How Would You Spend $500 On Kids This Holiday Season?

Unbelievably, “Are Credit Cards Weapons Of Mass Financial Destruction?” won CreditCardChaser’s $500 AMEX Love/Hate challenge! There were several great entries from fellow bloggers, and we’re truly honored Joel picked ours.  You may not be able to tell, but hours were spent writing, re-writing, and editing the post.

One of the best comments from the entry comes from Geek, who writes, “Cash-only payers are subsidizing those who use credit cards because product prices are adjusted upwards to account for the fees credit card companies charge retailers.” This is powerful insight which we never really thought about before.  Well done Geek and thanks to others for their support and insight as well.

Peter from Bible Money Matters in his entry points out that as soon as McDonald’s started allowing customers to pay by credit card, the average purchase went from $4.50 to $7, a 55% increase!

Given such great insight from the community, we’d love to know how you’d spend the proceeds for needy children and what would you buy them?  It’s important we don’t buy them what we want or what we think they want, but what they really want and need!

Would You:

Are Credit Cards Weapons Of Mass Financial Destruction?

The answer depends on if your name is Saddam Hussein, although proponents would say no proof was ever found!  You hear so many stories of consumers up to their eyeballs in credit card debt, and I’m just wondering WHY?  Credit card debt is the most expensive debt out there, second only to usurious rates of loan sharks.

Perhaps the reason why is because credit cards are ubiquitous.  According to the US Census Bureau, there were 173 million credit cardholders in the US in 2006, using 1.5 billion credit cards?  That’s right, the ratio is almost 10 credit cards to every one user, with transaction volumes of over $2 trillion a year!  No wonder the US consumer gets in trouble, and why credit cards are such big business!

My view on credit cards is quite simple: Use credit cards only to your advantage, and never let them take advantage of you!  Whenever you see your credit card misbehaving, you should think to yourself “Bad boy!  Bad, BAD!”  I think my wife tells me this sometimes, but I try and tune it out.

Joel is hosting a $500 American Express giveaway, and gosh darnit, I’m entering to give myself a chance to win.  In “You’re Rejected!  How I Use Rejection To Motivate Me Every Single Day,” we discuss how success is a numbers game.  The more you put yourself out there, the higher the chance you have to succeed.  Here’s my attempt to win and use the proceeds to buy toys and clothing for underprivileged children this winter in San Francisco.  The program is called “Toys 4 Tots.”

TWO MISSLES IN MY WALLET

The Katana 12/14: What’s Your ONE Word Definition of Happiness?

katanaProgress comes to mind.  Not the words money, health, success or even family, just the word progress.  You can have a wonderful loving family, but what if you have poor health?  Are you still happy?  The cancer patient who successfully conquers his disease is probably happier than any healthy person will ever be, at least for that moment in time.  That’s progress.

The problem with progress is that it gets harder and harder to move forward with each progression.  If you’re a publisher, take your Alexa ranking for example.  When you first start off, each monthly improvement may be by 1 million.  The next month’s jump slows to 100,000.  Finally, your rate of improvement is only 1,000 until you start losing interest.  Your ranking may not mean much, but it’s fun to track and it will keep you motivated when you first start out.

Another example is work.  The guy in the mail room who gets promoted to the front lines that week is happier than the woman who’s been head of the office for the last 10 years.  For the next 10 years, I’ll take the junior guy’s work happiness over the established woman’s work happiness any day.

So what do we do once we hit a wall? In Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture, he says,

“Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want something badly enough. They are there to keep out the other people.”

I’m determined to scale that damn brick wall and find out what’s on the other side.  Are you?

Keiju,

Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”

Follow me on Twitter @FinancialSamura and subscribe to our RSS feed.

Federal Government Employees Raking It In

Want to get happy?  Here’s a lovely article highlighting that over the past 18 months, the percentage of Federal Government employees making over $100,000 jumped from 14% to 19%!

An even more astonishing fact is that 1,690 employees at the Department of Transportation now make over $170,000 vs. only one before the recession started.

My grand plan now is to build my retirement nut in the private sector for 20 years, and then live it up with a fat salary and pension from the public sector for the next 20 years!

I’m going to the local library today to learn all I can about being a great DOT employee.  I will be the best planner, analyst, treasurer, whatever there is, so I too can make $170,000 too.

Anybody else dreaming about joining the Federal Government to take advantage of all the benefits?  After reading Jane White’s “Welcome To The Poorhouse” book, I was doubtful about my chances of making $174,000 in government because I’d have to be elected as a Congressman or Senator.  Now I’m ecstatic to discover there are 10,000+ Federal Government positions which pay just as well!

As a government official, I promise to support tax hikes for all income classes no matter how horrible the economy is.  After all, tax hikes are important to keep our guaranteed annual pay increases going.

Remember, only the government is allowed to persecute others and tell them how to spend their money.  As long as they focus the public’s attention on Wall St., maybe nobody will notice their ways.  “We’ll spend your money however way we damn feel like it!”  Go USA!

Readers, which public sector job do you dream of having?  Why would anybody ever want to join the private sector given all the insecurity, volatility, and pay differential?

Related Post:“Fortunes, Fortunes, Everywhere”

Keiju,

Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”

Follow me on Twitter @FinancialSamura and subscribe to our RSS feed.

Someone Has To Give Birth! Why Women Shouldn’t Be Penalized For Being A Mom

Swans And Their BabiesI was at a cocktail party the other night, and after several stiff vodka tonics, a female manager-level friend, “Julia”, began complaining about one of her staff.

She came up to me and said, “Sam, what am i going to do?  Nancy keeps getting pregnant!  She’s having her third child in the past 5 years, and now I’ve got to find cover for her again!” After Julia’s rant, she twirled her way to a slick looking fella at the bar and began chatting him up.

Initially I tried empathizing with Julia, given I do remember the feeling of having to cover for someone when they’re “sick“. But Nancy’s case is different.  After all, someone has to give birth, and after seeing one too many sex ed video’s from the 9th grade with images of globulous placentas seared in my mind, i’m glad it’s not me!  The Europeans would argue a 3 month maternity leave is not long enough given they practice a 6 month healing process.

Julia’s complaint brings us to the great debate:

Is it fair or even true that women are discriminated against and make less money than men on average?