How Much Is Too Much Money?

hay truck

  Buried in a mnemonic curlicue related to wages and executive compensation, sits some business wisdom gleaned from a relative. Proprietor of a Midwest tool-rental store, he was once lamenting to me the poor skill level and sloppy work ethic of the hired help; in that small town, pickings for talent were slim.  I suggested that maybe he could raise the wages, which were marginally higher than minimum.  Better-paid workers could be happier and therefore more productive, that was my thinking.  He looked at me as if I was a two-headed idiot of the year.  "All that would mean" he shrugged "is that they'd drive to work in a bigger truck" (*). Aaaaaannd.... fast forward to this weekend. Drilling down trough the reports of … [Read more...]

MONEY PROS Thoughts on Emergency Funds (and weekend reading!)


From time to time (OK, frequently) the issue of Emergency Funds crops up in the Personal Finance space.  Some think cash under the mattress is a key component of  any financial strategy, and some feel comfortable with a pocketful of rewards credit cards. The Hive Brain over at MONEY PROS is no different. First of all, your existing Emergency Fund may be not be as big as you think, according to Hunter @ Financially Consumed.  A small emergency here and a kerfuffle there, and pretty soon you're down to skinny. Joe @ Retire by 40 advises that value is not always in cash.  In a pinch, you and the Mrs.'s gold bling could do double duty. I tend to agree. Money Reasons advises that a side benefit to Roth IRA is having a pool of … [Read more...]

Junk Silver In A Household Economy

B yen military scrip bill used in US-Occupied Okinawa

My wife and I have been frequently accused of exploiting our children for cheap manual labor. True to some extent, even though the accusations are being leveled by said children. :-) We do pay them.  For a few shekels here and there, they get to learn the responsibilities of keeping the house clean, doing laundry, and helping Mrs. 101 with deep spring cleaning chores. Occasionally, we also give the opportunity for some extra money chores like special projects in the garden,  assembling furniture, or vacuuming out the cars.  The boys occasionally grumble, but they're good helpers. The downside to this is that with a ready source of cash inside the house, there's a strong disincentive to seek employment outside the house.  A … [Read more...]

Are Financial Newsletters Worth The Money?

Totally unrelated photograph of old farm implements on Brownsea Island, Poole, U.K. (** see note below)

For a year or so, I’ve subscribed to a couple of financial newsletters from Casey Research, Big Gold and The Casey Report.  I recently fired them, or rather, didn’t renew my subscription. I first came across Casey Research during the course of my day job. One of their free reports, The Daily Dispatch, was posted on Stainless Steel News and Nickel Prices, a bit of a wonky site that, as the page title has it, is dedicated to the daily price of nickel, industrial grades of stainless steel, and to a lesser extent, other commodities. Casey’s Daily Dispatch was featured along with a bevy of other reports like CommerzBank’s Daily Commodities.  The sources of the reports would vary, but Casey’s would invariably be of consistently … [Read more...]

Are the United States Going All Greek ?

There’s plenty of prognosticators who are predicting the debt default of the United States and the demise of the US dollar, and pointing to Greece with the finger of doom. They hyperventilate that our national debt will lead to hyperinflation, plagues of locusts and showers of frogs.  This clarion call of doom is picked up by various talking heads in the print and television media. At CNN Money, pundits speculate,   Is the US Like Greece? Not really, the writer concludes, but we’ve got a boatload of debt, and that’s a bad thing. Over at the New York Times, Paul Krugman fusses that a Lost Decade is Looming, and concludes we’re not so much like Greece, but more like Japan. In the political arena, Republicans (noted … [Read more...]

Yakezie Blog Swap: The Best Unnecessary Purchase Ever

Mr. and Mrs. BP are owners of the blog Broke Professionals, a site dedicated to a young professional couple's struggle to deal with some serious student debt, and rise back to a positive net worth.  This guest post is part is the of the third round of the Yakezie blog swap.  The theme of the swap is “A time you splurged and were glad you did”. Check out my own post Splurging on an Anniversary It is rare for me to be glad that I “splurged” on anything, other than education.  That said, once in a while a “splurge” purchase can go down as easy as a Corona after cutting the lawn.  That said, no “splurge” has ever been more valuable to me personally then our dog, Sophie. To be sure our Shetland Sheepdog Sophie … [Read more...]

Investing in Silver – 2009 Flashback

Here's what Bloomberg TV was reporting on silver in March of 2009 Latest silver spot price:  $24.32 / oz. While the mainstream press is afire with gold buzz, silver is quietly plodding along.   I've been buying silver, off and on, for the past 20 years or so.   In the last couple years I've become a fan of buying small quantities of silver on Ebay, from a few favorite sellers.   Ten- and one-ounce bars, silver rounds, pre-1964 "junk" silver.   Not necessarily to resell at some future point (although we might, depending on circumstances) but to just to hold as a part of diversified  portfolio. Physically  held silver we could consider to be an investment.  Silver mining stocks, on the other hand, could either be investments … [Read more...]

Cream Cheese Inflation

Seems like not too long ago, a standard pack of store brand cream cheese could be had for 99 cents.  Now it's more like $1.68.   Lender's refrigerated bagels,  a buck or so a couple years ago, now $1.43.  This is a Walmart's Neighborhood Market, not the most foodiest place around. How's that deflation thing working out again, Mr. Bernanke? … [Read more...]

401K Loans: good idea or bad idea?

Is taking out a loan against your 401(k) retirement plan a good idea, or a daft looney-tunes crackpot personal finance move? A short web search will disgorge dozens of articles that argue for the latter.  There are some advantages, but the general conclusions is that the cons outweigh the pros. Advantages include no credit checks (you're borrowing from yourself), the interest rate is usually low, about one or two points above prime, and perhaps the nicest thing, the interest you're paying is to yourself, it goes right back into the 401K and is tax-deferred until withdrawal time.    Read More .... … [Read more...]

A penny saved is more than a penny earned

Benjamin Franklin and Poor Richard’s Almanack is probably the first reference that springs to mind when hearing the original saying.  Back in the (good ol') days of no income tax, no sales taxes, and few if any excise taxes, a penny saved was indeed a whole penny earned. Fast forward to today, and we have the burden of federal and state income taxes,  general sales taxes,  and special excise taxes on your cable and utilities bills. Fuel taxes and taxes on toll roads and highways.  Sin taxes on cigarettes and alcohol.  You’re taxed when registering a new or used car or truck or boat, or buying a plane ticket.  Taxed again when renting a car or staying in a hotel.  Taxed on your property.  Paying a phone bill.  On and on and … [Read more...]