Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Consumer confidence vs House Prices

I for one believe that most housing in the US is way over-priced. I'm currently living in KC and I'm seeing some "reasonable" prices. But I think it's worth noting that I'm making twice the median income and I can't see buying anything out here.

That's right, my wife doesn't work, so together, we make the median income for a two-person family and the cost of owning our own place is prohibitive. Of course, house prices are dropping, which makes me feel great, maybe I'll be able to afford one soon, but it looks like people aren't. I just found this graph on swivel (which is a pretty cool site BTW).

Case-Schiller Home Prices and Consumer Confidence Index

Of course, in the grand world of causation vs correlation, I'm going to chalk up the drop in confidence to more factors than just dropping house prices. If anything, it's likely the economy in general mixed with a healthy dose of "back-to-reality". For great helping of "back-to-reality", check out this post on MDJ:

California couple, family of 8, 100k / year:
  • No medical insurance for the themselves OR the kids.
  • $135,000 in credit card debt.
  • Two mortgages totaling $658,000.
  • Large mortgage with payments of $1800/month, but payments will increase to $3300/month in a few months.
  • They have 3 cars, 2 of which are leased, the other one they own. The cost is $1700/month.
  • Wife spends $300-$400/month at Starbucks (It was the wifes morning routine).
  • $60/week on tanning and manicures
  • $4k on hair extensions in the past 2 years.
  • Constantly shopping.
  • The wife would regularly buy brand new clothes for the kids, then have a garage sale a month later to sell the “used” items at pennies to the dollar. (This one blew me away)
Scary stuff.

Maybe it's time to practice "positive cash-flow techniques". Of course, YMMV.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

MS Office by subscription

Here's the news link from ZD NET:
New Microsoft Office subscription bundle to hit in mid-July

Basically they're bundling several basic services together. Some are comparing it to Google's free stuff, but it's also comparable to Mac's "paid-for" stuff:
includes a version of Office Home and Student 2007; Windows Live OneCare,
Microsoft’s PC management/security bundle; a few Windows Live
communication/collaboration services; and Office Live Workspace, Microsoft’s
online-collaboration add-on to Office.

I talked about this previously. And I honestly think that subscriptions are the future of all. Obviously, the "talkback" forum was filled with open-source people who don't "get it".

But I think that the populace is finally ready for the concept that everything on their computer is comprised of "services" and that software is alive.

Unfortunately, MS missed one big piece here: Outlook. The early adopters who will want this service are the same type of people who will also want Outlook.