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Old 08-05-2010, 03:35 PM   #21
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I am consciously trying to invest enough in my local natural gas company, electric utility, and so forth to have the dividends pay the bills. ...

Does anyone else take this approach?
I always wanted to, but I don't think there is any sort of correlation between the rates and the stock returns.

I've thought about things like natural gas futures to hedge my bill - there is a transaction cost to that, and overall it just didn't seem to be worth it.

-ERD50
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Old 08-05-2010, 03:41 PM   #22
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I've thought about things like natural gas futures to hedge my bill - there is a transaction cost to that, and overall it just didn't seem to be worth it.
Especially considering many utilities hedge their commodity purchases already to mitigate for spot price spikes.
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Old 08-05-2010, 03:44 PM   #23
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Some truth to all this, but there are some offsetting factors. I agree you need to be careful not to succumb to "keeping up with the Joneses" , but that was always true.

OFFSETS:

HOME PHONE: I get unlimited local & long distance and multiple extensions for less $ than the cost of leasing a single corded phone w/o lighted dial back in the day.

CELL PHONE: Sure, we didn't have cell phone bills back then - but if you are careful, I'd say the phone can pay for itself. My rate will be down to 83 cents per month next year, and when I do use it, it normally saves me an extra trip or buying the wrong thing, or whatever.

EFFICIENCY: My new fridge uses about 40% as much juice as the old one, which was already a very efficient model for 1992. Furnaces are 90+ rather than 45-55%.

Remember 'tune-ups'? Those cost money (or your time and $), and performance started degrading shortly after, along with mpg. And letting the car warm up on cold days, or it would stall in traffic because the choke was still adjusting?

Buying tubes for old TV, calling a serviceman to fix it? Flashlight batteries that would be dead and leaking within the year (buy a new flashlight and batteries!)? No Costcos or Amazons to bring us great deals? Valuable choices in products that we just never had before?

How much of our life was wasted, waiting for those old tube TVs to warm up, and adjusting the Horizontal, or the Vertical? (OK, just kidding on that one). Now we waste it waiting for our digital TVs to 'boot up' and cycle through dozens of channels to find out that 'nothin's on'.

These things fade from our memory, but there must be dozen of other things that required our attention and costly maintenance back then, and those needs have been designed out.

Regardless of which effect is greater, I'm not going back - no way, no how!

-ERD50

How do you get a cell phone for 83 cents per month!!!! I want one...
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Old 08-05-2010, 04:12 PM   #24
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How do you get a cell phone for 83 cents per month!!!! I want one...
Learned about it on this forum. T-Mobile pre-pay and 'Gold Status'.

The first year will cost me $32 for the phone, charger and a $25 card. Add $100 (1000 minutes plus 1 year) to achieve 'Gold Status'. So $132/12 = $11/month the first month ( a little less if you can stretch that first $25 worth). After that, just $10 extends you for another year and rolls over your unused minutes, and adds 35 minutes. I rarely use even 10 minutes a month, so unless my habits change, I won't be spending more than $10/year for many years.

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Old 08-05-2010, 07:43 PM   #25
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I am consciously trying to invest enough in my local natural gas company, electric utility, and so forth to have the dividends pay the bills. It might not be the most efficient investing but I see it as a hedge against price hikes. There are some problems with my logic I know but the investments are a tiny fraction of all my investments so I am not concerned.

Does anyone else take this approach?
Despite my prior posts about T and AAPL, I don't actually make investments on stuff or services I buy just because I buy it. (with the exception of AAPL, which was more of a surrender than seizing an opportunity).

But I do like to play a little game when paying bills and being shocked by the prices at times. When I get the AT&T bill I often squawk about the prices, but it brings a little smile to my face when I can say, "that's okay - you bitches pay me ten times that every quarter in dividends!"
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Old 08-05-2010, 11:51 PM   #26
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No cell phone? Spouse and I are surprised to find out that we're members of "America's Most Exclusive Club":

America's Most Exclusive Club - BusinessWeek

I occasionally watch TV (but prefer the computer or a good book), I use the dryer a couple times a month (but still hang up a significant minority of our laundry), I use the dishwasher every week or so (but still wash a lot of dishes/pots/pans), and we don't have air conditioning. If the grid is destroyed by a hurricane this month then we'd just party like it's 1799...
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Old 08-06-2010, 06:11 AM   #27
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I am consciously trying to invest enough in my local natural gas company, electric utility, and so forth to have the dividends pay the bills. It might not be the most efficient investing but I see it as a hedge against price hikes. There are some problems with my logic I know but the investments are a tiny fraction of all my investments so I am not concerned.

