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Cheat Sheet Q & A:
Why hydrogen powered cars won't work (or is bad or won’t ever happen, etc.):
Bottom Line: Yesterday I did a story on
This is just hype - most concepts never make it to market: That’s true. In fact the last time we received an update from
Hydrogen fuel cells will never be safe: I’m the last person who could comment on the engineering viability of hydrogen fuel cells. Safety has been the biggest hang up over the past decade for anyone who has attempted to create a hydrogen powered vehicle.
Traditional fuels are cheaper/better options – we don’t need hydrogen: That’s an opinion. I agree in a true “all of the above” approach. I have investments in several traditional American energy companies and am a huge proponent of realizing the benefits of maximizing our natural resources. I’m also a huge fan of alternative sources of energy. If hydrogen fuel cell technology is perfected there is no down side. No environmental impact. No harvesting or refining is needed. It’s perpetually renewable. I don’t see how traditional fuel could be considered better options.
If you have a topic or question you’d like me to address email me: email@example.com
Surprise! You may no longer be underwater!:
Bottom Line: In the 3rd quarter 1.4 million homeowners moved into that category that looked like an oasis just a couple of years ago. They have home equity once again. All told 11 million Americans are still underwater on their mortgages but that’s down from about 29 million at the peak of the housing decline two years ago. What’s more is that often those who aren’t underwater any longer don’t generally know that’s the case. So if you wanted to sell but held back because of a lack of equity… It might be time to inquire. You just might be pleasantly surprised.
A new insurance product for your home that you may want to avoid:
Bottom Line: You’re likely familiar with
The product that’s being pitched is clearly being sold to capitalize on the fear and emotions stemming from the most recent housing crisis. The product being pitched requires 10% equity to begin a policy. So…
Now I looked at home prices historically (going back to 1900). The only time in US history that home prices have declined by more than 10% (which would be required for you to begin to need the
Google wallet isn't just digital anymore:
Bottom Line: The battle for the digital wallet has been fierce in recent years. No one company has really had significant success around the country. It’s in part due to retailers being somewhat slow adapters to the newer payment technology along with several options being available. Google may have found the ideal way to bridge the gap.
Starting today Google wallet enables a Google branded MasterCard debit card to be linked with your Google wallet account. That way you can use your Google wallet account at any retailer than accepts MasterCard.
Consumer Reports on Black Friday deals - you get what you pay for with TV's:
Bottom Line: Consumer Reports has analyzed all of the major door buster TV deals for Black Friday. This includes, Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, Sears, Bestbuy, etc. And what they found is you’ll get what you pay for.
CR has many recommendations for TV’s in each class of TV but none of them are being sold as
“a door buster” type of deal on Black Friday. So you might want to think twice before being lured in by size and cheap pricing.
Check that return policy before buying if in doubt:
Bottom Line: The National Retail Federation just provided a bunch of info about retailers in advance of the peak of the holiday shopping season. Among the data…:
The result is a bit of a crackdown on return policies this year. For years the trend had been to loosen return polices. The NRF is reporting that about 1 in 5 retailers has tightened their policies this year (with Bloomingdales and REI being among those with the biggest changes). The changes include the need for ID or a recipient or 30 days return limitations, etc. So the take away is that if you’re buying something that may need to be returned, check the return policy prior to the purchase to ensure you (or the recipient) will be able to do so if needed.
Should you use multiple banks?:
Bottom Line: I was recently reading an article from Bankrate on managing multiple bank accounts when it dawned on me that I should do a story about the benefits of using multiple banks for different types of accounts.
I’ve never found that just one bank or financial institution has the best overall account options or products across all categories:
You get the idea. Yet because of Fin Reg banks are trying more aggressively than ever to try to get you to just patronize their bank for all of these products. Often it’s done through requiring multiple accounts or being charged fees. While it’s easy to just use one… It’s generally not the best idea. Aside from shopping for fee free options, higher interest rates, best rewards programs,etc. There is another aspect that you should consider. Access and information.
The more banks that you have long term relationships with, the more likely you are to receive special consideration if needed. More importantly on the investment side… Information and access can be important. I’ve always kept multiple brokerage accounts for this reason. Investment research is generally proprietary and available only those with accounts at those firms. Additionally if you’d like access to certain investment products and IPO’s it also makes sense to maintain multiple accounts. For example if you wanted to be able to invest in Twitter prior to the shares being publically traded, you would have had an opportunity if you had an account with one of the firms bringing the company public.
Cheat Sheet Q & A:
Topic: Inside the
Bottom Line: Today’s entry is the perspective of a gentleman who worked for a period of time for the
I had the opportunity to apply for and get accepted into a position with the United States Treasury, Department of Internal Revenue.
