Senate Sends Big Banking Bill to the President

So on one hand they're talking about a $700 billion dollar bailout of the financial sector and at the same time they're sending a huge spending bill to the President to sign so that the government doesn't have to shut down come Tuesday. Here's the link:

I just can't comprehend the amounts of money that are being thrown around. And the article ends with some huge dollars of special interest monies being included.

Where's the outrage? Why aren't our elected officials realizing that this just can't keep going on.


Why Do I Feel Like We're at Odds With Our Roots?

My husband has an uncanny way of being right, even when he's being annoying! Now he's not right about everything all the time, but he looks at the world in a very different way than I do.

He didn't understand the stock market crazy days...to him the fundamentals just didn't support what was going on. Same with the real estate boom...he kept saying to me it just can't keep going like it is.

So now he is saying too many people are making money from nothing, i.e., affiliate marketing on the internet, etc., where people are making money on referring people to other people who actually have a product to sell. He just shakes his head and says it doesn't make any sense. You work for money, you don't just shuffle things around and make money off of someone else's product, it just doesn't make sense.

And interestingly I know someone who makes a lot of money doing that, but he admits that it's short-lived. As soon as they figure out they can do it for themselves he's shut off and he has to go and recreate the model elsewhere.

My husband's not a big fan of the internet overall...but when he talks about something not making sense I do (finally!) take notice. He has been right more often than he's been wrong. So he's given me more to think about. Some will tell you the internet makes everything possible, there is no limit. But then I think about my friend who keeps having to recreate his model and I wonder how many times he really can do that.

A day's wage for a day's work. "Any necessary work that pays an honest wage carries its own honor and dignity." -- W. Kelly Griffith

Comments anyone?

I Don't Care What Your Political Affiliation Is, This Article Should Anger You

I don't want to get into politics here, but there's a difference in my mind between politics and just plain government officials, regardless of party, not doing right. This article shows the worst of our elected officials, in my mind anyway.

The friend that posted the link that I'm providing below titled her comment "Pork, the other white meat."


What's Wrong With This? WaMu New CEO Gets $20 Million for 17 Days Work

I can't find words to comment on this I am so blown away. Read for yourself:

WaMu Gives New CEO Mega Payout as Bank Fails

Friday, September 26, 2008

Nice work — if you can get fired from it.

That's just what one Alan H. Fishman might have thought when he woke up Friday morning.

Fishman was the new chief executive officer for Washingon Mutual — WaMu — the nation's largest savings and loan, which was taken over Thursday night by federal bank regulators and quickly dumped in a fire sale to JPMorgan Chase for the Wal-Mart-like price of $1.9 billion.

But don't cry for Fishman, who reportedly was sky-high — literally — last night, on a flight from New York to Seattle, when WaMu collapsed. Even though he's only been on the job for less than three weeks, he's bailing out with parachute worth close to $20 million, according to an executive compensation analysis conducted for the New York Times by James F. Reda Associates.

That's right, $20 million for 17 days on the job ... and his company failed.

Fishman, who formerly was chairman of Meridian Capital Group, apparently was much coveted by WaMu, which was counting on him to lead the failing thrift out of mortgage troubles that pushed the bank to a $3.3 billion second-quarter loss.

According to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, WaMu threw a $7.5 million bonus at Fishman when it hired him on Sept. 8, and guaranteed him an immediate cash severence of $11.6 million — both of which he gets to keep.

He also was eligible for annual bonuses of up to 365 percent of his annual base pay — set at $1 million — to go with millions of shares of company stock.

Fishman does lose out on a big bonus that would have kicked in had he remained on the job through 2009.

Documents show WaMu was going to pay their new boss $8 million to simply not screw up and get fired — all negotiated as the Seattle-based banking giant's loses climbed to an estimated $20 billion.

Do you have a Debit Card for your checking account with a Visa/MC logo? A Warning to Heed!

Late yesterday afternoon I called my bank to alert them that I would be traveling soon to Europe (always do this with cards you're taking on a vacation, BTW) so I wouldn't run into any issues.

But this time with all of the reductions of credit going on I decided I couldn't risk finding out that a credit card I took with me reduced my credit line and left me hanging. So I also told them I'd be taking my debit card.

