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Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road
Old 05-02-2007, 09:54 PM   #1
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Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road

The Motley Fool Rule Your Retirement Newsletter asked us to explain how we manage our portfolio while we travel the globe.

Here's our latest piece, Have Portfolio, Will Travel:
http://www.retireearlylifestyle.com/...ill_travel.htm

We hope you find it useful.

Be well,
Akaisha
Author, The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road
Old 05-02-2007, 11:39 PM   #2
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road

Thank for the great article. Do you guys bring your own laptop with you when you travel?
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road
Old 05-03-2007, 08:20 AM   #3
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road

Thanks for the kudos on the commentary, and yes we travel with a notebook. Doesn't everyone?

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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road
Old 05-03-2007, 08:22 AM   #4
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road

I agree with you points Akeisha. I would add that:
1) Your own laptop is mandatory. Internet cafes are not secure enough to perform financial transactions. Use them for bandwidth but do not use their computers. They are prone to having keyboard loggers installed.
2) Get the numbers from your bank and credit card companies that will accept collect calls from overseas. These exist but are not published. Or set up a Jajah account to reach US 800 numbers while calling you. You can schedule your call to an Internet Cafe (or elsewhere) if you do not have a phone number in the country. We often acquire a cheap pay-as-you-go cell phone for this.
3) Use ATMs at bank locations because these are more secure than offsite machines. You cannot afford to have your debit card compromised.
4) Maintain a cash buffer so that you do not have to sell an equity during a market dip. Have trailing stop loss orders in place to protect your equity from a sudden market reversal while you are in transit.

We use all these strategies while travelling abroad.
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road
Old 05-03-2007, 09:37 PM   #5
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road

Hi Kcowan, thanks for taking the time to read our piece and to reply. We appreciate that.

Quote:
1) Your own laptop is mandatory. Internet cafes are not secure enough to perform financial transactions. Use them for bandwidth but do not use their computers. They are prone to having keyboard loggers installed.
We consider having our own laptop ‘mandatory’ from the point of view that we manage our website, keep in contact with various media personnel, publish articles and process book orders while on the road. That being said, we rarely, if ever, bring our laptop to any of the internet cafes we use.

To walk around with a laptop in these foreign countries (even in a daypack) alerts anyone who might be interested to the fact that we have digital equipment with us and exposes us to the threat of theft. While we have heard of keyboard loggers, we have never met anyone who has had an actual experience with this happening to them. Just curious, do you have any personal experience with this yourself?

When we leave an internet café, we delete all our history and delete all offline content. The computers are shut off in the evening, canceling out the day’s activities.

We have been traveling with our own PC since 1997 and have been on the road since 1991. We have had almost 17 years of continuous worldwide travel in various circumstances and have not heard of anyone who has had a personal experience with key logging software affecting them or someone they knew. Of course 'everyone' talks about it however.... 8)

I would think that if I wanted to lift some money from someone’s account, I would have that keyboard logging software installed in places like the Four Seasons, Marriott, the Oriental, the Mae Ping, the Empress, etc., as that is where the money is, not some small internet café jammed with backpackers…

Quote:
2) Get the numbers from your bank and credit card companies that will accept collect calls from overseas. These exist but are not published. Or set up a Jajah account to reach US 800 numbers while calling you. You can schedule your call to an Internet Cafe (or elsewhere) if you do not have a phone number in the country. We often acquire a cheap pay-as-you-go cell phone for this.
I don’t know anything about a Jajah account (sounds interesting, do you have a link?)

It is our experience that while the bank and credit cards may accept collect calls, we must pay someone on our end to in order to initiate them. In the past, while in Thailand when we have had to straighten out financial issues we have paid 25baht per minute (+/- 75 cents).

We have considered a cheap pay-as-you-go cell phone but we simply don’t own a cell phone, and have done without them so far… I know, I know, for as digitally inclined as we are, we are in the stone age when it comes to cell phones…. :P

Quote:
3) Use ATMs at bank locations because these are more secure than offsite machines. You cannot afford to have your debit card compromised.
What a nightmare to have one’s debit card compromised! I wouldn’t wish that on anyone and I can appreciate your caution.

However, it brings to mind how many people utilize the shop and swipe method at grocery stores with their debit cards getting cash back, or any other number of places they use to pay for items purchased - getting gas for instance where you pay outside.

