Showing posts from February, 2012

Underground Economies

On a recent trip to visit our son in the Army stationed in Italy, I started to think about the "underground economy," Greece and their debt problems, and taxes. As we were purchasing items, most if not all places prefers cash (Euros) then take a credit card. Some places even charged you 10% more if you used your credit card. Now I'm sure some of this is to offset the credit card fee but I wonder how many sales do not get reported for tax purposes.
Greece is, in part, in trouble because of an underground economy that deals in cash and where income is not reported to the government. As they implement their austerity measures and cutbacks, have they increased their tax collections and increased reported income? Would they need to cut back as much if everyone, and I mean everyone, reported their income? This may be against their culture and custom, but the Greek government needs every Euro it can get to provide services and pay down its debt.
The same is true in the United St…

Brown Bag Valentine

It is Valentine’s frugal fun time. In keeping healthy hearts, label one of these healthy snack items and sneak it into your sweetheart’s lunch box. The following are a few sweet (as in thoughtful) sample valentines lunch box label treats for you to consider: 1. Apple: “You are the apple of my eye”
2. Cheese Slices: “Our love is so cheesy!”
3. Cupcake: “You are my little cupcake”
4. Cherries: “I cherish the memories”
5. Almonds: “I am nuts about you”
6. Pepper Packets: “You spice up my life”
7. Turkey Roll Up: “Don’t’ be a turkey, go out with me”
8. Ham Roll Up: “I am a real ham when it comes to dating you”
9. Peanut Butter and Jelly: “We go together like peanut butter and jelly”
10. Sushi: “You are the wasabi of my sushi”
11. Lettuce Salad: “Lettuce enjoy our time together”
12. Relish Salad: “I relish our time together”
13. Tickets to Lunch: “Let’s ketchup”
14. Jar of Mustard: “I mustard enough courage to ask you out”
15. Olives: “Olive you”
16. Pickle: “If I am ever in a pickle, I want it to be wit…

Time to Sell or Buy a House?

Spring is the time for love, the groundhog to see or not see his shadow and time to buy or sell a house. This year we are selling our house. We want to move to the country and have chickens, a goat, maybe a llama, fruit trees, and a big garden. As empty nesters, we don’t need to be close to the schools, and our current home is in the perfect neighborhood to raise a family.
As this is my first time selling a home, I am learning a lot about trying to maximize your selling potential. Here are a few lessons learned:
It takes time, energy and effort to get a house ready to show. We have spent the last few weeks cleaning, repairing, editing, and donating things we no longer need. Good Will and Habitat Restore are great places to take your good-slightly used items that you no longer need. To clean, organize and minimize can be revitalizing.
Make repairs when things break. We had to replace two bedroom doors. It wasn’t a big deal to replace them. To think, we lived with our “slighted bruised” do…

New Beginnings and Heartfelt Thank Yous

Hello World-
Tonight, the man in brown delivered to our door steps two copies of ‘Personal Finance: Building Your Future’ Walker & Walker 1e. After three years, hard work and much support and encouragement from the McGraw Hill editors, the 480 page book dropped on our door step and for the techie side of me, complete with QR codes that really work with the blog, which is too cool on so many dimensions. The book arrival is not an end point. It is a kick-off to a whole new adventure. We look forward to classroom adoptions and interactions with the blog and how social media can influence student learning and help keep current events interwoven with discussion items in the class room. We want to reach out just one more time to our friends at McGraw Hill. Hugs and cartwheels to Michele Janicek, Jennifer Lohn, Melissa Caughlin, Diane Nowaczyk, Jennifer Jelinkski, Ann Torbert, Bradley Woodrum, Johnna Barto, Elizabeth Hughes and all of the other editors, production staff, and marketing st…

College Debt or a New Car?

I was talking with a colleague the other day about student loan debt. She shared back "Perhaps we are thinking about student loan debt in the wrong way. We will go into debt $20,000 - $40,000 or more for a new car and not think twice. But we start to panic when a student graduates with $20,000 - $40,000 in debt. The car will last 6-10 years, but your education will last a lifetime."
Now I don’t want you to go into debt to finance your college education if you don’t have to, but I want you to think of your college debt as an investment that will last a lifetime. In Chris Farrell’s article “College Degree Still Worth the Cost Despite the Risk”, he quotes a study at the Booking's Institute that shows the return on investment for a college degree has been about 15% a year for the past 60 years. Not a bad return if I do say so myself, given the stock market has only shown a 6.8% return on investment over the same time period.
However with college, like any investment, there is …

‘Like'-ing IPOs

So you want to buy shares of Facebook with their Initial Public Offering (IPO)? Good luck. An IPO is where a private company or closely held company, like Facebook, offers shares to the general public for the first time and that stock is then traded on a stock exchange. Friday’s ‘All Things Considered’ on National Public Radio did a great job of explaining how IPOs work and why companies go public in their article “Facebook’s IPO and the Average Investor.”
When a company goes public, it works with an investment bank to price shares of its soon-to-be issued stock and to decide how many shares to issue. The initial price is a combination of science and art. The science is calculating the value of the company including potential future income (part art), and the real art is forecasting what investors will pay for the stock.
Investment banks will sell large blocks of stock from the IPO to its best customers. These are usually large institutional investors and their high dollar customers. T…

Prenuptials for All?

‘Kobe Bryant's Wife to Get All Three Houses, Worth $18.8 Million’, ‘Mel Gibson Loses Half of His $850 Million Fortune to Ex-Wife in Divorce’. As these headlines spam the news, it gives us pause to consider, should prenuptial agreements be made a requirement prior to granting a marriage license? No one goes into a marriage thinking this has a 50-50 shot. Hurt is the last thing you want bring onto this special someone—but unfortunately, 50% of the marriages end is divorce – so many suffer significant financial distress in dissolution. It is especially difficult to stay civil during this time which is unfortunate to each other as well as impacted children, family members and friends.
Sweetheart day is just around the corner. Looking for the perfect Valentine’s gift? Just as every business partnership goes into a contract agreement with a dissolution (sell out, buy-out) clause, should every marriage engage in a prenuptial agreement? Do you state up front in an agreement the steps you …