Personal Finance 

Seven Money Lies from Monopoly

MonopolyWhen it comes to games, Monopoly is probably one of the most iconic. While I haven’t played a game of Monopoly in years (the last time was on a cruise to Bermuda many years ago), the game and its rules are still fresh in my mind. Nowadays all the board games we play are slightly more complicated than Monopoly (games like Settlers of Catan or Dominion) but Monopoly still holds a special place in my heart.

If, however, you were to look back at the game itself and compare it to real life, you’d find a lot of differences. Some of the differences are inconsequential, like the prices for properties ($400? $120?) because they reflect both and earlier time and a need to improve playability (no sense having people count out $50,000 in $500 increments, a bill that itself doesn’t exist anymore). Others are more subtle and, if a child were to use Monopoly as a proxy for the real world, really misrepresent the world. They, in short, lie.

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Condo For Sale: Playboy Mansion

Playboy Mansion East - Chicago, ILYou read the title right… you can buy a condo in the Playboy Mansion if you have a cool $2.9 million sitting around in a bank account (or you can get a mortgage loan for that amount). Unfortunately, it’s probably not the Playboy Mansion you’re thinking about, the one located in Los Angeles, CA. The condo for sale is located at the original Playboy Mansion, located at 1340 North State Parkway, Chicago, IL 60611, unit #1S.

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Hottest New Money Maker: The Plunder Funnel

What happens when you take a pyramid and turn it upside down? That’s right… you have a funnel. A plunder funnel. If you’ve been wondering how to turn and and every human relationship you have into cold hard cash, then you need to request this special package teaching you how to make your very own plunder funnel.

It’s pretty amazing, I hope to earn my $700,329 a month (I hear the limit is infinity but I don’t want to seem greedy) and I definitely know two people.

Pssst… it’s a parody.

Brought to you by the fine folks at the Consumerist.

 Personal Finance 

Thousands of “Insider” Tips from Reddit

If you have a few (dozen) hours to kill and want to learn some pretty insightful things, I have to recommend this fantastic thread on Reddit where users share all sorts of tips. There is a heavy dose of tips on how to buy electronics (warranties and how to abuse them), how to buy cars, fast food warnings (don’t get the Filet o’ Fish and always ask for unsalted or “well-done” fries to get a fresh batch), and a couple gems I’d put in the “money category.”

I spent about a good hour reading through the first few pages but now my brain is way too full of knowledge… here were a few money gems.
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 Personal Finance 

True Story About Disposable Income

From time to time people email me all sorts of things from news stories to questions to funny pictures to something they heard on the street (you can reach me via email, Twitter, or bargainr on AIM, I love interacting with you all on a personal basis). This morning, a friend of mine sent me a story that I thought he read off the internet. Except he didn’t, it actually happened. At first I didn’t believe him and if I didn’t know him in real life, I probably wouldn’t have posted it… you’ll see what I mean:

A manager in my group, Jim, is on the board of his local swim team. The board wanted to raise all the coaches salaries by 5% this year. Jim replied back and said, “I’m not sure if this is a good year to raise salaries. We don’t know if there will be drop off in attendance this year or if the monies made from the snack bar will be as high as in the past. I fear that people won’t have the disposable income this year.”

To which a woman responded….”Why would people be throwing out their money this year?”


(Photo: nsharper)


I Can’t Solve A Rubik’s Cube

Rubiks Cubes, Balls, etc.When I was younger, I remember fiddling around with Rubik’s Cubes and was reminded of that when Jason Kottke blogged about speedcubing with the Fridrich Method. I could never solve the Rubik’s Cube and my friends who knew one of the algorithms, of which there are more than fifty, used to brag about how they could solve it in such and such a time.

Well, none of them came close to the world record holder. Yu Makajima can solve a Rubik’s cube in 8.72 seconds when he has two hands:

The dude can solve it in 14.56 seconds when he has to do it one-handed:

The most amazing part is that there’s no rushing, no sense of panic as time elapses, just calm and collected twisting of the edges.

(Photo: farnea)


Why Jewelry Makes A Wonderful Gift (Not!)

Meg Marco of The Consumerist posted this hilarious clip from Current TV where Sarah Haskins makes mockery of jewelry, jewelry advertising, and the whole concept of shiny carbon and pretty rocks in a wrapped 3 minute, 31 second robin’s eggshell blue box. Just some background, the clip is part of a recurring feature called Target Women on a show called infoMania. Target Women makes fun of something that media or marketing targets towards women. All this is hosted on Current TV, which bills itself as “the world’s leading peer-to-peer news and information network” and it has a ton of great content on it (like great smart content, not just videos of monkeys smelling their fingers and falling off trees).