This is where the "ah ha" came in. The rep asked if I had a secondary checking account that I wanted to make the primary account for my debit card while I was traveling. Huh? Then he explained that if I lost the card it couldn't be used as a debit card without the PIN # but it could be used as a charge card and potentially wipe out my checking account. My bank set me up with another checking account on the phone and made the existing card link to that account as the primary account. I'll get another debit card for it in the mail, and I can always change the primary account back to my regular checking account. But why would I?

Now I don't know about you, but I'd never thought about that and no one at the bank ever brought it up, they just sent me a new debit card a long time ago that now also had the Visa emblem on it.

So a word to the wise - check your debit card and if it has a MC/Visa emblem talk to your bank about it. As far as I'm concerned it isn't just an issue for traveling overseas it's a serious issue, period. You can lose your debit card just as easily as a credit card. And think about this in closing...it's YOUR money that would disappear, not the bank's. Would there be any recourse or protection as with a credit card? My guess is a resounding NO.


Close-up of the Damage to My Friend's Galveston Beachhouse

A few days ago I posted the before and after satellite photos of Galveston, TX. Just now my friend got a photo of her house taken from a helicopter. Take note that nothing has been cleared away in the area and there "was" a house almost twice as big as hers about 3 feet to the left of the house in the photo. It's amazing anything of hers was left.

Cash for Points - Check Your Options!

Not long ago I remembered that American Express used to allow you to exchange Membership Rewards Points into cash. So I investigated and although they don't give you "cash" you can turn them into American Express Travelers Cheques that you can use anywhere. You really have to look to find it - just keep looking for "more rewards."

I checked all the other cards I accumulate points on and what do you know several of them allowed you to exchange points for cash...a real, honest to goodness check. I had enough points spread out over several cards that allowed me to get over $1,000.00 - yes, you read that right!

So if you need a little extra cash start looking at the Rewards Programs you have with your credit cards and look at ALL the options. You may have a nice surprise waiting for you!


How Much Money Do You Need to Save to Make Something Worthwhile?

Would you walk away from a $20 bill laying on the street? How about $50? $100? You may be able to save that and more in your business each and every month if you accept credit cards. Find out more NOW.

One of my newest passions is the rip-off's in credit card processing. Most businesses, no matter how small, are pretty well resigned to the need to accept credit cards. Our main business has been accepting them for 19 years and I've had lots of experience with a variety of different merchant service providers.

Then a few months ago a friend had a major problem with her provider and blogged about it. Since I check our rates every couple of years I realized I hadn't done that in a while and started checking around. And because of her issue I really did research this time, not just shop rates.

What I found was amazing. The vast majority of providers charge "junk fees" every month that just add to their profit. Do you have a "statement fee" or a "customer service fee" on your statement? Those are pure profit centers for the provider. I actually have a list of about a dozen junk fees that commonly charged. And did you know that even a merchant provider can request a copy of a charge slip...it's called a "retrieval" and yes, they charge you a fee for it. So less than honest merchant service providers will often pad their profit in a month by issuing retrieval requests for no reason except to add to their profit that month.

I delved deep into this and finally found my current Merchant Service Provider. No statement fees, no batch closing fees, etc., just a great rate with a business that is honest and straightforward.

I'm actually doing a video interview later today on this subject. But my question to you is how much money do you need to save in order to make you sit up and take notice? If someone said they'd save you $20 a month each and every month would it be "worth" it to you to take action? What about $50 a month? $100? $300?

This is money you are currently spending that would stay in your pocket. You don't have to do anything, sell anything, buy anything...it's just saved money. And yet I know people who just don't take the action necessary to do it. And this is not just about credit card processing, but changing a vendor for a better price, canceling a service you really don't use, doing something different, anything, that would save you money. At what point does keeping more of your money make you take action?

The Economy - Where Are We Headed?

If you've been reading my Blog you know I've been sounding the alarm about HELOC's being reduced or taken away and more recently credit card companies reducing credit lines arbitrarily whether you have a good payment history or not. And the amount of money that you make has absolutely nothing to do with the reductions in credit. As I said before, if you've been hit with this situation, check your FICO score because it will, most likely, take a hit as the "credit utilization" portion (a big one in the scoring) could go from 30% to 100% utilization, as it did for a friend.

