Investing 101

They say it takes money to make money. This is never truer than with investing. Wealthy people are able to obtain more wealth because they no how to make their money work for them. Just look at the equity markets these days, not to mention the number of ridiculously large private equity deals going on. Billions of dollars are made each day. And believe me, it is the people that are already rich that are collecting most of that money. But like with many things worthwhile, making your money work for you takes know how and some level of sophistication. Since moving to New York I have become much more interested in business and finance. If I could go back to my early days of college, there is no doubt that I would have become a business major rather than a history major (although this is not based on a decreased interest in world history). 

Instead, however, my crash course has come in the past few years in the real world. Now that I have a job and am able to save some money, I am eager to have my money work for me as well, especially since I see in my job and current interests the amount of money out there to be made. To that end, I have been reading a lot of personal finance and investment books, many of which offer good advice and some of which offer common sense (which, when it comes to money, there is not much of a consensus). And so I move forward, preparing for the day that I can be financially secure, if there is such a thing, and hope that when I am finally in a position to be a big hitter in the market, that there is still money to be made. 

Project Project Finance

I’ve been doing some Project Finance work the past few days and find it to be quite interesting, if not very complicating. People often hear or read of large project finance deals going on somewhere in the world, but few know the number of parties and the amount of work that goes into making the deal work and making everyone satisfied. Essentially, project finance is the model used to help parties, many times  foreign governments, finance and build large infrastructure projects. As such, energy, whether natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectric, and oil, is often involved and thus there are a lot of regulatory approvals that go into it. The current deal I am working on is a energy plant in Canada that is being built. Large financial institutions provide the money as lenders, there is collateral put up to secure the deal, there are several institutions involved as various agents (usually banks) that play differnt roles on behalf of the entities borrowing the money (including our client), and there are way too many lawyers involved at each stage (of which I am one). Needless to say, there is a lot of documentation that each party must agree on. Given the speed at which things move now because of email, some items are bound to get lost or overlooked, which is what we have been cleaning up the past few days. These deals are important to everyone’s clients and are worth hundreds of millions of dollars and no one can afford to have things go wrong. And so the lawyers and the business people stay up all night getting the deal done. But for what? Sure, some large project will be completed eventually, but what good are we doing in the world? And is it worth the stress and sleep deprivation that so many people suffer from as a result? Who knows. But of the different types of deals that I have worked on, they seem to be more exciting (even if that is not saying a lot). Project finance is defintely better that structured finance, at least from my limited experience in both areas. But like so many other lawyers in New York City, this is somthing to do for now while we think of what we really want to do.  

The Lunch Goers Dilemma

I have a few goals, one of which is to eat healthy. Not strictly organic, but decent. A second goal is to be wise with my money. I feel as if I am in a daily struggle to find somewhere to eat that won’t eventually kill me without spending too much money. Truth be told, it’s not easy nor is is cheap to eat healthy, not when every fast food place around town has a 99¢ menu. Eating healthy, for me at least, is a conscience, daily commitment. I have to admit that I am not good at bringing my lunch to work, but when I go out during the day to grab something it is a constant struggle for me. Do I spend the $7.00 for the overpriced sandwich (that may not even be healthy, but at least looks better for me) or do I just run to Wendy’s for the 99¢ Junior Cheeseburger Deluxe? On the one hand, I feel that I am saving a few dollars. On the other, I am slowly eating away at my lifespan. It’s the lunch goes dilemma. I have been better at bringing snacks to work so that I can eat during the day and not feel hungry and spend less when I grab something outside, but even then. I don’t do well when I’m really hungry and the days that I am at work until 8:00 pm or later begin to feel long. Maybe one day I’ll live and work somewhere where a healthy, filling lunch won’t cost you an arm and a leg as it does here in the Financial District of lower Manhattan. I am still working on the happy medium between my two goals, but for now, my comfort and my security are my exercise and my youth. I am creating the habits that will be with me forever and am happy to say that I have recently lost weight.

