Coffee heat rising

This, That, and the ‘Tother…

OMG! Did you read this amazing, hilarious, BIZARRE story at Money Beagle? Kinda warms the cockles of your jaded little heart…

Beagle reminds us, in the preceding post, that 2015 is one-third over now and invites us to take stock. Ugh. I’m doomed. Not as doomed as I was at this time last year, when the money suck started in January and ran merrily through two quarters or more. But still. Doomed.

Retire by Forty reports, btw, that one of this year’s goals is to sock away 50 grand in tax-advantaged savings. Ah, to have a job. Ahhhhh to have a working spouse!

Oh well. Can’t complain much after reading Tara’s guest post at Len Penzo dot Com.  Argha! Thirty-five grand for an accomplished, experienced young woman like her. WTF????????

Or, to put that in Old-Ladyese: what is this world coming to?

Mama Revanche holds forth on the myths of the landlord biz. It’s an interesting post with points well taken.

I love it when Financial Samurai has one of his data frenzies. He holds forth with élan in his latest post on the US middle class.

And along those lines, at My Journey to Millions, Evan asks what “average” means, anyway, when it comes to retirement savings.

LOL! Is it possible to say how much I’d love to have a $7,924 net income? Oh well.  Although Planting Our Pennies broke even with dollars while I broke even with peanuts, our month-end balance is about the same. 😆

Over at I Pick Up Pennies, Abigail ruminates on what might be regarded as an “ideal” income.  Readers add their opinions, some of which are very interesting, indeed.

Donna Freedman describes a financial strategy guaranteed to raise the hairs right off the head of the typical financial blogger. One size does not fit all…

And right now I need to get back to work on the Boob Book, and so…up, up and away!


Reading around here and there:

The New York Times‘s Eduardo Porter scores for today’s business-section column, “Why Aid for College Is Missing the Mark.” He recalls the time that William Bennett, Reagan ‘s education secretary, remarked that federal aid to higher education leads colleges “blithely to raise their tutions,” and notes that two decades later, it has come to pass. With a vengeance. Don’t miss this piece: it nails its author’s subject to perfection.

The current president of Arizona State University, who has held that office more years than anyone can imagine, began to campaign to raise university tuition almost from the moment he set foot in his office. This, in direct contradiction to the state constitution, which provides that public universities will offer education at a price as close to free as possible. Shortly before my office was closed and we were all laid off (along with hundreds of other ASU employees), he got his wish: he did persuade the legislature to let him raise tuition into the stratosphere.

Today, Grand Canyon University, a private for-profit school, is financially competitive with ASU. In fact, you probably could go to GCU for less, and your dollars would buy you lots fewer opportunities to stagger drunk across a six-lane thoroughfare and get run over or to topple drunk off an apartment-house balcony and splatter your brains on the pool’s Cool-Deck or to drunkenly enter an apartment-house elevator and get the shit beaten out of you by your fellow drunks.

I can remember a faculty meeting in which ASU’s ambitious president told us that yes, he was going to see to it that tuition increased, but it wouldn’t harm students because, exactly as Bennett predicted then and Porter observes today, federal grant and loan money would increase proportionately. In other words, tuition increases were a deliberate strategy to milk federal taxpayers to enrich a vast state learning factory.

By enriching state and private schools and impoverishing our young people, we have succeeded in impoverishing our nation in categories  that range from intellectual excellence to international competitiveness. As Porter notes, America now has the most expensive higher education in the world, while our graduation rates rank among the lowest in the industrialized world: third from the bottom among nations tracked by the OECD. For heaven’s sake, Portugal has more young people graduating with their first college degree than we do!

We are, in a word (or several words), not getting what we’re paying for.

And speaking of blooming ignorance, take a gander at Paul Krugman’s “Our Invisible Rich.” Yes, Virginia: what you don’t know can hurt you…especially when those folks you don’t know about own most or, by now, maybe even all of the political power in this country.

