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I'm back!!

September 10th, 2011 at 07:02 am

Well, I don't know what to say. I thought I could go on my own. Create my own blog, but it's hard work, especially when you don't have a supporting community as there is here.

I've decided to close my Wordpress blog and come back to my SavingAdvice blog.

Posting this right after the year-old "I did it!" post is a little ridiculous, but I'll live Smile

I'm on vacations, visiting family and friends right now. I think being here at home is giving me some inspiration and motivation to start blogging again.

I need to do a little bit of dusting around my page as well, but I'm glad I'm back here.

Manage passwords... don't type them anymore

May 13th, 2007 at 02:40 pm

I have been using a little program to save and manage my passwords for a few years now. It's called PasswordSafe.
A few things I like about it:

- It generates passwords with upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.
- It is very easy to use
- You don't type passwords anymore. All you do is double click, the password is saved to the clipboard, and you can paste it to your login.
- You only have to remember one password: the one that open your database of password, and each of your account can now have a different and more secure password.

You can check it out:

Lotto Scam... follow up

April 10th, 2007 at 03:10 pm

This post is a follow up from my http://lau.savingadvice.com/2007/03/30/lotto-scam-taken-one-... on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lottery_scam. After reading the comments, I realized that other people got a similar letter, and even called the number. These are rules of thumbs that you should keep in mind in the event you should receive one of these letters:

#1... If you didn't enter a contest, or bought a lotto ticket, chances are you won't win. Why are you being told you won something you didn't enter in the first place?

#2... If you did buy that ticket or enter that contest, you should never, I repeat NEVER!! send in money to cover any kind of fees. If anything, you'll pay taxes, but that will either directly taken out of the winnings, or you'll have to declare them on your return comes the following year.

#3... Why is it always the lottery from Italy, Australia, or Spain or any other country than the one I live in? Seriously, I wouldn't be half as suspicious if the letterhead said "US Lottery" (Note that there is no such thing as the "US Lottery")

#4... The old adage is and always be true: "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is"

Now, if, like me, you are curious and still want to call that number, well.. DON'T!!

What is most likely to happen is that you would deposit that check and send money back to them to cover those "fees" only to find out - after you're account as been debited off course - that the check you deposited bounced.

If you have received such an e-mail or letter, you can file a https://rn.ftc.gov/pls/dod/wsolcq$.startup?Z_ORG_CODE=PU01 with the FTC.

From the FTC website:

The FTC has these words of caution for consumers who are thinking about responding to a foreign lottery:

* If you play a foreign lottery — through the mail or over the telephone — you’re violating federal law.
* There are no secret systems for winning foreign lotteries. Your chances of winning more than the cost of your tickets are slim to none.
* If you purchase one foreign lottery ticket, expect many more bogus offers for lottery or investment “opportunities.” Your name will be placed on “sucker lists” that fraudulent telemarketers buy and sell.
* Keep your credit card and bank account numbers to yourself. Scam artists often ask for them during an unsolicited sales pitch.

If you are not sure the letter you got is, in fact, a scam, check this website:
http://lottoscams.blogspot.com/index.html. You'll also find resources on what to do in case you have replied to it.

The FTC have compiled a list of http://www.onguardonline.gov/spam.html. You will find a lot more than just the lotto ones in there.

The internet is a great bucket of resources. But everywhere you go, some people will try to take advantage of a good thing, and the internet is no exception. Please be careful and do not trust anyone or anything that looks suspicious.

Shameless self promotion

April 7th, 2007 at 06:03 pm

As some of you might have understood, I'm on the market for a new job. I added my LinkedIn.com profile. Now, I'm adding the link for http://www1.coe.neu.edu/~lleccia/index.php

I'm constantly working on it, adding things, removing other, changing things around, modifying CSS. It's not so much a content showing site as much as showing off what I can do with HTML, PHP, and CSS.

I'm hoping to help people put up their website.

Hope you enjoy and if you think of stuff I could add to make it better, feel free to suggest.

