This Week in Lazy Man’s Money

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It's been awhile since I wrote an update about my week with money. Previous weeks have been relatively uneventful, but this week has been full of events.

  • As I mentioned in my alternative income stream update, my wife's car was broken into. The damage and the items stolen added up to $500 - our deductible, so our insurance is useless.
  • That night didn't get any better. The incident meant that we didn't finish vacuuming out the broken glass until around 8PM, where most of the parking spots fill up in my gated apartment complex. This happens every night and though we were promised ample extra parking in the "overflow" area (around 50 spots) it simply isn't the case. I went out four times last night after 8PM to put my car in a proper spot to avoid parking in a fire lane determined to not lose the game of musical chairs. My determination was not enough. I ended up having to park with 3 other cars in a fire lane. I'd never heard of getting a parking ticket by the city in a gated community. It turns out to be a $35 lesson.
  • Maybe karma has a way of evening the score, as I had my best week in bringing new advertisers on board in quite awhile.
  • My wife has been boosting Ebay's quarterly earnings with our sales this week. Sadly, I'm not sure how much actual money we'll see from this flurry of sales. We weighed all the items meticulously, but didn't add extra weight for the packing materials. Some of the items that we sold for just a few dollars probably aren't profitable at all. However, we helping the environment by giving the items a second home. Also, postal worker Lita and I at the Palo Alto post office have never been closer.
  • I'd like to thank Plonkee Money for including me in the 111th Carnival of Personal Finance. Another thanks goes to Frugal Babe for including me in the Festival of Frugality.
  • As a bit of a teaser, Lazy Man and Money might be getting a new look soon. I'm thinking of allowing a few readers a preview to get some feedback. Send me an e-mail if you are interested.

My non-financial thoughts this week...

  • The Red Sox got Eric Gagne at the trade deadline.  Suddenly the team that had a disasterous "bullpen by committee" campaign a few years ago, have one of the best bullpens in baseball.
  • Next Friday, the Patriots have their first preseason game.  I'm so excited to see the team that it feels like the playoffs.  I don't know what will happen when the regular season starts.
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Weekly Review

Posted on August 3, 2007.

Busy Week, Business Thoughts, and Media Exposure

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Here are some things going on with me personally this week.

I may be the most busy person in the world this week. What makes me so busy:

  • I'm trying to square away things on my rental property. I've got a new tenant coming in for July. It turns out there was disconnect on part of the agreement, probably mine and the renter's fault. I had to scramble to find someone available to fix it on very short notice. Just when I think I have that solved, I need to get the condo board's permission before they can do their job. This alone has taken me quite a bit of time, but three things are frustrating me. 1) There's nothing I can do here, I'm dependent on the policies of all the other parties. 2) The responsibility falls on my shoulders as the landlord and 3) Each time I think I solve the issue, another one appears.
  • That rental property needed a new water heater. It cost me $1,150, but I at least talked them out of the $150 1-minute diagnosis service call they originally wanted me to pay.
  • I'm getting married in less than two weeks. That's a full-time job in itself. My future in-laws are divorced (not amicably either) which creates many additional problems.
  • I've gotten unpreceidented attention from this blog. Two national newspapers have contacted me for interviews this week. Two writers have sent me pre-release copies of their books. I've been corresponding with the sponsors of yesterday's contest to pull it off. I'm not saying this because I want to impress you guys, I'm just mentioning that there's a lot of behind the scenes work that goes on into making this blog work.
  • I'm starting to think about looking for a new job. I went as far as feeling out an old contact to see if they are hiring. Nothing like adding a job search to the whole list. However, I flip-flop each day and I'm curently really enjoying my job.

Here are the two random business thoughts...

