Cord cutting is becoming more and more mainstream as consumers get fed up with the high cost of cable tv and incessant, interruptive advertising.
If you have been looking to cut the cable cord, or if you already have and are looking for some more sources of media, then your local library may have you covered!
Our library began advertising their partnership with Hoopla.Hoopla is an add-on service that your library may offer to you for free. Here is a bit more about Hoopla from their About page:
hoopla digital builds on that passion by providing public libraries of all sizes the ability to offer patrons an enormous selection of digital video (movies and TV shows), music, audiobooks, ebooks and comics to their patrons. For these libraries, we’ve pioneered a unique model that allows patrons to borrow content immediately, removing artificial availability constraints and maximizing the power of digital content and Internet distribution. Technologically, we focus on the latest browser, phone, tablet, and TV products to deliver the best possible experience to our user – our passion – the public library patron.
There are currently over 1,200 libraries in the USA and Canada that have partnered with them.The signup process took less than 2 minutes.
Each library sets its own Hoopla borrowing limit. For me, that means that I can borrow a total of five (5) items per month. I had to dig around the help quite a bit to find out that returning an item early does not increment your borrow quota for the month. So if I borrow five digital items today, I have to wait until the start of the next month before I can borrow anything else. Obviously this kind of stinks, but for the price (FREE) how picky can you be?
There does seem to be wide support for devices. It looks like both TV and chrome cast are both supported via mirroring from a phone or tablet.
Ok, what about the actual content available? It looks like they have Audiobooks, Movies, Music, Comics, Ebooks, and Television.While there are some bigger well known titles in the catalogue, there is also quite a bit of B and C roll material. You might get lucky and find just what you are looking for however to scratch that ear worm.
A thorough review is available here if you want to read more.
The book penned by Steve & Annette ‘Economides’ (oh please) details their overly complex allowance system that they have developed to help raise productive members of society. The book starts off well, talking about the 5/50/500 concept whereby a small child will make a $5 request, a tween will make a $50 request/mistake, a teenager will make a $500 request, a college student will make a $5,000 request, and an adult child will scale up to $50,000 mistakes/requests. The sooner that you teach money handling to children, the less costly the requests and mistakes they make later on in life will be. In their words, kids will take everything that you give them, so it pays to control the purse strings early on in life and not bail them out of smaller goof ups.
The book takes a decided turn for the worse when the authors proudly state that allowances are bad and parents shouldn’t use them, then launches into a multi chapter discussion of their family’s allowance (er point) system.
Each child earns 0-5 points a day for completing expected tasks, like getting out of bed, and at the end of the week, the parents have to tally up the points and use some weird sliding age weighted scale to turn the points into an allowance (oops, they call it a paycheck).
If you have hours of idle time as a parent and are looking to add some complexity to your life, then by all means read up on the MoneySmart Family System.
Tells parents not to bail out kids mistakes
Includes discussion of all age groups from 2-24+
Chapters and chapters of overly complex allowance systems
The really corny made up stage name
The better than thou attitude (they do personal finance consulting for their church and talk about the silly mistakes that people come to them with concerning their children)
It’s mid July and it is HOT. The obvious answer to escape the heat is to head on down to your public library, find a good book, and cross off some check boxes on your summer reading program.
I just finished, and Shae had finished before me, reading Jeff Yeager’s book, The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Road Map to True Riches, A Practical (and Fun) Guide to Enjoying Life More by Spending Less.
The author, Mr Yeager, is a retired CEO of a nonprofit hostel organization. After spending a lifetime of working in the nonprofit space, Yeager understands a thing or two about squeezing every dollar. It follows that his take on personal finance ignores the income side of the equation and focuses purely on expenses.
The book centralizes around the concept of “money steps”. The example given early on is that of the typical teenager who works a job to afford the car that gets them to the job. Yeager argues that the teenager could just stay home sans car and skip earning money (and trading time in the process). If time is money, then surely money is time. We know that we have a finite amount of time on this earth, so why waste it trading it for money?
If you are familiar with Suze Orman then you will understand when I describe Yeager’s philosophies as the anti-Orman. If you are unfamiliar with her, then here is the quick rundown. Ms Orman has penned a number of successful personal finance books that encourage readers to give up small daily expenses, like the morning Starbucks coffee. By doing so, Orman hypothesizes that the savings will snowball and secure an easy retirement. Yeager pokes at this style of personal finance. He pokes hard at it (yes he also uses a lot of old man sexual innuendos in the book). Yeager’s argument in his book, where he calls her out by name several times, is that any small daily savings will simply be spent elsewhere in the day. Even if someone has enough control not to spend that money and put it in a savings account, it’ll likely be raided at the first sign of trouble. Instead, Yeager advocates pinching dollars, not pennies. Each chapter in the Cheapskate book focuses on a major line item in our lives.
Chapter 4, Warning: Money May Be Hazardous to Your Health, examines how many money steps the typical American goes through that end up destroying their health.
Work at job, earn money -> Eat out -> Get fat -> Work at job, earn money -> Get gym membership -> etc. etc.
