Have You Heard Of Discount Brokers?

With the advent and growth of the Internet over the course of the past two decades, discount brokers have become ever more common. Discount brokers have opened the door to investing in stock to a wider swath of people than ever before. Indeed, with the broad availability of discount brokers in this day and age, nearly anybody with even a minimal amount of money to invest can afford to access the stock market.

In addition to being less expensive than a traditional broker, there is one primary distinction between the traditional derivation and a discount broker. A discount broker does not provide an investor with advice. Rather, an investor must do his or her own research and make his or her own decisions regarding the buying and selling of stock. Although this can lead to an overhaul of information, this also increases your chances of success.

People interested in this type of investment resource need to understand some of the essential elements associated with a discount broker. The following are tips to keep in mind when making your decision:

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How Checking Our Grocery Bill Saved Us $14

My wife usually takes care of the grocery shopping.  On days when she does the shopping, I always come home and asked to see the bill.

It’s not because I’m checking up on her or that I’m questioning any of her choices, it’s just I have a pretty good eye for spotting errors.

And you’d be surprised how often I find them.

Just last week, I found a whopper that, had I not taken a look, would have cost us $14.

The Bill Seems High

My wife was talking about the grocery trip and how everything went (most notably, a worker from behind the deli counter offered my kids free ice cream…yum), when she commented that “the bill seemed pretty high”.

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If a Tree Falls in My Yard… Will Homeowners Insurance Cover It?

We all know that homeowners insurance protects your home and its contents, but what about outside your home? Are trees, landscaping, and outdoor furniture all covered under the same umbrella as the house itself? After all, a fallen tree or a smashed fence after a bad storm can be just as expensive to remedy as a broken window or damaged roof. How do you know what’s covered? Let’s take a look at some typical home insurance policies and see what they cover outside of the home.

Fallen trees cause millions of dollars in damage to homes every year. If a tree falls and damages your home, you’ll almost certainly be covered. Even if it’s your neighbor’s tree, just about any homeowners policy will pay for repair to your house caused by fallen trees or limbs. Most other structures such as detached garages or fences usually will be covered as well.

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Consider Epoxy Grout For Your Bathroom Remodel

Every once in a while I look around our bathroom and dream wistfully of a ‘down to the studs’ remodel.  Then, I realize that there’s no functional need to re-do it, and the costs are prohibitive.  But, regardless, I still think of new fixtures, a luxurious shower, improved hardware, and big tiles (as opposed to our white ones).  One of the things I can’t stand about new bathroom jobs is how quickly the grout often gets dirty and wears out. As it turns out, your standard grout is cement based, and while cement is a hard substance, it absorbs water slightly.  This means that dirt and such that comes from the water in your bath ends up making it dirty, and the wetter areas lead to cracking.

Epoxy To The Rescue

One of the ways to address this is to avoid using cement grout.  The best alternative to this and becoming more popular is to use epoxy based grout.

Benefits of Epoxy Grout

Epoxy offers a few distinct advantages over the cement counterpart in terms of grout:

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This Big Winner Sees Beyond The Jackpot

I was reading through some Yahoo headlines, when one in the sports section caught my eye, basically talking about how a poker player who won a $15 million jackpot had the opposite reaction that pretty much anybody would expect.

Most people, upon knowing that they are $15 million richer, would celebrate, yell, jump up and down, thank God, hug their family, or any number of things.

Daniel Coleman, the 23 year old winner of the ‘Big One For One Drop’ tournament, didn’t even crack a smile.

In fact, he almost looked sad and upset once he won.

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How You Should Allocate Mileage Reimbursement

If you do any driving for your job and use your personal vehicle to do so, chances are that you are familiar with mileage reimbursement.  Basically, a company should pay you for the use of your personal automobile while doing company business.  My understanding is that it is not a requirement, but is fairly standard practice.

The general rules I’ve seen is that the mileage must be for company purposes, on company time, and that you have to back out mileage that you would have driven anyways.  So, if your normal commute to the office is 10 miles each way, but you are sent out to a location 30 miles away, your first 10 miles would not be eligible for reimbursement, with the thinking that you would be driving that no matter what.

There seems to be a lot of different rules that each company or organization is allowed to follow.  One thing that is often used as a standard is the rate at which mileage is reimbursed.  Most companies that I’ve worked for have used the IRS rate, which is set once per year.  I would imagine that there are tax implications for the organizations, and that using the rate provided offers the maximum benefit to companies who offer this.

The current rate for 2014 is $0.56 per mile.

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Thankfully, Yesterday Was Just Another Day For Us

We woke up yesterday and it was just another day for us.  For many around the Detroit area, that was unfortunately not the case.

It never really made national news as it would have had it taken place in a bigger city along the East or West coast, but on Monday evening, the Detroit area was hit by the worst flooding the area has ever experienced in history. As water levels rose throughout the night, the damage across the area was mind boggling once the sun rose Tuesday morning.

What Happened

Rain is what happened.  Lots of rain in a short period of time.  The area got 4.57 inches of rain, most of which fell between the hours of 5pm – 9pm.  To put it in perspective, August usually sees a total of 3 inches of rain.  We got that plus 50% more in just four hours.

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Spending Money Around The House

We had a couple of bigger bills hit last month for some stuff around the house.  In both cases, we had the money saved and both were (sort of) planned.

Bye Bye To Another Tree

There seems to be something knocking off elm trees around our neighborhood.  We live in a newer neighborhood (15 years old), but the developer left many of the mature trees intact, so we have a substantial number of trees of different variety in our yard.  Several of these are elms and this is the second one that I’ve had to get removed from the attacks.

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Today’s Job Market Is The New Norm

Every morning I read through the Seeking Alpha headlines and click through to various posts that catch my eye.  Last week, I was browsing and saw “Steady And Disappointing – July Jobs” and decided to give it a read.

As I was reading through the article, I got a sense that people still do fully understand the fact that the job market has fundamentally changed since the last recession.

The Cycle Of The Job Market Pre-2008

I’ve been in the job market full time for about 18 years.  I’ve seen a few recessions, and have worked through enough companies that have gone through some sort of cost cutting measures, so that I got a sense of how the job market worked.  It was a pretty standard cycle, and I’ll pick things up in what was the best part and go from there:

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Red Lobster Appears Doomed For Failure

Ever since I was old enough to actually enjoy eating fish, Red Lobster has been a pretty solid option for getting some seafood.  We don’t go very often because we have a local place that we enjoy much better, but we’ve been a number of times over the years.

Recently, Red Lobster was sold by their former parent company, the Darden Group (who also owns Olive Garden as the most comparable type of restaurant), and the new holding company, Golden Gate Capital, just completed the sale, and has already announced some changes.

They boil down to two changes: They’re going to charge more money and they’re going to try to present the restaurant as more fancy.  Both of these things are with the intent to curb years of steadily declining sales.

After reading the article and absorbing the strategy, I think that Golden Gate Capital may have just wasted a whole lot of money.  Personally I don’t see things working out.  Here is why I think that Red Lobster may be doomed for failure based on the strategy and their history:

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