Sunday, May 13, 2018

Don't Be Punked or Bambozzled

Hello My Peoples,

I know it has been a while, but I am a hard working brother and have to make that money. Now that being said, I make my money from other things than financial advice. This separates me from the other cats on the internet blog sites. I am not trying to make money off of you, just spreading good frugal advice and love for my people. As my mother used to say, "People who love you will tell you what you need to hear not what you want to hear." SO AGAIN as I yell at you. Beware of people trying to make money off of you. Now don't get me wrong, you should protect your family with insurance and you should invest for your future, but you can research and do this for yourself without paying hefty fees. You can check this blog, ask questions, and seek out your library for some good books. Yes, as frugal fans you are going to have to read for yourselves. I am not your quick answer guy but we can have a healthy discussion once you educate yourself a little.  I need you to join the ranks of the Frugal Franks On the Black Side, which means I am probably going to rename this site because I believe in the empowerment of black women and we need strong sisters and brothers. Now, just because I love my people don't mean I am against others. I love the human race, but my people sometimes get neglected. So, as I write this blog on Mother's Day, I have to give much love to my deceased mother who was a symbol of strength in flesh. She could pinch pennies like nobody's business and still do better than neighbors making twice as much as she.

So here is a list of the attributes of Frugal Frank OTBS fans:

1. They drive used Volvos, Honda Vans or Subarus
2. They take mini-vacation weekends using sites like Groupon instead of exotic ones
3. They invest in their children's education instead of clothes
4. Men wear Keenes, Clarks and Rockports
5. Women wear Keenes, Birkenstocks, and Danskos
6. Have 15 year home mortgages
7. Have assets of $1 million and are maxed out on 401K's and 403B's
8. Shop at Lands Ends, LL Bean, Thrift Shops and hit Tag Sales on weekends
9. Should be invested in some Berkshire Hathaway
10. Do not have Bitcoin (because we don't understand it yet, although Ripple is interesting)
11. Don't plan to retire-we will talk about this in the next blog
12. Send their kids to public school if they can
13. Don't Tithe but support the church not because of guilt but through love
14. Have switch to Apple Computers, software and tech is just better

Well, time to go. After All it is Mother's Day and Tiger Woods and Harold Varner III are making history making as the only two blacks on the LeaderBoard at the Players Golf Tournament.

Peace Out,
Frugal Frank OTBS

Thursday, December 14, 2017

For Christmas,Buy Your Kid a Junior Golf Membership

Hello my Peoples,

I am in the holiday spirit and feel like blogging away. I am originally from a good old black southern environment and this time brings back special memories. We were kinda of poor but never knew it because my mom was the ultimate spendthrift. We knew what we were getting for Christmas in June because my mom would layaway Christmas gifts 6 months early and it was mainly clothes with like one toy. My toys were always Tonka, because they were hard to destroy. I am talking about the old Tonka vehicles made of metal not these plastic ones today. My mom worked 6 days a week and during Christmas the department store where she worked would stay open until 9 pm. On Christmas eve, it would close at 5 pm and that's when the fun for us but added work for mom would begin. She would cook all night long and wrap gifts before we woke up. In the morning we would wake up to the smell of country ham, cheesy eggs, biscuits and salty herring(never knew how the fish mixed in).

We made it because my father and mom had built our home and paid it off before he died when I was young, so that allowed my mom to raise 5 kids on her check and Social Security from my father. When mom wanted to buy furniture or clothes she would lay them away, but she bought the best. She would always say "If you buy quality goods like the white folks, then it will last." That is one thing she learned working in the houses of wealthy white people, they don't waste money just because they have it. When she was recommending something, she would say "That's what they are......." which meant that is what the white folks are doing. But, you know what; her philosophy got me into some of the best colleges, great organizations and allowed me to traveled to Europe and have a heck of a good life.

So, why do I say for Christmas, buy your kid a junior golf membership? Because, "That's what the white folks are doing." They have almost surrendered basketball and football for now until they can figure out how to change the rules of the game. Has anyone noticed how the free little leagues that we grew up with are being replaced with high priced travel teams? They are pricing us out. Now a days if you don't pay for kid to go to the expensive summer camps your kid better be the next Lebron because the high school and college coaches recruit from the camps for soccer, football and basketball. They are on these coaches radar in middle school. The game is changing and we don't know the new rules. But, let's talk golf.

