From the monthly archives:

May 2009

Every Sunday I highlight four or five articles I found particularly useful or insightful. My theme is Sunburns and contests since I was able to finally fix my boat and hit the lake yesterday and even though I layed the sunscreen on thick I still got a little burnt.


Matt over at Steadfast Finances talks about kids and teenagers making millions with Facebook and Myspace

Wojciech talks about how to make Brown-Bagging Efficient and Fun.

The Weakonomist talks about Jon and Kate Gosslin, you know those people with 8 kids, not the octomom.

Ever wonder how to Save Money on Your Commute? Saving for Serenity has you covered.

CNN has a tool to help you understand your financial health. Matt at Financial Methods played with it and let us know what he thought.

Laura at FCN has some great Tips of Making Major Purchases.



Congratulations to Vivian Deliz Winner of my contest for a copy of Wisebread’s 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget.

Christian PF is 2 Years old and they are giving away a Wii and an iPod.

Pennywise family is giving away $100 in cold hard cash, check it out to see how to enter.

Flexo with Consumerism Commentary is giving away a $50 gift card to Amazon or iTunes, signup for his newsletter to learn how to enter.

If you give a friend the Skinny on Stretchy Dollar then you can be entered to win one of two “Skinny On” books.

I won two contests this week, one at Bible Money Matters, and one at Saving for Home. Look for my reviews of these books in the coming weeks along with a chance to win them off of me.

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AnAmericanHedgeFundThis is the story of how a young man turned his bar mitzvah money into a Million dollars and then started a hedge fund. Frustrated with how hard it is to get a new hedge fund off the ground and find investors due to SEC regulations Mr. Sykes wrote a book about his story. The book paints a picture of how a young student became enamored with the stock markets and was able to understand trends in stock prices which enabled him to make money his peers only dreamed of.

About the Author

Timothy is a 27 year old investor. He is the benefactor of a Tulane Scholarship, runs and is a writer for AOL Finance. He detailed his step by step investing process on giving the world an inside look at how a hedge fund manager operates. For more detailed information check out his About Page.

The Short of it

Timothy started out in life with an entrepreneurial attitude and a drive to succeed. He moved his drive to the stock markets and during the tech bubble was able to ride the rise of well chosen penny stocks to make a healthy chunk of change. When the bubble burst and the plays got few and far between he went from his old methodology to the world of short selling.  After achieving success in the short selling world Mr. Sykes started his own hedge fund and searched high an low for investors. The search was hindered by SEC regulations preventing him from advertising his fund to anyone but the most affluent. The details show how an investor with a knack for predicting market trends went from huge returns to making a single life altering decision that cost him dearly.

What it is

An American Hedgefund is a life story of how one person got started in trading and then started his own hedge fund.  I think that is why I enjoyed reading it so much. I don’t have any stock trading experience and this book really allowed me to see how these “day traders” really operate. Mr. Sykes does an excellent job of portraying how things happened to setup his eventual fall from being one of the top performers out there. If you know little about investing, short selling, and hedge funds you are certain to have a better understanding of it when you finish reading this story.

What it is not

This is not a guide on investing or short selling. If you are looking to learn how to read charts and track and trend stock prices this is not the book you are looking for. It provides only a high level view of what Timothy did on his individual trades not in depth analysis of each trade and what he looked for. This book tells you how he started his hedge fund and the obstacles he encountered in trying to get investors. If you are looking for an investment guide, go look elsewhere.

Final Thoughts, and a thanks!

The driving force for this book was to educate people about the hedge fund industry and how it is not as bad as the media portrays it to be. With hedge fund Pequot shutting its doors yesterday the media has again started to focus on this little understood area of investing. I would, and have already, recommended this book to others interested in gaining an understanding of the hedge fund industry and what drives these investors to make the decisions they do. Two key points everyone should take away from this book are 1.) Discipline is key, without out it you are certain to fail, and 2.) Emotions make you broke, check them at the door.


Special thanks to Patrick from Cash Money Life, I won this book in one of his giveaways, look for me to re-gift it next week in another contest.

