Updated on 10.27.08

Reader Mailbag #34

Trent Hamm

Each Monday, The Simple Dollar opens up the reader mailbags and answers ten to twenty simple questions offered up by the readers on personal finance topics and many other things. Got a question? Ask it in the comments. You might also enjoy the archive of earlier reader mailbags.

As usual, we’ll start things off with a few links to older articles that directly answer questions I’ve heard recently. I was asked for some good recipes, so here are three posts I wrote in the past with some good formulas for food.
Five great recipes for once-a-month cooking
Five great crock pot recipes
Five recipes for premade convenience foods (like burritos)

And now for some great reader questions!

I am on a small and fixed budget while I work only a few hours a week while going to college. I realize that my spending has gotten out of control, and I’m not longer excited about saving (though I do). The past few months have really turned my life upside down and I realize I’m doing a lot of spending out of grief and loss. In addition, I seem to have lost the motivation and goals I once had. I know I will eventually heal from the loss of my loved ones who passed away last month – but until then, I’m worried about my spending habits and lack of focus! Any thoughts on the subject or resources/websites you’d like to share?
– Shannon

Your best bet, without a doubt, is to find a trusted friend you can really rely on to help you get through this, especially one who won’t solve the problem by heading out for some shopping.

I’m lucky in that I have my wife to help me deal with such things and she won’t resort to spending to help emotional healing, but if it was her that failed, I have a few other very close friends who I’d turn to that wouldn’t encourage me to spend, either.

Sitting at home alone while you’re hurting will often encourage you to do things that you wouldn’t normally do. Don’t fall into that trap. It’s expensive and often self-defeating.

Here’s a question for you, Trent… how do you feel about being personally expected to bail out failing Wall St companies who knowingly made really stupid financial decisions?
– Jillian

I’m not mad at Wall Street. They’re playing the game according to the rules they’re given. The problem comes with the people writing the rules. I’m mad at the flavor of “deregulation” in Washington that has created a situation where a select few (the CEOs and the large stockholders) collect the profits while everyone else covers the risk.

Let me be clear: we have socialism in the finance industry right now, except it’s a diseased kind of socialism, where everyone bears the risk but only a select few enjoy the profits.

The blame for this falls squarely on the people who have been in charge of instruments such as the Treasury Department, the Senate banking committee, and the House financial services committee over the last twelve years or so, excluding perhaps the last few since it would have been impossible to slow the train in just a year or two.

Free market capitalism doesn’t work if the people who make risky moves aren’t saddled with the risk of those moves. That’s what we have now, and that’s a failure.

Why is it that when you finally get to a point where you can get ahead you get slammed with unexpected bills? My husband and I just recently got to the point where we are not living paycheck to paycheck. We have a small emergency fund, and have some money each month to snowball. He has even been making a lot of overtime, but since that has happened we have had two emergency room bills, my daughter had new orthodontist bills which we were not expecting, I had to spend half of our emergency fund preparing for Gustav which did not hit us too hard thank goodness… and now our dryer is on the fritz!!!
– Jen

What you’re seeing is why an emergency fund is so important. Imagine if you hadn’t built up that emergency fund and instead spent it on things like going out to eat. Where would you be now?

To me, situations like this – and they do happen to me, and to most people – are proof positive of why it’s very useful to have a healthy emergency fund. Spending less than you earn during a normal month and socking away the difference will make abnormal months – like the ones that Jen describes – much, much easier.

You talked about challenging reading a while back. I’m politically liberal and I’d like to read some serious conservative political thinking to challenge me – not the over-the-top books written by radio hosts which just makes me upset. Do you have any suggestions?
– Thomas

Try reading Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman, The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek, and The Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater. These books are a bit older (and sometimes specific topics are dated), but the principles and arguments for them are timeless and they will make you think.

On the flip side of the coin, a conservative can challenge themselves by reading The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein and The Conscience of a Liberal by Paul Krugman are both very well-written.

