Did you know there was 4 trillion dollars of money made available to banks as part of the “relief” package? Did you know interest rates for banks are at 0% right now? So if banks have trillions and the federal reserve loan rate is zero percent why the frog are banks still charging 20% to 30% on credit cards?

Worse than that is why are people not DEMANDING from their congressional representative that they put some stipulations in to help provide interest rate relief on credit cards and other high interest loans?

I believe student loans had a three month forbearance and some credit cards may get a forbearance but what is really needed is interest rate relief.

It’s a sad state of affairs when I have to be mad about this for you. I pay off my credit cards each month and rarely pay interest so it doesn’t impact me much but you should be mad and sad.

I am going to share a secret with you, it has been over 3 years since I’ve set foot in a traditional retail store.  I do almost all of my shopping on Amazon and the only two other places that I visit occasionally are the grocery store and Costco.   The grocery store I visit almost weekly however Costco I now only visit about once a month at best.

So what’s wrong with retail?   Let me tell ya!

Problem #1 – The Experience

The premise of the retail store is to go out and acquire something you need.   Perhaps the retail experience long ago was also a way to socialize but I wouldn’t know because that must have been decades and decades ago.   So what kind of retail experience exists now?   Well first I have to get into my car and drive to a retail store.  With an ever increasing number of cars being added to the roadways, this means I have to sit in smog for a good 20 to 40 minutes depending on which retail store I am headed to but that’s not the worse part.   Next, I spend quite a bit of time driving around looking for a parking space.   I know what you’re thinking, I’m the kind of guy that waits for a nearby space so I don’t have to walk far but that’s wrong.   I usually take the first parking space I see no matter how close or far from the store but lately there are no parking spaces anywhere near retail shops except of course Sears.  After wasting time in traffic then at the parking lot, I then waste even more time walking down aisles looking for what I need.   I don’t bother shopping for clothes anymore at retail stores because they never have anything in my size – NEVER!    What ever happened to the promise of being measured once then having custom clothes made for you and delivered to your door?    If I do find something I need, I then have to wait for a cashier to ring up my purchases and there is almost always someone in front of me arguing with the cashier about a coupon, rebate, discount, or some other dumb items that will save them a couple of dollars on some stupid item they are purchasing.


Problem #2 – Crime

If you live in a big city, you know that on any given day your chances of being robbed or shot are better than winning the lottery.   Nothing is a bigger magnet to criminals than retail stores because criminals know people that are entering these shops likely have money or credit cards worthy of stealing.   Why should I risk my life to go buy a shirt or pair of pants when Amazon can deliver them to my door in a couple of days?


Problem #3 – Retail has become Lazy

When was the last time you saw any real innovation at a retail store?   Sure Starbucks offers free WiFi but why hasn’t every retail store setup WiFi hotspots?   Why do retail clothing stores prefer to stock items that may or may not fit people well instead of investing in scanning/measuring technology for custom built clothes?  It can’t be that hard to put a shirt or pants together can it?    Do you want to know where I get my clothes from now?   I had a tailor come out and take measurements then he flew to Hong Kong, had my clothes made then brought them back.  I paid $100 for each shirt and a few thousand for some suits.   Everything fits great so why can’t someone bring this to a larger scale?   It’s amazing that I ended up sending $6000 to Hong Kong when I wish I could have spent that money in the U.S. but retail is clueless!

At least Walmart is trying to change and bringing some minor innovation about 10 years too late but they still want you to go pick up items at their stores which doesn’t solve Problem #2.


The most successful companies think in terms of ecosystems.  Apple sells iPhones but then sells music to play on iphones, then sells apps to use on iPhones, then sells movies to watch on iPhone, then sells laptops and ipads to view/use your content on different platforms.

Retail stores need to think of their customer as an iPhone.  Take my measurements then make custom products around what I need.  If you make me a custom shirt and pants then you can sell me a belt, then shoes, then socks and underwear.  But why stop there?  Now that you have my measurements, why not sell me a backpack or suitcase that fits my needs and size?   If you know that I like to play tennis, why not extend those sales to sports clothing and sports gear?   Why not then sell me luggage that can fit all of my clothing items?   All of these items eventually wear out and I need to buy them again so this means repeat purchases – GASP!

What’s that?  Your retail business model is to sell shoes only and not the “ecosystem”?  Well good luck staying in business because your main competitor right now is Amazon and I can pretty much buy anything there and it  has a fairly large ecosystem.   I’m just waiting for Jeff Bezos to send someone to my house to take my measurements so I can order custom clothes, I know it will happen someday.

I’ve been working on my taxes this year and was sadly disappointed to see that I would have to pay an additional $5,000 on top of the $70,000 I have already paid in taxes for 2016.    It seems that I was hit with multiple bonus taxes for Medicare and the AMT for some reason.  I’m still haven’t received all my tax documents so that number may fluctuate but it looks pretty gloomy nonetheless.