(I was) assigned to a small group of workers. All these folks did was talk about back in the day, when they worked the night shift pulling tapes off of mainframes. They had paid their dues, and should not have to do any difficult work any longer.
They had no work for me to do. I recall one day, helping one of the ladies there remove metal binding clips from old files, and putting the paper in the to be shredded box.
After six months of walking around the building, going to the break room to watch CNN, and doing virtually nothing – I finally turned in my resignation! I could not stand it any longer!
My boss was aghast! His manager called me to ask why I would do such a thing! I explained that I had been there six months, and had basically been given nothing to do, and they were like, “it takes time…”.
NOW – there were a few people I did meet there that worked hard and were an asset to the function of the
If you have a topic or question you’d like me to address email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
What a difference a year makes... Bush & Obama have more in common then you may think:
Bottom line: As President Obama continues to hit a series of new lows in his approval ratings the media (even beyond talk radio) is beginning to take notice and some have even begun to draw comparisons to President Bush (GW). So is it a valid comparison? The answer is yes in more ways than you might imagine.
So they are only separated by 16 days in their second terms in reaching those levels. There was an event that acted as a catalyst for a dramatic loss in approval:
Hurricane Katrina hit at the end of August and the handling issues of the Bush administration played out in September. The exchange failures began in October. So the event was within one month at the same stage in the Presidency.
So what does it or could it mean?
We are quick to deem political opposition dead in this country. For conservatives it was easy to feel as though the country really had shifted so far away from limited Government values there was no hope. Plenty of Democrats were willing to suggest that was indeed the case. History is a funny thing… It tends to repeat itself and the political pendulum swings with regularity in this country. Take just recent history.
2000: Republicans won across the board
2002: Republicans won in both bodies in Congress
2004: Republicans won across the board
At this point Democrats were reeling much the way Republicans have been over the past year. However by 2006…
2006: Democrats won in both bodies in Congress
2008: Democrats won across the board
2010: Republicans won in both bodies of Congress
2012: Democrats won across the board
So… In reality we’re just politically due for another political pendulum swing. So what could that look like?
In my example 2014 would likely resemble 2006. In 2006:
We also know that President Bush’s approval never recovered above 40% and eventually bottomed at an average of 29%. That led to the Democratic rout of 2008. It’s too far out to project 2016 but history strongly favors Republicans over the next two cycles.
If Goldman Sacks is right expect a better economy for 2014:
Bottom Line: Goldman Sacks is out with their formal forecast for 2014. If they’re right the economy will be the best it’s been in eight years next year. Here are a couple relevant calls that Goldman is making:
Ok so the Fed unwinding QE next year is almost a certainty so that’s not news but…
We’ve had the weakest and most frustrating economic recovery in
Inside October's housing numbers - what you should know:
Bottom Line: I used to do a segment called “decoding the fed”. I feel like I should calls these entries “decoding the housing information”. The media predictably did with yesterday’s existing home data what they’ve done before… Compare to the prior month’s data rather than the year over year comparisons. With economic data we should always look year over year with any info that is subjected to seasonality. Real Estate is highly seasonal. So what do you need to know about the most recent (October) home stats from the National Association of Realtors?:
So the market is right in line with what we should expect at this stage of a healthy recovery. The market is still recovering but at a slightly slower rate due to higher prices and higher mortgage rates which is exactly what should happen.
Looking for the best deal... Add Groupon to your list:
Bottom Line: This could be a “why didn’t they think of this sooner” story. After all coupon rhymes with Groupon. Anyway, starting today Groupon is now offering coupons to a myriad of companies around the
Sprint and Best Buy announce a new "Free service for a year for students" but it really isn't free:
Bottom Line: Competition is fierce amongst the wireless service providers and creativity has become a new trend. The latest creative attempt to capture new business comes from Sprint & Best Buy in their attempt to win over students via “free service for the year”. If it sounds too good to be true… It is.
While all students K-collage qualify for the offer here’s what it looks like. If you activate a new phone at a “student offer price” you’ll receive basic service for a year for free. In reality what you’ll do if pay nearly full price for the phone up front which will most likely be as expensive or more expensive than the cost of paying for the monthly service at regular price during the year. For example basic service plans range in price from $35-$50 per month or $420 to $600 per year. The “student offer” price on a base model iPhone 5S is $699.99 vs. $199 with a typical contract. So it’s really just a gimmick I wouldn’t fall for.
