Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Heaven Board #13

Memorial weekend is now booked forever in my memories with the wedding of Jenna and Paul (5/27/17).  What a wonderful event fully planned and implemented by Susan.  Not to overshadow the Friday night graduation of Ellen (5/26/17).  This will definitely be a milestone year.  Even two of my nieces gave birth to two new children this year.

There are endless stories that this weekend generated (and maybe future blogs).  However, my moment of tears happened during the soloist singing of the Lord's Prayer at the end of the church service.  Her voice filled Hyde Park United Methodist Church in a way that everyone was stunned to silence in an awestruck moment of reflection .  Jenna purposely broke the silence to clap and a tidal wave of appreciation filled the church.  It was exclamation of the holy moment of matrimony and the heavenly AMEN!

Well -  this qualifies for another Heaven Board #13 -  Holy Memorial Matrimony

Monday, May 15, 2017

Two Apple Sticks

This weekend was a wonderful Mother's Day celebration with family and friends.

Saturday, my project was to plant two Apple trees with the help of A.M.  Sadly, the middle tree of the three original apple trees (Heaven Board #3) planted Sept. 2011 died last winter. It just didn't seem right to have only two based on my blog's symbolism.  So....  with the expertise of A.M., I chose to plant a Yellow Transparent Semi-Dwarf tree but in a moment of buyer temptation I added an additional Golden Delicious Dwarf to the orchard.

How appropriate just before the family expands (May 27, 2017) with Jenna getting married to Paul.   Now four important relationships in my life.  How fun it will be to watch them grow from sticks to bearing fruit. 

So call this Heaven Board #3A (the A for addendum). 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Frugal Spender Rewards

Lately I have been watching the various credit card solicitations that I have received in the last 4 months.  Yes.....  I fell prey to the new customer incentive and signed up for yet another credit card to get the bonus 60,000 rewards points (American Express who I had vowed never to open another account with them - another long story about customer service).  Now my credit cards total over 10 not including Department Stores.

Rewards points is today's version of S&H Green Stamps of the 60's.  The 1200 stamp booklet was worth about $1.20 (about a tenth a penny a stamp) and redeemed for merchandise.

The very nature of maximizing your rewards points is a game with every credit card provider to get you to use their card and/or link it to various merchants.  The rewards vary from 1% to 5% depending on merchandise category, activation, dates, and even volume of purchases (bonus points). The newest "5% war" by the credit card companies shows the vary nature of intense competition.

The economist in me says that this is another indication of inflation.  This "rebate" will be captured in either customer fees, interest rates, or passed on to the merchants who will raise prices to cover the merchant fees. 

Who are the winners and losers?  Those who pay attention to category bonuses, incentives, and pay the card balance monthly will win.  The losers are those who carry balances, pay in cash (where no discount is provided), or use a single credit card.

So the general rule of points still applies.  Each point (assuming a point is $1 of purchase) is worth a penny to five cents.  Now the average American (as of 2009) has about $50K in spending per year with 60% that own their own home and their average credit card debt (2010) is $5K.  So.....if you put 80% of your spending on a credit card and get an average 2% back - that is worth $800 per year in rewards points.

PS - For the obsessed Statistician who wants to know every statistic go to www.creditcards.com.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Coffee Please

Well my frugal gene kicked in today (some call it cheap) and I decided to look at the coffee budget for the family.  Susan has loved the convenience of buying on Amazon and I can see why they have over 50% of the ecommerce.  Amazon provides great order history (since inception) so it was very easy to review the last years of coffee purchases for the household.  What I wanted to do was compare pricing to Sams Club and Kroger. But it led me to another place - my own personal coffee consumption.

I reviewed orders for the household for the last 16 months from Amazon-  over $800 and almost 1300 cups.  I supply my office from the household inventory in addition to buying at Kroger.  But how could our household possible consume 1300 cups (over 80 per month)?

I personally average about 1.5 cups of coffee a day.  So assuming coffee every day that would be 548 a year or 46 per month.  At an average of 50 cents a cup that habit is $274 per year (and I suspect I'm low).  Now add the variables of coffee at restaurants, Starbucks, and coffee shops and you begin to get a picture of how much an individual spends on coffee.

I can only imagine the cost for an individual that only drinks Starbucks and possibly their exotic beverages.   Clearly a good reason for why Starbucks market cap is $87.8 Billion. 

Crossroads Church uses coffee during services and  a liberal policy of coffee anytime as a form of identity and branding ("We don't sell things").   I remember Brian Tome saying in a service that the annual coffee budget for Crossroads exceeds $100K.  Now that's a lot of cups of fellowship.

So what's the funny fugal finale?    Give liberally to the church ..... and you will receive coffee.