Odds and Ends

A few things too small for posts of their own have been cluttering up my (virtual) desk.

CreditMattersBlog today has a post on a column a few weeks ago in the Wall Street Journal by our friend Brett Arends on using your credit cards to raise money for an emergency fund.  It’s a stupid as it sounds.  The column, I C Cards (Andres Rueda) mean, not the blog post.  I have a rule not to pick on the same guy twice in a week, so I will keep from saying anything bad about Arends.  I’ll just give you a link to where somebody else does it.  (Note to any WSJ editors reading this: I would be happy to do Arends’ job for whatever you are paying him.)

CreditMattersBlog apparently noticed the Arends piece from a post by Liz Pullman Weston at MSN Money with the (for me) irresistible title “Why Suze Orman is Wrong – Again”.  In case you missed it, good ol’ Suze put out some advice on March 1 that caused quite a buzz.

I want you to only pay the minimum due on  your credit card balance and instead make it your top priority to build as much of an  emergency cash fund as you can.

Several people wrote to me about this suggesting I post on it.  One of the reasons I haven’t (until now) is because I don’t have much to say that isn’t obvious.  It’s bad advice for most people.  It contradicts just about everything the woman has written or said in public in the past ten years.

But I am also overcome with guilt.  In my review of Orman’s 2009 Action Plan I gave her a hard time for rehashing the same advice she’s always given and calling it timely.  I guess I didn’t fully consider the consequences of  her trying to say something new.  I apologize.

Speaking of apologies, the AP put one out last week.  Sorta.  On April 15, they sent out the following:

WASHINGTON (AP) In a story April 14, The Associated Press reported that taxpayers who file for an extension on their tax returns will be allowed to make 2008 IRA contributions as late as Oct. 15, 2009, well beyond the usual deadline of April 15, 2009. The story should have explained that only certain self-employed taxpayers can make 2008 IRA contributions after April 15 by getting a tax filing extension. Most taxpayers would still have to make those contributions by April 15, regardless of whether they filed for extensions on their taxes.

I would be the first to admit that whether or not filing an extension gives you more time to contribute to your IRA is an obscure point.  But the AP brought it up.  On April 14th.  And corrected it on April 15th.  Good thing everybody reads these things online, otherwise somebody might have read the bad info in their paper newspaper on April 15 and not gotten the correction until the next day.  That could have been bad.

One more thing deserving of a link: Political Calculations reminded me why they are on my blogroll with a post showing that you are more likely to die in bicycle accident than in an airplane.  Also, the most likely way to go that involves a wild animal is apparently as a result of hitting a deer with your car.  On average, 130 Americans die from that annually.

[Photo: Andres Rueda]

No Comments

  • By Rob Bennett, April 23, 2009 @ 5:17 pm

    I hit a deer recently with my car.

    This was not at night or on a small road. It was three lanes in each direction and a sunny day. There was no warning. None whatsoever. You know that it’s coming when you feel the hit.

    I saw at a hardware store that they have a whistle you can buy that only the deers can hear. It’s supposed to scare them away from your particular car. It costs about $20.


  • By ObliviousInvestor, April 24, 2009 @ 10:56 am

    I got hit by a deer in my car a long time ago. (It definitely was the one hitting me.) No surprise those accidents can be fatal–those things are huge.

    I also hit a turkey once…

  • By Buddy Rick, April 28, 2009 @ 8:57 am

    As one who rides his bike to work (3-4 days a week) AND who flies small planes, I am not at all surprised by this. Small Planes are not very dangerous if they are maintained well and the pilot is well-trained and FLIES OFTEN.

    On the other hand, I have seen bikers who are definitely swimming in the shallow end of the gene pool. Riding 1-handed down Beacon Street in Boston at rush hour without a helmet, while talking on their cell phone…..and just one more. Riding down Comm Ave(rush hour) with no helmet, no short, shorts, With an Ipod cranked up so loud, that I could hear it from behind him!

    Most pilots are pretty well-trained and you actually need a license to fly. Any idiot can ride a bike.

  • By Paul Williams, May 25, 2012 @ 3:26 pm

    Frank, in regards to Suze Orman’s advice, why do you say that it is bad advice for most people? The reason I am asking is because the standard advice is to build up a “starter” emergency fund before you focus on tackling your consumer debts. Are you saying it would be better to just focus on paying off the debts first and then building some emergency savings?

    I suppose, mathematically speaking, it would be better to go the second route. This is especially true if you manage to have no emergencies before you pay off all your debt and get your savings built up, though I find that unlikely.

    I’d be interested in your thoughts on this.

  • By Paul Williams, May 25, 2012 @ 3:58 pm

    P.S. Could you please add this plugin (or something similar) to your WordPress installation so we can see when replies have been posted? http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/subscribe-to-comments/

    Your RSS feed for comments at the bottom of the post and the one for all comments at the top right of the website seem to take me only to the RSS feed for your posts.

  • By Frank Curmudgeon, May 30, 2012 @ 6:01 pm

    Basically, Suze was telling folks to borrow money at a very high interest rate to stash in their checking account or under their mattress, just in case. Yes, disaster might strike anytime, but that is a very expensive insurance policy.

    You might also enjoy:

  • By Paul Williams, May 30, 2012 @ 6:42 pm

    I see what you’re saying, but what are your thoughts on debt payoff in general? Would it be best to simply focus on paying off credit card debt before building an emergency fund, or should you build an emergency fund first?

    P.S. Thanks for installing a comments subscription plugin! I find the ‘Replies to my comments’ option to be irrelevant since you don’t have nested comments on here, but it’s nice all the same.

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