Don’t Feed the Alligators

A Personal Finance Blog from a Small-Scale Landlord’s Perspective

Creative Commons License photo figure credit: ctsnow

  • Yesterday I was chatting with one of my company’s summer interns about his plans for the weekend. He told me that he was going skydiving. Wow! I thought, that’s awesome. I’ve always wanted to go skydiving, but never got around to it before I got married and became a parent. I explained to the intern that the second thought that went through my head after “Wow” was “life insurance policy.” I have a sizable life insurance policy in place already, but I’ve been meaning to read up on the fine points of it to figure out exactly what coverage I have. I find that I have many insurance policies, but don’t know what insurance I actually have. You always hear horror stories about people having insurance, but not being covered for some bizarre sequence of events. So back to the top of my to do list goes: Read and understand current insurance policies.
  • A short phone call this week earned me about $150. I have been engaged in a kind of progressive credit card arbitrage. We got a cash back rewards credit card last summer that came with a high limit and a 0% APR on purchases for a year. We’ve been making minimum payments to the card while stashing the rest of the full payment in a high interest savings account. I had written in my credit card notes that the 0% offer expires in July. I called the credit card issuer to ask specifically when the offer expires. The answer is that the offer is good until the END of my August billing cycle, which means that I don’t have to settle up until the middle of September. I estimate that I should be able to earn about $150 dollars in extra interest on the money that is sitting in my Vanguard Money Market fund.
  • We finally received our tax refund this week, which isn’t bad considering that we didn’t file until about 3 weeks ago. It took longer than expected to file this year due to some Traditional to Roth IRA conversions that we ended up being ineligible to make. So it took a while to figure out how to undo the conversion and then how to record that on the tax return.
  • In case you’re wondering: this tax refund will be used to bolster our emergency funds which currently total $10,233. This is far short of 6 months worth of expenses, but we’re getting there.

Some articles that I enjoyed over the last two weeks:

  • Gather Little By Little investigates the fine art of hypermiling — eking every possible mile out of a gallon of fuel for your car. We have been de facto hypermilers since 2001 when we purchased a diesel car that easily gets 45 miles per gallon. However, I have been independently implementing some of the suggestions that also appear in GLBL’s article and anecdotally seem to have improved city mileage to previously unheard of heights. I won’t know for sure until the next fillup, which may still be weeks away.
  • The Boston Globe reports that People in Debt Feel Literal Pain. Wow! Debt troubles are pervasive! The lesson here: If you want to improve your health, get out of debt.
  • Gametheorist writes about his children’s entrepreneurial teamwork in selling candy bars for their sports club fundraiser. What fascinated me about this was the posturing of the pricing in order to induce people to buy more. What further fascinated me is that it worked so well!
  • Lastly, PaidTwice had another rough week in homeownership. Her week went from dreams about a more luxurious bath experience to a shorted circuit breaker to a major, necessary home repair. Isn’t it nearly always the case that just when we start to feel secure, comfortable, and in control of our lives Mr. Murphy comes knocking? This happens to me at work, with our finances, around the neighborhood, on the highway, etc. The best guard against Mr. Murphy is a healthy emergency fund, both in literal and figurative senses. Always try to foresee alternative outcomes and plan around them or hedge against them. We can’t foresee or prepare for everything, but a little planning can go a long way — see Point 1 at the top of this entry.

7 Responses to “Weekly Feeding 6-14-2008”

  1. Michelle Says:

    Lucky you getting your stimulus check… we are STILL waiting on ours… and we filed by 4/15… probably won’t be seeing it until late July or later…

  2. ScrapperMom Says:

    Michelle, Here is a website that has links to local office contact information so you can call if you think it should be to you, but hasn’t arrived.
    Doesn’t hurt to make sure they didn’t forget about you or to verify they have your address correct.

  3. Jose Says:

    I never ever post but this time I will,Thanks alot for the great blog.

  4. Alexander Hall Says:

    we always use General Electric circuit breakers at home because it is very reliable,’,

  5. Thomas Williams Says:

    we always use the Koten brand of circuit breakers at home and they are good~”,

  6. Flashing Beacon  Says:

    our circuit breaker is always manufactured by General Electric and they last very long*`.


  1. Don’t Feed the Alligators » Blog Archive » Economic Stimulus Received