Monthly Archives: August 2011
Today’s no-cost tidbit for Finance Friday’s has to do with cyber coupons.
I get email blasts from GotDailyDeals.com. This is hit or miss but when it hits, it can save you a lot. Basically you will get email notifications of deals from businesses in your area and you can choose if you want to sign up with an account and buy the daily coupon. Let me give you an example of one I bought yesterday.
Round Table Pizza was having a deal – 50% off. Basically you get a coupon for $24 worth of food that you pay $12 for. The coupon is on sale for 24 hours, is available to print the day after purchase and is good through February 2012. They list any restrictions up front like delivery is not included or the coupon is only good for the store you selected.
Now pizza use to be perfect for a “cheap date” and Round Table makes some good pizza with fresh ingredients. However, the price of pizza has skyrocketed along with movie ticket prices. Round Table is good but hella pricey. An X-Large pizza will run you $25 easy so to get a huge pizza that will either feed me for 9 days (tin foil and the freezer are your friends) for half price is a total bargain! After using the coupon, I am paying about .75 a slice.
It costs nothing to join, most of the stuff isn’t going to interest you but in this economy it is always good to be on the lookout for things that will stretch your food/entertainment/clothing dollar. While I am not one of those crazy, compulsive coupon clippers that you see on cable TV who can buy 10 carts full of stuff for $10 or get money back, this is the next best thing.
There have been a few cottage industries on the net that will direct you towards low-cost entertainment options or even free events. Take advantage of these. Just make sure to read all those small words to understand what is and is not included. Some food deals are buy one, get one free which is great when you are with a friend because you are splitting the cost of one entrée but not so good if you are flying solo. A little networking and a little bit of a thrifty mindset will save you money down the line.
Of course, remember that the cheapest way to eat is to buy fresh ingredients and cook your own. The freezer is your friend. Next week we will talk about Stone Soup Parties and how to make affordable healthy choices in food.
Well there was a 5.9 earthquake in Virginia that sent tender-hearted east coasters, screaming into the streets, changing their religion and basically thinking the world was coming to an end. The west coast ex-pats just looked on amused. There was also a 3.6 earthquake in San Leandro that I completely slept through. No stories have emerged about that rumble heralding the rise of Satan, civil unrest or Sarah Palin. And to cap it off, a naked guy went on a rampage in his apartment building in New York, stabbing various people while yelling the world was coming to an end.
Welcome to Whack-A-Doodle Wednesday.
I am still in the middle of moving hell, my right arm has gone on strike and is operating at about 20% capacity and there is no Trader Joe’s in close proximity to my house. My stockpiles are running low and I am contemplating exactly what to do with a can of beans, a can of coconut cream, some Ponzu sauce and a handful of dried pasta. Hey Iron Chefs! A little help would be appreciated.
However, I’ve had to spend more commute money than normal these past few weeks to avoid BART on Monday’s due to the idiot anonymous “protestors” and I use that word loosely. I had to drive so I could be guaranteed to get home and not be delayed for hours trying to catch a BART train. Even with a lame arm, I still want to kick each and every one of these idiots in the junk…. hard…. with steel toed pointy shoes.
Readers Digest Condensed Version: They “say” they are protesting BART police violence (a BART officer shot and killed a crazy, homeless man brandishing a knife) and BART turning off cell phone service on their private underground property to keep these idiots from communicating with each other and causing mayhem.
Homeless guy – that was self-defense. I want to buy that officer a fruit basket.
Cell Service – that is not a right, it is a privilege. There is no guarantee to have cell service any time, any where – ever. That is insane.
Hey! Idiots! If you really want to do some good, how about protesting the inner-city violence? Where is your outrage when little, innocent kids get gunned down on a street corner in front of their Mom and siblings or get shot through a wall while at piano practice? How about people who get mowed down by hit & run drivers? Where is your indignation for REAL tragedies? Oh yeah, it’s because you bunch of idiots are just sad, pathetic losers. You aren’t activists. You don’t want to make things better, you just want to throw a tantrum and be on the news. Guess what? You aren’t that important. Perhaps we should just ignore you. Ignore your “demands”, ignore your yelling, ignore your 3-year-old melt down. Unless you try to keep me from commuting… then boot to the junk baby. I’ll give you something to cry about.
