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Archive for June, 2007

Bank of America is currently paying $100 for opening a business checking account.  This link has will take you to the offer.  It has an offer code of  C100BUS which only applies to California residents.  If you are live outside of California use this code, M100BUS.  This code will work in all other states.

You can take advantage of this offer even if you do not have your own business.  Just fill out sole proprietor for type of business, and use your own social security number instead of the company tax id number.  If you have ever sold anything on Ebay, you are a sole proprietor.

Tip:  Print out the offer page, and take it in to a local Bank of America branch, and have a customer service representative open the account for you.  I recently opened a new business account for a new business, and they were able to waive all the fees on the account.  Plus, the representative was also able to find another offer code that gave me another $50, so I got $150 instead of $100.  Ask about a referral bonus.  If you have an existing Bank of America personal account, you can earn a $50 referral for referring the new business account.  Its also a good idea to establish a personal relationship with someone at the bank.  It will make it easier in the future in obtaining lines of credit and other bank offers.

Note:  You can still get $100 for opening a personal banking account at Bank of America if you don’t already have one.  Check here for more details.

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Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s day to all my fellow Dads.  Especially to all the new Dads.  Because I have been able to spend so much time with my children over the last 7 months, I really have developed a deeper appreciation of my kids, and parenthood.  I am thankful for the opportunity to spend so much time with the kids, and watching them grow.  Its hard to believe its already been 5 years since I became a Dad for the first time, and my oldest is now entering kindergarten in the fall.  It won’t be long before they both head to college.  So, Dads take the time to enjoy the moment.

I will quote a role model American Dad, Homer Simpson

I won’t lie to you.  Fatherhood is not easy.  Its not like motherhood.

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This week marks the end of the school year for my kids.  Its only preschool and toddler classes, not even real school yet, but with the end of classes comes the start of the busy summer “activities” season.   My wife has had various community resources catalogs and the calender out for months planning the next 3 months, making sure that there is no “down” time unaccounted for.  I know the other Moms are doing the same thing.  Something about idle hands and minds or something like that.  Our summer is now packed and can be broken down into 3 parts, camps, lessons, and vacation.

Camps

These are daily or weekly camp acitivities such as nature camp, sports camp, and daily vacation bible school.  These activities will eat up a good chunk of the summer.  The plus of these camps is that it is every day and it lasts from half a day to a whole day, so plenty of time to get some rest or work done.  Of course camps are the most expensive summer activity.

Lessons

In addition to the camps, there will several weeks of lessons in such activities as swimming  golf, soccer, tennis, and art lessons.  These lessons generally last anywhere from 1 to 2 hours.  A short break.  There goes most of the rest of the summer, but any free time left will be devoted to family vacations.

Vacations

We are scheduled for a family vacation to Arizona in July, and probably a few other shorter trips.  This is in addition to the vacations we have already taken to Hawaii, Disneyland, and San Diego this year.  When I was young, we had one summer vacation and that was it.  You all know that vacations are not cheap, but traveling with kids, its also a lot of work and not too restful.

So, that basically covers our whole summer.  And that’s not including the “normal” play dates, zoo outings, and birthday parties.  I’m not sure what to make of all this activity.  In my youth, I would look forward to summer days of sleeping in, watching tv, and spending the afternoons, and early evening playing in the neighberhood until it got dark.  Without all these activities, we had to find things to entertain us such as games of wiffle ball, or riding skateboards, or finding and building things in the backyard.  You had to be creative with your time, but these things kept us entertained for hours.  Now, kids have their activites all mapped out for them, and they expect to be entertained.

Of course, all these activities are not free like the lazy summer days of my youth.  Camps and lessons cost money, and it adds up with $75 dollars here,  $200 there, and so on.  Pretty soon, you are approaching a private school tuition not for academics, but for summer “activities”.  A recent Newsweek article estimates that it will cost $1,589,793 to raise the average middle-class child to age 18.  This includes college savings and lost income if one parent stays at home for that time.  I wonder if that figure includes all the “extracurricular” activities we have to pay for these days.  All the middle-class families I know are doing the same thing we are.  How much would this figure be if we cut out some of these “activities”?

I am glad that my kids are able to experience a lot of different thing that I never got to experience at an early age,  and we are fortuante that I am better able to afford these opportunities than my parents.  My kids have travled much more extensively at a young age than I ever did.  Much of the summer lessons are valuable life skills such as learning how to swim, and the sports activities help their physical development.  Vacations are an opportunity for family bonding, and to expose the kids to many new things and cultures.   I can’t argue that the money spent is worthwhile, but still I wonder if we are going overboard in that every day and week is accounted for.   Can we do it more cheaply?  My kids have not even started kindergarten yet.  Will it be like this for the next 15 years?

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Here is my son Marcus playing with a cardboard box, binoculars, and a few throw pillows.  He is playing in his boat, or plane, or rocket ship.  Its called  using your imagination, and you don’t have to pay $200 to go to a camp in order to exercise it.

