Monthly Archives: May 2005

Weekend Update

I had some visitors stay over in Austin this weekend and I was really expecting to completely exhaust my spending account. Fortunately, I could not find a single boat to rent this weekend, and certain people refused to let me pay for meals/drinks etc.. I wasn’t complaining.

I came out alive with $54 in the Spending Account.

I felt smug having such a fun weekend and spending half of what I expected, see for yourself:

Still had tons of fun and went to all sorts of fancy places in Austin. However, if I didn’t previously save for this weekend, I would have exceeded my spending account limit.

The Power of Craig

Money is all over the place, you just have to hunt it down.

One great place to find some easy money is CraigsList. Think of it as a localized, “free Ebay” in the style of a blog.

People post all sorts of things. On Craigslist you can

  • Find a temporary gig
  • Find a job
  • Find cars/motorcycles
  • Find an apartment
  • Share poetry/thoughts/rants
  • Find events in your area
  • Browse resumes

The reason Craigslist isn’t driving a knife through Ebay is because it’s localized and leaves all the logistics up to the poster. Ebay takes care of everything through the auction and then leaves you to deal with only ONE winner in the end. With CraigsList you must deal with every interested party via email.

This resource is NOT to be underestimated. If you live in a decently large area, you are bound to have a Craigslist. I regularly look over the Austin Craigslist and find TONS of easy-money gigs. If you sit at home all day….THERE IS NO EXCUSE not to look over CraigsList a few times a day!

Not only can you look for people who need help, you can also advertise yourself. If you are good at building cabinets, post yourself as “Great cabinet Builder for cheap” or something along those lines. It’s FREE exposure, why not?? I see posts all the time such as “9th grader wants money, will do odd jobs.”

I personally like looking in the SALE section under the FREE category. Also the GIGS section.


Oh yea, two months after taking a motorcycle safety course, I FINALLY took the exam and got my motorcycle license.

I will now have a license with a new picture and a new “M” on it

Removed Adsense

I completely removed Google ads from my site. I never liked them in the first place, so I never put them on my main site, but I did stick them in the forums.

Even there, they still bugged me. It’s time they go.


Early Bird Gets the Worm

A very financially wise (and well off because of it) person told me last weekend, “Most vast fortunes were created by people who were idle when things were good, and active when things were bad.” This means they sat on cash during good times, and bought everything during bad times.

This conversation was about real estate and the regentrification of a bad area of town. The West side of Austin has historically been the posh side of town. All the skyscrapers, clubs, malls etc. are built on the West side, leaving the East side to deteriorate.

This is what West Austin looks like.

This is what much of East Austin looks like.

For example, West 6th Street is a bustling entertainment area. Cross the freeway (I-35), and East 6th Street starts out with a car junkyard followed by a string of run down buildings. There is a distinct difference.

The funny thing is, just recently land prices jumped in parts of East Austin, and some newer, nicer buildings have started to creep up. On a recent drive through the area, I saw a brand new condominium establishment amidst the old buildings. On the lot next to it, a bigger and better condominium establishment is under construction. These are luxury condo’s on EAST 6th street. I smell regentrification.

These condos are nothing amazing, but they by no means fit in with their less-attractive surroundings:

Spotting regentrification of an area is a common theme some business men I know have very profitably used. They buy old and unwanted properties in bad areas, fix them up, then sell at a premium as the area increases in value. Of course everyone thinks they are crazy when they first buy in these terrible areas.

The lesson to learn is not to jump in when everyone is jumping in. Since real estate is such a hot topic right now, I’m sitting out. The people who took the initial risk of building nice properties in East Austin will reap the most reward, as newer establishments will pop up right around them. The people who jump in after them can reap some reward, but not nearly the same amount.

Great riches will be found in this unconventional area. The builders can offer swanky accomodations that feature cheaper prices and cheaper taxes, yet walking distance to Downtown. Smart.

Weekend Update

This weekend was for the most part nice and relaxing. I hate that.

I like lots of activity so I feel productive. I accomplished some things, but I am under obligation not to say anything. Too bad.

