Do You Speak Up About High Prices?

I had a situation pop up recently where I found that a price was way higher than it should have been.  I  thought it would be a good time to reflect on high prices.

Our Gutters

Our gutters in the back of the house are clogged with leaves.  I never had them cleaned out last year, and there’s one in particular that, when the runoff overflows because the hole to the downspout is plugged with leaves, will ice up the entire 20′ down the side of the house.  It happened last winter, and I figured with the damage done, I’d address it this fall.

There’s a guy that does our window cleaning that also will clean gutters, and I know that he has the right ladders and skills for the job.  We ended up calling him, but I always like to look at alternatives.

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Cider Costs: What The Apple Is Going On Here?

Fall and apples go hand in hand here in Michigan, as I know is the case in many other parts of the country.

We have always enjoyed many of the activities that fall brings, and those centered around apples have always been favorite, specifically going to the cider mill and also apple picking.  Both of these things have been traditions of our families for the last few years.

But, we noticed this year that things are just out of hand!

Cider Prices

Who doesn’t love cider and donuts?  I know everyone in our family loves these things.  Still, the price of cider these days is through the roof.  A gallon is now around $8 at most local cider mills!  This pricing came about in kind of a sneaky way.

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Mystery Solved: Dilbert Works At Volkswagen!

If you work in an office, chances are you’ve run into one comparison between your office and the Dilbert comic strip.  I love Dilbert, and ever since the stopped making new Far Side strips, it’s my desk calendar of choice.  One of the things I’ve often wondered is what company Dilbert would work for in real life.  Well, after reading the news this week, I think the answer is pretty clear.  Dilbert must work at Volkswagen!

Liars, Cheats, Polluters

One of the top stories, and I think it will only keep gaining momentum, is how Volkswagen got caught and fully admitted to lying about their diesel cars.  They made hundreds of thousands of diesel cars, and it turns out, had a computer software program that blatantly worked so that they were lying about emissions and polluting the enviornment.  And, this was all intentional!

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Those Crazy Russian Drivers

Taking a little break from personal finance, I thought I’d talk about some things that amuse me of late.  One of the biggest things I’ve recently been turned onto is Russian Car Crash videos.  You can find thousands of them on Youtube, just start typing Russian Car, and it’ll come right up.  Here is a channel that I’ve found is one of the more entertaining.

The reason that there are so many from Russia is that, from the sounds of it, just about every driver installs a dashcam.  I guess insurance fraud is rampant over there, so companies will offer discounts when drivers install a dashcam.

The other reason is that, from what I can see, Russians simply haven’t picked up on the nuances of driving just yet.

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Just How Many More Years of Jim Cramer Must We Put Up With?

My mother-in-law is very close to retirement.  She actually gave her notice and then very nicely agreed to work a bit longer when they didn’t find anyone to replace her by the time she was set to leave.  But, her clock now is ‘any day’ and I know she’s looking forward to it.

This past Christmas, my father-in-law gave her a present, a little countdown clock that counted down the number of days, hours, minutes, and seconds to her official date.

It reads zero now, and I’m wondering if we might possibly send it to Jim Cramer and have him program it.

Because, seriously, if there’s one person whose retirement I cannot wait for, it is Jim Cramer.

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Those Who Short Stocks Are Terrible People

I generally try to avoid stereotyping people with generalizations.  Still, I’m pretty much at my boiling point on this one.  I have come to the realization that I can’t stand people who regularly short stocks.

What Is Short Selling?

Shorting a stock is basically the opposite of purchasing a stock.  You short if you believe that a stock is going to go down.  You basically ‘sell’ a stock at the price it is today, and then later on close the position by ‘buying’ it at what the price is at that point.  So, if a stock falls 10%, you basically make that money as profit.

There’s risk.  If the stock goes up, the short seller will lose money.  And since a stock can go up forever, the risk is unlimited.

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How Does Panera Bread Stay In Business?

OK, let me start this off by saying that I have a fond appreciation for Panera Bread bagels, especially their Cinammon Crunch variety, which is worth every penny of the $1.49 price that they charge as a once-in-a-while treat.

However, my appreciation for Panera products or their value starts and stops right there.

Beyond that, I just don’t understand how the company stays in business.

The ‘Promotion’

My wife has a Panera Bread rewards card, so she jumped when she got an offer that if she made five purchases on her card during the month of March, she would get a free ‘meal’ consisting of a You-Pick-Two, which is basically a half sandwich and a cup of soup normally provided to you with no price discount whatsoever, so far as I can tell.

But still, we like the bagels and figured that getting a single bagel here and there, either for one of us or for the kids to split, would not end up being such a bad deal.

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A Double Lesson In Carelessness

My phone rang around 7:30am the other morning.  When I saw that it was my wife calling, I knew that it was not good news.  Between 7am – 8am, it’s pretty hectic.  Two kids are getting up.  This means there’s a lot of activity.  Teeth are getting brushed.  They’re getting dressed.  Breakfasts are being made.  In other words, there is no time for a random phone call during this busy hour!  So I knew it couldn’t be great news!

Turns out that my wife and I had both gone to bed the night before without doing a check mb-2015-02-oopsof the counter.  Had we looked around, we would have noticed that there was a couple of pieces of chicken sitting out for dinner the next day.  We normally don’t keep stuff out for too long to thaw, but a little extra boost helps things along. Unfortunately, we both missed it, and the time out was well past anything normal, so it was off to the garbage for the chicken.

Whoops.

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Thank Retired Politicians For Awful Roads

I live in Michigan.  The road conditions here are an absolute mess.  Only one-third of roads are in good shape.

A 2013 review showed a full one-third of roads rated in poor condition, which means that they need to be replaced.  They’re beyond where patching or resurfacing can do any good.  Roads in poor shape need to be rebuilt from the ground up.  On top of that, the remaining one-third are in fair condition, meaning that they’ll be in poor shape pretty soon.

Keep in mind that this study was done prior to two winters, the 2013-14 version which was the snowiest and coldest in modern history, meaning that the deterioration has likely accelerated since this study was done.

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Guns: I Just Don’t Get It

Guns.  I just don’t understand it anymore. Let me start off by saying this post won’t be talking about gun rights or gun control.  I’m not here to take anybody’s guns away, but I’m also not here to defend anything to do with guns.  What I’m here to do is simply to vent.  To throw my hands up in the air and express frustration at everything that seems to be associated with it.

I don’t know.  I don’t get it.

Death By Guns: Recent Stories Have Hit Me Hard

A few stories have hit me hard lately that I’ve read or heard about.  Way too many of these involve children.

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