Rising food and fuel prices have caused many to change their spending habits. According to a recent survey, 42% of consumers say they have given up favorite food brands because of rising prices and economic concerns. Buying off-brands has its advantages. Since shopping at the local discount grocery outlet, my friend’s $1.50 boxes of cereal have let him work on his Arabic every morning. Check out discount stores for deals like these, as well as retailmenot.com, coupons.com, and smartsource.com for money saving coupons.
I saw an awesome video online this afternoon from Good Morning America, which is kind of an oxymoron. It was about a giant garage sale organized by a business called Just Between Friends. Basically a bunch of moms get together to buy and sell kids clothes, toys, strollers, bottles, anything like that. None of the items appeal to me, being young and without children, but the concept did. During my freshman year in college, the girls in my house got together about once a term and put any clothes, shoes or accessories on the dining hall tables for a "swap meet." The clothes were ones we no longer wore and just wanted to get rid of. Then we "shopped" through everyone else's stuff, took what we wanted, and either took back the clothes no one else wanted, or gave them to charity. It's also a great way to share stuff that you'll only use once, like Prom gear, or even to trade stuff you don't need anymore like books, computer programs or video games. It's a very cool way to save money, but it's also a great business idea, as the two women who started Just Between Friends discovered.
Hellooooo (echo, echo, echo…) out there! I have finally reached the big bad world of the Internet and I’m ready to show it who’s boss. Me. My name is Erin Flesch and I am the new Editorial Intern here at brass. It’s coming up on the end of my first week and I’m not gonna lie, it started off a little rocky. As much as it pains me to admit this, I missed my first day due to a nasty stomach flu that came out of nowhere. And by nowhere I mean most likely the raw eggs I chose to ingest the night previous from brownie batter. Or maybe it was the Chinese food I ate that had been sitting in my fridge all week. However, all of that is but dust in the wind (um, is that still a saying?) because I am so happy and honored to be working at brass. After working here one week I can honestly say that this is one of the coolest jobs an English major like me could ever hope to find. In addition to the prestige of having my own desk, which in itself is a pretty big deal, I also have been given actual writing assignments and responsibilities! My mom is so proud. I have spent the majority of my first week catching up on past issues of brass|MAGAZINE and watching videos about brass on YouTube (yup, reading mags and watching online videos…that's so cool). My favorite part about being here, though, is feeling like a grown-up for the first time because I am finally in an environment that treats me like one. Working alongside smart, creative and talented young people doing what I love to do is pretty much the best scenario I could hope for. So thanks to brass, I won’t let you down! That’s all from me for now. I tend to ramble, so it’s best to end this. Don’t worry though ‘cause you’ll be hearing a lot more from me in the future, so introduce yourself, write a comment and let's get to know each other!
Where do you get your daily news? Do you start your day with a Capitol City Times, or have newspapers lost their relevance in an information market overcrowded by television, magazine and online sources? It would appear they have, as newspaper revenues fell 16.1% from last year’s totals. This continues a steady declining trend in newspaper profits for the last several years. In the past, online profits were seen as the future panacea in combating this trend, but over the same period online revenues fell 2.4%. So I ask again: where do you get your daily information? Google News? Reddit? The Colbert Report? Leave a comment and let us know. --Cody The picture is taken from this photostream, and edited/used with permission from a Creative Commons license.
Paper Check is dying. He is about 350 years old. Paper Check isn't dying a natural death. He's slowly being placed six feet under by electronic funds transfer (EFT). Debit and Credit Card make up the bulk of EFT transactions, and thus remain the primary suspects in the demise of Paper Check.
Since EFT transactions first surpassed Paper Check payments in 2004, EFT has slowly been killing off Paper Check. He only makes up 10.2 percent of transactions for 18- to 24-year-olds. According to the latest investigative reports, Paper Check has seen his life going down the drain at a -6 percent rate per year since 2003. At the same time, Debit Card has increased at a 17.5 percent rate and Credit Card at a 4.6 percent rate. Sadly, even when Paper Check is being used, he is actually processed electronically. The once glorious adventure (the so-called paper trail) from payee to collector, from one financial institution to another, is no longer taking place. Now, when Paper Check is written, his information is transmitted electronically all around the world.
Paper Check will be survived by his father Cash (still making up 53.8 percent of transactions for 18- to 24-year-olds), and his conspiratorial cousins Debit and Credit Card. Rest in peace, Paper Check, and may your memory live on in the hearts of the plastic-obsessed generations of today and tomorrow. You will be missed (at least until your inconvenience is remembered).
Breaking a budget is easier than ever, and I’m as guilty as anyone. In my inglorious youth, I spent my student loan checks on useless items like fog machines and keytaurs. After I graduated and the loan money dried up, I came to the harsh realization that I could no longer afford this extravagant lifestyle. Living on an intern’s salary while starting to actually pay off these loans, I’ve had to closely watch my purchases. After a few overdraft snafus, I limited my spending to only $15 each week. Now I mull over every purchase, as even a $5 lunch makes a big dent in my weekly budget. I’ve enabled myself to do this by reverting to only using cash. I’ll take out my set amount every week, and have a physical reminder of how much I can actually spend. The credit and debit cards stay at home. It’s too easy for every $3 purchase to not seem like much when you don’t see the money leave your wallet. Recently I was promoted to a full-time, Big Kid job at brass. Even though I’ll be making more money, I’ll still have thriftiness embedded in my brain. Any extra money will be put away for a rainy day, or invested wisely to give me more cash for that deluxe fog machine I’ve had my eye on. I challenge you to live my miserly existence for a week. $15 might seem low (granted, my roommates Ma and Pa cover food and rent), but the idea is to take a look at your spending habits and eliminate what you don’t need.