Does anyone else take this approach?
Yes. I started DRIP plans with electric, phone, oil companies long ago. These are monthly bills I would have for life. Now they pay me more than I pay them.
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Old 08-06-2010, 07:21 AM   #28
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I often think about how so called necessities of life have changed radically since I was a kid. Once we have tasted the fruit it is hard to go back to the simpler life, even if it means we have to work to support this habit.
I think part of it is simply that there is just so much more stuff (i.e. temptations and options) than there were and so much of it "snowballs" from one thing to the next. We didn't have A/C until I was 15 or a clothes dryer until the year after that. A machine that washes dishes? Never heard of it.

But never again will I take a long road trip without a GPS (with a paper map for backup) since even a cheap one is $80. For looking into small or awkward spaces a digital inspection camera beats a mirror easily. Those things didn't exist, at least at a price affordable for the average person, 15 years ago.

And the list goes on....
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Old 08-06-2010, 08:03 AM   #29
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No cell phone? Spouse and I are surprised to find out that we're members of "America's Most Exclusive Club":

America's Most Exclusive Club - BusinessWeek

I occasionally watch TV (but prefer the computer or a good book), I use the dryer a couple times a month (but still hang up a significant minority of our laundry), I use the dishwasher every week or so (but still wash a lot of dishes/pots/pans), and we don't have air conditioning. If the grid is destroyed by a hurricane this month then we'd just party like it's 1799...
I have no cell phone, either. I hate those things on several different levels. When I see someone driving erratically near me, most of the time the driver is on a cell phone. This frightens me. [I once had trouble crossing a street as a pedestrian because the driver was not obeying the directions of a police officer directing traffic. I yelled to him and pointed to the driver who was on her cell phone. The cop went to her and chewed her out.] For the last 10 years or so I was working, the trip on the train was constantly worsened by other passengers yakking loudly on their cell phones, oblivious or apathetic to the selfish (or cell-fish) annoyance they were imposing on those around them. At movies, restaurants, and other public venues where some level of quiet is expected, these things cause nothing but annoyance and aggravation.

When I go out, I don't want to be able to be found. I have a phone answering machine at home, and if I need to check it from elsewhere, I can do so without annoying anyone. Email and Instant Messaging provide other unintrusive ways of my being found.

How did these people survive in the bad old 1990s without cell phones?
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Old 08-06-2010, 08:24 AM   #30
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I have no cell phone, either. I hate those things on several different levels. When I see someone driving erratically near me, most of the time the driver is on a cell phone. This frightens me. [I once had trouble crossing a street as a pedestrian because the driver was not obeying the directions of a police officer directing traffic. I yelled to him and pointed to the driver who was on her cell phone. The cop went to her and chewed her out.] For the last 10 years or so I was working, the trip on the train was constantly worsened by other passengers yakking loudly on their cell phones, oblivious or apathetic to the selfish (or cell-fish) annoyance they were imposing on those around them. At movies, restaurants, and other public venues where some level of quiet is expected, these things cause nothing but annoyance and aggravation.

When I go out, I don't want to be able to be found. I have a phone answering machine at home, and if I need to check it from elsewhere, I can do so without annoying anyone. Email and Instant Messaging provide other unintrusive ways of my being found.

How did these people survive in the bad old 1990s without cell phones?
I have the same issues about cell phones and the other functions you mentioned.

I got a cell phone in 2006 (and cut out the land line) for traveling and safety while traveling. I even pull over to the side of the road to use it or don't answer it when I'm driving. You can have one and use it like a land line - leave it at home.
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Old 08-06-2010, 08:47 AM   #31
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No cell phone? Spouse and I are surprised to find out that we're members of "America's Most Exclusive Club":
I'm a proud member too! I'm too important and the demands on my time are too great to leave time to mess with answering a piddly cell phone. I rarely answer the home phone either. Voicemails left at my home phone number are emailed to me, and I can respond on my schedule.

I usually have a cell phone. It stays in my glove box for emergencies. I forgot to activate a new phone, so I have been phone-less for a month. Oh well! I did wish for a cell phone this last weekend while on vacation. I had walked 6 or 8 blocks away to pick up lunch for the family while they were lounging by the fountain. It looked like rain so we MADE PLANS (yes people can still make plans) that if it rained, we would meet under the awning of the National Archives building across the street. It rained and upon my return, the family wasn't at the National Archives, so I found them fountain-side packing up to rendezvous at the National Archives.
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Old 08-06-2010, 09:18 AM   #32
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No cell phone? Spouse and I are surprised to find out that we're members of "America's Most Exclusive Club":

America's Most Exclusive Club - BusinessWeek

I occasionally watch TV (but prefer the computer or a good book), I use the dryer a couple times a month (but still hang up a significant minority of our laundry), I use the dishwasher every week or so (but still wash a lot of dishes/pots/pans), and we don't have air conditioning. If the grid is destroyed by a hurricane this month then we'd just party like it's 1799...

