Monday, August 31, 2009


Computer Training Online

That is the last question to ask to my essay

Why does any of what I'm saying matter to anyone? Well, anyone who will be reading my essay will probably be in an online class, or they have probably experienced some type of online conversing with someone else. So what I'm saying will most likely include them in some way. Why is my essay so significant though? Because I wrote it. Well not yet, but I will.

Other people might be interested in my interpretations and ideas about this particular subject. Then they can know that there is a difference between talking to someone in person and talking to someone online. And they will know that they are also similar. But what's stopping them from already knowing all that? I mean, they probably know it even if they don't know it. Some people are like that.

Some people subconsciously know things but don't know that they know them

So I guess it's my job to bring those ideas out in all of us. We each probably have thought about these things, but not in very much detail. Maybe because it's such a boring topic to think about, or maybe there are just more important things to think about.

So the purpose of my essay is to tell everybody about the (how many times do I have to say this?) differences and similarities of talking online and in person. So why exactly do people need to know this? Maybe so that they might come to realize that there are different worlds of communicating; one where we can see the other person, facial expressions and all, and one where we can't.

There are benefits, shall we say, to each form of conversing, online and not

Of course, there's always the opposite of benefits: disadvantages. There is opposition in everything. There must be the bad things in order for us to perceive what is good. If we didn't know what sour was, we could not know what sweet was. Like I said, opposition in everything.

So we have the advantages and disadvantages of my thesis (I don't want to have to say it all over again because I've said it enough and you're probably sick and tired of hearing it). And why does the reader need to know all this? What is so important about it? Well the way I see it is that you should gain as much knowledge as you possibly can, and we as humans are always looking to find out more about ourselves, and the things we do.

We always want to know more about things around us so we're not in the dark, feeling uneducated and behind. We have a hunger that has to be satisfied. And learning about what I'm going to be writing about could be considered part of that hunger, at least for some people.

Though it may not be vitally important to our happiness and welfare, it could be something that would be nice to learn about. Something that we feel is worth reading. But even if it's worth reading, it has to be interesting enough to hold the reader's attention. If it doesn't, the whole purpose of the essay will have no affect whatsoever.

Is Zink Womanless Library Exactly What it Sounds Like? Yes, it is

Crazy man makes crazy plan

Image from

Image from

The Zink Womanless Library is just what it sounds like — a library named after a guy named Zink where women are not allowed. Furthermore, the Zink Womanless Library does not allow books, magazines or any other type of publication written by a woman.

Luckily, the Zink Womanless Library is only an idea dreamed up in a crazy man’s will, and it does not actually exist. T.M. Zink’s will also stipulated that there should be signs over the door that said “No Women Allowed.” Wow, how very Little Rascals of him.

Zink wanted to pay for womanless library

I have read several different figures regarding how much money Zink left in his will for building the Zink Womanless Library, but the general idea is that in 1930 when he died, Zink left all of the money he had (which is rumored to have been either $35,000 or $50,000) in a trust and instructions to let the trust gather interest fro 75 years and then use the money to build the Zink Womanless Library.

Back in a day when there were no internet loans, $35,000 was worth a lot more, and the trust, when it matured in 2005, was worth a lot more than that. However, his daughter successfully challenged the terms of his will, thus the Zink Womanless Library will never come to be.

Wait, this dude’s got a daughter?

By way of explaining his request, Zink wrote this in his will: … click here to read the rest of the article titled “Is Zink Womanless Library Exactly What it Sounds Like? Yes, it is

Friday, August 28, 2009

What are Your Guilty Pleasures?

We all deny having any, but we all know everyone has some. Guilty pleasures can sometimes be money pits but many of us usually find excuses to get/own/experience them anyway.

According to Wikipedia, it is defined as:

Guilty pleasure, something one enjoys despite feeling guilt for it

So let me ask you today. What is your guilty pleasure?

But first, here’s mine – iced beverages. Whether it’s coffee, soda, milk tea or everything in between, I’m all in as long as it’s sweet and cold. It doesn’t have to contain caffeine, but there’s something magical about these drinks. I know, the sugar in these little sweet bottles are a major contributor to my weight gain, but I am happily consuming the one as I write this!

Now that I’m thinking about it, these drinks are unhealthy for me physically and financially. Yikes!

So what’s yours? Don’t be afraid to share! :)

Related Articles at Personal Finance Blog by Money Ning:

Read more of What are Your Guilty Pleasures?…

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fast Food Expanding Fast in the U.S.

Buy luxury chocolates at Vosges Chocolat

Americans are not eating out as much as they used to. Well, actually, when it comes to fast food that’s not exactly true. Americans love for fast food appears to be recession-proof, as many restaurants based in other countries are opening more locations in the U.S.