I am seriously giving thought to solar power or electricity powered by gerbils after this weekend. You would think that transferring PG&E service from one place to another when you move would be easy. I thought so. I’ve had PG&E service in my own name for decades, eons, well – a long ass time and never had an issue.
So approximately two weeks ago I called PG&E. I told Lady #1 I wanted service to my condo in Richmond turned off on Saturday August 13th and turned on at my duplex in San Leandro on the same day. It’s a no brainer. The duplex is on a middle class, residential street. The meters and the fuse boxes (this will come into play later) are on the side of the house next to the driveway. There are no gates, dogs or attack squirrels.
At about 10:30am, I get a call from my new landlord telling me the power isn’t on. I call PG&E and talk to a nice young lady who informs me the power is scheduled to be turned on today but they do not have a work order to turn on the gas. Great. She said they can send someone out today but there has to be someone there for that to happen.
I tell her we are in the process of moving in and if she can’t give me an hour window, this is problematic because after everything is inside, we are leaving to eat, need to return the truck, go back to Richmond to drop one of the movers off at their car and then return. I ask if I can leave the back door open for them. She said I would have to leave a signed note giving the guy permission to enter the house but it is up to the technician whether they want to do that or not.
Great but I understand. I ask if I can schedule the gas appointment for Tuesday because I have to be here anyway after 1pm for the UVerse guy. She said she will schedule the gas for 1-5pm on Tuesday. Fabulous.
So we move, we unload, we have pub grub and beer, we brave inner city gang turf to pick and return the UHaul. Note: no one should be anywhere on International Blvd/14th Street in Oakland between High and 98th if you can help it but especially if you your ancestors hailed from the frozen North.
I return unshot, unscathed and exhausted to find there is no power. I call PG&E to get an ETA. At this time it is about 5:30pm. The lady informs me that young lady #2, who I spoke with that morning, cancelled my electric turn on for today when she set up my gas appointment for Tuesday. She says she must be new as PG&E have hired a lot of new people. Great. Lady #3 tells me she is dispatching someone to get the power on for today and the gas appointment is still Tuesday from 1-5pm. Since this was their screw up, she is also going to credit my account with $30 since they missed the appointment time (expired at 5pm). She wants to make sure there are no gates or dogs and the meter is accessible. It is. Great. I feel good and start unpacking.
It is now about 7:45pm and it is starting to get dark. I call PG&E. I talk to fabulous gay man – PG&E employee #4. He looks at my file and informs me Lady #3 screwed it up. Instead of cancelling the ticket and doing it over, she updated it which marked it as a “future appointment” meaning if the tech in the field didn’t look close enough it indicates this isn’t high priority and it can wait until Monday if they want. WHAT?!
He re-does the ticket, assures me he has been doing this for years and knows what he is doing. I tell him that it’s getting dark fast, I am a female, alone, in a brand new place, surrounded by piles of crap with no torch, candle or glow stick to be had since everything is packed. I reiterate there are no gates or dogs and the meter is accessible. He gets his Supervisor Elaine and tells her what is going on. He informs me the ticket was escalated through the dispatcher and Elaine is calling them as well so this will get top priority. He also takes my phone number and says Elaine will be calling me right back to tell me the ETA for the technician arriving at the house. Great.
Twenty minutes go by, it is dark. It is about 8:20pm. Now I am mad. Elaine hasn’t called me. I can’t work. I can’t do anything except Facebook on my iPhone from the car because the car charger is the only one (a) I can find and (b) that works because the house has no power.