Since the majority of our income comes from W-2 (i.e. our employers), there aren’t too many things we can write off.  Worse than that, our son will start college soon and I doubt we’ll qualify for any tax deductions for higher education as our income limits our too high.

I hope Congress will do something to fix this taxation mess soon.  Having a tax system that penalizes people for hard work is just insane!   Think about it, if I just got lazy and quite my job, I’d be eligible for all sorts of tax deductions and credits.   What the hell kind of system is this?

Christmas is just around the corner and I have been struggling with what to buy for others and myself.   I don’t really need nor want a new 4k TV since what I have now is fine – I even have TVs that I don’t use in the house!   The new MacBook Pro that I’ve been waiting years for turned out to be a gimmicky garbage laptop.   The new 3.5mm jackless iPhones are a no-go for me until the wireless technology can give me a FULL day use without needing recharging.  Heck with 3.5 mm headphones, I never need charging!

In talking to a friend about some ideas, he told me he had just bought a new Sonos 5 and that he absolutely loved it.  I read the reviews on Amazon and everyone seems pretty happy with the device.   I was set to buy a few of these for my home but decided to do just a bit more research and then I found a deal killer – this device has TWO built-in MICROPHONES.    Why on Earth does a speaker system need to have microphones?    This isn’t a recording device, it is a sound distribution node so WTF!

History and court decisions have already shown us that any device that has any kind of snooping technology will inevitably fall into the use of government agencies and bad actors.   Worse yet, to get the most out of this device, you need to connect it to the internet so how many of you want live microphones all throughout your house being broadcast to a government agency or criminal bad actors 24 hours a day seven days a week?     We’ve already seen baby monitors, OnStar systems, telephones, and probably a thousand other things we don’t know about yet but I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to add Sonos devices to that list.

Sadly, I won’t be buying any Sonos products anytime soon until this issue is addressed so in the meantime I am looking at alternatives that have more security in mind that stupid features that serve no real purpose.

This Labor Day weekend I decided to stroll down memory lane and catch up with some personal finance bloggers that I enjoyed reading over the years and much to my surprise I find that most of them have either sold out and moved on or have left their blogs hanging out to dry in the Internet sun unattended.

I must admit that I’ve been a very infrequent blogger but I have very valid excuses:

  1. I have been traveling the world
  2. I am at my career peak and I am in very high demand
  3. I am trying to make the most of my time left with my teenage kids before they head off to college
  4. I am trying to make plans for the future (more global travel) over the next few years and that takes considerable planning

First up is My 1st Million at 33 which I read rather regularly a few years ago seems to be sporadically posting now.

I just clicked on Free Money Finance and see that his blog was abandoned about a year ago but seems to potentially be starting a new one.

Classics like The Simple Dollar and Get Rich Slowly have both sold out and posts are now more “advertainment” than anything useful.  There are many more but I won’t list them here since many are simply defunked.   It is good to see Lazy Man and Money going strong still though.

I remember the great debates around “frugality vs capitalism” or “buy new vs buy used” or “spend less vs earn more” and all that seems dead now.     I can only surmise that many of the finance bloggers were in a similar situation to me…started blog in 30s and is now in 40s and have better uses for free time than blogging.

I’m a big fan of Amazon but this Black Wednesday in July sucks.    I just tried to buy Amazon gift cards for the $10 promo and got a message that the deal is no longer available.  Really?   You ran out of gift cards already at 8:30 a.m?   The day has barely started and Amazon doesn’t have any more gift cards!

Almost all the other items I am interested in are sold out.  What a huge let down.   Oh well at least I got some baby wipes that I really don’t need….

amazon sucks, sold out!

amazon sucks, sold out!


A good friend sent me a link to an interview with one of Duke’s Dean of Admissions as a primer on what colleges look for in a student candidate.    I saw the interview and immediately told my friend it was 90% bullshit.    We both have kids that will be applying to college soon and I have a large network of  “people that know people” within some of the most prestigious universities and they all whisper the same thing, “Don’t bother applying, the admissions system is so skewed in favor of the well connected it would be a miracle for you (your child) to get in.”

No doubt you’ve either seen or heard of the outrageous racist rants held by OU students that happened to be members of SAE.   When I started college over 20 years ago, fraternities on campus were always doing crap like this and wasn’t limited to racism but also extended into anti-semitism, sexism, homophobism and just about any other ism you can think of but that’s what frats have long been known for and things don’t seem to have changed in 20 years and no doubt this behavior goes way back well over 60 years.

My big question to Universities is if we have such crack interviewers clearly picking out the “winners” from the losers though rigorous admissions reviews consisting of SAT scores, grades, community services, 40 dimensions of compatibility, and other feel good adjectives then how in the hell are we having these issues?

If you go over to Google News and type “college campus”  you’ll get top links talking about campus rape, campus anti-semitism, campus racism, campus crime and of course college debt.    Wow, if this is what we can expect by bringing the best and brightest to colleges imagine what the campus would be like without the crack team of admissions people doing their job!   Here’s an experiment, run “college campus” five years from now, then ten years from now and you’ll be surprised to likely see the same thing.

