Archive for September, 2008

Calculating CAGR (compound annual growth rate) when the beginning value is negative

Corporate finance, Personal finance

I regularly receive emails from readers posing questions based on my previous posts on things like , , and other financial and Excel questions.

One of the most common questions I receive is how to calculate a when the beginning value is negative.

The basic answer is that you can’t. Why?
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Finding money thanks to

Personal finance

Thanks to a post about from Jim of fame, we checked and it turns out we’re owed some money from the Washington Dept. of Revenue.

Unfortunately, it’s not clear how much we’re owed, but we’re willing to go through the paperwork just to satisfy our curiosity. It’s a bit of a pain — print out the application, photocopy your driver’s license and SS card, and then have the application notarized in front of a notary public, and wait up to 120 days for them to get back to you. I’ll be sure to update this with whatever it turns out to be. Like Jim, I’m hoping it will be more than a few bucks :)

As a side note, I suspect this is one of those (nice) idiosyncratic things about living in a wealthy country like the US. I doubt that in most other countries governments would go around giving back money owed to its residents!

The best way to take baby passport photos (and for just a few cents!)

Internet, Parenting, Personal finance

I found this great, essentially free service to use to take our baby’s passport photos called . Actually, this method works for anyone’s passport photos, not just a baby’s! However, trying to get a squirming, few-weeks-old infant to sit still for a passport-compliant photo is a unique challenge in itself.

The site’s tagline is “We put an end to the passport photo rip-off” and they really do make it easy assuming you have a digital camera. Even better, they can create passport photos that are compliant for the US as well as 60 other countries.

The part that took us the longest was getting a usable photo of our baby. Eyes have to be open, background white, mouth closed, no shadows on face or background, looking straight at the camera…I think we took 50 shots before we found one that was usable of him that we liked. We tried putting a white sheet on the crib and shooting there but ended up with too many shadows. Finally, a white pillowcase on cushion, filler flash and ambient light did the trick. I can’t imagine how much longer and more frustrating it would have been to go to Walgreen’s or somewhere to get his pictures taken.

Once you’ve got your photo, you just go to the site, upload your picture, and click-and-drag a box to make sure the photo you’re using will fit within the required passport dimensions. There are two green boxes to make sure you’re doing things right.

Once that’s done, if you have a photo printer at home, you can print out your photos for free. We don’t, so I signed up for a snapfish account and then had the photos printed out to the local Walgreens for $0.19 and picked them up 30 min. later. I’m so pleased with the service (and no, I’m not receiving anything from them for this post) that I’ll definitely be using it for my own photos in the future. Finally, a way to get decent-looking passport photos!