Why The Stock Market Is Not In A Bubble

The big news in the financial sector these days is, of course, the stock market.  With year to date returns already over 15% (and counting), many out there are jumping in and proclaiming that the stock market is in a bubble and proclaiming that the bubble will burst.

I’m not buying it.

Or selling it, I guess would be the right term 🙂

Many of those who think we’re in a bubble use some combination of the following arguments to state their case:

  • The big run in the stock market has taken all opportunity away
  • Unemployment is not falling fast enough
  • Corporate profits are leveling off
  • Europe and Japan are in a recession
  • Our mounting national debt

Here’s my take on each of these.

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Home Improvements That Don’t Break The Bank

For most homeowners, it sometimes seems that home improvements are just an endless drain on the bank account. No sooner have you fixed a leaky roof, when it’s time to spend hard-earned cash on damp proofing. Whilst there is no getting away from paying out if you’re a home owner there are steps you can take to make enhancements that won’t always result in taking out a bank loan or a second mortgage.

Affordable ways of sprucing up your home that won’t break the bank:

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What To Do About Our Cell Phone Plan?

Last week my wife called me with bad news.  She was over at her parents house and dropped her phone on the tile floor.  The phone still worked but the screen was shattered.  The funny thing is that the phone still worked, and after my father-in-law put a piece of packaging tape over, the immediate danger of cracked glass was limited.

So, for the moment my wife is living with this mess of a phone:

But we’re not exactly sure what to do next.

The setup

My wife is on a Sprint  family plan with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law.  My wife was on the plan first, and the other two lines were merged in later.  Thus, my wife is technically finished with her contract and is eligible for a new phone.  The other two lines are also eligible for a full upgrade, but are still under contract until July 29th (Sprint allows you to get a full discount a few months before your contract is up).

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What Do I Do With The Wrong Grill Hose?

Somewhere in the mid-1980’s my parents bought a grill.  They went pretty top of the line with a Weber Genesis 1000 grill.  My parents aren’t heavy grill users, but I remember quite a few meals cooked out on the grill.

Fast forward many years and the grill was still working.  Around the time we bought our house, I bought a cheap-o grill from Big Lots, so I knew I was not getting quality.  And quality we certainly did not get!

Within a couple of years, the entire grill started self destructing to the point where the low setting was ultra-high on most other grills.  Pieces were rusting, and it wasn’t long to see that this thing was better off in the scrap heap.

My parents still had ‘Old Faithful’ and offered it to us.  My dad replaced all of the grilling surfaces, and re-painted a lot of the surfaces.  We also put on some new knobs, and it was good to go.

The biggest issue we had with it over the few years we’ve had was when it caught fire during a family party we had.  Turned out a spider had built a nest in one of the pipes.  Spiders like propane and tend to do this.  This was causing a wee bit of gas to come out of a relief valve, and since it was gathering right next to the grill, it was hot enough to ignite.  After turning the propane off and leaving that burner off, we had no issues the rest of the party, and the problem was fixed by dismantling the pipe and cleaning it out with a pipe cleaner.

Bad spider!

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Pay Debt Away But Keep New Debt At Bay

One of the things I love most about being a personal finance blogger is reading stories about other people who have reduced or eliminated their debt.

Our debt is pretty simple:

  • A mortgage – We re-financed our original 30 year mortgage (set to pay off in 2037) with a 15-year mortgage in late 2011.  This will put us on pace to pay that off in 2026.
  • A student loan – My wife has one outstanding student loan.  It is a private loan with a rate lock of just over 2% and a payment under $100 per month.  It’d be nice to pay this off early but we’re not changing our current strategy to do so.  Additional cash flow would have to open up.
  • Credit cards – None.  We use credit cards simply to earn cash back rewards
  • Car – None. We have two cars, both fully paid off.

It’s great as I see a lot of bloggers write about paying down debt, paying off debt, or discussing their personal debt payment strategies.  For the most part, they’re usually pretty good.

However, there is one thing that I usually see left off, and that’s to have a ‘No New Debt’ provision, and a plan to reach it.

