Airlines Continue To Stoop To New Lows

I was appalled when I read a story last week on NBC News where an airline attempted to charge a family an extra $60 so the parents could sit next to their 5-year old child.

Keep in mind, they booked the flight with all the seats together, but when the airline decided to change the aircraft for a different type with a different seating arrangement, they automatically re-assigned seats, then tried to stick the $60 fee to the family once they realized the change.

It’s garbage tactics like this that are exactly the reason we don’t even consider flying anymore.  I won’t unless I really have to and the prices and fees are so outrageous that many people probably have to look into a web based lender just to afford the tickets!

The last time we flew was in the spring of 2010 when we took a family vacation down to Florida.  Since then, we’ve taken a lot of different vacations and getaways and not once have I considered flying.

Read moreAirlines Continue To Stoop To New Lows

Home Ownership And The Impact On Net Worth

It’s been a rough few years for the housing market, to say the least.  We moved into our house in mid-2007.  The price we paid was roughly 15% lower from what the previous owners had paid several years prior, so we thought we were getting a steal.  Turns out the market had a lot further to fall.

Even though we put 20% down, we were precariously close to the point of being underwater by the time the bottom hit.  We never quite hit there, but that shows that the total ‘loss’ in value on the house was over a third.  That’s pretty staggering.

With all that, there were many pundits who became steadfast in their belief that renting was advantageous to owning a house.   For the last few years it was hard to argue as they could point out that their payments were not going toward a declining asset, not to mention they were not responsible for the maintenance and upkeep that homeowners had to take to keep their property current.

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Can The Post Office Be Saved?

It’s no secret that the United States Postal Service (USPS) hasn’t been the model of financial health over recent years.  Many people blame the electronic age on the fact that the USPS has been losing money recently.

This may be true, but it’s not the sole reason that the USPS has been on the negative side of the news.

Self-Funding

The first thing to get out of the way is to understand how the post office works.  Many think of the USPS as a government agency, so the simple thought is that if collecting postage doesn’t make up for the costs of running the USPS, the federal government could just give money to cover the difference.  After all, what’s a few billion more dollars when you’re talking a trillion dollar a year deficit, right?

Wrong.

The fact is that the USPS is a self-funded government entity, meaning that it is required to cover all expenses with operational revenue.  In other words, the government cannot simply allocate money from the annual budget.

Read moreCan The Post Office Be Saved?

Keep Watching Your Airplane Trails In The Sky

When I was a kid, probably around the age of 10, I used to love taking time from playing outside to watch the airplanes go by overhead.  On a clear day, I loved watching the little trails that they left and could spend a good long time watching it come out and then break up as the plane flew across the sky.

The other day, my son pointed up to an airplane and said ‘Look at that cloud’ and it brought back how much I enjoyed it, and I started thinking about why I enjoyed it so much.

Simple: Because it relaxed me.

Looking back, it’s easy to say that I was 10 and had not a care in the world.  But one thing I think we need to be honest about ourselves is that I did have cares back then.

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Our Quirky Video Monitor: The Levana Safe ‘N See

We are on our second baby video monitor.  Both have been purchased from Costco.  The first one was by a company named Lorax and it did pretty much everything we needed.  The issue was the connector was very poorly placed.  It was essentially a micro USB connector that stuck up out of the base.  This meant that you had to wiggle it on and place it exactly onto the base.  My wife noted right after we got it in February 2011 that it was ‘weird’.

Sure enough, the design caused the receptacle in the actual monitor unit to come loose and eventually break off within the unit.

Costco has a great return policy where most items can be returned indefinitely.  So, we took it back even though it had been 18 months.  They took it back no questions asked.

They don’t sell the monitors in the store, only online, so we went looking for a replacement.  Our biggest requirement is that it have two video cameras so that we can monitor both kids.

Read moreOur Quirky Video Monitor: The Levana Safe ‘N See

Why I Admire The Heck Out Of Mark Cuban

For a good long time, my opinion of Mark Cuban could be boiled down into two main points:

  • He got lucky selling Broadcast.com to Yahoo for billions before the dot.com bubble burst
  • He was annoying as an outspoken and brash NBA owner.

If these are thoughts you have, I’m here to tell you that you need to think again!

Since forming those opinions in the early 2000’s, I’ve done a lot more research and have become a lot more aware which now leads me to have a great deal of respect and admiration for him.

Read moreWhy I Admire The Heck Out Of Mark Cuban

My Roller Coaster Days Are Behind Me

As a resident of Metro Detroit, one of the benefits to many has always been our relatively close proximity to the Cedar Point amusement park.  Cedar Point has always, for most of my life, been known as one of the top places in the world for roller coaster enthusiasts.

I’ve always had sort of a love-hate relationship with roller coasters.  I’ve always loved them but they didn’t love me so much.

mb-201209coasterWhile growing up, my best friend lived two doors away from me.  We were inseparable (we are still best friends, though we live about an hour apart) and one of the things I looked forward to every year was going to Cedar Point.  His mom always took him as part of a group of families who went, all centered around a hair salon that she had once worked at.  There were a lot of kids around the same age, and since his older sister didn’t usually want to go, we always managed so that I could tag along.   actually loved these trips because it was a couple of days with my best friend.  And, at a roller coaster park!  We’d always stay overnight so on top of it there was the hotel pool, and once we hit puberty, there was the ‘developing’ girl that was part of one of the other families.  Yeah for adolescence.

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Would You Buy Contact Lenses Online?

Many things have become more affordable to purchase online than with traditional “brick-and-mortar” retail outlets.

Books, music, televisions, and many other electronics or items related to electronics are now routinely purchased online.  The biggest explanation is that online outlets can offer these items at a lower price because they don’t have the overhead of having to operate retail space which to display and store those items, which is a lot more expensive than just the warehouse space that they’d need.

So far the model has worked for many types of products.  As it turns out, prescription eyewear, notably contact lenses, can be purchased online at a significant savings versus purchasing them through your eye care professional.

Many companiesmake it easy these days.  If you have a prescription, they will accept the prescription (you can mail it in or have your doctors office fax it in) and they will process the prescription.  Wait a few days in the mail and you’ll have the exact same contact lenses that you would have gotten had you picked them up in person.

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I Ordered A Phone Yesterday…Was It An iPhone?

As probably everybody knows by now, Apple announced the iPhone 5 yesterday, with the first units available later this month.  I’m sure millions of you have already read it, though that can’t quite be right because this blog doesn’t have millions of readers.

Not yet, anyways.

Though the timing was somewhat coincidental, I ordered a new phone yesterday.

It was not an iPhone 5.

But, I’d still like to tell you about it.

I ordered the phone through my job.  For a long time, my employer would only provide phones to a select few and would only reimburse you for your phone if you could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you were paying extra money to use the phone for work purposes.  As most of the calling I do is from my desk phone, I never even bothered to investigate.

Read moreI Ordered A Phone Yesterday…Was It An iPhone?

Rest Assured, PCs and Laptops Are NOT Going To Die

I laugh every time I read articles about how tablet computing is spelling the end for the traditional desktop PC and even the laptop computer.

Admittedly, tablets are growing in popularity.  I actually bought one a few months back, an HP TouchPad, which as you may remember was introduced and promptly pulled from production about a week after it’s launch.  This dropped the price, and I was able to recently pick one up for $200.  While I like it, it’s never going to fully replace the PC and laptop that I also have at home.

But, that’s not why I say that PCs and laptops won’t die.

The reason is more simple:

Offices.

Read moreRest Assured, PCs and Laptops Are NOT Going To Die