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When you purchase a boat all of your friends are going to tell you it is just going to be a great big money pit, you won’t care because you want to own a boat.  You should have listened. One of the things people generally don’t tell you is that hourly shop fees for boat repair run around $100 per hour.  Any major repairs and you are going to be out a good chunk of change.

This is an area where you are really going to save if you can just take the time to do some research and learn to do it yourself. I have leaned heavily on the internet, forums, and friends to learn what I need to do and so far I have been pretty successful.

Boats have engines just like a car, in some cases they are car engines, and those engines need to be maintained. Our boat is 14 years old so it needs a little more TLC than newer models.

Things I have had to learn since buying a boat, that you could do too:

Change Oil

Changing the oil in a boat isn’t exactly like changing the oil in your car. I can’t drive the boat up onto ramps to slide on under and pull the oil pan drain plug. In fact if I were to do that I would have a hull full of oil and my next outing would leave a trail like the exxon valdez. You have to get a fluid extractor and siphon out the oil through the dipstick, then swap out the filter and refill. It sounds pretty easy because it is, you probably don’t need to be paying someone at a shop to do this.

Winterize the Boat

I may skip part of this step entirely next year since I keep my boat in the garage. Essentially you need to 1.) fill your gas tank up and put a stabilizer in there, 2.) flush your engine cooling system with RV antifreeze, 3.) Change the lubricant in your lower unit, and 4.) spray fogging oil into the engine to keep it from rusting. This ensures your boat will weather the storm of sitting around for a season doing nothing. It is extremely important that you flush your cooling system with antifreeze because the last thing you want is water freezing in your engine, it gets bigger even though your engine doesn’t.

Change Belts

Those rubbery things on the wheely things in the engine compartment are kind of important, you need to keep an eye on them for cracks and if you see some cracks it is time to change your belts. It isn’t hard once you identify where the bolts are to loosen the moving parts. Just make sure you put the right amount of tension on the belts or they could break, or slip.

Trailer Wiring

When we bought the boat the trailer didn’t have any wiring at all, a dog had eaten it all. Not only did the dog eat the wiring he also ate the brake lines. I was able to pick up a wiring kit at Wal-Mart as well as some extra wire tap connectors and I had the whole project done in just a couple of hours. It was super easy for the do it yourselfer.

Boat Wiring

This is trickier than the trailer, there are circuits and fuses and such that you have to worry about. I didn’t do much wiring but I did have to cut and put back together the wires for the tilt/trim and I added a 12v outlet to power the iPod FM Transmitter. In all it has worked out nicely and the boat hasn’t caught on fire yet so I think I am good.

Alternator Replacement

This was my crowning achievement in boat repair. The alternator went out on my boat, after using it twice, and it needed a new one.  I didn’t know anything about alternators but I figured I could give it the old college try. I was able to pull the old alternator out and quickly realized someone had put an alternator on the boat that wasn’t exactly spec for this engine. Because the alternator was jerry rigged in I had to put new connectors on the end of the cables, which was super easy. The I just put the wires on the new alternator, bolted it back on, and replaced the belt. This could have easily cost me twice as much at a repair shop, and taken three times a long before I could get the boat back in the water.

While I have related this story to my own experiences with my boat it really applies to everything you do. Plumbing and electrical are two parts of homeownership that most people are deathly afraid of. The truth is usually the small repairs needed on these, and other things, are easy enough for you to tackle. So next time something come up that needs a fixin think hard about your resolve and your abilities and maybe you can tackle it yourself.

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Suburban Genie: My Three Financial Do-Overs

May 27, 2009

All of the credit for this post should go to Adam over at Your Money Relationship for coming up with this Money Genie post idea. Basically the idea boils down to what three things about your financial past would you change given the chance.  While I certainly wish there were a Robin Williams esque Genie […]

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179th Festival of Frugality – Memorial Day Edition

May 26, 2009

Photo (BL1961) Yesterday was Memorial day here in the United States. It is a day of remembrance for all those dedicated Armed Services members who have died protecting the rights of the citizens of this great country. I hold members of our armed forces in the highest regard and I truly appreciate everything they are […]

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