  • Fox always cancels my favorite shows (Andy Richter probably being my all-time favorite cancelation). I particularly loved the show The Loop before it went on a year hiatus or so. It's back now, but it's simply not the same show that it was. One might imagine that a show that was borderline in the ratings (I'm assuming since it was on hiatus) would come back improved in some way. They've made a couple of odd decisions that I can't just figure out. They eliminated the main character's two attractive, fun, female roommates. One was a love interest of the main character, so there's now a whole plotline disconnect. They've added an annoying guy who appears in the elevator and belts out a series of cliches and quips. The show is like a zombie - it should have just stayed dead, instead of coming back in weird nearly unrecognizable form.
  • I'm impressed by a Mini Cooper billboard on the 101. It's basically an old school sports stadium display - lots of light bulbs which can be turned on to display a message. The awesome idea is that it seems to have new content every day. Yesterday I drove by and it read that Bruce Lee only weighed 135 pounds. That obviously have nothing with a Mini Cooper, but they've made me look at it every day, which is so much more than I can say for all the other billboards. And of course, they've got me writing about it right now, so they are getting some residual advertisement towards people who may not never drive by it. Very smart move, Mini.

And lastly, here's the media exposure, I mentioned:

  • A newsletter interviewed me awhile back on my Prosper thoughts. Read the article here.
  • More recently Canada's Globe and Mail included the Lazy Man in an article yesterday. I'm hesitant to link to them since they weren't kind enough to link to me. Given that, I'm pretty glad that I gave them a pseudonym.
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Weekly Review

Posted on June 29, 2007.

Microsoft Surface, Lindsay Lohan, and Broken Laptops

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Here are my financial and non-financial thoughts of the week:

  • Have you seen the coffee table by Microsoft? It's called the Microsoft Surface (Flash heavy official site, text heavy news story) and it knocked my socks off in a demo the other day on CNBC. It's a touch-sensitive flat-screen TV that's also a table. It displays pictures that can be manipulated with hand gestures (like Minority Report). For instance, it can show a pond and a touch of the glass/water, makes it appear to ripple. You can draw on it grab photos and resize them and more. I still want two features though: 1) lift-top to turn into a quick dinner table, and 2) I want to pull a part of it towards me to use as a computer like the laptop that I keep on my coach today. At $10,000, I won't be buying one for probably 8-10 years as prices come down. I think I'll rename my savings account for the Sony Aibo I wanted - since Sony discontinued the Aibo.
  • I think Lindsay Lohan's DUI/DWI has been covered pretty much everywhere at this point. Someone tried to cash in by selling parts of Lindsay's car on Ebay. It reminds me of the "do something crazy" step in my 5 Paths to a Million Dollars. A local radio station noted that an auction for concert tickets - with a meet and greet of the artist - all for charity - had only reached $600. They were less than happy that the public was willing to pay more for pieces of plastic from Lindsay's car accident. I didn't catch who the artist was, but they definitely had a point.
  • My wife-to-be had a problem with her laptop earlier this week. The motherboard was fried. She went to Best Buy to cash in on the warranty to get it repaired/replaced. Since she's traveling for the rest of this week, they recommended that she wait until she gets back home. They offered to transfer the data from the hard drive to DVDs for $150. In a panic, she opted for it, but called me in time that I could remind her that we have back-up of what we needed thanks to FolderShare. It's a great piece of technology, I highly recommend it. This is the second time she'll have cashed in on the warranty in a year. It may be been covered by the manufacturer's warranty, but I tend to doubt it since they are generally restrictive. For some products that are prone to damage, I believe extended warranties can be a good deal.
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Weekly Review

Last updated on August 1, 2011.

Weekly Financial Review

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It has been a few weeks since I have given an update on my week in finances. I'm overdue for an update.

A high school student came knocking on my door on Wednesday. He was trying to sell newspaper subscriptions in an effort to get a $500 college scholarship. He was shocked when I said I had no interest in the local paper. He said that if I bought it, he'd come by and have it recycled every day. What an amazing sales technique?!?! Buy something you don't want and I'll dispose of it for you. When I continued to say that I wasn't interested, he said incredulously, "You're not interested in helping me go to college?" I wasn't all that interested at $99 a year for a subscription. Does that make me a bad person? If someone knocks on your door and tries to sell you something you don't want, does that obligate you to buy - even if it's for a good cause?