Also, if you’re trying to push yourself hard on your understanding of politics, read some classic writings on the subject, like On Liberty by John Stuart Mill.

The sure sign of a poor book is when a writer begins making direct attacks on the opposition beyond the arguments of the opposition. If you start reading insults, the book is rubbish and won’t teach you anything.

“For long term investment stock/stock funds are best” is something that’s heard over and over again. I’m wondering if this is a valid stmt as historic values can hardly be taken as reference. The stock markets changed rapidly over the last years, hedge funds, online-trading + realtime quotes for everyone, cfd’s, the speed and amount of money that’s transfered globally…… Do you really believe it’s still worth the risk (not only in the light of current development (lehman & co)?
– john

Do you believe that this technology has made workers less productive or more productive? Do you believe that future technology will increase productivity?

If you believe technology increases productivity, and you also believe that technology is going to keep improving, then you inherently believe that every worker is going to produce more. If every worker produces more, the value they produce will be reflected in stronger companies.

So, yes, I believe stocks will keep going up in general because companies are made up of individual workers, and the more productive those workers are, the more valuable those companies become. And since stocks are just small pieces of ownership in those companies, they’ll also become more valuable.

I’m talking in a broad sense here, not in a specific sense. Stocks will increase in value over the long term as long as individual workers can produce more work over the long term, and as more skilled workers with more technology in front of them enter the workforce, that will happen. It has very little to do with day traders or short-term stupidity in the finance sector.

Would you please tell me if an electrical oven and tea kettles suck watts? My husband thinks that our electric bill is going high because of these two items.I can’t work without tea kettle in my kitchen and am not willing to give it up. Also I was wondering about watts consumed by irons and microwaves.
– Reem

The “Mr. Electricity” site is a good source for data on the electrical usage of most common appliances. An oven typically uses about 4,400 watts, which adds up to about $0.44 per hour of constant usage. A microwave uses about 1,500 watts – about $0.15 per hour of constant use. A clothes iron uses around 1,400 watts – about $0.14 per hour of constant use.

The ten minutes or so it takes to heat a kettle of water on an electric stovetop will cost you about seven cents, in other words.

Hope that gives you some fun talking points with your husband!

How would you be able to save in a 401k plan and emergency fund at the same time if you’re a student who has to pay tuition and educational materials? Would you still adhere to the 10% for 401k plan as you suggested?
– Faye

If you’re a young student between, say, 18 and 24, you shouldn’t bother worrying about your retirement account quite yet. Your focus should be on being a student full time and acquiring a degree at minimal cost to yourself. If you happen to find yourself in a situation where you can contribute, do so, but don’t worry yourself.

However, I suspect Faye’s question comes from a person who has gone back to school after some time in a career path, either to start a new one or to improve on her current one. Given that, I’d take a strong look at your current retirement savings and see how they line up to some reasonable benchmarks, like the Money Magazine benchmarks. If you’re on pace with those benchmarks – or, better yet, ahead of the game – it’s okay to scale back the retirement while you’re in school. Focus on tuition and the emergency fund.

If you’re not quite up to snuff on retirement, don’t let it dangle. Make sure you’re at least putting enough away to get any matches your employer is offering you on your 401(k). Get your emergency fund up and going, too. If you need help, get a student loan for your tuition and pay that off later on.

I was wondering if you read any political blogs or daily news feeds. I find that I’m much better at keeping up with information in daily/blog formats & was wondering if you had any suggestions.
– Dorothy

I read tons of these online, actually. Since any news source you read has a bias, I try to read multiple accounts of and commentary on news stories.

My usual stops for actual news are Google News, the Wall Street Journal, and several other newspaper sites, and for international perspectives, I also read BBC and Al Jazeera English. I want a good grip on facts from many different angles, and I tend to not trust anything unless I find multiple clear reports on it. Of all of them, I tend to trust the BBC the most, actually.

