small change toward a rich life

July 2008

  1. Text message insanity, part two

    31 July 2008

    In part one, I discussed the rampant texting habits of teenagers today and the rapidly rising cost of same. The deceptive part of the text messaging phenomenon is that the cost is discussed in terms of a nickel here, a dime there, which makes it seem trivial. It’s not. Wireless providers are collecting forty cents […]

  2. Grocery bag revolution

    29 July 2008

    I made a run to Safeway last night for sale produce: blueberries at $2.50/lb, tomatoes at $1.50/lb, summer squash and lettuce at $1.00. (I love summer.) At the checkout I put my nylon bag at the front of the conveyor belt, then unloaded my groceries. The checker gingerly picked up the turquoise cloth and dropped […]

  3. Minimum wage gain and pain

    24 July 2008

    Millions of Americans got a raise today. I am grateful to not be one of them. I’ve worked for minimum wage. During and just after college, I waited tables in Texas where ‘tipped employees’ were paid just $2.13 an hour. That number hasn’t changed at all in the last twenty years, and guess what? Today’s […]

  4. Text message insanity, part one

    18 July 2008

    If you have a teen in your house, you’re likely already aware of what I’m about to tell you: this texting thing is way out of control. We have a fifteen-year-old. Nearly every conversation Jak and I have with her involves a variation of the phrase, “Michaela, put your phone away and listen to me.” […]

  5. Double exposure: risks of working in the financial industry

    14 July 2008

    If you have any money in the stock market right now, you’ve probably noticed a distressing trend over the past few months. I only check my retirement account balances once a month, and I can’t help being pained when the decline in net worth measures thousands of dollars. Compounding this is the fact that, because […]

  6. Fillet or fish: picking the better bargain

    10 July 2008

    The weekly grocery fliers arrived yesterday, and when I saw the QFC ad for ‘Fresh Wild Coho Salmon’ I was reminded of a frequent shopping dilemma: should I buy whole fish or fillets? This week’s offering is $9.99 for the fillets, or $6.99 for the whole fish. I have no idea which price is the […]

  7. Cutting benefits to lure employees?

    9 July 2008

    Hope you had a fun Fourth! Jak and I spent the holiday weekend visiting his sister and her husband in Eugene, Oregon. We watched fireworks from a boat and played laser tag. My in-laws (I sometimes call them ‘out-laws’, since Jak and I aren’t married) own an auto shop in Eugene. Business is booming, but […]

  8. How to get a fee-free IRA at ShareBuilder

    3 July 2008

    Jak and I have four IRA accounts at ShareBuilder — one Roth and one rollover for each of us. When we opened them in 2007, all ShareBuilder accounts were free to employees, so it was a no-brainer. Each employee got as many Advantage accounts as we wanted, which included up to 20 automatic investments per […]

  9. Avoid the high cost of premium gas

    2 July 2008

    A friend of mine has begun posting photos of gas pump digital displays after each fillup, which costs her an astonishing $70-$80 now. I noticed that she’s been consistently buying the middle grade of unleaded gasoline, labeled ‘Plus’ at the Chevrons she frequents. As someone who invariably buys the cheapest gas possible, I started wondering […]

  10. Cheaper student loans … for some

    1 July 2008

    With a teenager set to graduate in three years, I’m paying a lot more attention to news about student loans these days. Kids from low-income families who start college this fall got some good news today, as four years of interest-rate cuts kicked in. It’s questionable whether that last year of lower interest rates, which […]

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