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October 2011 - Posts - The Dollar Stretcher
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The Dollar Stretcher

The Dollar Stretcher blog will explore people and money.

October 2011 - Posts

  • Brands You Refuse to Buy

    As you might expect, part of running a (thankfully) popular website includes getting a bunch of spam email. And, although I'd be happy if I got less, it's not all bad.

    For instance recently I've been getting emails with this subject line: "Valentino, Gucci, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana Sample Sale. All up to 75% off". I don't need more than a second to delete it. Anyone that's been around The Dollar Stretcher at all knows these are brands that I'm not going to buy. But, it does lead to a question (ok, I can't help myself, I'm trained to think about personal finances and to ask questions).

    What brands are you unwilling to buy? Are there some well known brands that you wouldn't even consider? Because they're too expensive, too ostentatious or just too _____________?

    I'd love to know which brands you'd refuse to buy and why. How about posting a comment and speaking your mind?

    Keep on Stretching those Dollars!

    Gary

  • A Less Is More Holiday

    Barbara Friedberg runs a site called  BarbaraFriedbergPersonalFinance.com. Like TDS, it's a practical guide to taking control of your personal finances. She's been kind enough to run an article I wrote called A Less Is More Holiday. It's about how spending less on the holidays could actually result in a more enjoyable, more meaningful time. So please take a little time to read it and visit Barb's site.

    Keep on Stretching those Dollars!

    Gary

  • Your Personal Finance Yoke

    Last Friday my wife and I decided to leave work early for some playtime. We've both been putting in a lot of hours lately so we really needed a little 'away' time. Earlier in the week we decided that we'd leave about 2pm and do something local.

    We decided on a visit to a place just across the river from us in Ellenton FL called "The Gamble Plantation". It's a Florida state park. They have a page if you're interested. It was a sugar plantation built by 3 brothers named Gamble in the early 1840's. At the time it was hundreds of miles from the nearest civilization. The Seminole Indians were in control of most of this part of the state. The living was very rugged. Everything that they couldn't grow or make had to be shipped in across the Gulf of Mexico from New Orleans (about 250 miles away by boat). If you like history I'm sure you'd find it interesting. We certainly did.

    Ox Yoke

    In one of the downstairs rooms was a yoke used to team oxen (please forgive the quality of the photo, as you might expect lighting was natural - none of Tom Edison's inventions in sight!). I was reminded of something that I had learned awhile back about yoking oxen together. If the farmer doesn't have an established pair that are used to being yoked together, he'll take an older ox that has been yoked before and team them up with a younger, inexperienced ox. The older ox will follow the farmer's directions and because they're yoked, the younger ox will have to go along. As you might expect that was tiring for both the younger and the older ox.

    And, being a bit of a stubborn animal myself, even though I was supposed to be taking an afternoon away from work, I couldn't help but think about the financial things that we yoke ourselves to.

    We may be yoked to credit card or other debt. In that case, we're probably a bit like the young ox. We get pulled where the debt wants to take us. We might not like where we're going, but we have very little choice in the matter. We get pulled along regardless.

    Of we may think that we're in control of our finances. We're paying all of our bills and every year we can buy more and more stuff. In that case we might be like the older ox who's forced to drag along the young ox. The more possessions we accumulate the more we need to maintain and protect. We may really enjoy that new big screen TV, but we sure wouldn't leave it behind if we moved. And, because we have it, we need the appropriate cables and online video sources to feed it. Seems to me that we're dragging all that stuff along with us.

    So I issue you a challenge. Before you make your next big purchase think of the ox yoke. And, ask yourself if you really want to be yoked to whatever you're thinking of buying. Could be that you choose not to put the yoke on at all!

    Keep on Stretching those Dollars!

    Gary

  • Watching Inflation

    Something that many of us have been closely watching is the inflation rate. With this much borrowing going on (private debt, student loans, government debt, etc) it will be hard to avoid it. So far we've been fortunate, but I'm concerned that may not last.

    Saw an interesting article on the CNBC site this week. Producer prices jumped in September. Surprising the experts. They still maintain that the recession will tend to hold down price increases. But only time will tell if they're right or not.

    The Federal Reserve is in a tough spot. They need to keep the money supply growing to avoid a more serious recession. But, every time they do that they create a situation where more dollars are chasing the same amount of goods and services. And that's the basic cause of inflation.

    If you haven't already, you might want to check out a blog entry I did a few weeks ago called "Why I Expect 10% Food Price Inflation". In the post I explain why food prices are almost certain to increase over the next year. And 9 things that you can do to combat the increases.

    On a separate note, one thing that I do hope inflates is your knowledge about ways to get the most for your money. So enjoy this issue and see what tools you can add to help you stretch those dollars!

    All the Best!

    Gary

  • Baby Boomer Finances

    Did you know that 1/4 of all baby boomers (born betweetn 1946 and 1964) don't ever plan on retiring. And, a similar number haven't saved for retirement? (can't help but wonder if it's the same 25%!). Here's an interesting article  from the FI Guide on baby boomers and their finances. If you're a boomer (or you care about one) you'll want to take a moment to read it.

    Keep on Stretching those Dollars!

    Gary

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Gary is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who edits The Dollar Stretcher website <www.stretcher.com> and newsletters. You can follow Gary on Twitter.com/gary_foreman
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