Friday, September 30, 2005


This is a growing concern due to internet transactions. I strongly recommend that you have ONE CREDIT CARD that you ONLY USE for internet transactions. In the event your card is compromised you would not loose your primary credit.


Unless you are a public servant (of some variation) you are always potentially vunerable to "downsizing", "obsolescence", "Outsourcing", "age or sex discrimenation", or whatever.

It is always good to acquire new skills and keep an eye on your resume.

As soon as you learn one skill - acquire another.

What would you do if you were told this evening you have "two weeks notice"?


As a generalization you are better off being your own stock broker and not PAY for advise from expensive brokage companies.

Discount stock companies are realistic - if you are.

Be particularly beware of a broker who is always calling you to BUY something new.


is one of the most important skills you can impart to others. Information changes and the average person will have 4-5 different jobs in their lifetime.

You can never be sure of the future and what skills you will need.

Invest 2% of your net income in your own training in order to guarantee your future.


Thursday, September 29, 2005


Check the following sites to assist you in operating your car efficiently:

Other Hints:

Taking some time to make a list of the things you'll use the car for will help determine the difference between your true needs and your wants. It's important to remember that each additional want you add above what you really need will cost you not only at the time of purchase, but in most cases well down the road with an increase in maintenance and operating costs.

Check the insurance rates of a car before you purchase it. A twenty-five dollar a month difference in rates can save you thousands over a period of years.

Maintence issues:

*** Take the time to check your car's tire pressure each month. Under inflated tires reduce fuel efficiency by 2% for every pound they are under inflated. Under inflation also causes premature tire wear giving your tires a shorter use life.

*** Drive at the speed limit. Cars use about 20% more fuel driving at 70 miles per hour than they do at 55 miles per hour.

*** Avoid using air conditioning whenever possible. Air conditioning reduces fuel economy by 10% to 20%.

*** Don't open windows when traveling at high speeds. Open windows on the highway can reduce fuel efficiency by 10%. It is much better to use the ventilation system. Also remember to remove car racks and other items which make your car less aerodynamic when they're not being used. Use cruise control to maintain a steady pace on the highway to increase fuel economy.

*** Don't let your car idle. Even on cold mornings, there's no need to let your car idle for more than 30 seconds. Newer cars are designed to be driven almost immediately and letting your car idle longer is a waste of gas. In addition, it's more efficient to turn off your car and turn it on again than to let it idle for more than 45 seconds while waiting.

*** Remove all excess weight from your car. Many people use their car trunk as a storage space adding unneeded pounds to the car's weight. This unnecessary weight reduces the car's fuel efficiency.

*** Try to accelerate gently, brake gradually and avoid stops when driving. Gunning engines, quickly accelerating, and abrupt stops all waste fuel. Try to avoid driving during rush hour periods when you know traffic will be stop and go. If you do find yourself in stop and go traffic, try to maintain a crawl. When approaching hills or steep slopes, accelerate before the hill. Accelerating once on the slope will consume much more gas.

*** Service your car regularly while paying special attention to oil and filters. Blocked air flow from clogged air filters will increase fuel waste. Also check your car's alignment since this can cause engine drag which will also increase gas waste.

*** Periodically calculate your car's fuel efficiency. A loss in fuel efficiency is an indication of possible mechanical problems.

*** Credit cards that offer up to 10% in gas rebates can take the edge off soaring prices at the pump — as long as you don't dig yourself deeper into debt.
Discover has a credit card that gives up to 5% cash back on gas purchases and up to 1% on other purchases.

Taxpayers who use their cars for charitable purposes and itemize on tax returns are eligible for a tax deduction. The standard allowance for volunteers is 14 cents per mile.


To me a car is FUNCTIONALITY - and not personal status. I drive a 9 year old (reliable) van and not because I can't afford a better vehicle.

My neighbor has a Rolls, BMW, and Mercedes in his garage. While these are very attractive vehicles they represent a "value" of over $90,000 and cost him over $8,000 in personal property taxes. I have no idea what the insurance costs on these vehicles might represent but I am sure it is over $5,000 a year. Assuming minimum depreciation of $3,000-$5,000+ per year this HOBBY costs him $18,000 a year.