If you start off with $100,000 in debt, work hard, and pay off half of it, that’s awesome!  What if you have $10,000 in debt, and you pay it all off.  That’s great, too!

And, with most debt payment stories, that’s often the ‘end’, so to speak.

What it doesn’t address is to make sure that number never goes higher.  In other words, if you pay off half of that $100,000 debt, you should make sure to do everything possible to avoid having that number go higher.

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7 Things I Learned During Our New Roof Project

We recently completed our new roofing project.  Before I started the process, I knew very little about roofing and what to expect.  Thanks to a great roofer that we selected, I learned a lot of things about roofing that I thought I would pass along.

FYI, the roofing company that we used was Bob Schmidt Roofing in Metamora, MI. If you’re based in the Detroit area, Bob is the best way to go.  I would recommend him to anybody!

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Why It’s Very Often Important To Follow A Routine

I wrote a few posts last year about various misadventures we had when it came to our new (to us) camper, and the first season of camping.

I’m somewhat embarrassed to say that we already had our first misadventure, and it was a full month before our first scheduled trip!  Yikes.

One of the things that I found is important with the camper is to follow my checklist.  I have a checklist that I created and modified which has a step-by-step walkthrough.  It’s on two sides of a piece of paper, one side for when we ‘arrive’ at a campsite and one for when we ‘leave’.  The list applies not just at campsites, but pretty much anywhere we would arrive or leave with the camper.

Including our driveway.

The checklist is great, and my mother-in-law printed it out for us with two sides, on a piece of bright yellow paper which she then laminated.  And gave me an extra copy, which has come in handy as I’ve misplaced a copy more than once (though the missing copy has always turned up).

At the end of April, we decided to pull it out from winter storage (next to my in-laws house), and take it to our house, where I then went through de-winterizing, washing, and waxing, while my wife cleaned the interior, the dishes, bedding, and all that.  It pretty much got us ready for our first trip.

When I brought it home, I got it backed into the driveway almost flawlessly.  Last years first attempt was quite lively, with me taking at least ten tries to get it into the driveway, cars in the vicinity, all while a special needs neighbor kid was having a meltdown on a nearby front yard.  This year, backing in was much less eventful and there were no complications, except for the fact that it was raining.

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So Busy But In The Best Way Possible

One of my pet peeves is people who complain constantly about how busy they are, especially when they do so in a way that involves them taking time out of what they’re doing to log in somewhere and take the time to complain about being busy.  I figure if you are so busy that you are complaining about it, you should probably avoid taking the time to complain, because it’s just preventing you from getting what you need done.

So, I’m taking a slightly different spin.  I’m reporting on how busy I am, but with a positive angle.  Everything that I’m busy with is actually working toward something positive, so in all honesty, there are no complaints!

Here’s a list of the good things that have been keeping me busy:

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Things I Need To Add To My To-Do List

I have a to-do list of things that I do around the house to keep things organized, clean, and somewhat clutter free.  I have tasks broken down on a monthly basis, with some tasks set to perform monthly (e.g. re-organizing the pantry shelves to group all of our canned goods in like types and make sure the ones set to expire first are in the front), quarterly (cleaning out under sinks and making sure there are no leaks), semi-annually (cleaning and treating the leather couches), or even annually (replacing the filter in the furnace humidifier).

It occurred to me that I should add some other tasks.  These tasks might have nothing to do with the house or cleaning or clutter or anything those lines.  These tasks would simply relate back to one thing:

Happiness.

Sometimes, I find that I get so focused in taking care of things on the list that I don’t take time to do some simple things, which are probably more important.  Too often, it’s so easy to get caught up in making sure things are clean and organized that I might overlook some of these simple things:

Petting My Cats

My wife doesn’t get this one because she’s not really a cat person, and both of our cats were mine before we got married, and are pretty much my cats alone.  They both love to lay on my lap and simply purr.  They’ll usually sniff out when I’m sitting down for something like watching TV or making a phone call, but it’d be nice to give them some dedicated time, especially since they are both old (one just turned 17 and the other will be 13 in July) so who knows how long they have left.

Read moreThings I Need To Add To My To-Do List