Saturday, 28 June 2008

Wizard Clear Advantage

After applying online for the Wizard Clear Advantage Mastercard, I have received by post a request to send identification details. It's a good thing that they accept email of these, which I prefer for the speed of communication. I like when people use email for serious things and in Australia it is becoming more and more a norm.
This means I'm on track for receiving the card before the holidays. That would give me enough time to test online access and reporting, use the card locally for purchases, cash withdrawal at other banks' ATMs and see whether all the statements about this credit card were true.
I'm also interested in what the approved limit would be since that is a piece of information I have not seen so far.

Friday, 27 June 2008


Wow! What oil is doing to the world markets is simply incredible. One day the oil price drops for some reason and the markets shoot up. The very next day something happens and the oil prices skyrocket, sending the markets into the ground. Watching this is simply amazing.
I hope someone will get irritated enough to start moving away from oil-based economy and into something more sustainable and reliable. There's too much at stake to depend on such a thing like oil production.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008


Got my first cheque yesterday. It was a refund from an insurance company. It was fun getting a piece of paper I didn't know what do to with. I heard about it so many times and considered it normal, although a bit outdated. But now I had one in my hands and no idea how to use it. :)
Brought it to a branch of my bank today, filled in the deposit slip and handed over both papers to the teller. Now, I assume, the cheque needs to clear and then the funds will deposit into the account. I expect this to take a couple of days.
If you're wondering... I was too young to use cheques the last they were in use in my home country. Then, the war made a pause in normal living, so I appeared in the world where cheques are not used at all. I assume that was the trend in Europe, generally, where cards are replacing all other forms of payment.

Money for Holidays

I'm still looking for the best way to have money available during holidays. Yesterday I read an article discussing the issue in Choice magazine. Their recommendation is to use a credit card that does not charge additional services nor ATM cash withdrawals.
One such card is Wizard Clear Advantage MasterCard. They do not charge for cash withdrawals and, according to the article, do not charge conversion fees and costs for overseas purchases. The card does not have annual fees and includes (up to) 55 days of grace period. I applied yesterday and got my details checked today. Hopefully the approval will follow and the card would be issued soon so I can test various claims from the article and post the findings. The overseas charges will be, of course, verified once I'm overseas. :)
Card details.
Added the link to the Credit Cards section of the site.

Rates to Rise?

Rate Watch

About a month ago the general consensus was that the rate rise by Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) had satisfactory effect on the economy and that the rates would remain unchanged by the end of the year. Now we start to see different opinions. Another rate rise is still possible.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Good News Ahead

Business Spectator - Commodity exports to boom: ABARE

Hm, finally some good news for the market. Might be away from now but it just proves that this is just a dip in the market. And, whoever is smart and brave should be buying now. Of course, all of us can consider ourselves to be lucky to live and experience this period so we see that it is not that easy.
While it is easy to put money into anything, the risk is so much higher. Whether the company will skyrocket tomorrow or will it do a nose dive the next day? Feels just like walking the minefield.
It is definitely good time for new investors, though. Those who are looking for long-term investment can consider themselves fortunate to invest at this moment.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Another Bearish Day

The market sunk further today. I was hoping it was on the rebound, after reading some opinions in the morning, before it opened. But no, it sinks deeper. As usual, there are negative predictions all over. The "doom and gloom" news are back. Whatever the public wants to read. :)
Well, as usual, one thing is true - markets can go up and markets can go down. Too bad that our life savings are a part of that. Keeping the money in a bank seems like a good idea right now but, unfortunately, its too late for many.
The good news is that the inflationary pressure is still up in Australia. The economic growth is still expected to be good. The rate rise news are appearing again. ANZ predicts that the rates should rise both in August and November this year. Well, that would make keeping the money in the bank even more attractive. :P
Hoping to see some upward movement, at least for psychological sake. It is probably a good time to buy unless some of the worst predictions come true and the whole capitalist system collapses. :)

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Trading 2008-06-19

The market today opened lower but was moving nicely in both directions. I started nicely with a few gains, a loss, then a few little gains more and then a couple of bigger losses when the trend reversed. Trying to pull out, as usual, is a bad thing so the day ended on a negative note. I still find this to be a learning experience and a good one. Mostly how to cope with emotions. The money costs I justify as better spent on this experience than on alcohol. :)

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Online Payments and Transfers

Since globalization is around us, I'm trying to find out if there are low-cost online services that allow reliable, fairly quick, and simple money transfers. I am interested in two ways these can be utilized. First, as a way to transfer funds internationally, eventually performing a currency conversion in the process. And, second, to accept payments internationally in case you are doing online business. The processing should be flexible and accommodate for different ways that suit different people. Meaning that the transfer should be possible from bank accounts and credit/debit cards, and eventually additional ways. Something like PayPal is doing. But, since PayPal has various restrictions if used from certain parts of the world (where I need it sometimes, actually) I decided to look for other solutions and do a comparison of the services.

Some of these services represent your eWallet, meaning they act as an account where you can store funds and use them to pay for different services, just like your plastic card, or to pay anyone.


iKobo uses Visa prepaid card as a way to transfer money. You can send the funds into someone's iKobo account for $5 via bank transfer or add 3% if you're paying from a credit card. The additional one-time cost is the card shipping to the receiving party, in case they do not have an iKobo account.
The funds are then withdrawn from any ATM using the card. There are fees for almost anything, like monthly maintenance fee of US$ 0.99, ATM withdrawal fee of US$ 1.99, etc.