Note: In fact, depreciation is the single biggest cost in the first five years of a car's life, far outpacing fuel and maintenance costs. The AVERAGE car depresciates over 65 percent in five years.

For the same kind of money he could buy a new car every year.

My neighbor is fortunate in that he can afford his HOBBY - most other people can't afford such practices yet they engage in "similar" practices.

Drive what you can afford - not what you think enhances your status.


Recently a friend sought some advice about a problem at home. Her son was placing "demands" for "things" that placed her own financial and peace of mind at risk. She wanted to be the "good mother" but didn't know how to respond.

I told her that in my house I have always supported the "The 1st Law of Belevolent Selfishness."

This law does not mean that you value yourself over those you love - only that if you do not take care of yourself FIRST you will never be in shape to adequately care for others.

I do not know if this helped her - but it is a good reminder to myself.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005


When my daughter was deciding on a college she had no idea about the COST of a degree. After talking with her affluent friends she narrowed the field down to four schools. The most expensive was $15,000+ per year the last one on her list was a very credible state college at $5,000.

I sat down and showed her what we could financially contribute to her education - the rest I told her she would have to borrow.

I next created a spreadsheet and explained what $10,000 a year would cost her for the rest of her life making monthly payments.

Finally, I showed her some articles in MONEY MAGAZINE that choice number 4 had great credentials in her field and was deemed an outstanding value.

I told her we could pay for ALL of her education, provide an allowance, and even buy her a second-hand car at the end of her freshman year with choice number 4.

The next day she said she really like choice number 4 so we made a trip to the school and she was accepted.

I was a little concerned about her trying for scholarship money since we were footing the bill. So I made an additional offer - "For every dollar she came up with in scholarship funds I would give her twenty-five cents in CASH." Never have I seen such enthusiasm in filling out forms.

Eventually It cost us $750 - which was gratefully paid in cash.

(footnote: she graduated from the school and completed her M.ed several years later. She is now a very successful secondary school teacher - doing what she loves.)


Verbal promises are worth only the air that surrounding them. If something is truly important you need it in writing (and credible witnesses help.)

Ever since e-mail has been invented I have kept "copies" of important document just as I have with paper documents. On more than one occasion they have resqued me from "forgetful" people who could not recall their promises.

OK - some things are NOT worth keeping: old girlfriends garments, letters, pictures, videos, etc.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Over my lifetime I have owned many new technologies. In general, the FIRST GENERATION of any technology is ofter fraught with problems. To really protect your "investment" it is often better to make X-1 purchases (i.e. the second revision). Second generations are also less expensive.


Sunday, September 25, 2005


but not every lesson is correctly perceived or learned.


Generally I never purchase a product warrenty. Most products provide a year warrenty anyway and most people either loose or misplace the product warrenty information. Some products just are not worth getting repaired because are replaced with better technology.

Many warrenties require you to even have a "receipt" which people never keep.

I keep all my receipts (with warrenties) in a special box along with the product guides.


Friday, September 23, 2005

SMALL ACTIONS....ARE IMPORTANT (In your daily finances)

I was talking with a friend the other day on a busy street corner when I bent over and picked up a quarter. My friend immediately remarked that given my resources it was not necessary to perform such a trival act.

I told him that I always picked up lost change and given my tax status that the quarter was really worth thirty cents (non-taxable income).

But it was not the trival change that I was redeeming - it was part of my lifelong training to recognize opportunities and benefit from it.

The change I give to charity - the opportunity I keep for myself.


Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Recently I was assisting a relative dispose of a large quantity of trash - much of which was junk metal parts amounting to 500+ lbs.

Our local trash collector wanted to assess an "industrial charge" for the disposal of $75.

I went to the internet and found a "scrap metal" dealer at who picked it all up for nothing.

I strongly suggest that you use this resource not only to "recycle" useable items but you can also place a WANT ad as well.

This is a valuable resource that can save both time and money. It is available in thousands of communities.


Tuesday, September 20, 2005


I was walking past a group of students the other day and overheard one student bragging "I am smarter than John." And while intelligence is a wonderful asset in your life it does not make up for ambition and "stick-to-itness".

