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Friday, July 24, 2009

Passing of a Mentor/Legend. More Entrepreneurial Ideas

Before getting into this issue of the Poor Man Bulletin…I want to pay homage to my inspiration, John Shuttleworth, founder of the Mother Earth News magazine. John and I met several times in the early 80s throughout the 90s when I owned a publishing company in Ohio not far from where he launched his great magazine. John passed away recently. John was a born tinkerer and loved assembling cheap mechanical devices. Upon selling MEN, he moved to CO where he spent much of his time doing what he loved – tinkering!
In many respects, his publication was the inspiration for our Poor Man site, devoted more to the urban dweller.

Consumers still not consuming…biggest ‘Wall Street Casinos’ worry!

“It’s been said that if Barak Obama continues with his
‘green’ procedures, the utility companies will have
every American citizen by the bills!”

By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press Writer Jim Kuhnhenn, Associated Press Writer – 2 hrs 5 mins ago...

WASHINGTON – The watchdog overseeing the federal government financial bailout says the government's maximum exposure to financial institutions since 2007 could total nearly $24 trillion, or about $80,000 for every American.
The whopping amount compiled by the inspector general for the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program takes into account about 50 initiatives and programs set up by the Bush and Obama administrations as well as by the Federal Reserve.
Fact #1. The official unemployment rate is going up. Even the most optimistic economists expect it will top 10 percent, and many expect it will go much higher.
Fact #2. The unemployment rate is closely correlated with all consumer debt delinquency rates — on home mortgages, credit cards, auto loans, student loans, and more.
Therefore ...
Delinquency rates must go up almost across the board, piling up even more toxic assets on the books of America's financial institutions
"At the heart of the banks' troubles are hard-pressed consumers. The question, analysts said, was whether the banks have braced themselves enough for the next wave of bad debts as people slog through a long, dreary recession.
In my opinion, brokerage houses (& some banks) are nothing more than gambling houses!
Spending moderation, it turns out, could outlast the recession, and most economists and consumer experts say that's a good thing. In a recent survey, about half of the respondents who had reduced their spending said that they would continue to spend less even if their financial situation improved. "The consumer has fundamentally changed," says Margot Bogue, associate director of brand planning for the advertising firm Cramer-Krasselt. The new "evolved consumer," she says, shops with more discipline and focuses on buying products with lasting value rather than just accumulating stuff.

***$26 Billion Shortfall in CA State budget***
California, which has the largest budget in the United States has lost 30% of its tax revenues…state worker unions are angry about the cuts to the budget (they’re going back to 2005 levels). Doesn’t it amaze you how much money our respective governments suck out of the pockets of citizens. Frankly, the problem is the government at all levels is TOO BIG. Government was never meant to be a growth industry.

Other News & Tips

Frequently Overlooked Discounts
If you are a member of AAA auto club or AARP, your card entitles you to a variety of discounts from prescription drugs to entertainment venues. Also, most supermarkets offer senior day discounts. Example: Fry’s supermarket is the first Wednesday of each month; combine that with coupons and save even more.

Recession or not, consumers will continue to demand responsible
behavior from brands. Just one statistic: “Four out of five people say they are still buying green products and services today--which sometimes cost more--even in the midst of a US recession.”
(source: Reuters)

>>>Save Money on Organic Food. Instead of bypassing pricey organic food, ask whether your supermarket has its own in-house line. Safeway, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods offers them at substantially lower prices.

* Quite ironic of course, is the rapidly diminishing demand for oil
due to a global decrease in economic activity, which in turn lowers
the price of energy and fuel and therefore discourages (at least
for the time being) costly investments in renewable energy
sources. We guess you can’t have it all...

>>>It’s bug season! Make your own bug repellent by mixing a few drops of witch hazel and few drops of peppermint oil in a spray bottle. Spritz it on your body to keep the critters at bay.

Feed a family for $800 a year
Eating healthy can be expensive. Check Erin Libranda’s blog Jane4girls to see how she chronicles her low cost feeding program:

Cash-strapped consumers are going
out of their way to save money on energy bills, motorized transport
and other waste-prone, eco-unfriendly activities (see last week’s Bulletin)…

.* While the environment may not be their first concern, they will nevertheless
do less damage. Other consumers are still primarily interested in
sustainable consumption, but no longer willing or able to pay the
usual premiums.

>>>Not super-new, but still fun: Philippe Starck has offered
his own take on the electricity-generating wind turbine.
The design, called Democratic Ecology, features transparent
plastic blades and is designed to produce 80% of
a home’s electricity. The first in a series of designs reflecting
Starck’s new environmental focus, the turbine
could soon be joined by a solar panel.

Smart Meter Ontario, an informational site maintained by the
government of Ontario, has a good summary of the benefits of
smart meters:
• You’ll be able to take action to manage your electricity
bills. With attention to how and when you use electricity,
you'll be able to contain or reduce your costs.
• You’ll get real feedback about your electricity use.
• Your electricity bill will show how much you consumed—
and, in the future, detailed information may be
available to you via the internet or by telephone.
• You’ll get more precise electricity bills. The bills you receive
will be based on the hourly readings taken and
sent by your Smart Meter.

Also check out Roofray, a California startup that aims
to give consumers the information they need to install
solar panels. The firm provides modeling tools that use
Google maps to determine how much solar energy a
home could capture and how that would affect their
monthly bills based on past weather conditions, current
bills, the pitch of the roof and the roof area available. The
site eventually aims to provide a ‘RoofRaytings’ system
that would be available to homebuyers as an indication
of solar potential.

>>>>>>My Musing of the week<<<<<<<<<
It always makes me wonder, if politicians “value” education so much…
Why isn’t it FREE? College tuition costs surpass the inflation rate every year and high schools seem to turn out some pretty dumb students, yet the US devotes more money to education now than any other country in the world!

A comment or two from a reader got me thinking…I added a new section to the site.
Boot Strap Biz – a section which will focus on some of the ways average people are making money in this economy. Entrepreneurs, not government, are what will salvage our country. Check it out and feel free to make your own suggestions.

Yours for better living,
Bruce ‘the PoorMan’

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