnival of Frugality, the Carnival of Investing, etc.

Since I find myself posting commentary on many blogs entries, and I keep numerous personal finance spreadsheets myself, I decided to create my own personal finance blog. I care a lot about the best price quality ratio when I spend my money, so finding a title was easy. Welcome to Ratio(Price, Quality)!