For commentary, I read some highly left-wing stuff, like Daily Kos and Democratic Underground. I read some highly right-wing stuff like Free Republic and Little Green Footballs. I read centrist commentary like Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Greenwald. I also read Huffington Post and Politico – HP seems fairly left-leaning and Politico seems fairly right-leaning, but they both mix things and criticize both sides quite a bit.

If you start reading a mix of perspectives, you start seeing how much bias some people have out there. I think that if you get all your news from one source and you stick with that source over and over again, your thoughts start getting skewed. For example, the folks on Free Republic cannot conceive that Obama is anything less than evil, while the Democratic Underground folks tend to believe that everything John McCain does is an attempt to strangle America. Neither one is true, and I think that people who subscribe solely to one viewpoint or another is intentionally strangling their own understanding of the world.

What age is the right age to have a child get their own checking account?
– Evan

My belief is that you should get a child a checking account as early as possible. It’s a great opportunity to teach them how it works, how to write checks, how to use an ATM card, and so on. You can use the account to teach them how important it is to watch their balance and plan ahead.

The way I see it, the more time a child has to get used to managing their money in a relatively safe environment, the better they’ll be at it when they fly on their own.

I want to run for the school board in April, but I don’t know what’s appropriate for campaigning. Do you have any suggestions? You seem to be pretty into local politics.
– Manny

It’s really up to you. Obviously, if you’re interested in running for the school board, you should already have a good grasp of the issues facing your local school district at the moment and you’ve likely got an idea of how you’d like things to be.

The first step I’d take is talking about running with everyone I know in the community. Float the idea by them and the reasons you want to run and ask for their input. Use that material to hone your stances a bit. If you hear a lot of people saying the same thing, that’s something you might want to add to your list of plans.

I’d make sure I filed the correct paperwork to be on the ballot. I’d also canvass the neighborhood on weekends close to the election. Just walk around door to door, shake hands, meet people, and hand out flyers that state what you want to do. I’d also give piles of fliers to your closest friends and ask them to give them to people they know. Be sure to include the voting date and voting location clearly on the flyers.

I’d also make sure to participate in as many community events as I could, especially close to the election. Keep a few flyers with you so that if you start a conversation with someone, you can give out a flyer. Plus, your mere presence will reinforce your community involvement from people who have seen your flyer.

That’s what I’d do, anyway.

Got any questions? Ask them in the comments and I’ll use them in future mailbags.

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  1. beloml says:

    Thomas in search of conservative books: Please add Liberal Fascism to your list. It’s a real eye-opener and very well researched and reasoned.

  2. beloml says:

    Trent, I think your readers would enjoy a post about inexpensive eyeglasses from on-line stores. I have ordered 8-10 pairs online in recent months (at $23 a pair from goggles4u.com, they’re cheaper than a new outfit!) and have had a great experience. These are high-quality, stylish glasses that are every bit as good as the much higher-priced ones from brick-and-mortar stores.

    Here’s a website that covers this phenomenon:

    I have NOTHING to do with any of these sites. I am merely a highly satisfied customer.

  3. Geron says:

    Hi Trent,
    It is often repeated that if you must have a vehicle, buying a late-model used vehicle is the best value over the long term. This assumes that new cars depreciate in value rapidly over the first couple years, while much older cars are prone to a constant barrage of pricey repairs and maintenance.
    How old is late-model used? I’d be interested to see a simple calculation comparing the ‘total cost’ for vehicles of certain ages (say 3,6,9,12 years, for example) assuming light-moderate use.
    On the surface, it seems like a 9 year old car may be a better value than a 3 year old car, if you don’t care about style and looks.

  4. Stacey says:

    I’ve got to disagree with your advice to college students and retirement accounts. Both my husband and I started our Roth IRAs at 16, in high school – his parents offered a “match” on his contributions, my parents simply offered encouragement.

    It was a bit harder to contribute during college, but the small contributions that we each scraped together most months really added up over four years.

    We’re now well ahead of our age group for retirement savings, and had the chance to really tackle student loans and debt while ignoring our IRAs for the first year or two. It’s built an important base that we can build on later in life – and think of all the compounding that money will do from age 16!

