May 262016
 

Windfall from a Bank Error

Engineering student Christine Lee became a millionaire by accident when the Australian bank Westpac accidentally credited her account with an unlimited overdraft. Between 2014 and 2015 she took out AU $4.6 million from this account, and spent most of it on designer handbags and other luxury goods because that’s apparently what young people do these days. 🙂

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Westpac claims it gave Christine the generous overdraft funds 4 years ago by mistake. Fraud cops began an investigation into the matter in 2012. But it wasn’t until March this year that an arrest warrant for her was issued. She was then arrested by the Australian federal police earlier this month. The prosecutor said Christine had failed to notify the bank that she was not entitled to the money. Welcome to the real world, Christine. 🙂 If you make a mistake and don’t pay your credit card bill on time, you will be harassed by the bank. But when they make a blunder such as reckless lending it’s still your fault. 😛

However, the magistrate Lisa Stapleton has reportedly agreed with Christine’s defense lawyer that the police would “struggle to prove the spending of the money was illegal.” She points out that Christine “didn’t take it from them. They gave it to her.” I would be inclined to agree with the magistrate. The police is charging Christine with “dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime.” I don’t know much about Aussie law but this statute is concerning to me. Who exactly would Christine have deceived? Westpac practically gave her the money in the form of a glorified line of credit, lol. And how would it be a crime to buy handbags with overdraft money? Westpac also had 2 years to notice and correct the overdraft error before Christine used it. There are many bank sponsored credit cards that feature no spending limits so it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that a teenager would see an overdraft account and think the bank was just being extra accommodating. Westpac even claims it offers “a range of innovative financial packages to suit your needs.” Maybe some people feel they need a shopping spree. 😉

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Sep 282014
 

14-09-Roger-dubuis-excalibur-quatuorWhen most people think about a luxury watch maybe a very snazzy $50,000 Rolex or Omega comes to mind. There are also watches covered in gold and diamond that sell for $200,000 or more. But for an even higher level of refined taste in wearable fashion there are names such as Richard Mille, Greubel Forsey, and Roger Dubuis. These brands have watches that can cost over a million dollars U.S. each.

Watch making isn’t just about sitting around all day making faces 😀 It’s also serious business 😉

The watch maker Roger Dubuis is located in Geneva, Switzerland (of quartz it is 😀 ) And it’s behind the Excalibur Quatuor, (right) which costs $1,100,000 😯

14-09-Roger-dubuis-excalibur-quatuor-break-downThis luxury watch represents the pinnacle of modern science and innovation. The Roger Dubuis Excalibur Quatuor is the product of more than 5 years of research, development, and testing.

Expensive watches made by other watchmakers usually have only one sprung balance, but the Excalibur Quatuor has four that all work in tandem for unprecedented calibration accuracy 🙂

The Excalibur Quatuor watch is made from nearly 600 distinct parts (left), including 5 differentials, and it has a 40-hour power reserve function that is patented by the Roger Dubuis. All of this analogue technology is housed in a silicon body that is four times stronger than steel, yet weighs much less.

The entire process of putting the watch together from start to finish takes about 2,400 hours. Since each watch sells for $1.1 million, this means the company is getting paid $458 per hour of work, not too shabby 🙂

Moral of the story: Watch makers make a very decent living 🙂 And they get to make their own hours 😀

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Random Useless Fact:

From the edge of space Vancouver and Seattle doesn’t look very far apart. And Bellingham looks like it’s just an extension of Vancouver (click image to enlarge)

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Feb 202014
 

In a recent poll commissioned by the Bank of Montreal, 34% of Canadians say they are planning to fund their retirement by winning the lottery. That has to be the most optimistic retirement plan I’ve ever heard of 😆

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Most personal finance experts will probably tell you that buying lottery tickets is a waste of money and isn’t worth your time. And they would be right, if for financial reasons only.  After all, the odds of winning the jackpot is something like 1 out of 14 million (O_o)

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Jun 292013
 

If you want a unique smartphone that will stand out you may want to take a look at the diamond encrusted BlackBerry Q10 smartphone. It is made from 18 karat white gold and covered with over 700 diamonds (about 4.7 carats) of VVS1 clearity. Only 25 of these are made so they’re quite exclusive (^_-)