I had never heard of it before, and maybe it is a Jeff Yeager original, but he details his way of grocery shopping. His one and very simple rule is to not spend more than a $1/pound on anything at the store. While it isn’t an unbreakable rule, the reasoning behind it is simple. The food pyramid and cost pyramid are inversely related. The grains, rice, and other bulk portions of your diet are easy to pick up for less than a dollar a pound. Fruit and veggies are similarly cheap. Red meat is a once in a while food.
As for staying fit, he writes that everybody should do as much as possible for themselves. The yard needs mowed, that’s a great workout. Home improvement list to knock out, that should burn off a few calories. Walking and biking instead of having other people shuttle you around is also beneficial to your health.
Buy a Home, Not a Castle, hits on two major points. GPS homes, a home that requires satellite positioning to navigate, are excessive and ‘starter’ homes are bunk.
Our grandparents didn’t buy a starter home, they bought one house and lived there all their lives. Today, many people climb the home ladder. Buy a starter home > live there for 5 years > buy a bigger home > repeat repeat repeat. Not only is there the financial loss (the first few years of a 30 year mortgage are primarily interest and you don’t build much equity) but there is also the societal problem of people not putting down roots and truly belonging to a community. Why invest the time to get to know your neighbors, volunteer at an organization, or participate in democracy, when you are going to pick up and leave for a bigger and ‘better’ home in a matter of months.
Transportation, Gadgets, Entertainment, and More
These are all topics that have their own chapters. I’d encourage you to pick the book up at your local library and read it yourself. The 230 page book is a quick read (and humorous if you are into old man sex jokes). Most of the points in the book, we had already been applying in our daily lives. I guess it was more of a reaffirmation of our own lifestyle. Yes, cheapskate can be cool and was once the norm!
If I had to recommend just one book about investing, I would recommend The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing. It presents information in a very easy to digest format and the authors cover many different subjects that are relevant to all stages of life, from what to do with that first paycheck, all the way to how to plan an estate.
I was able to skim through the book in a single night, mostly because I am already familiar with the Boglehead approach to investing. Hint, it is the same one advocated by Vanguard.
So if you haven’t jumped into the investment pool yet because of fears or apprehension, then this is the book for you. If you are already swimming in the waters and want a refresher, this is also the book for you.
Deflation, by Chris Farrell, covers a topic that is almost unheard of in present day America, what happens when prices fall? We are so accustomed to inflation, the opposite of deflation, where prices rise over time and a dollar is worth less tomorrow than it is today that we hardly even think about deflation.
In his book, Mr Farrell argues that the next century will be ruled by deflation. He pins the trend reversal on increasing globalization, the spread of capitalism, and the internet. I can attest to the internet’s deflationary power because I experience it first hand with my software business. Not only can I sell to customers around the world, I also have to compete with other companies around the world. Some of those companies reside in 2nd or 3rd world countries with lower costs of living and lower income needs. That means they can drag my prices down. To remain competitive, companies including my own lose pricing power and the customer gains it.
It sounds like deflation is a great thing for John and Jane Doe consumer right? Well, as companies lower prices to remain competitive, they bring in less revenue. Why should I buy a car today when it will be cheaper tomorrow? With less revenue due to slimmer margins and deferred sales, businesses cannot support their payroll expenses. Worker wages are often referred to as “sticky”, meaning that workers are resistant to lowering wages. Who *wants* to have their income cut?! When a business cannot lower wages across the board, they resort to laying off workers. Sure, a carton of eggs in deflationary times might only cost 50¢ but that doesn’t help the unemployed person very much.
The biggest losers in a prolonged deflation are debt holders. The “Buy it now, pay for it later” mentality of inflationary times does not transition well to a deflationary setting. Consider this scenario. John Doe buys a house with a $250,000 30 year mortgage at 4%. At the time he buys the house, he is making the median American income of $50,000. The monthly mortgage payment is around $1200. That would peg his yearly housing costs around 29%, a number that falls into the popular rule of thumb to keep housing costs below 30% of gross income. Fifteen years later amidst constant deflation and his income may have been reduced to $30,000, but his mortgage has not deflated. It now consumes 48% of his gross income. Everything else that John buys costs less due to deflation, but his mortgage payment has not decreased.
A deflationary threat will likely continue to hover over the world. In aggregate, reflationary monetary policies will continue to counteract the disinflationary drag of post-financial crisis global deleveraging. As suggested in Vanguard’s past outlooks, recent consumer price inflation remains near generational lows and, in several major economies, is below the targeted inflation rate.
Key drivers of U.S. consumer inflation generally point to price stability, with core inflation in the 1%–3% range over the next several years. Nascent wage pressures should build in the United States in 2015 and beyond, but low commodity prices and the prospects of a strong U.S. dollar should keep inflation expectations anchored. In Europe, deflation remains a significant risk that will not soon disappear
Some of those words might have stuck out to you, like “targeted inflation rate” and “price stability”. After learning hard lessons over the past century, central banks have agreed that a targeted inflation rate of about 2% is ideal. They try and control that by raising or lowering interest rates (this is what ultimately sets your mortgage rate) and adding or removing money from circulation (liquidity).
I wouldn’t recommend the book Deflation to anyone unless they were die hard monetary fans. The book reads a lot like a term paper or thesis and tends to take its time snaking around various historic examples and anecdotes to make its points. I had to check it out of the library twice and still gave up before finishing it. You can read more about macro economics (what inflation and deflation are categorized under) on this website.