The weather was in the high 90’s all this weekend, PERFECT for selling bottled water. One problem, I couldn’t find Barry. Apparently the police have been giving tickets to all the homeless people near the Riverside/I-35 intersection, so he was nowhere to be found. This weather is what I need to make this bottled water venture profitable. This weather mkaes everyone thirsty and also brings everyone out, including this weird blimp I saw:

I’ve been saving money for next weekend, so I only spent $10 this entire weekend. It was all on food, particularly late-night Burger King. Other expenses were either free or previously purchased.

Financial Update:
General Account: $1,706
Spending Account: $143
Bills Account: $835
Investment Account: $1,239
Permanent Savings: $2,283
Roth IRA: $5,000
Stock Portfolio: $9,673
Total Assets: $20,879
Business Holding: $6,193
Total On Hand: $27,072

Traffic Experiment

Traffic has been such a problematic phenomenon in this country, but there have been few steps to prevent it. I want to change that.

I have long been interested in a project to get rid of useless traffic buildup on a stretch of I-35 that causes all the traffic by Downtown Austin. I’ve had a proposal and demonstration ready for years, but never carried through with it. I’m not doing this as a money-making venture just yet, it’s just something that interests me. If it works, who knows what may follow.

A quick synopsis of the experiment:

Traffic is usually “stop and go” during rush hour, causing slowdowns, unnecessary gas usage and frustration. It generally looks something like:

The Solution:
As one car stops, the car behind it stops and so forth, creating a “Traffic Wave.” To “eat” this traffic wave, simply place a slower moving vehicle that leaves plenty of space in front of it in all lanes, much like large trucks do. This effectively regulates the speed of traffic and eliminates the “stop and go” action. It also allows time for the traffic wave to be eaten. The regulating cars should theoretically create smoothly flowing lines of traffic behind them.

I got permission to take a couple of pictures and observe I-35 from three adjacent buildings: The Marriott, the Austin Municipal Water Works building and The Crowne Plaza Hotel.

All three buildings had great views of I-35, but the Marriot and Crowne Plaza offered the best view of the particular sections that cause the most buildup:

The best part about this little trip was the free stuff. Both the Crowne Plaza and Marriott were hosting business events, so I walked in like I belonged, grabbed some free food and a bottle of Sprite and walked out. I had a free lunch that day.

You can view a more complete proposal at:
Credit must be given to William Beaty for research and animations. Original Work

I will further pursue this experiment in my spare time. I’ve already done the experiment with friends and IT WORKS. Now I have to videotape it in action and convince law makers to pass legislation on it.

On a more financial note,
I’ve started trying to build up my spending account for next week as it will be pretty expensive. I plan to do a lot of wining/dining, boating, 6th-Streeting, 4th-Streeting and traveling that weekend. I’ve gone into super-cheap mode in order to have sufficient funds available for the weekend.

My Stock Portfolio

This chart shows the daily movement of my portfolio only.
I was asked about my stock portfolio several times lately. I enjoy having a long term portfolio which just sits there. I’ve tried active trading and it isn’t for me. I leave that up to Kirk.

Here are the current stocks I own and reasons I bought them:

Dynegy (DYN) – Got pummeled after the Enron scandal. I hold this as a long term turnaround stock. Dynegy deals mainly with natural gas. They keep paying off their debt which short term investors hate, but long term investors like. Has put me at 25% gains at times and at a 30% loss at times.

Syntel (SYNT) – An Indian outsourcing firm with relatively little media coverage. Healthy company with no debt and an ever-expanding operations. On days when the NASDAQ does well, Syntel does really well….but when NASDAQ performs poorly, Syntel performs very poorly. Who cares, I am in it for the long haul.

Fortune Brands (FO) – Conglomerate with a million different brands under their name. Company has balanced their portfolio of brands to survive in good or bad markets. I idolize this company and its great track history.

General Electric (GE) – Bought as a “rock” which moves neither up or down very fast. GE dabbles in jet engines, water treatment, appliances, television stations and much more.