CNN Money wrote a series on several foreign fast food restaurants that are continuing to spread their businesses across the United States. Here are some highlights.


CNN Money says “Jollibee is known universally as the McDonald’s of the Philippines.” You can order your Jollibee burgers with pineapple, and sides include spaghetti and palabok, made of shrimp and noodles. A side of spaghetti with a burger? Sure, why not. Instead of apple pies like McDonald’s, Jollibee has mango pies. Because it’s fast food, you can keep up on your debt management and still afford to eat there.

Pollo Campero

Speaking of chicken, another restaurant continuing to open U.S. stores is Pollo Campero, the Guatemalan chicken place that beat out KFC in South America. Besides fried chicken, it serves yucca fries and fried plantains, and drinks like horchata, cinnamon-flavored milk served cold, and agua de tamarindo, a sweet-and-sour fruit drink. Pollo Campero is growing ambitiously. It has 52 U.S. stores now and plans to bring that number to 300 by 2014, so keep an eye out.

Luxury Chocolate Gifts from Vosges Chocolat

Chutney Joe’s

Indian food is rare to find in some U.S. cities If Chutney Joe’s has its way, though, that won’t be the case anymore. The restaurant started in New Delhi, but now has a location in Chicago.Chutney Joe’s uses healthy cooking techniques — no frying — and doesn’t use butter or heavy cream. The owner plans to open five new locations in Chicago in the near future before expanding to New York, Dallas, Atlanta, and Los Angeles.


Though Nando’s is from South Africa and focuses on a Porteugese cooking technique, it’s using a very American marketing strategy, which is to tell people that Oprah Winfrey is a fan. No one’s saying that isn’t true, but I am hoping that the food will be able to speak for itself when it expands to 10 more stores in the next couple of years.

Derek Jeter engaged

Jewelry Sale at
Rumors keep buzzing about Derek Jeter engaged to his longtime love interest – but who cares? Rumors of Derek Jeter engaged are though to be bunk, as he hasn’t announced that he’s proposed to his longtime girlfriend Minka Kelly. Jeter, captain and one of the stars of the Thieving Pile of Albino Warts, also known as the Evil Empire, also known as the New York Yankees. Who knows why anyone would care about whether Derek Jeter engaged is true. Jeter, even if he does play for a second rate team that ought to be shot out of a cannon, is a first rate short stop, and is considered a consummate professional by friends and foes alike – perhaps worth the cash advance that lizard Steinbrenner paid for him.

Jaycee Lee Dugard, 29, Found After 18 Years

Abducted at 11, Reappeared at 29

When a child or children are abducted, life for a parent comes to a halt. Intense worry and thoughts of horror invade the senses, leaving you wondering why someone would do such a horrible thing to little ones so young and trusting. Innocence is a child’s right, and no creature has the right to take that from them.

You do everything you can think of to aid authorities in the search. You spin frantically from one thought to the next, only to drop from exhaustion once the centrifugal force of your anxiety reaches its terminus. Then it begins again in your dreams.

Needless to say, this is a horrible place for any child or parent to be. But if the clouds finally do roll away and that child reappears like Jaycee Lee Dugard, what can you do but live in that house of elation that has been baking slowly, hidden away in that corner of your heart? A mother-and-child/father-and-child reunion is pure joy. It is a housewarming.

Jaycee Lee Dugard may have returned

The Sacramento Bee reports that Jaycee Lee Dugard was kidnapped at age 11 from her South Lake Tahoe neighborhood, back in 1991. According to the Bee, a 29-year-old woman claiming to be Jaycee Lee Dugard walked into a California Bay Area police station. Based upon telephone conversations with mother Terry, she and Jaycee’s stepfather Carl Probyn believe it is indeed the young woman who was kidnapped 18 years ago. Terry will fly from her home in Riverside, California to the Bay Area to meet with the young woman today. It is! unclear whether fast cash loans helped her purchase the round-trip ticket. … click here to read the rest of the article titled “Jaycee Lee Dugard, 29, Found After 18 Years

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ephren Taylor a great example of success

Ephren Taylor taught himself how to create video games and program computers when he was young and he started his own company when he was 12. Now he encourages other aspiring entrepreneurs to fearlessly and persistently go after their dreams.

Recession equals opportunity, Ephren Taylor says

One thing Ephren Taylor pointed out is that a can recession create the opportunity in many cases to start your own business. This is a great point if you think about all of the people who are collecting unemployment. People who have gotten laid off and are eligible for unemployment still have a steady stream of income and plenty of time on their hands. So instead of putting all your time and energy into finding another place of employment working for someone else, why not dedicate yourself to starting your own business?