I've been saving money this week as I've stayed late at work to get free dinners. My fiancée is using some of her pile of vacation time to tie up loose ends for the wedding back in Boston. If she were around I'd come home early to have dinner with her.

I'm getting ready to make another $1000 payment towards my HELOC. I'm pretty excited about it as I've made nearly $5000 worth of payments since February. The only reason I pause to make the payment is that we have that wedding coming up and costs associated with that.

    A non-financial thought for this week:

    I've talked about the billboards along highway 101 on my commute in Silicon Valley in the past. This week a new one popped up that caught my eye like none before. The company I work for has a couple of 800-gorillas that have niche products in the space. One of them took out a billboard targetting exactly that niche - not a good sign for my company - pun intended.

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      Weekly Review

      Posted on May 25, 2007.

      Weekly Financial Review #17

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      Here are some of the things that went on financially in my life this week:

      • I was included in the Carnival of Shopping. Check it out if you get a chance.
      • I paid off $2000 of my home equity line of credit leaving me with under $9000 to go.
      • I'm ramping up my writings at Lazy Man and Health, but I'm still waiting for my Men's Health subscription which has given me a lot of motivation in the past.

      On the non-financial side:

      • I watch CNBC every morning while I get ready for work. If Alka-Selzter insists on playing that plop, plop, fizz, fizz commercial, I'm going to have to stop.
      • Does anyone know of a great color laser printer?  I've had an HP 4L for over 12 years now and it's been great, but I'm looking for more.  Ideally, it would do it all, fax, copy, print, scan, laser in black and white and color - and not cost me a fortune in ink.  It's a tall order, but I'd be willing to pay a tall price (or at least put it on our wedding registry).  Let me know if you have any suggestions.
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      Weekly Review

      Last updated on August 1, 2011.

      Weekly Financial Review #16

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      There was a lot going on this week this week, so let's get to it:

      • Last week, I mentioned Energi Gal and I were going to have a Financial Day. The idea was that we were going to pour through our financials. Well we got through a portion of the financial planning. I was hoping I could get her finances in a spreadsheet like mine, but we didn't get that far. I think it's best to wait until the middle of next month as that's when I do my monthly expenses. Then we'll have things in sync and it will be a matter of just combining the spreadsheets to get a good total financial picture.
      • Sometimes customer service surprises you. Earlier this week, I mentioned the mess I had getting my car repaired.  Well, Mic's Auto Body in Redwood City installed a new bumper today in 45 minutes - while I waited.  I didn't have to wait for a rental car or anything.  They went as far as offering to pick up the car from work, but I figured I'd save them from that.  So even though they had an accident in the first place, they went above and beyond and it's why I'll use them in the future.
      • I have a pair of questions for you:
        • I had mentioned the problem with my Treo 700P in the past. It's a $600 phone, so if I had to replace it without the warranty, it would be expensive. I could buy insurance for around $7 a month, is it worth it? Simple math seems to suggest yes, but it's a $50 deductable to get a new phone and I could probably pick one up on Ebay for much less than $600. It's also been around for a year, so chances are a new model will come out in the next 6 months, making the current model I have cheaper.
        • I didn't realize that MLB and the cable companies came to a settlement, so I can now order all the Red Sox games for $160. Last year Energi Gal and I probably watched over 120 games. However with the games being on from 4PM to 7PM local time, I'll be at work most evenings. So should I get it or not? What would you do?
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      Ask the Readers, Weekly Review

      Posted on April 27, 2007.

      Weekly Financial Review #15

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      Updates in this my week in personal finance:

      • I finally made the call to get my 401K rolled over into an IRA. Why would I do this? I can control the expenses better in an IRA. The bad news is that I had to change my address from my move 6 months ago. Unfortunately changing the address is not easy. They need to send a form to that new address and I need to sign something. Faxing isn't a solution it seems.
      • I had a talk with Energi Gal today. I expressed that we should have a Financial Day. I'm not entirely sure of her financial state (though I can guess with-in a pretty small range). I'd especially like to roughly plan out our next five years. I don't know why these are tough conversations, but it seems like no one likes to plan for the future

