With the East Coast gripped in fear from Hurricane Sandy AKA Frankenstorm, I thought I’d share some of my personal observations and experiences as an East-Coaster as we brace for the storm of the century (of the year; ya know, cause each year there’s a storm of the century).
- People Wait Until the Day Before a Storm to Buy a Generator. And then Curse the Stores that are Sold Out – This is the same absurd dark comedy that plays out each and every storm. People that somehow escaped prior storms unscathed (or didn’t) decide that 1 day prior to landfall is the optimal time to finally buy a generator. I happened to have a completely non-storm related issue going on with my dishwasher today. I was in search of discharge hoses for a Bosch dishwasher and to my chagrin, learned that there’s nothing “standard” about those German bastards. Everything is custom… even though Lowes sells Bosch and told me over the phone they had what I needed in stock. So, while I was in Lowe’s I couldn’t help but notice the frenzied look of fear in peoples’ eyes running around the store stocking up on flashlights and batteries. I saw 2 different people hoarding 5 Gallon gas cans. They had 2 in each hand for a grand total of 20 gallons of gas storage. When Lowe’s didn’t have what I needed, I tried calling an ACE Hardware since they sometimes have a more eclectic mix of hardware. After several attempts due to busy signals, I finally got a fanatical pickup where she literally yelled into the phone, “Ace, We’re Out of Generators!”. She then paused, presumably waiting for me to hang up. I said, “That’s how you answer the phone?”. She repeated that they’re out of generators. It’s all about generators these days even though there was ample supply a week ago. Incidentally, I bought one a few years ago out of season on a 40% off sale at Lowes. So, if you somehow make it through this storm and missed out, keep your eye on sales in the Spring!
- Gas Stations Out of Gas – This is another one that confounds me. I was out running errands Friday night and knew the car was running low so I filled up. By Saturday, many gas stations were starting to shut down as they ran out of fuel. By Sunday, few and far between. Why wait until the last minute? I don’t get it.
- Price Gouging is Good and it’s ridiculous that it’s illegal – Most economists and other rational thinkers agree that price gouging is good for society, especially during an emergency. I list out several reasons in that post, but in summary, it prevents schmucks from gorging themselves on stuff they don’t need at an artificially low “pre-emergency” price therefore depriving others of goods and services they could benefit from. In other words, do you think society is better off with 5 people buying all the bread in the entire grocery store or if the price of bread went up from $2 to $10 and people thought twice before buying 39 loaves? If you’re gonna be a prick and suck up all the supply, you should pay for it. That’s how the world is supposed to work. But no, we allow our emotions to dictate policy and just like the guy trying to sell generators during Katrina, the powers that be would sooner punish suppliers of goods at elevated prices.
- And Now for the Good… It’s not all bad. While we had bought some extra water, bread and all the other stuff stripped from the shelves by Sunday earlier that week, what we were missing due to our dishwasher mishap was some paper plates. Yes, my wife sent me out to buy paper plates during the frenzy, so we didn’t have to handwash dishes for days on end awaiting these stupid Bosch hoses to arrive. So, while on line, each register was fairly busy and a woman with a full cart looked back at me and said, “Why don’t you go sir”. I was thinking how nice that was. As everyone’s angry and freaking out about not stocking up on enough stuff, she was still pleasant and acting like she probably does on any other day, telling someone with one item to jump ahead of her on line. I don’t believe in Karma, but if I did, I think the storm would spare her any grief.
With that largely useless opinion piece off my chest, here’s my Weekly Reading post I haven’t gotten around to in far too long:
Reads from Around the Web:
- Best Read of the Week. By Far. It will make your blood boil. Burning Platform
- Len Penzo’s Black Coffee. These are great. Subscribe and enjoy
- Top 7 Tips to Help You Retire in Style
- Mutual Funds – Are “Family Values” Important?
- Banned for Life from Bogleheads
- This guy “Learned to Love” Obamacare (more power to him!)
- Find Out Your 401(k) Fees Finally
- Congrats – 500th post!
- How to Avoid Being Fired (it’s become an entirely new art form this business cycle, so read up!)
Carnivals that Featured My Content:
- Self-Directed Investing
- Carnival of Personal Finance
- Financial Planning
- Carnival of Wealth
- Personal Finance
- Carnival of Financial Planning
- Carnival of Passive Investing
Stuff I Wrote All over in No Particular Order:
- Special Dividends to Spike Prior to Fiscal Cliff
- Does This Piss You Off?
- View ALL Your Financials in One Spot with Personal Capital’s Free Service
- 4 Reasons to Start a 529 Now
- Gold is Still Not a Good Investment
- Ranking your Risk Tolerance