Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sponsored Post: CashNetUSA

While some consumers believe that payday lenders are evil, they fill an important niche that is not served by traditional banks. In an ideal society, everybody would be on top of their finances, and there wouldn't be a need for payday lenders. But reality is not consistent with this utopia, as the majority of us have gotten a little bit behind on bills at some point.

CashNetUSA offers cash advance loans that basically use your next paycheck as collateral. A payday loan is an option to consider if you find yourself in a short-term bind and in need of money. If, for example, your car breaks down or you encounter an unexpected expense, a payday loan could definitely assist you. Obtaining a payday loan is relatively easy. The online application takes only a few minutes to complete. According to CashNetUSA, most loans are generally approved within one day.

CashNetUSA's FAQ does a lot to explain the process of applying for a loan. A checking account and a steady job are the main prerequisites to apply. One must also be a US citizen or permanent resident that is at least 18 years old. To explain how the loan works, suppose you were to borrow $250 from the payday lender. The lender then transfers this money to your checking account, and expects to be repaid this amount plus a loan fee ($44.13 on a $250 loan) when you receive your next paycheck.

I would advise borrowers to read all of the disclosures on CashNetUSA's website before applying for a loan. Understand that, in some cases, the effective annual percentage rate (APR) on the loan can be the equivalent of several hundred percent. Payday loans are designed to help you through a short-term credit need and are not meant for long-term borrowing. If used correctly a payday loan can help tide you over to the next payday.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Celebrate Arts Month and Win Prizes

My readers know that my blog originates from Silicon Valley, California. However, I have not focused on posting about local events. Nevertheless, one of my local readers has asked me to mention an event celebrating the arts that will take place in Mountain View, California during the month of October that encourages people to participate in the arts. More information about this event is available at: Mountain View Celebrates the Arts in October.

What caught my eye is that there will be a free drawing for prizes with a total value of over $800, which will be awarded in November. In order to enter the contest, you need to fill out an "Arts Challenge" entry form (which will be available for download at the website), and return it by November 1. Mail-in entries are accepted.

Most of the prizes are provided by local, Silicon Valley organizations. The prizes that will be given away include:
  • Three $75 gift certificates for classes or camps at the Community School of Music and Arts in the spring, summer or fall 2010
  • Four vouchers for performances at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts (value of up to $50 each)
  • Two tickets to QUADRE's Horns for the Holidays concert on Dec. 8, 2009 (value of $18 each)
  • Four tickets to Talk Cinema in Palo Alto (value of $20 each)
  • One voucher for a birthday party at Art-n-Fun in Los Altos (value of $156); will expire on December 15, 2010
  • Five vouchers for an introductory clay/art class at Art-n-Fun in Los Altos (value of $26 each); will expire on December 15, 2010
  • Tickets to a performance at Pear Avenue Theatre (value of up to $30 each)

In addition, the reader also mentioned that they may also be giving away free gift cards from Starbucks, which should be usable anywhere. In any case, it is worth downloading the entry form and entering for the price of a stamp. If you would like to publicize a local, Silicon Valley event or know of other special deals that readers might be interested in, please send me an Email message (my Email is in the sidebar) with the details.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

MarketClub Pays for Itself

A couple months ago, I mentioned that I signed up for a stock analysis service called MarketClub. This is part of a website called (pronounced "I know") where I can research stocks, futures, or forex products. I recently used their Trade Triangle analysis to help me decide on buying a stock.

The stock that I was interested in buying was Bare Escentuals (Nasdaq: BARE). Readers of this blog may remember that I first purchased shares of this stock during the Bare Escentuals IPO. I sold that stock a while ago. But with the stock market recovering, I have been looking for individual stocks that I can get back into. I used MarketClub to get an instant analysis, and the results are shown below.

This analysis shows that Bare Escentuals is now in a strong uptrend, and that this is an ideal time to buy the stock. This type of analysis is great for trend traders who like the "red-light, green-light" simplicity of investing. So, I bought some shares of BARE at $9.25 per share at the beginning of August. It recently closed above $11 a share.

Based on the number of shares that I purchased, I have already made more money that what the MarketClub subscription costs for one year. Note that Trade Triangles are strictly a technical analysis tool. I don't use the MarketClub analysis to tell me what to buy. I rely more on fundamental characteristics like Earnings Per Share (EPS) and PE ratios to decide on which stock to buy. But, I use MarketClub to tell me when to buy. I now have a stop order in place to help protect my gains.

Another comment that I have is that MarketClub does not require you to download and install any software. This is good because you can access your subscription from pretty much any computer. The downside is that your access speed will be limited by your Internet connection. In other words, MarketClub is not the fastest analysis tool that I've ever seen. But, it is pretty good considering that the software runs on their servers and not your computer.

You can subscribe to MarketClub for $150 per quarter or $449 for a year. You will have complete access to many of the investment tools available on There is a 30-day risk-free trial period in which you can try them out. They will ask for a credit card when you sign up, but you have the right to cancel within the first 30 days and get all of your money back. So, what do you have to lose?

Another free tool that I utilize to help me keep on top of my portfolio is called Trend Analysis. Trend Analysis is a daily email analysis tool that gives me insight into exactly what my portfolio is doing. For investors who are following many stock symbols, MarketClub sends a daily Email for every symbol in your portfolio.

The links above takes you to a screen where you can get your first stock (future or option) symbol analyzed at no cost to you. After you sign up, you can easily add more symbols to get a daily update, which I find very helpful.

PF Stock

Disclaimer: This material is for general information only. It is not intended as an offer to sell or buy, or as an endorsement, recommendation or sponsorship of any security or fund.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


That is a word that you never want to hear your doctor say... Well, I had a "whoops" moment last month when I accidentally overpaid my telephone bill -- to the tune of nearly $700. I pay most of my bills through my checking account online, and I must have somehow confused a credit card bill with the phone bill. It was a few days after the payment went through to the phone company that I realized my error.

This turned into a panic when I also realized that my credit card payment hadn't been made, and it was too late schedule another bill payment since the due date had passed. After a frantic call to the credit card company, I explained the situation to them. They agreed that I wouldn't be charged any late fee if I could make an over-the-phone payment that same day, which I did.

To make a long story short, the issue with the credit card was resolved without any problem. However, I still have over $600 in credit on my phone bill. I guess that I could request that they send a refund check for the overpaid amount, but I haven't decided what to do yet.

I guess that old age is catching up with me. Has anything like this ever happened to you?