Be persistent

Another tip Ephren Taylor shared was that you have to be very persistent when asking for cash til payday to get your business started. He says he had to ask about 80 different funding sources before he was able to start his first business.
Ephren Taylor has also written his own book, "Creating Success from the Inside Out: Develop the Focus and Strategy to Uncover the Life You Want." He also has a web site, "Ephren Taylor The Social Capitalist" that offers business and finance advice.

Don't overanalyze

Ephren Taylor cautions people against over-thinking opportunities, because that can lead to fear and giving up before even getting started. Ephren Taylor has become so successful at such a young age because he started working on his goals when, he says, he was still "dumb enough to believe" that he could do anything. And it paid off.

Mass Lottery Mega Millions Infects East with Lottery Fever

Find out Mega Millions winning numbers Friday

The Mega Millions lottery jackpot has gotten huge since the Mega Millions winning numbers announced yesterday haven’t resulted in a winner yet. If the Mega Millions lottery results Friday end up in a win, the lucky lottery ticket holder will win $325 million, the third biggest mega millions jackpot ever.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Last night, the Mega Millions jackpot rose by a whopping $73 million to its third largest prize ever: $325 million. The only bigger prizes left a lot of loot in Cape May County, N.J., in 2007.

The $325 million up for grabs on Friday is the total for 26 payouts over 25 years. Can’t wait? The cash windfall is $206.4 million (minus no small fortune in taxes).The numbers no one completely matched last night were 3, 12, 19, 22 and 40, with a Mega Ball of 2.

Smaller prizes from Mega Millions winning numbers

Though no one had the Mega Millions winning numbers, cash prizes were still handed out, as 24 lucky people won $250,000 a piece. The prizes went to people who had the first five Mega Millions winning numbers.

Even after taxes, the winners probably won’t have to worry about debt survival anymore.

Mass Lottery Mega Millions fever spreads

ABC News reports that tickets are selling even more than usual now as even non-gambling types are willing to spend $1 with the hopes of getting the Mega Millions winning numbers. From ABC:

The unusually high lottery prize has drawn in players in each of the 12 participating states as people dream of getting rich off their $1 investment.

“With jackpots of this size, you start to see people who don’t normally play a game like Mega Millions buying a ticket,” said Dominick DeMarco, a spokesman for the New Jersey Lottery. “They may notice it’s over 100 million, and they’ll say, ‘OK, I’ll take a shot at it.’” … click here to read the rest of the article titled “Mass Lottery Mega Millions Infects East with Lottery Fever

Sixth Anniversary iPod Giveaway: Winners Announced!

Congratulations to Consumerism Commentary readers Aliotsy A. and Scott O.! Aliotsy and Scott were selected randomly among those who responded correctly to the scavenger hunt held last month to celebrate Consumerism Commentary’s sixth anniversary. Both winners chose to receive the Apple iPod Touch. The iPods are now on the way!

More giveaways will be offered soon to readers who have joined our free email newsletter. I haven’t been using the email newsletter much lately, but you can expect to receive an email every one or two weeks with behind-the-scenes information from Consumerism Commentary, special deals on money-related products, exclusive tips and thoughts, and chances to win stuff.

To join the newsletter, enter your information below. Your information will be kept private and you will not receive any spam.

The Consumerism Commentary Podcast is in full swing with new episodes every Sunday. Listen and subscribe now!

Sixth Anniversary iPod Giveaway: Winners Announced!

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009


In case you got confused, when anyone brings up the Bourgeois, they don’t mean going to McDonalds. Bourgeois, or more commonly, bourgeoisie, is a term for the wealthier classes, or the capitalist class. You might refer to them as upper middle class, or the rich. The word is French, (obviously) and it was used to refer to the class of people within a society that control the means of production, so that the poorer working classes (the proletariat) could only sell them their labor to make a living. This forms the basis of Marxism – Marx observed that the majority could only sell their labor for a wage, instead of a cash advance for products or services they made themselves.

Sunda Croonquist | Black Swede Comedian Sued By Jewish MIL

A world without comedy is what she wants, eh?

Then Sunda Croonquist’s mother-in-law can have it. If we’ve reached the point where we can no longer poke fun at each other, then society has reached the point where its trappings are no longer of interest for me anymore. If nobody can prove to me that comedy still has a place in this life, then I’ll head for the trees and live the remainder of my life in “George of the Jungle” style. I’ll just have to track down two young wives, develop an affinity with jungle creatures and watch out for that tree. Or at least get my hands on easy loans for a collection of crash helmets.

Considering that I’ve lost one wife, I’ll need to redouble my efforts…

The Associated Press reports that the half-black, half-Swedish comedian (and former Miss America runner-up) has pushed her Jewish mother-in-law Ruth Zaffrin, sister-in-law Shelley Edelman and Shelley’s husband Neil one matzo too far. See the video below and you’ll get a flavor for her act. She brings up her mother-in-law a lot because she is a character, because she is genuinely funny. It isn’t an off-color race joke or religion joke that she uses… Sunda Croonquist appears to be a clean, skilled comedian.

