I just received my electric bill for last month and... wow. Just wow.
I'm used to seeing only $30 to $40 on it, but this time, it was $130! I think it's the AC. It doesn't seem to run too well, and even with AC on, I still have to keep a box fan on me.
This is astounding. I'm going to have to take drastic steps.
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I just received my electric bill for last month and... wow. Just wow.
Haha, I saw a funny video that I thought it'd be fun to share....
But before I do that, it did make me wonder about whether I even want to get back into the dating scene or not? Or heaven forbid, get into a relationship! Wow, just the very thought of it scares me right now.
Although I suppose for the right woman, I could probably be talked into it.... But considering that I'm still single, I guess this isn't exactly something I need to worry about right now.
Still, I wonder: How do you know for sure when somebody standing in front of you is the right person for you? How do you tell you're not just infatuated with them, or that you're just in love with the idea of being in love? What do you think?
Is a hilarious comedian who uses a lot of explicit language, so please be warned.
Like finances? Like futbol? Hate vuvuzelas?
When it comes to financial insights, many look back at the life and times of Benjamin Franklin. His advice is simple and timeless, advocating industry, frugality, and never squandering our most precious resource, which is time.
I ran across this picture of alicense plate on the internet, and thought that it would be fun to share it.
I was amused at first, but the more I looked at it, the more I wondered if it was really frugal? I mean a Honda Insight is environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient, but it's not cheap either. Also, a vanity plate isn't exactly frugal.
To be fair though, the owner may very well be frugal. It just depends on what their overall financial picture looks like.
Anyways, my meandering around the internet also landed me on an article that I think is written by our very own Jeffrey. It appears that he has succeeded on his $1 a day food challenge and is forging ahead for more! I haven't read all the entries, but of the ones that I did, they were certainly amusing.
In a way, he's a stronger man than I am because I don't think I can pull that off. Well, unless I had absolutely no choice, because subsisting mostly on bread, vegetable, and cereal? Ouch. Earned my respect right there.
Oh, and I just came across a free minimalist e-cookbook from thestonesoup.com. This cookbook promises no more than 5 ingredients and no more than 10 minutes to make.
For those of you who are born with a spatula in hand, you may scoff at this, but if you're someone who is a bit more ah challenged in the kitchen like myself, this may be of interest to you.
The only downside is that I question the price of some of these ingredients.
Ever heard of the Motel 6 ad, where they were joking about how Motel 6 was frugal before the new frugal became chic or something like that? I wish I could find a transcript of that ad because it was pretty humorous, but those of you who have heard it should know what I'm talking about.
In any case, it got me wondering about who this Tom Bodett guy is, and how they came up with the slogan, "We'll leave the light on for you."
Or is it chance at all? What if it simply struck a chord through simplicity and sincerity?
I must say that I love the Motel 6 ads. Understand that, unlike something like the Ritz Carlton, Motel 6 is an economy motel chain. As such, their product, as well as their marketing pitch should be and is a simple one: Clean rooms and good price. But you know what? That's all I ask for in a motel stay anyways. And these Motel 6 ads come across as very down-to-earth and sincere about such a promise. Real life experiences may vary of course.
I suppose the takeaway lesson here is that, sometimes, simple and sincere may be the best way to go, including matters of business. That and the more things change, the more some things seem to stay the same. And when it comes to certain values such as frugality, that's not really a bad thing at all.
First, they went through bankruptcy restructuring, clinging on to less than $40 million in capital, which may sound like a lot, but not when you're facing nearly a billion dollars in debt. To make matters worse, now there is news that they will be delisted from the NYSE.
You can read more details in the link if you want, but what I wanted to share about this story is that even the mighty can be brought to its knees if it is unable to tame the debt dragon.
One could also argue that it's about business agility, which I can agree with, but if Blockbuster didn't have so much debt, it would still have time to evolve and grow.
Oh yeah, that and maybe karma. Late fees used to be Blockbuster's bread and butter, and as such, they didn't bend on the policy. I hated that though, and cheered Netflix when they will allow you to keep yours for as long as you want without late fees. Anyway, the late fee inflexibility may have been the double edged sword that gave Netflix a chance to break into the market.
But mostly, it's a cautionary tale about what debt can do to you if you are not careful.
Not a very interesting topic, but I just want to get this off my chest.
For years now, I still see online that people tout ETFs because of their low expense ratios relative to their equivalent mutual funds. Based on that, they therefore conclude that ETFs are better.
However, with a few exceptions, ETFs also require a trading fee. Translated into mutual fund terms, that's a front and a back load you have to pay as well!
Now, I'm not saying that in certain circumstances, ETFs can't be cheaper. I'm saying the real answer is: It Depends.
