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This comes to us from Thomas Sowell’s “Basic Economics”:

“…a New York Times reporter writing about the problems of a middle-aged, low-income woman said, ‘if the factory had just let Caroline work day shifts, her problem would have disappeared.’ But, he lamented: ‘Wages and hours are set by the marketplace, and you cannot expect magnanimity from the marketplace.’

“Here again, the inescapable conflict between what one person wants and what another person wants is presented in a way that recognizes only one side of this equation as human. Most people prefer working day shifts to working night shifts but, if Caroline were transferred to the day shift, someone else would have to be transferred to the night shift. As for ‘magnanimity,’ what would that mean except forcing someone else to bear this woman’s costs? What is magnanimous about someone who is paying no cost whatsoever—in this case, the New York Times reporter—demanding that someone else be saddled with those costs?”

I’ve been seeing a lot of this commercial on TV lately. Everytime I see it, it bugs me. See if you can figure out what I’m talking about:

Some people are really good at every-day frugality. They minimize gas consumption, turn off electronics when they aren’t in use, spend shockingly little at the grocery store. They can go days without spending a dime, eschew everyday luxuries like Starbucks, and have their monthly budgets down to the bare bones.

My dad is like this. It pains him to spend $2 on a coffee – or water. He reuses everything. He comparison shops gas stations. He buys even grocery meats on sale. And may God be with you if you leave the front door open for more than 5 seconds at our house.

But on the other hand he has no problem spending money on big ticket items when he feels the desire. For instance, he bought a grand piano for his and my mom’s anniversary when I was little. Then a luxury auto when I was in high school (during what was surely a mid-life crisis). In retrospect I realize he was willing to splurge on family vacations too, making sure we saw places like Disney World and New York (even though he still never allowed us to buy bottled water on the road).

My mother, on the other hand, is uncomfortable with big expensive purchases. She hesitates to replace old cars, plans vacations based on what flights are cheapest, and rarely buys any major new piece of furniture or appliance. However, she can spend $150 at the grocery store every week (for 2 people!). She gets her nails done twice a month. She has no idea what the price of gas is and fills up her SUV indiscriminately.

Can you imagine how these two people have managed to stay married for the last 20+ years? Their financial habits make each other crazy, and as a team they don’t balance each other – rather they end up overspending as a couple in every area, big and small. But imagine they each had stayed single. Who would have come out ahead, theoretically speaking?

Is it more important to be vigilant with our money on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis; or do the big savings really come when you scale back on big purchases like a new car?
The answer will vary greatly based on the person, and of course it’s best to do both. But few people are willing to sacrificing big AND small for decades on end.

Which method do you prefer?

More from Meg at The World of Wealth

This week’s weekly roundup was brought to you by the sweet sounds of Bill Evans. Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE music, especially jazz music. Anyway, something I’m going to start doing with my Friday roundups is highlighting a particular artist that I listen to while putting the roundup together. If you’re not familiar with Bill Evans, you need to check him out. Although he has been dead since 1980, his music and influence still lives on.

The big news this week was Tuesday’s 416-point drop in the Dow:

Jim on how to respond when the market drops.

Flexo asks, “Is this a buying opportunity?

MBH’s thoughts on the stock market drop.

Nickel’s tax return poll results.

FMF likes the fact that Mvelopes backs up their product.

A Financial Revolution hosts this week’s Carnival of Investing.

Tricia has a great post on how to GET STARTED getting out of debt.

Wanna buy a house at a 35% DISCOUNT?

Dimes to Dollars is having a hard time practicing what she preaches.

OT: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TEXAS! – I have been a Texas resident for nearly 15 years. I like pretty much everything about Texas except for their college teams. Go KU!

DINKs reviews Eight Steps to Seven Figures.

Ricemutt with another review: How to Get Rich.

NOT doing your taxes yourself? Then you’ll want to read The Family CEOs’ post How to Save Money on Tax Preparation When You’re Not Doing It Yourself.

The Finance Buff shows us how to buy CDs at auction.

J.D. on buying wine on a budget.

Should you buy car rental insurance?

Jane Dough highlights a report that says only 40% of Americans have emergency savings. – I’m actually surprised the number is that high.

Being average doesn’t mean you suck. – Gotta love Cap’s titles!

Single Ma’s take on the stock market drop.

Matt talks about his spending habits and his childhood.

The Carnival of 30s and 40s Personal Finance is up at Making Our Way.

This is Simply Unbelievable

November 22, 2005

I saw this article in today’s Wall Street Journal about this how this guy set up with the goal of selling 10,000 pixels at $100 per pixel in order to make $1,000,000. Guess what, he’s up to $643,000 now! Crazy! I get a headache just looking at the jumbled mess.