Financial magazines tend to self perpetuate themselves. Once they get your name in their system, it is all but impossible to stop them. The advice that they give is based upon so many false or unrealistic assumptions that the articles are almost comical. They are easy to read since 50% of the magazine is advertisements. The other day, one that caught my eye was entitled “10 Ways to save $50,000.”
Now the magazines won’t tell you when they write these fantastic articles that they are addressed to a family with an income level in the range of $250,000 and up. One suggestion was “relocate to a cheaper area.” Maybe because I live in Michigan that I thought this was a real dumb suggestion. I would love to move to a less expensive area but how do I sell my home when there are no buyers? The second suggestion was to “trade down to a more affordable automobile.” Now the example in the article was a family that owned two cars and one of them was a 2007 BMW 535i. They listed their annual expenses on the BMW including car payments at $91,010. The astute authors suggested a new Chevy Malibu and the resultant savings was $51,945 over 5 years. This is obviously a doable suggestion but somehow I don’t think the two automobiles are in the same price or quality range. Now the third suggestion was the use of public transportation and commute by train or bus. I wish this was the case in Michigan but here you need a car to get to the bus and back and the destination of most buses is extremely limited. The authors suggested saving $11,200 on your vacation. Now I don’t regularly go to the island of Barbados so switching to New Providence in the Bahamas is not much of an option!
Now, another magazine appealed to me in that they had a series of articles on how to “Save $50.00 a day.” Thinking that it was more in my budget range, I passed over their first suggestion as I did not have $25,000 in my brokerage account and could not take advantage of a company called Zecco that would give me ten free stock trades each month. Now the Deals on Meals that they listed were slightly unrealistic. You could save 50% or more on a $50.00 dinner at a restaurant called Ravish in Seattle, Washington. Thankfully they listed 15,000 restaurants as Seattle was a little out of my way. Now they listed a web site called ShopitToMe.com that notified shoppers of online discounts. A typical example would be a Men’s J Crew wool-cashmere grid-stitch cardigan for $120.00 normally listed for $168.00 – a savings of $48.00. Wow this was a good suggestion since I buy several wool cashmere sweaters a year – right!
I have not figured yet how to subscribe to basic cable television for a bare bones plan of $13.00 per month as they listed in the article. It might be a great plan until you figured out that basically there was nothing to watch but the local news channels that repeat themselves every 30 minutes. The list was endless. They had suggestions on how to save on a cocktail party for 50 without breaking the bank. I gave up trying to compute the total cost of the party but the article did list the savings at $587.00. The last suggestion was more along the lines of real frugality. It suggested that rather than buy a pricey Bordeaux, such as Chateau Batailley Pauillac 2009 for $40.00 per bottle, try Amancaya 2009 for $20.00 a bottle. I had planned on buying a case of each anyway.
I wish I were making all this up but it is real. These magazines are not quite daily reading for the average American. The final article was on computing your Estate Tax Return. I was surprised to discover that a married couple can together leave up to $10 million dollars to their heirs tax free. If the first spouse doesn’t use up his or her $5 million exemption, the leftover amount can be added to the widow or widower’s $5 million. I probably should include a note on this in my latest homeowners news?