Sunday, October 15, 2006

Here's my password

Young and Broke had a nice post about My Grocery deals. Since I was about to post about our grocery shopping, my interest peaked. I checked out the recommended website : MyGroceryDeals and signed up.

What's up with websites who claim to take your privacy serious and supposed to be secure websites?

Dear Visitor to our wonderful website/Valued internet user -
We take your privacy serious ... blah blah blah.
We are a secure website ... blah blah blah.
So why do you send me my password in clear text when I changed it to a more secure one? To add insult to injury, the useful part of the website, requires you to install software to merely print a coupon.
The Coupon Printer contains security features needed to provide you with coupons you can use in a store. It does not install any third-party software, nor does it collect any personal information.
MyGroceryDeals is a great idea, but a poor implementation. No thank you!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Invest in what you buy

Recently (August 12th), I read an article in Barron's about Whole Food markets. WFMI had reported good earnings the previous quarter, which were however below the high (inflated) expectations of some analytics. As a result the stock had been oversold. The article discussed how Whole Food markets was a great company, with innovative ideas to increase sales/sq ft, with quality products and a high level of customer satisfaction. In other words, a great company to invest in. The low stock price made it a great buy.

I was ready to invest, but realized that the Barron's effect [1] might kick in Monday morning. Indeed, Monday it jumped +7.5%, Tuesday, +5% and the stock quickly became no longer undervalued.

The bigger story here is to look for investments among the quality products your buy. It is much harder to hope for great earnings from companies selling poor quality products. Instead, if you focus on companies you love because of their great quality, or good customer services, you already have a shortlist of companies to investigate and find a few undervalued ones.

I decided to create a short list of my best price quality buys:

And a short list of stores and service companies for their great customer service and quality offering:

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Financial Records

Fidelity recently had an interesting piece (both in podcast form, as in the On Track flyer) about financial records to keep and for how long. Some of the key points:

  • Keep tax records (W2 forms, canceled checks for deductible items, 1099 forms etc) for 7 years. (Three years for regular audits, but it's better to be on the save side.)
  • Keep investment records until you sell the security, plus seven years.
  • Keep retirement records forever.
  • Keep home improvement records until you sell your house, plus seven years
  • Keep bank statements seven years (to support your tax records)
  • Keep personal bills until you have proof of payment
A few weeks ago, I finished my paperwork clean up into nice Ikea hard carton boxes. I sorted them per year and fit about 2 years worth of paper trail in one Ikea box. My record keeping is pretty much on par with what Fidelity has been recommending.

In addition, I keep electronic copies of my statements and bils on a external hard drive and on a CD-RW.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

[List] Consumer related websites

I find myself keeping track of a great number of lists. Many different to-do lists (work, money, garden, home improvements, etc, trip lists, bookmarks, addressbook, etc. I recently started moving many of them onto "the network". That way, I can access them from anywhere and any computer. I put my lists either in Google Notebook, or Google Docs & Spreadsheet. My bookmarks, I moved to (I created a money tag and personal finance tag). Here is a short list of interesting consumer related websites I recently added to my bookmarks.