Golf country clubs are looking to increase participation in the sport and the fertile territory is the young. If they get them introduced to the game, they have players who will pay for 40-50 years and will also draw in parents. The normal annual membership to the average golf club can range from $1000 to $20,000, but junior memberships can cost as little as $200 a year. Of course, you need to get the kid lessons with a pro(not too expensive,check out First Tee), but this will be the best investment you ever spent. You will introduce your child to a whole different world and, if they play in junior tournaments, to some of the best golf courses in the country. They will meet future pro golfers and make great connections. If they are good, they can receive full scholarships to some of the best colleges. You guys should follow the other black guy on the PGA Tour(besides Tiger), Harold Varner III. This brother graduated from East Carolina and made about $2 mil last year. So even though I like team sports like football or basketball, golf and tennis are the best defenses against bias and racism. In team sports, your playing time depends on whether the coach likes you or thinks you can contribute to the team. So many talented players waste their time on the bench with dreams deferred. But with golf and tennis, you don't need permission. Your destiny is in your own hands and if you hit enough balls and play enough tournament, you will get better. Now, I do have to warn you that at times you and your kid will be the only black faces in the clubs and tournaments, but this only teaches your kids tenacity and by the most people are polite and helpful. The Asian parents will embrace you also. In golf , the one with the lowest score wins. No one can prevent your kid from playing and its a lifetime sport and it is never to late to start them. Trust me, you will have a better time walking 18 holes with your kid rather than watching him ride the bench for 10 minutes of playing time. Parents, if you have girls, golf is where it’s at. The sisters can dominate. Trust me they can do more with golf than cheerleading. My boss never asked me to go cheerleading after work. You  will be raising strong sisters. Did you know that a black woman owns the golf course that the Arnold Palmer Invitational was played at and tha Condolezza Rice is a member at Augusta National, one of the most exclusive golf club in the country.

So, for Christmas, go get that golf membership and don't forget the clubs.
Finally, because you are reading this blog, I know you will have a frugal Merry Christmas.

Happy Holidays and remember what James Brown said, "Santa Claus goes straight to the Ghetto",

Frugal Frank OTBS

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Everybody Wants to Be Rich

Hello My Peoples and others,

With this year drawing to a close, Frugal Frank OTBS just wanted to drop a note. As my mother used to say, "Everybody wants to get rich, but we settle for a black man's heaven". We spend too much time projecting wealth rather than having it. During my years talking to people about investing money and planning for their financial future, I found that many people that I talked to wanted to project more wealth than they really had. I would visit people living in $500,000 homes and a driveway full of high end vehicles with no savings and very little retirement. Even though they were educationally at the top of their professions, they were financially ignorant. I would get the same spills, "I see myself doubling my salary in five-ten years and I am not in a position to do more investing yet." or "I already have this great annuity through my bank." Others would present me with some great investment they saw on television or heard at the barber shop like Silver Eagle coins, Bitcoin,  or Pyramid church schemes.

Now, I know that this blog is not palatable to all that read it. It's not meant to be. One of the reasons I got into investments was to help my people, but then I found out that a lot of them didn't have enough money to support me, so I had to turn to the man. Yes, the man. The truth is that the real "man" sees colors in green. If you are credentialed and smart they will write a check without blinking because if you have old or conservative money you know how to make more. They are not new to the game and so they know about investing and growing wealth. Now for some hard truth. Our people are behind the eight ball on financial awareness. We depend too much on banks and investment advisors to educate us.

If you have less than than a million, you are not generating enough income for your advisor, investor or counselor to make a living on. (Yes, they make money off of you) They will either try to put you in high commission products or sell you a plan or multiple products. With a little education you can invest and get pretty good returns yourself. And you should monitor your investments every 2-3 months.

Another hard truth is that if you haven't accumulated $100,000 in retirement by age 30, you should find you a job you love and keep working. Retirement with no money looks like a Walmart greeter.

So, with this knowledge do the following for Christmas:
1. Buy yourself some books on investments,if they suggest annuities skip them
2. Have a family meeting and review your finances
3. Figure out how to increase your retirement savings to 15%
4. Get yourself some insurance

Peace out,
Frugal Frank OTBS

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Frugal Frank OTBS where have you been?