The other day CNN reported on this situation, specifically with American Express admiting that they were reducing all credit lines. And today a friend just told me she was watching Suze Orman this morning and she was talking about this, also. She went so far as to say we are going back to a cash and carry society, that credit will be a thing of the past. I wonder how MC and VISA feel about that comment considering they just went public a short while ago and she's talking about their billlion dollar businesses disappearing!

So how will this all play out in the economy? Anyone with a crystal ball?


CNN Now Reporting What I Told You a While Ago - AMEX Is Cutting Credit Lines

Finally the word is getting out to the public about this. CNN reported that AMEX is cutting credit lines. And although it was just AMEX they mentioned I know Chase credit card limits are being reduced as well as the AT&T Universal Card.

The issue here is not just the sudden disappearance of your credit, which is unnerving enough, but as they cut credit lines to just what people owe on the cards it becomes an issue for FICO scores. FICO scores are heavily weighted to the percentage of credit you have outstanding to your total available credit. With the reductions you could easily go from 30% to 100% usage which is going to lower your FICO score. A friend's AMEX was reduced from $25,000 down to the $8,000 which he currently owed. Several of my cards have been lowered to just what I owe creating 100% credit usage.

And the question in my mind is how often they will keep reducing it. If you make a large payment will they reduce your credit line even more next month? In my mind it's a Catch-22 situation. The more they reduce credit lines the lower everyone's FICO scores will go, which will make them reduce your credit even more.

So if you are one of the few people who are actually buying a home right now if you were pre-approved then your credit lines were dropped you may see your FICO score lowered and the mortgage loan approval evaporate. So this isn't just about credit cards, it's another big hit to the housing market.


Your Written Words on the Internet...Think About What You Say

An article on www.earlytorise.com has again given me plenty to think about. You'll notice on the right hand side of the page about half way down I have a daily RSS feed for some of that day's articles.

Yesterday there was one that certainly made me think about what I write in my Blog, on Facebook, etc. Here's a snippet...and a link to the full article. If you post anywhere on the internet you'll want to read it and give some thought to it:

“Reputation is character minus what you’ve been caught doing.”

Michael Iapoce

What Happens Online Stays Online

By Suzanne Richardson

You finish a fantastic book, and post a review of it on Amazon…

Your favorite blogger posts a blog entry that you disagree with, so you write a rebuttal in the comments section…

You send in a glowing note of thanks for a product you bought, and the company (with your permission) publishes it in their online newsletter…

You get terrible service at a new restaurant downtown, so you add a scathing description of the snooty waiters and bland food to CitySearch…

Your old college roommate hosts a huge birthday bash, and you rave about how drunk you got on your MySpace page…

There’s practically no end to the ways you can publish your opinions online.

And that’s great. It means that you can start a blog or an e-newsletter, and quickly position yourself as an expert in anything… from marketing to tropical fish to grammar and more.

But before you fire up the Internet and start posting away… take a second to reconsider.

The thing you have to remember is this: The Internet may be a palimpsest of conversation, information, advice, and junk. It may be protean and malleable. But it is also pretty permanent.

When you put things on the Internet, they’re there for good. And if you don’t think through what you’re posting, it might turn up years - even decades - later to haunt you....

Read the full article here: http://www.earlytorise.com/2008/09/20/what-happens-online-stays-online-2.html

Visting My Daughter and Have Been Banned From Using Her Computer!

Sorry for the lack of a new post...I'm visiting my daughter and she hates when I'm on the computer at her house! Of course, we're just hanging around, not doing anything special, but as soon as I start to gravitate towards her computer she tells me I'm not allowed on it.

I've blogged about this before, but I really do spend a lot of time on the computer. And both my husband and daughter tell me I'm on it too much, that I'm ignoring them. Sometimes I understand their point of view. But if I'm mentally bored I'm drawn to it. And when they're watching a movie like Spiderman that doesn't engage me, why shouldn't I get on the internet?

So I'm sneaking on now because she's out doing an errand and my husband is watching football. And I'm anxious to see what I've missed in the last couple of days, not "news" but articles, ideas, thoughts.

So I'm off to spend some quality time with the internet and will report back with what I find of interest!