* It depends on how much you contribute. The smaller your contribution balance is, the larger in percentage your trading fees are.
* It depends on how often you contribute. If you're in a 401(k) program, where you may be automatically contributing bi-weekly, the fees are going to destroy you. However, if you're someone who is only making annual buys, say, in an IRA, then it's not so bad.
* It also depends on how many ETFs you plan on buying. A typical portfolio will consist of at least one large cap ETF, one bond ETF, and perhaps an international ETF. You may have more, and the point is, all those ETFs each require a separate trading fee from you.
* And finally, it depends on your existing balance. For example, if you're someone who is just starting out and have a fairly small amount, the difference in the expense ratio is negligible. Now, if you have a lot of money already invested, then yes, I agree expense ratios are extremely important.
Bottom line, I don't understand what the fascination with ETFs are. I mean I can articulate circumstances where even I will use them, but for the most part, I think you can do just fine with regular mutual funds.
Investing isn't always exciting, but it doesn't have to be. It just has to work.
Mint.com does it again with another fun graph, this time, showing certain items that actually cost less than they did 10 years ago... when adjust for inflation.
If my month could be summed up in one catchy phrase, it would be "Easy Come, Easy Go". I might as well have a catchy slogan, because it's turned out to be the biggest beating I've ever taken in a single month.
This month alone, I've lost 6% in net worth.
What happened? Basically, this is what happens when you take lot of risks. You can make a lot of money fast, but at the same time, you can lose a lot of money fast.
I also spent a large chunk in unexpected expenses (for my son's braces), but I can't lie: Most of the damage was self-inflicted in stock trading.
Sooo, I guess it also doesn't help then that I've also gotten my qualification letter to go into options trading. Again, I aim to be super safe and tread very slowly into it, but yeah....
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go drown my sorrow in southern sweet tea.
You guys know by now that I sort of have a thing for small homes. Well, not so much the small space per se, but mostly, the creativity and inventiveness that goes into it, because the space is indeed so limited.
And although this isn't my personal preference, I found a cottage renovation that is nevertheless enchanting. It went from
And there's much more! Here's the entire slideshow to see pictures of the interior. It truly is beautiful.
Best of all, I don't think she spent a lot of money to do the renovation, stating that most were found in flea markets and yard sales.
Speaking of which, here is a popular YouTube video of an apartment with transforming rooms. World's Greenest Homes is a really cool show.
Sooo, a fellow co-worker told me about this new ponzi scheme er I mean charity organization, but with a twist. The basic idea is this:
Donate $6, separated into three $2 portions, to your fellow gifters in the organization, and in return, you are eligible to receive back as much as $28 in cash gift yourself.
Now, you can only keep $7, because the other $21 is then split into three $7 portions that you re-donate back into the program, but in return, you are eligible for an even higher sum... that you can keep only a certain portion of while you re-donate the rest back.
Sounds innocent enough. So, what's wrong with this picture?
In order for the system to work, you have to get a lot of new people to join and donate their money, and the magnitude is frightening.
For one thing, it will take up to 14 donations on the first level (hence the name 14 Eagles) just for you to complete level 1. That's roughly 4.6 people required to make the total of 14 donations needed. Let's just say 5 people.
Let me say this again. For you, one person, to make the initial profit of only $1(!), you need 5 people below you. 5 people.
And how many does it require to complete level 2? 25 people. It takes 5 Level 2 gifters, each requiring their own 5 people's worth of level 1 donations to reach level 2 in order for them to gift YOU enough level 2 donations to go to level 3. 25 people.
And how many is required to reach level 3? 125 people. And it just keeps going like that.
The funny thing is, my co-worker believes the math makes sense, because the misleading literature is only showing you the dollar amounts you have the POTENTIAL of making, but never once mentioning the number of people required below you to realize that potential.
There's something else too. Because it's a (shady) charitable organization, it's not really subject to the same regulatory standards as a regular business, even for network marketing types.
Plus, everything is literally handled through cash. Yes, they recommend that you hide the cash, wrapped in magazine pages, stuffed inside darkened envelopes. Uh huh.
Even their website, 14eagles.com, is locked down pretty tight. You can't get in without ID and password. Nothing shows up on the domain registration either. Gotta love a good charity organization with transparency oh wait.... IT DOESN'T.
All this lack of transparency also makes it easy for the program's creator to game the system and keep a substantial portion for himself without anyone knowing.
Fortunately, my co-worker is out of this program. One of the members of his church found some questionable legal details, and his entire church decided to collectively get out of it.
But anyways, here's another cautionary tale about how if something looks too easy or too good to be true, chances are, it is.