Sunday, April 30, 2006

Thanks, AllFinancialMatters!

Author: Nick
Category: Money

Welcome to you new readers who have found their way here from AllFinancialMatters which named Punny Money as its 32nd Blog of the Week. Thanks, JLP, for such a wonderful honor!

While you’ll find that I have an interesting sense of humor, I do also throw out some useful bits on a variety of financial topics. I hope you’ll stick around, check out the Punny Money archives, and give me a little RSS subscription lovin’.

Friday, April 28, 2006

In Local Finance News, My County Is Broke!

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: , , ,

…Well, it’s not that bad, though as little as I pay attention to news in my own area, it very well could happen and I’d be the last person to hear about it. A few money topics have made recent headlines in Montgomery County, MD, so I thought I’d share with all of you what’s going on in my neck of the woods.

Big Patch of Land Soon to be Big Patch of Anything But

Not even 500 feet from where I work, there is a 182-acre piece of farmland that the county has been trying to annex for a while. It’s one of only a few remaining undeveloped pieces of land in the whole county, but it looks like that’ll be changing soon thanks to a recent vote by the County Council. Plans call for over 2,000 new homes and more than 300,000 square feet of commercial building space to be built on the land. The Council said that 12.5% of the housing must be “low income,” though low-income housing in Montgomery County likely means houses under half a million dollars.

County Adds Diesel-Electric Buses; Buses Powered By Witty Commentary Next

If only that last statement were true, this site alone could run the whole state’s mass transit system! But with the addition of diesel-electic hybrid buses to a fleet that already includes a bunch running on natural gas, Montgomery County is slowly building a more environmentally friendly and fuel efficient public transportation system. Even with only 440 of these GM-built hybrid buses in service so far, the expected fuel savings over conventional buses is 650,000 gallons a year.

Property Tax Cut In Jeopardy

Last month, Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan revealed a budget that provided for a 9.5% property tax cut without affecting funding of county services. This month, the County Council is questioning whether the property tax cut is a smart move in light of a projected budget shortfall in the next six years. The Council says it would rather see a one-time tax credit in place of a permanent cut.

Hey, council members, here’s a free tip for ya: If a good deal of your constituents are living in homes assessing at over $400,000 in a county with a hefty property tax rate, do not question a property tax cut because it’s all that voters will remember at election time.

Speeders Saying Cheese For New Traffic Cameras

We already have tons of red light cameras scattered throughout the county. Now police have the green light to set up radar cameras in school zones and residential areas with speed limits under 35. Drivers caught on these cameras breaking the speed limit by more than 10 miles per hour will receive a citation in the mail. With a low maximum fine of $40 and no points for radar camera violations, it’s not likely that many people will spend the time contesting such tickets. Of course, it also means you could be clocked going 100 in a 25 by one of these devices and all you’ll get it a slap on the wrist–or rather, a pinch in the pocket book.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Gas Prices to Climb In Iran, Could Hit A Whole Dollar!

Author: Nick
Category: Money

While pump prices in the United States have risen over 40 cents a gallon in the last month alone, Iranians are preparing for the impact of having to pay more than 40 cents a gallon total for their gasoline.

Despite being number two in the world for oil reserves, Iran could soon see rising gas prices as its government gets ready to stop subsidizing and start rationing it. The reason for the ration plan, says the Iranian government, is that dirt cheap gas is causing heavy congestion and straining Iran’s limited oil refining capabilities. Iran’s oil refineries already only produce just over half of the country’s gas, and the government is tired of having to rely on importing fuel from other nations.

It’s hard to imagine that a country like Iran has problems being self-sufficient in energy. Then again, at the rate prices are climbing in the U.S., it might soon be cheaper to drive to Iran, fuel up there, and drive all the way back!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

It Pays To… Bank of America?

Author: Nick
Category: Money

Bank of America may be getting ready to join Visa, MasterCard, and other credit card companies by releasing its own brand of card. Already the largest issuer of credit cards in the country with over 40 million of their cards in the hands of Americans, Bank of America stands to make an extra $75 million a year by processing its own credit card transactions instead of paying the fees charged by Visa and MasterCard.

So what does this mean for the average consumer? Nothing but pure awesomeness, of course! Visa by itself has a virtual monopoly on the credit card business, and MasterCard, Discover, and American Express certainly aren’t helping to relieve the stranglehold of transaction fees on card-accepting merchants. If Bank of America enters the fray, it could put enormous pressure on those other companies to lower their fees. Lower fees for merchants could mean lower prices for buyers… or simply higher profits for merchants.

I’m hoping that Bank of America would pass on some of their savings to consumers–and not just in the form of lower APRs. Maybe we’ll see some fresh 0% balance transfer offers or top-notch reward cards from Bank of America to lure us into their web of credit cardy goodness.

Keeping the recent acquisition of MBNA (you know, that bank with the six million different card designs), Bank of America seems to be on a mission to become synonymous with credit cards. That sounds fine by me, and as long as either Bank of America or retailers remember us customers, there will be winners all around. Unless you’re Visa or MasterCard, of course.

Now all Bank of America needs to do is come up with a catchy slogan…

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Really Great Money-Saving Tip: Stop Wearing Underwear

Author: Nick
Category: Money

We’ve all considered it at one point or another in our lives. Maybe you’ve even tried it out for a day when you forgot to do the laundry. Today I hope to show you all how much money you can save by never wearing underwear again.

Let’s start by figuring out how much you’ll spend on underwear in the next ten years. Assume you buy five new pairs of underwear each year, and that each pair costs five dollars. You might think that your total cost of underwear is just $25 per year and your underwear budget for the next ten years will be just $250. That’s a small price to pay to have some cotton wrapped around your special places, right?

WRONG! You’re forgetting the high hidden costs of underwear. Once you tack on the cost of washing your underwear, storing your underwear, going to the store and buying your underwear, money wasted on underwear that doesn’t fit you, and the ever-growing costs associated with underwear theft insurance, we’re talking tons of cash!

But the soaring price of underwear doesn’t stop there! Also consider the amount of time you spend both putting on and taking off underwear, the time it takes you to walk to your underwear drawer each morning, the time you spend coordinating your underwear with the rest of your clothes, and the time it takes you to sort the underwear in your laundry. On average, underwear-associated activities could take up as much as seven months or even two years of your life!

I know, you’re probably thinking that you can’t live without underwear. It’s aerodynamic, it’s always there to support you, it helps protect your special areas from frostbite, and it even comes in delightful shapes and colors. But even with all those fancy designs and advanced cotton technologies, very few people will ever see you in them! So save that underwear money for a nice suit or dress… or maybe even something a little bigger!

Just how much money can you save by going cold turkey on underwear? About $380,000! That’s enough to buy a house, seven speedboats, or 325,000 mylar balloons! But don’t take my word for it; this detailed graph will show you just how much an underwear-free life could mean to your wallet:

underwear costs a lot

So join the growing legion of people worldwide who are “going commando” and say NO to the high cost of underwear!