May 16, 2017

Money Can't Buy You Feelings of Worthlessness, Hopelessness and Sadness

Money cant buy happiness they say?     Well poverty can buy you feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and sadness all or most of the time.    I'll take the cash instead please.

I've made this point before and again and again.    But I will go ahead and keep making it.

The report How Are Income and Wealth Linked to Health and Longevity? from the Urban Institute had the figure below :

(Source : Urban Institute, click image for full size)



Clearly all rich people aren't happy and all poor people aren't sad.    But it is just one more data point that there is clear correlation between happiness and money.   Now note that I'm using the word correlation there.    Its an important detail.     Its possible at least in some cases that the feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or sadness caused the poverty.

If you really truly think money doesn't make you happy then I implore you to make the world a better place and give all your money to a poor person.
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May 12, 2017

Cell Phone and 12 Month Service for $50 = Under $5 / month


Right now you can get a Tracfone LG Rebel phone plus 12 months of service for just $49.99 via ebay

Thats a great deal and works out to $4.17 per month for the 12 months.    

It is limited service with 1200 minutes, 1200 text and 1200MB of data.   The phone is pretty low spec too so don't expect to play high end games or anything.      But you can't beat this price for a phone and 12 months of service.

I used Tracfone myself for a year or two and it worked perfectly fine for me.

I heard about this at Fatwallet.


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I'm receiving no commissions on this.

May 11, 2017

Should I Buy a Telsa Solar Roof?

Tesla just started taking orders on their Solar Roof today.   Is it a good deal as promised?

You can get details on the solar roof along with a quote on the price for your house at the Tesla Solar Roof website.    Plugging in the numbers there myself for our house I get :

Cost of roof  = $45,100
Tax cred = -$10,700
Value of Energy = $27,400
Net cost over 30 years $7000

They make it look good that way.    But what you're really doing is spending $34,400 today to get $27,400 energy over 30 years.   Thats not so good of a deal.

But theres more.     My state and local utility also offer incentives that combined would cut another $8800 off the price.   That gets the net cost of front down to $25,600.    This is a much better deal but I still don't want to spend $25,600 today for $27,400 spread over 30 years.

Really a Solar Roof is going to be best if you're already looking at the cost of replacing a warn out old roof.   Our own home has a very new roof.    So it doesn't make sense to tear off a perfectly good roof to put on a Solar Roof.    We do have a rental property that we replaced the roof on not too long ago for about $7200.    If you figure in the cost of that $7200 roof then going with a Solar Roof instead starts to make more sense.   Youre not looking at spending $25,600 today for $27,400 over 30 years.  Instead you're looking at spending $7200 for a regular asphalt tile roof or getting the Solar Roof for $25,600 along with $27,400 in energy.   Thats really a cost of $18,400 for the energy.   Now you're getting closer.   But its still not really worth it.

The thing that would really make a Solar Roof worth while is comparing it to a more expensive roof.   When I replaced that rental roof we got traditional asphalt shingles as you see on the majority of roofs (at least around here).     However the Solar Roof is a higher quality glass material.   Its more comparable to glass tile roofs or slate shingles.    Those higher quality materials cost a lot more.   Using those materials would cost 2-3 times as much as the asphalt roof.   If you're now comparing a solar roof to a roof that is $10,000 to $20,000 then thats a different equation.     Bloomberg has a graphic comparing roof costs in their article Tesla’s Solar Roof Pricing Is Cheap Enough to Catch Fire

The situation where it makes sense then is replacing a worn out old roof with a new higher end material roof.    If the net cost of a Solar Roof is $25,600 and the comparable alternative is a $20,000 slate roof then you're really looking at spending $5,600 more to get the solar power.   That solar power adds up to $27,400 over 30 years.   The power savings starts at about $600/yr.    The net present value of the 30 years worth of power is over $13,000.     So you're spending $5,600 more net to get the solar power saving $600 a year with a total value of $13,00.    Now that makes sense.