A commenter on Revanche’s interesting post about this month as a real estate magnate left a link to a jaw-dropping Q&A with a guy who got rich amazingly quick in the McDonald’s game. Wow! Who knew?

Speaking of Revanche, pending parenthood is causing the budgeting function to run overtime at a Gai Shan Life.

Over at Planting Our Pennies, the POPs are worrying about who will buy a neighboring house that’s for sale. See…THIS is the reason I’d like to have 1200 square feet under roof smack-dab in the middle of forty acres…

At Budgeting in the Fun Stuff, Crystal discusses the vagaries of self-employed income. Now, it must be said…the figures that cause her to fret would leave me beside myself with joy. But then, I don’t have to make mortgage payments. BIFS has got to be the final word in how to make a living on your own…overall, the message is simple: when you work for yourself, your toughest boss is you.

DQYDJ posts an entertaining rumination on the frequency of…well, lying on the Internet. Say it ain’t so, DQ! Somebody? Anybody?

Heh! In the Annals of Thrift Store Shopping, check out what Frugal Scholar has got up to!!

Money Beagle contemplates the workings of the American health care system and is left with the same medical condition we all suffer when we try that stunt: blinding vertigo. I think of it as like one of those carnival bumper-car rides — everybody zooming around colliding with each other and nobody going anywhere. Except broke, maybe.

Inquiring minds want to know: Do you carry umbrella insurance? Check in at Grumpy Rumblings to add your two bits and see what others say.

NZ Muse has been writing like crazy of late. She and DH have lots to ruminate on: job hunting, housing dreams and worries, parenthood possibilities… Check out what it costs to live in Auckland! And if you figure that scotches your plan to retire to NZ, read on down to the end of that post, where she lists comparable posts at PF sites all over the world.

At I Pick Up Pennies, Abby and Tim are feeling sad because they had to put their beloved cat to sleep. {sigh} Go love them up…

The amazingly competent, ambitious, and upwardly mobile Evan, proprietor of My Journey to Millions, is on relief. New York Family Tax Relief Credit, that is. Life is strange.

Donna Freedman writes with her usual wit and elan about traveling first class.

There’s more, but I’ve gotta go to choir. And so…enjoy.





Round and About

Okay, we have GOT to have a round-up here! I’ve ignored my blogging friends too long.

To start with, did you notice that Abby at I Pick Up Pennies is preggers again? She and DH are waiting with bated breath to see if this one gets through the first trimester. These two have had a truly tough time in the reproduction department, having lost several pregnancies early on. So send all of your positive thoughts, prayers, and good vibes in their direction!

And speaking of parenthood, Money Beagle has a great story involving their three-year-old. LOL! One of the best things about being an Old Bat is being able to gaze dotingly upon other people’s small children and think, aaaahhhh! I’ll never have to do that again!

Donna Freedman (still in the parenthood department: she’s Abby’s mom) has a hilarious PF spin on Godzilla. Wish I could dream up stuff like that!

Not bloggish, but gorgeous: Check out these astonishingly delicious-sounding sparerib recipes from the New York Times. SDXB invited me over for ribs the other day, and served up some that left me wanting to cook more. His recipe, though, contains salt, salt, and salt along with sugar, sugar, and sugar. So I was tickled to find these, which in comparison to the traditional BBQ sauce look fairly healthful as well as scrumptious.

TRUE CONFESSIONS: Evan fesses up to “gambling” in the stock market! Well…to dabbling in penny stocks, actually. Great article at My Journey to Millions explaining what the heck penny stocks are and why trading in them is a lot like hanging out at the craps table.

DQYDJ is up to some more calculating. Check out the latest over there: a dividend reinvestment calculator. Enter a stock ticker, the date purchased, and the date sold and get the total value as of the sale, an estimated annual return, a graph showing the account’s value over time, and the dividends and their amounts over the period. How kewl is that?

At Planting Our Pennies, the POPs have an amazing story about selling a jeep and getting more than they expected. LOTS more. Goes to the old adage that a product or service is worth what people will pay for it…the trick is figuring out what they’ll pay!

