Call For Guest Posts

I’m going to be traveling quite a bit during December and January. I’ll be going to Thailand and India and hopefully parts of Africa too. I’m leaving on the 11th December and will be gone until the end of January.

So here’s a shout out to other bloggers. If you’d like to submit a guest post, please send them in by December 9th so I can set them up before I leave on the 12th. You can send them in after that, I’ll have sporadic email access. But its easier if you can send them before I leave.

The posts should be related to investing or personal finance and should have unique content. They should also be interesting enough to encourage readers to click through back to your site!

Send me an email (livingoffdividends _AT_ – replace the _AT_ with @) if your interested.

PetroChina Is World’s Second Largest Company

PetroChina (PTR) has become the world’s 2nd largest company behind only Exxon-Mobile (XOM) in terms of market capitalization. Since its IPO in 2000, the stock has soared. Its been up 100% nearly every single year!

According to Bloomberg, this is a reflection of its key role in supplying oil to the world’s fastest-growing major economy.  Warren Buffett ‘s slow reduction in his huge stake in PTR hasn’t had any negative effect on  its share price. It was first announced last month that he’s  selling the stock, but since then the stock is up ~50%.

I bought PTR for my Roth early this year at $109. It currently trading at $260 and it pays a $5.40 dividend (which works out to 4.95% dividend on my purchase price). Typically I’d sell anything that rose 138% in less than a year, but its a tough call with PTR. The dividend is good for such a large company, and I think over the long term oil will still go higher.

T. Boone Pickens, who’s been investing in oil since it traded around $3/barrel, thinks it will hit $100 next year.  He’s been right in his predictions about oil prices so far.

Plus PTR can go where other companies fear to tread. It doesn’t have any qualms about investing in politically sensitive areas like Dafur or East Timor. Overall, I think the company has pretty good prospects.

Microsoft’s New Surface Computer

If you thought the technology in “Minority Report” was far-fetched, you were mistaken. Its actually a lot closer than you think.

Check out this Popular Mechanics video of Microsoft’s new multi-touch point, multi-user computing surface computer. If Microsoft has its way, ‘ubiquitous computing surfaces’ will become pretty common in a few years. Bloody impressive!

Taking The Cleaners To The Cleaners

The Judge who sued an old Korean couple for $67 million over a pair of lost trousers has now reduced his demand to only $45 million. I guess he’s had a change of heart and thinks $67 million might be a bit too greedy!

This nuisance lawsuit is costing the poor owners thousands of dollars in legal fees. They did offer him as much as $12,000 as compensation towards the loss of his beloved pants, but it looks like Judge Pearson is more interested in harassing them. Since he’s representing himself, it doesn’t cost him a dime to keep pressing ahead with his lawsuit.

The owners have a website and are accepting donations to help defray the cost of this ridiculous lawsuit. If you feel they’ve been unjustly victimized, you can send your donation to the Custom Cleaners Defense Fund.

Put Your Mortgage On Your Credit Card & Earn Rewards

American Express has now announced that it will allow borrowers to put their mortgage on their amex cards get earn points!

Its great for AMEX because some of the borrowers will be late and incur penalties of 15-28%! Of course of the savvy ones will also earn a lot more reward points than they normally could.

If I could put all my rental properties on this program, I could probably earn a free ticket to anywhere in the world every year! I’m not a big fan of this idea in principle, but a free ticket is enticing.

Anyway, you can read more about it here.

Top 5 Ways To Go Broke

Ever wonder why some people go absolutely broke. Not like Donald Trump who had a negative net worth of a Billion Dollars but still lived lavishly. And maybe not in a totally homeless sort of way, with a shopping cart full of the clothes and tinned food. But so broke that it hurts and your ATM won’t print out your account balance because the paper costs more.

5. Racking up credit card debt.
Some people just spend their entire credit card limit buying crap they don’t need. As long as their paycheck covers the minimum balance on the credit cards, they think they can afford it. Worse, they think they deserve it because they work hard for a living. If you can’t pay cash (or atleast pay off your credit card statement every month) you can’t afford it. And if you can’t afford it, you don’t deserve it.

4. Not saving for a rainy daynot saving for a rainy day.
Going hand in hand with excessive credit card debt is having no savings. Many people live one paycheck at a time. A loss of a job or a medical emergency oftens pushes them over the edge. If you don’t have a cash cushion to fall back on, its going to be a pretty hard landing.

3. Getting greedy – Part 2
So many rational and otherwise sane people get taken in by the dumbest of scams. Take the Nigerian Email scam. Someone you don’t know, who lives half way around the globe and writes terrible english wants to send you millions. All you have to do is put up several thousand dollars.

Or consider the latest version of that. I got this one myself. Some foreign company contacted me regarding my resume on a job site. They wanted me to act as an intermediary for their clients in the US. The clients send me the money. I take a small cut and send them the rest. All they want is my bank account details and personal information. How bloody retarded do you think I am?

2. Getting greedy – Part 1
Many people found some scheme or investment that worked out well for them. So they over-leveraged into it at the hopes of striking it rich. Kind of like the people who borrowed against their homes in 1999 and put all the money in tech stocks. Or the so called ‘investors’ who bought a house in California, Nevada or Florida in 2000, watched it triple by 2005 and then refinanced it pulling cash out and bought 12 more. Only by then the market had turned and they went to the poorhouse.

1. Letting your ego get in the way
Isn’t it strange how most people who win the lottery are worse off after 5 years. Its because they think they geniuses now they’ve won the lottery and think they deserve all the trappings of success like million dollar homes and fancy cars. Unfortunately they’re still the same simple people who’re statiscally challenged and they end up spending too much.

Even famous stars like MC Hammer & Mike Tyson who made millions spent all their money on their entourages and ended up broke. Or the famous Hunt Brothers who thought they were brilliant and could corner the silver market. They were filthy rich when they started but went broke on this stupid exercise in ego. Kind of like how Brian Hunter lost $6 Billion for Amaranth.

Special thanks to Lazy Man’s post where I found out about this Top 5 contest at ProBlogger.

Its Machiavelli’s Birthday

The world’s first management guru, Nicollo Machiavelli was born on May 3rd 1496 near Florence, Italy. He was politician, philosopher, poet and musician. He’s most famous for his book The Prince, whose central argument is commonly believed to be ‘the ends justify the means’.

A really entertaining book on Machiavellianism (which means to achieve one’s goal through unscruplous, deceitful and dishonest tactics) is What Would Machiavelli Do? The Ends Justify the Meanness.

Don’t expect any nuggets of wisdom though. Its a satire and the only thing you’ll learn is how to become the meanest son of a bitch your office! But its very funny if you appreciate that sort of humor.