Read them the charges, Steve

The yenta has accused Croonquist of “spreading false, defamatory and racist lies.” It’s all in the regular rotation of her act, which she performs in nightclubs and on various Comedy Central programs. To Croonquist, it’s natural observational humor that is most often based on the culture clash between an older white Jewish woman and a young black Swede who was raised Roman Catholic. Here’s a sample from her act, where MIL is speaking to DIL: … click here to read the rest of the article titled “Sunda Croonquist | Black Swede Comedian Sued By Jewish MIL

Laura Gambucci Boutique Makes a Splash in La Jolla

Customers appreciate selection at Laura Gambucci

Fashion Boutiques are a dime a dozen in La Jolla, and in California as a whole, but the name "Laura Gambucci" has managed to perk up a few ears in the fashion world. Her customers rave about her selection, clothing that can't be found at other boutiques in the San Diego area.

Laura Gambucci, a former interior designer, gets many of the pieces in her store from Los Angeles. reports that Laura Gambucci travels the whole country in search of the best clothing, including items from the runways in New York. Customers also appreciate the way her store is organized, with clothing arranged according to trend.

Not your average clothing store

As you can probably guess from the phrase "fashion boutique" as opposed to "clothing store," Laura Gambucci's clothes are pricey. If you have the money and are willing to spend it on clothing, Laura Gambucci caters to big spenders who are fashion conscious. I'd never recommend taking out short term loans to buy expensive clothes, but everyone has got their priorities.

Clothes are a definite necessity, obviously, but you can get clothing for much cheaper than the prices Laura Gambucci offers at her boutique. However, some people argue that buying high-quality clothing is worth it because it lasts longer. Another benefit there is that it creates less waste. Clothing can be used and reused, but eventually it does end up in the trash. The longer it lasts, the better.

Classic but cool

Looking at photos from the Laura Gambucci boutique, I see a lot of simple, classic styles with just a bit of an edge or a little flare. This isn't a boutique for people who are trying to get attention. Rather, Laura Gambucci targets shopper who want to look elegant and casual at the same time.

Of course, there are also plenty of accessories. More than half the store is dedicated to belts, purses, shoes and jewelry.

Location, location, location

Laura Gambucci in La Jolla, California, is located at 7629 Girard Ave. Self-proclaimed perfectionist Laura Gambucci has said in the past that she didn't want to grow to much too fast because she wanted to be able to "manage and do everything as perfect as possible."

It was a couple of years ago that she said that, and I am hoping that she's ready now for her popularity to skyrocket, as her name is definitely out there now. Fashionistas across the country are googling her, and though you can't buy her clothing online yet, I am sure those spendy shoppers will be sure to visit if they're ever in the area.

As far as I can tell, the Laura Gambucci boutique doesn't even have its own web site. Hey, there's a business idea for you if you are a web developer in Southern California. With all the extra money Laura Gambucci will be making thanks to this new wave of press, I'm sure she'd be happy to have a great online presence, and maybe she will pay you to do it!

Is Chad Smith, Will Ferrell Likeness A Business Opportunity?

Chad Smith is the Chili Peppers drummer

ferrellsmith1At first glance, the pictures on the right might looked like an airbrushed PR shot of Will Ferrell next to a regular snapshot of Will Ferrell. However, they are actually two different people. On the left is Will Ferrell, on the right is Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith.
Chad Smith and Will Ferrell aren't even related, but you have to admit the likeness is pretty amazing. People are constantly asking Chad Smith for Will Ferrell's autograph. He's pretty good-natured about it, but considering how hard he's worked on his own career and fame, it's got to sting a little.

Chad Smith won't tarnish Will Ferrell's image

Of course, Chad Smith has considered the fact that he could take advantage of this misunderstanding. He could probably get some easy cash loans by posing as Will Ferrell. He could just tell some producers that he's going to make a movie, and they'd probably hand over billions.

Chad Smith could pose as Will Ferrell to get parts in movies, or maybe just make some extra cash by being Will Ferrell's body double. Of course, Chad Smith already had all the money he needs without using the Chad Smith/Will Ferrell lookalike phenomenon to his advantage. Chad Smith has considered the fact that he could potentially go out, pose as Will Ferrell and cause trouble, but he says he doesn’t plan to do so.

Investing in his own image

Apparently, people think Chad Smith is Will Ferrell so often that he sometimes wears T-shirts that say "I'm not Will Ferrell." I wonder if that actually helps. I mean, doesn't that sound like something Will Ferrell would do? … click here to read the rest of the article titled “Is Chad Smith, Will Ferrell Likeness A Business Opportunity?

