Benjamin Wallace is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine.

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I was doing some research about high-interest online savings account, following my tiring experience with “the world’s local bank”. I stumble upon this very unique online bank site with the cutest design.

It is called SmartyPig.com, a social networking+savings site. You can set up automatic deposit like with most online bank, except that you network with your friends like on Facebook. It allows all your friends to see your progress, it even twitters all the updates. It is great for those who needs supports, or those who can benefit from nosy friends and family pressures.

To bad that it is only available for United States and Australia right now.

Link: SmartyPig (The pig is so cute!)

How to spend $53,000 a week

December 22, 2008

Marie Douglas-David, the estranged wife of UTC’s George David, filed a document with the divorce court showing that she requires $53,000 a week to support her lifestyle.

Real estate accounts for a lot of it, including mortgage, maintenance fees, rent or other costs for a Park Avenue apartment, a Hamptons residence and several properties in Sweden.

But travel ($8,000), clothing ($4,500), hair and skin care ($1,000), dry cleaning ($650) and flowers ($600), among many other items, contribute to the total.

Dry cleaning does not include fur storage and cleaning ($45).

And that’s when Douglas-David is cutting back.

If you are also curious to see how one person can spend so much money doing nothing, check out the PDF of the court filing. In perspective, $350 a week on food seems so frugal.

Source: The Hartford Courant

A Quote from Henny Youngman

December 19, 2008

“I’ve got all the money I’ll ever need, if I die by four o’clock.” —Henny Youngman

I was running some numbers on my groceries in November. I can’t believe it! I spent $537.48 on groceries, and $161.46 eating out! 😦

My brother eat out even more. That would add another $200 to the total. $900 on food for 2 people. 😦

From CBC news:

…many modern consumers are seeking quick fixes and are stuffing their pantries with comfort convenience foods.

Take, for example, the rise of Campbell’s Soups stock as the economy teetered on Sept. 29 — the one stock in the S&P Index that rose as 499 others fell. In October, U.K.-based Marks & Spencer reported sales of bread and butter pudding increased 15 per cent while sticky toffee pudding sales rose 10 per cent.

According to British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, this phenomenon in part reflects the larger issue that many people simply don’t know how to cook. In early November, Oliver appeared before a committee of MPs and called for more government investment in food education. He noted in the past when the economy receded, families knew how to prepare nutritious but inexpensive meals.

That’s it! I have been buying more convenient food. This is a wake up call. Why do I buy store prepared salad for $12? Even if I am too lazy the wash, the bagged salad are only $3, I only have to add olive, cheese, and dressing. Why have I gotten so lazy?

I have already spent about $300 this month on food. Hopefully, we can stay within $500 this month.

Over Buying

December 17, 2008

Do you repeatedly run out of toilet paper at home? Or do you stockpile toilet paper at every corner of you home?

I grew up in the home that was filled with toilet paper. I was pretty annoyed that my closet was invaded by toilet paper. My mom called that saving for emergency. I wondered, when the zombies attack, what good would a year’s worth of toilet paper do?

Now that I’m older, I’m turning more and more like my mom. I just realized that I have 7 months worth of toilet paper in my home!

Stockpiling toilet paper is probably not worth the savings. Each square inch of you home is with something. If a 2,000 SF home in Toronto cost $300,000. A 2’x4′ closet would be valued at $3,600!

OK, having too little makes me nervous. I resolve to have less than 3 months worth of toilet paper, toiletries, detergents, cleaners.

US cuts benchmark rate to 0%!

December 16, 2008

This is the record low! When I heard the news, it reminded me of Japan.

For over a decade, Japanese interest rates stayed between 0%-0.5%, but it hasn’t work efficiently to stimulate their economy. Would it work in the US?