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Value Size

I miss dessert.  I miss brownies, cheesecake and ice cream.  It’s been a while since I’ve indulged in any of these in a restaurant, not because I’ve been on some crazy, anti-deliciousness diet, but because it is simply impossible to stuff any more food down my throat following one of the enormous meals that are being served in restaurants nowadays. 

I am full.  After reading this article over at divine caroline I discovered why.  Liz Monte took a look at the portion increases (in calories) of several foods over the past 20 years:

  • Two Slices of Pizza – 70% Increase
  • Cup of Coffee – 633% Increase
  • Movie Popcorn – 133% Increase
  • Bagels – 150% Increase
  • Cheeseburgers – 77% Increase

Along with their sizes, restaurant meal prices have also shot up.  From 1987 to 2007 the cost of a McDonald’s hamburger went from $.62 to $.89, a 44% increase.  

These changes have been hard on both American’s waistlines and their pocketbooks; not to mention our pensions for desserts.  The so-called value meal touts more bang for your buck, but only if you shell out a little more buck.  Who asked for more bang?  Maybe the bang-to-buck ratio was just fine.

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Article publié pour la première fois le 02/09/2010

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This Christmas, Drop Some Love

Help give a Love Drop this season!
This Christmas the team’s coming together for Diomi and her son Nallee, who are going into the cold Milwaukee winter with very little food, clothes, and other necessities. Diomi has been through so much, including the loss of her father, the loss of her job, and clinical depression. But even through the pain you can see all the love she has for Nallee, who has one of the most beautiful personalities you’ll find. 🙂

We want to make this month special for them! We’re working with their pastor to help get things they really need, including school uniforms for Nallee, interview clothes for Diomi as she looks for a job, and food to help them through the winter months.

If you can find it in your hearts to give one extra gift this year, whether it be money or a helpful item they can use, please send it in – our goal is to reach $3,000 worth of necessities.

Want to join us in helping Diomi and Nallee? Here are 3 ways:

  1. Give $1.00 – This money will be put towards basic necessities and care. Maybe even a Christmas present or two (They’re currently spending it alone, w/out anything at all).
  2. Give a gift card – Gift cards are extremely helpful, especially to places that are national.
  3. Donate personal products -These two need anything you can thing of in the personal product department: bathroom/kitchen/bedroom stuff, etc.

Thanks guys! You can reach the Love Drop team anytime over at: team (at) love drop (dot) us, or by checking them out at LoveDrop.us. Thanks everyone! We’ll let you know how it goes!

Article publié pour la première fois le 01/12/2011

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The Best of Money Carnival

The Best of Money Carnival is up at Free Money Finance.  This is a great carnival with some amazing posts.  I’m proud to be featured at #1 with Walmart vs. Super Market vs. Commissary.


Article publié pour la première fois le 21/06/2010

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A Lottery Retirement?

Let’s play a little make-believe, shall we?

 

I just won the lotto!  Holy cow!  I’m jumping up and down!

I’m just so excited, but, you know, I’m not overwhelmed at all.  I have a plan. 

 

My I-Just-Won-The-Lottery Plan:

1. Take the cash option.  This article does a pretty good job of explaining why, but that’s not important.  I’m not really ever going to win the lotto, I’ve accepted that (and you should too).

2. Split the winnings equally with family.  They’ll have to come accept it with me so that we can avoid double taxation. 

3. Immediately give at least 10% to charity and encourage the others to do the same.

4. Buy that Kitchenaid Mixer attachment I’ve had my eye on and a new tool and/or hat for Husband.

5. Find appropriate investments for the remaining money (ABSOLUTELY find a good Certified Financial Planner).

6. Continue with life as usual (albeit a bit more financially secure), we are much too young to not work.

What do you think?  What would you do differently?  How does your plan look?  That’s right, I know you have a plan.  I’m not stalking you or anything creepy, I just know that everyone has one. 

I’ve surprised a few people by buying a lottery ticket every now and then.  If it’s the 13th (my lucky day), I actually have $1 in cash (very rare) and I remember that the lottery exists (if there is a billboard to remind me), I’ll go ahead and take the plunge.

Frankly, sometimes I get more entertainment out of that $1 than going to the movies for $8+.  The lottery should be viewed as just that: entertainment.  Right?

 

Well, prepare to be disturbed. 

