It wasn’t the hard drive after all

As reported in a previous post, I purchased a new computer because, according to my brother-in-law (IT guy), the hard drive was failing.

My new Dell computer arrived last Saturday and yesterday my brother-in-law began set up and installation. At one point my brother-in-law commented the internet connection was slow and thus the installation of software proceeded at a slower pace. Hmmmn, funny, I thought, I had the same problem with my old computer. I asked my brother-in-law if it could be the Linksys card (he showed me it as he removed the Linksys card from the old computer and installed in my new computer). He replied no; likely, the installation is slower because of the wireless connection.

My brother-in-law left my house and then returned later yesterday evening. He initiated installation of another software, Java. That too was moving slow. He left for the night.

I gave him a call later than night and reported the “remaining time” for installation – over two hours. My brother-in-law remarked about how slow the process was taking.

This morning I checked the computer. Remaining time for installation – 35 hours. I, the technological tortoise, knew something was definitely wrong. I texted my brother-in-law.

Having not heard from my brother-in-law, this afternoon I e-mailed him at his job. I explained the remaining hours for installation. I asked, could it be the Linksys card? He sent a reply and agreed the extremely slow download is attributable to the Linksys card.

Well, I’m now thinking – hey, maybe I should keep my old computer and just purchase a new wireless card! Plus, there’s a problem with the new “Dell” computer. The CD/DVD drive is not reading CD/DVD when installed so my brother-in-law could not install some software.

I got a “dud” computer from Dell. Unbelievable (I have purchased 2 previous Dell computers without any problems).

Hmmm, I think keeping the old computer with a new Linksys card is the way to go!


Why some states have huge deficits

A “shout out” to my good friend Kirsten for sending me this tale of two states, California and Arizona.
Subject: California and Arizona

The Governor of California is jogging with his dog along a nature trail. A coyote jumps out, bites the Governor and attacks his dog.
1. The Governor starts to intervene, but reflects upon the movie “Bambi” and then realizes he should stop; the coyote is only doing what is natural and his dog is killed.
2. He calls animal control. Animal Control captures coyote and bills the State $200 testing it for diseases and $500 for relocating it.
3. He calls a veterinarian. The vet collects the dead dog and bills the State $200 testing it for diseases.
4. The Governor goes to hospital and spends $3,500 getting checked for diseases from the coyote and getting his bite wound bandaged.
5. The running trail gets shut down for 6 months while Fish & Game conducts a $100,000 survey to make sure the area is free of dangerous animals.
6. The Governor spends $50,000 in state funds implementing a “coyote awareness” program for residents of the area.
7. The State Legislature spends $2 million to study how to better treat rabies and how to permanently eradicate the disease throughout the world.
8. The Governor’s security agent is fired for not stopping the attack somehow and for letting the Governor consider an attempt to intervene.
9. Additional cost to State of California : $75,000 to hire and train a new security agent with additional special training re: the nature of coyotes.
10. PETA protests the coyote’s relocation and files a $5 million suit against the State.

The Governor of Arizona is jogging with her dog along a nature trail. A coyote jumps out and attacks her dog.
1. The Governor shoots the coyote with her State-issued pistol and keeps jogging. The Governor has spent $0.50
on a .45 ACP hollow point cartridge.
2. The buzzards eat the dead coyote.

…and that’s why California is broke
Okay, you can stop laughing now. Seriously, is there a kernel of truth here?

You know that times are rough financially when . . .

I. When banks are foreclosing on churches. According to an article I read in the Wall Street Journal this week, churches are the next wave of foreclosures. Not only were individual homeowners and commercial businesses buying property with creative financing, so were churches. What has also hurt churches’ bottom line has been members who stopped tithing because members have lost their jobs. The WSJ article mentions a couple of churches that were in fact foreclosed. Sad.

II. And, when state and local government can’t offer to bury the dead. Budgets are tight and burials are expensive, according to another WSJ article. It’s cheaper to have someone cremated (though some religions prohibit cremations such as Judaism and Islam).

Morality and money. Apparently when times are rough financially, money prevails.

Extreme, yes, but better safe than sorry

On Sunday late afternoon, after a leisurely lunch, some friends accompanied me to my car. They needed a ride to the movie theater. As we approached my car (Subaru Forester), a friend commented, why do you have that bar on your steering wheel? I responded, I do live in the city. He then replied, but, thieves are interested in stealing Honda, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, but not Subaru Forester. True, I replied, but I want to keep my car.

After dropping them off at the movie theater and stopping by a Rite Aid, I headed to a gas station across the line in Maryland. This particular gas station is in a “seedy” part of town. I don’t especially care for this gas station but it’s close to my house and I prefer this brand of gasoline. It was still daylight. Although I have LoJack installed in my car, I still felt the need for more protection. So, I placed the bar across my steering wheel. Then I exited the vehicle to prepay for the purchase of gasoline.

Extreme – placing a bar on the steering wheel of the car just to pump gas? Yes, it is.

But, at this particular gas station, it often takes between 3 – 7 minutes before I pay for the gasoline BECAUSE there are always customers in front of me purchasing lottery tickets. And, yes, I have LoJack on my car, but car alarms go off so regularly these days, who really pays attention? Third, a bar is a great deterrent. If a thief wants to smash the window and take a car quickly, he’ll think TWICE when he sees that bar on the car.