When we arrive by plane in a new country and need local currency, we do utilize the ATM’s there in the airport. Otherwise we would need to use USD (which of course, we have done before) for transport to the hotel/guesthouse and to then pay for the room also with USD. Using the ATM in an airport allows us to get cash in local currency without making a separate trip to a bank in a location where we have never been, don’t speak the language, and after traveling for hours. We may arrive at midnight or the middle of the morning so going to the bank during these hours even with a taxi escort can make us stand out as a target.

When an ATM is not available in an airport and it is a reasonable hour, we will ask the taxi driver to take us to a bank 1st, before our hotel room so that we may have that local currency available.

Quote:
4) Maintain a cash buffer so that you do not have to sell an equity during a market dip. Have trailing stop loss orders in place to protect your equity from a sudden market reversal while you are in transit.
Having a cash buffer is an excellent idea. Some people keep 2+ years in cash just for this reason. We have been on the road almost continuously for the last 17 years as it is our lifestyle. There is really very little distinction for us between our time in the States and our time on the road. While this approach may not appeal to everyone, we have been selling shares as needed to cover our lifestyle expenses and we do keep a small amount of cash handy.

I did ask Billy about the stop loss orders being in place and he gave me a wry smile. I asked him to explain and he said that in his opinion, using stop loss orders was a disaster waiting to happen. In his experience as a Vice President of Investments, Branch Manager, Stock Broker, he saw on a daily basis how the New York traders would take the market down to stop clients out, only to close higher. Since the traders got paid to move money - as did Billy, - the stop loss orders worked in his favor, even though he advised clients not to use them.

Also, if a stop loss kicks in, you will have tax consequences. These may be unwanted and largely unnecessary.

In the end, I think people must come to terms with their own security/risk ratio.

Whole businesses have been made on internet selling (Amazon, eBay, PayPal, purchasing through Google Ads, etc.) and are very popular. However, I know lots of people who would ‘never’ buy a thing online because they are too afraid of the perceived risks involved.

Our philosophy is that it's better to live and make mistakes than to never take the adventure.

From The Fear Factor, Chapter 26 of our book… (see Table of Contents: http://www.retireearlylifestyle.com/...f_contents.htm

Hope these explanations help to clarify. Thanks again for writing!

Be well,

Akaisha
Author, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road
Old 05-04-2007, 12:13 PM   #6
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road

Good points. A couple of clarifications/responses:
  • Jajah is at www.jajah.com and is headquartered in Europe. Works great.
  • Key loggers have been installed in cafes for years and the only problem is when you access your bank account. Typically it cannot be drained. So it is more of an irritation.
  • ATMs at airports are usually OK. The issue is the location where thieves can install fake readers over real ones and a camera to record PINs. Big problem with independent store-located machines. That can result in your account being drained (subject to withdrawal limits).
  • Stop loss orders are as Billy says if the limit is too tight. But I am thinking of something like 15% to prevent the total meltdowns like 1987 and 2000.
Also WiFi connections can have sniffers that usually just harvest any internet email addresses during your connection. There is ample evidence of increased Spam after using a "free hotspot". Reputable providers like Starbucks and hotels present no such problems. We hook up our laptop via Ethernet cable at Cafes when they let us to prevent this problem (and key loggers).
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road
Old 05-04-2007, 12:48 PM   #7
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road

Quote:
Originally Posted by kcowan
4) Maintain a cash buffer so that you do not have to sell an equity during a market dip. Have trailing stop loss orders in place to protect your equity from a sudden market reversal while you are in transit.
Wouldn't this be a breach of buy and hold asset allocation?

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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road
Old 05-04-2007, 01:14 PM   #8
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road

Personally, I favor out-of-the money index puts to stop-loss orders for at least 3 reasons.

(1) In a gap down move (such as 1987), the market can blow right through your stop-loss point.

(2) If the market immediately recovers, you are automatically back in.

