Cut Monthly Costs, Easily

by Dave Miller

Every month we shell out money to a number of people. Do we stop and question these bills?

You can hire professional negotiators that help you reduce those monthly bills. They work on a commission basis. Their take is one half of your yearly savings. If they cut $25 off your phone bill per month it saves you $300 per year. You then pay them $150. If you appreciate that, they then work on other monthly bills such as cable bill, internet, et cetera.

They also proclaim the ability to decrease your costs without cutting features. If you are willing to be more frugal and do with fewer features, you can really capitalize.

Negotiating, I admit, is something I enjoy. When buying a new item I tend to over-analyze. But like most people, once I am paying the bills regularly I do not stop to question them.  

My dad always said, “It’s either my money or it’s theirs”. I prefer it to be mine. I decided I have nothing to lose other than time. The potential of money to gain is very tempting. After reviewing one of the websites, which gave only a few tips, I went to work.

I decide to call AT&T first. After connecting to customer service I told the lady I needed to reduce my monthly bills. She reviewed my account and said currently there is a $90 credit on the account. I explained how I mistakenly paid last month twice. She then replied sarcastically, “Well, that would be nice”.  Intuition told me this was not going very well. Ten minutes later and no reduction, my time is lost, but nothing more.

We will get back to AT&T later.

Frontier Communication is dubbed my next victim. My phone, internet and online backup are consolidated. I inform the need to terminate my internet service. Earlier I had looked at some alternatives, which were not nearly as appealing as my current service. I intentionally failed to mention this little detail. The mention of termination gets me to a termination specialist. This is good news.

The retention department has more highly trained personnel with added authority. Their goal is to keep you as a customer. A good one is worth a bundle to the company. The retention specialist lost no time. She said she could save me money. We looked at a few new plans. A savings of around $13 was possible with no loss in features. She then pointed out a feature, inside wire maintenance, that was of little use to me. The benefit to cost ratio was tipping the wrong way. She compared it to buying insurance on something that seldom fails. We cut that also. My savings leapt to $20 a month. I am grinning now, but not stopping. When someone sets food in front of me, I eat and may even ask for dessert. The question that followed was about a onetime credit. She inquired the reason for my request. I said for a whole year I’ve been paying more than I should have been. To my glee, she said she can give me a $25 credit. I accepted. Why wouldn’t I? Only a fool would stop to ask questions at this point. I thanked her pleasantly and went on my merry way, still grinning.

 A year ago I went from a two-yard dumpster to a three-yard due to producing more refuse. My monthly bill increased from $65 to $85. After noticing it being only partially filled on pick up day, I requested a smaller, two-yard dumpster again. The lady asked if they could start coming only every other week and keep the 3 yarder in place. I didn’t like the idea as this was more of a cut than I was comfortable with. But one must step outside one’s comfort zone periodically. So I asked for prices. She quickly replied that she could probably reduce it to the $65 rate if they only pick up every other week. I thought she spoke a little too quickly and apprehensively. I asked her to check and see what their best price was. She came back with a rate of $45. Twenty whole dollars less than she so anxiously offered only 90 seconds ago. A grin emerges. I was skeptical of this being enough dumpster space, but after four weeks it has worked perfectly. I now grin every two weeks on pickup day.

My AT&T bill arrived using the credit previously mentioned for this month’s costs. Now there is no credit to hinder my plan. I call again. This time I am adamant about my need to cut costs. I am transferred to my favorite department – customer retention. He quickly offers me a plan with 300 minutes rather than 450. I tell him I was hoping to cut costs not features or minutes. He offers me 1000 rollover minutes to carry me through the months I go over 300 minutes. This plan would save me $10. I ask about other options. There are few. This seems to be the best. I ask him for a onetime credit to help defray my costs. He tells me sympathetically how he only gets $25 per shift to hand out and is only able to offer $5 to me. I accept with a tinge of a grin.

I feel high. The rush of conquering rages through my veins. After resting a few days I tell my wife I need my fix. I am now prepared to cut things of little use or just plain frivolous. I charge after Netflix. I cancel. Cha-ching. $9.53 per month saved. I feel better.

For a few years I have been getting a financial newsletter that has since lost its luster. It is on auto renew yearly for $59. I finally take the time to find the phone number and call to cancel. The lady asked if I want to cancel or just stop auto renew. I state “cancel” hoping for a prorated refund of around $20. I ask for the refund and she says she will refund the entire year’s worth – $59. This ignites a grin just shy of exploding.