On another note, I’ve started preliminary research for my traffic experiment. I went to three different tall buildings adjacent to I-35 and got permission to take pictures of the rush hour traffic.

I’ll explain later.


Even though the Fall semester is over with (I have one more summer to take and I should be done), I have been gallivanting across town trying to strike up some new business deals here and there.

I want to have a good amount of moola in reserve by the time I get out of college for good.

Owning A Business Can Be Worse Than A Job

I have a problem with all these “Get Rich” books. They lie. They routinely say, “Working for other people is not the path to wealth” and owning your own business lets you “Do things your way”

What a bunch of crap.

I’ve run into so many people young and old who simply say, “I want to own my own business some day”. Have they really thought about this?

Have these people seen what owning a business is REALLY like? It’s not for everyone. People see certain wealthy people with businesses and see their luxurious lifestyle, but they don’t see what the majority of business owners live like. There are over 22,659,000 businesses out there, not all of them have founders that live like royalty.

Some reasons why people want to run their own business:
1.) Freedom to do what you want, when you want.
2.) Loads of cash.
3.) Ability to choose which days you work.
4.) Choose who you work with.

It’s time to shatter some dreams. I want to share some of the less glamorous examples of business owners I have seen:

Business 1:
Mr. X was successful in the corporate and business world. He wanted a new venture so he invested in a large franchise chain. He bought the land, made preparations and opened shop. The store was a big success, land value skyrocketed and the money was flowing in. Then he sold it because he hated it so much. He had to deal with his employees who would constantly steal, outrageously obnoxious customers, very long hours, sexual harassment cases caused by employees, and tons of paper work and a boatload of accounting. If he wasn’t there, there store would probably fall apart.

Business 2:
Mr. B opened up a franchise restaurant. Money is good with the three stores he owns, but he is constantly looking for new employees, dealing with landlords, having to suffer bad months where weather effects sales, bad years where the economy is down. Mr. B has a pretty average lifestyle yet a large amount of responsibility with his three stores. He spends a lot more than 9-5 working at his stores. He could easily live the same styled life if he and his wife both worked. So instead of a regular 9-5 job, he has a 24/7 job with lots of stress and unpredictability.

Business 3:
An asian friend of mine owns with his family 2 successful gas stations. In his 20+ years of life, he has NEVER taken a single vacation with his entire family at the same time. His parents have not missed one day of attending their stores in 15 years. Enough said. He drives a pretty fancy car…and you know the only place he drives it? From home to his gas station and back.

Business 4:
On a trip to a football game in Dallas, we stayed at a medium sized hotel. The entire family worked AND lived there with no additional employees. The dad was the check-in host, the mom and daughter were the maids, the grandmother cleaned and the son did the janitorial work. We saw them all everyday for 3 days.


So, with a business you may STILL have to:
1.) Work very long and unpredicatable hours.
2.) Accept low income at times.
3.) Skip out to attend to your business.
4.) Deal with assholes.

I ALSO happen know some people with very handsomely paying jobs. These people go to work from 9-5 and they are DONE. They save and invest wisely and are financially independent…sometimes fiscally better off than their business-owning friends.

So before you make a generic statement like “I want to own a business,” think about it first. It’s not for everyone.

My Failures

I generally mention productive things I do, but I also need to check myself and analyze the things I haven’t done:

–I haven’t kept up with my online resume business:
–My excuse?
Charging $50 for a website where I must deal with individual people who know nothing about web pages would logistically kill my time/profit ratio. The person must email me their info, I must register DNS entries and deal with all the logistics of creating a page, then go back and forth contacting the person to check if they like the final product. I had plans to automate this process, but one site does not fit all. Even if I charged more money, the time required for each site would not fit in my schedule. This is a basically a long way of saying I was too damn lazy.