Having a blast with the new site... and Updates

April 7th, 2007 at 11:46 am

He he he... I've been playing around with colors for the past 30 minutes! I love it...

We are officially done with taxes. It cost us this year, about $1,000 in federal taxes.

Bills are getting paid as usual. So nothing new on that front.

Job interview... didn't go so well

April 3rd, 2007 at 02:13 pm

I've wanted to work at Deloitte's Financial Advisory Services for a few years now. I've gotten in touch with fellow alumni who work there, applied to all the job which description match my skills, had informal phone interviews, and so on.

A few weeks ago, tada! I get a phone call saying that my resume popped up and they're interested in having me interview. Yay!

I went through a phone screening, a first round of interviews, and a second round of interviews on Friday.

Phone call came a little later on Friday from HR: "Thank you, but No Thank you!". I am told that my SQL Server and VB skills are not solid enough. Ok, so I don't use SQL Server, I use Oracle. I don't use VB, I use Java, Javascript, ASP and PHP. They're not the same, but once you know a programming language or a DBMS, it's just a mater of adjusting. So yeah, I'm a little pissed because I think the guy's explaination holds no water!

I still emailed him and thanked him for his time, blah, blah, blah... I also added that I was very motivated and wanted to know what I could/where I could go to improve these 2 skills. That's how much I wanted this job. If he told me to jump of a bridge to get it, I would. I also called him at the end of the day (we're still Friday at that point).

Well... I don't know what happened. He must have though I was harassing him because I got a phone call this morning from the same person at HR I had been speaking with. She leaves me a voicemail telling me that they will not follow up with my candidacy (I knew that already) "be it now or in the future"... WHAT (???). She tells me verbatim: "You can continue to look at our site, and apply for positions, but other than [in that group], but I don't want you to keep reaching out to [that guy]."

What is this all about??? Basically she's telling me that I could become a SQL Server and VB expert, they would not consider me. What did I ever do to that guy?? So that's the part I am fuming about.

Am I overreacting here or should I feel that enraged?

Lotto scam taken one step further

March 30th, 2007 at 05:50 pm

Imagine my surprise tonight when I get home, open my mail (snail mail, not email) and find a check for $4,485.46!!!!! Woohoo... I won!!!!

Wait... What? I never entered the Australian Lottery. Oh, and what is this saying:

In accordance with our disbursement policy, your winnings have been forwarded to the clearing institution authorized to release your funds. You claim number is assigned to BENCOOLEN FINANCIAL INC, out North America affiliate. You funds are insured for security reason and will be released to you after the confirmation protocol. You'll not be asked to provide any personal information or use of your personal funds to pay fees associated with this award.

To expedite the process, a check of $4,485.46 deducted from your winnings is hereby enclosed to enable you pay the non-resident fees and taxes totaling $2850.25. Please contact your claim Assessment Agent, Mrs. Debbie Danda at 1-289-888-1255. She will handle all matters relating to your award and the release of your funds. PLEASE CALL IMMEDIATELY

The part that sort of ticked me...

Be further advised that you should not attempt to use or cash this check until you have contacted the Agent above tio validate the check and activate your claim no later than 5 business days upon receipt of this final notification

So what do you say?? Should I call Mrs. Debbie???

====== Edit 4/07/07 =====
I just went through that letter again (Yes, I still have it!). The very bottom contains the following text:

I guess I just forfeited my award... aawww!

My new computer

March 18th, 2007 at 12:51 pm

I've been in need of a serious upgrade for my computer. The one I have now is 5 years old. I love playing RTS (Real Time Strategy) games, and because of my old hardware I cannot play any of the newer games.

I'm comfortable with replacing the new components myself. This is a project I've been thinking about for a while now. Only I don't have the budget for it.

In order to get a functioning PC, I will the following new components:
- Motherboard
- CPU (w/ cooling)
- Memory
- Graphic Card

I have 2 hard drives, so I'm set with that.