The future of auto tech is almost here... This could be the one:
Bottom Line: I’m a big fan of the desire to perpetuate alternative energy within automobiles. For over a decade I’ve been watching and hoping that hydrogen fuel cell technology would become viable for autos. After all it doesn’t get any better than taking air and water to produce power. It’s great for the environment, clearly as renewable as it gets, and we have an endless supply! The problem had been the ability to harness the power without creating a bomb on wheels in the process. Well apparently
What the JP Morgan Chase settlement with the Feds means to you:
Bottom Line: If you have hung tough with a mortgage from before the housing bust from
Here’s how that $4 billion will break down:
There could be tweaks to this original breakout but the benefits could be and should be significant. If you’re holding one of these loans pay close attention to the steps and any communication coming from your mortgage company. I’ll keep you posted as well.
We aren't using a huge amount of our vacation time this year – what’s behind it:
Bottom Line: How many vacation days do you have available to you? How many have you used and will you use? If you’re average this year you have:
But will only use:
That compares to last year when we had 14 days of vacation but used only 12. So what’s up that we’re leaving 40% of our vacation time on the table?! Also why is it double last year’s number?!
These are the findings from Expedia and Harris Interactive’s annual survey. First of all stereo types at times do exist for a reason. The average person in
We haven’t wasted this much vacation time since the Great Recession. During that time the fear of coming back to a pink slip was the reason we left half of our vacation time on the table in 2009. That still factors into the equation for about 20% of those who are leaving vacation time on the table. One of the other big factors… Not having disposable income.
These days about 40% of Americans work in a capacity in which vacation means that they’ll earn less income than if they were are work. With the cost of living continuing to rise with tepid income growth, many don’t have disposable income to “take a vacation” and will earn less as well. I’ve outlined how the quality of life has been on the decline for the average American this year and it’s manifesting itself in fewer vacation days being taken. At least we’re not in Japanese territory yet…
Don't think you got a raise... Check your benefits:
Bottom Line: The last five years have been full of frustrations for employees and employers alike. A sluggish economy has led to low hiring and low wage growth. Increased regulation and ever higher health care costs have led to companies having much more expense attached to providing benefits each year. Meanwhile the cost of living continues to rise while real income barely does. This year will have been no different.
If it feels like you’re not making 2% more… Well that’s because only 42% of that number (or less than 1%) of the increase came in base salary.
So the trend of employees feeling frustrated by receiving little in the way of pay increases and companies feeling frustrated with not having money for raises because they’re having more money being taken to provide similar healthcare benefits.
So Black Friday just moved to this Friday:
Bottom Line: Since Black Friday is a quasi-retail created holiday to begin with… If retailers decide to move it, I guess they can… We already know that there is an insatiable appetite to get you to buy early and often from retailers when it comes to the holidays. While many are still digesting the many retailers who are open on Thanksgiving Day, some retailers are starting to move their best deals to this Friday.
Last week Sears and Kmart said that they would offer many of their Black Friday specials a week early and yesterday Wal-Mart in effect moved the day altogether. Wal-Mart is now indicating that they will put out their best deals (equaling the Black Friday specials) starting this Friday. So if Wal-Mart is now in do you think it’s likely other retailers won’t be far behind? In any event remember to keep your mobile device handy while shopping because most major retailers are willing to price match other advertised prices on the same merchandise.
Giving the gift of no gifts:
Bottom Line: Or if you don’t want any part of the Black Friday sales (regardless of what Friday they happen on) this story may be for you. Teresa Mears is the editor of Living on the Cheap put out a piece that you may want to consider. She called it: “Give the Gift of No Gifts”.
She said that her family had grown over the years to the point to where 37 people were present for Christmas that she was having to by for… So she did something brave. She suggested that they end the practice of giving gifts. It turned out to be well received and now she picks a name out of a hat and buys for just one of the 37. It turns out most felt stressed about what to buy and the money they were having to lay out and liked the idea. So if you’d like to be that person and try to change your annual obligations you might not be viewed as a Grinch after all.
First look at Galaxy Gear sales - there is a bit of a market for smart watches:
Bottom Line: So the initial sales figures for Samsung’s smart watch are somewhere between HealthCare.gov and the first day sales of the PS4. So what are the actuals…?
So… those aren’t especially good (by comparison Sony sold more than 1 million PS4’s in the first 24 hours) but it does indicate that there is a bit of a market developing for the smart watch. It’s clear that Apple or Google or whomever is right to wait and ensure they have a winning smart watch product ready before bringing it to market.
Google will pay you if you find glitches in the Android OS:
Bottom Line: Part of the appeal of the Android OS has been how open the platform is for software developers. Google is now taking it one step further. Google has started a program in which anyone who finds a bug (glitch) can notify them and get paid anywhere from:
Why the weird upper limit? Who knows probably and Eric Schmidt quirk. So anyway go ahead and submit your glitches here: http://www.google.com/about/appsecurity/patch-rewards/ You can get paid and get rid of the glitches.