Do You Even Know Your Bank Anymore?

It’s no secret that there has been a ton of consolidation in the banking industry, more notably before the financial meltdown.

mb-201102piggybankWhen I lived in my condo a couple of cities away, there was one branch of a bank that seemed to be going through a buyout every year or so.  You could almost make a pastime out of watching a new sign get installed before the new one was even a year or two old!

My wife and I were at dinner a couple of days ago, and actually started talking about “What bank did this used to be?” I had no real idea how Chase entered the Detroit market, and there are other banks that I had no real idea how they got there.  She’s kept up on it more than I have, so we were pretty much able to piece together how the various banking institutions that grace our brick & mortar banks have come to be.

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3 Ways To Save When Using Disposable Diapers

Diapers are expensive.  We discussed the option of cloth diapering but we made the personal decision that it wasn’t for us.  With the understanding that disposable diapers was going to be more expensive, but that it was worth it for us in the convenience factor, we still look to save money where possible.

mb-201102changingHere are a few ways to maximize your savings:

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Our Shower Head Is Making My Head Hurt

Our shower in our master bath is starting to drive us crazy.

There’s a small drip at the top of the head that, if we forget to close our bottles completely, will actually cause water to infiltrate our soap or whatever happens to be underneath it.  My wife uses special face wash that isn’t cheap, and she had a few dollars of it ruined because the bottle got filled with water.

It has also taken to making a very obnoxious whistling sound when running at certain temperatures.  Of course, those temperatures are the exact temperature which we actually use to take a shower.

I’ve done some digging and found that the whistling is most likely caused by buildup of water deposits somewhere in the jets.  The most common suggestion I saw to fix this was to fill a bag with half water and half vinegar and submerge the shower head in this overnight.  I did this but it didn’t seem to fix the problem at all.

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Friday Link Roundup: February 11, 2011

Happy Friday.  It’s been a cold, cold week with temperatures running about 20 to 30 degrees below normal here in the Detroit area.  We’re set for somewhat of a thaw though this weekend.  I hope that the weather is going to be agreeable wherever you are.

There’s been a lot of great personal finance articles I’ve read since my last roundup (two weeks ago).  Here are a few favorites that I hope my readers would benefit from and enjoy

  • Moneyapolis has an interesting link about Why We Can’t Save like we used to.  The most telling part was when it’s revealed that in the 1970’s, two out of every three workers had a pension plan available.  Now, it’s one in five and falling.
  • Canadian Personal Finance Blog had a negative experience in a grocery store that might lead to said store losing business, all because the business owner had to prove a point in a way that was a bit unnecessary.
  • Out of Debt Again had a scary customer service experience at a tire shop that could have led to a major accident.  Luckily, the problem was caught in time and the company did their best to make it right.
  • Budgets Are Sexy gives a humorous story along with a reminder that tax filing season is upon us.  I’ve heard the joke but it always seems rather fitting, especially around tax time.
  • Finally, Financial Samurai posted some helpful resume tips along with actual copies of resumes to illustrate some of the points.  There’s one bit of advice I didn’t completely agree with, but you’ll have to go to the comments section of his article to find out why (though it still was awesome despite my slight difference of opinion).

There were many other great reads but these are just a few that I really enjoyed.  Have a great weekend!

The Sad State of Border’s Books

I’ve been reading story after story of Border’s books and their latest troubles.

It makes me sad.

I remember Border’s in the heyday, most notably in the mid-1990’s.

My biggest positive memory of Border’s came around that time.  In 1994, as a sophomore in college, I was able to do a semester long internship in downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan (home of the University of Michigan).  For a semester, I was an assistant manager at a retail store, learning about human resources, bookkeeping, cash flow, inventory management, and other cool stuff.

The Borders part came in because they had just opened a brand new flagship store that I walked past every day to get to my job.  Prior to that, they’d been down the road in a pretty big store, but when Jacobson’s, the big department store in downtown, folded, it left the town’s biggest retail spot empty.  Border’s came in and took a department store sized spot and made it a bookstore.  A big bookstore!  They finished it up right around the time I was working downtown, and the transformation was incredible.

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Make Good Financial Decision Making Automatic

In the years we’ve been working together, I had never seen my boss in the break room getting his lunch ready until last week.  I knew him as one to go out every single day.  So, when I saw him in there last week, I did a double take.

He admitted that he had never been one to bring lunch from home, but wanted to start doing so regularly.  His motivation was both financial (saving money) and health (eating better).

He first told me that it had been a tough transition, simply because he wasn’t used to making his lunch regularly.

This immediately made me look at how I handle my lunch, which is to bring it from home every single day.  Why?  Because making my lunch is now part of my automatic routine in the evening.  After dinner, I’ll always spend five or ten minutes making a sandwich or putting together some leftovers for the next day, along with fruit, yougurt, and veggies.  This has become so habitual that I’ve even unthinkingly made my lunch on days where I haven’t needed to (when the company provides lunch or something along those lines).

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Is This The End, Netflix?

I’ve been a subscriber of Netflix since sometime in the early part of the 2000’s.  I got fed up with Blockbuster, joined Netflix, and loved it.

For the first few years, I was on their three-at-a-time plan, where you could have three DVDs out a time.  I went through them like crazy.  Being a single guy, and at one point traveling every week (read: bored), I was paying less than $2 per DVD on a pretty regular basis.

After I got married and moved into the house, and especially after having Little Boy Beagle, our usage fell to the point where we moved down to the unlimited one-at-a-time, and eventually all the way down to the bottom plan, one-at-a-time with a maximum of two rentals per month.

That was the lowest we could go, right?

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How Not Losing Our Credit Card Is Saving Us At The Grocery Store

A few weeks ago my wife called me and indicated that she couldn’t find her credit card.  She remembered the last place she had been with it, had called, but they didn’t have it.

After checking online to make sure everything was as it should be (it was), I asked my wife to check again.  She looked through her purse but was unable to find it.

She called the credit card company and reported the card lost.  They immediately canceled the card and issued a replacement.

Of course, as Murphy’s law indicates would happen, my wife found the card about fifteen minutes after getting off the phone.  She had grabbed the receipt from her last shopping trip and wrapped it around the card., so even when she was going through her stuff, the card was masked.

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Price Increase Alert: Yoplait Kids (Dora) Yogurt

Little Boy Beagle loves his yogurt.  It’s probably his favorite part of his breakfast.

So, my wife has gotten pretty familiar with their product especially buying it regularly.

Imagine our disappointment when she noticed that Yoplait has changed their product size and packaging which results in a dramatic price increase.

You used to get six 4-ounce cups for $2.29 regular price.

Now, for the same $2.29, guess what you get?

Four cups.  So, they’ve essentially taken away one-third of what you used to get and are charging the same?

But wait!  It gets better.

Read morePrice Increase Alert: Yoplait Kids (Dora) Yogurt

One Tip For Making Sure Clutter Doesn’t Take Over Your Space (And Your Life)

With all the moving and shaking going on around the Beagle household, getting ready for the new addition and all, we’ve picked up a lot of different things that, once you pick them up and move them, you realize may no longer be serving a purpose.

These things, if not handled properly, can quickly turn to clutter.

I hate clutter. But clutter is inevitable.

However, I keep on top of it by going back to a lesson I learned when I was a kid.

When I was around nine or ten, I remember being told to clean out my closet.  It was pretty awful.  Toy, clothes, books, and lots of other stuff had made it unmanageable.  I went in and started moving things from one area to the next.

Read moreOne Tip For Making Sure Clutter Doesn’t Take Over Your Space (And Your Life)