As some of you know, a couple of years ago I gave my kids an ultimatum.   If you want iphones you must give up cable TV.   Every year since I gave them this ultimatum I offer them the chance to give up their phones and get cable back but every year they refuse.    Watching TV on our Roku and Apple TV devices is now an ingrained way of life for the whole family.   Generally speaking, we’re usually a season or two behind the current season since I just finished watching the last season of Breaking Bad as an example.

Where I think Hulu does a GREAT job is bringing new shows and content from around the world.   I can now watch shows from the UK and Latin America that I’ve never seen before.   My current crop of shows that I enjoy watching include PramFace, The Booth and the End, Endgame, and a day doesn’t go by when I find something new that I haven’t watched.  I’m getting ready to start watching British TV show “In the Thick of It” soon which promises to be quite funny.

Perhaps these shows are available on cable TV or perhaps they are not, the one thing I am sure of is that I can’t stand paying for 100 channels of ESPN or 100 channels of cartoons when I barely watch sports or cartoon TV.   Even better yet however is that HuluPlus always has the shows I want to watch when I want to watch them, I just click a button and it streams it to my TV, no need for DVR, no need to schedule recordings, no need to worry about running out of disk space, no need to do anything but just click to watch.

If you want to save some money, try dumping your cable TV, there are more and more options everyday!

While this is a personal finance blog, I do on occasion stray into a few tangent subjects.  I hadn’t thought too much about the whole Edward Snowden fiasco but as I watched Edward Snowden tonight on NBC, I began to see this guy as more of a HERO than a ZERO.    I don’t know the full details of what he did other than to reveal the incessant spying the U.S. Government has on its own citizens taken from a page of the old Soviet Union “how to spy on your citizens” manual but he seems to have done the right thing.

The most important thing I learned was not to google Rangers scores or more importantly don’t use any google products at all.  This guy definitely deserves some level of clemency.  Let’s face it, he’s already done hard time by living in Russia!

The real question now is which politician will stand up for liberty and which ones will continue to carry water for the gestapo state.

This past Memorial Day Weekend, which I spent at home, I watched an old show on TV that I hadn’t seen in decades, it’s a TV show called the Price is Right.   The premise of the show is for people come up and try to guess the prices of items to win various prizes then vie for a chance to enter the “ShowCase Showdown” for a chance to win a few more prizes.

During the summers of my youth, I watched this show almost daily and was always in awe of the prizes.   A funny thing happened as I was watching the show and the famous spinning of the big wheel to determine who gets to go to the showcase.  The host, Drew Carey, notified the contestants that if they land on the 1.00 mark, they’d win a whopping $1000!   Whoa….wait…what?  Just a measly $1000?

The show started in 1972 and I don’t know if the jackpot for landing on the 1.00 was $1000 back in 1972 or not but by the 80s I’m pretty sure that landing on the 1.00 awarded you a $1000 prize.    I went back and did the calculations and adjusting for inflation at 3% per year for 42 years (1972-2014), the Showcase 1.00 should payout $23,701 today in inflation adjusted dollars.   To be fair, the jackpot does offer $25,000 if you hit the 1.00 mark twice but that’s what the jackpot should be for just landing there once if all things were kept equal and consistent.   You can think about this another way, how much groceries or gasoline do you think you could have bought with $1000 in 1972 with what you can buy today?

In today’s world where wages are stagnant and minimum wage barely pays for substandard living, it’s important to understand the real enemy: Federal Reserve fictitious interest rate policy to inflate currencies.     Dim-witted people that call themselves “Republicans” or “Democrats” with hopes of working through a “political process” to solve problems don’t ever seem willing to handle the real cause of all economic problems.   Don’t expect any changes any time soon for as long as clowns are in charge, that ShowCase jackpot will continue to be worth $1000 and people will laugh in a decade or two when $1000 buys a can of Coke.


Cable TV is undergoing some strange turns lately but it is a good indication that cable TV has become relatively worthless.   I keep seeing commercials from Comcast and AT&T which highlight the benefits of their service.

For Comcast, it seems to be how many shows you can record at once which seems to now be four.  Really?  You have enough free time to watch four shows?  Presumably, if each show is an hour that’s four hours of TV to put on your “to watch” list and that’s just one day.   If there are seven days in the week and you’re recording 4 shows at once per day then that’s 28 hours of TV shows in one week.   Are Comcast customers clamoring for this nonsense service?   How much TV do these people watch?

For AT&T, it seems watching TV everywhere anywhere with either that wireless receiver so you can take your $3000 65″ LED TV outside in the patio to watch your favorite show or Mark Cuban walking around with his ipad watching TV every step of the way like a stoned idiot.

Let me give both Comcast and AT&T customers a hint, you can watch most of the shows from around the world on a little box called a ROKU with subscription to HuluPlus, Netflix, and Amazon Prime.    These three services will cost you less than $25 per month (assuming you already have internet) and there is no need for a “magic box” that you can take outside to your patio or one that can record 5x shows at once.    And while I haven’t tried Chromecast, the new FireTV from Amazon or some other new products, I’m sure they offer way more than either Comcast or AT&T.




