Lucky Pennies: How I Almost Accidentally Threw Away My Keys

Have you ever dodged a bullet?  Maybe not.  How about coming this close to doing something so ridiculously stupid that you’d kick yourself for months?  That’s what happened when I almost accidentally threw away my keys yesterday.

Too Many Changes In Routine

Getting ready and leaving for work is a pretty standard process.  I generally leave around the same time, have the same things, and can be fairly predictable.  Yesterday, there were a bunch of differences in my routine.

  • I had a loaner car. My truck was kept overnight so the dealer could complete a repair that they couldn’t get done in a day.  As such, I had my keys plus a set of keys for the loaner truck.
  • I was carrying out some recycling.  Yesterday was garbage day.  The cans were at the curb but I had a couple of things to add to the bucket for pick up.
  • I had more stuff than normal to carry.  Usually I just have my lunch to bring out.  I’d brought home my work laptop, so I was carrying that out, in addition to also adding the recycling.
  • I left a bit earlier.  I woke up early so I ended up leaving around 15 minutes earlier than normal.

When I walked out, I was confused at first why the truck wouldn’t unlock.  It turned out that I was trying to use my clicker, and not the clicker for the rental car.

Spotting My Lucky Pennies

When I pulled up to work, I pulled into my normal spot.  As I was looking out the side window, I saw a penny lying on the ground.  I figured maybe it was my lucky day.

I got out and picked it up.  It became an even luckier day when I spotted a second penny just a couple of feet away.  Double bonus!

Oh No! I Might Have Accidentally Threw Away My Keys!

When I got into work, I emptied out my pockets.  I don’t like carrying a lot of stuff in my pockets so I always put my keys and wallet in my desk drawer.  When I did that, I instantly noticed that I only had the keys to the rental truck.

Uh oh.

I checked my pockets again.  Nope.  I checked inside my lunch bag in case they’d slipped in there.  No dice.  I went back out to the truck and looked around.  I figured maybe they were in the console or on the seat.  Neither one.  I made sure they hadn’t slipped between the seat and console or onto the floor.  No.  They were nowhere to be found.

At this point, I figured maybe I’d either gone back into the house and set them down, or that they’d fallen out of my hands and were laying on the driveway.  I was pretty sure they weren’t in the house, because I didn’t remember going back in, plus I wouldn’t want to be without a housekey.  Still, I knew I’d done enough things differently that it was possible.

I called my wife, who I knew was still home and awake.  I asked her to go check for my keys downstairs.  They weren’t there.  I then asked her to go outside and take a look in the driveway.  They weren’t there either.

At this point, I started to get a little worried. Then, it hit me.

The recycling.  I told her to go look in the recycling bin.

Sure enough, they were right there sitting in the box that I’d placed on top.

Counting My Lucky Pennies

I couldn’t imagine the hassle and cost involved had I not realized where they were.  If I had accidentally threw away my keys, I would have really had a bad, bad day!  The thing was is that it was that failed attempt at unlocking the car that imprinted in my mind that I’d brought them out of the house.  Without having done that, I probably would have just assumed that I’d forgotten to grab them.

Thank goodness for those lucky pennies.  It really did turn out to be my lucky day!

Readers, have you ever almost thrown something away accidentally?  Or did you actually throw it away and not realize it in time?  Let me know your experiences in the comments below.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Oil and Gas Prices: Expert Investors are Looking at the Past to See the Futures

Read through the promotional material for a good number of financial products and you will find a wealth warning telling you that past performance is not a guide to future returns.  Some investors focused on items like oil and gas prices might disagree with that observation.

Investment companies are understandably keen not to make any rash promises.  After all, they want you to put your money with them based on their expertise.  However, any private investor is free to do their due diligence.  Someone who can look at past events and apply that knowledge to the future can come out ahead.

This seems to be the case with some savvy oil and gas investors.  This group often believe that vital clues could be gleaned and trends followed, as a route to profits. Here is a look at what aspects of past performance some experienced investors are looking at in order to determine their current investment strategy.

Following the cycles

The oil and gas industry is very cyclical.  Time and time again, we see scenarios repeated and oil and gas price cycles responding in a similar way now to how they have done in the past. It is not that simple of course because geopolitical risks change and the shale oil boom in the U.S has definitely been a factor that has had an influence on crude oil prices.

Markets seem to react much the same way even if the news cycle and circumstances are slightly different each time.

Basically, oil and gas prices tend to head north when supplies fall short of current demand levels, before falling back down again after a brief spell at the top of the current cycle, when new supply sources are announced and growth demand falters.

If you look at charts for the last 50 years or so you can see global oil consumption has steadily risen at a steady trajectory, but crude oil prices have demonstrated a number of peaks and troughs within that same period.

Moments in time

If further proof were needed that oil and gas prices are cyclical you only have to look at certain events in time or periods where prices clearly respond in a positive or negative way to events and market conditions, as well as supply and demand factors.

Oil prices fell off the ledge around 1986, for example.  That decline coupled with price volatility stuck with us throughout the 1990’s.

By the time we got to 1998, low crude oil prices were really starting to bite.  We witnessed a flurry of major oil company mergers on a grand scale. The result of this consolidation in the industry was that these new mega-companies were financially leaner.  This meant they were spending less capital overall and were able to prosper from an upturn in prices.

Learning from the past

There are numerous different ways to play oil available to investors these days and if you read, you might get some more ideas on that front.

If you want to time your investments with the price cycles, the past provides a clear trend.  This might just help predict with what will happen in the future and when it might happen.

