Monday, June 18, 2007

Ronco goes belly-up! (but wait, theres more!)

That's right.....the company, RONCO has gone bankrupt. That's the company that was started by American Inventor Ron Popeil.

This is the news I heard this morning on the radio...and I suppose it isn't all that earth shattering in the grand scheme of things...but wor, what a surprise to me.

But don't worry.....Ron himself didn't go belly-up. No, he sold the company some number of years ago, he sold the company for $55 million. (he apparently is still owed $12 million from that deal)

Anyways, Ron was the guy who brought us the invention of the 1/2 hour informercial as well as products like the Popiel Pocket Fisherman, GLH (hair paint), the Chop-o-matic (veg-o-matic), etc....

Here are some classic informercials of Ron.

NOTE: This is a duplicate post also made in my JOURNAL.

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Retirement worries of my neighbors (even BEFORE the spoke to me)

I went over a neighbors house to help with a cable modem problem last Saturday and they asked me about my money BLOG.

I told them it was a bit out of date, but I tried to explain what I was trying to write about and why.

They told me they were interested because they were worried about their future, and their retirement savings in particular.

First of all, they were recently told that their pension plan had no been closed and investments capped. Their pie was not going to be growing as promised.....they were told to expect a lot less from their pension when the retire.

They already know about the delayed retirement from Social Security...and these people are about my age. (I'm 48 and I think they are 50)

Our discussion went to other topics....including what sort of work they should suggest their daughter(s) look into....and we all drew a blank there. It's not that things will be that bad, but that it just isn't clear what will be outsourced next!

They work at a hospital, which we thought was always a safe industry....I mean how can you outsource medical care...right?

Check out the articles on Medical Tourism.......and it will not stop there. Right now the insurance companies are using the carrot to get people to do it...but once all the worlds hospitals are certified under the same companies will have cart blanch to sent people all over the world in order to save a buck!

Oh well....I suppose we are told this is progress. I just need to reassure myself:
This is progress....
This is progress....
This is progress....
This is progress....
This is progress....
This is progress....
This is progress....
This is progress....
This is progress....
This is progress....

Ok....much better now......

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Oops...forgot about the travel refund....

Cash flow is kind.....

I have a budget that shows me being ever so slightly in the red every month. But that assumes that some of my costs are distributed evenly across every month.

So by the end of the year, I fully expect to have to take some money out of one investment or another to ultimately balance the books.

But for now, it looks as though my normal and natural cash flow is ever so slightly in the black. But this month things looked a little closer to broken. It basically had to do with some school expenses for the girls this summer. They all hit on last month's bill. (I had a $13,000 monthly bill!)

Well, I moved things around a bit.....defered some of it on a credit card (not to pay it off in time, just to delay it another 20 days or so so that I can get another paycheck in the bank) So generally, everything was in balance.

This at the beginning of the week, I received a couple of medical bills I just did not expect. Not all that large, but definately above the target set on the radar.

I pulled things aside and did a low-level calculation of cash flow over this coming checking account was dipping mighty close to ZERO.

Then on Monday, I received a check from Sun for my travel a month or so ago...and I totally forgot about that $1900 coming back my I deposited it last night and that gave me the breath I needed to go on without worry.

Oh well....I guess I still have things to learn about my own finances!

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Money, life and retirement planning

It has been a while since I have posted even though I have been sort of storing up ideas for posts ever since.

But this weekend I was talking to a friend of mine about retirement and about retirement savings, and it struck me that there are so many different approaches. ( obvious)

They were telling me how lucky their parents were to have invested in a house because it is currently their retirement nest egg.

At this point with the housing market melt-down, I am not sure that investing in a house would be the way to save right now. (it might be good after the market adjustment / collapse though)

We own a house....well, most of it at this point, and we have seen appreciation from the $175,000 we paid for it. (it's probably worth about $310K after all is said and done)

But the major problem is of course that I would still need to live I would be trading rent for a mortgage payment.....but then I guess I would have more in savings.

But I have never considered my house to be a savings vehicle.....I always thought it as gravy on top of it all should I make a profit in the end. I was more of the slow and steady saver.....always trying to put as high a percentage of my pay away every week/month.

I knew enough NOT to put that savings under my mattress, but to try and put it into fairly safe investment vehicles. No...I never really bought individual stocks....I never bought on margin...I never bought short....I basically went into very safe mutual funds and bonds.

As the SBLI ad says: "It ain't glamorous"..... but it works so long as time is on your side.

Buy and hold....that is my life of retirement investing. This means I investigate things in the finance investment arena, I readjust any savings I have into areas I feel comfortable with...and I go to sleep for about a year and do it all again. (with money going into those investments I chose every week from my paycheck)

Boring indeed....but I never really wanted white knuckle adventure from my retirement investments, so it suites me.

As I see the computer industry slowly being absorbed by companies overseas....I think about my future employment. First of all, I see great pay cuts in my future if I have to change fields. I also see possible re-tooling of skills....which might mean education costs too.

My daughters are still in College...with Kristen having 3 more years of her BA degree and Kim one more year. But Kristen will be going on to more school, and I would like to help with that. (and Kim too, if she decides to go on)

Right now I am amazed that our investments are brining just enough in to pay for these least with the continued money I still save from my pay. But if I lost my job, things would go upside down very quickly because I too would need to start taking from the pot.

So the next few years are important to my work life....I have to keep that in my mind and work hard to be the most valuable employee possible. (of course, even that doesn't help some times :-)

The article I reference above is an interesting one as it talks about the five emotional stages we go through as we move into retirement. These steps are described as: Imagination, Anticipation, Liberation, Reorientation, Reconciliation. (with retirement day happening between Anticipation and Liberation)

I would say that I am somewhere between Imagination and Anticipation....even at my young age of 48. I probably should not be thinking so "old", but it really isn't so much a matter of what I want to happen...but what the outside influences of the job market are thrusting upon me.

I'd love to work until I was dead....and I probably will....but I might not be working in a high paid job that will make ends I have to at least have a plan to get the cash flow needed.....and I guess since I would be playing with my retirement money....I tend to think of that as "retirement".

Such is never goes per plan.

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