I was successful and had a ball in the process. I cut my monthly bills $84.44 for a yearly savings of over one thousand dollars! Plus, I received $30 in immediate credit. This is nothing to sneeze at. One Thousand Buckaroos. It was easy and took little time. I say to you “Go thou and do likewise”.

 Please post comments, whether positive of negative, of your attempts. I would love to learn of more areas to save money and techniques that pay off.

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Published in: on April 29, 2010 at 12:22 am  Comments (7)  

Bigger Than ObamaCare

by Dave Miller 

I am hearing comments the likes of the following one made by Andy Hoffman:

“Obama’s healthcare bill will be, WITHOUT COMPARISON, the most damaging Congressional decision in the history of the United States. America’s financial condition is already terminal under all possible scenarios, but passage of this bill will dramatically accelerate the end game….”

 This article is to refute this statement and its kind. My goal is not to water down the evil of this healthcare bill but to bring to people’s awareness that the equivalent has been happening for years. Not only the equivalent but more devastating than the current bill. We are not witnessing a new dilemma. It is a recurring one, deeply engrained in our system.

 The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets. – Will Rogers

 Over the ages our government has created programs to support an agenda hidden deep within. Many of the bills and amendments are really about something other than the hype they so cunningly feed us. Always the outcome is detrimental to society. When the government gets its hands involved the effects spread like a viral disease. Their agenda consists of money and power, the latter being the dominator.

 Money is not a problem – unless it’s somebody else’s you are playing with. In the business world money is the drive. This is healthy. But when you steal money from one person to help another, a greater moral issue has sprouted. Stealing is wrong. We know this but when we are told it is for the good of the people we tend to loosen up. Then somehow we forget altogether that it was stolen.

 Power, on the other hand, is a perpetual problem. When a person seeks power to support his own lust thereof, people will be hurt. As the power grows the hunger increases to the point that only self is served. All others must be worked out of the way, or used to build the empire. If the one in power has no one below him he has no power. So people are needed to have dominion over.

 In the cases of money and power, people are needed. So rather than show the truth and have a revolt, or worse yet, a loss of authority, the deception runs rampant. Rather than lie outright it is easier to make the people believe they are getting something of value. Give them something they did not earn, something taken/stolen from someone else, and they will love you. Therefore the corruption increases, always trying to please the people while secretly serving self. It is a downward spiral that ends in a cesspool of waste.

 Anytime a new scheme is concocted it is at the expense of society. Many times it is bigger than money. It cuts to the core, our rights and our minds. Every time the government gives us something we lose something of greater value. Self reliance is the first to go when a hand out is accepted. We stop relying on our own intellect and expect the government to give us a bail out. Next we depend on it and it fails us. It always will.

Here is a list of a few that have done more damage to society than Obamacare ever will:

  • Medicare
  • Roe vs. Wade
  • The passage of the 16th Amendment (authorizing a national income tax).
  • Coming off the Gold Standard
  • Public schools
  • Wars

Fiscally, Medicare is the worst.

I do agree that Obamacare will accelerate the end game.

But speeding up is not comparable to starting. My basis is this: Which was a bigger breakthrough, the Wright Brothers or Chuck Yeager?

 The Wright brothers changed people’s thinking. They did what man thought impossible. Men around the world had to consider the inconceivable. As soon as the first flight was completed they were trying to go farther and faster. This continued for decades. Air travel became available to the average citizen. People started to dream of a flight to the moon, something seldom thought of before the 20th century.

 Then one day a man named Chuck Yeager made the news. He broke the sound barrier with an airplane. While this is an amazing feat, he only went faster than any man did to date. A record broken many times since. 

 The Wright Brothers will always be remembered as originators.

Chuck Yeager will merely be a footnote in comparison. Even though he went faster than the speed of sound, he still only went faster. 

Medicare is the Wright Brothers and ObamaCare is Chuck Yeager.

Medicare destroyed the Americans entrepreneurial mind. It annihilated their self-reliant thinking. Thoughts shifted from “I need to prepare for the future” to “the government owes me something” to “I don’t care where you get the money; I deserve it more than whoever you took it from”.   Instead of planning for the future we expect it be laid at our feet, even if we did not earn it. We are irresponsible thugs demanding instant gratification rather than disciplining ourselves.

More than the thought of losing a few dollars, think about the real loss; the loss of the self-reliant mind and responsible, moral citizens.