PayPal accounts support one country only. If you are moving countries then an existing account needs to be closed and a new one opened for the new country.
Minimum withdrawal amount is EUR 10 or AUD 15.
Sending money is free. Withdrawing by bank transfer within Australia is $1 for for transfers of up to $150, and free for transfers of $150 or more.
Accepting payments for Personal accounts is free, for Premier/Business accounts it is approximately between 1.1% and 3.4%. Exchanging currencies draws a 2.5% fee on top of the PayPal exchange rate.
Transfer options for some countries include only outgoing credit card transfers.

Amazon (TextPayMe)

TextPayMe used to offer some interesting features. Maybe they still do but the service seems to now be owned by Amazon and limited to United States only. So much for an international transfer.


Fee structure: 1% (up to 0.50 Euro) to send money; free to receive.
They do international money transfer. The fee for upload is free if you use Swift, 1.9% if you use credit card. Withdrawal fee is 1.8 Euros. Withdrawal can be from Moneybookers into a local bank account (for a supported country) or a Visa credit card for 1.8 Euros, or via cheque for 3.5 Euros.
For a currency conversion the fee is 1.75% on top of interbank rate. The payments can be done in over 30 currencies.

XE Trade

XE Trade is a part of XE network. The service offers the currency conversion with the locked rates on selected day and forwards the funds to the destination account. They don't charge fees on deposits because you are responsible for the transfer to them. This means your financial institution's fees apply for sending funds. In some countries, like Australia, this is free for the transfers within the country.
Outgoing wire transfer costs 17 Euros (20 Australian Dollars). Draft withdrawals are free. EFT works only in US and Canada.
Edit 2013-02-23: XE Trade offers free ACH/EFT transfers. The only fee charged is included in the currency rate spread.

Todays' conclusion...

Unfortunately, none of the reviewed services offers satisfactory service. I need the service in the Balkans region and it is not fully supported by any of the providers above. It seems that good old cash and credit cards are still the way to go.

Edit: See

Sunday, 15 June 2008


I just went through some of the newsletters I did not read during the week. An interesting and useful one is from FPMarkets. I usually read only a few sentences but they are all I need for that day. Brief summary of market activity overnight and expectations for the morning start in Australia.
Some other newsletters actually have recommendations for stocks to buy or sell but in a such volatile market their guess is as good as anyone elses.

Market Bottom

A quiet weekend. The market has been falling down for a month now. Just wondering if this is the current low. Will the market shoot up on Monday? Most probably not. But one thing is certain - market can go up and it can go down.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Risk management and Trading Psychology Seminar

I attended the Risk management and Trading Psychology Seminar held at the State Library of Victoria today. It was held by First Prudential Markets and the issue, along with introducing their services and CFDs in general, was trading psychology and an attitude towards risk management.
A few interesting issues I will remember
  • Trading vs. investing vs. gambling: In trading one can perform risk management and limit losses while having unlimited earning potential. With the other two vehicles this is not case. Well, I'd say that investing is somewhere in between but just more costly than trading.
  • Keep trading. I don't know if this would turn positive one day but it's true that without action there can be no results.
  • Respect the signs. Go in on green, go out on red. This goes along with one of my "rules" - watch the indicators. Don't read the newspapers to find out what is going on in the market. Watch the price and the official public news announcement.
They offer a Gymnasium - a program with low transaction costs that lasts for about two months and helps one learn how to trade. This is just what I need at the moment as the time with IG Markets Trade Sense program was too short and I was an absolute beginner. I think I lost more money than I had to just because I was raising the stakes as the fees were increasing over time.
I intend to enroll into this course after I come back from holidays. Hopefully the markets will be in a better shape by then.


Although the main reason for this site is the amount of material and links I have collected and it started to pack the few pages I had on my original web site, I thought it would be valuable for some people I met to go through these pages eventually. The three "wow" moments I had and always remember will always be with me, I guess. The first was a friend and also a colleague. We talked about buying our first PCs and the conversation naturally went to financing. These were difficult times, right after the war in Bosnia, and funds were scarce. What he told me then opened my eyes quite a bit. He said he took a loan to buy a computer. When I asked why he did not simply put an amount of money away and save for it, he said he could not save and that he needed an obligation every month - i.e. a loan - that he would then pay off.
The second case came up in a discussion about cars. The story went to financing, again, and the person I was talking to said that it is extremely foolish to ever buy a car for cash and that loans a natural way to do it. I was stunned. Simply could not understand why would someone pay a fair share more for a car if they had the funds readily available. Especially in a situation like then, when it was uncertain whether they would have a job tomorrow.
The third case happened in a developed world. As I was handling some administrative issues, I turned to figure out which superannuation fund to take. It took more than I anticipated but I analyzed into detail which fund manager to take and which funds to put into the portfolio. While I was doing that, a couple of guys who worked at the company from a while ago asked me to help them with superannuation once I'm done with the analysis. It appeared they have never thought about it and just went ahead with whatever was the default fund for the employer.
There are numerous other cases but, after those initial shocks, I guess I got used to having people treating their financial matters in a different way.
Here I hope to have a reference that might come in handy to some of them. And to myself, of course. I just love having a page with links to different services, graphs, prices, etc. :)

Alen's Finance Blog

This is a "Hello World" post for my new blog. I have just put the new site into shape. The finance site will contain a more static content while the blog will be more dynamic and will contain news, opinions, rants, as well as page updates for the web site.

The web site is located at

Since I've been in the finance industry and government agencies throughout my career and also personally interested in various products and services, I decided to post some relevant material online. I met too many people that had problems with handling funds, saving, arranging their superannuation, not to mention more complex issues.
Therefore, I hope they will also benefit from the material I collected over time and will keep adding in the future. Let's open a virtual champagne bottle and move on.