Random Dividend Thoughts and Stupid Taxes

BONDS I have relatives that live in Alpharetta, Georgia. Great little town. Daytime population about 120,000, shrinking down to 57,000 residents in the evening.  Where to all those people go at night?  Back home, that's where.  Alpharetta has a nifty business model, having transformed itself in a few years from rural backwater to corporate refugee ghetto for companies seeking to relocate to a lower-tax jurisdiction.  The message from the city elders to corporations seems to be a simple one:  "come on down, we promise not to pluck you too badly".   Corporate branches or headquarters and numbers of employees include the … [Read more...]

How To Buy Junk Silver Coins On eBay

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Following up on last week's post on junk silver, here's a quick tutorial on how I buy junk silver coins on eBay. As always, I must caution the reader that this is what I choose do with my own money.  It's not financial advice (obviously) and I'm just a guy on the internet, not a Certified Financial Advisor (even more obviously). What I Shy Away From Proof coins or collector sets. The mint condition of the coins can add a significant premium, up to twice the silver value. Pre-1940 coins.  Walking Liberty, Peace Dollars and Mercury Dimes are nice, but the problem with older coins is that they've seen a lot of circulation. Lots of touchy fingers have rubbed on them, wearing down the face profiles and therefore losing some of the … [Read more...]

The Time Value of Serendipitous Opportunities, and Last Week’s Links

Random Doodle #1 (recycle)

Life and My Finances writes a worthwhile article on opportunity cost and the value of your life: What is Your Time Worth? Well, yesterday morning, it was worth about a hundred bucks an hour in assets and direct savings.  We spent a couple hours tooling around, going to about a dozen yard sales, and bargaining away.  Or at least, I was the one to haggle, beg and plead, josh and jive for discounts and last offers.  Mrs. 101, on the other hand, mostly just pays the asking price.  Where’s the fun in that? Some of the swag: Item Yard Sale Cost Market Value A dozen assorted hand tools, vintage, but in great condition $2.00 $30 to $40 Two jars of assorted screws, nuts and bolts, including some large carriage bolts … [Read more...]

Negotiate for Anything

Very Cool Carving Fork

Spring Fever is upon us, and we’re busy bees with the garden(s), re-habilitating and painting used furniture, and other projects.  The blog has suffered as a result, with sparse posting and commeting on other blogs, and an Alexa ranking that mirrors the lack of activity, bouncing around as it is up and down the 120,000’s.   I was planning to write a collection of snippets that I had put down in my blog idea journal, but as I started writing this snippet on negotiations, it morphed into a full-blown blog post. negotiation 1570s, from L. negotiationem (nom. negotiatio) "business, traffic," from negotiatus, pp. of negotiari "carry on business," from negotium "business," lit. "lack of leisure," from neg- "not" (see deny) + otium "ease, … [Read more...]

New Furniture Sucks

Quick bed bail fix - Repeat as required

Particle board, MDF board, and low-density foam.  That's what new furniture made abroad in mostly China seems to be made of. I was cursing the poor quality of our kid's twin beds last weekend, as I got around to fixing yet another bed rail that had given way, busted up by rough-housing kids.  We purchased the beds years ago at a fairly typical bix-box store.  Heavy as the dickens, which makes sense since they seem to be all pressed MDF board.  They look nice enough, but they're not holding up worth a crap for 8-yr-old kid furniture. We don't hardly buy any new furniture any more. Virtually all the hard goods (beds, dressers, sideboards, sofa, tables, etc.) for the weekend cabin were bought used, either in yard sales or thrift … [Read more...]

Auction Strategies

Image via Wikipedia Mention the word auction these days to someone and the first thing that springs into the conversation is online auctions.  Second thing, are sheriff’s or storage space auctions, as seen on those A&E reality TV shows.    What I mean instead are those little country or small town auctions, where you might find a mix of antique, modern, vintage and used furniture (and frequently, just junk).  Names like Col. Bud Phipps, Auction Service & Appraiser, or Uncle Bob’s Country Auction, that’s what you’re looking for.    Even estate auctions out in the country are great.  With a little knowledge and experience, it's a good and frugal way to spend a couple hours, and hopefully pick up a few great … [Read more...]

Bad Habits on the Cheap

Image via Wikipedia I like cigars.  A lot. Some call this a bad habit.  Smelly (or aromatic, depending on the  point of view), it gives you volcano breath,  burns holes in your clothes and your wallet, and leaves ashes all over the new upholstery. Well, yes to all that, but sometimes you just gotta live a little. A well-made Corojo with a nice glass of whiskey is one of those vices that actually adds life.   It's relaxing,  gives you time to think, and keeps lots of things far, far away:  worries, mosquitoes and judgmental finger-waggling anti-smokers. I never can understand how anyone can not smoke, it deprives a man of the best part of life. With a good cigar in his mouth a man is perfectly safe, nothing can touch … [Read more...]

A Panhandling Story

A couple weeks ago I saw a not-unusual sign for these days and times in the  parking lot of the local Walmart. "Family needs help" Holding the sign was a youngish guy, probably late twenties or early thirties, dressed in jeans, work boots, light jacket and ball cap.  He was leaning up against a late 90's green Dodge 1/2 ton pickup, the bed of which seemed to hold suitcases and other possessions.  A little girl of about 3 or 4 years, dressed in pink, played in the little green bed next to the truck.  A young woman, presumably the girl's mother, was sitting in the front seat of the truck. I drove into the parking lot, giving  them a cursory second look, and parked up from the store and about six rows down from them. I'm … [Read more...]

Slicing and Dicing on the Cable TV Bill

On impulse and on a whim the other day, I called the Cox cable to review details about our cable and internet charges.  The bill itself seems to have reached stratospheric numbers, what with the bundling and a couple of on-demand movies, it sure stacks up quick.  Time for a hard review. The first charge to stand out was the "Variety Pak" at $4.00/month.  The Movie Pak and the Sports Pak (including Fox Soccer Channel), also for $4/mo each, we liked well enough and would keep, but the Variety Pak, according to the nice lady on the other end of the phone, was channels like Oxygen, Hallmark and the like,  OK, let's ditch it. Nazzo fast, Guido.  The three Paks, despite being listed separately, came as a $12/month package.  Cancel … [Read more...]

Garage Sale Swag, part 2

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Here's an update from a post from last month. Before: and After: The total cost was actually more than the estimated $37.  The paint was about $20, but the main cost came from the foam and the indoor/outdoor fabric and trim for the cushions.  The seat cushions were not originally estimated, so over my objections we faced some project scope creep.  I'm also told that fire engine red is much better than plain white.  However, since what I know about home design is minuscule compared to the vastly more knowledgeable Mrs. 101,  compromise was hastily reached.   Mrs. 101 fired up the sewing machine, and out came a nice seat for the settee and for the chair (not pictured).  With the original $7 cost of the set, plus paint and … [Read more...]