Hello my Peoples,

Frugal Frank on the black side back for 2017. What a year, Dow at 22000. So, for those of you who listened to my previous blogs and stayed in the market you should be closer to that million or two. I am in the liberal land of New England with high minimum wages and good health insurance plus excellent public schools. In this blog, I will share a few things I learned over the first half of this year.

First GEICO is now my favorite car insurance company. I dropped my independent agent with the M-F 8-5 hours and got 24hr quick response service. My last add on vehicle  was done at 3am in the morning and was approved in less than 1 hour with the policy emailed to me. No lie, I saved $2000 a year for 3 vehicles with a teenage driver.

2nd lesson learned for 2017;  I have gone back to car dealerships to service my vehicles. Because dealerships are really going after the auto maintenance and repair business, dealerships have lowered repair prices and increased quality and customer service. With the new technology in todays cars, old repair shops can't keep pace on diagnostics and tend to waste your dollars fishing for solutions. I have to give credit to my wife, after a few repairs from our previous mechanic where the Honda was returned with grease smudges and high cost, she checked Yelp for a dealer. After months of reviewing repairs and comparing bills for similar work, we switched all vehicles and are very pleased. The plus is that the dealers are linked into the same systems, so if you need a repair in another state your records are accessible.

3rd lesson; Hisense  makes a better and cheaper flat screen than Vizio. I paid $398 for my 50 inch and after 3 years it is still showing a great picture. So for those of you who are still waiting to buy that flat screen, go ahead and take that plunge.  If you are nervous about reliability, buy it at Costco(they add a 1 year additional warranty), buy it with a credit card(add another 1year additional warranty). (Amex and Visa for sure).

4th lesson; Cut your cable and stop watching all that news babble talk. You can get a balance from PBS Newshour and you can spend the rest of your time reading, biking or playing tennis and golf. Some summer reading books I suggest: The Black Count, The Capitol Men, Hidden Figures and the Miseducation of the Negro.

Well my time is up but I promise to stay connected this time.
Stay Frugal my friend

Frugal Frank OTBS

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Buy a New Cheap Flat Screen with Confidence

Hello My Peoples,

I love being black, don't you? I also love being around black people, especially church folk. Have you ever heard a white choir try to sing a Negro spiritual, it ain't right. You can't pretend soul and suffering.
And As my Mom used to say, "Can't nobody give you strength on Sunday to deal with the demons on Monday but a black preacher."

With Christmas all around us, I should have written this sooner. I apologize to those of you who have already paid several thousand for an expensive brand name, but here is the low down. Most of the flat screens produced today come from China, Korea or Singapore. The insides like the motherboard are pretty generic and the cheap ones at the big box stores are pretty good in quality. I purchased a 50" Hisense for $379 two years ago and it is still kicking. The technology is changing so rapidly that what you overpay for today will be available cheaply tomorrow. I recommend the following:

1. Buy the largest cheap flat screen that your budget and room will allow: 50-60" should do it.
2. Purchase it with an American Express card at Costco and you get this.
                  a. One year manufacturer warranty
                  b. Plus a additional year from Costco
                  c. Plus an additional year from American Express
3.  Buy Hisense, Vizio, Sceptre over a brand like Emerson(don't like the picture) but cheap the picture  
     of the same TV in different stores for consistency.
4. Try not to spend more than $600, but do get a surge power stripe( spikes can damage your flat screen
    even when turned off)

Happy Shopping!

Frugal Frank on the black side

Friday, December 11, 2015

Beware the Financial Advisor/Insurance Man Bearing Gifts

Hello My Black People,

It's the holiday season, which is a time for "Merry Christmas Baby", Chitluns or Chitterlings(as the Black Hamps say), peach brandy and the Black Nativity. I can still smell the soul food cooking in my mother's kitchen and see the uncles and friends of my father who dropped by on Christmas Eve for a drink and some SousMeat(Hoghead Cheese) making sure they always gave us kids a brand new silver dollar before they left. Those people have passed on but linger in my memories.

