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Fun and Contests


A few years ago, I did a very good job of tracking all my spending. As my income has increased since that time, I’ve found less value in keeping notes on the ultimate destination of every single cent. I believe that close scrutiny is required when someone is looking for ways to improve their finances, particularly when expenses are close to or exceeding income.

While I sometimes feel like I should be doing a better job at keeping Quicken updated with the latest information on a daily basis, I generally will allow myself more slack with my accuracy.

I came across a poem by Robert Frost that affirms my recent perspective, from The Hardship of Accounting:

Never ask of money spent
Where the spender thinks it went.
Nobody was ever meant
To remember or invent
What he did with every cent.

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Back in the late 1980s, I collected baseball cards just like millions of other kids. That’s around the same time that popularity of baseball card collecting skyrocketed and the producers of cards — and Major League Baseball — ruined the hobby, never to recover.

Taking advantage of collector — and even investor — interest, the companies tried to make as much money as possible and increased supply to meet demand. By the early 1990s, there were too many brands of baseball cards producing too many variations and too many prints of each. Card collecting became a chore rather than a fun and exciting exciting. (Plus, like millions of other kids, I was simply getting older and less interested.) Looking to make money on baseball card appreciation, fewer cards were handled and more cards were kept in pristine condition, ensuring that no cards would ever be “rare” in top condition.

Endy Chavez 2007 Topps baseball cardRecent;y, I had heard that Major League Baseball finally realized that they had helped ruin the card collecting hobby (with additional help from the public distaste with the sport for a time). They recently cut back the number of baseball card producers to just Topps and Upper Deck. Perhaps, due to limiting the production of baseball cards and the resurgence of the sport, card collecting and trading would become popular again.

As I tried to complete team sets of Mets cards for myself and my girlfriend, not for investment but just because we’re fans of the team, I discovered that not much has changed. It’s true that there are only two companies producing baseball cards, but there are so many variations and sets that keeping track of everything would still be a chore. For example, Topps sells factory-sealed sets for each team. The team sets contain only about 15 cards, but these cards are slightly different from the cards you would find if you looked through the traditional random baseball card packs sold in delis and convenience stores looking for the cards you want.

Here is what it would take the be a true collector presently. If you’re an enthusiast looking to complete just a 2008 collection for one team, not only do you need all the cards from Series 1 and Series 2 featuring players from that team, but you’d need a second 55-card “special edition” team set that includes cards for the managers, coaches, and mascot. You would also need cards from the “Opening Day” series, the “Chrome” series, the “Co-signers” series, the “Finest” series, the “Milestones” series, and the “Heritage” series. Don’t forget that Topps also owns the Bowman brand, so you would need to find the “Bowman” series as well.

Even for kids who spend their parents’ money with reckless abandon, it’s simply too expensive to properly be a child interested in being successful at collecting cards in the traditional manner. You might as well just give up now. I certainly understand why millions of kids have left card trading and collecting behind.

Here’s how to make card collecting popular (and perhaps even profitable) again. Lower the price of baseball cards. Reduce the number of cards in a complete set to fewer than 1,000 for the year. Don’t print as many. Keep investors away. Convince kids that the cards should be traded, handled, and even abused, not placed in pristine holders to be kept in mint condition forever.

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Almost always, exorbitant salaries come with serious responsibilities and high levels of stress. It’s important for your psyche to be able to take a moment a blow off steam.

On Saturday, I was at Shea Stadium to watch interleague baseball between The New York Mets and The Texas Rangers. I purchased tickets a few months ago for this game and six others as part of a seven-game package honoring the last season of play at Shea Stadium.

The weather was horrible but we headed to the stadium, anyway. Thunderstorms and rain persisted, and an hour and a half after the game was scheduled to start, the team finally announced that the game would be postponed and our tickets would need to be exchanged for any other game this season. By the time the game was called, the players on the Mets were likely long gone, back to their clubhouse or perhaps on their way home for the night.

The Rangers however had a chance to blow off some steam. With the tarp covering the baseball infield, a few decided that the pouring rain created the perfect opportunity for a little “Slip ‘N Slide.” I never thought I’d ever hear so many Mets fans chanting, “Let’s go Rangers!”

Here’s what it looked like.

Don’t forget that despite your contracts worth millions, you are still kids, no matter what your age. Act like it once in a while.

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Yesterday, I received five USB flash drives containing the TaxCut software, and I intend on giving each one of these away to Consumerism Commentary readers. Last year, I didn’t receive these flash drives until April 11, a little too late for tax filing purposes. Also, last year’s drives were only 256 MB. The drives I received yesterday have four times the capacity. Even if you’ve already filed your taxes or are using other software, you can still win one of these 1 GB flash drives and erase the data. You can then put music, photos, or any other kinds of computer files on these USB drives.

I’ve never used TaxCut before, so I can’t vouch for the software’s quality. Over the last few years I’ve been using TaxAct, and before that, TurboTaxOnline. TaxCut is a popular product, and I’d suggest reading the CNET Review for pros and cons.

If you’re interested in being selected to win a USB flash drive containing TaxCut Premium Federal + State + e-file, leave a comment below on this post. The comment could be an interesting anecdote about your own tax situation or someone else’s, it could be a joke, or it could be anything else. There are two catches. I’ll only send a drive to a United States address, and you’ll need to include a real email address so I can contact you if you win.

This probably goes without saying, but we’ll only take one submission per person and IP address.