The last six major oil price cycles have all tended to last for about 24 months max. If the same cycles are going to be repeated again going forward, having some idea of where we are in the current cycle could make a substantial difference.  A strategy like this could come into play if you are shorting oil futures, for instance.

The impact of renewable energy

There have clearly been price cycles that have repeated themselves with a great deal of regularity in the past.  Still, nothing stays the same forever.  You could argue that the future of oil and gas production is under pressure and set to change when you consider the continued growth in renewable energy.

Oil and gas are likely to continue to remain important commodities for the next couple of decades at least.  With this in mind,  investors want to know if history will repeat itself for the foreseeable future?

The answer to that question depends on how much faith you have in the predictable price cycles we have witnessed in the past.

Editor note: This was provided by Thomas Kent.  Thomas is an avid stock market and money watcher.  He loves to share what he has learned by posting online. Look for his articles on a number of personal finance and investment blogs.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Will Stride Rite Be Around Much Longer?

When a big chain or brand goes under, rarely does it happen overnight.  You don’t see a once healthy business go belly up.  There are usually warning signs.  I’m starting to really wonder if Stride Rite shoes is falling into that category.  There are a number of reasons that I am thinking that it could be a brand that might not be around longer.  Note: This is only my opinion based on observations and widely known news.

Stride Rite Is Closing Stores

We have always been Stride Rite shoppers.  I’d guess that well over half of our kids casual shoes have been from Stride Rite.  They seemed like they were good quality.  Also, since we had an outlet store nearby, it was nothing to get a good style and fit.

I think that trying on shoes is pretty important.  Rarely do we every buy shoes sight unseen.  Having that fit is kind of important.

So, we were a bit surprised to hear that they are closing all of their nearby stores.  It looks like they are closing many stores throughout the country. Apparently they want to be more online focuses.

I just don’t know how you can sell a majority of your product online when it comes to something like shoes.  I suppose they could work to sell them in other stores, but there’s a lot of competition to overcome when selling alongside a bunch of other brands.

Stride Rite Ended Their Loyalty Program

Kids Shoes
image from morguefile courtesy of KellyP42

Stride Rite had a loyalty program.  I don’t think we ever took part, but maybe we did.  My wife would know.  But in any case, the program is gone.  They’ve decided to end it, according to their website.

This seems highly unusual.  Usually you want to build a following and keep a reason for customers to stay loyal.  By removing a big incentive to stay brand loyal, they are risking losing customers they probably want to keep.  It seems pretty strange to me.

Final Sale Is Apparently A Policy You Might Not Know About

Against our usual habits, we bought some shoes online for our son.  They came and while they fit, they weren’t exactly what we had in mind.  My wife called to see about returning them and was told that they were final sale.  She looked back at the online listing and there was nothing about it.  The price was still the same.  She mentioned this to the rep and was told that they aren’t noting the policy on each item page.

Like, who does that?  Not a company that has generally been known for pretty high customer service in the past.

Where Will Stride Rite Land?

It’ll be interesting to see where Stride Rite will land.  It almost seems to me like they’ve given up.  I know that the retail market is tough these days.  But, the things that they’re doing seem to be the opposite you’d expect out of a company that wants to work their way through it.

Readers, what do you think?  Am I misreading the signs or do you think Stride Rite is in trouble?  What other companies do you personally think might not make it?  Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

7 Things To Do To Your Gas Grill

Ah, summer.  It’s here or right around the corner.  If you’re like me, then pulling out the grill is an integral part of the summer season.  I’ve always been someone who prefers a gas grill.  If you fall into the same category, here are some tips to make sure you’re ready for grilling season.

Check  Your Hose And Connections

The hose that carries the gas to the grill needs to be checked every year.  The hoses can crack, the fittings could come loose or crack themselves.  It’s important to make sure that you don’t have a leak.  Inspect the hoses for cracks.  To test the connections, use soapy water.  Put the soapy water over the connections and turn on the gas.  If any bubbles form, you have a leak.  If this happens, you need to replace your supply lines.

Inspect Your Grill Box

The grill box needs to be checked for any cracks.  If you find any, chances are it’s going to be time to replace the grill, or try to salvage a replacement box.

Vacuum Out Your Grill Box

Flakes of grilling sessions past will accumulate on the bottom of the box.  While many of these will burn off over time, it’s a good idea to clean the debris every so often.  A shop vac is a great tool for this task.

Check Your Gas Tubes

Our gas grill has three tubes inside that do the actual heating.  You want to make sure that these are working

Image from morguefile courtesy of ronnieb

properly.  One year, we had a spider build a nest inside one, and the line did not function properly.  If they need attention, refer to your instruction manual on how to disassemble the line for cleaning.

Clean Your Grates

We take off the grates and clean them.  This will remove grease and give it a fresh start to the season.  You can usually use a grill brush to keep them clear in between grilling sessions.  Depending on how often you grill, you may need to clean these monthly.

Check Your Gas Tanks

If you have a dedicated gas line, this may not apply to you.  But, we use propane and have 20-gallon tanks.  Check your supply at the beginning of the season.  We have two tanks, and try to keep one full at all times.  This ensures that you won’t run out of gas halfway through grilling up your favorite recipe.

Check Your Equipment

Grilling involves a lot more than the grill.  Make sure you have your full inventory of flippers, thermometers, brushes, basters and such at the ready.  Look them over and make sure they’re all ready to go.  The last thing you want to do is step away from your meat to have to find a needed accessory.

Nothing beats something fresh off the grill.  With a few minutes of easy work, you can make sure that you have a summer full of great grilling ahead.

Readers, have you used the grill yet?  What are your tips for a great grilling season?  Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.  Happy grilling!


Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.