Over at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff, Crystal & DH had One of Those Days…starting (expensively!) at four in the morning!

Revanche heads for the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Darn! I’m jealous.

101 Centavos contemplates the predicted substantial rise in food costs and considers whether there are ways to profit from it.

Frugal Scholar has another one of her truly amazing moments at a Goodwill store. There must be some sort of gift to being able to navigate thrift stores…if so, she surely has it in spades.

At Prairie Ecothrifter, Marie gnashes her teeth over earlier financial mis-steps.

At Grumpy Rumblings, take time to contemplate Nicoleandmaggie’s fantasy of the ideal work day!

And speaking of work, it’s after 7, the dogs have yet to be fed, the algae is growing in the pool again, I have written nothing, I have not hired a research assistant to track down the damn maps the client wants, I have not read page proofs, I have not called the designer…and so I must run. Bye!

Bloggin’ Luv

Over at 20s Finances, proprietor Corey Frick got my attention with a post suggesting, eloquently enough, that one should get to know one’s professors — assuming one is in college, of course. It’s a good idea, within reason. Most faculty enjoy students and like schmoozing a bit. And sometimes faculty can give you a leg up with a variety of opportunities, such as internships, graduate assistantships, and fellowships. However, it depends on what the faculty member is doing at the time, what priorities are placed on job performance (teaching is often low on the evaluation totem pole), and whether the person is actually an employee or is an adjunct contract worker. Adjunct faculty often have no place to meet with students, and pay is so low that any work done outside the classroom amounts to free labor. And meeting with students is a form of work. Also, there are circumstances in which it can be unprofessional for faculty to “hang out” with students.

Here’s a very nice rumination from Revanche at A Gai Shan Life on the subject of charity and generosity. As a tightwad and the daughter of a fine artist of tightwaddery, I find it difficult to think clearly about this…the bag lady syndrome tends to get in the way. I’m willing to volunteer my time and talents to certain causes, but I really don’t like giving money. One reason for that is indoctrination by my father, whose mother forked over her entire inheritance — the inflation-adjusted equivalent of something over a million dollars — to scam artists and a questionable church. My father was left with an abiding distaste for organized religion and was dead set against charitable giving of any kind. In his memory, I’m pretty damn skeptical about giving money to causes, myself.

* * *

Dayum. Pup just damn near drowned in the swimming pool!

Wet bluejeans sure are heavy…

Oh well.

* * *

Where were we?

Revanche’s reflection about charitable giving and attitudes thereunto inspired another post on the subject over at I Pick Up Pennies, one that segues into a fugue on bag lady syndrome.

And speaking of good works, you’ve gotta read this amazing story at Asian Pear!

There’s a great post at 101 Centavos about stupid interview questions job applicants have been known to ask. Heeee! If you’ve ever been in a position to hire, you know these make some of your interviewees look smart…

Crystal at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff never, ever ceases to amaze me. This pair, IMHO, is the ultimate PF blogger’s role model.

Along the same lines, Mr. & Mrs. Planting Our Pennies also take stock of their finances. Very nice. Everyone who has money in the market seems to be feeling pretty good about things these days!

Over at My Journey to Millions, Evan is doing reasonably well with the dividend income, too.

LOL! I almost fainted when I saw last month’s Fidelity statement…the crazy thing earned over 23 grand! In one month, enough to support me for a year, when combined with Social Security. More than enough, come to think of. I try not to get too exercised about those statements, though: next month it could just as easily show a $23,000 loss. 🙄

Here is a highly entertaining — and amazing — story at DQYDJ, occasioned by some wacky speculation about the possibility of the Russians having some fun manipulating US treasury debt. The figures boggle the brain.

Like 101 Centavos’ “Fish Wraps,” nicoleandmaggie’s round-ups can be too much fun. Definitely check this one out.

The Frugal Scholars are engaged in a bizarre saga with what appears to be a demented dentist’s staff. You need to scroll back through the site to get the whole, strange story. I dunno…if it were me, their most recent rather polite letter to this outfit would be emanating from my lawyer. But then…I tend to go around with my .45 strapped to my waist.

