Archive for July, 2008

Teaching your kid money management

Most of us are well aware of the importance of creating budgets and plans for our personal finances. However, sometimes we forget that we also need to pass on this essential knowledge our children about planning and budgeting.

Saving

You have to give your child the power to decide how much to save and how much to spend. By giving your child this power, you will also confer the responsibility and excitement that comes with making adult decisions. You can make suggestions and prepare some example plans, but the final choice should be left to your child.

By giving your child a choice of how much to save, you bypass the question of whether or not to save. The goal of this exercise is to teach your child to make saving a habit. Help him save by starting a bank account and encourage him to save extra by adding a matching amount he saves each time.

Spending
You should not interfere in how your child uses his or her spending money. Don’t interfere with your child’s spending habits other than to point out that once it’s gone it’s gone – you won’t provide more money if your child spends his or her own too quickly. It’s a difficult lesson, but children will do better if they learn it early.

Get Organized
On the same day as you open the account, go shopping with your child and select a binder, a congratulatory present. You will use this to organize your child’s bank statements. Starting out with an organized record-keeping system will be valuable when your child gets older and has to grapple with taxes and accounting.

When the statements arrive, go through them together and explain the interest and any other numbers that may appear upon it.  On the same day as you regularly pay out your child’s allowance, go together to make the deposit at the bank. This will help to reinforce the habit of saving before spending.

So go ahead and give your child habits that will last him a lifetime.

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Has Cuil failed already?

The blogoshpere seems to be unanimous in its criticism of Cuil. Huffinton Post has huffed and puffed it out. Tech Crunch has crunched it out and it no longer merits a thought.

Our own readers have commented and the vote seems to be -“good design but where is the relevance”. So don’t sign out of google yet.

The promoters of cuil.com could take this as an opportunity to improve their product and relaunch it. After all where can you get such frank and accurate consumer feedback for free.

Meanwhile, there is a tool called Surf Canyon which can cut your search time and make it more relevant. Do give it a try it is fairly simple to use. On a initial try I felt that it did add some value but not much. Do give me your feedback.

How cool is cuil – a review

A start-up led by former star Google engineers on Sunday unveiled a new Web search service that aims to outdo the Internet search leader in size, but faces an uphill battle changing Web surfing habits.

Cuil Inc (pronounced “cool”) is offering a new search service at http://www.cuil.com that the company claims can index, faster and more cheaply, a far larger portion of the the Web than Google, which boasts the largest online index.

The would-be Google rival says its service goes beyond prevailing search techniques that focus on Web links and audience traffic patterns and instead analyzes the context of each page and the concepts behind each user search request.

For starters, Cuil’s search index spans 120 billion Web pages.

Patterson believes that’s at least three times the size of Google’s index, although there is no way to know for certain. Google stopped publicly quantifying its index’s breadth nearly three years ago when the catalog spanned 8.2 billion Web pages.

Rather than trying to mimic Google’s method of ranking the quantity and quality of links to Web sites, Patterson says Cuil’s technology drills into the actual content of a page. And Cuil’s results will be presented in a more magazine-like format instead of just a vertical stack of Web links. Cuil’s results are displayed with more photos spread horizontally across the page and include sidebars that can be clicked on to learn more about topics related to the original search request.

A quick serch showed that there were around 70% relevant and 30% spam like posts. I liked the design of the sight. It gives you an option of have a three column page view so you don’t have to scroll down

Available at cuil.com, the site tells us in its “about us” section that Cuil is an old Irish word for knowledge, and that if you want knowledge, “ask Cuil”.

All in all, it looks like the most exciting new search engine so far, and if it truly is any good, will give Google the impetus is needs to itself take its own search capabilities into the next dimension – being the biggest and best for too long with no true competition is no good for anyone!

Inflation and currency with an expiry date

In a sign of the growing worthlessness of Zimbabwe’s currency, the country’s central bank on Tuesday introduced two new banknotes – a Z$100 million note and a Z$250 million note.

The launch of the new notes, which was announced on state television, comes barely a month after the Reserve Bank launched what has been until now the largest single note – Z$50 million.

But with inflation running at over 2.2 million percent per annum, Z$50 million no longer buys a loaf of bread, which costs about Z$80 million. A bunch of five bananas also comes out at close to Z$100 million.

The new notes, like all Zimbabwean bank notes, are bearer’s cheques with an expiry date. The smaller notes expire at the end of June 2008.

Regular issues of banknotes have not been in circulation at all since the country’s monetary reform of 1 August 2006, because of heavy inflation. In addition different denominations of the Zimbabwe dollar were issued to cope with the rapidly rising cost of living. There are currently two types of Zimbabwean promissory notes in circulation: Bearer Cheques, which carry a time limit on the period in which it is valid for. On 15 May 2008, Special Agro Cheques (Agricultural Cheques) were issued for use by Zimbabwean farmers, although it may have found its way into regular use as prices continue to rise. These cheques also carry a time limit and a low level of security features. Currently both cheques carry the signature of the Governor, Dr. Gideon Gono.

Are we still complaining about inflation ?

Latest Update: Zimbabwe’s bank chief plans new currency reforms — removing “more zeros” from the plummeting Zimbabwe dollar and raising the limit on cash withdrawals — to tackle the country’s runaway inflation and cash shortages, state media reported Sunday.

Gen X theory

Jeffery Pilcher, brand builder par excellence, has an excellent post on why Gen X is ignore by financial markters

He says

Gen X has already graduated college, got their bank accounts (read: “inertia”), got their home loans, their home equity loans, etc. They have decent jobs and equity in their homes (that they’ve probably already tapped), but other than that, they don’t have much in the way of real significant investable assets. Maybe $100,000? That’s probably generous for most Gen X-ers. Whatever amount it is, it surely isn’t as much as Boomers.

Here is an ultra-crude graph depicting the typical financial journey the average person makes. It shows how Gen X is in “no man’s land” when it comes to financial services.

Did the stock markets prempt the no trust vote.

The high drama that prevailed in the Lok Sabha may have kept the nation hooked to their TV sets so much so that the TRP of the Loksabha TV was higher than any other TV channel.

It however seems that the stock markets already knew that the Congress government was going to win the vote. The stock markets have been on the raise for the last  few sessions.

The day after winning the vote the market is rejoicing and the SENSEX has opened over 650 points up.

Are the bearish days behind us? Was this the mysterious reason why the stock market was falling like a rock? Can we please see a bull run now?

Is Pandit Citibank’s fall man?

With losses and wispers mounting the great Citibank is trembling.

US banking giant Citigroup has reported a $9.83bn (£5bn) net loss for the last three months of 2007.

Chief executive Vikram Pandit said the loss had been caused by a $18.1bn exposure to bad mortgage debt and was “clearly unacceptable”.

The company, the largest banking group in the US, said revenues during the fourth quarter fell 70% from a year earlier to $7.2bn.

Mr Pandit has pledged to turn around Citigroup’s fortunes.

In India there are rumours, strong enough to be reported on the front page of Times of India, that Citibank is looking to sell it’s landmark protery at Bandra Kurla Complex.

Will Pandit succed in turning Citibank around as promised or is he going to be the scarp goat to heap fault on for Price’s excesses and bad decisions.