I've done a bit of research and here's what I came up with on Newegg.com:
- http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E168131361...
$ 109.99
- http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E168191030...
$ 159.00
- http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E168351060...
$ 26.99
- http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E168201454...
$ 74.99
- http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E168141430...
$ 142.99

Total: $ 513.96

The processor is not exactly what I wanted. I am looking for a 4400 Toledo, but I can't seem to find one anywhere anymore!

I have opened an HSBC account, which is our "Fund" account. There are $45 in it, so I still have a little bit to go.

Damn gym membership

March 16th, 2007 at 07:29 am

My hubby and I got a gym membership 2 years ago. It was a 2-year contract - mistake No. 1 - that I didn't bother to read - mistake No. 2 - and the fee was directly taken out of my account every month - mistake No. 3.

I'm not doing very well so far, am I?

As you can guess, we went to the gym a few times a week and the first 2 months. Then it was once a week, and once a month. Before the first year ended, we weren't going anymore. But we signed a contract, so we sucked it up and let them take the $50 a month.

Finally... the last month was this January. I am happy. That is, until I see a withdraw for $19 a few days ago. The withdrawer was the gym. What? What happened? It turns out that the contract (yes, the one I didn't bother to read) had an automatic renewal clause. How surprising!

I called, said I didn't want my contract to be renewed. Ok, they'll cancel it, but no, they won't refund the $19.

To top it: I wasn't expecting such a fee this month. This happened on 3/13 and I get paid on 3/15, and there was not enough funds to cover the $19. So I got charged $30 for insufficient fund. They will not refund that either.

I called my bank (Sovereign Bank, not to name it). I have been a good customer for over 5 years and my account has been overdrawn maybe 3 times. I explain the situation. They won't refund the fee.

So I'm out $50 for no good reason.

Lesson learned: never EVER EVER sign up for automatic withdrawal or let anyone have direct access to your account.

Car insurance premium way down...

February 12th, 2007 at 12:37 pm

I just notified our car insurance company of our change of address. Somehow it never occurred to me what a difference it would make. Otherwise, I would have notified them the day we moved (10/26/06).

This change will give you a new annual premium. The annual premium has changed from $969 to $656, causing a $18 prorated credit on your policy from now until your policy renewal on 03/07/07

Wow... $313 for having a "nicer" address? I'm shocked.

Spam Comment...

January 17th, 2007 at 08:22 am

I was very very surprised to find the following comment this morning to one of my earlier post about my car insurance:

Author: keiko
E-mail: asiankeiko24@yahoo.com
Website: http://www.CarInsuranceDaddy.com
Hi my name is Keiko. I am sweet Japanese girl.

I want to say thank you to nice man for email to me about http://www.CarInsuranceDaddy.com

It make me so happy! Now I understand how to buy right car insurance.


I tried posting this to the forum, but somehow I do not have access to it anymore... Anyone else has gotten this kind of comments??

Balance transfer

January 13th, 2007 at 10:22 am

I talked about how we got a new credit card a few weeks ago with a 0% APR on balance transfer for 12 months. We had managed to charge on it already, but the balance transfer wasn't done. We consider it done. I'm waiting for the money to be moved around (ie: Chase cards paid, Citi cards charged), but the request was sent on Thursday.

And on a lighter note, here are two pictures of a new dog, Beaux:

New year, New dog...

January 2nd, 2007 at 10:31 am

First of all: Happy New Year everyone!!! I wish you all the best for 2007.

Ok, now back to the new dog part. Well, that was DH most wanted present and he finally got it. It is crazy how much most shelters want for dogs. We could not find any place that required less than $350 for a mix race, nothing-special dog. I told him that at this price we could get a pure breed, but finally, on Sunday, as I was looking (one more time) at shelters around Eastern Mass, I found the http://www.baypathhumane.org/index.php. It was still a good chunk of money, but not as much as I was getting myself ready to spend, and we are already ssoooo in love with our little Beaux. His original name was Gomer. Not a big fan! He's a 6-month old black lab-terrier mix and the most adorable thing.
Hubby's happy, I'm happy... The cats? well, not so thrilled, but they're getting used to him.