A very funny rant recently appeared at Donna Freedman’s Surviving and Thriving. The story’s good, and so are some of the comments. 😀

Back in New Zealand, NZ Muse has landed a job she loves; Mr. NZ Muse is still searching and wondering whether to hold out for The Dream Job or to take whatever comes along.

Money Beagle surveys the several important things in the Beagle empire that need a checkup. And how, brother! The pool pump just went out here: that’ll be $1500.

At Streets Ahead Living, Tara posts an entertaining rant about entitlement…or the illusion of it.

Here’s a word to the wise about multi-level marketing from Mrs. Accountability.

Pup is waking up from a long nap following her trauma, so I guess it’s time to run around. Bye!





A Much-belated, Rainy-day Roundup

What a beautiful morning! A lovely, soft feminine rain has been falling all night and is still sprinkling down. Every plant that can be moved has been dragged out under the sky, and now Cassie and I are sitting around doing as little as possible.

When we turned out of the sack around 5:30 the patio was flooded — Richard the Landscaper was supposed to have surfaced by now to realign the grade out there, but nary a word has been heard from the old boy since he came by a couple weeks ago. Cassie hates water, and she certainly is not about to wade through a lake to get to the doggy loo.

Fortunately, the paloverde on the west side filters rain so it never floods out there. She managed to reach her favorite peeing grounds by the side door to the garage. But she still got wet, to her profound disgust.

I’ve had a sinus headache or migraine (not sure which) for the past three days. A soggy doggy and a chilly kitchen were not what I had in mind by way of greeting the day. So toweled the dog off, lifted her back onto her doggy blanket, and crawled back into the sack with her. She crapped right back out (do dogs do ANYTHING other than eat, chase balls, and sleep?) until 8:00. Her Majesty’s second awakening, though, was THE awakening, and so we had to stumble off to the kitchen to find food.

Hey, I came up with a potentially promising ad-hoc food combination. The other day Costco had some nice little Mexican mangos, actually ripe of all things. So of course I had to grab a lifetime supply of those. Wanted to eat one of them for breakfast, but in the cold and damp, also wanted something HOT. So the choices were refried polenta topped with fresh cut-up Campari tomato and some scallion and nuts, or a cut-up mango with nuts and maybe a daub of yogurt. Hm.

While studying these possibilities, the light dawned: why not combine the mango and the tomatoes, hold the onion, herbs, & salt, mix in a little sweet tarragon, and then brown some pecans with the frying polenta? And…oh, why not?…top it with some crumbled feta cheese.

Dang! Sometimes i amaze me.

This combination actually turned out to be quite tasty. The feta added a nice tang, and in fact I ended up adding a little crunchy sea salt, which to my surprise complemented the mango nicely. Next time I think I’d add some cumin.

You could wrap up the mango & tomato combination with, say, half an avocado (cut up) in a nice corn tortilla and end up with a lovely snack or healthful quick lunch.

Now that the day has started…it’s been a LONG time since Funny has run a round-up. They’re very time-consuming. Over the past few months it’s been all I can do to keep up with teaching, scribbling a few posts a week, editing, singing, and serving The Queen of the Universe…really, all of those have been in triage mode. And so, let’s look around and see what other folks have been up to.

Windy City Gal is back from her trip to Scotland! She’s a little under the weather, having been battling a respiratory bug for quite awhile, but nevertheless is working and riding and getting back into normal life.

At Thirty-Six Months, Marissa reflects on the need for freelancers to be discriminating about the clients and jobs they’ll take on. To that I can only add and how!

The Asian Pear has a very funny post on getting back into the online dating game. One of my friends actually started a blog where she intended to relate her hilarious adventures in the meat market, some of which were silly beyond belief. 😀 Hope TAP will keep us up to date with these adventures.

