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Friday, September 30, 2011

What Grinds My Gear (1)

With Syawal finally over, my first two 'What Grind's My Gear'(s) would be about the raya celebration here in Malaysia.

What really grinds my gear is all the sad, depressing raya songs they play over and over again on the radio/tv. Is that even necessary? How many people out there are actually sad during raya? But a few I would suppose. Eid was supposed to be a day of joy and rejoice, after a month of fasting.

"Everyone else is out praying, but here am I, all alone, mending my broken heart,"
said one of the very rare sad guys during eid.
Since when did it become a day to be sad? Did hipsters have a thing to do with this? LOL. The only possible reason to be sad is because Ramadhan has just passed, and you don't know whether or not you'll make it to next year's (and sad for missing out a day(s) of fasting is also acceptable). But these songs have got nothing to do with that. The songs are always about not being able to balek kampung, being sorry for past mistakes (you had a whole month of Ramadhan for that!) and the 'coup de grace' of all sadness, breaking up with your partner. I mean really? Who would break up during eid.  

That really grinds my gear.

What Grinds My Gear

I've been wanting to create this new category, 'What Grinds My Gear' for a while now. I'm borrowing this off from the fat man (as Stewie calls him) in Family Guy.

The Fat Man, Peter Griffin
It'll consist most things I find rather annoying in this world that we live in. Yo gotta problem with that? Cause that really grinds my gears!

O ya, feel free to include anything that might grind your gears in the comments section. Cheers :)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

8 Reasons Why You're Getting an F in Personal Finance

by Len Penzo

Monday, September 12, 2011

Failing a class in school is one thing. Failing your financial goals as an adult is another. Here's how to earn an A-plus in personal finance.

Last year, my son brought home a midterm progress report that showed he was getting an F in one of his classes. What was infuriating was that the F was in physical education.

"How in the world do you fail phys ed?" I asked my wife, shaking Matthew's midterm report card in my hand for added emphasis.

"Beats me, Len. Why don't you ask him?"

Why didn't I think of that?

Needless to say, Matthew and I had a nice little heart-to-heart talk about his failing grade and, I'm happy to say, he actually ended up finishing the school year with a C in PE.

That little incident got me thinking about what people would have to do to earn an F in personal finance. If you find yourself swimming in debt and living paycheck-to-paycheck, the odds are you're already getting one. Here are the most likely reasons why:

1. You don't have an emergency fund.

In life, you should expect the unexpected, such as the sudden loss of a job. The last thing you want to do is be caught off guard and be forced to rely on credit cards or a loan that could get you into deeper financial trouble.

Extra credit: Establish an emergency fund of at least three to six months of expenses. And don't delay. You should start building your emergency fund as soon as you get your first paycheck.

2. You don't know how much you have in your bank accounts.

Overdrawing a checking account by just a few cents could result in lots of expensive bank fees. To ensure you'll never write a check for more than what you have, you should always know how much money you've got in all your accounts.

Extra credit: Set your overdraft limit to $0 and your debit card won't be allowed to overdraft your account. True, you could bounce a check. But if you're running your household like a business and balancing your checkbook regularly, that shouldn't ever be a problem. Consider using money management software to help manage your finances more closely.

3. You don't understand the difference between a want and a need.

One of the biggest impediments to getting your financial house in order is the inability to properly distinguish discretionary and nondiscretionary expenses (otherwise known as wants and needs).

Extra credit: Understand that when taken down to the most basic level, all of us have only four or five primary needs. Those needs are food/water, clothing, shelter, transportation, and health care. Everything else is a want.

4. You don't know how much money you spend.

It's pretty simple: The amount you save is the difference between how much you make and how much you spend. But it's tough to save anything if you don't know how much you can afford to save. That's why it's important to take a critical look at your expenses so you know exactly how much money you are spending.

Extra credit: Audit your expenses by writing down everything you spend your money on for a couple of months. The trick is to be as detailed as possible. Try to capture even the smallest purchases. Here is a budget worksheet to help get you started.

5. Your tastes exceed your spending capability.

Understand that this is not a problem so much as an excuse. Kind of like my son arguing that he's getting an F in his PE class because the teacher doesn't like him. When your expensive tastes starts impacting your ability to save, you're in for trouble.

Extra credit: If your tastes exceed your budget, ratchet them down a notch or three and stop making lame excuses.

6. You can't say no.

Many people do understand the difference between wants and needs, but they have trouble saying no anyway. Being able to say no is a crucial skill in the world of personal finance. Those who can't will always have the most trouble keeping their personal finances on an even keel.

Extra credit: Master the art of saying no.

7. You're an impulse shopper.

Impulse buying is a nasty habit that can best be cured by careful planning.