So while I would not run out tear off my perfectly good roof tomorrow for a Solar Roof, it could very well be worth getting one if you have an old roof that needs replacement and you were looking to use higher end materials.

One last point to make is that the Solar Roof has a "infinity warranty".   They warranty it forever the life of the house.   So you won't have to replace the roof out of pocket.    Now I'm not sure how much thats really worth, I didn't look at the details.   But that certainly does add value over traditional roof materials which need replacement.     But a cheapo asphalt shingle roof should last 30 years and a nice slate roof should last 50 to 200 years.   Slate roofs may as well be "forever" as far as most of us would plan.   But the lifetime warranty isn't nothing.

Bottom line:   Tesla Solar Roofs can be a good financial choice in the right situation.   If you're looking at replacing an old roof with a higher end roof it can be a good deal.   It all depends on the specifics.

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May 8, 2017

15% Rebate Promotion at Ebates this Week

For their "birthday week", Ebates is running a promotion this week with 15% rebates for 200+ stores.
A few example stores :
Petco
Kohls
Macy's
Staples
JCPenney




Standard Ebates blurb: To get cash back from Ebates you need to be signed up with Ebates.  Then simply go to Ebates to get the referral to the store before you do your shopping.  I also get a referral bonus if you use my links to sign up with Ebates.  

--This article may contain referral links which pay this site a commission for purchases made at the sites.

April 25, 2017

Mass Transit Usage By State

Have you been yearning to find out how Delaware ranked in usage of mass transit versus the other states?    I know you have.   I used a couple data sources to figure the number of annual trips in mass transit taken per capita for each state.    Spoiler alert:  Delaware is #22.

I got the annual trips per state off of Table 4-4: Urban Transit Ridership by State and Transit Mode: 2013 at Dot.gov.     I then divided by the population of each state for 2013 found at Enchanted Learning.com


Here is the list alphabetically by state :

State Annual trips per capita Rank
Alabama 1.6 49
Alaska 6.9 32
Arizona 15.1 18
Arkansas 2.0 46
California 37.4 7
Colorado 20.8 13
Connecticut 12.5 20
Delaware 12.1 22
District of Columbia 639.9 1
Florida 14.6 19
Georgia 16.1 16
Hawaii 52.0 5
Idaho 1.7 48
Illinois 52.3 4
Indiana 5.3 34
Iowa 7.4 31
Kansas 2.6 42
Kentucky 6.2 33
Louisiana 8.3 28
Maine 4.1 38
Maryland 24.2 12
Massachusetts 63.5 3
Michigan 10.0 25
Minnesota 19.1 15
Mississippi 0.7 51
Missouri 11.3 23
Montana 2.4 43
Nebraska 3.5 39
Nevada 26.7 11
New Hampshire 2.9 41
New Jersey 44.0 6
New Mexico 7.9 29
New York 201.9 2
North Carolina 7.4 30
North Dakota 3.5 40
Ohio 9.7 26
Oklahoma 2.0 45
Oregon 31.7 10
Pennsylvania 36.1 8
Rhode Island 19.5 14
South Carolina 2.4 44
South Dakota 1.8 47
Tennessee 4.8 35
Texas 11.0 24
Utah 16.1 17
Vermont 4.4 37
Virginia 8.9 27
Washington 34.9 9
West Virginia 4.6 36
Wisconsin 12.3 21
Wyoming 0.8 50

Here is the sorted list with the highest usage level on down :

