Sunday, September 7th, 2008...10:11 pm

Weekly Feeding 9-7-2008

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Creative Commons License photo figure credit: linda_yvonne

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve had a chance to highlight some of my favorite articles in the rest of the blogosphere, so here’s what’s been going on:

Gather Little by Little tells us what the dumbest thing on which he ever spent money is.  He asks what others’ dumbest purchases are.  The first thing that comes to mind for me is a Bowflex machine.  It really did seem like a good “investment” in our health at the time, but like many things, it was too good to be true, and in retrospect way overpriced for what you get (a lot like a certain speaker company’s products that rhyme with “nose”).  A close second is a pair of those Ionic Breeze air cleaners.  At least we bought them on Ebay and saved a lot of money off of the MSRP.

GLBL also has a great guest write up on how to start an envelope budget system.  This is not the system that we use, but the best system for you is the one that works, so if you’re still looking, give this a read.

FrugalBabe writes about missing a home owners’ association payment and getting hit with a late payment as a consequence.  Her excuse is that they don’t actually bill her.  I’m a big fan of making things automatic, and I suggested setting up an automatic bill payment with her bank.  Few people realize that they can set up a billpay payment for things other than utility, credit card, mortgage, and other “typical bills”.  Heck, you can often send your friend a payment for the dinner you split last week.

J.D. at Get Rich Slowly puts it to his readers for suggestions on how to cope with a spending addition.  I don’t think the young woman in this case has an addiction as much as a bad habit.  My advice here again would be: Make it automatic.  Set up a Debt Snowball and then set up automatic payments that take effect the day after she can be sure that her paycheck gets deposited.  Of course she has to cut up her credit cards as well for now, but once she does this, if she doesn’t have the money in her bank account, she won’t be able to spend it.

J.D. also wrote another great post on “The Idea of Having.”  I hear him on this one.  Having “stuff” is a constant struggle for us.  We’re always going through closets and bookshelves and can usually bring ourselves to part with some stuff, but not other stuff that we don’t ever use but that we can’t bring ourselves to throw or give away either.  Sometimes I wish we had to live in just one room so that it would force us to pair things down to that which is truly important.

Pinyo wrote an analysis of when to start taking social security benefits.  He argues that while the starting benefit goes up as you age, you might not live long enough to recoup the difference.  However he missed the fact that a given person’s lifespan also increases with age.  A person born today in the US can be expected to live to 75 on average.  But a person who is already 62 can be expected to live into her 80s.  A person who is already 70 is likely to live into his late 80s.  This has to be factored into a full analysis on when to begin social security benefits.

Lastly, filed under the “just for fun” category, Freakonomics published an article detailing the correlation between states that have high occurrences of Bigfoot sightings and those with high occurrences of UFO sightings.  The best explanation given for this was in the comments section:

It strongly suggests to me that the aliens are Wookies.

— Posted by Doug

PS: I have a deeply discounted Bowflex machine for sale. Seriously.

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