(3) In sharp down moves, the implied volatility will increase, further increasing the value of your puts.
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road
Old 05-04-2007, 02:04 PM   #9
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road

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Originally Posted by kcowan

3) Use ATMs at bank locations because these are more secure than offsite machines. You cannot afford to have your debit card compromised.
OR, just don't have a debit card!!! I can not see any (and I repeat ANY) adavantage of having a Visa or MC debit card.... if they are accepted, then use credit card.. Use your ATM card only in ATMs... and you do not have to worry about being compromised (well, except for those people who steal info from ATM machines...)..
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road
Old 05-04-2007, 02:10 PM   #10
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road

Quote:
Originally Posted by Billy

I did ask Billy about the stop loss orders being in place and he gave me a wry smile. I asked him to explain and he said that in his opinion, using stop loss orders was a disaster waiting to happen. In his experience as a Vice President of Investments, Branch Manager, Stock Broker, he saw on a daily basis how the New York traders would take the market down to stop clients out, only to close higher. Since the traders got paid to move money - as did Billy, - the stop loss orders worked in his favor, even though he advised clients not to use them.
I have heard this before but I call BS on this.. (just how I say it..., not trying to be mean)....

There are so many stop loss orders in the system and there is so much money that a broker trying to 'take' your shares is just ridiculous... if you have a stop at say $10... someone else has it at $9.95... and someone else at $9.90... why not keep it going down to get THEIR shares Because the market will not let it happen... if someone else sees the stock go down to a price they like, they buy...

The market on any stock can move a few percent a day... you need to put your stop loss at a percent that is much lower than the daily activity or you will get stopped out... no plan, just the way it is..
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road
Old 05-04-2007, 02:25 PM   #11
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road

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Originally Posted by Texas Proud
I have heard this before but I call BS on this.. (just how I say it..., not trying to be mean)....
There are so many stop loss orders in the system and there is so much money that a broker trying to 'take' your shares is just ridiculous...
It's not the brokers, it's the market makers. They make a lot more money from this than the brokers ever could.

They can read a chart just as well as we can, and they know where the most likely stops are. They can't see them, but like hunters they know where the game is likely to be. So they drive prices down to trigger a flood of stop orders and then match 'em up.

Try setting your stops at the TA-recommended points or at Bill O'Neill's recommended percentages and you'll get nailed every true-selling down day.

I've found that if you buy a stock at enough of a discount to its share value then sell stops aren't necessary. I may set one at 20%-30% below my purchase price, or 20-30% below a stupidly overvalued price of a stock I wouldn't mind selling, but even then it's a hassle and I'm just kidding myself.

The put option is a much better mechanism and much less susceptible to manipulation-- if it's available for that stock. Unfortunately it can be a lot more expensive than a sell stop loss that's never triggered.

But if we're the kind of investors who feel compelled to use sell stops & puts to protect against volatility then we shouldn't be buying individual stocks in the first place. It's just the middlemen taking advantage of investor psychology.
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road
Old 05-04-2007, 03:57 PM   #12
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road

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Originally Posted by Texas Proud
I have heard this before but I call BS on this.. (just how I say it..., not trying to be mean)....

There are so many stop loss orders in the system and there is so much money that a broker trying to 'take' your shares is just ridiculous...
I definitely put the market manipulation stories in the conspiracy theory league, but....

A friend of mine did some IT work at one of the major exchanges. He seemed to think that taking out stops was something that was easy to do (you just need one small trade printing that lower number on the tape), and that it happened. A small loss on that small trade to make a big profit, and then you wash the other guys back when the time comes. I don't know if they could do it on the highly liquid stuff, but the smaller stocks - yes.

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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road
Old 05-04-2007, 04:57 PM   #13
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road

Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50
I definitely put the market manipulation stories in the conspiracy theory league, but....

A friend of mine did some IT work at one of the major exchanges. He seemed to think that taking out stops was something that was easy to do (you just need one small trade printing that lower number on the tape), and that it happened. A small loss on that small trade to make a big profit, and then you wash the other guys back when the time comes. I don't know if they could do it on the highly liquid stuff, but the smaller stocks - yes.

-ERD50
The problem with that thinking is that there is a guy with a stop loss for ten of thousands or hundreds of thousand of shares (or many small ones)... AND that they could get the price down on a small trade...

With todays systems.. there are so many buys and sells at limit prices (not stop loss).. it just does not seem that they could get a small loss... and unless there were enough shares at that lower price, then what did you gain?? And of course, there is someone else with a stop just below that to take advantage of.. how do you keep going down??

Now, could a trader in a brokerage firm 'buy' that stock inside the firm... well, yes.. they do not have to go through an exchange.. but most would require someone else on the purchase side, more than likely not the broker... their buys and sells are monitered..