This is a Public Service Announcement: Stay the HELL away from    Here’s the story….

For the past couple of years, I’ve been keeping my password set on my iPad on an app called Keeper HD.  The app worked well and I kept it up to date regularly.  Well a couple of weeks ago, the app stopped working cold.  No notice, no rhyme or reason why the app stopped working but it stopped working.    You can read the comments here and this was once a 4/5 star app but it’s dropping fast and within the next month it will probably be a one star app and this group of idiots will end up filing for bankruptcy.

After desperately trying to contact tech support I finally got a reply that basically stated the following: “The free version does not include Sync and Cloud Backup capabilities, we cannot guarantee that data is unaffected by software updates, device replacement.”

So what I’ve been able to piece together….the company decided they wanted to force everyone to mandatorily provide an email and create an online account for their “service” and subsequently disabled/killed/messed up the old application in iTunes leaving hundreds if not more stranded and unable to access hundreds of passwords.   Hey, it’s a free app so what did you expect?  No support, No help, No care in the world because it was a FREE app and you get what you pay for right?

Essentially, if you were using this app to manage your passwords you are now officially screwed.  I have started the slow painful process of manually recovering password by visiting websites and going through those annoying questions and answer sessions x 100 times.

There is an old saying, “Burn me once, shame on you, burn me twice, shame on me” so consider this a fair warning about this or any other FREE app you may be using to secure your passwords.   Also be weary of a company that insists on storing your passwords in the cloud – haven’t there already been dozens of reported hacking incidents into credit cards, banks, and other “secure”  cloud spaces and now I’m supposed to store my passwords there?  Get real!

Keeper You Suck!

After many decades of better than normal vision, I am now finally in need of glasses.   I actually bought a pair of nice reading glasses a couple of years ago through my optometrist and was just SHOCKED to learn the glasses I ordered were $600.  While insurance paid for most of it, I thought it was still ridiculous that glasses should cost $600 so I decided I would search for a cheaper alternative online.

I ended up finding several low cost internet shops and settled on Zenni Optical for their somewhat good reviews.  Big Mistake!  While the glasses only cost me $70, they are barely useable.   There is a large distortion on both lenses.  I complained to Zenni Optical and they did give me an RMA number but when I recently got the glasses back, they’re still unusable.   This is after waiting weeks for the first bad lenses to arrive only to follow that up with several more weeks of waiting for the same horrible lenses.

I am wearing them right now and I might as well be looking through Coke bottles.    Lessons learned here is don’t get ripped off by low cost glasses.  I’ll probably just go to Costco next time and get a new pair from their through my insurance program. sucks!

For the last two years I was a Sprint customer with four iPhone 4S devices in our family.   Unfortunately, those phones did not work to well when we visited France, Spain, Italy or the half dozen other places I flew around the world over the year.  While voice service worked sporadically, data was absolutely horrible on Sprint.

I essentially had enough with the international problems but was considering renewing with Sprint simply because I was already there but then lo and behold, T-Mobile offered something I could not pass up – free international data on their plans!

I immediately switched after waiting weeks and weeks for Apple to deliver four new shiny apple iphone 5s devices. With my new service working as awesome as possible even working perfectly when landing in Sweden late last year I started to think about what I could do with my old iPhone 4S devices.


I posted a “For Sale” sign on our company’s intranet to see if anyone was interested.  Much to my surprise, I got 12 interested parties wanting the phone but ONLY if they were T-mobile compatible.   Unfortunately, these phones won’t work on T-mobile and will ONLY work on Sprint or some convoluted international networks.

I ultimately did find someone that wanted to purchase two of the phones and then someone else that wanted the third but I still have a fourth phone sitting on my desk now idle.   Had these phones been T-mobile compatible, they would have sold immediately.   The good news is that if I want to upgrade in a couple of years, I know I’ll be able to sell these iPhone 5S devices in no time.

Sorry Sprint, but I won’t ever be coming back to you, your CDMA branded phones have little value in the resale market and that ultimately costs me money which has to be factored into the money equation.

Tmobile will you marry me because it’s looking like you’re gonna be rich.

I’ve used eBay on exactly two occasions to purchase something and only because I was desperate and Amazon didn’t have something I needed desperately in stock.   The first was 2004 and the last was in late 2013.  I know the exact times because I keep very good records and both experiences have been absolutely horrible.

I don’t remember the first time but it must have been something bad enough to keep me away for nearly 10 years but this time I’m going to document my experience here so I’ll look back at why I should never repeat business with these clowns again.

For Christmas, I received a Phantom Quadcopter and a GoPro camera.  If you want to see the cool things and fun you can have with this thing head over to YouTube and type Phantom+GoPro.     In any event, after a few days of playing with my Phantom, one of the locking nuts flew off along with the rotor blade causing my Phantom to come tumbling down from the sky and crashing into the ground.   Fortunately it was only about 15 feet off the ground when it happened and the Phantom received little damage sans the rotor.