Happy Holidays...

December 27th, 2006 at 11:43 am

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.

My little present to you all bloggers: http://inforss.mozdev.org/index.html . You can only use it with Firefox, but if you do, I strongly recommend it.

Read all of your favorite blogs. You can even read Saving Advice blogs (which you cannot do with Yahoo! RSS feed).


And Happy New Year to all...

And PS: my goal for tomorrow is to have our goal for 2007 posted. I started working on the list today, and hope to finish it for a big reveal tomorrow :-)

How is RCN already going to lose me...

December 22nd, 2006 at 11:26 am

Following my http://lau.savingadvice.com/2006/11/11/so-much-for-getting-m..., I decided to http://lau.savingadvice.com/2006/11/13/rcn-here-i-come_17224/

I AM NOT HAPPY WITH RCN... And here's why:

Let me recap what I was told:

Internet: $35.99 (discount from $38.99 because we own our own modem)
TV: $38.00
-$20.00 for 1 year
TOTAL: $54.99

Now, when I called, I was told we didn't need the cable box because basic cable doesn't require them. Ok, fine.
However, the installation guy brought 2 of them with him. Customer service rep had said: $4.95 for the first one, and $7.95 (total of $12.90) for both boxes. Ok, it's a totally wasted expense, but the box allows for the use of guide, which is pretty useful, so I said "alright, put the boxes in as well".

So, my bill should have been:

5.00 (est. taxes)
72.89 -- let's round this to $73

Now for the big surprise. I received my first bill: $82.15!!
After 3 weeks, yes 3 weeks of calling customer support (I work full time, and don't have time during the day to spend 20 minutes on hold, so it took a lot of trying - and billing dept isn't open on week ends, off course!). So after 3 weeks of calling customer service reps, I finally find out that:

#1. We do not qualify for 2 promotions. We can either have the special $77.99 bundle package (again, that's Internet: $38.99 + TV: $39.00) or the $20 discount/month.

I was never told that the $77.99 package was a "special" rate, nor that we had to choose one or the other. Again, it was the bundle and the $20 off.

So the "regular" charge is $80.99. Not a big difference from the $77.99, but that's not it...

#2. 2 cable boxes: $15.90! What? I thought it was $4.95 + $7.95. "Oh, but no, you only can get the 1st one at 4.95 if you sign up for a movie channel package.

Another thing I wasn't told!

#3. You could have though that the $80.99 included modem rental, since that's how they advertised the special bundle rate ($77.99 - $3 for customer owned modem), but you'd be wrong!

So let me break this down:

$83.99 (incl. modem rental)
+ $15.90 (2 boxes)
- $ 3.00 (modem)
- $20.00
+ $ 5.26 (taxes)

So let's face it, it's only $10.00. Although $10.00 is not negligible, but the reason I am completely fed up with RCN already is that:
1. Every customer service rep blew me off. All I heard was "there's nothing I can do for you" and transfered me to the next person.
2. I signed up with them expecting to pay a certain amount. My bill shows up higher than what I had agreed with, and I can't do anything about it.
3. They are willing to lose a brand new customer over that lousy $10, because, yes, I'm already looking for another ISP.
4. Oh and I almost forgot, my next bill already showed up yesterday. There's a $50 equipment charge on it that I was also never told about. They will refund this when I return all he equipment to them...

... That should be very soon.

I was reading http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/how-comcast-will-regai... on Blueprint for Financial Prosperity. I'm seriously thinking of going back with Comcast since they're willing to offer better deal to "brand new" customer rather than the people who have been with them for over 5 years.

My list... Did I miss the momentum?

November 19th, 2006 at 02:49 pm

Ok, I know, I'm a little late for that. I have been thinking about what I would put in that list for the past few days. I haven't been able to come up with that many, but here it is:

1. I'm an only child. Grew up in a village in the Eastern part of France. Population: 500.

2. I went to elementary school where there were about 25 kids (K through 5). The school is still there today and 32 kids were signed up at the beginning of this school year.