At A Gai Shan Life, Revanche has been coping with what she calls “the week of harrowing” and now (beat me some more!!) is considering adopting another pooch. Well, I can’t call that kettle black, what with the scheme to inflict a brand-new furniture-chewing, floor-pooping, ear-grabbing, dog food-poaching puppy  on the Queen of the Universe.

At Afford Anything, Paula hosts a guest post by a friend (apparently a real one: she even knows how tall he is), who provides a really interesting discussion about how he engineered real estate investments to produce a nice passive income…while he was still in his 20s. The caveat is that this guy appears to be smarter than the average snail, and that he evidently learned enough about the business to know what he was doing and to make some good decisions.

Miranda Marquit holds forth at Bargaineering on tax breaks that are about to go away at the end of this year. Some of them…I had NO idea! Better check it out.

Here’s a really cute and also very smart piece at Surviving and Thriving. Your mom or mother-in-law probably thinks your kids have too many expensive toys…but rarely do they model for you exactly what you can do to keep the tykes occupied in the absence of those shiny gadgets.

Streets Ahead Living is calculating how she’s going to get through the holidays successfully in her present state of penury, first by finding good buys and making gifts and then by raising some extra cash.

Along the same lines, Daisy Flower at Prairie Eco-Thrifter suggests some low-stress, high-sensible ways to deal with this year’s Christmas frenzy.

The Empress of the Blog Universe, Crystal at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff, shares some wisdom with nine excellent, highly doable strategies for growing a blog.

Check out this canny post by Luke Landes at Consumerism Commentary: fast ones to watch out for on Black Friday. Very eye-opening!

Don’t Quit Your Day Job’s three proprietors have held forth on the question of stock market overvaluation longer than Funny held forth on the great dishwasher adventure. Start with the first post, which appeared on November 3, and move forward. I have to say, the supra-16,000 status makes me nervous…maybe it’s time to buy gold. Or bitcoins. Or…or Coleman lanterns and wind-up radios?

Speaking of 16,000, the PoP’s wonder if they made the right move in paying down debt instead of buying stock or more real estate. That’s the thing about this money stuff: there’s always a “GULP!” moment.

Mrs. Accountability brings up an interesting topic at Out of Debt Again when she asks whether insisting on controlling the money in a relationship amounts to a kind of abuse.

At My Journey to Millions, Evan wonders if readers can even imagine what it was like to live during the Great Depression. I sure can: my parents told me all about it. That’s why I neurotically believe you should never buy anything on time that you can’t pay for today.

Think the grass is greener on the other side of that fence? Mebbe not: NZ Muse and her new hubby are back in Auckland and searching for a place to live. The place makes San Francisco look like the land of bargains!

After 14 years, Money Beagle was finally forced to buy a new dishwasher. Amazing track record, I’d say!

Five-Cent Nickel has an insightful rumination on the apparently inflated value of the Dow at 16,000. Interesting point of view!

Free Money Finance is doing a series on people who earn six-figure incomes. The current interviewee offers an interesting suggestion: plan to change jobs every five to seven years.

At Frugal Confessions, Amanda and Paul are bracing for the effects of his layoff and putting their ducks in a row as fast as they can.

Frugal Scholar, with characteristic good sense, explains why she’s not buying a turkey this year.

At Grumpy Rumblings, nicoleandmaggie ruminate on the effects, psychological and other, of DH’s new job in the real world. When academics and self-employed folks land work in private industry, it feels like money is falling out of the sky!

Abigail is back at I Pick Up Pennies, which was briefly down, is back online.


{grump!} I hit “publish” instead of “save” awhile back, so this thing probably went out on the wire, as it were, in half-baked form. Oh well. Now it’s off to paying work!

August 24 Roundup

The other day as I was editing the cookbook I intend to spin off Funny about Money in the near future, I ran across a link to a blogger whose writing I used to admire back when we all used to participate in a prominent (now defunct) make-it-at-home carnival: Rachel of Small Notebook. Turns out her site had been quiescent for awhile, but by sheer coincidence she had just resurfaced with this amazing piece of writing. I’ll not say what it’s about — you must read it yourself. It’s one of the most heart-touching essays I’ve ever come across. The magazine-writing students have to produce a personal experience piece this semester…I’m posting a link to Rachel’s story for them to see as an example.