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Article publié pour la première fois le 29/09/2010

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30 Day Shredding

The following is a documentation of pain, suffering, and a woman doing a ridiculous amount of jumping jacks, also known as The 30 Day Shred DVD by Jillian Michaels.  But seriously, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: DVD’s are a great way to workout on a budget.  If you don’t have the cash for a gym membership, try taking 10 bucks to Wal-Mart and seeing what you can find. 


  


Day 1 – Starting on Level 2 because I like to overestimate how fit I am.  This DVD is only 20 minutes and I was sweating by minute 10.  My arms are shaking as I’m typing even though my improvised weights were 1lb bottles of shampoo and conditioner.  I’m going to PUMP you up.


Day 2 – I’m a little sore from yesterday, so that’s why I think I did worse today.  Jillian isn’t sweating because she doesn’t do any of the moves.  I don’t even want a six pack like hers.  Jillian has no friends.


Day 3 – My calves really really hurt.  I look like an absolute idiot when I do, anything, but especially the jumpy-twisters.  At least I was able to keep on moving the whole time today. 


Day 4 – The 20 minutes aren’t getting any shorter.  I finally got up the nerve to try the non-modified moves.  Thank God no one is here to watch me; except for God, and I think he’s entertained.


Day 5 – Alright, I confess, I skipped on the weekend.  Don’t worry, I’ll do my full 30.  My shampoo weight is getting lighter than the conditioner.  I hope I don’t turn out lopsided.  The workout is getting easier and I do notice that my posture is getting better.


Day 6 – Today I found the first legitimate thing I don’t like about this DVD: you can’t fast forward Jillian’s non-motivational intro.  This was a major pain when my computer shut down for automatic updates in the middle of my workout.  In good news, I’m definitely noticing that I’m more toned in my thighs and stomach.


Day 7 – As with any workout video, I’m so tired of hearing the same commentary over and over.  Today I turned down the volume and put some music on in the background; made a huge difference in how fast the workout went.  I also had a big ‘ah ha!’ moment when I realized the workout is actually 30 minutes (5 warm-up, 5 cool-down)!  I’m so smart.


Day 8 – Blah.  Today went fine.  Still a little sore in my arms, still dripping with sweat by the time I’m finished.  Just blah.  Only 7 more days until I bump it up to level 3; any change is welcome (though I know I’ll regret saying that).


Day 9 – Today is Friday and I only got halfway through the DVD.  I’m pooped, just pooped I tell you.  You wanna know something else?  I’m not doing the video this weekend either!  HA!


Day 10I’m getting a little burnt out on this workout, but that tends to be my feeling toward any workout video.  That’s not to say that I’m not getting any results, because I have been pleased with how I’m feeling/looking.  I would just recommend alternating this DVD with a different workout, or finding a workout buddy who is really good at guilt trips.


Day 11 My arms are so strong.  I can now lift my shampoo/conditioner weights the entire time without crying. 


Day 12 No new developments today, so I will share a workout story: The only time I have ever been consistent enough at lifting weights to build muscle, I got confused about the exercise and built the wrong muscle.  It takes some time to get rid of Popeye forearms, just FYI.  The end.


Day 13 I had to take it easy on the knee-involved exercises today but was dripping with sweat by the end, as usual.  I’m not a sissy, you’re a sissy.


Day 14 Yes, I took a 4 day weekend.  BUT, it was to prepare for today: my first day of Level 3, and I must say it wasn’t as painful as I expected.  My favorite part of today: NO MORE LEVEL 2!!!


Day 15 Today I am sore in brand new places.  The cardio on Level 3 is about the same as Level 2, but the arm work is much harder.  I never could have just jumped straight to Level 3 with my spaghetti arms.


Day 16 I just realized it really doesn’t matter if I do the video or not, how are you gonna know?  It took me 16 days to figure this out.  Whatever, I did it today anyways.  I don’t care if you believe me.


Day 17 – Took one extra day off to drive up to Colorado for a family visit.  You wanna give me a hard time about it?  Try working out at altitude, I needed the rest.  


Day 18  A few hours after completing Day 18, I got the flu and took the rest of the week off.  This is rapidly turning into the 60 Day Shred.


Day 19 – Back on track, back to my arms hurting, back to Jillian smugly telling me that I want a six pack.  I really really can’t wait to just go for a run.  


Day 20  I had heard that Jillian doesn’t want to have kids because it would “ruin her body.”  You know what?  It’s true.  Take from that what you will.


