Don’t Feed the Alligators

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

Creative Commons License photo figure credit: Unhindered by Talent

Can you believe it’s August already? This weekend we’re relaxing with friends at their home in New Jersey. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the following:

Hank at asks the question:

If you were given $50,000 USD (tax free) today, what would you spend it on?”

I went back and forth on this question. The prudent thing to do would be to pay off the remainder of our low interest debts. The “dream basket” thing to do would be to use it for a down payment on a single family home, keeping our multi-family as an investment property. Paying off our debt would still leave half the money, and with the monthly payments on the debt gone, it would take us only 12 months to save that amount again, which is well within a reasonable amount of time to find and act on a new house. What would you do? Leave a comment here and then head over to the original article to enter for a chance to win an American Express gift card. If you leave a comment there, let me know!

Some other articles that caught my attention this week were:

  • Rocketc wonders if a frugal culture exists at your work place. He feels obligated to eat out with coworkers for fear of missing important business discussions that may ultimately further his career. My office is split between go-outers and brown-baggers, but nearly everyone eats at the office. I admit to feeling not so much peer pressured, but food pressured to be a go-outer, but it’s better for my wallet and my waistline to be a brown-bagger.
  • presents a scary article about how many workers are breaking the retirement piggy bank. It’s almost never a good idea to use retirement money for anything but retirement. But you knew that already.
  • J.D. writes about How to Cope with a Lousy 401k Plan. Most of us don’t realize that the plan we have through our job is not the work’s plan, it’s our plan, and we all have the power to change it, especially if we band together with coworkers. Many of these plans aren’t set up by financial experts, and very often the administrators are sold a bill of goods. A little research followed by a little bit of squeaky-wheeling, so to speak, can make a major impact on the size of your nest egg.
  • David posted a list of state sales tax holidays. Tax holidays are a great way to save — especially on big ticket items. However, one should be sure that (a) This item is in your spending plan and not a splurge item (since otherwise you will have not saved anything…) and (b) that you know what the regular price of the item is and what a typical sale price is. In my experience, many stores have no sales on Tax Holidays and bring all of their sale prices back to full price. In many cases, you can actually save more money on the weekend before or after the tax holiday than on the holiday itself for this very reason.
  • Finally, PaidTwice wonders about how much your time is really worth. I, too, have always been skeptical about arguments like this. The key here is to set the baseline appropriately: the choice is between earning $0 and something, not between your regular hourly wage and something. I don’t buy PT’s advice on earning hundreds of dollars per hour since in most cases you can’t actually do that. Yes, you might save a few dollars clipping coupons for a few minutes, but that’s not the same thing as earning $25/hour.

3 Responses to “Weekly Feeding 8-3-2008”

  1. rocketc Says:

    Good round-up and thanks for the link!

  2. David Says:

    Thanks for the mention, and great list of links!

  3. NH Mom of 3 Says:

    Thanks for the contest mention. I posted my answer at

    Enjoyed the round up, have a great week!