Obama’s health care plan will be written by a committee whose head, John Conyers, says he doesn’t understand it. It’ll be passed by Congress that has not read it, signed by a president who smokes, funded by a Treasury chief who didn’t pay his taxes, overseen by a Surgeon General who is obese, and financed by a country that’s nearly broke. What could possibly go wrong? – Rush Limbaugh

Published in: on April 22, 2010 at 12:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Good and Bad Run on Parallel Tracks and Usually Arrive About the Same Time

By Dave Miller

Today there is a gigantic sucking sound heard throughout the United States of America.  April 15th, Tax Day.  Massive amounts of money left the hands of honest hard working citizens. It landed in the hands of the federal government, a place we would not regard a worthy investment. We would advise any good friend to avoid buying into a company so dreadfully run. Steer clear. Make extra effort to maneuver around it.

  • The Bad: My hard-earned money funding activities considered corrupt and morally wrong. Behavior a Christian would view as sinful to be funding or directly involved in.
  • The Good: I take a good hard look at my blessings. I reflect, questioning my expenses and activities. Every year I ask the same questions; where did it all go? Did I take for granted the plenty? Did I count my blessings enough? Then I start to recollect expenses that accumulated, good and bad. I adjust and plan for the better. I learn and vow to be a better steward.

Am I advocating not paying taxes? Au contraire.

Rather I view it as both good and bad. The wasted funds are gone but I identified them as such. Now that they are acknowledged I adjust accordingly; a renewed effort to make frugality prevail. Wiser investments will be made. Less money wasted on frivolous consumables. If I had not looked at the bad I would not be considering making improvements for the better.

Do not dilute the bad with the good to smooth things out. Look at evil as evil, and good as good. Nevertheless, I focus on the good to maintain my sanity. Still at all times believing that good will overcome the bad. Focusing on the good doesn’t mean I turn a blind eye to the bad and pretend it absent. It is present. It is bad. View it as bad and the good as good.

Tragedies happen, people get hurt, some die. We see school shootings, molestations, vehicle accidents and the like, as heartrending times. They are. When a heart is rending, it does hurt, it is not a false prognosis. Even casual bystanders’ heartstrings are tugged. The pain is real.

But can we survive if we focus only on the negative elements? Do we believe that only bad comes from these events? If the world is such an awful place then why does good come from these appalling trials? Timelessly we are reminded God has a bigger scope, but still they are just that; appalling, awful and bad.

Then out of the blue we see daffodil sprouts peeking through the barren ground. Moments ago it appeared so bleak, now it is emitting cheer in a desolate time. Soon the entire garden is flaunting its splendor. A rainbow materializes showing a promise of hope.  We stand in awe. Just when we thought there was no hope and all was lost, that barren dirt transformed into a peacock of color. Beautiful it is, yet only eight inches below the delicate flower is soil. Brown dirt; a substance easily changed to mud with a sprinkle of rain or to dust with the lack thereof. But, nevertheless, the flower blooms. The dirt remains, however it is overwhelmed with an array of grandeur. Hope is renewed, bringing forth confidence in God’s paradoxical plan. A rainbow at the end of the tunnel. In believing that the rainbow existed from the start, we can see optimism in the drear, feel love during the ugliness and have faith in the grip of trepidation.

The fact that good came from the bad doesn’t discount the bad. Flowers grew out of the dirt. That doesn’t make the dirt less dirty nor the flowers less beautiful. Good remains good and flowers are still appealing. Dirt is still dirt and evil is evil yet.

Quotable Quote: “Good and bad run on parallel tracks and usually arrive about the same time.” – Dr. Ron Dunn

Published in: on April 15, 2010 at 4:05 am  Comments (1)  
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2009 IRA Contribution

You have till April 15th to contribute to your IRA and credit it to your 2009 tax returns. This means you could start an IRA account before tax day and make a $10,000 contribution. You can put in $5000 for 2009 and 2010. There are plenty options, the most popular being a ROTH IRA and a Traditional IRA.

A Traditional allows you to take deduction on your tax return for the year that you contributed. Your gains (hopefully it grows) will be taxed when you take distributions for retirement.

A ROTH does not allow for a tax deduction the year you contribute but all gains are tax-free. You put it away for your retirement and never pay taxes on the gains.

I like the ROTH option. There are only a few ways that the government allows you to gain capital with keeping their hands to their own blessed selves. But the ROTH allows this. Your gains grow faster if they don’t take a cut.

Start saving today. The future will be here tomorrow.

