Finally! Discount for paying with cash

This afternoon (before the 5.8 earthquake struck) I stopped by the Beltsville Amoco gas station near the Costco in Beltsville, Maryland. As I pulled into the gas station, I noticed the price for a gallon of regular gas was $3.49 if paying by credit or debit card. Yet the overhead sign indicated a gallon of regular gas was $3.45. Hmmmm. Did I finally find a gas station that REWARDED customers who paid by cash?

I wasn’t quite certain, so upon entering the convenience area to prepay, I inquired. Is there a different price charged for those who pay by cash versus those paying by credit or debit card? The cashier replied yes, cheaper rate if one pays by cash.

Yippee. I prepaid by cash, saving four cents per gallon.

After reading about merchants charging less to customers who pay by cash, it is FINALLY nice to be a beneficiary of such a policy.

The next customer paying with a credit card

No one moved. There were six of us standing in line at a Cracker Barrel on Saturday evening.

The man behind shouted, only if it Is your credit card. Then he muttered, I need to know when I am broke.

I chuckled.

Dave Ramsey would have loved it!

We all were paying with cash 🙂

Crime pays

Just learned on the radio that a gang of girls “flash mobbed” a convenience store in DC yesterday.

Well, apparently, what these girls learned from the flash mob in Germantown, Maryland is, “we can do that too.”

So crime pays for now.

Presuming these girls are identified, apprehended, charged & sentenced, what will their future be? Will they “turn straight” or continue with some form of criminal activity? Will they graduate from high school or college? Will they become productive members of society or be a burden on society, by receiving welfare, Section 8 Housing Vouchers or being imprisoned?

And meanwhile the rest of society suffers. Will convenience stores and small shops be more restrictive or start profiling customers?

I hope this fad ends soon!

Continue to say “no” to money market mutual finds

Closed my account during the 2008 financial crisis. The Reserve Prime fund ( which held too much Lehman Brothers bonds when Lehman’s went belly up) “broke the buck” precipitating a fear about other money market mutual funds “breaking the buck.”

I’ve declined to open another money market mutual fund since that crisis. And there is no reason to open such an account. The interest rates are anemic and there is no guarantee like the FDIC.

Frankly, there are still issues about money market mutual finds. The September 2011 issue of Consumer Reports’ Money Advisor provides the following:

If a European debtor nation defaults, “it could become problematic for American investors because these debts often find their way into money market mutual funds. With returns of essentially zero, there’s little reason to expose yourself to the possibility that a European default might cause your money market fund to ‘ break the buck’ – meaning that it’s net asset value falls below $1 a share. The last time that happened was in 2008, to a fund holding too much Lehman Brothers debt.”

Not good. 😦

Flash Mob

As reported on CNN.com

A “flash mob” believed to have been organized on the Internet robbed a Maryland convenience store in less than a minute, police said Tuesday, and now authorities are using the same tool to identify participants in the crime.

Surveillance video shows a couple of teens walking into the Germantown 7-Eleven store Saturday at 1:47 a.m. Then, in a matter of seconds, dozens more young people entered and grabbed items from store shelves and coolers. Police said the teens left the store together, without paying for anything.

OUTRAGEOUS!

1:47 a.m. Saturday morning – where are the parents?

Why do these teens except to get something for nothing? Has no one taught them you have to “earn” a wage to buy things, whether food from a convenience store, clothing, sneakers, or electronics?

Funny, in last week’s Weekend edition of the WSJ Peggy Noonan discussed the riots in London and elsewhere in England. She mentioned similarities between certain conditions and viewpoints in Britain and the United States and remarked that such riots could happen here in the United States. Ms. Noonan cited as an example the “Flash Mobs” in Philadelphia. I was clueless about these “flash mobs.”

But today’s article on CNN.com has educated me.

Flash mobs — usually announced online in social networking sites, or by e-mails or text messages — were once benign and entertaining, but recent gatherings by groups of teenagers have evolved into more sinister actions.

Earlier this month, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed an order moving curfews to 9:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays for people younger than 18 in Center City, the heart of Philadelphia’s downtown, and in University City, home to the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University.

Nutter announced the earlier curfew following a string of mob attacks by young people alerted to gatherings via e-mail and social media.

Parents and minors face hefty fines if caught violating the new rules.

Violent “flash mob” attacks have also been reported recently in other cities across the country, leading to crackdowns on curfew enforcement and stepped-up police patrols.

