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Monday, May 28, 2007

Inflation, Tax and Savings Rate

With a 5+% Inflation Rate and a Tax Rate of 30%, a Savings account earning 5% is really earning you a negative interest rate. One very good reason to keep my USD in the US besides of course the high value of the Rupee, where atleast the Returns will not be taxed while I am not in the US earning any money. The big question though is if the money is safe there!!!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Another nice plugin

iMacro is another nice to use tool that helps automate tasks on the browser. For now using it as a quick check of all my favorite sites without me having to type in the site names.

For now, it looks like this has a lot of bugs. Once it starts working perfectly, I see a lot more utility of this Mozilla Add-On. How about some automated testing of web based applications? Anything you do in your browser can now be automated.

Testing Scribefire Plugin to Blogs

One click away from posting to my blog from any browser window. Maybe I'll start posting more often from now on. Don't blame me if there is more junk on my blog. Blame Scribefire

Powered by ScribeFire.

Stocks or Mutual Funds

From my brief three year stint in the Equity Market - MFs win hands down. I've made a lot of money in Stocks - some big gainers were Infosys, I-Flex, SRF and Tata Teleservices (to some extent). But some bigger losers were Gujarat NRE Coke, Arvind Remedies (atleast as a percentage of Investment) and Bongaigaon Refinery. Overall in three years of spending hours buying and selling shares, I'm almost dead even when really the Market has almost trebled. And the only one who's gotten rich from this is the ICICI Company and its Shareholders of which I am also one since I have about 10 shares of ICICI Bank. But unfortunately of the thousands of rupees I might have lost as brokerage to ICICI, I might have ended getting one rupee back.

Am I really that bad at Stocks? The truth is I am. I still don't know how to read a financial statement. Most of my buys are based on gossips in the News Columns spread by experts with vested interests or just gut feel about a company's value based on past history. Some of the shares have been really lucky for me in the sense that my gut feel decisions have worked out.

I had a short stint with the Derivatives Market early last year; but burnt way too much money on one tragic day to continue. I decided that I would learn more about it and come back. Still haven't gotten the time to do so.

So some time late last year, I decided that enough is enough. Stocks are not what I am made for. Mutual Funds is the way to go. Atleast there are some experts managing my money for me. And these experts will do better than this amateur gambler. In the last six months, I've had returns of about 12 percent which translates into 24% per annum. I know the true test is in the long term return on investment. But it is looking good so far.

Another powerful tool that I just started using is the use of SIP (Systemic Investment Plan) where you invest a fixed amount in a Mutual Fund on a recurring basis (Monthly/Semi-Annually/Annually). The best part about this is that the only thing you need to ensure is that the amount is there to be invested and that I do whenever I get my salary by allocating that amount. There is no question of timing the market and this will ensure that your investments grow along with atleast near the average growth of the Market.

And since the Indian markets are booming, hopefully my investments too will. Atleast so far my Mutual Fund Investments are far outperforming the Stocks Investments over the last few months.

HKUST Interview

Interesting experience. Highly professional interview. Quite a lot of information exchanged. End of the Interview - both of us had the Information we went into the Interview to find out about. I had a few more questions - but since I had other sources to the information and I didn't want the questions to be mis-interpreted, I decided to give it a pass.

The minute Chris came on the line, I got an idea of what GD meant when he said Chinese and English don't go together. Had a little difficulty trying to understand him initially. But then as the Interview progressed, I got better at it. And towards the end of the half-hour interview, I was using the communication gap to gain time on some questions.

To quote Pushpa on what I should expect from a HKUST Interview - "The HKUST interview would be unlike the ISB interviews, where people are hell bent on showcasing their ultimate intellectual prowess rather than knowing yours".

It truly was. This was an interview that was all about me, my experiences, my aspirations, my plan after MBA and if I fit into their school. Irrespective of whether I make it through and irrespective of whether I take up the offer if and when I get it, my image of HKUST as a professional B-School has risen.

And this isn't really a bad school. It specializes in Finance and being in the Financial Capital of the Asia-Pacific - HK is a big plus. It has pretty good diversity and it looks like already about 4-5 Indians have enrolled in the program.

You might also want to read the following posts:
Here I come HKUST
BLR to KL to HK
Finally Over First Semester
and other HKUST posts

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Why MBA?

The bad reasons:
-> Peer pressure
-> Don't want to be "just a graduate"
-> Increase marriage market value
-> Increase range of potential prospects :)

The decent reasons:
-> Money, money, money

The good reasons:
-> Entrepreneurial plans
-> Learning the intricacies of management
-> International Exposure
-> Network Building which in turn should help out in Career switches / growth
-> Switch to Consulting / IB?

Why am I going through this now? Need to do some brainstorming before my HKUST Interview on Thursday and come up with some good convincing reasons. :)

Was just thinking ...

The way I've been slogging my a$$ off for the last few weeks, if I'd been working for myself or working for any damn company other than the company I'm working for, I should have been a billionaire by now.

I have only myself to blame for it. Or is it really that bad? I've learnt a lot over the last few months and I could have learnt this much earlier if only I'd come back offshore that much earlier. Now that I've learnt what is there to learn and experimented what I had to experiment, isn't it time to move on?

New Generation and Pizzas!!!

I really don't understand what's with the young kids of today and Pizzas / Burgers / etc. These companies really know how to win over kinds. Every young nephew/niece of mine goes crazy at the mere mention of McD, Burger, Pizza or anything that rhymes with these words. After having eaten that same s#*$ over the last two years, I really don't see what's the big deal. Maybe that's the solution. Make these kids eat it everyday for the next one month.

I suggested this to my cousin the other day. And here's what he said. "Atleast now we have a bargaining / blackmailing tool. If you don't do your home-work, no burger today. If you don't behave yourself, no Pizza for you today. Without McD, we'd be powerless".

Another funny anecdote. Me, my cousin and his kids were at a Pub in Brigade's. My young nephew was begging us to take him to McDonalds. I thought - Man he must be really hungry. We finished our drinks in a hurry and walked over to MacD. I asked the young gun, what do you want to eat? Anything that will get me a Toy. And here I was thinking he was crying of starvation.

Had my niece at home over the weekend. She had to take up an exam on Sunday. Saturday evening and she comes out of the room after studying for like 3-4 hours at a stretch. My Mom says "Dear, shall we order Pizzas for dinner?". The smile that appeared on her face was worth the cost of the Pizzas a thousand times over!!! :)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Happy Married Life!!!

Things change so quickly and dramatically. Two of my closest friends got married in the last one week. On the one hand, happy for them. On the other, feeling bad that things might change now. They'll move away, get busy with their own married lives and things will surely not be the same anymore.

It's human nature to resist change, isn't it? The subconscious mind is supposed to be a master of this trait - resisting change. Maybe it's just that part of my mind that's playing tricks - feeling bad. The conscious one says "Cherish the good memories and move on. Maybe it's time to make new friends and maybe the void will be filled by that super special one who'll take their place. :)