Interesting Reads 31st October 2009

I finally wrapped up: Too Big To Fail. The book was great, and was more like a fiction novel rather than something that really happened.

Reading that book took a lot of my spare time this week too, and I didn’t get a chance to look at many posts. So, here is a relatively short list of interesting reads this week.


Announcing Astute Actions Inc @ Money Ning

Economic growth is up, what now? @ The Digerati Life

Baseline Scenario October 30th 2009 @ Baseline Scenario (This one is a must read)

Dear Motley Fool: Please stop spamming Yahoo Finance @ The Reformed Broker (Very funny)

GMAC: Bottomless pit watch @ Rolfe Winkler

Some people are better than others @ Seth Godin

Chase blueprint payment program review @ Bargaineering

Looking back at Indira Gandhi @ Ajay Shah

Small business financing: How to fund your venture @ The Smarter Wallet


Twenty Something Finances

Money Hacks Carnival

Tips on multi tasking

Although I’d like to live a simple and uncomplicated life, I have accepted the fact that modern day life is increasingly complex and involves donning many different hats at the same time.

This is a post about a few ways in which I try to get more done and multi task efficiently.

1. Eliminate distractions: Everyone knows that you should stay away from email and Twitter if you are working, but there are plenty of innocuous little things that are subtle distractions. In my case, search terms in my Google taskbar in the browser are a distraction when I write. I need the browser to search and look for information, so I can’t really close it, but before beginning to write – I clear out anything from the Google bar that I had previously searched for.If I don’t do that, then at some point, I would just go off searching for that term, and break concentration. Identifying such subtle distractions helps you stay focused. 

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HDFC Value Plus Credit Card: Cash Back Credit Card

Before you start reading about this card, you should know that it is only available to existing members. If you don’t already have this credit card, then you’ll be wasting your time reading this piece.

This is a cash back credit card from HDFC bank that lets you get up to 5% cash back on some of your purchases.

“Up to” is the key here though, the 5% cash back is only applicable if you make purchases from railways, hospitals and medical stores.

  • If you spent your money on grocery, departmental stores, supermarkets or restaurants, then you will get just 1.5% cash back.

That is not really bad in itself, but there is an additional condition which states that the cash back on this credit card will be credited to your account only if the balance due is more than Rs.10,000. That is going to be a major dampener for people like me who don’t spend that much on a credit card every month.

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Disney Rewards Visa Credit Card

I recently came across Disney Rewards Visa Card while browsing Chase’s website. It is a credit card that is specifically designed for giving returns related to Disney merchandise and parks.

Disney Visa Card lets you earn 1 Disney Dream Reward Dollar for every 100 dollars you spend. 1 Disney Dream Reward Dollar has a $1 value.

To earn the reward dollars, you need to spend money on purchases, and money that goes towards interest, fees, cash advances and such is not counted while calculating reward points.

To redeem the points, you need to transfer your points to a Disney Rewards Redemption card. Here are a few important points on how this card works.

  1. Minimum points needed to request the redemption card: You should have at least 20 Dream Reward Dollars to order the redemption card. As soon as you have that many, you can log into your account or call them up to send your redemption card. It takes 2 – 3 weeks for your card to reach, so you should keep that in mind while planning the use of these points. Alternately, you can make arrangements to pick up your card in select Disney locations.
  2. Expiry Date: This redemption card has an expiry date printed on it, and any points that are left on the card after the expiry date are completely lost.
  3. If you lose the card: Anyone who has this card can use it, so if you lose the card call up Chase and cancel the card. If points are used before you can report the theft of the card, you won’t be able to recover them.