I could only see it back when market makers ruled the world.. but they made so much money on the spread... why even try the stop loss game?? Because, eventually you will need a buyer to sell the shares..
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road
Old 05-04-2007, 07:56 PM   #14
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road

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Originally Posted by Texas Proud

With todays systems.. there are so many buys and sells at limit prices (not stop loss)..
Yes, for those reasons I'm guessing it can only really be done on illiquid stocks.

Say a stock is trading at 100. Someone has a stop loss at 95. To put through a transaction below 95 (to trigger the stop loss) it would seem that they would need to fill any outstanding limit buys at 99.99 down to 95 first. Else, someone with a limit buy at 97 would be complaining - hey, you sold some shares to that guy for 95, but you didn't fill my order at 97 (or 95)! If it goes back to 100 that day, the guy with the limit buy at 97 is figuring he is out the $3 gain he could have had if his order were filled.

In a liquid stock, there would be a lot of orders to handle to 'clear the deck', and more orders would come in as the price dropped - I agree, seems like a risky way to make a buck.

But on a thin stock, if a guy on the floor can pick off 500 shares on a stop loss and sell them later for a buck or two more a short while later - that's some nice pocket change. I imagine the conditions that would fit this scenario are relatively rare. But it could occur often enough in thin stocks that these guys keep their eyes open for it and act on it when they can.

IIRC, even Bob Brinker, when he was handling that infamous QQQ trade, said to put a *mental* stop loss on the trade, to not actually place one. His audience might be big enough to make it worth some big guys to chase down that stop loss - I have no idea.

I guess I still believe my friend that it is real and that it happens, but maybe not so often the average investor really needs to be concerned about it.

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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road
Old 05-05-2007, 03:03 AM   #15
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road

Quote:
“There are so many stop loss orders in the system and there is so much money that a broker trying to 'take' your shares is just ridiculous... if you have a stop at say $10... someone else has it at $9.95... and someone else at $9.90... why not keep it going down to get THEIR shares Because the market will not let it happen”
The market makers/ NY Traders are the market. At least on the NYSE they have to balance their trades everyday. It’s a manual trading system, not automated like the NASDAQ. For every buyer, there has to be a seller. He’s in the middle, taking out your stop at 9.5 and selling it to the buyer at 9.625. He capturers the difference. As long as he has the buyers he can work this as much as he is able.

These guys make BIG BUCKS!, but they too have had there heads handed to them when things work against them. Most of your trades are done in the back office of the firm your dealing with. Then they take it to the floor in blocks. They too are looking to make money.

Oh, you’re making me re-live nightmares. Being branch manager I had to be in touch with Dean Witter’s traders in NY if things went awry at my branch. It happens and it can happen with one key stroke, like buying 20,000 shares instead of selling. I quickly learned in this business every man/shark is out for themselves. Even though we worked for the same firm, these guys didn’t care a rats “….. “ about YOU the retail clients. They would eat me alive in a heartbeat.

I had a 100 million dollar account in my office who was a very active trader. 50 million of which was on margin. Being on the west coast the market opened a 6:30 AM. This account would have many orders, stock and options waiting for the opening. I am not talking about 100 share trades here. You would probably know his name if I disclosed it but I will not. We were not his only account and he would work us against other firms to get his best price. All of this before my first cup of morning coffee.

Then an error would happen. It was my job to take control of this and minimize the damage as quickly as possibly. I was paid on my office’s performance. A large error could wipe out my month, and not make for a happy Akaisha. This is when I would dreadfully call the floor of the NYSE and try to deal with the trader to see if he could work me out of this. I learned fast it was better to just bite the bullet and move on as those guys smelled blood in the water when I called.

I know I am ranting a bit here but yes, they will take out your stops. They can see both sides of the market,-- the buyers and sellers. They have to in order to balance their trades. Have you ever heard of an order imbalance? Too many shares either being bought or sold and the trader cannot balance. Then the stock gaps either up or down, if there is a large imbalance.

Your making my head hurt just thinking about this stuff from 17 years ago! :P

A note: The guy who I replaced as branch manager went on to work for this large account. He died a couple of years later at age 36. This gave me a little something to chew on each morning.

Billy
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Akaisha here… I told Billy to ‘just back away from the computer, Honey… It’s ok now…”

Those memories are strong and this is why we like to keep things so simple these days. (See Simple Approach, Long Term Results http://www.retireearlylifestyle.com/...rm_results.htm )

We lived several lifetimes in those jammed-packed career years.