Quotable Quote: The Lord gave us two ends – one to sit on and the other to think with. Success depends on which one we use the most. – Ann Landers

Published in: on April 12, 2010 at 1:29 am  Leave a Comment  

Good Things Take Time


Good Things Take Time   

By Dave Miller

On Oct 16th 2007 we set up a showing to see a former doctor’s office that just came on the market. The local hospital bought out the doctor’s practice and the real estate. Real estate was not the motive nor was it something the hospital desired.  Their long-term plans rule out owning real estate other than their core buildings. So they bought out the doctor with his office and put the office on the market. The main floor was the doctor’s office which he was vacating. Upstairs was a dentist’s office, he was also vacating. So empty she stands.

The building looked to be in good repair. After researching the market we saw potential but concluded by saying “It’s empty and we are not looking for an empty building”. Therefore we let the opportunity pass us by and do not place an offer.

Time passes. The property is still on the market. We watch it from a distance.

In the process of time our Realtor changes offices and now works side by side with the listing agent. He is told the hospital is now using the building for their primary billing department. They consolidated two or three offices into this one.

Our realtor calls us with the news and I ask to see the lease. It is pitiful. The year to year lease offers a 6.7% return. This ends being good news because no one is interested in this property with such a low return.

After viewing the property again we crunch the numbers. Using a combination of existing knowledge, an accountant and our mentor, we place an offer. The offer is contingent on the standard items, i.e., inspections, zoning, financing and the like. But the one value is that we have 90 days to get a satisfactory lease or we can walk.

The hospital comes back with an upward adjustment of $15,000 in price, we accept their counter. We were not concerned about the purchase price. Why not? One may ask. This agreement is contingent on a satisfactory lease. If the purchase price goes up then the lease must increase to reflect that. We are calculating on a percentage basis, so if they want more for the property we want more for the leased space. They raised their own rent. We are buying based on cash flow so if they don’t give use a satisfactory lease – we walk. It’s that simple.

The lease agreement negotiations started with a meeting at the hospital with their Vice President, the realtors and us. They expressed heavy interest but only on the main floor. We reminded them they are currently using the basement. The VP was not aware of this and said he would investigate. Next they said that they want the main floor and one half of the basement for storage. Our attorney starts writing a lease agreement. I continue to negotiate with the hospital and things improve. I tell them our break of point and then offer them the entire basement for a few thousand dollars more. They accept. We are happy because we do not need to do any work in the basement and this gives them a larger share of the CAM costs.  We end with a better lease than we had expected.

We also ordered a building inspection. This came back reporting that the heating and cooling system had only a few years of life left. A new  system  would be around $20,000. We add in a few other repairs and estimate  the near future could bring up to $23,000 in expenses. Suddenly the venture has lost its luster.

We walk.

No bridges are burnt. We make another offer that reflects the $23,000 in possible expenses. They balk. Prices are obtained by them for a new heating and cooling system. A few weeks pass and we receive a counter. They do not accept our reduced price but are willing to replace the heating and cooling system within their tenure if needed.

Now we quibble amongst ourselves. It is still a good deal. We accept.

In the weeks that follow we wrangled together the legal work.  A limited partnership is created with a LLC as the general partner. This allows for limited liability and avoids capital stock tax.

April 1st 2010. No fooling. This is two and a half years later. We sit in the attorney’s office. Papers are signed. Both parties walk away happy. Rather six parties, the investors, two Realtors, a banker, an attorney and the sellers are all happy. Before the meeting is dispersed two new ideas are sketched with the group. Maybe in two and a half years we will all be sitting around the same table again, just maybe.

Quotable Quote; “I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.” Abraham Lincoln

Published in: on April 8, 2010 at 1:20 am  Comments (4)  
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Hello world, together we learn!

 Today starts a new day, as every day before it. Only this one is new in a different way – for I blog. Today I start to share my thoughts with mankind in hopes of helping someone, even if only in a small way. This world is a place where we can learn as we go or learn as others go. If you can discover something from my successes and mistakes then you are ahead. Herein lays my goal; that you would learn as I have learned and I as you.

My topics will consist of:

  • Real Estate Investing
  • Investment Strategies
  • Business Consulting
  • Economics
  • Random Thoughts

Enjoy and learn, and I will do the same.

Quotable Quote “We really teach ourselves. If you want to learn, you will always find someone to learn from, be they dead or alive, great or unknown. You learn from everything you see and hear around you – if you are willing to pay attention.”  – Alexander Volkov

Published in: on April 3, 2010 at 3:13 pm  Comments (1)  
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