Don’t Yell At Telemarketers

I love telemarketing calls.   Few things make me happier than picking up the phone, hearing a few seconds of silence, only to get pitched some product or service that I don’t want.  It just makes my day.  It all makes me so happy that instead of the ‘DO NOT CALL’ list, I wish they would invent the ‘PLEASE CALL’ list.  I’d be the first one to sign up.

OK, absolutely none of that is true. 

Truth be told, I hate telemarketing calls just as much as well…everybody else.

But I won’t yell at them.  Or be mean to them.

Why is that?

Because a job experience many years ago taught me a few things about telemarketers.

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How To Get Free Stuff From The Vending Machine (Legally, Too!)

Years ago, I worked in a call center.  There were rows and rows of workers answering calls.

I got to be work friends with a few people, and one of them impressed me with a method where he was able to get ‘free’ stuff from the vending machine for over a week.  And it didn’t involve scamming anybody in the process!

The idea was simple: He basically went up and down rows (a couple at a time so as not to draw suspicion) and asked ‘Hey can I borrow a quarter?’

After spreading out his visits over the period of a couple of days, he’d collected over six dollars in change!  For the rest of the week, if he wanted a snack or something to drink from the machine, he would tap into his ‘fund’.

Obviously, this was not something he could repeat on a regular basis, because people will tire quickly of giving someone a quarter over and over.

But, his ingenuity impressed me, because he realized that a quarter, to most people, is no big deal.  We’ve probably all borrowed some change or had someone borrow change, and 99 times out of 100, it gets forgotten about and not re-paid, which is fine for everybody involved.  If you start borrowing a dollar or more, that’s when repayment is expected.

He was able to take the fact that a quarter was no big deal, multiply that on a grander scale, and end up with a few bucks in his pocket.

Impressive.

I’ve lost touch with him since, but this memory always sticks out as one that brought a smile to my face.

Remember When Yahoo Ruled The Universe?

Business Insider featured a great article pointing out how Yahoo is doing great these days…at getting their butts kicked.

This article rang so true for me.

For me, when the Internet became big, Yahoo was numero uno as far as it went.

I thought I’d go back and look at all the various services that I used with Yahoo and see if I still used them or what happened.

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Book Review: The Spenders Guide To Becoming A Millionaire

I had the opportunity to read The Spenders Guide To Becoming A Millionaire by Ilona Dolinska-Reiser.

Ilona is a native of Poland (I’m of Polish descent so this was of immediate interest to me), and came to America as a young woman with nothing more than $10 and her suitcase. In the roughly twenty years since, she has accumulated a net worth of $1.2 million and shared her story in the book.

I enjoyed the book and thought it was a fun read. The book is divided into chapters, each with it’s own set of financial lesson. The book is very narrative with the author not only going through the main financial points, but discussing how she learned these lessons and how she applied them to her life. Along the way, she is very candid about some of the mis-steps she took along the way, and how she was able to learn from them.

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Categories Fun

Using Annual Passes To Save Money

A couple of months ago, I wrote about how we were considering an annual membership to the zoo.

Now that a couple of months have passed, I thought it would be wise to follow up, summarize what we chose, and outline how our strategy will hopefully save us some money.

The Zoo

The Detroit Zoo is ranked as one of the best zoos in the country.  Over the past twenty years or so, they have undertaken a huge effort to make displays more ‘natural’ so that animals, while in enclosed areas, are in more of a natural setting that would mimic the ‘wild’ that they might be in if they weren’t in captivity.

It’s a fun place and it’s within a short driving distance of our home.  We had gone a couple of times in years past, but only purchased day passes.  This year, we thought with Baby Beagle getting old enough to where he really enjoys being out, that an annual pass might be a good idea.

The twelve month pass (good from the day you purchase it until 364 days later) is $69 for a family.  This includes my wife and I, as well as any children we have under the age of 18. It also includes parking costs.

The day pass breakdown is as follows: Each adult is $11, children under two (i.e. Baby Beagle) are free.  Parking is $5 per car.

So, a day trip would cost $27.  In order to re-coup the $69, we would have to go three times in the course of twelve month.

We’ve already gone twice in two weeks, so all we need is one more usage and everything after that is gravy!  Plus, I believe that some or all of it is considered a taxable donation, so we may be able to write some of this off on our taxes.  I’ll have to check with our tax guy next spring.

No brainer!

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Book Review: Living Trusts for Everyone

Many people are getting a handle on their finances with their day to day activities.  More people are saving money, reducing costs, and making sure that every dollar is accounted for.  Can you say that the same things hold true for your money after you die?

Properly managing your estate is the main focus of the book Living Trusts for Everyone: Why a Will is Not the Way to Avoid Probate, Protect Heirs, and Settle Estates by Ronald Farrington Sharp.

Mr. Sharp is an attorney who has dealt with setting up and managing trusts for many years.  Living Trusts for Everyone is a useful tool in understanding how trusts work, what the comparisons are to other methods of estate handling (such as a will or even doing nothing at all), who benefits from a trust, and some of the things to ensure you look out for when setting up a trust.

The book makes clear very early on that it is not meant to serve as a how-to guide to set up your own trust.  Having a properly setup and maintained trust involves many complexities which are best handled by an attorney.  Setting up a trust costs money and this book will not get you around that, but it can provide checklists, thought starters, and knowledge to ensure the money spent on setting up a trust is money spent wisely.

There are steps on how to make sure that your attorney is properly equipped to handle a trust.  While many attorneys claim to be able to handle a trust, the book illustrates the difference between those who will work with you to set up a trust that works for your situation versus those who will use boilerplate templates, and gives you advice on how to spot the differences.

As the sub-title suggests, a great deal of time is spent outlining the differences between a will and a trust.  While many people think that a will has them covered after they die, the fact is wills often cannot avoid assets having to go through probate, especially if there is property involved.  The book discusses how a trust can be more advantageous in this regard.  This is interesting material that serves to at least give the reader some key points to look for when researching the best method to have their estate handled.

Prior to reading this book, I knew very little about a trust or how they would be set up.  Now that I’ve read the book, I understand the basic elements of a trust, how, if setup properly, they can effectively manage an estate, and key elements to look out for when setting up your trust.  Setting up a trust is something that I would like to do someday, and this book is an excellent primer for anybody thinking about estate planning and who might be wondering if a trust is good for them.

Living Trusts for Everyone is 160 pages long, and is organized into small, concise chapters that walk you through the basic elements of a trust.  It is published by Allworth Publishing and is available in paperback form for a list price of $14.95.

Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of this book for review.

Categories Fun