Starbucks Allows You to Bring Your Desktop Computer

by Luke Landes

If you don’t own a notebook computer but you still want to write term papers or browse the web from Starbucks, apparently the staff doesn’t mind. Recently, one Starbucks location in New York City was invaded by a few individuals who brought old Windows PCs, monitors included, to do some “work” and film the event ... Continue reading this article…

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Quicken Premier 2008 Winners Have Been Contacted

by Luke Landes

I have sent an email to five winners of Quicken Premier 2008, provided to me for giving away to Consumerism Commentary readers by Intuit. If you entered the contest, check your email to see if you are a winner. Were you selected? If so, be sure to respond to the email by 8:00 PM Eastern ... Continue reading this article…

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24 Hours Remain to Win Quicken Premier 2008

by Luke Landes

I’m giving away all five copies of Quicken Premier 2008 to commenters who respond to this post, and I’ll be choosing the winners in a little over 24 hours. Click on that link and leave a comment at the bottom of the page in order to be considered in the drawing.

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A Winning Night With Poker

by Luke Landes

Once in a while, my friends get together to play Texas Hold ‘Em. It’s not the typical poker situation that you might see in movies. There are no smoke-filled rooms, not a lot of alcohol, and the buy-in for tournament-style play is only $5. Due to some luck, because I certainly don’t have the fine-honed ... Continue reading this article…

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5 Romantic Outdoor Day Date Ideas Under $30

by Sasha

Related: Men Paying for Dinner: Is It More Romantic?. School’s back in session, work’s ramping up again, and it’s almost time to let go of summer and fully embrace fall. But that shouldn’t mean your romantic life falls by the wayside. From what I’m seeing in the weather reports, it’s supposed to be a nice ... Continue reading this article…

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Last Chance for Complete Real-Estate Investing Guidebook

by Luke Landes

The contest to win a copy of Complete Real-Estate Investing Guidebook will end tonight at midnight Eastern Time. If you’re interested in receiving this book for free, please state your case here in the next twelve hours.

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Giveaway: Complete Real-Estate Investing Guidebook by David Crook

by Luke Landes

When I recently reviewed Wall Street Journal Complete Real-Estate Investing Guidebook, I gave the book 9 stars out of 10. (Read the review here.) Filled with incredible detail, this book can serve as a guide for novice real-estate investors. If you read Rich Dad, Poor Dad and found yourself wanting more in the way of ... Continue reading this article…

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Final Giveaway Reminder: Cash, Cars, & College

by Luke Landes

At 11:59 PM tomorrow night, I will no longer be accepting entries in the giveaway of Cash, Cars, & College, by Janine Bolon. I’m giving away two copies of the book, which I’ve reviewed here, so your chances are still not bad. In order to be included in the drawing, simply read this post and ... Continue reading this article…

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Giveaway: Cash, Cars & College by Janine Bolon

by Luke Landes

Earlier this month, I read and reviewed Cash, Cars & College: A Young Person’s Guide to Money, by Janine Bolon, a neat little book touching on some of the important aspects of managing money for a teenager looking to someday become a functioning adult, moreso than the average citizen. I now have the opportunity to ... Continue reading this article…

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Congratulations to Patrick, Winner of Quicken Premier 2007

by Luke Landes

Thanks to everyone who had suggestions for the next version of Quicken. Now, I’m sure the software architects and programmers don’t read the site, and I’m also sure than Quicken 2008 is just now receiving its final touches in preparation of its release, but there are some great suggestions that one would hope would make ... Continue reading this article…

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Reminder: Quicken Premier 2007 Giveaway

by Luke Landes

As Quicken 2008 will likely be released within the next few months, I have a copy of Quicken Premier 2007 directly from Intuit to give away to a lucky reader. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post, and you’ll be entered twice in the contest. I plan on picking the ... Continue reading this article…

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Congratulations to Sarah, Winner of Excuse Me, Your Job is Waiting

by Luke Landes

Over a week ago, I held a simple contest in order to give away one copy of Excuse Me, Your Job is Waiting, by Laura George [my review]. To enter the contest, all I required other than a valid email address was a description of your “dream job.” Here are some of the responses. Congratulations ... Continue reading this article…

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Giveaway: Excuse Me, Your Job is Waiting by Laura George

by Luke Landes

Earlier this morning, I reviewed Excuse Me, Your Job is Waiting (Amazon link) by Laura George and found it to be a good job-hunting book with advice based on the “law of attraction.” I’m happy to be able to give away the three copies sent to me by the publisher. Read the review, if you ... Continue reading this article…

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I Got a Nintendo Wii

by Luke Landes

On Sunday, I purchased a Nintendo Wii. It wasn’t for me. My girlfriend, celebrating her thirtieth birthday, wanted the game system as a gift. Not knowing much about the current state of demand and supply for the game consoles and assuming any frenzy ended with the past holiday season, we went shopping on Saturday. Our ... Continue reading this article…

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Giveaway: Five USB Flash Drives With Tax Cut Software

by Luke Landes

Realizing that it’s a little late for sending these out and filing taxes in time for the standard deadline, I’d still like to give these away. I have five USB Flash Drives with 256MB storage space. You can find these almost anywhere, and they are inexpensive. These flash drives come with Tax Cut Premium Federal ... Continue reading this article…

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Congratulations to 2million, Winner of Quicken Rental Property Manager

by Luke Landes

The random comment selector has chosen 2million of My Journey to Financial Freedom to be the winner of the free copy of Quicken Rental Property Manager. Thanks everyone for playing! There were some good comments as well. Brenda says: I have 3 rental properties and have been keeping all my books by hand! Ugh!!! Can ... Continue reading this article…

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