I call back and ask to speak with a supervisor. I get asshat #5. This guy is a piece of work. He is brusque, stubborn and a general idiot. He informs me that the ticket says someone will be out. I ask for an ETA. He tells me that the tech is coming out but doesn’t know what time. He also informs that:
a) They while the field techs have cell phones. They can’t call to get an ETA. Dispatch can call but they can’t give me an ETA also they should not have promised me the $30 credit for missing the appointment.
b) He doesn’t know who Elaine is but then tells me “she is on the phone” and I can’t wait for her.
c) I have to be there when the tech comes in case my fuse box doesn’t have a “magic button” and she needs to get inside and the topper is . . .
d) “We didn’t promise you anything but since we said we would have your power on today, we have until midnight to do it.
Yes, after hearing that I lost my shit. I work in customer service and I would NEVER treat a customer the way this guy treated me. I ended up decamping for my friend Val’s place at 9:15pm to have wine, sympathy and a hot shower.
Sunday morning I swung by the house before heading to Richmond to clean and pick up the odds and ends. There was a note on the door. Christina the PG&E tech showed up at 9:30pm. The power was on, I just had to flip the main breaker but she said that the “power to my dryer was unsafe”. How does she know and what does that mean? I have no idea. I do know I am still pissed off so I’ll call them tomorrow about that. I won’t be using the dryer for a bit anyway.
You would think after that gas main explosion on the Peninsula where their faulty pipeline killed all those people and damaged/destroyed so much property, they would be jumping through hoops like a demented circus poodle to make people happy.
And THIS is why you don’t use your waistband as a holster no matter how many music videos or stupid gansta movies you have seen. It seems a 26 or 27-year-old Arizona man (stories conflict on his exact age but I would put his mental age at about 5) stuck his girlfriend’s pink pistol into the waistband of his pants when it discharged, striking his John Thomas and his thigh.
I’m not sure what is stranger, improperly holstering your firearm or being seen in public with a pink handgun while doing your grocery shopping. Before you start saying that idiotic behavior is the exclusive arena of red state gun-toters, I beg to differ. Stupid is universal.
Let’s look at the latest member of the U.S. Ski Team who was just canned. Robert “Sandy” Vietz, an 18-year-old mental midget, thought it would be cool to get stinking drunk on a Jet Blue flight and piss all over a passenger. His parents must be so proud! I have no idea what political party he might be affiliated with but my money is with none. I bet $20 that even if there was an election he could have voted in, he wouldn’t have bothered. Possible Federal charges are still pending in this case. Hell, if I was the person he piddled on, I would be demanding he be sold to the felon with the most cheese sandwiches or cigarettes or whatever passes for barter in prison. Readers, please take notes that it is illegal to piss on people that piss you off while on a airplane and this behaviour could land you in a comfy 12×12 bungalow at Club Fed.
So while the stock market imploded, lemmings scurry in hordes to whichever county fair Palin or Bachmann are appearing at, and Tim Pawlenty hopes to win voters hearts with free Dairy Queen Blizzards, I will just crawl into my little cave and wait it out. I have a case of good beer and enough high quality nibbles to keep me going for at least a week or until half of my things are unpacked in my new place. I really hope they have good food close by.
So what can topple governments, start wars, raise armies and conquer the world? You guessed it! Your vagina! Personally I didn’t know my vagina had so much spare time. Perhaps it sneaks out when I’m asleep to stalk through forests, attend jousts and drive men insane. That might explain my cat waking me up last night with paw taps on my face. She wasn’t being annoying or wanting attention, she was trying to tell me that my vagina was sneaking out the front door to reek havoc.
This explains so much. The 463rd stock market crash of the past ten years, the failure of the BART system, riots in London – all caused by the power of the Va Jay Jay! Wow ladies, we are bringing the world to its knees! My only question is why? What’s the payback? What do we get except the narcissistic rush of watching men kill each other in a frenzy of awe and lust? Do we get money? Jewelery? A country of our own? I’m not seeing any kind of tangible payback in this latest, idiotic commercial from Summer’s Eve.
Now I freely admit I have no idea what the executives were thinking. Maybe they thought it was a positive affirmation of female power, maybe they thought it was evocative, romantic and stirring or maybe they were clueless douches who missed the boat completely.