Even though I have LoJack installed, I keep the bar on my car while the car is parked in front of the house. When are thieves most active? Of course, late at night or very early in the morning while everyone is asleep. My neighbor told me she had to get up early one morning to use the bathroom and upon returning to the bedroom, she noticed and then watched as some guy walked to each and every car on the street, attempting to open car doors, apparently hoping to find a car that was unlocked.

So, yes, I place the bar on my car when I’m at the shopping mall, the grocery store, in front of my house and even at “seedy” gas stations. Have to up the level of security (LoJack and the bar) to deter those thieves!

Should have purchased that deal

Darn it! I knew I should have purchased that deal. Last week, either Groupon or LivingSocial offered a $15 coupon for $30 worth of food at Ella’s Wood Fired Pizza. I really like Ella’s pizza and seriously considered purchasing the deal. But the prudent, penny-pinching side of my brain said NO. This side of my brain chided, and when will you be using that coupon?

Much quicker than expected. A very good friend is in town. Last year she stayed in a different part of town. This year she is closer to my home. We will meet Friday evening for dinner at Ella’s.

I really should have purchased that deal.

Unexpected kindness

Yesterday afternoon I stopped by the local Rite Aid to purchase a necessary feminine product. After locating the product on the shelf, I walked to checkout. When the cashier was ready to assist me, she asked if I was a Rite Aid member. I responded, no. (In a previous post, I talked about the joy of not having to have a membership card at Rite Aid. The company has now joined the “bandwagon” in issuing those loyalty cards).

The cashier then asked if I wanted to sign up for a Rite Aid card. I declined stating that I don’t shop at this establishment that often (a true statement). Unbeknownst to me the feminine product which I held in my hand was discounted, if one had a loyalty card. The cashier then remarked, I’ll use my card to give you the discount.

Unexpected kindness.

I thanked the cashier for being “too kind.” She saved me about a $1.50 (yes, in this Great Recession, every penny counts).

That cashier did not have to give me that discount, especially once I declined to register for the membership card. But, I wish to acknowledge to the world her kindness.

Establishing a techology fund

Personal finance advisors such as Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey stress the importance of an emergency fund. Some other advisors recommend more specific funds for things such as home repair and car maintenance.

Should we add a technology fund to the list? What?

Everyone recognizes how technology plays an indispensable role in the lives of Americans. And these tech products have shorter & shorter shelf lives. Meaning, you have to spend more frequently to keep up to date. That’s great for a corporation’s quarterly earnings and for shareholders but what about your wallet and bank account?

I had to purchase a desktop computer recently. My present computer’s hard drive is failing. I’ve owned my present computer since March 2005.

When I mentioned to my sister that I needed to purchase a new computer, she remarked that I should be purchasing a new computer every two years. Every two years? Apparently the technological pace is so fast that one’s 2008 computer is likely out of date.

But who has money to purchase tech products every two years? Have you budgeted for that next tech product? I didn’t.

To avoid credit card debt, it’s smarter to save a little out of each paycheck for tech products. And these products, though indispensable, should not be funded from one’s emergency fund.

So, considering the above, maybe establishing a technology fund is worthy of consideration.

LivingSocial & Groupon

Have you purchased any deals from LivingSocial or Groupon? I haven’t yet.

Right now, I like “seeing” what type of deals are offered. The one deal that I considered pouncing on was $30 meal for $15 at Copper Canon Grill. It was a limited special and that deal sold out before noon.

Waiting for that absolutely, cannot resist deal. Not sure when that will happen or what the deal will be. Love checking the iPhone daily for these deals.

When will the foreclosures end?

Not anytime soon, unfortunately. When the bubble bursts in the housing market, the majority of foreclosures were related to subprime lending. Remember phrases such as “no doc loans”, “liar loans” and “ninja [no income, no jobs, no assets] loans.”

With the economic crisis of 2008, those types of loans have fallen out of favor, so they are not the cause of the present crisis.

The current unabated pace of foreclosures is attributable to unemployment.

In 2008 I presumed the housing market would return to “normal” [not excessive as between 2003 – 2007] in 2010. Well, 2010 has come and gone. In 2010 I presumed the housing market would return to normal come 2012. With the persistently high unemployment rate, I believe foreclosures will continue to be a thorn in the housing market’s and the overall economy’s side.

Be thankful if you have a job and are able to make your monthly mortgage payments. Too many Americans cannot.

New fees by my credit union

Yes, even credit unions are implementing MORE fees. When I opened my account with the credit union about 7 years ago, the credit union offered FREE savings accounts and checking accounts. At that time the minimum deposit for a savings account was $10 and for a checking account the minimum deposit was $25. About three years ago the credit union eliminated “free” checking accounts and created three tier checking accounts. I still have “free” checking because I have two mortgages with the credit union.

Logged onto my credit union’s website yesterday and saw a notice about new fees effective February 1st. For a savings account, there would be a $3.00 monthly maintenance UNLESS the monthly average balance is $200 OR by having another deposit with the credit union or loan account OR if you are under age 26.

I thought I understood the conditions for avoiding the fee but I called the credit union to make sure. The customer service representative reassured me that the fee would not apply (in light of my mortgage).

Of course the credit union will also have new fees for the various checking accounts. I wasn’t concerned about that account.

So, it’s not only the BIG BANKS that are “nickel & diming” their customers. So are credit unions and likely community banks.

If you don’t have a lot of money, select one institution for your banking & lending needs. That way you should dodge any fees

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