Two Years With the LG8300

I know that I blogged a few months ago regarding how I was going to wait until later this year to buy a new phone, but a few weeks ago I went out and bought one anyway, despite of my earlier hesitations. While I had no intention of buying the iPhone, I was impressed with the phone and was convinced that it would change the cell phone industry. In waiting to buy a phone until later this year, I thought I could wait until the iPhone’s influence would have had enough time to rub off on other companies and other carriers. But I became impatient. For the most part, I have a cell phone to make phone calls. I have the new LG8300 and enjoy it as a phone and its features, but know that I will use few of the entertainment options the phone is capable of. It’s not worth the money, time, and inconvenience for me to listen to music on my phone. I have an iPod for that. And the Internet on my phone, are you kidding me? I can’t read that small of a screen, nor do I want to. Who needs news on a phone that size? But, all of this will change in the coming years. When my new contract is up in April of 2009, the cell phones/devices available in the U.S. will be amazing (but still behind Asia), and at that point, surfing the web, reading the news, listening to music, taking pictures and making phone calls (all with abundantly longer battery life, hopefully) will not only be accessible, but will be much more convenient than today. And that is why I decided to get a new phone and lock myself into waiting for two years to go by. In my lifetime I have seen technology change itself and our lives. I can only imagine what the world may be like when my soon-to-be born daugther is my age. You can bet that the cell phones then will be like nothing we could imagine today.

To Write A Book

While I enjoy writing and have always been good at keeping a personal journal (I have concurrently kept a daily and a weekly journal for the past eleven years), the idea of writing a book is daunting. Yet, I would like to try to do it. The problem I am having is coming up with a topic. I could do non-fiction, which I believe fits my personality and history background well, but the amount of research required is tremendous. It is essentially a full time job if one really wants to be able to turn out drafts of new chapters and finish it in a reasonable amount of time. And then there is fiction, not that it doesn’t require research, but it also requires a certain amount of creativity and writing ability. I read a lot, which I believe is necessary for anyone interested in writing, but I have yet to come up with that one topic that excites me enough to choose to write hundreds of pages devoted to it. Except maybe one – me. Not because I’m self-absorbed, but because it is something I know. Obviously, I don’t think that would cut it in the publishing world, nor would it sell.

And so the search and pondering continues. I know it is something I want to do, but I need more spare time (as if that will come anytime soon), a focused subject, and clarity of mind and thought. Perhaps one day I will accomplish the task of writing a book. For now, my journals and this blog that few people know of will have to do.

Should We Be More Connected or More Concerned?

I recently added the ClustrMap to my right sidebar in the hopes that someone outside of New York will view my blog once in a while. The idea that I will be able to track the general location of the computer that accessed this site is incredible. Are we becoming too connected? The past few days has included news regarding the ten hour BlackBerry outage earlier this week. I was expecting some emails the night of the outage and was surprised when nothing came, not knowing that there was a general outage across the country. When I woke up early the next morning, the first thing I did was look at my BlackBerry. Nothing. Images of the deal falling apart over night were my first thoughts. Is this a pathetic commentary? I can’t go more than ten hours without obsessing over what emails I received. Some of it comes with the nature of being an attorney in New York. Some of it is our increasingly connected and electronic culture. And some of it, admittedly, may have to do with feeling important (similar to when you receive tons of mail in one day despite most of it being junk mail).

As for our increasingly connected culture, I remember a time when I left my apartment only concerned that I had my wallet. Now, I must leave my apartment concerned that I have my wallet, cell phone, BlackBerry, iPod and something to read. I clearly remember sending my first email ever in the summer of 1997, right after I had graduated from high school. Today, I couldn’t live without it, and the recent BlackBerry outage proves it. A ten hour drought stresses me out. Again, is this a sad commentary or what?

Does Prestige Matter?

At some point in my life it would be nice to say that I went to such and such school or work at such and such firm, etc without having to drop footnotes explaining where and what such place is. I’m not complaining and in fact feel that I am doing quite well. I enjoyed where I went to school and the job that I currently have. Believe me, it is more than what many people have. But all are not well known outside certain circles, and thus, I am stuck having to explain myself more often than not. Maybe my feelings stem from the fact that many of the people I work with have backgrounds and experience that speak for themselves with no further explanation needed. Am I selfish, greedy, or too caught up with prestige for feeling this way? Perhaps. But even admitting so does not make me any less interested in striving for certain names, if only to use as a stepping stone to take me somewhere else.

Given that my school days are likely behind me, this leaves me with trying to one day obtain a job I deem prestigious. With certain jobs may come more money and prestige and name recognition, but they are not free. Those who choose that lifestyle make sacrifices in other ways at home and in their personal life. How willing am I to do the same? My feeling is that I am at least willing to give it a try. The thing is, until I have a chance to try working at a larger firm I will be trying to get there. And although I understand that there are pros and cons of sacrificing a lifestyle for more money or recognition, I just hope that when my chance comes, I am able to one day walk away from the experience feeling that I got out of it what I wanted to.