Fidelity Offers Index Fund-Based Target Retirement Funds

Here’s some good news for the many 401(k) participants with Fidelity as their plan provider. Fidelity announced that they plan to launch a series of Fidelity Freedom Index Funds to complement their current Freedom Funds as soon as September. From this WSJ Article*:

Fidelity Investments, for example, plans to launch the Fidelity Freedom Index Funds, a series of target-date index funds in five-year increments, from 2000 to 2050, in September. Strategic Advisers Inc. will invest each of the target-date funds in a combination of Fidelity index funds. Fidelity wants to provide some of its group retirement plan customers with an index alternative to its Freedom Funds, a spokeswoman said.

Jonathan Kreider, a fiduciary research analyst at Lipper Inc., said, “Especially with the market downturn over the past year, expenses are really starting to be a selling point for a lot of investors.”

It’s good to see that mutual fund companies are feeling the pressure to provide low-cost fund options to the common investor. Costs matter! Fidelity would not have done this unless they felt they were losing significant market share to Vanguard.

For comparison, check out how many funds are in their Fidelity Freedom 2040 Fund (FFFFX) below (with percentages). I just looks messy and unfocused to me, with a high probability of style overlap. The expense ratio ends up at 0.79%.

Fidelity Disciplined Equity 12.09%
Fidelity Series Large Cap Value 10.86%
Fidelity Growth Company 10.1%
Fidelity Equity-Income 10.05%
Fidelity Series All-Sector Equity 9.43%
Fidelity Series 100 Index 8.07%
Fidelity Diversified International 5.72%
Fidelity Overseas 5.7%
Fidelity High Income 4.64%
Fidelity Capital & Income 4.63%
Fidelity Series Investment Grade Bond 4.14%
Fidelity Blue Chip Growth 3.03%
Fidelity Europe 3.01%
Fidelity Small Cap Opportunities 1.69%
Fidelity Strategic Real Return 1.29%
Fidelity Series Emerging Markets 1.19%
Fidelity Total Bond 1.16%
Fidelity Small Cap Growth 1.01%
Fidelity Small Cap Value 1.01%
Fidelity Japan 0.94%
Fidelity Southeast Asia 0.25%

(I laughed at the name Fidelity Disciplined Equity. There’s Value vs. Growth, Large vs. Small, but who’d invest in Fidelity Undisciplined Equity?)

This is only an educated guess based on their existing 529 portfolios (see below), but their Fidelity Freedom Index 2040 Fund holdings might look like this, with a combined expense ratio of ~0.14%:

Fidelity Spartan Total Market Index Fund 67%
Fidelity Spartan International Index Fund 17%
Fidelity US Bond Index Fund 16%

Fidelity 529 Plan Also Add Indexed Age-Based Portfolios
The reason I found out about this change was actually via my Fidelity 529 Plan (California). Previously, they had an age-based actively managed portfolio for a total annual expense ratio of 0.50%. However, sometime in the last year or so they added an extra age-based portfolio using index funds. This is good, but I never heard it publicized (my fault probably for missing out on some fine print) and this gave them the ability to jack up the price on the actively-managed portfolio to over twice the original amount, with me paying 1.07% in fees annually. Check your statements!

* WSJ requires a paid subscription to view certain articles, but you can usually view them for free if you come from Google. If you’re not seeing the entire article, bisit this link and click on the appropriate article title.

Read more about Fidelity Offers Index Fund-Based Target Retirement Funds…

Monday, August 24, 2009

U.S. News and World Report College Rankings

Just as you want to get the best payday loans you can, you must pick a college that gives you the best education you can afford. U.S. News and World Report college rankings conveniently include a “best values” category. Here are the top three schools listed under Best Values in the U.S. News and World Report college rankings for 2010.

Harvard University

U.S. News and World Report college rankings say that Harvard University is number one when it comes to value. This was confusing to me because Harvard is one of the most expensive schools in the country, but it turns out that 57 percent of the students attending Harvard get needs-based grants, and the average discount from total cost is 73 percent.

Yale University

For similar reasons, Yale came in second place on the best values list on U.S. News and World Report college rankings.

Here’s an explanation of the methodology from the U.S. News web site:

Ratio of quality to price: A school’s overall score in the America’s Best Colleges 2010 rankings was divided by the 2008-2009 academic year net cost to a student receiving the average need-based scholarship or grant. The higher the ratio of a school’s America’s Best Colleges 2010 edition rank to the discounted total cost less the average 2008-2009 academic year need-based scholarship or grant, the better the value. Total cost equals the sum of 2008-2009 academic year tuition, room and board, fees, books, and other expenses, including transportation.

