Unexpected delivery

Those of you who read this blog know The Money Heifer lives in the District of Columbia. Hurricane Sandy is approaching. I received telephone notification yesterday evening that I did not have to report for work today.

So I slept in late,  checked the grounds of my property to make sure everything is secure,  returned to the house,  exercised and started some house chores. While upstairs I heard a familiar sound: mail being pushed through the door’s mail slot. Mail is being delivered today? Then there was a knock at the door. I rushed down the stairs,  opened the door & there stood Troy,  the mailman. He held several catalogues in his hand that were too bulky to push through the mail slot. I thanked him & expressed surprise that he is working. He was likewise surprised. I remarked,  “be safe ” as he left my porch.

Hey USPS – not sure who is screaming about the mail (I’m not). Please don’t put your employees in danger.

And customers – please show gratitude to the postal employee. I bet you would not want to switch jobs with your postal carrier on a day like today.

Pantyhose woes

There are times I must wear pantyhose. And when I must, my greatest fear is a tear appearing during my first wear.

I’m so careful that I wore plastic gloves on my hands to remove from packing, soak & rinse four new pantyhose this morning  (yes this is extreme but my nails & pantyhose are like oil & water).

It’s the expense of pantyhose that drives me to such extremes. Pantyhoses are too expensive. When I need to buy a decent pair I shop at Marshalls .

I wish the price for pantyhose would drop. Still trying to figure out why one pair can cost as much as $9.00. And with one tear, there goes all that money.

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Don’t know much about history but why we should!!!

Read a review in today’s Washington Post about a book entitled “Who Stole the American Dream?” (By Herrick Smith).  This is the type of book that wets The Money Heifer’s appetite. After reading the review,  I couldn’t wait to read it. I purchased the book & downloaded to my Kindle Fire (my brother’s response – “it’s about time. You received the kindle in July.”  As my sister would say,  “whatever.”)

Anyway, below are three paragraphs from that review:

Smith views 1978 as a pivotal year. First,  Congress revised bankruptcy laws to allow troubled corporations to restructure rapidly by abrogating union contracts and other employee agreements. Second,  lawmakers enacted a little-noticed tax-code provision designed to let workers supplement existing pension plans with individual retirement accounts. Corporations unexpectedly seized upon the new plans as an excuse to eliminate expensive,  professionally administered,  lifetime pensions. The result: Employees’ share of retirement costs went from 11 percent in the 1950s to 51 percent by the mid-2000s ; insufficient or badly managed retirement investing by individual workers has given rise to predictions that perhaps half of aging boomers may end their lives in poverty. (Employers also took a parallel path in health insurance,  shifting costs to employees via higher premiums and deductions) .

Finally,  a 1978 Supreme Court decision permitted banks to offer high-interest,  low minimum-payment credit cards,  even to Americans with bad credit histories – sowing the seeds for a massive credit card debt bubble. That process,  followed two decades later by a residential real estate boom and bust,  eventually bankrupted millions of middle-class Americans.

“Who Stoke the American Dream?” provides a grim panorama of the real-world consequences of these power shifts: concentration of financial assets and higher incomes in fewer hands: race-to-the-bottom wage and salary dynamics (epitomized by the rise of Wal-Mart)  that put American producers against Asian sweatshop factories and results that,  in turn,  eviscerates small,  local retailers ; efforts by America’s highly admired high-tech moguls (from Steve Jobs to Bill Gates)  to transfer overseas much of our knowledge-based economy; the evolution of a Washington-Wall Street “symbiosis” that dominates White House and congressional policymaking and thrives on political gridlock.

Knowing the business and financial history is vital to understanding why this nation is in the fiscal and monetary mess that exists today. You see why The Money Heifer couldn’t resist the impulse purchase.

And this review of the book explains why our grandparents and maybe parents could do so many things but we today cannot afford to do.

Everyone should read this book. But if you can’t stomach such a heady topic,  may I recommend that you watch “In Debt We Trust: America Before the Bubble Bursts.”

