Tuesday, September 12, 2006

What did you say?

I just returned from a newspaper reading excursion at Perkins in Fridley. At the tables in front of me, behind me and to my left I was surrounded by the Jerry Springer Show. The conversations at these tables were totally void of intelligent thought. They were so sad, yet funny at the same time.

There were four or five women at each table, no men at all. All of these women looked to be 20-35 but no older. Most were white, some were black, one was hispanic and one looked to be native american. The white trash girls were by far the funniest, most of the quotes are from them. I used the blank part of an ad in the Wall Street Journal to write down some great quotes from their conversations, enjoy.

"This shit is too damn much money. Why'd we come here? We should've gone to Denny's."

"Girl, I ain't got no idea who it is! The guy I thought it was passed the paternity test!"

"The first time I cheated on him he found out somehow but he ain't found out about any of that other shit."

"He's always talking about his other baby mamma, I hate that shit."

"My manager (of her apartment building) said I gotta pay with a money order cause my checks ain't no good, that's some bull shit."

"I can't get no money from that muthafucka, he all locked up."

"They bitchin at me when I'm like five minutes late for my shift, well, like 15 sometimes, but they should fuckin chill out."

"Does your man gotta job?"

Those are some of the best quotes but many of the others I wrote down are just more of the same. I'm grateful that I don't have anyone who is even close to this level of behavior in my life. I'm glad that my friends stand on higher ground and conduct their lives in a responsible manner, for the most part at least.

I, as an outsider looking in, think that these women's lives a complete mess. Sad part is that it's more normal than I realize. This is not the first time I've overheard conversations like these and it certainly won't be the last.

What's worse? These people vote.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Negative Balance

The savings rate in this country has been negative for over a year now. This is one of the many things that will lead to the economic ruin of our country. The savings rate in China and Japan is over 40%! That's my goal and I don't think I'm even close to that yet.

It's not really hard to save, you don't have to be a severe cheap-ass like me. Just cut out some of the extra crap in your life. The following are some tips that don't even require you to change your lifestyle one bit:

1. Call your internet provider and tell them that you are going to switch (from dsl to cable or cable to dsl, whichever may apply. You will be transferred to their customer retention department who will ususally give you a low introductory teaser rate for the next three months. I go through this procedure every couple of months with Comcast now and it saves me about a hundred bucks per phone call.

2. Call your trash service provider and do the same thing. My trash bill is $43 every two months. If I call they'll drop it to an introductory rate of $25 for about four months. Then I repeat the process every four months just like with the Comcast.

3. Call your insurance company and raise the deductables on your car, renter, homeowner's and/or motorcycle insurance. This will save you some big bucks. Besides, when was the last time you made a claim? It's probably been a while. If an increase in your auto deductable of $500 decreases your annual premium by a $200 bucks, it'll save you money as long as you don't make a claim more than every 2.5 years. (I double checked my math this time Liz) By the way, the deductable on my B2300 is $2,500 and I only have liability coverage on my Jeep and Honda Shadow.

Most Americans have way too much insurance because they're broke and don't think they can risk having a lower premium. If something happens I'm sure you'll be able to find the extra $500 anyway.

Those are some tips to save some bucks. You could save a few hundred extra dollars per year if you put these into action. If you spend the money you save on more stupid crap you'll be no further ahead. In some future posts I'll cover some of the interesting income tax dodges I've learned over the past year.

Here is some fun anecdotal evidence of the current state of affairs. I had a good laugh reading this thread of discussion. The following thread began on theoildrum.com by a user named SelfAggrandizedTrader, several responses from other users follow:

SelfAggrandizedTrader:

"Twice, recently, the person in line in front of me at the drive-through ATM has accidentally left his receipt hanging out of the, "money-machine." Both of them were driving large SUV's: one an Escalade, the other an Explorer. The guy in the Escalade had a total of $12 left in his bank account, the guy in the Explorer, $19."

AlphaMaleProphetOfDoom: (this is Matt Savinar who runs www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net)

"oh god I wish you could have photographed the guy getting into his escalade with your camera phone and then I would have scanned the photo and his receipt on to the net! Absolute hilarity!"


Substrate:

"For an autocentric perspective:
Escalade 13 / 17: @$3/gal, $12 in bank account...roughly 52 miles city and 68 miles highway left in bank account
Explorer 16 / 21: @$3/gal, $19 in bank account...roughly 101 miles city and 133 miles highway left in bank account."

TechGuy:

"But how many miles left on the credit card is the real question. The good news is that I believe that many Americans may dump there McMansions and downsize into a new line of ultra tiny homes. Escalades and Explorers may just become the new american McMansions."