In response to my latest balance sheet, Wacko asked a question:
Any pointers on how to calculate an automobile’s depreciation? Obviously I can look at Kelley Blue Book, but I do not know the monthly depreciation.
Also, I was wondering if anyone knew of an accurate way to determine the value of one’s home. I want to be able to balance the current value of my home with the loan on it.
What is the true value of an asset? [click to continue…]
It was actually two weeks ago that I posed the question about the “biggest weakness” question that we’ve all experienced in some form in job interviews. Some great responses followed, and one was randomly selected to win my copy of The Smartest Investment Book YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll Ever Read, which I reviewed earlier this month. Here’s a few selected anecdotes provided by readers:
When I interviewed for my current job, I thought everything went really well – we seemed to all hit it off and they seemed impressed by my qualifications. Right off the bat, everyone assumed I was a whiz with computers and math (somewhat yes, completely no) – my supervisor told me recently that they assumed I had those qualifications, though we didn’t talk about them at any length in the interview, because I wore white socks with black shoes and therefore I must be a geek.
Jeremy was asked the dreaded question:
I ended up saying one of my biggest weaknesses was the fact that I have trouble delegating work. I can have a hard time letting go of control over every aspect of a project, thus I end up doing a lot of mundane tasks that eat up time that could be better spent doing more appropriate tasks.
The winner of the giveaway, samerwriter, was on the other side of the conference room table:
We’re always told to ask this question (or similar “behavioral” questions) when we interview potential employees. I don’t like them, for the reasons you mentioned. You really wind up testing someone’s interview skills rather than their job skills. Other examples of this type of question are “Give me an example of a time when you failed.” But what you’re looking for, and you don’t need to be a psychologist for this, is someone who recognizes that they aren’t perfect.
Here are the rest of the comments.
Here are four more smart year-end money moves, according to Money Magazine. I only conditionally agreed with the first four, so let’s see how the magazine did with the remaining tips.
5. Set your sights clearly. They suggest deciding well in advance the destiny of any year-end bonuses. This will prevent splurging to some extent. In my company, we don’t receive our bonuses until February or March. The delay prevents me from using the money for holiday gifts. In the past, my bonus has gone to pay for regular expenses at my regular income’s shortcoming, but that probably won’t be the case this year.
6. Make some adjustments. Consult an accountant who can help you speed up or slow down tax payments or self employment income, or adjust your withholding for next year so you won’t have to later. Speaking of adjustments, it might also be a good time to take a look at your investment asset allocation. If one part of your investments performed very well or poorly, your allocation may be out of whack with your goals.
7. Play catch-up. The maximum 401(k) contribution for most people in 2007 is $15,500. I won’t hit that mark without a significant raise, but for people like us, Money suggests increasing contributions by a percentage point. I plan to hold my contribution steady at 12% of my income.
8. Have the talk. “In your life, there’s probably a difficult financial conversation that you’ve been meaning to have with a family member but haven’t gotten around to. Maybe it’s talking with your parents about their retirement finances or discussing long-term financial goals with your spouse.” Money believes the holidays are a good time to have this talk. I talked with my mom about her retirement over Thanksgiving, and that’s a topic for another day.
In general, these are good reminders from Money Magazine. A few tweaks here and there would help the set of tips apply to my life.
These gifts may be a good choice for younger people who are just starting to get interested in taking care of their financial lives, from Chuck Jaffe and MarketWatch.
1. Shares. Buying a newborn baby shares — or even just one share — of a certain company is a nice way to start off a new life, but this works for holiday presents as well. MarketWatch suggests ShareBuilder [affiliate] for starting off in small amounts of stock. I’d watch out for transaction fees, but in the case of a gift, minimizing fees doesn’t have to be a primary goal.
2. Guidance and help. Paying for someone to start seeing an advisor can be a good gift for someone of any age — from those just starting out to those in retirement — trying to get their finances together.
3. Time and service. MarketWatch suggests offering your time as a gift. If you have a friend who has a lot of responsibilities, maybe after a spouse passes away as an example, a gift can be helping that person accomplish tasks that normally lead to exasperation.
4. Relief from monetary pressure. This is a great gift for teenagers. It doesn’t have to be a signal that they don’t have to worry about money and will be always be bailed out by those with more means. A one-time gift can help teens focus on more important issues, like their own education, rather than being burdened for a short time. It also helps to instill a giving attitude; when good is done to them, they may be more inclined to do the same for others once they can.
5. Charity. I have experience with this. I’ve donated to organizations on behalf of my friends when they’ve expressed their interest in certain charities, beyond the typical “Please sponsor me as I walk to cure [insert disease here].” MarketWatch suggests presenting a check to the recipient of the gift made out to anyone other than the recipient.
6. Nothing. The gift of the ungift: overcoming the habit of exchanging gifts with friends. This might be a good idea for a circle of friends with varying levels of income and responsibilities. It’s not as fun, but giving up the tradition of everyone exchanging gifts with everyone else saves money, and that can be a gift in itself.