Archive for December, 2011

Why Not To Buy a Big Diamond Ring or Jewelry

Expensive-Diamond-Rings10Nothing says you love someone like a big diamond ring, but how much are you willing to give up for that feeling and what about buying rings online?

“Diamonds are Forever” is one example of a ongoing campaign that is aimed to make you believe as a consumer, that diamonds have value and are desirable. Diamond rings are a scam. They are completely overpriced and we accept this because we have been trained. This article is mainly focusing on engagement rings, but it applies to all jewelry.

Now I can for-see the first argument against my statement, which is “everything is inherently worthless, for example —gold bullion is the same way.”  Well yes and no. If the world spirals into chaos and anarchy – Gold might be just as worthless as diamonds, but at least gold has a track record, being that it has been used as currency since around 3100 B.C. Diamonds on the other-hand have only had their new “value” for roughly 60-70 years. Diamonds were marketing campaign perfection. It doesn’t get any better. Also the gold argument is irrelevant because when you buy gold you buy it for roughly what is worth – and with retail diamonds – You ALWAYS PAY MORE THAN IT IS WORTH.

If you love someone, you show it through something that “lasts forever.”  I would go so far to say – the price you pay even represents how much you love someone. But what is a diamond really worth?

Appraisals are a joke. Have you ever tried to actually sell your diamond? I guarantee that you will not get “appraised value”, because jewelry stores can’t even get close to this supposed value! It’s not uncommon for a ring to have an appraised value of $50,000 that can only fetch somewhere in the neighborhood of $15-20k. Go to a jewelry store and see how their jewelry is “substantially priced under appraised value”. If something was worth $20,000 — it is highly unlikely someone would sell it to you for $12,000 (unless it was stolen perhaps), in fact – it something was worth $20,000, logic would say they would have to charge you $20,000 + service fees to keep the business going. You can’t sell $20,000 of inventory for break-even and stay in business. Sadly, that $20,000 ring probably cost the business $6,000 (Disclaimer: I’m speculating the actual price).

You want the truth? The truth is – the minute you buy a large diamond you have carelessly thrown away hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Money that is likely to never be recovered even through appreciation.

Why must so many young couples start their marriage off by sacrificing their finances? Because we have been programed, indoctrinated – and it takes an open mind to say no to this trend. Furthermore it become almost an insult to tradition because this trend spans two generations. “My mother got a diamond… My grandmother got a diamond” (why shouldn’t I?)

I am here to offer you an alternative. Take that $5,000 you were going to spend on that small/medium sized ring and invest it in your happiness. Go on a trip to Europe, buy a home, or simply save the money and avoid starting your marriage with debt. Do not give it away to a middle-man jeweler. When you on eBay it is laughable how cheap jewelry is when you truly take out the middle-man – it is unbelievable (literally you will think something is wrong after researching).

If you simply must buy a ring – buy at market rates (eBay) – after getting it, take it to a jewelry store and pay for the ring to be cleaned and appraised. I wouldn’t be surprised if it appraised it at 400-700% what you paid.

Do not give in – I know its easy and the retailers seem so nice, but its easy to be nice when you are making hand over fist on each sale. Their margins are criminal. How strong is the diamond industry’s grasp on our culture? I am afraid of the consequences I would suffer if I did not fall in line and purchase a new retail diamond for my potential bride. The thought of buying a retail priced diamond makes me sick.

eBay examples of rings:
.55 carat, 14k White gold – $185 (appraised for $995 two years ago at Reeds Jewelers)
1.30 carat, 14k White Gold – $800 (implied appraised value $4,500
1.75 carat, 14k White Gold – $1299 or best offer, Has original receipts and in “like new condition”, Retail $4999.99

Let’s not forget you can get some major cash back on eBay as well.

Disclaimer: Always consult a professional for major purchases. Jewelers can be a great source for information, but be careful not to be talked into something you are not comfortable with. If you decide to purchase on eBay – be sure to confirm authentication of jewelry with a professional.

Heating Your Home With Corn To Save Money?

Heating your home with corn can be a way to save money this year. You have to buy a corn burning stove, have it installed, and load the hopper – Then it’s go to go, right? Not so fast. Corn burning can save you money, BUT it is not without its hassle.