Now we spend our time getting Thai massages www.retireearlylifestyle.com/massage_story.htm to work out the kinks and toxins!

Be well,

Akaisha
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road
Old 05-05-2007, 11:12 AM   #16
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road

Quote:
Originally Posted by HaHa
Wouldn't this be a breach of buy and hold asset allocation?

Ha
We are talking about dealing with the situation where you are traveling and out-of-touch. This would not fit in a more general strategy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FIRE'd@51 on May 04, 2007, 02:14:26 PM
Personally, I favor out-of-the money index puts to stop-loss orders for at least 3 reasons.
(1) In a gap down move (such as 1987), the market can blow right through your stop-loss point.
(2) If the market immediately recovers, you are automatically back in.
(3) In sharp down moves, the implied volatility will increase, further increasing the value of your puts.
Good suggestion. I have some small caps that are not in the index, but for mainstream holdings and general market corrections this is a good suggestion. Thanks. Just add to the cost of trip insurance.
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road
Old 05-06-2007, 12:21 AM   #17
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road

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Originally Posted by Nords
Try setting your stops at the TA-recommended points or at Bill O'Neill's recommended percentages and you'll get nailed every true-selling down day.
Yep, I took Bill O'Neills advise (7% stop loss if I remember correctly) and I got nailed several times :
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road
Old 05-06-2007, 04:46 PM   #18
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road

This talk of market makers taking out stops is actually good news to me... when I buy I usually do it with a limit buy order slightly out of the market. If a market maker pulls the market down temporarily that will happily give me a buy at a better price than I would have otherwise.

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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road
Old 05-06-2007, 06:10 PM   #19
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road

When we traveled in Europe for nine weeks last fall I took my laptop and used it to manage our finances. I also used it to make cheep calls home using Skype. The use of Skype is free for computer to computer calls. You can call any number in the US form Europe for about 2 cents a min. I bought ten Euros worth of Skype out and still had some left when we got back. Email has great to keep in touch because of the nine hour time difference.

I have a IBM X60 that has a 12 inch screen and weighs less than 3lbs. I would generally stay at hotels that had high speed internet service. I found it hard to find any internet cafes that offered free access. We had to pay for the service almost all the time. We did stay with friends that had high speed and they did not charge.
If I did not feel it was safe to leave my computer at the hotel I would put it in my day pack. It is just a normal day pack so no one would think you were carrying a computer. The 12 inch screen works fine I even updated my website while traveling. The less than 3lbs weight also makes it easy to carry.
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road
Old 05-06-2007, 10:17 PM   #20
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Re: Financial Road Warriors - How to manage your portfolio while on the road

Freein05
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When we traveled in Europe for nine weeks last fall I took my laptop and used it to manage our finances. I also used it to make cheep calls home using Skype. The use of Skype is free for computer to computer calls. You can call any number in the US form Europe for about 2 cents a min. I bought ten Euros worth of Skype out and still had some left when we got back....I found it hard to find any internet cafes that offered free access. We had to pay for the service almost all the time.
We use Skype here in Thailand also for computer to landline or computer to computer calls. We can use it from our own computer or at any internet cafe that has Skype installed. The cafe I'm in currently has a webcam, brand new ear phones and high speed connection. We pay 15 baht an hour for the use of the computer. (34 baht = $1). To call the States from here (since my Skype account is registered in the US) is just over 2 cents a minute. It's been a great addition to keeping in touch with family and friends.


Quote:
If I did not feel it was safe to leave my computer at the hotel I would put it in my day pack. It is just a normal day pack so no one would think you were carrying a computer. The 12 inch screen works fine I even updated my website while traveling. The less than 3lbs weight also makes it easy to carry.
We utilize a PacSafe to cover our daypack or backpack rollie when we leave our computer in the hotel room.

PacSafes http://www.pacsafe.com/www/index.php...n=detail&id=48 are these steel cable mesh protection covers that fit over one's gear. Since we are on the road so often and sometimes in areas that require this kind of protection, this equipment has really served us well.

At this point, neither Billy nor I could imagine not having access to our computer. Ours is lightweight also about the same as yours.

Akaisha
The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement
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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. They have lived over 2 decades of this financially independent lifestyle, traveling the globe.
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