Too Broke To Pay Attention

Thoughts on personal finance and how to avoid having it take over your life

Waste as few brain cycles as possible and ensure your bills are paid on time

19 Mar 2018 TL;DR - if you only want the strategy descriptions, jump straight to the Summary section at the end of the post. This post is somewhere between a rant and a strategy. What it isn’t is my secret sauce recipe for paying all your bills in full when there is too much month left at the end of the money, either. What it is is a bit of a rant about the US payment system that ends up adding a time tax to everybody’s life because it’s so backwards in certain cases that you’re forced to choose between trusting the companies... Read More

Why your home should not be considered an investment

26 Feb 2018 I found an interesting article over in the money section of USA Today detailing why a home is not a great investment. I agree with most of the points in the article, with a couple of exceptions: The timeframe quoted covers the last housing boom. As such, the returns the author quotes are still inflated compared to real long term ownership. Academic research has proven that over a long time horizon, the “returns” on a house essentially mirror inflation. Which makes sense, because otherwise the overall housing affordability would be even worse than it already is, especially in places like... Read More

Bitcoin trading on margin? Now that looks like a good idea

26 Mar 2017 According to an article on TechCrunch, Coinbase has added enabled margin trading for various cryptocurrencies, namely Bitcoin, Ethereum and LiteCoin. While this sounds like good news for professional trading firms, it makes me wonder how many day traders and casual investors will discover the wonders of margin trading a volatile instrument like cryptocurrencies.Good way to blow up your portfolio, that.But what do I know, I’m one of those boring buy-and-hold index ETF investors. Read More

Is Bangernomics only for people who have money?

22 Feb 2015 If you’re not familiar with the term Bangernomics, it’s an idea I’ve encountered in the UK about buying cheap - like, really cheap - cars, drive them as long as possible and then get rid of them when they start breaking down too often. Ideally, if the cars are cheap enough, and you find a lot of really cheap cars in the UK, compared to say, the US, you substantially lower your cost of running a car. Of course it also helps if you are in a place that has reasonable public transport infrastructure so you’re not 100% dependent on... Read More

Discounted iTunes gift cards at Costco

01 Feb 2015 If you’re in the “iTunes universe” - yes, I know, Apple is expensive and one should just buy the cheapest, nastiest Android tablet - and you tend to buy either content or apps there regularly, Costco currently has their $10 off deal for the $100 iTunes gift cards going in the US. Looks like the deal expires on the 16th so if you need to make use of it, do it soon. Basically that’s a $15 overall discount on the cards, so if you’re already paying for things via iTunes, it’s a decent deal. I subscribe to several European magazines... Read More

More "interesting" ads spotted on late-night TV

18 Mar 2012 OK, maybe I shouldn’t be watching TV late at night then, it doesn’t seem to be very good for my blood pressure… Anyway, I came across another ad targeted to the financially illiterate. So, it appears that you can lease furniture at Aaron’s and according to their website, they tout it as “better than rent-to-own”. It seems that one of the big advantages of leasing furniture is that you can return it if you can’t afford the lease payment and maybe pick it up later again if you can. Hmm. I dunno about you, but for some strange reason I’m... Read More

No wonder people haven't got much faith in the political system

18 Mar 2012 AARP supported/supports cuts in Social Security and Medicare?. I don’t think I can add more to this than Yves already wrote, but I have to say that I find this an embarrassment for the AARP. Read More

How to save 30% on your car fuel expenses

16 Feb 2012 It’s simple – maintain your vehicle. Sounds obvious, right? Still, there are a lot of people out there who think that an oil change and some maintenance on their car is a rip-off dreamt up by the manufacturer. Case in point – I currently drive a late 70s Jeep CJ7 as my winter beater. I broke a couple of rules during its purchase (mainly, I overpaid for it, grrr) but I really, really wanted one and thought this one was a good vehicle. Apart from it wasn’t and it needed work. Not exactly saving money yet, are we? Over the... Read More

The commercials for ARMs are back

16 Feb 2012 Something that people seem to be able to agree upon re the financial/mortgage crisis was at least aggravated by people being unable to refi or handle the increased payments when their ARM adjusted upwards. Remember, ARMs were often sold to people who often couldn’t afford to pay the house payment on a straight 30 year repayment mortgage so ARMs offered a cheaper way into a house on the implicit or explicit assumption that the buyer would be able to either refi the mortgage before the ARM would reset, flip the house before the ARM resets or suddenly earn a lot... Read More

Another link roundup

17 Feb 2011 Don’t believe the ‘lots myth’ – good points by Jon Acuff on Dave Ramsey’s website (as you’d expect). As someone who tends to try and ‘outearn’ his stupidity (as Dave Ramsey would call it), that definitely rings a bell.[No Income? For Good or Bad, You Can Still Get a Credit Card](http://www.mint.com/blog/how-to/credit-card-income-01242011) (Mintlife Blog) – that’s straight from the Bad Ideas Department IMHO.And a couple of links as it’s tax season:[Nine common mistakes to avoid when filing your tax return (Walletpop)](http://www.walletpop.com/2011/02/11/nine-common-mistakes-to-avoid-when-filing-your-tax-return/)[Tax Relief Act: Four retirement moves to make (MarketWatch)](http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tax-relief-act-four-retirement-moves-to-make-2011-02-14) Read More

Keep an eye on the expiry date of mail-in rebates

02 Feb 2011 I’m a little mad at myself here – I know how these work (ie, you have to be extremely careful that you send in the mail in rebate during the window that it is active) and I still missed the one for my cell phone. Essentially, the mail-in rebates rely on consumer inertia (consumers not sending in the claim, retailer or manufacturer doesn’t have to pay out, more money in their pockets) so it is important that you (and I, grrr) as consumers keep track of these things and send them in on time. Not sending in the one for... Read More

Occasional link roundup

29 Jan 2011 Exploiting economic illiteracy – While this post specifically talks about investors, I would think that the whole theme goes further than just investing. Complex can be good for the financial industry, but not necessarily for the customer at the other end, especially when the pitfalls of the product haven’t been explained properly to the customer (think Option ARMs). According to this article in a local newspaper, 23% of people foreclosed in Nevada were strategic defaults. If you review the linked document, there are unfortunately a couple of important points missing from the strategic default data – for example, how much... Read More

What's going on here?

23 Jan 2011 I’m another one of those people who believed the regular money  myths that are detrimental to one’s wealth; add in a failed business that followed me around (lawsuit et al) for a long time and created debt I wasn’t too smart about paying off, and I suddenly woke up being 40, married for the first time and far too broke for the sort of income I had. Add to the mix a wife with the standard US student loan and a desire to both sell one house I own – well, the mortgage owns me – in another country and... Read More