  5. L says:

    I thought Reem was asking about an electric kettle rather than a kettle on a stove top. In which case it is better to invest in the electric kettle. It uses less electricity to bring the water to the boil- heating only the water not the kettle and surrounding air. And comes to the boil much quicker.

  6. Rick says:


    It sounds like your parents likely also paid for your college tuition, and maybe room/board as well. Not everyone’s parents do (and I don’t believe they should). It comes down to paying for tution vs. saving for retirement. In many cases, the former is better. I do concede that saving for retirement can be better if you can get student loans below 4%.


    I would also highly recommend the Kill-A-Watt meter. You can get this from Amazon. It tracks the exact electricity usage for any device you can plug into it. That is, it won’t work for an oven, but for anything with a standard plug, it works great.


    I think you summed up everything that’s wrong with our government today with one sentence:

    Free market capitalism doesn’t work if the people who make risky moves aren’t saddled with the risk of those moves.

    If only we could align everything in our society and our economy to fully reflect risks/rewards, I think we would be a lot better off.

  7. K says:

    I agree with Stacey, (and Rick, she mentioned that she still took out student loans). I think regardless of the student loan rate (within reason), you should contribute all you can to your Roth IRA as young as you can. You never get an opportunity to go back in time to do that. Much better to take a year off contributing after college if you must than to miss that compounding on however little you can put in (not to mention likely paying much less in taxes than if you contribute later). I put in maybe $500 a year while I was in college and I am now way ahead of my same-age friends who started contributing the max after graduation (much more than $2000 ahead). I don’t think many college students have a 401k option, but if you do, it is foolish to pass up a match.

  8. john d says:

    I think you really missed the mark with your response to Shannon. Many schools offer free student assistance programs to help them deal with grief, stress, etc. She should look to see if her school offers such a program. They are usually free or very inexpensive and always confidential.

  9. Mule Skinner says:

    Electricity use: I have a car with a factory-installed block heater. This uses electricity, of course. My supposition is that the cost in either energy or dollars to warm it overnight (12 hours, say) is paid back in improved fuel economy during the first ten miles of driving on a cold Minnesota morning. Tough part is finding the wattage rating for this thing. I know how to do the calculations.

  10. Dennis Robert says:

    I wish the WSJ website was free. I usually look over the NYT and BBC rss feeds everyday, but would really like the WSJ perspective.

  11. @Dennis
    WSJ has a program where if someone SENDS you the link to an article you can read it in full. So if you know someone, you can read select articles. I have the WSJ RSS feeds and when a headline catches my attention I send my friend a note to send me the article. Murdock won’t be able to keep it subscription based forever…

  12. Kathy says:


    You may consider looking into whether your college offers free counseling. Someone to talk to during difficult times can be very helpful in my experience.

  13. J says:

    @Reem —

    Compare the cost of your oven, tea kettle and iron versus the cost of a take-out or restaurant meal, tea from a coffee house and the cost of getting your clothes dry cleaned. Perhaps your husband will change his tune. Or maybe start talking about the cost of electricity to chill his beer or watch a football game :)

  14. Reem, I use my oven all the time, to bake homemade bread. If you bake four loaves of bread for a half hour, you’ve only spent $.22 or so. Bread ingredients are pretty darn cheap(esp. if you buy your yeast in bulk), so it definitely saves money to make it at home. Plus, the residual heat from the oven is pleasant in the wintertime.

    As Michael Bluejay says, it’s not the little things like a tea kettle that are eating up electricity. It’s better to look at the big consumers, like your dryer, hot water heater, and heat pumpm.

  15. Jim says:

    Great insight on the “diseased socialism” within the banking industry. We don’t need ‘more’ regulation, but we certainly need ‘smarter’ regulation.

    @MULE SKINNER — My block heater is 1,000 watts, though I don’t use it any longer as I moved back south. When I lived in Massachusetts I did not leave it on all night. I plugged it in when I first got up in the morning which gave it 90 minutes to do its job. If temps were below 0 F, I would leave it on overnight.