I told my good friend that if we actually admitted students based on what university admissions directors say they use as criteria then almost every university would be filled with students from China, Japan, India, and almost any other country with higher profile students than U.S. students but that’s not what we find on campus today is it?

I honestly don’t care about universities any more, I received my MBA from an online accredited university and have had a couple of Harvard graduates wipe out at work when I tasked them with too much work activity that they ultimately ended up quitting and going elsewhere.    I’ll support my kids in whatever they want to do but the writing is quite literally on Google News as to why not waste your time with campuses anymore.


After many decades of better than normal vision, I am now finally in need of glasses.   I actually bought a pair of nice reading glasses a couple of years ago through my optometrist and was just SHOCKED to learn the glasses I ordered were $600.  While insurance paid for most of it, I thought it was still ridiculous that glasses should cost $600 so I decided I would search for a cheaper alternative online.

I ended up finding several low cost internet shops and settled on Zenni Optical for their somewhat good reviews.  Big Mistake!  While the glasses only cost me $70, they are barely useable.   There is a large distortion on both lenses.  I complained to Zenni Optical and they did give me an RMA number but when I recently got the glasses back, they’re still unusable.   This is after waiting weeks for the first bad lenses to arrive only to follow that up with several more weeks of waiting for the same horrible lenses.

I am wearing them right now and I might as well be looking through Coke bottles.    Lessons learned here is don’t get ripped off by low cost glasses.  I’ll probably just go to Costco next time and get a new pair from their through my insurance program.

ZenniOptical.com sucks!

I’ve used eBay on exactly two occasions to purchase something and only because I was desperate and Amazon didn’t have something I needed desperately in stock.   The first was 2004 and the last was in late 2013.  I know the exact times because I keep very good records and both experiences have been absolutely horrible.

I don’t remember the first time but it must have been something bad enough to keep me away for nearly 10 years but this time I’m going to document my experience here so I’ll look back at why I should never repeat business with these clowns again.

For Christmas, I received a Phantom Quadcopter and a GoPro camera.  If you want to see the cool things and fun you can have with this thing head over to YouTube and type Phantom+GoPro.     In any event, after a few days of playing with my Phantom, one of the locking nuts flew off along with the rotor blade causing my Phantom to come tumbling down from the sky and crashing into the ground.   Fortunately it was only about 15 feet off the ground when it happened and the Phantom received little damage sans the rotor.

Unfortunately, I lost the locking nut for the rotor when it flew off.  It was a small little nut and while I had spare rotors, I did not have any spare locking nuts.  The bird would not fly without the locking nut.    The counterclockwise nut is/was out of stock on Amazon and still out of stock to this day…

I found a couple of the nuts on ebay from two different vendors and desperate to make sure I get some, I ordered from two different vendors a set of four nuts.    Keep in mind that I ordered these nuts right after Christmas a couple of days after it crashed.   Fast forward a couple of weeks and I’m still waiting.    I tried emailing the vendor but was surprised to get a message from ebay that I had already, “exceeded the maximum number of messages I can send per day.”   Seriously, I had sent a message two minutes earlier to describe my problem then forgot to mention a couple of things and was going to send a follow up but I’m done and need to send a message some other day.


WTF kind of experience is this at eBay?   To this day, I have no idea when I’ll get my nuts but it doesn’t matter because shortly after I placed the order, I drove 180 miles to a hobby shop that had them in stock and loaded up on them and some new rotors that don’t require the locking nut.

Contrast this against Amazon.com where I’ll have virtually anything I order delivered in two days with no need to send messages, wait a day or two to communicate with the vendor, and know when I’m going to get something delivered.

People think eBay saves them money until you realize the hours you waste trying to track down something is a huge waste of time/money in of itself.

So long eBay, as soon as I get my merchandise, if ever, I’m throwing my account away…..

How would you handle a 25% increase in monthly health insurance premiums?  That was the topic at lunch today when one of my co-workers (contractor) stated that his family health insurance policy was rising from $750 per month to $940 per month.   I pointed out the obvious, “How do you expect 40 million uninsured people to suddenly get insurance without someone somewhere paying for it?”

Somewhere out there is an insurance company raking in $12,000 per year out of my co-worker.  That’s $12,000 that won’t get spent on iPads, iPhones, televisions, furniture, new carpet, new kitchen, or anything else that will drive the economy.   The $12,000 will be spent on $200 aspirin, $4000 X-Rays, and a bunch of mis-priced, mis-allocated capital investments and operational expenses at a hospital somewhere that wants a cut of the action or into the hands of insurance companies.

I think most people were thinking the “government” was going to pick up the tab for Obamacare and then people realized that the “government” is nothing more than “we the people” so the working people are now subsidizing and providing “free” health insurance to the non-working or working poor.

I’m really curious to see what the next few election cycles are going to bring and I think the economy will head for a disastrous Obamacare driven financial collapse  in 2014 when we start seeing the full effect of this policy and premiums continue to go out of control.

Next Page »