Princeton University

Third on the list of best values among national universities is Princeton University. At this point, one must consider the fact that even receiving a hefty discount on the cost of attending Harvard, Yale or Princeton leaved one with an expensive bill.

Michael Beasley

People who love celebrity gossip should love this – Michael Beasley, a forward for the Miami Heat has checked himself into rehab. It was announced across several media outlets, and the Michael Beasley Twitter page posted a new photo of him, sporting a new tattoo, and then was deleted. NBA rules make it so that if a player voluntarily enters rehab, they won’t have the book thrown at them as harshly as those that test positive and are mandated to get treatment. This isn’t Beasley’s first instance of trouble, as he was banned from the NBA Rookie Orientation, and fined, rumored to be for drug related reasons. Still, Michael Beasley has made a few million, so he won’t be hard up for cash until payday.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Personal Finance on Film: The Up Series

“Give me the child until he is seven, and I will give you the man.” — attributed to Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order

Though there are many fine books about money available for the general reader, I’ve always been disappointed that there are so few movies about money. Anything directly about finance tends to be sensationalist in one way or another.

Despite this, I think that excellent films about money do exist — you just have to know where to look for them. Two years ago, for example, I reviewed The Farmer’s Wife, a poignant six-hour documentary about a Nebraska family struggling to make ends meet. “This is a great film,” I wrote. And it is. Today I want to share a series of documentary films that’s just as good.

In 1964, the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) produced a short film called Seven Up that explored the lives of fourteen seven-year-olds from various cities and social classes. Every seven years since, director Michael Apted (Coal Miner’s Daughter, Gorillas in the Mist, James Bond’s The World is Not Enough, and the forthcoming The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) has returned to interview these same fourteen subjects, documenting their growth into adulthood.

“[These children are] like any other children, except that they come form startlingly different backgrounds. We’ve brought these children together because we wanted a glimpse of England in the year 2000. The shop steward and the executive of the year 2000 are now seven years old.” — from Seven Up

The Up series is fascinating. Sure, we all get to see our families and friends grow up around us. (And then we watch their children grow.) But that happens in slow motion (well, in real time, actually.) These films allow viewers to watch fourteen people grow from childhood to middle age in a matter of hours. We see them pass through adolescence, get married, have children, lose their parents, become grandparents, and more.

Here’s a clip from the most recent installment, 49 Up:

Though the Up films explore all aspects of their subjects’ lives, there’s no doubt that questions of money and class play a huge role in their biographies. Viewers are allowed to decide for themselves whether the Jesuit maxim is true: Can one actually see the future adult by examining a seven year old child? Or even a fourteen year old? Do our class origins dictate our lives? Does wealth bring happiness? And what is it that gives life meaning?

Each participant has a different relationship with the films and the filmmaker. Some of the group actively dislike director Michael Apted and are reluctant to be forthcoming. But the most illuminating stories come from those who are willing to open up and share everything — warts and all.

  • For example, Tony was brought up lower class in London’s East End. He dropped out of school at fifteen to become a jockey, but it didn’t work out. He became a taxi driver instead, a job he’s held for nearly thirty years. By 42, Tony and his family had left the East End after buying a second house in Essex. By 49, they’d taken out a second mortgage on their London house to buy a third house in Spain. Tony seems to have pulled himself up to the middle class — but I wonder how much of this was financed by debt.
  • Suzy comes from an upper-class family. Hers is not a happy family, though. During the 1960s, her parents become divorced. Suzy grows disaffected. Up until the age of 21, one might guess she was headed for a life of spoiled indulgence. Ultimately, however, she settles down and raises a lovely family. Though she lives a comfortable life, she faces a different sort of money worry than the other participants. Her husband undertakes a business venture that puts some of their capital at risk.
  • The participant with the most poignant life is Neil. As a seven-year-old, Neil is happy and bright, a charming lad from a working class Liverpool family. By 21, though, he’s dropped out of college, works odd jobs, and squats in an abandoned building. For the next twenty years, he’s essentially homeless, roaming around Britain. He’s dogged by mental health problems. But Neil is a deeply intelligent man, and he appears to turn things around during his forties. He still lives on a pittance (including some public money), but he’s become involved in local politics and seems content with his situation.

The participants sometimes chafe at the roles they believe they’re forced to play. In 21 Up, Apted asks the subjects if they think their class has affected their choices. The answers are surprising.

The three prep school boys (John, Andrew, and Charles) argue that their situation has actually limited their choices, that they’ve been boxed in by a rigid set of expectations. The three East End girls (Jackie, Lynn, and Sue) make the same argument, but from the opposite end of the class spectrum. They believe they have more choices than those in the upper classes have.

But as they age, the answers to this question change. (Perhaps people are being more honest.) In 49 Up, for example, Andrew admits that his origins played a big role in granting him the opportunities he’s had in life.