      Non-personal finance thoughts:

      • I've mentioned in this space various Silicon Valley billboards. Well, on the way to San Francisco from the peninsula I saw something that made me laugh out loud. There's a place on the drive north on the 101 where you can see three billboards. Each of them is a cell phone provider proclaiming the best coverage in San Francisco - Sprint/Nextel, Cingular/AT&T, and Verizon are the three. I guess T-Mobile's billboard is under construction.
      • I'm a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. For a show with a supernatural premise, the lessons learned carry through almost all of parts of life. Unfortunately this week, I was reminded of the Buffy show, Earshot (spoiler alert in the link and upcoming paragraph). It was originally scheduled to air the week following Columbine shootings. In the episode, there is a mix-up where the viewer is lead to believe that a student is going to commit a mass murder at a school. It turn out that it's really a suicide attempt. The reason for the suicide attempt. From the Wikipedia article, "Buffy talks to him and tells him that the reason why everyone ignores him is because they all have their own problems that actually matter more to them than his do."
      • As long as I'm going to include the spoilers (and you've read this far), I might as well go all out. Here's a quote from the powerful scene:

      [Buffy finds Jonathan in the clocktower with a shotgun.]
      Jonathan: Go away!
      Buffy: Never gonna happen.
      Jonathan: You think I won't use this?
      Buffy: I don't know, Jonathan. I just-
      Jonathan: Stop doing that!
      Buffy: Doing what?
      Jonathan: Stop saying my name like we're friends! We're not friends! You all think I'm an idiot! A short idiot!
      Buffy: I don't. I don't think about you much at all. Nobody here really does. Bugs you, doesn't it? You have all this pain and all these feelings, and nobody's really paying attention?
      Jonathan: You think I just want attention?
      Buffy: No. I think you're up in the clock tower with a high-powered rifle because you wanna blend in. Believe it or not Jonathan, I understand about the pain.
      Jonathan: Oh right! Because the burden of being beautiful and athletic, that's a crippler!
      Buffy: You know what? I was wrong. You are an idiot. My life happens to, on occasion, suck beyond the telling of it. Sometimes more than I can handle. And it's not just mine. Every single person down there is ignoring your pain because they're too busy with their own. The beautiful ones. The popular ones. The guys that pick on you. Everyone. If you could hear what they were feeling. The loneliness. The confusion. It looks quiet down there. It's not. It's deafening... You know, I could've taken that by now.
      Jonathan: I know.
      Buffy: [holds out hand] I'd rather do it this way.

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      Weekly Review

      Posted on April 20, 2007.

      Weekly Financial Review #14

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      My Financial Week that Was...

      • With the exception of Wednesday, I stayed late at work each night this week. Since my work provides dinner if you stay late, I was able to eat well for free (as long as you stay under the daily allowance). One night, I brought home my dinner and Energi Gal and I split it.
      • I spent almost no extra money this week. Maybe it's just my lifestyle, but I simply just go to work and come home and partake in some of my free hobbies.

      And other thoughts...

      • Anyone see the MasterCard commercial where the elephant finds the zoo keeper's credit card and uses it to help him get supplies for his cold. The elephant just taps the credit card and comes away with blankets and medicine. It's a sweet commercial, but if an elephant can use my credit card without signing - it really looks like it lacks all security. And this is what MasterCard wants to promote? Anyone who finds your card can use it?
      • As a true Bostonian at heart, I was looking forward to Daisuke Matsuzaka's First start in Boston. I settled for skipping out of work early on Wednesday to watch it on national TV. DiceK, as he is known, cost the Red Sox nearly $20M a year. The ESPN commentators said that he is projected to bring $14M in tourist revenue to Boston. I don't recall if that was for the Red Sox themselves, or the number for the city in total. I'm guessing the later, but it's not too hard to imagine the Red Sox selling quite a few million dollars worth of DiceK shirts. It's hard to overestimate the impact when all the Red Sox executives have their business cards in English and Japanese and sponsors (like Dunkin Donuts) are putting up huge billboards in Japanese.
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      Weekly Review

      Posted on April 13, 2007.

