Tuesday, July 28, 2015


I was tempted to create a splashy title such as "Earn over $100 in 60 days by complaining," but I didn't feel "earn" was the appropriate word.  Yes, I've been on a bit of a complaining streak and my complaining has yielded a little over $100 in value but I pause at considering it as "earned" and while I appreciate the gift cards and credits received it is not the same as cash.  First there was the chain seafood restaurant that was experiencing substantial service issues which I would likely have overlooked... until I visited the restroom that was being renovated and found no door for the toilet... yup, if you had to do a number 2, hopefully you don't mind an audience.  Then there was the local pizza joint that repeatedly cannot get their own signature pizza correct.   On another occasion, we had a great meal at a chain restaurant but when the credit card arrived it was charged an additional buck - that wouldn't be much of a deal if it were simply a mistake, but you never really know.  Was it a mistake or is someone skimming a little off numerous customers figuring it likely won't get a reaction?  Most recently, it was a trip to the nearby grocery store where I experienced a bit of a runaround while returning empty beverage containers which had been purchased at that store.  Their response that they hired a company to handle their bottles and that they had nothing to do with it anymore didn't fly with me.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Next Bubble to Bust

Happy days are here again - housing is working itself out of its doldrums and stocks have been surging for the past several years.  I know my retirement accounts are looking much healthier so with my cup half fully, why do I worry about the half that is empty?  Perhaps it is from recently reading Michael Lewis’ Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World or maybe it was a recent Facebook posting chirping an explanation of the fiscal cliff or perhaps it was Greece coming around to the brink of default once again.   The convergence of these 3 events lead me to wonder, "what if the housing meltdown is merely a prelude to a larger event?"

One of the interesting tidbits that are provided in our (United States) annual tax (1040) instructions are 2 pie charts reflecting major categories of Income and Outlays for the federal government.  I thought it would be interesting to grab some of these charts from the past 15 or so years to see if I could spot any warning signs.  After a quick internet search, I was able to produce the following charts for 1990, 1994, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2013.  (This was purely an unscientific grab, trying to space out years and avoid years where there may have been an atypical event such as in 2001...although in thinking about the past 15 years and the "tech wreck, 9-11, 3 wars, the housing melt down and government bailouts who knows what a "typical" year looks like).