A clip from 49 Up showing some of Neil’s background.

Again, money is just one of the subjects these films cover. The Up series also explores family, love, spirituality, and more. As with The Farmer’s Wife, these films aren’t for everyone. I think many would find them boring. But for those with patience, the Up series can provide a rare glimpse into what it means to live.

“There are many things that might have happened in my life that haven’t happened. There’s little point in being regretful and angry about it. Life comes once and it’s quite short. You have to appreciate what’s good in it.” — Neil Hughes, 49 Up

Related Articles at Get Rich Slowly:

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Decaf Double Short Skim Double-Pump Vanilla Latté

I promise this is a coincidence; I had no intention of writing about coffee for two articles in a row (previously: “Iced Coffee Savings“).

Yesterday, Starbucks started instituting pricing changes on some drinks, lowering the prices of easy-to-make, popular drinks and raising the price on larger, more complicated drinks. There weren’t a lot of specifics, but two different articles mentioned the frappucino as one of the targets for a $0.25 price increase. I’ve worked at two different Starbuckses, and that is not a difficult thing to make, but it does require people to wait a little longer, especially in the summer.

Easy drinks will see a price cut of five or ten cents, nothing to get real excited about. The thing that people usually forget about Starbucks is that – and I’ve heard this from managers of the store – it’s supposed to be a place you go to treat yourself once in a while. If a five cent price decrease at a gourmet coffee shop manages to save you a significant chunk of money over the course of a year, you’re already pretty wealthy, and you don’t need the discount.

Here are some insightful comments from the same story at the Huffington Post:

I’ve always believed that the price should be based on how long it takes to describe what you want.

From a business perspective, I believe this is a good idea. However, haven’t bars been doing this for years?

it would help alot if starbucks would charge $20 for an iced caramel frappuccino. that’s probably the only thing that would keep me from drinking every one I get my hands on.

ok, $50

And just for fun, here are my favorite two drink recipes of all time (I swear I have seen people order these):

  1. Three-quarters decaf quad grandé soy extra-hot no whip mocha valencia
  2. Triple venti upside-down non-fat extra caramel caramel macchiato

In a first, Starbucks lowers price of some drinks, Lisa Baertlein, Reuters, August 20, 2009

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Decaf Double Short Skim Double-Pump Vanilla Latté

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15 Reasons Why You Should Ignore Your FICO Score

Warning: Only read this if you are in “goofing off” mode. You may also want to ignore this post (along with your FICO score of course) if you just got yelled at by your boss.

Everyone ignores their FICO scores anyway so why don’t you as well? Here are the reasons why I believe you should stop checking those reports and just relax, watch some TV and let the others do all the hard work.

  1. Out of Sight – You never really see it unless you ask for it, out of sight, out of mind!
  2. Promotes Use of Credit – I’m a cash person. No credit right here.
  3. Seldom Used – How many times do you ever need a loan anyway? Why bother when the score is only used a few times in your life?
  4. Not Always Used – Furthermore, not every company will use your FICO score to determine your credit risk. You can always try your luck and hope for the best.
  5. Wait for the Bubble – If you couldn’t get a loan approved, you can always just wait till the next credit bubble when everyone including the no-income retired folks were approved to buy million dollar homes with $0 down. Actually… I take the no-income part back. They have social security to pay for the loans.
  6. Just a Number – The thing is only three digits. Who cares? How much of a difference could it make?
  7. Scams – All you hear are scams associated with credit scores and reports. This can’t be important.
  8. I Live in a Vacuum – The FICO score is country specific, so whatever you do here means nothing in another country. In fact, only Canada and United States call it a FICO score.
  9. No Hope – I just got disapproved so whatever I do, it won’t make a difference anyway. I want a house NOW.
  10. The Thing is Jumpy – The score is a snapshot of information in your credit report so it fluctuates. Who has time keep track of something that’s ever-changing?
  11. Government Cares – Since the government pretty much screws up everything and they claim that credit scores are reliable, FICO scores must be useless.
  12. Temporary – Most negative credit information only stay on file for seven years. Even a bankruptcy is gone by the tenth year. I’m young. I have patience if any mistakes get on there…
  13. No Control – No one (except the people who actually make money off us with this) really knows exactly how it’s calculated, so if it can’t be manipulated, you can safely ignore it right?
  14. Against the Grain – Whenever everyone talks about something, it’s reason enough to ignore it. I’m special. I don’t need to think about what everyone else worries about.
  15. Still Reading? – By now, you should know how ridiculous it is to think that your FICO score doesn’t matter. Do you check your credit reports regularly? Are you on top of your credit score? If not, you are already ignoring your score.