      Weekly Financial Review #13

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      Here are some quick hit financial thoughts for this week:

      • I got an uplifting comment towards my cutting the cable TV article from a person known as Ro. His comment is worth publishing in full, "This week, we bought a Radio Shack antenna, booster, cords and guide wire to switch to antenna. Antenna.web maps your location for best signals. We have 14 channels so far that are excellent quality. We're pulling the plug on Dish Network this week ($69 a month) and looking forward to cutting more monthly bills that are bleeding us to death. Bell South's taxes and mystery fees for basic phone line is $14.50 a month ($69 total). I am reading Mary Hunt's book about living for half price. We are making a game of budgeting, opting for viewing our own videos vs rentals as well as library videos and exchanging with friends. The stress levels are coming down as the bills become less. Entertainment is too time consuming, anyway!"
      • I got my rental car from Enterprise today. (You remember my accident last week, right.) They wanted $5 from me to get a Dodge Magnum when I was promised a mid-size car. I asked for the free option and they had a Focus. After a little discussion they gave me the Magnum. Then they wanted me to pay $12/day for insurance (with a deductable) or $22/day for free-and-clear. Hmm, let's see.... At $22/day the insurance (not the car itself mind you) would cost me $660 a month. This is supposed to be my free substitute transportation from the insurance company? Even at $12 a day, it would be $360 a month - or over $4300 a year. It's quite a business they've got going there selling insurance.
      • I have been getting 5% back at gas stations, grocery and drug stores with my Chase card for about two years now. This is coming to an end as they sent notice that they are switching to 1% back starting in May. Nothing like a 5 times reduction in rewards points to leave a bad taste in your mouth. It looks like I'll switch to my Chase Freedom card at that point (3% rewards on gas/groceries/fast food).  Update: Brandon below mentions that this is not the case and that I've been reading it wrong.  He's right.  The gravy train continues...

      Here is my non-financial thought for this past week:

      • Ask.com is running a couple of crypt billboards around Silicon Valley. The first says, "The algorithm is from Jersey." Very cryptic. The second says, "The algorithm killed Jeeves." I quite like the interesting billboards. Too bad, it seems like a complete waste of money.
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      Weekly Review

      Last updated on April 8, 2007.

      Weekly Financial Review #12

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      (This was supposed to be published last Friday, but I must have hit the wrong button.  Why?  It will make more sense when you read the first bullet of the non-financial thoughts of the week.)

      Financial thoughts of the week:

      • Loyal reader Shaun Noonan wrote me about his start-up company, Gimmie Gimmie, I Want. The idea behind it is that you can create a wish list and others pool money towards a gift. It's a great idea, but I was sure I heard of it before. After a little research it sounds quite a bit like Fundable.com. The difference? It seems geared towards smaller groups and possibly children (especially with the name). It also doesn't take 7% off the top like Fundable. It's completely ad sponsored. Looks like I'm not the only one with dreams of an alternative income streams.
      • I mentioned my car accident earlier today. I'm really looking forward to spending time with a sub-par replacement. In addition, I appreciated spending an hour on the phone with claims agents today. I'll also appreciate the hour of getting the estimate done later today. It just feels like a lot of uncompensated hassle for me.
      • I've had a "roll-over 401k plan" on my to-do list for a few weeks now. Every time, I get close something comes up to supplant it on my list.

      Here are my non-financial thoughts of this week:

      • I've been fighting a cold the last three days. I've gone through a whole box of zinc lozenges. This cold has prevented me from doing half of the things on my to-do list for the week.
      • Baseball season is about to start. Since I haven't seen one Red Sox spring training game or even read much about the team, it doesn't feel like spring. Happily Slingbox came out their public beta of their Palm 700P client, so I can watch and/or listen to the games on my cell phone. It's amazing that just a few years ago I wouldn't be able to see the game at all from San Francisco. Now I can see it while walking down the street. I don't even have to pay a subscription to do this - wow.
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      Weekly Review

      Posted on April 4, 2007.

       
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