I was one of the few... but finally got one for emergencies... I do not give out my number to just anybody... and when I do I tell them it is for emergencies... When I first got it... by BIL called to talk... I told him this does not sound like an emergency... he never called my cell again...


The thing I got out of the article is that so many people are ruled by their phone, so they do not have one.... I have one, but am not ruled by it...
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Old 08-06-2010, 10:49 AM   #33
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No cell phone here either. For me the costs outweigh the benefits, and the costs are not all financial. I also have this strange urge to dismantle farm equipment whenever I see it.

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yes people can still make plans
But I think it's a dying art!
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Old 08-06-2010, 10:54 AM   #34
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No, I don't think you can assume that price hikes correlate to higher profits for the company. Back when gas was going up to $4/gallon, some said to invest in the oil companies. So let's say you invested in BP. Then their well blows. BP's stock tanks. Let's say the spill is bad enough to create a bit of a gas shortage, and prices go up. Now you're paying more for gas, but your oil stock has dropped too.

I think that making your best investments and shopping prudently are totally separate issues. You can buy AAPL stock and make money and not be compelled to buy an iPhone. Now what does make sense is seeing a product that you and a lot of other people like, making sure that product's sales really impact that company's bottom line, and deciding to buy the stock.
Ok, I grant that what you say is true. But I was talking about the utilities that serve us. Their prices, and indeed profits, are regulated by the states they operate in. So, at least in principle, once the dividends are enough to cover the bills we pay to them, we should be somewhat protected against price hikes. It's not perfect of course but it's something.

Deregulation could screw that all up. But after the disastrous experience with deregulation about 10 years ago I don't think we will see it in at least a generation.
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Old 08-06-2010, 10:56 AM   #35
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Learned about it on this forum. T-Mobile pre-pay and 'Gold Status'.

The first year will cost me $32 for the phone, charger and a $25 card. Add $100 (1000 minutes plus 1 year) to achieve 'Gold Status'. So $132/12 = $11/month the first month ( a little less if you can stretch that first $25 worth). After that, just $10 extends you for another year and rolls over your unused minutes, and adds 35 minutes. I rarely use even 10 minutes a month, so unless my habits change, I won't be spending more than $10/year for many years.
I'm on T-Mobile prepaid, too. Spent $100 the first year for 1200 minutes (there was a 20% bonus when I bought in) and then $10 per year to keep the service alive. I still have 1100 minutes left.
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Old 08-06-2010, 11:05 AM   #36
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I do not give out my number to just anybody... and when I do I tell them it is for emergencies... When I first got it... by BIL called to talk... I told him this does not sound like an emergency... he never called my cell again...
Your BIL probably pays big $ for a package with lots of minutes, so he thinks nothing of making a bunch of calls over nothing.

And here's another way that impacts us - it really bugs me that so many parents get the 'unlimited texting' for their kids. So their kids text my kids and we pay for each text. "Oh, it's only $15 a month" - making me sound like a cheapskate (well, I am), but that is $180 a year, and look at the taxes/fees on top of that too.

It adds insult to injury as I know that texts cost the carriers almost zero $ to support.

-ERD50
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Old 08-06-2010, 12:11 PM   #37
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And here's another way that impacts us - it really bugs me that so many parents get the 'unlimited texting' for their kids. So their kids text my kids and we pay for each text. "Oh, it's only $15 a month" - making me sound like a cheapskate (well, I am), but that is $180 a year, and look at the taxes/fees on top of that too.

It adds insult to injury as I know that texts cost the carriers almost zero $ to support.

-ERD50

I have to get unlimited texting, b/c my daughter can somehow text >1600 times in a month which is far below the amount of minutes she can use. I wonder if she sleeps
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Old 08-06-2010, 12:16 PM   #38
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I have to get unlimited texting, b/c my daughter can somehow text >1600 times in a month which is far below the amount of minutes she can use. I wonder if she sleeps

She is a slacker... I think someone posted here the average is 3,000...

I have seen some interviews on TV where they text each other even when they are sitting on the same couch!!!
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Old 08-06-2010, 12:19 PM   #39
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I have seen some interviews on TV where they text each other even when they are sitting on the same couch!!!

That might have been her!
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Old 08-06-2010, 12:50 PM   #40
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I have seen some interviews on TV where they text each other even when they are sitting on the same couch!!!
I like technology as much as the next guy, but when it comes to stuff like this and texting while driving, enough is enough.
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