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        

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rock on Roku

Hello Dear Friends,

In one of my post a while back I discussed the joys of Broadcast digital TV for free. I still have it but was limited to the local channels. Since, I had WiFi at home, I used my Wii to get Netflix and watch it on the High Def. This went great until Netflix lost the Stars account and some great movies. Long story short. I have Amazon which just signed a deal with Epix and already has great movies like Iron Man 2, plus you can purchase recently released movies and take 2 days to watch. 

I also found the best little device called the Roku. It allows you to watch internet streaming through the television. The best part is that you can get one for around $40 and it is about the size of an astray. You do not have to turn it on or off and it uses very little power. The screen views are great and you get access to multiple streaming movies and news sites. It is so good you will stop using you Blue-Ray or game box to stream.

I would also recommend PlayOn. For a one-time fee of $75 you get access to Hulu, all network movies and shows, Crackle without having to pay a monthly fee.

So, take from Frugal Frank and stop paying $180.00 a month for cable. Ladies, think of all the nice things your spouse could buy you with that savings. Of course, if he is a sports fanatic, I can't help you. No live sports streaming yet.

Peace Out,

Frugal Frank OTBS

Barack, The Peoples' President

Hello again,
This is Frugal Frank back for the 2012 election. I will state for all to know that I am a fiscally conservative, socially liberal democrat and I like President Obama. If you ask me if I am better off than 4 years ago, the answer is yes. Four years ago, I was laid off, but today I am working in a new career. I will not even discuss Mitt in this post because of what I heard him say at the private donors meeting, he's not running to help out me and my other 47% of Americans who at times have had to rely on Uncle Sam for a little unemployment assistance. We help built this country but some people want to kick us when we hit a rough patch in the road. Also, I don't trust anyone who won't bank their money in the good ole U.S.A. Well, enough with politics, I am a history buff and could talk days about the Gilded Age and the New Deal comparisons. Only thing I can say is vote whether you are republican or democrat, our Black(yes, check with DAR, over 6000) and White Revolutionary forefathers fought too hard for this right.

In today's economy, I never thought that putting your money in the bank and under the mattress would give you the same return but that is the case today. Your only option to stay ahead of the game is to risk a little in the market. If you have  401K or IRA money, Vanguard or TIAA-CREF will still give you the best bang with low administrative cost. They are conservative but their funds are doing pretty good.

If you invest in the market follow a principle I like: Stick to what you know.
Really, if you pick up your local newspaper you will find deals in companies in your back door. Think about it, Labcorp was once a small testing lab in a small town. The people who missed it, missed big. How many times do you wish you had bought Ford stock at a $1.00 a share three years ago. No, I don't give stock picks because there is no magic bullet, but only persistence and staying in the game. Remember losses are only on paper until you sell. Wait I take that back; or unless you own Enron(that a real loss).

Until later,
Frugal Frank on the Blackside

Monday, May 23, 2011

How to Drive Your Car 300,000 miles

I remember growing up during the 70's and 80's. If you had a car that lasted to 100,000 miles, you were lucky. Most vehicles that reached this achievement, probably lost parts like door knobs, seat covers, screws, etc. along the way.

Today, with the advancement of vehicles, there should be no reason why the average vehicle should not get 300,000 miles. The vehicles now have no carburetors to fail and spark plugs that last 100,000 miles. The key is that the cars have to be maintained. These are the must do's;

1. Oil change (every 4000-7000 miles)
2. Timing belt change
3. Spark plugs and wires
4. Have any knocks or noises checked and repaired soon- the longer it goes the more costly it gets

My favorite vehicle hands down is the Subaru Legacy. It is a good running and reliable vehicle.
I have had my present Subaru for 20 years and it runs like a charm. I treated it to a Maaco paint job for around $450 . Don't believe the advertisements of $149 or $249, but don't pay alot on a used car.

So, why do I discuss this? Because you do not need to buy a new car every few years for reliability. When you consider that that in order to get payback and break even on your car you need to keep it the additional amount of years it took you to pay off the loan. This means that for a 5 year loan, you need to keep your car for 10 years.

Use my tips to save on your car purchase:

  1. Never pay more than $13000
  2. Buy from older owner car with 90,000 to 100,000 (Don't go past this)(all problems and recalls will be resolved.
  3. Before buying check web for recalls or problems with transmissions(Honda and Lexus had transmission problems around 2000-2004, they tended to go out around 60,000 and cost $6000 to fix) make sure these have been fixed or you are within warranty.
  4. Find a good none dealership mechanic who will install parts you provide. (Very important)
  5. Before you have parts installed, search web for used parts. They will work just as well as new and you will save 60% on your repair bills.
  6. Check Consumer Reports for used vehicle reliability.
  7. Only purchase new when technology or usage changes
- birth of baby- need van or 4 door
- your vehicle does not have airbags and you have a family
- you have a 4 cylinder and you need a six

Now with all this savings, once you have your vehicle paid off defer those car payments into a bank account. When you accumulate $13,000 or keep your vehicle for as long as took you to pay it off, then you can pay cash for another used vehicle.

Remember, the people who tried to keep up with the Jones just found out that the Jones were foreclosed on last week.

Peace Out,

Frugal Frank on the Blackside
(stay Black and cheap)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Reflection on P-Diddy

I have to say, I have always tried to post with integrity and fairness. In commenting about P-Diddy's purchase of the expensive car I equated it with the possibility of not instilling values that are solid. That may be the case but it also may be to the contrary. I wanted to balance my previous blog with fairness because it does seem that black celebs are being slammed nowadays and I don't want to join in. Sean has accomplished a lot in his young life and I look forward to greater things from him. At this point, I want him to take a greater pivot. I would like to see what he is doing for his artists in a way that ensures their financial viability no matter how short their careers. I know that he may be doing the right things for his kids to make sure they are taken care but he has to run a ethical company or after he leaves it will be consumed by wolves. I know that we have a lot of successful black talent out there today but I am a historian and we always have blips of great success but we need organization that don't decline with the second generation. From Motown, to Essence, to Ebony we have seen declining empires with second generation families. The main dominate force in black entertain today is Oprah Winfrey who has no rightful heir. I don't know if she has looked at the Milton Hershey model, who created a foundation with his orphanage as beneficiary, but it may be a good start. I do wish you would adopt several female kids and set up a network to build strong viable and powerful women. She has the money to be like the Kennedy's and put this women in powerful political and social positions with Winfrey at the end of their names.

Peace Out