But, along with the visitors was the life insurance man who came by monthly to collect the premium on the $500 life insurance policy that my mom had on everyone. Like millions of blacks, she had been sold these policies years ago when you could, for $500, bury a black person. Over the years as prices for funerals rose these policy values stayed the same making them not really helpful for the purpose they were originally purchased for. The insurance man knowing this, just kept coming by with a nice smile and collecting those checks. These policies have over the years been a contributor to the income gap between blacks and whites. While we were being sold policies that just barely covered burial costs, whites were buying $100,000 plus policies to take care of family security and education passing wealth to generations.

Today this still happens, because the former life insurance men are now financial advisors. They come in with a smile and do a financial review of your situation and end up selling you a life insurance product like whole or variable life. If you have a nice sum of investment money, for instance sitting in a company 401K, they sell you an annuity; still a life insurance product. Today, while we have upgraded to $25,000 policies whites have upgraded to $1,000,000. I could give you an deep analysis of the insurance industry and its practices, you don't need it in this blog. So without babbling on too much, I give you, my frugal friends the life insurance break down.

1. Life insurance should be looked at like a wealth builder for the survivors. If you have very little assets but wife and kids, buy between $500,000 to $1,000,000 policy, cheaper than you think see number 2.

2. Buy Term. Again Buy Term policies with 20 year or 30 year terms. This will cover your family during your wealth accumulating years. If you have done things right, in 20 years your kids should be out of college and with retirement, home equity and investments assets between 500k to a mil. These policies build no cash and end at the term year, they are mainly for taking care of your families if you die.

3. Insurance is not an investment tool. It is not and Education saving vehicle. Only buy whole if you plan on blowing your retirement and you want to leave your kids a 100k when you die at 90.

4. Purchase insurance when you are young and healthy. If done, you can get the above amounts for under $900 a year. Remember, when you are young and healthy everyone wants to sell you insurance, but when you are old or sick no one will sell it to you.

5. If you are single with no dependents, you don't need life insurance life.

6. Do not roll your 401K into an annuity. Best accounts for these are Vanguard and TIAA-Creff. They are low cost investments with solid returns. You can always buy a payout annuity with part of your savings at retirement.

7. Educate your family about investments so they won't blow that million dollars you left them.
   A million dollars in an investment account that returns 5% will produce $50,000 a year to spend and the family never has to touch the principle.

8. Remember, you will never benefit from life insurance. It is to help you build wealth for future generations and as frugal blacks, we have got to think generationally forward.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Frugal Frank OTBS-Back to the Future

Hello, Hello,

It is the one and only Frugal Black Man on the Planet back in black. I apologize for the long hiatus
but like most working black folk I have been a little busy raising kids which leads to my point of the day. The one issue  and the only issue I have with President Obama is that he and his girls missed a golden opportunity to show high visibility black girls on tennis teams, swim teams and golf teams. How powerful an image would it have been to see these girls playing sports that the majority of our black people don't do. Images are powerful in our community and having the Obama girls in the media would been huge positive images for little black girls. I know you say we have Tiger Woods and the Williams sisters but they are super human. We need to see regular black folk with average skills excelling on a higher plane. I know you might say that the Obama girls were not interested, but kids will tend to follow their parents interests. Both my girls play all three sports and they did so because, number one we put them in these sports and number two we also engaged in these sports as a family. If you want your black girls to get college athletic scholarships these are the sport areas. The cool thing is that if your daughters compete you will really see how the other half lives. Your kids will play at private members only Country Clubs that you and I would not have assess to.  Matter of fact, a lot of college teams are fielding girls from overseas because of the void of females in these sports. Hell, the HBCU's normally have all white girls golf and tennis teams; just check the websites. Have we overcome too far, ha ha!
See, we, black folk, have taken over the traditional sports leaving the majority to dominate golf, tennis, soccer, swimming, lacrosse and field hockey. To secure their hold on these sports they are pricing us out. The black folk who can afford these exclusive sports instead spend money blinging out their kids with North Face and Uggs and the others who cannot are looking for the next Lebron James to get them out the hood. I could go deeper with this conversation but I don't want to piss anyone off or make my head explode. Beside my expertise is money and saving it.  I will blog later, one of my kids has a golf tournament at Farm Neck on Martha's Vineyard.

Stay Black,
Frugal Frank OTBS