I need to find myself a woolly mammoth (and a HUGE red bow) because I’m tired of jewelry face. Haha, wonderful video. (This one about Lessons for 2008 is great too)

Want to get hooked on Current? This is what got me hooked. Check out this video where Kaj Larsen and Christof Putzel go to a gun market in Mogadishu, Somalia in search of AK-47s. Yes, you read that all correctly… a gun market… in Mogadishu (site of the Black Hawk Down incident)… to buy an AK-47. If all that wasn’t insane enough, they brought a video camera. Actually, that’s not a bad idea… I should buy an AK-47 for my wife for Christmas!

 Personal Finance 

The Mythical Thin Wallet

A Costanza Wallet (with Rubber Band!)As a New Yorker and a product of television in the 90’s, I got a heavy dose of Seinfeld. If you watched any television in the 90’s, chances are you saw a fair amount of it too. Whether you were a fan or not, one of the show’s many topics leeched out of TV land and into normal society – the Costanza wallet. For those who don’t know what it was, it was the receipt-packed wallet that was so full, George Costanza had to even it out by sticking napkins in his other back pocket. If I didn’t clean out my wallet every once and a while, it would certainly grow to a size that rivaled Costanza’s. (by the way, if you need a rubber band to hold your wallet together, you have way too much stuff)

That being said, the holy grail of wallets now is that of a thin wallet. A wallet that doesn’t burst at the seams and carries only that which you absolutely need on a daily basis. Let’s be honest, you don’t really need to carry all those cards, receipts, and a fat stack of cash every day. Why not invest in a thin wallet?

Why You Need A Thinner Waller

By carrying less, you force yourself to plan. Thinking about going to lunch this Friday at your favorite restaurant? Better plan for it by putting that frequent diner card in your wallet. Need to buy a shower curtain at Bed Bath & Beyond? Snatch up one of those 20% off coupons. By thinking about what you’re carrying, you’re forcing yourself to plan your spending. By forcing yourself to plan, you reduce the number of impulse decisions. By not carrying everything, you give yourself an excuse to avoid making those impulse decisions. In the end, you save a little bit of money in the process.

Thin wallets might help your back. I’ve never had a wallet that was as wide as Costanza’s so I can’t claim that carrying a thin wallet will help it, but it’s certainly more comfortable. There are times when I feel like I’m sitting on a small book, so I take it out and stick it in my jacket. A thinner wallet really is more comfortable to sit on.

Thin wallets can fit in your front pocket, making them more secure. When we went to England, I pulled a lot of non-essentials out of my wallet. There’s no reason to bring extra credit cards (I brought the Capital One card I deemed the best international credit card and an American Express) or any of those frequent dining cards either. With a thinner wallet, I could easily put it in the front pocket of my jeans, a harder pocket to pick.

How To Slim Down Your Wallet

Have I convinced you? If so, here are some tips on how to slim down your overweight wallet:

  • Get a smaller wallet: This seems obvious but it’s often not the first thing people think of. The less space you have, the less stuff you can carry. You can always jam pack the billfold area with receipts but with fewer pockets, you carry fewer cards. Your former fat wallet may not take kindly to being thinner, much like rapid weight loss leaves a little extra, your wallet may have become irreparably stretched to the point that fewer cards means the ones that are left slip out.
  • Clean it out regularly, like every day: Whenever you get home, open your wallet and clean it out. By keeping it clean, you ensure it will have a nice long thin life. Once you get into a habit you won’t consider it a chore (it can’t take more than a few seconds).
  • Carry less cash: Carrying a lot of cash might make you feel powerful (it’s a proven psychological fact) but it’s riskier. If you lose cash, there’s no recourse. Credit cards offer protection (and cash back). They also take up less space.
  • Carry only those credit cards you need: You don’t need more than a couple credit cards, the rest is just a waste of space. This is where you need to decide if you prefer the maximum cash back, or a thinner wallet. This is also where you can do a little extra planning too.
  • Skip photos: I’m sentimental and keep a photo of my wife and I when we were “my girlfriend and I.” I still have it but you might consider removing the photos you have, how often do you look at them? This may be risky to admit, but I don’t look at it all that often.
  • Recycle receipts: If you reconcile your receipts, you should put them in a pile next to your computer and not leave them in your wallet.
  • Get keychain reward cards: A few years ago, stores began to put your reward or loyalty card’s barcode onto little tabs you can attach to your keychain. Use those instead of the card itself and save some extra room in your wallet.

The mythical thin wallet has many strong suits and very few weak ones, give it a try for a week and see how much better your back feels! 🙂

(Photo: shareski)

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