Archive for October, 2011

How to Save $240 or More on Your Time Warner Bill / Road Runner

Untitled-8First let me say that time warner cable is the bane of my existence. I have had nothing but problems when it comes to dealing with their customer service. That being said, if you are forced to use them because they are your only option, (as many are) then take a few steps to save a lot of money. You need to be prepared to negotiate. I negotiated for 6 years until I finally had a better offer with local company. Over those 6-years I saved approximately $1,440 by simply making approximately 10 phone calls.

Time Warner Cable often sends fliers and has promotions for a locked price for a set timeframe (usually 12 months). Right now I believe it is $34.95 a month for 1-year for a standard road runner service (this method apples the same for all services; cable, internet, phone, etc.). After that 1 year “promotional” period your price will go up. In my situation it went to $54.95 (+$20.00 a month). Now comes the tricky part. Investigate if there are actual alternatives to time warner for your cable/internet/phone. Find any and all promotions they are offering.

Call Time Warner and tell them you see promotional rates being offered by Time Warner Cable for your current service and you would like them to match the promotional rate for another year. 50% of the time they will make a few changes in their computer and your bill instantly becomes –$20 less a month – but other times, they will fight you. They will say things like “We really appreciate your loyalty, but that is for new customers…” – Normally I sarcastically reply something like “I really appreciate you showing me your appreciation by charging me $20 more a month for being loyal to your company” (You don’t need to say this)

After they deny you the change you have two options: (1) Tell them you are going to cancel and switch to a new service or (2) change the service to someone else’s name in your household.

(1) Tell them you have been offered a promotional rate by their competitor. You can even go so far as to say that someone approached you at home to tell you to switch services. Tell them you would like to stay with them, but it would save you over $20 a month and money is tight. If they deny you the discount now, tell them sadly you cannot stay with them because you simply cannot afford the extra expense. If this method does fail, try method (2).

(2) You can change your bill into another person’s name to get the promotional rate. A roommate, a girlfriend, sometimes even spouses – as long as you go off the bill and someone else calls in as a new customer for the promotional rate – You will score the new rates. Usually these companies have a 45 day policy on promotions, so once you have been off the service you are cleared to get the promotional rates after 45 days, so if you want to you can go back and forth between two people’s names each year, feel free.

Get on the phone – Push some people’s buttons and get the rate new customers are getting – Make it clear that you cannot afford the increase and you would like to stay with them, but need to explore any and all ways of saving cash.

Stay strong and be confident.

Will the Baby Boomers Destroy the Housing Market?

According to US census data, there are 131,704,730 “housing units” in the United States (as of 2010) and there are 112,611,029 “Households.” If those numbers aren’t scary, let me add more concern by foreshadowing another starling danger about the US real estate market.

The baby boomer generation is reaching retirement age. In fact, many estimates predict approximately 10,000 people are reaching age 65, each day. Although many people are pushing off retirement due to recent portfolio problems, this wave of retirees is incoming. When this generation does indeed retire and decides to rid themselves of their home, there is going to be a massive correction. Now I’m not saying every baby-boomer is going to sell their home, but even if a fraction of them do – this is going to cause a major glut in housing.

According to http://www.housingamerica.org/ approximately 43,000,000 households were owned by individuals 50 years or old, additionally these individuals hold 6,600,000 second homes. That is 49,600,000 (37.6% of the 131.7 million number above.) How big really is 49,600,000 in proportion to what is going on now? Well during the July-September quarter of this year the number of foreclosures was less than 290,000 (96,666 a month), but still this number was view as if the sky was falling. That’s .5% of the inventory the the age 50+ population has.

In other-words, the baby-boomer generation has the power to annihilate the housing market if the economy does not turn around. Even if the demand for houses grows, it would be hard to imagine needing more houses to be built, which is something that is needed to stimulate our economy.

It is really important to see how bad this glut really is going to be. If you took those roughly 50 million houses and distributed them over 20 years that would be 2,500,000 homes for sale a year. This equates to an addition 208,333 houses a month. I understand these numbers are crude and incredibly blunt, but the point remains.

I’ll be the first to admit this article leaves plenty to desire. How many of the baby boomers are being foreclosed on now and how many homes are normally sold by previous generations of age 50+ year olds – these are questions you should be asking yourself. I don’t have those answers for you today, but rest assured this is a danger to the future of the housing market.

Just something to think about.

Challenge: Making $30 Online in 30 Minutes–Part 2

cSix days ago I challenged myself to make $30 in 30 minutes online. I wanted to tell you the results of that challenge.

If you need to see the first post, here is the link.

Result:

Sold the purchased Ipod for $144.89  + $4.99 shipping on amazon. Commissions was $12.09 and actual shipping costs were $5.09. Item was shipped a few days ago.

$ 149.88 $17.18 = $132.70

Original cost of the item, $99.68 – Net Profit: $33.02

Result of the Challenge: Success.

$33.02 made in 30 minutes.

Disclaimer: Be sure to keep proper records for tax purposes!

Do Not Be a Monday Morning Quarterback Trader

As I previously posted a few days ago, I sold out of the market completely. I had the following securities: DOW, AMD, and X which were all up about 8-10%, and I sold. I stand by my decision and still think the market has a higher statistical chance of going down than up. All that being said, it can be painful to sell out and watch your stocks continue to go up. That’s exactly what happened.

10/28/11 – X (+11.57%), AMD (+7.22%), Dow Chemical (0.52%).

Of course most of the securities I sold were in X (US Steel).

But you know what? I am not mad/upset that I sold, if anything I’m proud. As I said in the previous post, you have to develop and stick to a trading pattern – and that’s exactly what I feel I did. I am still not in the market and do not plan on going long for a while. Could the market shoot up another 10% on Monday? Of course it could. Could the market drop 10% on Monday? Absolutely. I still believe there is a higher statistical chance of the market going down than up, therefore I am out of the market.

It’s important not to be a “Monday Morning Quarterback.” This expression was coined by quarterbacks who would watch films and say things like “I should have went right here instead of left” or other obvious statements with 20/20 hindsight. I suppose this expression is less meaningful now that you usually have quarterbacks who play Monday night football, but don’t overanalyze it.

Don’t dwell on the past, I don’t.

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