–I haven’t carried through with my traffic eradication experiment.
–My excuse?
I really wanted to do this, even though it was not a profitable idea in the short term. I wanted to do it…
1.) Because I loathe traffic.
2.) The exposure it would get.
This was a very good idea that would work perfectly in Austin if I could get around all the bureaucracy and federal laws involving public highways. The experience in navigating the government would be worth it alone. This experiment still fascinates me to this day…I’m not sure why I never carried through. I even got permission at several tall, nearby buildings to observe traffic patterns from a birds eye view. I still want to do this. I can see the headlines now, “College student defeats traffic“….or “College student causes worst traffic jam in Austin history

–I haven’t kept up with
–My excuse?

I have no excuse for not adding one blog template a day to the site. I designed the page in a dynamic fashion, but it still requires a little work to make even small changes. I need to make the site into a blog-format, something I didn’t want to do initially. I also wasn’t into this idea that much. Once again, a drawn out excuse for laziness.


These ideas haven’t failed yet. They simply have not been carried through, which in my opinion is WORSE than having them fail.

Assessment: – I probably will not fully carry through with in the near future. – I want to make this extremely easy to update so it will only take me around 2-3 minutes per day to update. Still in progress.
Traffic Experiment – I’ve always wanted to do this. This project could literally erase the completely unnecessary traffic on I-35 near Downtown Austin, a stretch of road I must travel every single day. Still in progress.

Selling Notes

I have two classes where I take great notes: Marketing and Asian Studies.

My Asian Studies class has 60 people and my marketing class has 488 registered students in it. It’s finals time, and I decided to sell my entire semesters notes in each class for $5 bucks a pop.

I expected to make about $15 or $20.

Asian Studies Class:
I sent a mass email to the class, including this link as an example of my notes:

I got about 5 responses in two hours. Unfortunately, my Asian Atudies professor was one of the respondents saying:

“Dear students, I appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit shown here, but buying and selling notes is unethical!”

Unethical? Maybe. Illegal? Not at all. I knew I could win this battle, but she was a great professor and I decided to respect her wishes. I sent out another email retracting my offer to that class and apologized for any unethical behavior on my part.

Money Made on Asia class = $0.00

Marketing Class:
I sent out another mass email including this link as an example of my notes:

I got about 35 responses in two hours. Every time I checked my email after that I got even more potential buyers.

Some interesting responses though. I got THREE “fan-mail” letters simply saying

“I don’t want the notes, but you are very enterprising.
Goodluck on the test!”

My favorite emails however were the hate-mail letters I got. I got four of them. This guy could have effectively killed my sales if he had used proper spelling and grammar in his email sent to the whole class:

From: – Coby Jude Sonnier.
“i’ve got notes for free. the whole outline. hit me up and i’ll email it to you cause i could care less about makin money like this guy. its in word so make sure you have it. -coby”

Surprisingly, I still got 9 orders after Coby’s email went out. This next guy offered me one dollar for the notes. When I responded saying the notes were fixed at $5, he wrote back:

From: – Jorge Eduardo Leal Jr.

“No deal, final offer is $2.50 for the complete study note. Considering your probably lack of sales with the study notes, here’s your chance to make a sail.”

My last chance to make a SAIL?? I was selling notes, not preparing for a Regatta. He then responded again:

From: – Jorge Eduardo Leal Jr.

“You just dont get it man,selfish bastard, stop trying so
hard to make money,eventually everything will work out”

Yeah Jorge, NOT trying hard to make money will really rocket me into wealth. Good luck with your strategy. You better start buying lottery tickets buddy.

This next guy was not a man of many words:
From: – Dustin Travis Jenkins

“go fuck yourself”

Very well said. Almost poetic.

SO after shooting a few fun emails back to my newfound friends in the lower echelons of society, I tabulated my results:

Not bad for one class. I also learned that if I had done the exam review and included it in the notes, I could have sold them for $10 a pop easily.

It’s finals time so I must go study, but I hope you enjoyed watching me SAIL my notes!

Coby Sonnier, Coby Jude Sonnier, Jorge Eduardo Leal Jr., Jorge Eduardo Leal, Jorge Leal, Dustin Travis Jenkins, Dustin Jenkins