Finally, with this huge income and wealth disparity between the super-rich and the rest of us (peons, serfs), one sentiment comes to mind: The love of money is the root of all evil.

A complete waste of money

Standing in line at the grocery

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store.
I’ll let the photos do the talking.

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Like moths to a flame

The Great Recession continues. Yet when we consumers see a sign like the one below, we can’t  resist. We have to walk inside. Just to see what’s available.

Exactly what I did this evening. Of course there really wasn’t anything I needed or even wanted. Just wanted to see what deal I could possibly find.

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The Dry Cleaning Blues

Next week will be a busy time at work and I need to wear a suit each day.  So, off to the dry cleaners during lunch.  I dropped off three suits, four blouses (3 long sleeve and one short sleeve) and a dress.  I even prepaid to receive the 10% discount.  Total cost = just under $71.00.

Yes, it would hurt less if I didn’t dump so many clothes at the dry cleaners at once.  But, it would hurt anyway.  Several small financial nicks are like several small paper cuts.

That check I received from the conference is disappearing fast 😦

A hobby that pays

I had the honor of being selected as a speaker at an out-of-town conference. I was required to bring a laptop (had to purchase one). I received an honorarium, $200 towards transportation, two nights’ lodging, paid for meals for the banquet and luncheon and free registration for the conference.  I gave one presentation.

I’ll let my tax advisor determine my income versus expenses. This experience is new but pleasantly so.

In fact, would relish another such opportunity. Maybe next year 🙂

I am from the government and I am here to help you

Some of you may recognize the above. I’ll explain why this statement came to mind.

I am on the board of a non-profit (became a board member this year). We had our annual event this past month. It was a tremendous  success.

Tonight we had a meeting with a local politician who asked to meet with us. We didn’t know the exact nature of his interest. He made it clear at the meeting: he has been thinking about organizing the very event we have been hosting the past few years.

He told us what he would like to see which such an event. How he wants it to be bigger and better than what we are able to offer presently (of course we volunteer board members have big dreams too but recognize our limited time & resources).

Some of my colleagues were really excited. Sounds great the government can help with organizing such a cultural event (though some may question the use of precious government dollars for a cultural event especially during this ongoing Great Recession).

For me I’m just a little uneasy about government involvement. There are pros & cons. What about the vision of the board? What if this event become too bureaucratic? We have worked with small businesses who have sponsored certain events and have gained recognition through their support.

Right now, I believe in proceeding cautiously with this opportunity.

Ingenuity & creativity usually are found with small businesses & non-profits. We should avoid quashing  these traits.

Sneaky, slimy practice by a hospital

My mom called me this evening. She has an appointment at a local hospital for an MRI tomorrow.  My mother made this appointment about two weeks ago.

Last week someone from the radiology department called to obtain her insurance information.

Today someone from the radiology department left a voice mail message confirming tomorrow’s appointment and informing my mother that her co-pay is over $600 or as much as she can pay.

Hospitals have become sneaky & slimy!!

Let’s see, the hospital didn’t want to disclose this information too early because a patient may cancel the appointment (& the hospital doesn’t want to be blamed for discouraging patients from getting the services as ordered by their doctors). And the hospital likely charges a cancellation fee for less than 24 hours’ notice. So the hospital sticks it to the patient by revealing the hefty co-pay in less than 24 hours before the appointment.

Such a practice could negatively affect the patient who is now concerned about paying the bill. So the patient is stressed before taking the test.

I have lost respect for the medical community some time ago. Tactics like this continue to reinforce my negative perceptions. No wonder many Americans have turned to non-traditional or alternative medicine. At least they are honest about fees and services upfront.

Teaser Introductory Rate

Received an e-mail earlier this week from my bank through which I have a Master Card. The introductory rate is 1.7% for six month, then would jump to 7.99% variable.

No thanks.

But if my bank offered me the following offer, I would pounce on it:

Low introductory savings rate of 1.7% for the first six months and thereafter 7.99%.

Yes, day dreaming. When will we see 8% on a savings account? Apparently, no time soon  😦

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