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 We Have Moved.  Visit us at WWW.MRALYOUNG.COM

Here is another RickRoll’d Favorite:

In the world of blogging, to be rickroll’d means to trick someone using your blog to view this Rick Astley video and hear this catchy song.  For example Rick at Bento Box Review  posted about a new 15.2 megapixel camera by Canon.  You say “no way” and before you know it you click to find out more and…….you’ve been rickroll’d.

I’m not going to trick anyone to see this, but view this video at your own risk.  It will either bring back fond memories of the 80’s for you, or force you  to run out of the room screaming.  Either way, you’ve been warned, this tune will stay in your head for days.  Rickroll’d.

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For most Asians, rice is their comfort food.  Nothing hits the spot more than a hot, fluffy bowl of rice.  I am no exception to that rule.  If we have rice, the rest of the meal is secondary.  Rice with vegetables, or beef, or any type of gravy, and I’m good.  Even plain white rice, or with soy sauce is good enough if I’m hungry enough.  As much as I love rice, the Japanese love it more.  In Japan there are over 300 varieties of rice, and many Japanese belong to rice of the month clubs. 

The Japanese are obsessed with getting the perfect bowl of rice, so it is in this market that Toshiba is producing the “Vacuum Pressure Cooker”.  It is the company’s most expensive rice cooker ever at $830.  This rice cooker is able to boil the water in the cooker at a higher temperature making for fatter, shinier and sweeter grains of rice.  It has a powerful vacuum pump to suck all the air out, and is designed to withstand 264 pound of pressure.  It looks like a small spaceship.  Here is a picture.

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 This model has already sold more than 70,000 since it launched in September making it the best seller in the super-expensive rice cooker category.  So obviously there is a demand for $800 rice cookers, but does is really cook better rice?  The Wall Street Journal conducted a blind taste taste testing rice cooked with very high end rice cookers and those cooked with older model cheaper rice cookers.  The rice was cooked in the same way and sampled by a ricemeister.  I did’nt even know there was such a thing as a ricemeister.  A ricemeister is an rice expert who have passed a rigorous exam by the rice retailers’ association Japan Rice Retailers’ Association, testing their knowledge as well as their abilities to blend, store and polish rice correctly and identify rice varietals in a taste test.  Its like a wine master except for rice.  There are about 4,000 ricemesiters in Japan.

The ricemeister was able to identify the rice cooked in 3 of the 4 cookers correctly.  He did’nt say which rice he liked better as tasteis subjective, but did conclude that there was not a significant difference between rice cooked in a high end cooker and a moderately priced one.  He says even rice made with a cheap $20 rice cooker will taste good rice if it’s eaten right away.

The high end cookers do a better job of maintaining the quality of rice if it is kept warm in the cooker for a longer period.  Perhaps in Japan, they have rice in the cooker all day long,  like coffee is always on the pot all day in America, but most people like myself cook rice and eat it immediately.  If you do this, there is no significant difference between rice cooked in a high end cooker and a cheap one.  Compare to the high end cookers in Japan, my cooker in practically ancient, but my rice comes out fine for me.  I prefer my rice fluffy, but do not mind too much if it is a bit hard as I like to pour gravy or juice over it anyways.  So, I won’t be upgrading my rice cooker soon.

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The Citibank savings account offer of $100 bonus I wrote of for opening a new account is over.  Hopefully you were able to take advantage of it, but if you did not, all is not lost.  The current offer is for a $50 bonus for opening an account.  Follow this link.

Its not as attractive as the $100 offer, but its still free money.  Also, you can still get $100 for opening  a new Bank of America account.  I am reviewing several other bank bonus offers and will be sharing those soon.

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Here is another “free money” deal  at Sharebuilder.   Here is how to play this one:

 Go to this sharebuilder link.

  1. Choose the basic plan.
  2. Fund your account with at least $5.
  3. Buy 1 share of a low priced stock $1-2 to qualify for the bonus.  If you buy 1 share of a $1 stock, it will cost you $5.($1 for the price of the stock and $4 for the commission).  I bought CMGI which was trading for a little over $2.  I picked CMGI because I know of it.  It is a an internet stock.  At the height of the dot com boom, it traded for over $100 a share.  Now it is languishing at around $2.  Maybe it will recover, or maybe it will go to 0.  Who cares?  I only own 1 share, and I received $50 for buying it, netting around $44.
  4. Wait 4-6 weeks to get your bonus.
  5. Withdraw all your money, and leave the stock in the account, or sell it.  There is no minimum balance to maintain.

$44 or $45 is not that much, but the beauty of this offer is that you can open multiple accounts for everyone in your household including children.  In my case that’s $44 x 4 or $176.  Also, I’ve been told that you can repeat this offer every 4-6 months with a different promo code. I have not confirmed this yet, but I will pass on the information when I find out.  Free money.

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