I could try and tell you about the trip, but it'd be easier if I just let him speak for himself (after all, that's what he does for a living). Here's what he had to say: I'm leaving on a 6 week trip to Africa that will take me to Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and South Africa. In Kenya, I'll be visiting survivors of the violence surrounding the elections in Nairobi, in Arusha, Tanzania, meeting with 2 exiled Black Panthers (Pete O'Neil and Charlotte O'Neil), interviewing survivors of the genocide in Rwanda, and then wrapping up the trip in Durban, South Africa as the United States poetry representative at the Poetry Africa festival (an annual gathering of poets/writers from around the world).
The purpose of Carlos' trip is to further his work as the creative producer/mentor of the documentary film, Myth of the Motherland. He's also doing research for a play he's developing called A World Without Fathers. To top it all off, the trip is being paid for by a grant that Carlos received from the Harlem Stage Fund for New Work. That's taking networking to a whole new level.
Best of luck, Carlos.
If you were looking for a brass blog yesterday, you might have noticed that nothing got updated. That’s because no one was working. Labor Day, baby!
I spent most of the day driving back to Corvallis from my hometown of Lakeview. It was a long five-hour drive after watching the 89th Annual Lake County Round Up Parade. I was also tired after staying out 'till midnight the night before in 38 degree weather watching the Destruction Derby. The highlight was watching a former high school classmate (affectionately nicknamed "The Stain") drive his 1970s Chrysler New Yorker across the arena at full speed into the front end of another local Lake County boy's car. They hit so hard that Stain's New Yorker ended up parked in the other car's engine compartment. The roar that went up from the packed grandstand was the deep-throated cry of the American Redneck.
Needless to say, the derby ticket was the best $9 I've ever spent. Unfortunately I forgot to take any pictures... so you're stuck with this Flickr jewel (via Creative Commons). Don't worry though, all that Labor Day free time wasn't a total waste. After all, it made me wonder how much money was paid out to workers who got the day off and used their time as wisely as I did.
Here's what I found out: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 145,819,000 employed workers in the civilian labor force. On average these workers are pulling down $18.06 per hour. There are eight hours in the standard work day. Put all those numbers together and this is what you get: 145,819,000 X $18.06 X 8 = $21,067,929,120. Now I know that some people work on Labor Day, and not everyone gets paid to take the day off, but you get the idea--$21 billion are paid out to American employees to not do any work. As McDonald's would say, "i'm lovin' it."
Last week I went on a family trip to Philadelphia and Washington D.C. And while my roommates (i.e., my parents) generously paid for everything, I was surprised to find how much you could do around our nation’s capitol on a budget. Due to some Internet finagling, we stayed in a much nicer hotel than I was used to. They don’t usually have chandeliers at Holiday Inn. Also, the folded toilet paper was a little off-putting. The great public transportation system allowed us to get across D.C. for far cheaper than a taxi. A subway ride from our hotel to the National Mall was only $1.25. Once we got there, practically everything was free. I missed out on the Spy Museum, but toured two of the eighteen Smithsonian Museums, all of which had free admission. I also got to check out the National Portrait Gallery, containing this great portrait of Ice-T. In the middle of touring these sites, a great place to grab a quick bite to eat are cafeterias underneath most congressional offices. These eateries cater to broke aides and pages, and the savings are passed on to you. Many museums also have cafeterias, but are far more expensive. Before leaving, my roommate (I call her Mom) set up a free tour of the Capitol building with our Congressman. This was really interesting because we got to view areas unavailable to a normal tourist. For instance, one room in the Capitol building held statues of important people chosen by each state. One such southern state chose Robert E. Lee, but in the wake of the Civil War this wasn’t exactly cool. A compromise was made. Lee’s statue had to be shorter than all the rest. The sculptor compensated for this by making its base several times larger, so Lee’s statue looked just as tall as the rest. Those crazy sculptors… --Cody
Last week I went on a family trip to the East Coast (admit it, you missed me). While catching up with family members I hadn’t seen in years, discussion inevitably turned to politics. And while opinions were all over the political spectrum, I was surprised to find out how many formed their opinions off information from the Internet. This isn’t all that surprising, considering a Pew poll claiming 46 percent of Americans have used the Internet, email or text messages to find information or voice their views on the presidential campaign. Also, 35 percent of Americans have watched online political videos. That’s three times more than during the 2004 race. While the internet provides a new wealth of information, take everything with a grain of salt. Check out ontheissues.org, glassbooth.org and votesmart.org for (relatively) unbiased info on political candidates, and always make sure to visit a lot of sources before making a decision.