State Annual trips per capita Rank
District of Columbia 639.9 1
New York 201.9 2
Massachusetts 63.5 3
Illinois 52.3 4
Hawaii 52.0 5
New Jersey 44.0 6
California 37.4 7
Pennsylvania 36.1 8
Washington 34.9 9
Oregon 31.7 10
Nevada 26.7 11
Maryland 24.2 12
Colorado 20.8 13
Rhode Island 19.5 14
Minnesota 19.1 15
Georgia 16.1 16
Utah 16.1 17
Arizona 15.1 18
Florida 14.6 19
Connecticut 12.5 20
Wisconsin 12.3 21
Delaware 12.1 22
Missouri 11.3 23
Texas 11.0 24
Michigan 10.0 25
Ohio 9.7 26
Virginia 8.9 27
Louisiana 8.3 28
New Mexico 7.9 29
North Carolina 7.4 30
Iowa 7.4 31
Alaska 6.9 32
Kentucky 6.2 33
Indiana 5.3 34
Tennessee 4.8 35
West Virginia 4.6 36
Vermont 4.4 37
Maine 4.1 38
Nebraska 3.5 39
North Dakota 3.5 40
New Hampshire 2.9 41
Kansas 2.6 42
Montana 2.4 43
South Carolina 2.4 44
Oklahoma 2.0 45
Arkansas 2.0 46
South Dakota 1.8 47
Idaho 1.7 48
Alabama 1.6 49
Wyoming 0.8 50
Mississippi 0.7 51


I don't see any real surprises here.    Its almost a ranking of highly urban states to mostly rural states.
D.C. and NYC have very high usage rates.    Wyoming and South Dakota do not.


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April 18, 2017

Millenials Aren't Abandoning Homeownership


Take a look at this chart from the Census.gov site:



Look at that purple line at the bottom plummet at slightly faster rate than some of the other color lines!!!  Kids these days.    Sorry for the sarcasm, but I think the graphic should illustrate that the homeownership trend for young people isn't really much different than the population in general.   People in the 45-54 and 55-64 age groups dropped at just about the same pace as people under 35.  


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February 28, 2017

Entertainment.com Books for $8.25 After Ebates Cash Back

Entertainment.com has their coupon books for $10 with free shipping.

Ebates is running 17.5% cash back on Entertainment.com.  

So using the Ebates site and buying a book you can get it for $8.25 total after the cash back.

The Entertainment.com site says its a "flash sale" so I don't know how long it will last.


I can't vouch for the quality of the coupon books nowadays and its going to depend on your local market and what you want as far as coupons.    Last time we bought a book we didn't use it but you may get better value out of it.  


Standard Ebates blurb: To get cash back from Ebates you need to be signed up with Ebates.  Then simply go to Ebates to get the referral to the store before you do your shopping.  I also get a referral bonus if you use my links to sign up with Ebates.   

--This article does contain referral links which will hopefully pay this site a big commission for purchases made at the sites.

February 17, 2017

Best of Blogs for Week of February 17th

Every Friday afternoon I share some of the more interesting or notable posts that I have seen in the personal finance blogs and other sources for the past week

DQYDJ tells us the What is the Median Income Per State and Who are the One Percent?

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What Caused Changes in Labor Force Participation 2007-2016


The below information and the graphic are a direct copy/paste off of the Federal Reserve of Atlanta page

The following factors put downward pressure on the labor force participation rate between 2007 and 2016.

Aging of the population: The aging of the population has had a significant effect on the LFP rate. Without the shifting distribution of the population towards older individuals since 2007, the overall labor force participation rate in Q4 2016 would have been 2.1 percentage points higher.
Rising education: Education has become increasingly important in the last couple of decades. Young people are devoting more of their time to schooling instead of the labor market, and older individuals are more likely to return to school to move forward in their careers than in the past. The recession likely amplified these trends as it allowed youth to delay entry into the job market and gave others an opportunity to retool. Rising school attendance explains about 0.9 percentage points of the overall decline between 2007 and 2016.
Health problems: The percent of the population who say they are too sick or disabled to work has been rising for some time, and the rise has been occurring even among young and prime-age individuals. Holding the age distribution of the population fixed at 2007 shares, the increase has contributed 0.6 percentage points to the overall decline in labor force participation.
Shadow labor force: The percent of the population on the margin of the labor force who say they want a job but for some reason are not actively looking for work rose during the recession across all age groups. The contribution of this factor has shrunk over the last couple of years, but still accounts for about 0.4 points of the overall decline between 2007 and 2016.

