Many Hats of Me: January 2013

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Investing In the Stock Market As A Family

Investing Money Is a Family Affair

We often see children begging their parents for toys. I tell my children, "if we spend all our money on toys, we won't have enough to buy the really important things." This reply is usually followed by more requests and grumbling.

After watching a toy advertisement on TV, my five-year-old daughter declares that she would like to go to work to earn money for toys. I smile and explain that she is too young to work, to which she replies that it's not fair and I should buy her toys if she can't. That night, after I recounted this incident to my husband, and we decided to see if there was a way for her to earn money and learn the value of investing.

I know, many of you are shaking your heads, saying that she's far too young to understand. However, I believe that if children can see their money work for them, they will appreciate the value of money more, and not waste it on frivolous purchases.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Investing in the Stock Market - Year 3

My Investing Year Started off with a Bang

When I went to check my Roth portfolio at the end of January to see how my new purchases were doing, I noticed that my Estee Lauder stock had halved in price! The last I looked it had risen to a heady $112, an incredible doubling of my original purchase price. My heart dropped, and I wondered what happened. Staring at the screen for nearly five minutes, I realized that the quantity of the stock had  doubled, meaning that the stock had split! My mood swung from utter devastation to joyous yelling and dancing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Investing in the Stock Market - Year 2

A year of learning (and making mistakes) 

The beginning of the year is always chaotic for me. We frantically collect all the tax receipts and other documents for the upcoming tax return. We budget to ensure there are enough funds for our life insurance policies. By the time spring comes around, I haven't paid any attention to the stocks in my Roth account. Ford had plummeted from $15 to just over $10, GE had recovered most of its value, Kimberly-Clark had a moderate gain, and Pepsi was see-sawing all over the place. Estee Lauder continued to be star at a 60% gain.

I felt a little braver and thought about the next stock I would purchase. I read the newspaper, listened to my friends, and watched advertisements on TV. I felt that the trend with an aging population is vanity: companies that provide products that help us look and feel better and younger. I already had a cosmetics company, so I decided to purchase a pharmaceutical stock, Allergan, the maker of Botox and breast implants.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Everyone's travel nightmare: bedbugs

When my son was 2 months old, we took a trip to Quebec city with my Mom and Dad who were visiting from Vancouver. I was not working and my husband was a medical resident so we chose a suite hotel that was moderately priced (around $120/night). My parents had their own hotel room next door to us.

Photo of Quebec City from

That night at around 3 AM in the morning, my son awoke, crying. Since my husband was also awake too, I turned on the bedroom lights, placed the baby on the bed to change his diaper. As I was finishing up, I noticed that there were some tiny black dots on the bed next to the baby that was...moving! I quickly handed the baby to my husband and took a closer look. There were tiny dots the size of pepper moving very slowly towards the center of the bed. I jumped back and did a little yelp. I then turned around and stripped the baby of his clothes and checked his body. He had two small bites on one leg, and another on the other. I looked at my husband and he quickly whipped off  his shirt. He had over 30 bites on his back! I was livid. I myself had not slept in the bed yet since I am a night owl and like to watch TV. Thank heavens!

Investing in the Stock Market - from Fear to Action

My New Roth Account - What to do?

Spring of 2010, my husband asked me to move a small amount of money into a Roth account since I was eligible to do so. What do I do with it? In the past, I purchased mutual funds from my bank or from my employer's list of chosen funds. With this Roth account, I had an opportunity to buy something other than mutual funds. I started a wish list of stocks in Yahoo Finance and began tracking their performance. I filled it with companies that I knew like McDonalds, Nike, Microsoft, and Amazon. In a few weeks, I had about 30 stocks in my fantasy portfolio and I checked it every week. Most did well, a few did not. I started looking into the financial performance of the companies that seems to perform well. But still I waited. In fact, it took another 4 months before I decided to take the plunge and buy some stocks.

What Stocks to Buy?

I began with companies that I could afford a sizable number of stocks (which was anything under $50/stock): GE, Ford, Pepsi, Kimberly Clark, and Estee Lauder. My criteria were that they had historically done well and I felt I knew what they did. GE made appliances, Ford made cars, Pepsi made soft drinks, Kimberly Clark made toilet paper, and Estee Lauder owned lots of companies that produced beauty products. In fact, Estee Lauder was the only company I understand well since I am familiar with the products associated with Estee such as Aveda and Clinique.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

My new (used) microscope

My microscope stand arrived from BMI Surplus a few days ago. It is a Bausch and Lomb "B" stand with a transmitted light base. It cost 3 times as much as the original fake stand I purchased, but it's heavy and sturdy and has an XY base that allows the specimen to be moved around incrementally.

Bausch and Lomb "B" stand
Bausch and Lomb "B" stand

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Gemology instruments

It started with a stone

I became interested in gems and gemology when my sister announced that she was getting married. In my culture, giving jewelry to the relative who is getting married is customary. During my endless  Google searches, I found a website that sold gemstones from Thailand called Gemselect. This website sells loose gemstones that are offered at fair to high prices. I was really intrigued and called the owner, who is an American living in Thailand. He was very helpful and I decided to buy some stones from him. I purchased a large green tourmaline, and pairs of smaller gemstones that are sized to fit in standard rings.

Dark Green Tourmaline

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Buying a microscope piecemeal from Ebay

My new microscope arrived last week. Well, part of it did. I purchased an old Bausch and Lomb Stereozoom 7 pod with 15x wide field Leica lenses, and the essential photo port from an Ebay seller for around $200, which is a steal. Compared to my son's plastic student microscope, this thing weighs a ton!

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