Kelly Blue Book, Autotrader and Cox: They’re Not Your Friends

Don't bother searching for an AMC Eagle on KBB. The year selector only goes back to 1994.  The Eagle and the Javelin almost made up for AMC's Pacer and Gremlin... almost.

Carrying on with the auto-themed articles.  Sorry, but the recent car-buying experience left too much blog fodder swishing around in the brain.  Had we bought a house, the blog would instead be awash with all-about-mortgages and bankers-are-wankers stories. First things first when buying a vehicle. Some 50 or 70 percent of car buyers (lies statistics vary depending on who's taking the survey) turn to the internet to find out exactly what they should be paying for that old jalopy. Kelly Blue Book has a firm place in the the national car lexicon as the non-pareil gold standard of used car price information. "Under KBB" by this much, is how used cars are often listed in the classifieds, by private individuals and dealers … [Read more...]

Keystone XL Pipeline, Boo!


So easy to mock crunchy environmental types who doth protest too much on pipeline construction.  Possible oil spills, loss of habitat, contamination of the Ogallala aquifer, say the greenies.  Jobs, jobs and more jobs, counter the oil company shills and hacks.  Oil and gas companies are evil, they club baby seals and emit lots of carbon, say the enviros.   What, don't you drive a car to get to work.  Oh wait, you don't have a job, do you? On and on... For readers who are not aware of what exactly the Keystone pipeline is all about, it's merely Phase Four of an existing network of pipelines that delivers hydrocarbons from northern oil fields in Alberta to points south in the U.S.  Phase 4, the XL version, would add a leg through … [Read more...]

Gardening Interlude: Spring Is in the Air, and so Are Hotter-than-Hades Ghost Peppers

ghost pepper bhut jolokia

Spring is in the air, and time to fire up the seed germinating station.  About two weeks too late, but such are the demands of work travel, home projects, and family. Maybe it comes from living overseas for so many years, but the 101C household is a spicy one.  There are always a half-dozen or so bottles of hot sauce in the fridge at any one time, along with mason jars of hot fermented vegetables (onions, zucchini, cukes, cauliflower, and of course, hot peppers).  From time to time, we experiment with making our own hot sauce. Curries, stir-fries and chili are staples. This year we're going to spend a little more time on growing us some hot and extra-hot peppers, and making our own sauce ("Hot Sauce Success, Hot Sauce Fail!"). … [Read more...]

Visit A Car Dealership? No Thanks, I’d Rather Shave My Head with a Cheese Grater

car dealerships

It's Saturday, and we're off to tour a couple of car dealerships, there perchance to dicker and bargain with the salescritters. Last weekend, Mrs. 101C left the the boys with a long list of household chores (exploitation of child labor is only illegal if the children in question are not one's own, and inequitably compensated; ours get free room and board), and headed out for a few hours' car window shopping with a song in our hearts. Would we be pounced upon by ruthless car salespeople, undergo hours of high-pressure tactics and underhanded tricks? Could we hold out for that best bargain, or eventually capitulate to the oooh, shiny! new-car siren song? Negotiate or Die Negotiation is a skill, no question about it. It's … [Read more...]

Using Social Media To Improve Your Career

... the social media of its day ...

For a change, alternate content from Brittany: Tight job markets with a focus on practical skills can stunt career growth. Beyond niche fields, such as IT or healthcare, setting your skills apart may be difficult. A glut of resumes on job boards make it tough to be noticed. Meanwhile, ‘contacts’ may have limited influence on hiring or other opportunities. So, what are some options to set you apart from the job-seeking multitudes? Leveraging social media is a time and cost efficient solution. Our personal Facebook posts, tweets or Pinterest pics can spill over into professional life. Social media offers several ways to manage your reputation and showcase skills. Here are some social media strategies to think about: Create a … [Read more...]

Monday Morning Fish Wrap: Watch Out for That Revolving Door!

A modest 101C proposal to curb revolving door corruption: candidates must first take a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick to the jaw.  Those still standing can go through.

The Fish Wrap: a less-than-frequent mish-mash of interesting articles and tidbits, vaguely organized around personal finance, investing, news, and maybe the odd recipe or two. Sometimes sorted by topic, like in a cookbook that has chapters for different kinds of recipes. The former head of H&R Block worked in the upper echelons of the IRS, the Internal Revenue Service. The former head of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, left to work for RapidScan systems, after ensuring during his tenure that airports throughout the country would be irradiating travelers with "safe" backscatter ray machines (that was before Rapiscan would lose "market share" to L-3). No conflict of interest there, not one bit. Monsanto/ADM/Syngenta/Bunge and … [Read more...]

Standard Car Buying Advice: About As Useful As Rubber Lips on a Woodpecker….

Chevrolet Thriftmaster 194X pickup truck at QFC in Kirkland WA

In the course of researching a new or used vehicle, almost inevitable that your eyeballs will be coated with the usual numbered lists of tropes and cliches thinly veneered as "car buying tips", available for free from a myriad sources:  the internet, the Sunday newspaper, and drunk Uncle Lou at the family BBQ. Scratch that, the Sunday newspaper is going the way of fax machines, and with the new Mini Ice Age blowing down from the Arctic, it's way too cold to even think about grilling outside, let alone invite Uncle Lou.  He drinks too much anyway. So, if you're middle-class (read: moderately affluent), have the available mental bandwidth and are inclined to read up before making a large purchase, chances are you'll be scouring the … [Read more...]

New vehicle or used vehicle… crunching some numbers

plymouth truck used vehicle

The USA Financial Service household is in the market for a new truck.  After turning in 200,000 miles of good and faithful service,  the 2001 Ford F150 has (nearly) shuffled off this mortal coil. So, time for a new ride. Or new-ish, rather. Setting aside the strawman of fuel efficiency, our lifestyle requires the utility of at least one truck in the household. We really really wanted another Ford F150, but since the early 2000's, Ford's extended cab and crew cab models are more than 230 inches in length, which is about five or six inches too long to fit ... in our garage  (there's a penis joke in there somewhere, but we'll leave that one to Nelson Smith). Nissan was an option, and so was the Toyota Tundra.  Chevys and GMC were out, also … [Read more...]

Bambi Ain’t Easy, and Certainly Not Cheap

Wholly unrelated but very beautiful painting "Man and Woman" - Edvard Munch, 1905

Here at Casa USA Financial Service, we could be seen as moderately crunchy: organic gardens, average aptitude for recycling, *some* homemade cleaning products, and solicitous, borderline irrational patronage of local farms and farmers' markets.  Ah yes, and a subscription to Mother Earth News. Mother does good work on the conventionally sustainable:   reviews of home solar systems, the machinations of pesticide companies, the ins and outs of commercial composters, baking artisan bread and infused vinegars.  All that is good and self-reliant, love it.  However, when Mother delves into the arcane depths of personal finance advice, well, all we can say is that that's an endeavor best left to well-trained professional PF bloggers. The … [Read more...]

Biggest mistakes to avoid when strategy trading

Medieval stocks at Wadsley Jack Public house, Wadsley, Sheffield - by Mick  Knapton

There are arguments for and against strategy trading. Some traders swear by it, some won’t touch it. Here, right here in this very artice, we are going to look at the benefits of strategy trading, how to avoid the biggest mistakes when strategy trading, and how to find the right strategy for you. What is strategy trading? A trader who uses strategy trading uses a predefined plan or a trading strategy to decide when to enter and exit the markets. If it is to be successful, the trading strategy must be well-researched and tested. Etrade can give you a share trading account that you can access from anywhere you have an internet connection, check out their site to get started. Jack Schwager, author of Market Wizards, The New Market … [Read more...]