Illinois couple are among the frugal folks who make a point of helping others.
Like many frugal families, Suja Thomas and Scott Bahr don’t have cable TV. They don’t eat at expensive restaurants, and they drive old cars, one of which they’ve decided they no longer need. They didn’t buy each other Christmas presents.
Both make a good living, but they have decided to live frugally so they can donate substantial amounts to charity. Last year Suja, 43, who is a law professor at the University of Illinois, and Scott, 41, who is a controls programmer there, donated $50,000.
This situation is likely not sustainable. Time to begin gradually cutting them off.
A few years ago, an old friend of mine bought a fantastically expensive home, far larger and with higher quality furnishings than the home I live in now.
I went to college with him and noted that after college, he worked at a minimum-wage job for a year and then earned a solid salary for only a little more than a year when he made this purchase.
“How could he afford it?” I wondered. So I asked him about it. He just grinned and said that he had a big bankroll.
AmEx tries to convince us that not being able to borrow money is a feature.
Investing was actually my second career. For the six years between college and B-school I wrote software. Back then, we Dilberts had a phrase we used to parody the marketing types who sold what we made. "It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!" In other words, that obvious flaw in the software is not, in fact, a mistake that makes it less useful, it is a brilliant design decision that actually makes it better and worth more to you, the customer.
- Bing: Worst credit cards
I also, at this time, had an American Express card, paying, I think, $50 or $75 a year for the privilege. I honestly forget why. I think I got it while still in college under some kind of special deal. And there was this store I frequented that in those days only took AmEx. Anyway, by the time I was 25 I came to my senses and canceled the thing. They sent me a nice letter saying that if I ever came back I could still have a card that said "Member Since 1986."
So I’ve got that going for me.
I was reminded of both these things from my past by a brilliant new marketing campaign from American Express.
Many of these 36 ideas will work in a pinch. You likely have many of these materials in your home.
Trying to maintain eco boundaries in the middle of winter holiday chaos? It can be tough, particularly with all of those ribbons and bows tempting us at every turn. If your tastes lean more toward silk and satin than burlap and tin foil, here are 36 green gift-wrapping ideas to get you started.
Some use less plastic. Others recycle materials that might otherwise go to waste, or include something that can be reused time and again. The overall theme is that they all take planetary impact into consideration in some way. Feel free to contribute your additional thoughts and ideas below so we are armed with strategies that will let us celebrate with style.
Here are some ideas for presents that will save the recipients money.
British clergyman's advice to the destitute ignites a firestorm.
The Poverty News Blog called this “news of the weird”: With a “heavy heart,” a British pastor said it’s OK to shoplift from big chain stores -- but only if you have no other choice. It’s a “least worst option,” preferable to robbery or prostitution, he said.
- Bing: Most shoplifted items
The hometown Press in York reported on what Father Tim Jones told parishioners:
"I do not offer such advice because I think that stealing is a good thing, or because I think it is harmless, for it is neither. I would ask that they do not steal from small, family businesses, but from large national businesses, knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices. I would ask them not to take any more than they need, for any longer than they need."
His advice wasn’t well-received in many circles. The Press called what ensued a “furious controversy.”
Think young people know technology? They're not learning what they need for the jobs of the future.
We have this perception that today’s young people are all great with technology. But just try to find a young relative who can set up your wireless network. In my family, the people over 50 provide all the tech support.
The fact that most young people don’t learn any but the most basic computer skills in school is a problem, The New York Times reports.
The U.S. economy needs more nerds.
Spending conservatively during the holidays is a good idea, except when it comes to your flexible spending account.
Consumers with a flexible spending account, or FSA, may have just days left to use funds in these pretax accounts -- or lose them for good.
These accounts let you put aside pretax dollars for payment of out-of-pocket medical expenses. But the funds don't usually carry over year to year, so come Dec. 31, you could forfeit any unspent funds. (You may have as late as March 31, 2010, to submit expenses for reimbursement, depending on the plan.)
"Having $200 to $300 left at this point is not uncommon," says Tom Billet, a senior benefits consultant at Watson Wyatt, an employee-benefits consulting firm. "Then, panic sets in."
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