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The only downside is the price. One of these phones will set you back $31,000 USD, or for the price of a new Subaru WRX. Personally this is a little out of my price range but I’m sure there’s a market for it. Other smartphones have been given the same treatment, also made by the same British designer, Alexander Amosu. I saw an iPhone on their website which is covered in even more diamonds and sells for over $100,000. Talk about ballin’ 😀 Just have to be extra careful not to lose that thing on the bus. Lol first world problems right 🙂

But despite expensive SKUs Blackberry shares fell nearly 27% yesterday on poor earnings report 🙁 The company lost $84 million in the latest quarter, and didn’t sell as many handheld units as many investors would have liked to see. Could this be the final straw to break the camel’s back? $BB stocks have been in trouble for quite some time now. The only thing going for this company at the moment is they have billions of dollars in cash. Having lots of money is good if a company is profitable and they can continue to invest to grow their business, but Blackberry is bleeding out money every quarter. Eventually the money will run out if they don’t turn a profit again.

I bought 50 shares back in 2011 for about $25/share. I’m losing about 60% of my investment right now but I plan to stay long and will wait to see what happens.  At least I’m diversified and own shares of other smartphone companies as well.

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Random Useless Fact: Here are 8 facts about you.

Fact 1: You’re reading this.
Fact 2: You can’t say the letter ‘m’ without touching your lips.
Fact 3: You just tried to do it.
Fact 4: You’re smiling.
Fact 6: You’re smiling or laughing again.
Fact 7: You didn’t notice Fact 5 was missing.
Fact 8: You just checked it.

Oct 202011
 

Building up an Asset Column

When I started my career in 2008 my salary was in the mid $30,000s, and all I had for assets were a few thousand dollars in mutual funds. When I moved into my own place the following year I was excited to learn as much as I could about the the real world, and how to manage my own money. The words below helped inspire me to become an investor, and is still one of my favorite financial quotes today.
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“Rich people buy luxuries last, while the poor and middle class tend to buy luxuries first. The poor and middle class often buy luxury items such as big houses, diamonds, furs, jewelry or boats because they want to look rich. They look rich, but in reality they just get deeper in debt on credit. The old money people, the long-term rich, built their asset column first. Then, the income generated from the asset column bought their luxuries. The poor and middle class buy luxuries with their own sweat, blood, and children’s inheritance.”

Robert T. Kiyosaki
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This made a lot of sense to me so I incorporated these words into my own life. Instead of buying luxuries, I started to build my “asset column.” Just like building any kind of foundation the process began very slowly. My $3000 of mutual funds was only generating about $150 a year in dividends and interest, but I kept investing every dollar I could save. I only made a few hundred dollars in my first year. But I became a better investor as time went on and as my income from work grew, I was able to save and invest more, and made almost $800 in the second year from my asset column. The third year I saved even more money to invest, and continued to re-invest what I already had, and received more than $2000 in dividends by year’s end. And today, those assets are generating more than $4000 every year. So instead of buying a vacation with my own sweat and blood, I can let “the income generated from my asset column buy” all my luxury needs, (lol, sounds like an oxymoron.) The combination of investing regularly, compound growth, re-investing dividends, and growing my income faster than my spending has given me a positive start to financial freedom. If you haven’t started building your own asset column yet, don’t wait any longer. It doesn’t take much to get started. But it will require a great deal of patience in order to see any significant returns on your investments (especially in the first couple of years.)

Sacrificing a small bit of instant gratification now for stable (and most likely growing) income in the future is worth it to me.  Even after a job promotion last year I still make below average salary. But it’s not about how much money we make, because what’s more important is how we make our money work for us. (^_^) To do this we must learn to live within our means, keep our money safe, don’t take on too much risk, keep an eye out for opportunities, invest wisely, and perhaps even start a part-time job or side hustle. For most people, it is possible to slowly but surely reach the point where their investments make as much money as their work income, at which point, they don’t have to rely on a career to put food on the table anymore! I understand that this will take decades, and a bit of sacrifice, but for those who want it, it will be well worth it.

 

* This post was updated on Feb 11th 2012