I am all about saving money, but you have to assess ALL of the costs. First, let’s take a look at some another common alternative:


Wood Burning

Colonial_Wood-_Burning-_Fireplace-Insert-_TR004250px-Cord_of_wood


Pro’s

  • Cheaper than gas
  • Generally can provide a “home-y” ambience

Con’s

  • For higher efficiency burning you are going to need an insert or wood burning stove
  • Fire Hazard (Creosote build-up)
  • Have to store large quantities of wood (Fire rack’s aren’t cheap)
  • Have to buy wood
  • Have to transport (or pay to transport)
  • Have to clean out ash from insert (which can easily travel in your air)
  • Can dry the air in your house
  • Chimney’s need cleaning ($$$)
  • Have to carry wood through house
  • Have to maintain and watch the fire
  • Chimney replacement (I’ve read 10’s of blogs where someone has claimed they had to completely replace their chimney after 10-15 of *HEAVY* use. Even if the chimney lasts 30 years – it can be costly to replace
  • You have a VERY hot stove in your home which can be a danger to you and your children

Corn Burning
fp-06-35PC45Cornstovehopperlg

pelletdemoLet’s break it down. You buy a corn burning stove (which cost roughly the same as wood burning stove, $2000 – $3000) and have it installed, you find a local farmer with corn for sale and you get a stockpile for the season. You load the corn as needed into your system and perform regular maintenance on the stove. Corn costs roughly $4.00 a bushel give or take. 2.2 bushels is claimed to product around one million BTU’s. That 2.2 bushels at the cost of roughly $8.80 would produce the same amount of heat as an estimate $22.00 worth of wood. That is 60% less cost than wood! Now all of these numbers are completely subjective to who is telling you and vary on lots of factors, but compared to natural gas heating – it’s less than half the cost, but is it really worth it? What about overhead?

Time to break down the Pro’s and Con’s

Pro’s

  • Much cheaper than gas and even cheaper than wood
  • Also can provide ambience of fire
  • Virtually no smoke
  • Automatically loads corn into burner
  • No odor (or so they claim)
  • No radiant heat (so the burner itself isn’t going to burn you if you fall on it)
  • Cost no more than a wood burning insert
  • Much more green than gas and even more green than wood. Corn is completely renewable in about 3 months.
  • Don’t really need much of a chimney, an out vent is similar to a dryer vent. 
  • Can buy corn from local sellers

Con’s

  • Have to find large quantities of corn
  • Have to store large quantities of corn which can be costly
  • Requires you to reload hopper
  • The system requires regular cleaning (The system makes a sort of burn “cake” that falls into a bin that you have to empty)
  • Need electricity (for the hopper and blower that automatically loads), batteries can be installed that last approximately 1-2 days, but they are a costly addition
  • The corn must be dry enough (10-16% moisture is optimal)
  • Keep animals out of your stockpile of corn (I can see a squirrel finding your 400lb bin and thinking he found El Dorado)

 

imagesConclusion: Seems like a lot of overhead and hassle to me, but if you had the equipment and a supplier and enjoyed cleaning your stove out and making an effort to be green, corn burning might be up your alley. Sadly, if go to ten different sites you will get ten completely different break downs of the costs. It’s cheaper, but getting a firm grasp on the cost might be hard. Do you have to buy a gravity storage container for your 2,200lbs of corn? How much does corn cost today? How much will corn go up if corn burning becomes more popular? How much electricity does the system use? (One sites states $2.50 a month while another states $9.00 a month) There are a lot of questions. Also this system maybe less work than wood, but its still a lot of hassle. Let’s say hypothetically you save $500 – $1000 a year – that’s a lot of effort and commitment for that savings in my opinion.

Also on youtube.com there was a video of a guy who was completely unsatisfied – it showed him sitting in a 46 degree room and all of the water in his house frozen (probably including his pipes). It’s important to note that apparently this person went to court and lost – Maybe he wasn’t operating it as intended? Whether the case I find it interesting that this is a viable alternative.

Time to invest in corn commodities?

 

Videos:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arUEQ1q4sIk&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmroiK96nzg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHuacwmGrDk&feature=related

Resource:
http://www.hrt.msu.edu/energy/Notebook/pdf/Sec4/Check_Off_Report_and_Newsletter_by_Michigan_Corn_Marketing.pdf
http://www.increa.com/homeheat/index.htm

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