The best plan without comittment will not succeed.


Friday, September 09, 2005


The first step in problem solving is to define the problem - it is than half solved.

Recently a friend of mind was in a quandry over a difficult personal issue. Without going into specifics I found that the issue was quite complex. I could not offer advice, and she could not make a decision without identifying the issues.

I told her to take take a piece of paper and divide it into two columns - one labled "Positive" and the other "Negative." In each column she listed the possible "outcomes" of her decision.

She spent several days working on the list. She even shared it with several other people who would be affected by the decision (and who offered other insights and corrections.)

Finally, she made her decision. The decision was still difficult but she had the comfort of knowing that she had at least CONSIDERED all the important issues.

Good decision making (especially life altering) should be approached as a JOB requiring personal committement and hard work.


Thursday, September 08, 2005


I recently needed the services of a roofing/siding agency. When I called a company I had done business with before (for a fair price) I was told they only did whole house repairs and not smaller repairs (in the wake of enormous storm damage.)

I took the time to thank him and asked for people he would recommend. After a few minutes of polite conversation I reminded him that I valued his work and that he had repaired other property for me in the past.

Eventually he told me he was in the neighborhood and would drop by and provide me with an estimate that I could use for comparison purposes with other contractors.

Finally, when he called me, he told me that he really valued my business and politenss and would try to work it in next week.

I was both grateful to obtain the timely service at a reasonable price.

I told him to post a sign in the property yard advertising his services - as another means of thanking him.


It is extremely important to keep an idea on the prevailing interest rates especially if you have mortgages or credit card/payment debts.

Generally you can save money if the rates decline more than one-half percent or more. This is especially important for mortgage rates.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Intelligence alone will not make a person successful in life. An old teacher of mine used to have a quote on the wall - "There is IQ and 'I Will'."

Many AVERAGE people have made extraordinary achievements simply because they did not let the sigma of an IQ score deter their ambitions.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Recently I was reluctantly forced to contract with a tree trimmer to remove some trees which fell on my house. Even though I had satisfactory work with this contractor before it seems that this time GREED was on his plate.

I am making this statement to remind MYSELF and others to always obtain a WRITTEN BID for services before contracting for services.

FOOTNOTE: The contractor removed one tree (but omitted to tell me that the County Streets Dept. had removed the greatest bulk of the damage.) Some kind neighbors alerted me to this fact and after the BILL was send to me for $4500 I called him and asked for a detail listing of services. After I had the BILL in hand I called him and told him of my conversation with the neighbors. I explained that the BILL was fraudulent and I had a real problem paying him anything. I told him to send me another BILL with a detailed explaination as to why his first BILL was not correctly assessed.

It has been three months since our last communication. Matter is closed as far as I am concerned.

Attention to detail and perserverence pays.


Monday, September 05, 2005


Marriage is a lifelong contract between two people. Unfortunately the chances of fulfilling that "lifelong" relationship is currently only about 50%.

If you went to the airport and were told only half of the flights would achieve their destination - would you make the journey?

Marriage is most often prompted by endorphins and not logic. In fact, no amount of logic will generally assist a couple in "heat."

So what can you do to make a marriage work?

While many "promises" are made at the wedding ceremony - circumstances and priorities change over time.

It is said that you either "grow together" or "grow apart." Learning to communicate, share, and arbitrate your differences is absolutely essential.

If you find that "communication" is difficult you might try sitting down and writing out a YEARLY CONTRACT (or even shorter periods) with compromises. Every topic is "negotiable" with some compromise by both parties. If this is not possible - the marriage probably does not have much chance of survival.

Finally, your ability to make a meaningful commitment, demonstrate affection and courtesy, and realizing that change is inevitable - all require WORK on both of your parts.


Saturday, September 03, 2005


Given the fact that the price of energy will be going through your wallet this year it is exceedingly important that you make every effort at this time to check your home insulation. Insulation is a very inexpensive solution to most peoples heating solutions. The time to do it is now.

It also pays to check caulking around your windows.

Windows and door trim are also important.

News commentators just announced that energy bills will increase 30-50% this year.

Note: Always keep electric space heaters in your "gas heat" house to localize heating issues.