Unfortunately, I lost the locking nut for the rotor when it flew off.  It was a small little nut and while I had spare rotors, I did not have any spare locking nuts.  The bird would not fly without the locking nut.    The counterclockwise nut is/was out of stock on Amazon and still out of stock to this day…

I found a couple of the nuts on ebay from two different vendors and desperate to make sure I get some, I ordered from two different vendors a set of four nuts.    Keep in mind that I ordered these nuts right after Christmas a couple of days after it crashed.   Fast forward a couple of weeks and I’m still waiting.    I tried emailing the vendor but was surprised to get a message from ebay that I had already, “exceeded the maximum number of messages I can send per day.”   Seriously, I had sent a message two minutes earlier to describe my problem then forgot to mention a couple of things and was going to send a follow up but I’m done and need to send a message some other day.


WTF kind of experience is this at eBay?   To this day, I have no idea when I’ll get my nuts but it doesn’t matter because shortly after I placed the order, I drove 180 miles to a hobby shop that had them in stock and loaded up on them and some new rotors that don’t require the locking nut.

Contrast this against where I’ll have virtually anything I order delivered in two days with no need to send messages, wait a day or two to communicate with the vendor, and know when I’m going to get something delivered.

People think eBay saves them money until you realize the hours you waste trying to track down something is a huge waste of time/money in of itself.

So long eBay, as soon as I get my merchandise, if ever, I’m throwing my account away…..

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably are aware that it is now illegal to sell or import traditional incandescent light bulbs. The “old” bulbs typically cost a little over a buck and had a bonus of generating a little heat to warm your house during the winter. The new bulbs are either compact florescent containing things like mercury or LED bulbs which have their own toxic substances within.

As bad as the mercury and other things are however isn’t the biggest problem. The biggest problem is the new bulbs cost a lot more money. The premise of the new bulbs is that they will last a lot longer than the old bulbs but that has not been my experience.

It seems for me, I’m having to frequently change the new light bulbs in two areas of my home. The first is the bathroom where these bulbs rarely last over a year. Perhaps the constant turning them on/off in the morning and in the evening is too much wear and tear? The second areas is the kitchen dining area where we have breakfast and dinner every day. This is another area where we constantly turn the bulbs on and off. I’ve probably spent more money replacing the bad bulbs than I have save with their energy efficiency and I now have to turn the heater on just a little bit higher because the bulbs don’t generate heat!

I’m now on a mission to get to the bottom of the longevity of these bulbs. I’ve taken a Sharpe and written the date on the base of the bulb of when I installed it and will compare that to when the bulb dies in the hopes of understanding what the problem is with these bulbs.

Me thinks it’s one huge scam!

The latest travesty from the IRS seems to be limiting 401k contributions to the same amount as last year at $17,500 with no adjustments for inflation. Did I miss something where inflation was put on hold this year?

Here is an historical look at 401k contributions for the last few years:

2005 – $14,000 for 49 and younger and $4000 more for those 50 or over
2006 – $15,000 for 49 and younger and $5000 more for those 50 or over
2007 – $15,500 for 49 and younger and $5000 more for those 50 or over
2008 – Same as 2007
2009 to 2011 – $16,500 for 49 and younger and $5500 more for those 50 or over
2012 – $17,000 for 49 and younger and $5500 more for those 50 or over
2013 – $17,500 for 49 and younger and $5500 more for those 50 or over
2014 – same as 2013

If I go back to 2005 and apply a simple 3 pct inflation adjustment to the original 2005 contribution limits and used that as a basis then the 401k limits should have been

2006 – $14,420 and $4,120
2007 – $14,852 and $4,244
2008 – $15,298 and $4,371
2009 – $15,757 and $4,502
2010 – $16,230 and $4,637
2011 – $16,716 and $4,776
2012 – $17,218 and $4,919
2013 – $17,735 and $5,067
2014 – $18,266 and $5,219

The overall trend does not bode well for the average retiree. The IRS limits are trending downward not in favor of the average worker when factored against inflation for the last four years. For 2014 the variance from $18,266 to $17,500 is $767 in income excluded from 401k contribution on an inflation adjusted basis.

So now let’s take a look at the social security wage limits.

2005 – taxes on $90,000 of income
2006 – $94,200
2007 – $97,500
2008 – $102,000
2009 – $106,800
2010 – $106,800
2011 – $106,800
2012 – $110,100
2013 – $113,700
2014 – $117,000

Interestingly, if I take the 2005 amount of $90,000 and apply a 3 pct inflation adjustment, The 2014 value is magically $117,430. It seems when it comes to social security income taxes inflation is alive and well!

When it comes to helping taxpayers save money using 401k, the US government screws the taxpayer. When it comes to taking money for social security, the US government screws taxpayers yet again.

And now you know why I won’t be voting for donkeys next election cycle!

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