Graduated Learning: Life after College

I got my degree, I got a job…now what?

That time something cool happened on the internet April 11, 2015

Filed under: Just for Fun — Stephanie @ 7:37 pm
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So, this really has nothing to do with personal finance or fitness or any of my usual topics. It just is a fun story I wanted to share.

I now have a theme song.  For the details behind how I gained a theme song, read the rest of the story below.

 

You may or may not know I love listening to podcasts. I especially like listening to them on car rides, on my jogs, or even during tedious tasks like doing the dishes.

Well, one of the podcasts I really enjoy is How to Do Everything, which is made by Mike Danforth and Ian Chillag, producers of Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me.  It’s a super fun podcast where people submit questions on, well, how to do everything, and they get experts to answer the questions.

Another podcast I’ve been enjoying is Reply All, the first podcast to come out of Gimlet Media (not including the podcast exploring the starting of Gimlet Media, Startup).  I also like TLDR,which is a podcast that came out of On the Media.  The guys who started TLDR are now the guys who do Reply All.  Both podcasts explore strange and interesting things related to the internet.

Another thing Reply All and TLDR have in common besides their co-hosts Alex and PJ is the creator of their theme song.  In the credits for both shows, they’ve told the audience that their theme song was written by “the mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder“. (in case you’re curious, here’s the TLDR theme and the Reply All theme).  A lot of music heard on Reply All is made by Breakmaster Cylinder.

Well, one day, I suggested on twitter that the HTDE and the Reply All guys should interview each other.  The Reply All folks said they love HTDE, but claim they don’t know how to do anything.  So I suggested that they could tell them how to get Breakmaster Cylinder to write a theme song for you.  And that’s when Breakmaster Cylinder chimed in, initially by typing out what my theme song could sound like.  Then, a day later, he sent me a link to MY THEME SONG!

Like I said, it’s just a silly fun story about how interacting with people on the internet sometimes results in something fun and awesome.  Now that I have a theme song, I feel like I should have a podcast of my own.  Would you listen to a personal finance podcast from me?

 

Reading books: My review of “The Elements of Investing” October 15, 2010

Filed under: Books,Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 11:22 pm
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I’ve been known to read the occasional book.  And I also listen to a lot of podcasts.  So, while catching up on some older Marketplace Money podcasts, I heard an interview with Burton Malkiel, author of A Random Walk Down Wall Street.  He and another finance writer, Charles Ellis (author of Winning the Loser’s Game: Timeless Strategies for Successful Investing) got together to write a streamlined investing book.  They modeled the simplicity and straitforwardness of their book on Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style”.

This book, The Elements of Investing, is VERY basic.  If you are completely in the dark about personal finance, it might be a good place to start.  It lists basic tenets of personal finance.  Spend less than you earn (so that you will have extra money to invest).  Invest in low cost index funds (buy and hold, don’t spend extra money on fees).

If you’re looking to read this book, and you’re too lazy to go to your library, there’s another free option:  As “My Money Blog” posted, you can download a digital (pdf) copy of the book from Vanguard….

This book is great for beginners.  The basic rules they present (and then present again and again) are important first starts to investing.  I was hoping the book would have more specific investment advice; I know that low cost index funds are great, but what if you don’t have those options in a 401(k)?  What else can I do?

What are YOUR “Elements of Investing”?

 

Is the use of credit cards socially responsible? January 31, 2010

Filed under: Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 4:42 pm
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There are times at work when I spend hours in the lab.  These are perfect times to listen to my iPod.  And so I’ve been catching up on some old podcasts.  And like the nerd that I am, I listen to quite a few finance podcasts.  I’ve been going back and listening to my backlog of Marketplace Money, a personal finance podcast from American Public Media.  Anyway, they talk about credit cards quite a bit, and how different people use them.  Many people have chosen to go the Dave Ramsey route and go debt free, including not using credit cards.  Some use credit cards, but pay them off every statement.  Others carry a balance, and, in the most severe cases, have had to go to Debtors Anonymous or through credit counseling to dig themselves out of massive amounts of debt.

At any rate, they got me thinking about the use of credit cards.  In this discussion, they laud the benefits of using a debit card, since it is much more difficult to go into debt, as you can’t spend more than you have (ignoring overdraft fees/protection).  But they also point out that there are some benefits to using credit cards, or even selecting the credit option when performing a debit card transaction, as credit cards provide more financial protection against theft/loss.  And they do also sometimes offer other benefits, like an extended warranty on the purchased items.  They also discussed the differences between the two in a much earlier show.

During this discussion about the differences between using credit cards/selecting credit when you swipe your debit card, vs. selecting PIN/debit, I recalled hearing that different transaction fees are levied on the seller depending on what option you select.  And here’s the thing:  These fees really add up.  Another marketplace story discussed how many merchants are loath to accept credit cards for purchases.  The fees they must pay eat into their very thin profit margins in many cases.  I’ll agree (and the article also mentions) that sometimes companies would lose business if they didn’t accept credit cards/debit cards, since some people might not have enough cash on hand for their purchase.  But I think I’m like many people in the personal finance world (and the teacher interviewed here) that will basically use credit for every purchase possible.  It’s all about the points.  (Which always makes me think of this clip from Home Movies).  We figure if we’re spending money, we might as well get something from it.  Whether it’s for cash back, airline miles, or donations to a charity, it seems that our money is better spent if we’re getting something extra out of the deal.  For smaller purchases, I still use my credit card for that very reason, even if I have cash on me.

So, while people often chose to use credit even when they have other options, it’s costing the vendor money.  This extra cost will either hurt the vendor directly by eating up their profits, or hurt the consumers (i.e. us!) if the extra expenses are passed on to the customer.  And it seems that this problem affects some more than others.  The employees/owners are hurt by a decreased income, and/or the higher prices will make it harder for the least fortunate to afford the goods they need.

So, here’s the thing.  If transaction fees were eliminated, I’d be super keen on using credit for even the small purchases.  And if none of my credit cards came with rewards, I’d be more likely to use cash.  But I honestly don’t know if I’d be willing to give up using my credit card for everyday small purchases.  Does that make me a bad person?  I want to earn those points, and be able to easily track purchases online.

How do you feel about this?  I mean, I think most of us would agree that credit card companies make quite a bit of money even without imposing hefty fees on each purchase.  But I don’t know if anything will change.