3. I got into a car accident when I was 16. I still carry the scars on my forehead, and hands. My husband tells me he can't see them, but I know they're there.

4. I had a piece of glass in my forehead for about a year after that accident that was eventually removed. It caused me my worst headaches.

5. As another result of this accident, I had a nose job at 19. I don't like to shout that out. I feel like people perceive me as shallow if I mention it. Then I feel obligated to explain why. So I don't bring it up.

6. I was born in Switzerland, but I am French.

7. My husband is 15 years older than I am. It doesn't bother me, but doesn't sit too well with mummy dearest. After being together for 6 years, living together for 5 and being married for 1 year, you'd think she got over it a little.

8. I have a Master's degree.

9. I love computer and technology in general.

10. I don't trust people very easily.

11. Both the cars I have (one is in France, the other one is here) are VW. I just love these cars.

12. My husband is the bad one with finances, I'm the good one. I've been trying to make him change some of his bad spending habits, and to my delight, he HAS changed (some) of them. He still has a little bit to go, but I'm very proud.

13. I was always the quiet one (still am). I never participated in anything in junior high, high school or college because I was shy. Which I regret because...

14. ... I'm very curious and want to learn everything about everything. When we bought our comforter about a year ago, I researched for weeks the different kind of comforter, learnt all the terms. It took forever and drove my husband crazy. But we got a great comforter.

15. I once completely ripped out both someone else's front bumper and mine getting out of parking lot with my car because I had a little bit too much too drink. I know it shouldn't be funny and I should have never been drinking and driving but it was hilarious then, and still is the funniest thing to me. You should have seen my friends faces when I arrived at the house we were meeting at: "Where is your front bumper??", and me pulling it out of back seat.

16. I worked at Six Flags Magic Mountain for 3 months in the summer of 1999.

17. And got a tattoo while walking on Venice beach one afternoon I had off.

18. My grandpa is from Corsica, a tiny island off the south coast of France. I've only been there once, and wish to go back some day. He was a veteran in the French Army, and went to WWII.

19. Talking about veterans, my husband is also a veteran. He went to the Gulf War (the first one) and was stationed in Saudi Arabia for 9 months (I think)... and I was only 11 (Oh! he hates when I remind him) Smile

20. I was lucky to have a mother who took me to every part of the world when I was younger. She took me to Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, The Maldives, Saint Lucia. Too bad I was too young to appreciate it to the fullest.
I also grew up few hours from the Italian border, and never bothered to go there!! Go figure

Hey, I've made it to 20. Never though it would happen. Hope you enjoy as much as I've enjoyed all of your lists!

Stock options?... Huh?... What?

November 15th, 2006 at 11:17 am

Here's my situation: I've been working for a start-up company for 3 1/2 years now. The company itself is 7 years old (and still can be classified as a start-up apparently!).

Anyhow, my boss has brought up a few times the fact that I would get stock options... Someday.... Maybe. I want to sit her down, talk about it, and come up with a figure. The problem? I have no idea what I should be asking for, or what I'm worth.

I know the people with more experience (the ones who know what start-ups are all about that is!) she has hired recently have come to an agreement about stock options before even accepting the job.

So why haven't I done that? Well, I got this job when I was a student, not knowing what start-ups where, let alone stock options. I feel like I should be getting some decent number of shares, if only for the fact that I am the employee with the most seniority - we do have quite a turnover here. I am also the only one around here that knows both about how the software we build works (and that's no small task) as well as the database (ditto!). Therefore, I am valuable Smile And I can say that without feeling like I'm a complete ass who thinks the world of herself, because it is actually true.

So that where you guys come in the picture... December 31st is big step as far as me working here, and I want to have something signed by then. My boss is not going to just offer me what I'm worth (she WILL try to get me to agree on the smallest number that she can). I need your help here! If you've had experience in a similar situation, I do need feedback so I can be prepared.