    ROTH IRA during college? Only if you’re getting your college paid for by someone else. Focus on not going into debt for that education as top priority. Graduate with as little debt as possibe then worry about saving.

  16. bouncing back betty says:

    I also read the foreign press on a regular basis. Keeps me a little more grounded with what is happening in the world than what ever the american mainstream media “tells” me is happening.

  17. Linda says:

    The best investment you can make to boil a quick cup of water is the Sunbeam HotShot. It takes 15 seconds to boil a cup of water. I have used one for years–don’t even own a tea kettle!

  18. Michael says:

    @Dennis, if you set your browser’s user-agent to googlebot, all of WSJ.com is free.

    Those are neoconservative classics, Trent. Of course the author of the question probably imagines a neocon when he said conservative. Take Hayek, for example – he advocates the destruction of families, tradition, law and religion.

  19. Jade says:

    As for Evan’s question about when to get a child a checking account, I’ll second Trent here, as young as possible.

    However, I’d suggest a savings account at the same time. And you’ll probably have to be the trustee on the account and the child won’t be able to take money out without your permission. At least that’s how the bank did it when my dad had me open a savings account when I was 10. I’ve been with the same bank ever since, and the only change I’ve made with that savings account was removing my dad as trustee when I turned 18.

    Checking or savings or both, make sure your kids have some kind of bank account as early as they can and that they’re involved with maintaining it. To me, not having a bank account is like… like… I dunno, totally infathomable if that’s a real word. Even as a preteen/teenager, I couldn’t live without a bank account. Where do you cash your checks when relatives send you money for your b-day and/or Christmas? I couldn’t think of anywhere except a bank to cash checks and deposit half into my savings account and get the other half as cash and go buy a book or CD I had been wanting.

    But as a young adult I started working for a big tax preparation chain, and the company offered these refund anticipation loans, which I thought were a bad idea just on their own. But a lot of clients at the office I worked at wanted them, and they insisted on getting a check to pick up at the office. I’d offer them direct deposit instead so they didn’t have to come back to the office and they’d say no, they wanted a check because they didn’t have a bank account. And at first I was thinking “Huh? No bank account? But you have kids, a job… How do you cash your paychecks? Where do you put your savings?”

    And then I learned that a lot of these people lived paycheck to paycheck, spending everything they got, and paid these insane fees to check cashing places and walked around with a wad of cash in their pocket and paid their rent in cash or money orders.

    So that was when I made up my mind that if I ever had kids they were going to have a savings account at about the same age I got my savings account. I would not raise kids that would even consider not having a bank account.

  20. SP says:

    I’m mad at wall street. There is plenty of blame to go around, no need to limit it to the government. Plenty of blame for them, plenty for wall street, plenty for irresponsible home buyers. It isn’t so simple.

  21. Havana says:

    This was probably one of my favorite Reader Mailbag posts. :) I too have been looking for conservative reads to challenge myself. Thanks!!

  22. “it’s a diseased kind of socialism”

    Is there any other kind?!?

    And the idea that Andrew Sullivan is a centrist?!?!?! hahahahahaha That is a funny joke.

  23. Becky says:

    Conservatize Me by John Moe. Explores the point of view of those on the “other side,” plus it’s funny.

  24. Nathan says:

    Apartment Electricity Bill is Killing Me!!

    Hey Trent, you lived in an apt. for a while…are they any tricks for keeping the electricity bill down? We keep our house between 75-80 in the very warm San Diego summer and still can’t get our 1100 sq. ft. house electricity bill under $150 in July/Aug. Is there something else I am not thinking of?

    We have heard other people in the complex have the same problem so I know it isn’t unique to our collection of electrical appliances..

    any tips/tricks?

  25. SomeoneOutThere says:

    I’d add a couple things to the read list.



    They’ll blow your socks off.

