Sunday, July 27, 2008

Asian Restaurant

Kobe Japanese Steakhouse/Little China is so much better than P. F. Chang's China Bistro. That's all...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

If Social Security was Privatized

In 2007, I paid a total of about $2,500 in Social Security taxes. That equates to $208.33 per month.

If I were able to invest this money alone in the stock market for 41 one years (which would make me 65 years old) and earn a conservative average return of 9%, I would have $1.1 million at retirement. (This is an average growth of 9% over 41 years and not necessarily 9% per year. There is a difference). This total includes the expense ratio of 0.22% that I am currently paying on the Vanguard mutual funds in which I am currently invested. (In simple terms, a mutual fund is essentially a stock portfolio). If I lived on just 8% of this per year, that would equate to an $88,000 salary at retirement. If the investments averaged a liberal 12% return, I'd retire with $2.5 million. When I die, whether or not it is during retirement, I can give the money I've invested away as an inheritance. 

If I were drawing money from Social Security today, I would receive a maximum of $7,651.53 as a single person or $11,476.00 as a couple if I were married in 2008. Even if these Social Security payouts were increased to account for the automatic cost of living increases for the next 41 years, it still wouldn't match the potential earnings that personally investing that money would create. When I die, whether it is before or during retirement, the money I've put into the system is gone. Shoot, Social Security probably won't be here in 15 years, let alone 41....

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Lots of donations for a bad economy

The candidates who are complaining the most about the state of the economy, where 95% of the people have jobs and which is not technically in a recession by the way, raised $70 million in the past two months. People are losing their homes, struggling to pay for healthcare, losing their jobs to people in India and China, slaving away working for Wal-Mart's wages, dealing with high gas prices, and don't have anything in retirement, but yet they have enough money to give away to a politician. (Much of this money is coming from individual donors).

Oh well. Bad decisions are the reasons why we get in credit card debt, foreclosure and repossession situations anyway...but many of us don't blame ourselves...those people blame the lenders and the politicians, which only creates a bigger problem for them....

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The roads aren't that bad...

So, all of the presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle are talking about our “failing infrastructure.” This is especially the case after the Minneapolis bridge collapse, which has now, at least partially, been blamed on a design flaw. To what extent is this true? Every time I travel, it is usually on the road, and given the amount of construction delays I have to deal with, I’d argue that the problem is not as bad as the politicians are making it out to be.

Let’s look at the construction in Orlando:

-The south portion of 429 was recently completed, creating a western bypass around Orlando and an alternative to I-4. Plans are being made to extend it to I-4 in Seminole County.

-The 408 east of downtown is being widened to 8-10 lanes.

-Maitland Boulevard is being extended and will become a toll road to alleviate traffic on US 441.

-It looks like the Turnpike-owned portion of the 528 is being widened to 6 lanes.

-The trainwreck known as the 408/I-4 interchange is being totally rebuilt. Because of the recent opening of one of the ramps, it now takes 3 minutes to go through the Westbound 408 to Eastbound I-4 interchange in the morning rather than 20 minutes.

-Talks are being made to add two lanes to each side of I-4 from Kirkman Rd. to SR 434, with the road already being 8 lanes across already.


Furthermore:


-After the construction in Flagler and Brevard counties are complete, I-95 will be at least 6 lanes across throughout the entire state of Florida.


-I-95 in Jacksonville is a disaster because of whatever that is they are doing up there.


-Georgia: They’re always doing something on those roads.


-I drove on I-20 in Louisiana for the first time in 4-5 years, and it was actually a smooth drive.


Yes, this isn’t an exhaustive list of every construction project going on in the country, but given all of this construction traffic I have to deal with each time I travel in this corner of the country, I find it hard to believe that the rest of the country is falling apart.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Interest-based Tax Deduction Myth

I am so close to ditching Suze Orman completely and listening solely to Dave Ramsey for financial advice. I have been a Suze Orman fan for about two and a half years or so, but ever since discovering Dave Ramsey on the Fox Business Network in November 2007, I have not enjoyed Suze Orman’s show as much as I did in the past.

On the most recent episode of the Suze Orman Show, a mother called in about her son who just graduated from college with about $85,000 of student loan debt. The lady noted that her son had about $85,000 in stock options and a $120,000 trust from his grandfather. The lady asked if her son should sell the stock and dip into the trust to pay off the loan. Instead of the obvious “yes” that Dave Ramsey would have given, Suze started talking about interest rates and the son’s income. She said given the income and the son’s eligibility for the student loan tax deduction (which means he would save on taxes), he should maybe pay off the student loan that was at 8.25% and make payments on the one that was at 6.125%.

Staying in debt to get a tax deduction is stupid. Let’s do the math.

Suppose I have a student loan whose total interest this year will be $1,000. I have the funds to pay it off completely. But, in order to get the tax deduction, I decide to spend that money elsewhere and make the payments on the student loan.

The upper portion of my income is taxed at 25%. So, if I take that $1,000 off my income, I would save $250 on my tax bill. So, I’ll pay my bank $1,000 in interest in one year so I don’t have to send the IRS $250. Or, I could just pay the debt off in full and pay the $250 in taxes, which will leave me with $750 in my pocket. Even if the deduction put me in the 15% bracket, I would be sending the bank $1,000 so that I would not have to send the government $150.

If you’re paying $10,000 a year in mortgage interest….

So, whether it is a student loan interest or mortgage interest, don’t stretch out loans for the tax deductions, because they don’t make since. If you are that adamant about sending the least amount of money possible to Uncle Sam, give it to a charity.

So, after hearing advice like that from Dave Ramsey, I will be paying my loans off as soon as possible!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Chelsea is not the pimp...

"Doesn't it seem as if Chelsea [Clinton] is sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?"
-David Shuster, MSNBC
(yes, NBC has a cable news channel)


So, David Shuster, a reporter at MSNBC, got suspended for suggesting that Chelsea Clinton, the 27 year old daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton, was being "pimped out" to make contact with and lobby with the Democrat super delegates. Hillary took that as being extremely disrespectful to her otherwise well-respected and innocent daughter. Now, she is threatening to pull out of future MSNBC debates. However, the joke is on the Clintons. Shuster wasn't calling Chelsea a whore, as some women that are really "pimped out" are forced into prostitution (you know, that whole sex slave thing). Shuster was actually accusing the Clintons of being the pimps...so why all the fuss over offending the child (that is 27 by the way)?...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

What Recession?

Recession: An extended decline in general business activity, typically two consecutive quarters of falling real gross national product. (www.dictionary.com)

We are not in a recession.