Apart from the points and rewards mentioned above, there are certain other perks and benefits of a Disney Visa Credit Card. Here are the major rewards or perks of this card:

  1. Character Meet N Greet Photo Opportunity: This is the most unique benefit of having this card. It gives you an opportunity to meet and get your photo taken with a Disney character in Walt Disney Resort, Florida and Disneyland Resort, California.
  2. 10% off merchandise: You get 10% off your purchases, if you buy a minimum of 50 dollars worth of merchandise at select Walt Disney World locations. Here is a link to the PDF that contains all the details.
  3. 20% off Tours: There are certain tours like Epcot’s Divequest, on which you get 20% off. The PDF (same as the earlier link) contains all the details.
  4. 10% off at Dining Locations: You will get 10% off at certain dining locations in the Disneyland Resort in California. (Details in the PDF link above)
  5. Stroller Rental Discounts: You will get 50% off stroller rentals at Disneyland California.   
  6. $50 Onboard Credit on Disney Cruise: You get $50 credit during your Disney cruise if you book with your card and ask for booking code – DCC.
  7. 0% APR Vacation Financing: There is 0% APR for six months if you book certain vacation packages and cruises through your Disney Visa card.

Now the fun part, here is an overview of the pricing and fees of the Disney Visa card.  This is not an inclusive list, and only contains some of the charges.

  1. APR: 0% APR for the first six billing cycles. After that 13.24% or 16.24% variable based on your credit history.
  2. Cash Advance APR: 19.24% variable.
  3. Overdraft advance APR: 13.99% fixed.
  4. Late Payment Fee: $15.00 if the balance is up $250, and $39 if the balance is over $250.
  5. Over the limit credit fee: $29.00

Tap tap tap

I discovered quite a few features in the Kindle app on iPhone after using it for several hours. I thought a quick post to share these with others will be a good idea.

Everything here is really obvious and if you use the app for any amount of time you will stumble upon these things. This might prove useful for people who are just getting started though.

  1. Stop rotation: Screen rotation is a really cool feature, but if you are reading in bed, and twist and turn often, this can become a nuisance. Fortunately there is a way to lock the screen setting so that it doesn’t rotate. Tap gently on the bottom right of the screen, and a little padlock will appear. If you tap on this padlock – it will prevent your screen from rotating. No matter what you do, the screen will not rotate. You can do the same thing to unlock the screen and let it rotate.
  2. Rotate on a flat surface: I have noticed that if you keep the phone on a flat surface like a table and then rotate it – the screen doesn’t rotate. To get around this, you can lock the screen the way you want (using the idea in first step), and then read it on a flat surface.
  3. Turn pages without flicking: You need to flick the screen to go to the next page on the iPhone. If you are in the middle of a book and have to do it several times in a minute – you start looking for alternates. The alternate to flicking is a gentle tap on the right side of the screen to move forward, or on the left side of screen to move backwards. The area on which it works is probably just 10% of the screen (either side). I say gentle tap because if your touch is not light, then the whole thing with the title of the book and the bottom bar which shows you the option to refresh, increase font etc. appears. Continue reading “Tap tap tap”

Religare PSU Equity Fund NFO

Religare PSU Equity Fund is an open ended equity fund whose NFO begins on 29th September 2009 and closes on 28th October 2009.

As the name suggests, Religare PSU Equity Fund will invest in stocks of public sector companies in India. These are companies where the central or state government has the majority stake, or where it has the management control.

Minimum application amount of Religare PSU Equity Fund

The minimum application amount for this NFO is Rs.5,000 and you can invest in multiples of Re. 1 after that. There is a growth and dividend option for this plan.

Entry and Exit Load of Religare PSU NFO

If you apply directly to the NFO, then there is no load. However, if your application goes through a distributor / agent / broker and your application is less than 5 crores, then you need to pay an entry load of 2.25%.

If you redeem within six months of allotment then you have to pay an Exit load of 1%. There is no exit load if you redeem an amount greater than 5 crores, or if you redeem after 6 months.

Recurring expenses of the mutual fund

Here is how expenses will be charged to investors:

  • First Rs. 100 crores: 2.50%
  • Next Rs. 300 crores: 2.25%
  • Next Rs. 100 crores: 2.00%
  • Over Rs. 700 crores: 1.75%

Asset allocation of Religare PSU Equity Fund

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Economy and your Finances Carnival Oct 25 2009

Image by Cristian Cruz
Welcome to this edition of the carnival. I want to thank everyone who participated and here are the entries to the carnival.

Deposit Accounts presents The Differences Between Certificate of Deposits and Brokered Certificate of Deposits posted at Deposit Accounts.