Look how much trouble these teens are costing society? And, let’s be frank, they are acting like WILD ANIMALS.

These teens should know STEALING is wrong. Obviously they don’t care. Their negative actions drive away customers from downtown areas, which means businesses in those areas are receiving less patronage by customers, which means there is a drop in taxes the municipality collects from those businesses. YES, there is a discernible, negative financial impact of these violent flash mobs.

How ironic, starting late last year, we saw how citizens in several countries in the Middle East used social network for good: to overthrow autocratic governments. It’s ironic that we now have teens in America – who don’t realize the freedoms they enjoy – are using social media to organize thefts of merchants.

Not in my budget

There are so many things to budget for, I didn’t budget for a pinched nerve in my left foot. This morning had my second treatment with the podiatrist. My next treatment is Thursday morning.

I am grateful that I have health insurance. Otherwise the expense per visit would be much higher. My co-pay is $30 per visit. Come Thursday, I will have spent $90. I don’t have an extra $90, so I will have to raid my furlough fund ( & I have to raid it to cover an unanticipated dripping from kitchen faucet, which also totals $90).

Even when you budget, Dave Ramsey, “Murphy” still visits!

Remember Microsoft?

More and more Americans are using
smartphones and tablets to communicate or access the Internet (including yours truly, The Money Heifer). Logging onto one’s PC in order to send an e-mail or access the Internet is so 1999.

Is Microsoft, at one point the dominant company in PCs, fading into the background with the consumer opting for smartphones and tablets?

Maybe, maybe not.

Interesting article in today’s Wall Street Journal on this very topic. The article is entitled, “Microsoft Faces the Post-PC World,” written by Nick Wingfield.

“Microsoft is counting on the next version of Windows, dubbed Windows 8, to re-start sales growth. But the operating system, which Microsoft has redesigned to run on touch-screen computers, isn’t expected until the autumn of 2012 at the earliest.”

One investor believes it is too late to revive Windows.

“We are past the point where Windows can return to its former glory.”

I am not so sure. A lot of people still use PCs for so many tasks.

Although many customers are buying smartphones and tablets, the corporate world still buys Microsoft products. But even corporations are excited about the iPads.

I guess we’ll just to wait & see with Microsoft.

Two law schools sued

By law school graduates. The two law schools are Thomas M. Cooley (in Michigan) and New York Law School.

These law school graduates seek tuition refunds. They also demand the law schools reform their methods of reporting the employment statistics of graduates.

The plaintiffs seek “to remedy a systemic, ongoing fraud that is ubiquitous in the legal education industry and threatens to leave a generation of law students in dire financial straits.”

Yes, graduating from law school does not guarantee a job or a career!

Riots in London, other English Cities

If you have a small business, own real estate or even a car, you empathize with those owners in London or other English cities who have had the stores looted, their homes defaced or their cars torched.

In today’s Wall Street Journal Anne Jolis writes an opinion column entitled, “London Riots: The Police Did Nothing.”

The column recounts what Kamran Raif experienced managing his brother’s store.

“Once inside, the looters snatched six-packs of Supermalt from the shelves nearest the entrance and hurled them at the cigarette and alcohol cases behind the register. To Mr. Raif they appeared to be 16 or younger and sober. He doesn’t know if they were kids from the neighborhood, but despite their hoods and balaclavas he could tell ‘from their hands’ that his looters were mostly white.

‘They were very shameful. It was a horrible experience,’ he says.

They police never did appear, although they followed up nine hours later with a phone call. ‘Everything we pay here – taxes, rates, rents – it’s all so expensive. And we can’t even get the police when there are people robbing our shop.'”

I understand. One works hard, one pays taxes and hooligans can’t destroy it all.

Very sad.

Really, S&P

In today’s Wall Street Journal is an article entitled “Interest-Rate Cuts a Fresh Jolt for Consumers.” An S&P economist makes the following observation:

“People are going to feel less rich and that will make them hold back on spending, which would be a further blow to the economy,” says Beth Ann Bovino, a senior economist at Standard & Poor’s.

Wow, Ms. Bovino, really? Well, I guess the consequence is pretty obvious since your firm lowered the U.S.’s credit rating.

Do not expect the consumer to come to the rescue by shopping, shopping, shopping. Many consumers are in debt and are concerned about maintaining their jobs.

More belt tightening, less spending. A double dip recession right around the corner?

Thanks for nothing, S&P.

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