  26. michael bash says:

    I like your blog. There are a number of points for younger people who haven’t lived and/or read enough yet to figure things out on their own. The focus I would like now is the concerns of the newly retired. Your point of view, i.e. retirement is decades in the future and preparations must begin and continue, is fine, but I’m far beyond that. Please suggest a “Simple Dollar” for the folks in their early/mid 60s who are learning what retirement really means, i.e. retirement does NOT equal permanent vacation, thank God I saved/prepared enough to enjoy it, and there are still a lot of questions needing answers, new questions, new answers. Thanks for letting me/us know if you can recommend anybody/thing. Michael Bash

  27. Elisabeth says:

    When you’re talking about an oven and tea kettle, if it’s in the summertime, don’t forget about the cost of the AC making up for the heat produced. Although I guess you’d even it out in the winter… I would still think it wouldn’t contribute too significantly to the electricity bill.

  28. SomeoneOutThere says:

    Here’s a *real* conservative publication.


    This is also a good (usually conservative) read.


  29. Stacey says:


    Just to defend myself… I worked 15-20 hours per week during the semester, full-time during breaks. My parents never paid a penny towards my tuition, room/board, ect. I also graduated with a 3.9 GPA, and a better sense of time management than most of my friends. Thanks for asking!

    My course of action isn’t for everyone – but even if you’ve got $20 left each pay period, save for the future.

  30. Nick says:

    As a student, I just don’t have the money to worry about retirement right now. Between tuition, books, transportation, rent on my apartment, it’s tough enough as it is, and I’m very frugal and go to a school with a very reasonable in-state tuition. It’s either savings, or put more on plastic.

  31. Wonko Beeblebrox says:

    I find the Globe and Mail to be an excellent source of news. They, like the BBC, can cover the States and the world in a way that the US papers can’t…



  32. stephanie says:

    Liberal Fascism? Really? In that book, the author argues that eating organic food is fascist. What?

  33. SP says:

    My earlier comment hasn’t made it past the spam filter.

    I think it is silly to say that you aren’t mad at wall street. I’m mad at wall street. I’m also mad at the people you say the blame lies with. But don’t be confused, there is PLENTY of blame to go around. Wall street surely deserves some of it.

    I don’t think it is necessary to save for retirement while in college. If you can, obviously that is great. If you can’t, don’t worry too much about it.

  34. Robin Crickman says:

    Trent, a question.
    How can I reconcile ethics and frugality? I have
    a stable of horses who have worked with me for
    years teaching people to ride. They have literally
    carried the financial burden of our farm on their
    backs. Now these animals are getting old and can’t
    really be asked to work much. And as they age, much
    like humans, they cost more to care for than when
    they were younger. With the downturn in the economy, my business is down and the cost of maintaining the older animals is uncomfortable.
    But my ethics tell me I owe them; they worked
    faithfully and deserve a comfortable retirement
    for as long as they can live in reasonable health.
    But the longer I keep them, the less I have to
    save for the future. Can you provide some insights?

  35. Thanks for the freezer recipes. My question is, how long do they last in the freezer? Not too long ago, I threw away some sausage that had in my freezer about a year and a half! (I felt really guilty about it.) I things tend to get lost in there.

  36. Oliver says:

    I’ve heard that during a recession and the recovery is a good time to buy stocks and commodities, during the upswing is a good time to buy stocks and property, and during the peak and start of the economic decline is a good time to invest in bonds. What do you think about this? If you are investing on a regular monthly basis, is this a good way (in general) to allocate funds if you already have an emergency fund and adequate insurance?

  37. Carol says:

    I feel your pain!!!!! I’m working so hard and diligently to get my bills paid off plus contribute to 401(k), plus have an emergency fund. I keep getting blasted time after time with unexpected costs. Medical bills this year are the biggest as my employer offered high deductible plan for 2008 which I took a gamble and lost BIG TIME! My college age-son took a tumble off his bicycle at the beginning of summer – broke his elbow in two places requiring surgery. He therefore lost his summer employment for the duration of the summer due to non-use of his arm. This caused me to use my emergency fund in pretty much total for his college housing in the fall (without any contributions from him as he was unemployed). Then my husband had to have emergency surgery – bam, more big medical bills which won’t be covered with my health savings account (didn’t save enough to cover the high deductible costs). I just keep on trying…….