MatthewPaulson presents The Hidden Waste on Your Kitchen Shelves posted at Fine-Tuned Finances.

Matthew Paulson presents The Fine Print on the U Return Plan by GM posted at American Consumer News.

Billeater presents How to Get More Out of Your Bank Instead of Them Taking More From You posted at Billeater.


James Martin presents Current Mortgage Rates ? October 7, 2009 posted at, saying, “Mortgage rates have been going down since late 2008 and the beginning of this year. Lower U.S. Treasury yields and the Federal Reserve have played an active role in lowering mortgage rates to come to the rescue of the housing market.”

Linders presents 10 Extraordinary Creations Made of Money posted at Money Hacker – Australia’s Personal Finance Blog, saying, “I thought you might be interested in this fun article on money art. Don’t we wish we had the spare cash to waste it on making art?!

GLBL presents R1 Credit Rating: How to Keep it posted at Gather Little By Little, saying, “Your credit rating is a very precious thing as is trust; it is hard to earn and easy to lose. So, if you are lucky enough to enjoy an R1 credit rating, you want to make sure to keep it. There are a few tricks to help you keep a stellar credit score.”

oneadvice presents Am I Debt Management Suitable? posted at One Advice, saying, “Sometimes it is tricky to know if there are any debt solution out there to suit your circumstances so let this article help you find if you are debt management suitable…”

Continue reading “Economy and your Finances Carnival Oct 25 2009”

Interesting Reads 24th October 2009

There are a lot of blogs on my reader and keep starring things that I find interesting throughout the week. Then I use those starred posts to compile the list of my interesting reads. This week I don’t have a big list because I didn’t get to read much. Among other things – I was absorbed in Andrew Ross Sorkin’s Too Big to Fail in my free time. I had written about reading its excerpt last week, and the book hasn’t disappointed me so far. It is a book about the financial crisis but has more to do on the people and stories behind those people. So far, I haven’t read that stuff anywhere else and it’s certainly quite gripping. Will have more about the book later, in the meantime, here are some great reads from the blogosphere this week:


Best 0 APR Credit Card offers @ The Digerati Life

HSBC Direct Savings Account @ The Smarter Wallet

How to use credit cards without bankrupting yourself @ The Canadian Finance Blog

Top 100 Investment Lessons @ The Dividend Guy

The Benefit of Not Including Bonuses in our budget @ My Wealth Builder

A buyer’s guide to rent homes @ Dough Roller

Hawkins Cooker: A stock for long term investment @ Tip Blog In


Carnival of Financial Planning

Festival of Frugality

Festival of Stocks

What is an ETF?

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) are a relatively new phenomenon and are gaining popularity rapidly. This post outlines the key features of an ETF.

ETFs hold assets

ETFs are like mutual funds because they hold an underlying asset like stocks, debt, commodities future contracts etc. If you are new to the concept of an ETF, think of it as a mutual fund, and build your understanding from thereon. An example of an ETF is the SBI Gold ETF, which holds physical gold as its underlying asset.

ETFs charge you for their expenses

It takes money to run an exchange traded fund, and that money is recovered from investors. All ETFs charge you fee which is expressed as a percentage called: “Expense Ratio”. The lower the expense ratio, the cheaper the fund is. You should try to compare expense ratios between different ETFs, as that will tell you how much you have to pay in fees. All mutual funds do this too, so in this respect ETFs are like mutual funds.

Continue reading “What is an ETF?”

The fee ate my performance

Last weekend, the WSJ had a great piece about investors overlooking mutual fund fees. It was a good piece that illustrated how a lot of professional and retail investors don’t take into account fees while making decisions on which mutual funds to buy.

I think fees and expenses are one of the most important factors when it comes to buying a mutual fund or ETF. I feel this not only because of the cost involved, but also because lower fee shows honesty and / or efficiency (at least to me).

I believe that most mutual funds belonging to a particular category should have similar expenses. Therefore they should charge about the same to their investors. If there is a difference, then either one fund is more efficient than the other, more honest and willing to leave more money on the table than the other or both.

Continue reading “The fee ate my performance”