Think again if you’ve been ignoring your FICO score… and congratulations. You must be in a happy mood if you got this far :)

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Microloans Could Be The Answer To Financial Troubles

Microloans are small, sometimes as modest as a few hundred dollars, but some say they could be the ticket to escaping hard economic times. Already, they have been used to fight poverty in the developing world, but microlenders such as the Grameen Bank now operate in big U.S. cities like New York. Host Michel Martin speaks with Anthony Pace, the executive director of The Plan Fund, a microfinance organization in Dallas, and Nicole Williams, a recipient of a Plan Fund loan and a business owner in Dallas.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Top Chef Double Whammy Tonight on Bravo

Bravo pulls out all the chefs

A "Top Chef" premiere and finale in the same night?! It sounds too good to be true to fans of Bravo's biggest moneymaker, "Top Chef," but I triple checked the facts, and it's true! Tonight at 9 p.m. the new season of "Top Chef" begins.
Then, the other moment we've all been waiting for: the "Top Chef Masters" finale! I almost can't stand the excitement.

"Top Chef" Season 6

I don't think there is a faxless payday loan big enough to pay for a party that would do this event justice. This sixth season of "Top Chef" will be set in Las Vegas. Just to make this whole situation even better, the first episode of "Top Chef: Las Vegas" is extra long, clocking in at an hour and 15 minutes.

The show tonight features 17 chefs, and you can read bios on all of them at There are chefs from all over the U.S. plus one chef from France, one from Haiti and one from Puerto Rico.

"Top Chef Masters"

After the super-sized episode of "Top Chef: Las Vegas," the season finale of "Top Chef Masters" begins at 10:15. The masters are down to just three: Hubert Keller, Rick Bayless and Michael Chiarello. The winner among these seasoned chefs will get $100,000 donated to his chosen charity in his name.

"Top Chef Masters" played with the format of "Top Chef" while still placing the focus of the show on food and cooking. The first six episodes of "Top Chef Masters" each featured four chefs. On each episode, one winner was chosen to compete with the other winners. The "Top Chef Masters" were generous all along the way. Each contestants chose charities in the beginning that would receive money if they won, but every charity ended up getting a donation, and during each episode the winner's charity got $10,000. … click here to read the rest of the article titled “Top Chef Double Whammy Tonight on Bravo

Rex 84 | Your Internment Camp Awaits You

What’s an Internment Specialist, daddy?

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” - Thomas Jefferson

Did you know that the United States Army National Guard has been advertising job openings for “Internment Specialists?” Who would we be rounding up for internment, anyway? The United States hasn’t done that openly since Asian-Americans were forced into relocation camps during the World War II era.

Has the time come when political dissidents and malcontents will no longer dare question the actions of their government? By doing so, would they risk being rounded up by Internment Specialists and filed away in a place where they cannot disturb a perfect Orwellian, “1984″-esque peace? Remember, in the parlance of NewSpeak, peace is war. The government simply wants to be prepared, as a part of Rex 84. In the meantime, we make a living day to day, occasionally relying upon secured loans and installment loans for our daily bread.

Breaking bread, breaking us

Taking a historical perspective, Kurt Nimmo writes for Global Research that the Army National Guard’s search for “corrections officers and internment/resettlement specialists” smacks of communist China and Mao’s way. Here’s a sample from the recruitment ad:

As an Internment/Resettlement Specialist for the Army National Guard, you will ensure the smooth running of military confinement/correctional facility or detention/internment facility, similar to those duties conducted by civilian Corrections Officers… This will require you to know proper procedures and military law; and have the ability to think quickly in high-stress situations. Specific duties may include assisting with supervision and management operations; providing facility security; providing custody, control, supervision, and escort; and counseling individual prisoners in rehabilitative programs. … click here to read the rest of the article titled “Rex 84 | Your Internment Camp Awaits You

Wrapping Up the GRS Staff Writer Auditions

It’s been a long two weeks, but I think it’s been worthwhile. Thanks for your patience and feedback as the seven Staff Writer candidates shared their articles with you. I still think all seven are great, and wish I could bring all of them on board. It’s going to be difficult to decide whom to add as a Staff Writer.

Before I return to full-time at GRS tomorrow morning, I’d be grateful for one last batch of feedback on the candidates. Again, this isn’t an election, but I will consider your thoughts as I make my decision. What did you think of the authors and articles over the past two weeks?

As a reminder, here are the author bios (and links to their tryout pieces):

In theory, I’ll be back tomorrow morning with a brand-new post. In truth, I’m writing this on Friday morning before leaving for a weekend hiking trip. Depending on what time I return Sunday night, Monday’s post may appear at 10am instead of the usual 5am! I’m back from my hiking trip (very fun!) and tomorrow’s post is finished, so everything’s on schedule for the morning.

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