Meanwhile, you may have noticed some tinkering with Funny’s blogroll. Such a crowd of very fine bloggers is out there, many of them young and endlessly entertaining, that I’ve felt I’d like to include them by way of drawing FaM’s readers’ attention to some of the livelier writing in the PF blogosphere. A few that I added, within recent memory, instantly went off the air. This left us with a truncated list, and so I went in search of some new blood.

I could develop an inordinate fondness for DQYDJ — that would be “Don’t Quit Your Day Job.” This is a writer who consistently posts well-written, original articles full of insightful takes on ideas fresh and standard. No “me-too” articles here: this material is clean, new, and original. Bookmark that!

Blue Collar Workman is back, after a hiatus. To my delight: this is one of my favorite blogs.

No Accounting for Waste is another site gifted with original thinking and articulate posts. LOL! Take a look at this take on “how to lower your Alexa rankings.” Having spent a summer racking up traffic stats and ranking with Alexa, I thought this was one of the funniest (and most right-on) shticks I’ve ever read about blogging.

Streets Ahead Living: youthful, smart, entertaining, well written. Many excellent posts here…check out “If You Like Costco So Much, Why Don’t You Marry It?” 😀

Marissa at Thirty-Six Months is a lively and entertaining writer. Try starting with the post in which she questions the conventional wisdom about paying down debt as fast as possible and move forward to the present day.

The young pups are on the move. Did you see that Asian Pear has been visiting Hawai’i? After many adventures in earlier posts, she brought back loot for the family.

And as we know, eemusings and groom have been on a marathon honeymoon tour of the entire world. Check out this interesting post on the economics of Airbnb — very interesting!

Meanwhile, Donna Freedman has gotten up to some silly stuff at Surviving and Thriving. 😀 Sweet stuff, too: if you love candy, check out this awesome giveaway.

Revanche and PiC are settling in after a busy summer. Now they’re planning a belated wedding reception, a scheme infinitely complicated by the vastness and complexity of Family!

Speaking of travel, Afford Anything is in Boston, the latest stop in a busy summer itinerary made possible by her ability to make a living with a laptop.

Interesting article by David over at Prairie Ecothrifter: the Canadian government wants to know if wind turbines make you sick. While this sounds frivolous, responses in the comments draw attention to the noise and real potential problems of large-scale wind farming.

Miranda Marquit, writing at Bargaineering, discusses ways to build a Linked-In profile that will help you get a job.

Planting Our Pennies presses the readers’ button with a post on subjecting employees to pitches for charitable contributions — a hot topic, it develops.

At Budgeting in the Fun Stuff, newsletter subscribers are told that Crystal and Mr. BiFS are about to head out on a cruise; meantime we get the latest budget update, which is lookin’ good. Luckily: they just enjoyed (hang onto your hat!) a $12,000 dental bill!

Over at Consumerism Commentary, Luke asks readers whether college graduates should feel obligated to repay loans their parents took out to help them through college.

At My Journey to Millions, Evan suggests that in the mating game, credit scores matter.

To join a gym or not to join a gym: that is the question at Money Beagle, first posed by a smokin’ Groupon deal.

Frugal Scholar, wielding a $25-off coupon code, nabbed two coveted long tank tops from Chicos for a total of thirty-six dollah!

At I Pick Up Pennies, Abigail is startled at a large disparity between Petco’s charges for pet food depending on whether you buy online or at a brick-and-mortar store.

Ever wonder what preoccupies college professors? Pay a visit to Grumpy Rumblings for a peek at publishing, gender bias, and the joy of the academic career. Being retired from academia is about like being from Texas…as far from it as you can get. 🙄

Here’s a nice opportunity: Free Money Finance is seeking people to profile — drop by for instructions on how to submit yours.