  38. Chel says:

    My husband and I are in our mid-20’s. This fall, my husband left a great paying job lto go back to school full time. Because we live pretty frugally, saving just sort of “happened” before. As far as long-term savings, we have a mutual fund and maxed out IRAs, and my husband has a 401k that he maxed out. For the short term, we have some CDs worth about $60,000, and for emergencies, we have $10,000 in our savings account.

    The question is, now that we are making less than 1/2 of what we were before, how do we decide how to allocate the money we are saving? Right now we make about $4000 a month and and our starting goal is to save $1400 per month (and we hope to increase that number). How much should go to the IRAs/mutual fund, how much to the short term (CDs) and how much to the emergency fund (savings account)? The short term savings are for a down-payment on a house when my husband finishes school as well as possibly buying a second car (we only have one) and starting a family- so saving in that area is definitely important. Obviously we are young and have a lot of years to save for retirement, but I feel bad neglecting it completely. And last, I’m concerned that we don’t have enough of an emergency pad just in case something really bad happens (ie the car dies).

    Hope you can help. Thanks ahead of time.

  39. Mikey says:

    Question: if you are frugal and smart, you have a credit union as your bank. However, my credit union does not have safety deposit boxes. Boxes seem like they are becoming a rarity in my area. The only bank that has them is the BofA in the next town, and that branch is closing. I’ve switched to a fire-proof “go” box, but are there better alternatives?

  40. Spencer says:


    That’s a pretty bold statement. Care to give any examples?

  41. Christine in Iowa says:

    Manny For School Board–You’re lucky your SB election is in April, ours is right after school starts in Sept! You have time to go to as many PTA meetings at as many schools in your district as possible. Parents and teachers at those meetings (imo) are the active ones who will be most interested in what you have to offer. One way I like to learn about our SB candidates is going to coffee with them–ask friends to host a coffee / informal get together at their houses and invite all their friends to meet you and ask questions. Good luck!

  42. Kristina says:

    Hi Trent,

    I’m wondering how much you tip if you do go out to eat.


  43. MrsMoney says:

    I think it’s funny someone asked about a tea kettle. My philosophy is that if it’s something you really enjoy (and isn’t really extravagant) then it’s worth the money! :)

  44. Ryan says:

    Umm…Are you forgetting the millions of lobbying dollars Wall Street has paid to make sure your “deregulation” happened? You should be mad at Wall Street.

  45. amanda says:

    Hi Trent,
    I know that your children as still quite young, but do you have any plans to handle spending on “luxuries” for when they’re in their teenage years? For instance, will you purchase a cellphone for them, and allow them to choose their own clothing? The reason I ask is that my parents were very frugal with things they didn’t deem to be necessities, and this had an impact on my social life. I was constantly “out of the loop” due to not owning a cellphone, and I was frequently teased about my clothes.

  46. John Walker says:

    I found your comments re different websites interesting. As a frequent poster to Democratic Underground I feel I should expand upon your description of this site.

    There certainly ARE the more adamant individuals on DU, but there are also many, like me (I hope), who seek to provide good information for people to consult as an antidote to the avalanche of disinformation we are treated to on M$M.

    I too have my moments when I get angered by the GOP’s success with the use of disinforamation and I will strike back at timeshttp://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_topic&forum=103&topic_id=197263.

    … But for the most part I try to fight back by providing people with legitimate info, with links, so they can make their own minds up.

    I do not like uninformed argumentation from any source or ‘side’. That doesn’t do any of us any good. I wish more people were as well read as you. I and a number of others on Democratic Underground are trying to make it a good site for informative news and commentary.

    I certainly agree with you that Huffington Post is good for news and the Daily Kos for commentary. By the way Buzzflash is a good site for just getting links to headline articles and informatinve commentaries on current events.

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