Day 21  Maybe I’m just reaching a mental break, but I’m beginning to feel that Level 3 goes by faster than Level 2. 


Day 22  I am absolutely stronger, but my energy has not been as high as working out usually gets it.  I wonder if it’s because I haven’t done very much lifting before.  I’m pooped. 


Day 23– I think I saw a little six pack this morning.  A very very little six pack, but woo hoo!


Day 24 – The 30 Day Shred is even harder after a sleepless night of camping.  Though, it is a comfort to know I could have fought off any bears that may have bothered us; or at least done more sit-ups than them. 


Day 25 – Now I know why I haven’t done this workout on a weekend up until this point: it’s stupid.  Worth it, however, now only 5 days left.  Ending on a Friday will be glorious.  Maybe I will make Husband throw me a party. 


Day 26 – Tomorrow I’m challenging Husband to the Shred.  Let’s see who wins…


Day 27 – Husband is a chicken and I am almost done.  Thank goodness.


Day 28 – 28 days later and I am still dripping sweat.  I blame Oklahoma. 


Day 29 – Only ONE MORE DAY.  I’m so tired of this.


Day 30 – Chant this rhythmically: done, done, done, done, done, done done.


 


 

Article publié pour la première fois le 23/06/2010

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Given the continuous dressing down payday lenders receive in the mainstream press, you’d be forgiven for thinking the short-term loan sector would attract more complaints than any other financial service; perhaps surprisingly, that assumption couldn’t be much further from the truth.

First things first: a disclaimer. This is not a post written in praise of the payday lenders. Instead, it is a factual piece based on the latest industry statistics published in the Financial Ombudsman’s annual review.

The 2013/14 annual review itself is over 170 pages long, so I’ll spare you some of the more superfluous details and direct you to a snapshot of the key facts and figures which can be found here.

Is there a payday loan witch hunt?

Much of the coverage focusing on the complaints made about payday lenders, as you can see from this article, was completely devoid of any context. If we take a look at payment protection insurance mis-selling, you will see that the Financial Ombudsman received a staggering 399,939 complaints about the practice in the past year alone. That’s more than 1,000 complaints every day. Compare that to the number of complaints the ombudsman received about payday lenders over the course of the year, just 794, and you soon see why the context is so important.

Payday loan complaints in context

Further examination of the Financial Ombudsman’s annual review, which spans 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014, provides plenty of additional insight:

  • Payment protection insurance attracted 78 percent of the total complaints received by the ombudsman over the course of the year.
  • Payday loans did not appear in the 20 most complained about financial products
  • Credit cards, mortgages, hire purchase agreements, point of sale loans, personal pension plans, buildings insurance and mortgage endowments are just a few of the financial products that attracted more complaints than payday loans.

Of course, even a single complaint is one too many, but for some media sources to run sensationalist headlines with no context whatsoever is at worse behaviour indicative of an agenda, and at best, it’s simply poor journalism.

Are payday lenders cleaning up their act?

In the face of strict new guidelines introduced by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), payday lenders have been left with little choice other than to clean up their act, or exit the industry. Since replacing the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) as industry regulator in April 2014, the FCA has introduced a number of tough new rules which are starting to take effect.

On 1 July this year, limits were placed on the number of times short-term lenders can roll over loans; a practice which is one of the primary causes of spiralling debt levels. There have also been restrictions placed on continuous payment authority (CPA). The new rules mean lenders are only permitted to access customers’ accounts on two occasions to claw back outstanding repayments. After that point, they can only reclaim loan repayments by contacting the customer directly.

Why are there so few payday loan complaints?

Despite the constant lambasting in the mainstream press, the payday loans sector has attracted precious few complaints; but why could that be? Perhaps the majority of the two million plus individuals who use the service provided by short-term lenders are generally happy with the level of service they receive? Alternatively, it could be that payday lenders have efficient in-house customer services teams which satisfy customer complaints before they are taken any further? More pessimistically, perhaps some payday loan customers are beyond the point where a complaint will help.

Have you ever sourced credit from a short-term lender? How did you find the service? Were all the charges made clear from the start? We’d love to hear from you on this contentious topic, so please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

David Boyd is a financial blogger, commentator and aspiring journalist who spends his free time writing for some of the UK’s most authoritative websites.

Article publié pour la première fois le 30/07/2014

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