Living Overseas with Kids: Does It Make Sense?

Artistic rendition of compound life

USA Financial Service and family are on vacation.  In the meantime, please enjoy a guest post from vh, proprietor of the PF blog Funny about Money,  Adjunctorium and a principal in The Copyeditor’s Desk. While the Centavos are galloping around Italy, the truth can be told: we have a secret connection. Mrs. 101 and I both grew up in Saudi Arabia, the children of Arabian American Oil Company employees, and 101 himself went to the American school in Jeddah as a US Army Corps of Engineers brat. LOL! So you can see what happens to your kids when you drag them around the world: they grow up to be bloggers! Kidding aside, a year or two ago The Atlantic ran an article in which the author agonized over the question of whether it’s a good … [Read more...]

All Things Japan

Himeji Castle, Himeji, Hyogo, Japan.

We're off on vacation.  Post scheduling is awesome! This article is automatically published while I'm relaxing in the Florence hills,  quaffing vino and eating much too much cheese. Internet and email access will be spotty at best.  Although comments are hugely welcome, I will be slow in responding. Thanks you for reading.   In contrarian investing circles, Japan is frequently cited as a symbol of imminent global financial ruin, th its 200% debt-to-GDP ratio and a stagnant economy over the last twenty years. Even noted collapsologist (*) Jared Diamond, writing on Bloomberg, weighs in with three crucial reasons why Japan's economic pain is getting worse (demographics, immigration and lack of resources), and bound to get a *lot* … [Read more...]

What You Don’t See Does Matter

Pull off some siding and what do I see? No Tyvec®. You can protect yourself from cut corners like this!

While USA Financial Service and gang are off on vacation, prancing around Florence and happily getting fat on awesome Italian food, enjoy this story from TB, who blogs at Blue Collar Workman. In TB's own words, "I build your houses, I fix your buildings, I plow your streets ... and now I'm telling the tales!"  I got called to a job site early this week to inspect some townhomes for a homeowner’s association. The problem was that multiple townhomes were having their windows leak. The owners had paid to have their leaky windows replaced, but what the contractor who was hired to replace their windows didn’t tell them was that the windows weren’t the problem. The problem was much bigger than that: none of those townhomes had Tyvec® … [Read more...]

Arrivederci! Back In A Couple Weeks…

The view from the front porch

Off for a couple weeks R&R to an undisclosed location in the hills of northeast Tuscany. If you gotta get fat, no better way to do it than with lots of vino, soft pecorino cheese and prosciutto on thick slices of rustic bread, and porchetta. We'll definitely try to work it off with daily walks up and down those hills. Might even try to post a picture or two, but can't guarantee it. There are a few posts scheduled, so please do come back. On Friday 5/25, TB from Blue Collar Workman has a great article on exterior home insulation. TB walks the walk of home construction and repair, so it's a worthwhile read. "What You Don't See Does Matter" On Sunday 5/27, three mini-reviews and recommendations of books on Japan. "All Things … [Read more...]

Retirement Worries, Retirement Strategies

Peaches, plums, blackberries, and zucchini

While many look forward to retirement, even early retirement, others fret, fuss and worry. Top retirement fears, according to my not very thorough web research, drawing from no less than a dozen newspaper articles, blog posts and national poll results. Poor health High healthcare costs Being physically incapacitated Not enough money Having to move in with relatives or own children Social Security crapping out Not *ever* being able to retire Having to work as a Wal-Mart greeter Greedy, grasping, needy boomerang kids Discovering the true value of Depends coupons OK, I made up the last three. I can add one more fear, my own: not being able to eat well. Not terribly rational, but that old saw about seniors trying … [Read more...]

Politics As Unusual, and Good Posts from Last Week

Because politics can be dry cheerless subject, pictures of puppies is a much better visual

  With the Republican nomination long ago buttoned up by Mitt (heave) Romney, and the winding down of Ron Paul's campaign, a little attention thrown the other candidates can't hurt. Dan Carlin recently interviewed both the Independent and the Libertarian candidates on his podcast Common Sense.   Both interviews are well worth a listen. Buddy Roemer, the Independent candidate, I admit I hadn't heard of.  Frankly, his campaign's landing page could use a better slogan than "Roementum across the nation".  Let's ask Joe Lieberman how well this uniquely witty catchphrase worked for him in '04.   In the interview however, he comes across as very believable in his focus on his number one issue, campaign finance reform.   … [Read more...]

Travel Notes: Just Say Ahn-Nyeong Hah-Seh-Yo and Kon’nichi Wa

Just a couple words is all you need to know when traveling abroad. "Hello" and "thank you" and a big smile will open a lot of doors in the East, especially in a business setting, and most especially coming from Americans, renowned foreign-language ignoramuses. For this reason, I was a little panicked upon arriving in Tokyo, having somehow forgotten the dozen or so Japanese words and phrases I picked up years ago on a project jobsite. The Blackberry and Google Translate to the rescue, and the first taxi ride was successfully negotiated. A bit irritating how my brain can retain the totally useless Charm of Making from Excalibur, but not vital information like foreign language phrases. Minnesota Nice Highly recommend Minneapolis as a … [Read more...]

Why Green is the Way Forward for Your Business

Improving your environmental credentials is unlikely to be at the top of your to do list, but ‘going green’ can be a super smart move for any business. With the potential to save your business money and increase income, it’s worth giving some time and thought to why and how your business should be greener. Why Should I Go Green? There are many reasons why going green is good for business. Some are altruistic – we all know that we have a responsibility to protect the world’s natural resources. However, many more will have a direct positive effect on your business’s profitability. For example: Going Green Can Reduce Your Outgoings Going green can save your business money with immediate effect, and reducing energy … [Read more...]

Financial Tips: Off To Korea and Japan Today

Sumo wrestler Raiden Tameimon -- Japanese colour woodprint, 19th century

Traveling out of country today. Couple days in Korea, then off for a meeting in Tokyo, Japan. Last minute business trip, so part of the fare is business class, which breaks my heart in all kinds of ways. Back in another employment life, *all* travel was business class, and upgrades to first were not uncommmon. Except in extreme cases like today, where the booking came a couple of days before the travel date, the present gig has a corporate policy of economy travel, from the company CEO down to the lowest peon. And that's OK with me. I don't get too worked up about the skimpy legroom or execrable quality of the chemical paste that passes as airline food. Asi es la vida. But a little luxury never hurts. I'm quite … [Read more...]

Occupy the Garden (plus some links)

Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Domestic Operations Branch. Bureau of Special Services. (03/09/1943 - 09/15/1945)

Mixed Feelings... That's what you get when your most hated enemy rides off a cliff in your faithfully restored 1972 Dodge Challenger R/T (the original joke has your mother-in-law driving off the cliff, but I'm quite fond of my MIL). I had the same mixed feelings when I read about the Occupy The Farm movement in Berkeley, CA. Gill Tract is a 10-acre parcel in the pricey city of Albany, owned by the University of California at Berkeley.  Recently, some Occupy-styled activists have squatted on the property, turning it into a communal farm. A small group of professors, students and activists have long argued for putting this property to a productive use. The property owners (themselves theoretically "owned" by the California state … [Read more...]