The following factors put upward pressure on the labor force participation rate between 2007 and 2016:

Retirement: A significant factor that has worked against declining participation is that a larger share of older Americans are staying in the labor force than in the past. All else being equal, if those people older than 60 were just as likely to retire in 2016 as they were in 2007, the labor force participation rate would now be about 0.90 percentage point lower.
Family responsibilities: The share of the population who chose not to participate in the labor market because they were taking care of their family declined during the Great Recession—especially among women. This pushed the labor force participation rate of women about 0.55 percentage points higher than it would have been between 2007 and 2010, but this effect has largely dissipated.





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February 14, 2017

Ebates 14% Promotional Cash back Rate Today


For St. Valentienes day today Ebates has 14% cashback promotion for many stores.

There are 175 merchants on the list with the 14% cashback rate today.

Some notables : 

Sears
Kohl's 
Petco
J. Crew
Dick's Sporting Goods
JCPenney
Rite Aid



Standard Ebates blurb: To get cash back from Ebates you need to be signed up with Ebates.  Then simply go to Ebates to get the referral to the store before you do your shopping.  I also get a referral bonus if you use my links to sign up with Ebates.   

--This article does contain referral links which will hopefully pay this site a big commission for purchases made at the sites.

February 9, 2017

Bank CD Interest Rates vs Inflation

Around eight or so years ago I distinctly remember getting paid 4% interest on our simple savings account with Washington Mutual bank.   That was a promotional deal of some sort if I recall right but I didn't have to do anything special to get it.    Now it seems like that kind of interest rate on savings is something of the distant past.     I think we're getting 0.000001% from our bank right now.   Or more or less close to it.   1 cent a month.    With the interest rates we've got right now your savings are not keeping up with inflation.    But is this the norm?     I remember that 4% interest rate not long ago and that should have been able to keep up with inflation.

I couldn't find good history of interest rates for CDs or savings specifically.   But I did find Federal Reserve H.15 tables for interest rates on 3 month commercial paper.  
I got the inflation figures off the BLS site.

For both I'm representing the annual averages of the interest rate and the inflation rate.

Here's a chart showing the interest rate versus inflation for 1997 to 2016:

(click for full size)

You can see there that the rates paid by banks were quite a bit higher in the not too distant past.

For about the past 10 years we've had interest rates that are pretty low and don't keep up for inflation.   But if you look back to the previous 10 years from 1997 to 2006 the opposite was true for many of those years.  

Overall for the 20 year period the annual interest rate averaged 2.4% and the inflation rate averaged 2.2%.

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January 20, 2017

FREE - 8 Pack Brawny For New TopCashBack members


TopCashBack has a deal right now where you can get a 8 pack of Brawny paper towels at Walmart for $9.97 and then get that $9.97 refunded in cash back.   That nets you a free 8 pack of paper towels.

The deal is only for NEW TopCashBack members.

Follow this link to sign up*

The deal ends tonight.

If you use my link I get a referral, thanks.

--This article contains referral links which pay this site a commission for purchases made at the sites.

January 1, 2017

New Versus Used Automobile Sales 1990-2010

I've never bought a new car myself.   I feel like I'm in a minority in that regard but maybe not.   I was curious what % of car sales are new versus used so I did some research.  I found data in Table 1-17 on the National Transportation Statistics page.   They haven't updated the numbers on that table for a few years so it only goes up to 2010.   But its good enough for my purposes and you can see the general trend is fairly consistent over a couple decades.

Most car sales are used cars.   The total number of used cars sold is two or three times the number of new cars sold.      In 2010 there were 36.8 million used cars sold and 14.5 new cars sold or leased.

The value of used cars and new cars sold is roughly the same.  In 2010 we spent $324B on used cars and $311B on new cars.  

New cars average sales price is around triple the average price of a used car sold.    In 2010 the average new car was $26,850 and the average used car was $8,786.

Here's the info in graphics over the period from 1990 to 2010 :




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