Extra credit: Establish a household budget. Before going out to shop, know exactly how much you will be spending at each establishment. Make a shopping list before you go to the supermarket or the mall. In short, think before you buy.

8. You worry about what others think about you.

People who worry about what others think of them suffer from a desire to keep up with the Joneses. There are many reasons why people do this, including: the urge to advertise their success in life (be it real or imagined), the desire to have what others have, and instant gratification. Whatever the reason, once they reach the checkout counter, they tend to ignore this little slice of reality: Unlike the Joneses, they probably can't afford it.

Here's the original article.

Yahoo Picks

I'm gonna start a new category on this blog called Yahoo picks. It'll practically consists of articles I find useful taken from the yahoo homepage. No plagiarism intended, just sharing. Sharing is caring, after all :)

It helps me in that I get to put on something interesting and worthwhile on my blog without having to think much into it.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Perihal Mat Indera

Whose this Mat Indera guy people have so been talking about lately, ever since Mat Sabu raised the issue in a ceramah a couple of weeks back?

People have been talking, saying that Mat Indera was responsible for the Bukit Kepong attack. I knew a bit about Bukit Kepong, from the movie by Jin Shamsudin. I knew that in the movie, a police station was attacked by some bad ass communist guerrilla. But that's really all I knew. Honestly, I initially had no clue that Mat Indera ever existed!

Bukit Kepong, the movie

So amid all the issue highlighted by Utusan and KJ, I decided to read some history about this guy. Here's a photo of him.

Bad ass or hero?

Read more of the story of Mat Indera here, here and here. For those of you too lazy to do so, here's a brief knockdown.

Mat Indera, or his real name, Muhammad Indera is a descendent of a worrier from Siak. Apparently, he was said to be a religious person, being a Hafiz as well, and his teachers, among others were Kiai Haji Fadzil Bentan and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's father.

He became involved with politics to help drive out the Brits from Malaya and joined Parti Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya (PKMM, lead by Dr. Burhanuddin Helmy- another name that was only mentioned in passing in our textbooks) and Angkatan Pemuda Insaf (API). Probably inspired by the Indonesians in their fight for independence from the Dutch (using primitive weapons like bamboo spears), Mat Indera took his battle into the woods, guerrilla style. That's where he met Bintang Tiga. Even though both parties had different missions, as the saying goes, 'the enemy of your enemy is your friend' Mat Indera soon joined forces with Bintang Tiga.

Aware of the threat posed by Mat Indera, the Brits wanted him, DOA. They set about spreading rumours and propaganda about the man, saying he was a dangerous communist man with no religion and moral values, and they offered $25000 for his capture.

Then came the Bukit Kepong incident. Some say he didn't authorize the killing of the police officers, let alone burning of their dead bodies (he had just wanted to catch some of the officers). Some say that he arrived late at the battle field, and wasn't involved in the fight. Others claimed that he tried to prevent the killings of the police officers, going as far as pointing a rifle at a communist member to stop him from humiliating the dead. And some claimed that he even helped some of the officers escape.

After the incident, his bounty rose to $75000. Finally, the Brits caught some of Mat Indera's men and collaborated with them to capture Mat Indera, promising them land and wealth. Mat Indera was caught and hanged to death in 1953. An end to yet another freedom fighter.

There lies a hero- Tok Janggut

If you look closely at the story of Mat Indera and how it was portrayed by the Brits, there's vast similarities with that of Datuk Maharajalela, Mat Kilau, Datuk Bahaman, Abdul Rahman Limbong and Tok Janggut (see above). Tok Janggut also fought and killed Malay police officers and soldiers who sided with the Brits (scumbags), and he was portrayed by the Brits as a rebel and traitor to the Sultan of Kelantan. When Tok Janggut was finally killed, his body was humiliated to the highest degree by being paraded all over town and then hung upside down for all to see. You can read his story here and here. And for all that, what did out text book portray him as? Read below, an extract from Buku Teks Sejarah Tingkatan 5 (KBSM).

Yet another selfish Malay noble man who didn't want to pay the taxes?

Was that really all in Tok Janggut's fight? He didn't want to pay taxes? Lost of political powers and influence? Is that really how we want to remember him as?

Are these stories of traitors or freedom fighters? History is written by those in power. Wallahualam.

That's a Big Croc!

See below.

Thats a big croc!
That's surely a big crocodile. The salt water crocodile, measuring 6.4m and weighing 1075kg was captured in a village in Southern Philippines. It took some 100 people to pull the beast. I'd imagine even the late crocodile hunter, Steve Irwin would have a hard time taming it! Read about it here.

The site of the big croc reminded me of news I read a few years back, when an 11 year old shot and killed a giant hog.

They should make a movie: Giant Croc vs. Giant Hog. That'll sell
I wonder what they eat to grow that big.