Archive for August, 2013

As I’m in my last semester of my second MBA, an interesting thing happened the first day at class.    The professor asked the class why students were interested in earning their MBAs.  While the responses varied from “opportunity” to “options” the common theme was that it was the baseline degree now needed for a management role.    I won’t disagree with that sentiment since the sole reason I’m getting TWO MBAs was to be able to check that box twice.    Undergraduate degrees are definitely the new “high school diploma” and MBA’s are the new college degree to have.    I know so many people right now at different age groups that are back in school perusing MBAs that it’s a bit frightening.

Interestingly, the professor kept stating, “it’s never to late to get your Ph.D” almost lobbying the students to begin considering getting their Ph.D in respective fields.  I suspect that the next generation (i.e. my kids) will likely need to go all the way through to Ph.D to have any hopes of a decent career.   Of course, true entrepreneurs often don’t finish college and simply start businesses sometimes successful sometimes not so that’s always a possibility.

I have received some really great benefits though such as the general and liberal loan amounts the fed likes to issue which helped me bank 50k at 1.75% interest rates.   I also have been able to buy new macs for my home over the past few years getting the educational discount not to mention the huge savings on academic software.   I’m really going to miss all these perks so I may opt to continue my education or push my wife to get her MBA or MS.

If you’re too stupid to get rid of student loan debt as quickly as you get it in, then you deserve to rot in student loan hell.   I’ve outlined my awesome student loan debt laundering scheme here and since Chase kept sending me ridiculous balance transfer offers for zero percent, I decided I would student-debt-launder my final 10k in student loans through a Chase balance transfer.

I am in my last semester of MBA school now and just plunked down the last 3k payment for tuition and books and feel confident my MBA expenses are coming to a close.   I had intended on using the balance transfer offer to pay off the remaining 8k on my mortgage but quite honestly, that mortgage debt will be gone in a few months anyway.   Overall my debt structure is phenomenally low and my cash balances are strong so that means something terrible is probably about to happen because that’s often how life works….

We’ll see what the next few months holds but rumors are about that there may be massive layoffs at my employer and quite honestly I could use some time off!

So in October it will be two years since I gave my kids an ultimatum, “if you want iPhones, you must give up cable TV” and they opted for the iphones over TV.  Since the two year contract was coming to an end, I asked my kids if they were interested in giving up their iphones to get back the cable TV.   They replied they weren’t interested in cable TV and wanted to know how to upgrade to a new iPhone (5 or 5s).

Of course, I’ve caught my kids countless times watching TV on their phones and whether it’s some free online source or something they purchased on iTunes, their main form of entertainment comes from the computer more than cable TV.

We do have a Roku box which provides access to Amazon Prime, Crackle, Netflix and a few other venues for entertainment as well as an Apple TV from which the kids stream to from their iPhones or iPads so overall we’re not lacking any television but it is an interesting situation.

Ironically, I get stacks of mail from Comcast, AT&T, Dish and others trying to get me to sign up for service.   To be honest, the latest offer I got was very tempting at internet+TV for only $49 for a year as this is less than I pay now for just internet but when I read the fine print and do the math, it’s not $49/month after all.   The “HD service fee” kills the deal for me – why is this even here when I can get all the HD channels FREE with an antenna?    When I add up the receiver rental ($10) and the HD service fee ($10) and other fees, the $49 quickly balloons into $100/month so no sale.

 

I dropped by my local Costco to pick up my usual month’s worth of groceries and was shocked to see Halloween items all over the place but even more shocking were all the Christmas items stacked up.   Really Costco Christmas?    If Costco is selling Christmas in August (one month after July) the logically it should start selling bikinis and beach balls in the dead of winter right?

I love Costco except for the way they are always out of season.   Summer/Spring items are sold in Winter, Winter items are now sold during the summer and it’s just plain crazy.   Ironically, the stuff will probably fly off the shelves anyway because some people are just shop crazy.

 

I completed my first MBA in May and in December I should complete my second MBA and I’ve written about the overall experience here.  What really gets my blood boiling however is the need to have to buy two more books, my last two books for my two classes and the cost…$400.   That’s right, two books are setting me back four hundred dollars!   To put things into perspective, the $400 is 17% of the tuition I paid for the classes!    I could have rented the books on Amazon and saved a ton of money but I opted to buy the books because they look like texts I would like to keep and re-read over the longer term so perhaps the books have more value than others but still the price is ridiculous.

Oddly enough, the higher the level of my education the less time I seem to have to write but I hope to be more active this semester with some final insights into my MBA programs.

 

I have a legacy Presidential Plus credit card that had some great benefits when offered under Continental but since United stepped in, they basically gutted the benefits and made the card worthless – I’m canceling it as soon as my year ends on it.    I’m also going to use up all the frequent flier miles I can under while still possessing the card so I at least can get a chance of using those miles and getting some benefits but after that I’m done with UA.

I don’t blame UA for turning into a money grubbing operation, holding back seats up to the last minute to try to generate revenue but the airlines has gone too far and could care less about the customer.

Here are the main problems:

1. Even AFTER paying for a seat on a flight, it is rare to get a seat assignment and even when I do have one, it tends to change almost always to a more unfavorable seat.  I get the impression that UA is simply auctioning off seats to the highest bidder until every last penny has been squeezed and the lowest bidders get the worst seats.

2. UA doesn’t give a shit about the customer.   This is an issue at all levels in all dimensions from trying to call someone on the phone (long 20+ minute wait times), to the snooty gate agents that are often too overworked and stressed out to be any kind of pleasant, to the indifferent flight attendants on the flight which speed through service and couldn’t care less if they skip a row or two on a busy flight.

3. The problems aren’t random or in-between they are systemic.   Travel to and from Europe on my last vacation was a United nightmare but I’m now heading off to South America next week and I’ve already had two phone calls and no help whatsoever on my flight.

While I’m not entirely thrilled with the prospect, I am switching to Southwest Airlines for domestic travel and any international carrier for any international flights, almost every non-US airline provides so much better service even without the perks of frequent flier miles I’m still better off.

So long UA, I’ve got just a couple of more flights before we depart forever.