Archive for December, 2006

Roundup of interesting bits ’round the net

Personal finance

Worried about the state of financial education in the US? This story about illustrates a creative and very effective way to keep students interested in such a dry subject.

If you’re considering setting some financial goals for 2007 and don’t know where or how to start, Flexo’s collected a list of personal finance bloggers and their goals for next year in a post that you can check out. He just published his own goals, too. (I’m not so noble and haven’t yet decided what, if any, my concrete goals for next year will be.)

Finally, want to see some real craftsmanship? Check out this . The artist’s name is Mark Ho, and he’s certainly got talents and a level of patience I could only dream of having.

Have a safe and joyous New Year’s Eve everyone!

How do you manage your online passwords?

Internet, Personal finance

Now that so many financial transactions are online and electronic, do you ever worry about managing your account passwords? I was browsing Fatwallet Finance the other day and came across a thread on just this subject.

Several software applications were recommended (KeePass, Roboform, and Any Password seem to be the most popular), and then a member named KGZotU suggested the following:

One thing you might find useful is a password scheme, so you can figure out any web password just from the name of the site you’re on. You might start with a secure random passphrase that has at least one each of a capital letter, lower case letter, and a number. Then take the first letter of the site and bump it up by two letters, then insert it into the third position in your passphrase. Then take the third letter of the site and bump it down by one and insert it into the fifth position of your passphrase. For example, I’m signing on to FatWallet. My secure passphrase is u8lnBt. From ‘FatWallet’, f -> h and t -> s, so my password for FatWallet is u8hlsnBt.

Might take some getting used to, but his solution seemed like a straightforward idea in lieu of buying or installing software. Personally, I memorize and use several nonsensical passwords, each unique, on each online account I have that has the potential to access money, and they aren’t written down anywhere. (I do try to minimize account proliferation though.)

Anyone have other methods they use?

POLL: How much net worth do you need to be “rich”?

Personal finance

One of the few benefits of having the cold or the flu is that it gives you an excuse to bundle yourself up warmly in bed with some good books. That’s just what I did recently with Tony Hillerman’s latest (which, unfortunately, doesn’t come highly recommended unless you’re a Hillerman junkie like me) and another book called How To Get Rich, the semi-how-to-semi-autobiographical book by British publishing mogul Felix Dennis, which I finally managed to buy online from .

Dennis’s book caught my eye several months ago when I came across and found it to be wonderfully irreverent and fun to read. But for some reason it’s been incredibly difficult to obtain in the US. I’m almost done with it and plan on reviewing it here next week, but his book raises an interesting question:

How much net worth would you need to have
before you considered yourself “rich”?

So, I’ve stuck it on a poll on the right sidebar and will let it run for a few weeks’ time. Dennis, of course, has his own definition of “rich” and reasoning for it. But what’s your opinion? Vote, comment, and feel free to add your own answers to the poll if you wish, though as usual, I reserve the right to remove anything I might consider inappropriate. I’m pretty open-minded though :)

Questions I always ask job interviewers

Career, MBA topics

When I was younger, I used to have a very different approach toward job interviews. I used to see them as one-sided events where you had to prove your worthiness as a potential employee rather than as a two-way street.

As I’ve developed professionally, though, I came to realize that the point of interviewing shouldn’t just mean rote memorization, giving correct answers, and asking the right
questions. Interviews are also a rare opportunity to have a dialogue with an insider, one that should be taken advantage of to really understand whether the company you’re interviewing with is “right” for you.

Business school will teach you that you should always have questions for your interviewer in order to appear interested and enthusiastic about the company, and there are even lists of typical questions you can ask. Those are fine, but they’ll seldom get you to the crux of the matter, things like whether the company and group you’re interviewing with has good prospects, good leadership, and whether you’d enjoy working there.

I’ve found the best way to get to the heart of the matter is by asking the right probing and, yes, even atypical, daring questions. But the key to all this is that you must also have some answers to these same questions about the company that you’ve concluded yourself so that you have something to compare their responses to.

Having gone through interviews recently, here’s a list of things I did to prepare my questions and the type of questions I asked almost all my interviewers in one form or another. I happen to focus on questions related to “finance’s role in the company” because that’s my area, but you could easily customize it to whatever functional area you’re interested in:

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Merry Christmas to all


I’ll be getting back to posting regularly this week. Only finally getting over this seemingly interminable cold, believe it or not. Must be something going around, because our neighbors, coworkers, friends, family…everyone seems to have it. Anyway, enjoy the festivities, time spent with families, and have a safe break, everyone!