First we are told by the douche industry that we smell bad, now we are told that the sole reason for male conflict, bloodshed and aggression is because of our vaginas! Yes, those tricky little things are such minxes. They are always causing trouble. I suppose if your job is to sell pine scented cootch douche you only have a few marketing avenues you can travel. You can either try to scare women with the “smell” or you can make them think if they have the best rose garden/pine forest/ocean breeze smelling vagina, you can rule the world. I mean, who wouldn’t want Spartan warriors smashing each other with heavy objects for the chance to be your new consort of the hour?
Maybe it’s just me but I would like to think that if my vagina really was the source of all this earth-shattering power, that it could be used for good. Just think about it for a minute. Women being respected for their life-giving potential as well as their skills in the boardroom as well as the battlefield. Women being held in esteem instead of being assaulted, demeaned, demoralized and treated like children. Women who are proud of their bodies and not told they are bad or evil or need the control of others to tell them what to do with them. Wow, freedom to be a mature, free-thinking adult! Now that is a power that I can get behind.
It’s Finance Friday and after another near cash melt-down, people are thinking about the economy and the budget again or at least until some new reality show comes on TV. However this is really simple. Normal people do it all the time. Smart people do it all the time. Normal, smart people do it all the time. Ready?
Don’t spend more money than you take in.
Yup, that’s it. Go home now. I can hear people yapping through the ether, “But that is too simple, you don’t understand!” No, I do understand and it is that simple. It is no different from what normal, smart people do every day and just let me say, just because you have a college degree doesn’t make you smart. If you spend all your dough on coke and hookers then whine about being broke, guess what? You are a Congressman now.
Here is how it works. First, you figure out how much you are making each month. I know, there are always little bits and bobs you can’t account for with certainty (income from a garage sale, selling a car, lotto money, a second job) but let’s start with what you know. Let’s say $2,000 a month.
Now you write down your expenses. Let’s start with the things you have to pay each month (Rent, utilities, car payment, car insurance, food, child care, etc.). Your drug dealer is NOT a necessary expense. The money left over from what you bring in vs. what goes out is your “discretionary income”. This is called a budget.
Now, in your day-to-day life you may wonder why you have no money at the end of the month. Answer, it’s because you spent it, usually on stupid stuff like lattes, movies, books you wont get around to reading for another year, video games, cocaine and hookers. If you were in government these things would be stuff like “8 million for a study on the reasons we need pencils” or “800 million on aircraft carriers with staff and fuel and the machine that goes BING!” SAME THING.
Do you know how many aircraft carriers we have? The Navy lists eleven currently in service on their site. Do you know the number of the next highest amount owned by another country? One – Three in the UK, depending on which source you are using. The point is, we don’t need twelve aircraft carriers and this observation was brought to you by my former military Dad. Do you know what we need? We need roads and bridges and infrastructure. We need investment in our country and building that infrastructure creates…. JOBS. Yeah. It’s just like if you invest a little cash each month on car maintenance, the chances of your car blowing up in a swirl of black smoke and costing you a huge chuck of change all at once are minimal. You need to take care of the “must have’s” first not the “I wants”. Wanting things because we think we “deserve them” or they are “owed to us” is what got us into this mess in the first place both in our personal finances and our countreys.
This month just started so do this little experiment with me. Get a little notebook and write down every single cent you spend and what you spent it on. Latte $4.34, PG&E $42,87, Gas $123.82, you get the idea. come September 1st, look at what you spent and on what. Don’t be a pork barrel politician (of either party). Did you really need to see five movies? Why not just one or wait until it comes out on Netflix. Did you really need 35 lattes? How about one latte a week and the rest of the time you brew your own at home. Did you really need to eat out all those times when you could have made sandwiches and dinners at home for 1/4 of the cost? See? If we want our politicians to stop being asshats, we need to stop this co-dependent behaviour as well.
I leave you with this brilliant video I heard about via the Colbert Report. Enjoy.
The Economy Explained In Under Three Minutes