Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Greedy Pigs

Have you every heard of biting the hand that feeds you? Well I’ve heard this term growing up several times and it was always considered a cowardice thing to do. Well it seems that Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain did just that.

Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock for a few days you may have heard about the way Merrill Lynch (ML) played Bank of America (BofA). The good ole dirty rotten, low down no good for nothing executives at ML thought it would be a good idea to approve $3 billion to $4 billion in bonuses three days before BofA purchased the company. The swelling losses forced Bank of America to seek a new round of federal aid as it moved to complete the deal.

It just seems like some people will do anything for a buck. It really saddens me that as their company was failing all they could think about is how they could keep the yacht and vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard paid for. Of course, BofA took tax payer (bailout) money to assist with buying the company. So essentially you and I paid for the bloodsuckers bonuses. I hope there is a special place in hell for people like John Thain. Mr. Thain was the CEO of ML and he is the one who approved the bonuses. BTW while he was getting his friends paid…. he was trying to get paid too. Mr. Thain had reportedly lobbied for a $10 million bonus for himself, only to withdraw the request when the board balked.

To make matters worse good ole John still had a job He stayed on after the merger. He oversaw trading, investment banking and brokerage operations. See these fools take care of their own… while stealing as much as possible from the little people. But of course when it comes out publically that he paid billions of dollars in bonuses the following statement was released.

Thain, who in September negotiated the sale of Merrill with Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis, “agreed his situation was not working out and that he should resign,” said Robert Stickler, a Bank of America spokesman.

Now Thain probably realizes that he bit the hand that fed him. See Merrill Lynch lost 15 billion dollars in the 4th quarter. Now you know those bonuses he gave to his partners was about of the losses. Now that they are looking quite foolish BofA has diarrhea of the mouth. The Bank of America CEO also concluded Mr. Thain has exercised "poor judgment" on a number of fronts. He left for a vacation in Vail, Colo., after the losses came to light, bonus payments at Merrill were accelerated so they could be collected before the end of the year and Mr. Thain had planned to fly this week to Davos, Switzerland, even though Bank of America had signaled that such a trip was not a good idea . Thain spent $1.22 million of company money to refurbish his office at Merrill Lynch headquarters in lower Manhattan. The biggest piece of the spending spree: $800,000 to hire famed celebrity designer Michael Smith, who is currently redesigning the White House for the Obama family for just $100,000.

Not only should this bastard be fired he should be arrested and locked up under the jail. Let’s be real this man is a billionaire he is not hurting for no damn job. He ain’t Greg and nem down the block he’s not spending hours on the phone trying to get approved for unemployment. But I do believe in karma and when it comes for him I hope it kicks him square up his ass.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Your True FICO

In my life I have been through many financial difficulties, much of it was due to my own foolishness. You remember that one L’Oreal commercial that ended with the tag line………..because you deserve it. Well I thought I deserved everything. I loved spending on the whim; I wanted every little thing my heart desired. I had survived college and had a wonderful job so spending money was something I thought I was suppose to do. I bought a house, bought a car, went to the mall weekly, hair was done weekly and often went for drinks and dinner with friends 3-4 times a week. Well that good life came to a screeching halt on 9/11/2001 when I got laid off from my fabulous job.

I was caught off guard… not only was America being attacked my life was falling apart. Long story short I lost my home… car was repossessed… and I was left with a bunch of clothes, furniture and other materialistic crap, not to mention my FICO score was in the toilet. My attempts to find a job seemed to be useless, no one was hiring and while I was thankful for the 250.00 a week in unemployment it was not enough to keep a roof over my head and food in my belly. I eventually got a job but was in serious debt. After careful consideration I filed bankruptcy and committed to living within my means and paying my bills on time.
I am vigilant about my credit and constantly keep track of my purchases and credit card balances. But fighting my way back from bankruptcy helped me to understand that organizations in the credit industry make it their goal to make money off of the consumers.

One such organization is Experian credit bureau. Fair Isaac has announced that as of February 14, 2009, the Experian credit bureau will stop offering FICO credit scores to consumers through the Fair Isaac consumer website myFICO.com or anywhere else for that matter.

This means that lenders will still have access to your FICO credit scores from Experian, but you will no longer be able to monitor your Experian FICO score yourself.

Experian does offer PLUS credit scores to consumers at Experian.com, but PLUS scores are pretty useless when you consider that the lenders only use your actual FICO scores when deciding whether to give you a loan.
Maybe Experian should consider only offering the PLUS score to lenders if they want to even the playing field, but it’s obvious by these actions that they don’t. So you see Experian will sell you a fake credit score but not your FICO score. So when you see those free credit report commercials be advised that you will not be getting the full scope of your credit score, so it may be a waste of time.

Many of us need our FICO scores to determine if we qualify for a mortgage, car, a line of credit, ect. But most lenders use our middle score to determine eligibility of credit. The middle score is basically that … If you have a 680 with Transunion, 599 with Experian and 635 with Equifax, then your middle score is 635. But if you are unable to obtain your Experian FICO score you are left in the dark and will not know what your middle score is. So you know what happens…you will be forced to but in an application for credit before you find out if you qualify for credit. This makes it harder to shop around for the bargain, because if you already know your middle score you can talk directly with finance managers and tell them what you score is before they place an inquiry on your credit report.

It may be time for the federal government to step in and take actions on behalf of the American consumer, as it is inherently unfair that a measurement such as the FICO score, which is solely used in many cases to judge a consumer’s creditworthiness, is unavailable for that consumer’s own personal review.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

My Lease Is Up.... Got Damn

Oh my goodness I'm about to have a nervous breakdown. My lease will expire on Feb 16 and I am virtually homeless. Well.............not really but my situation does not look good. I love the look of my apartment it's huge and the amenities are great. But then I have other issues that I can not deal with. For example it's obvious they did a lipstick job when they rehabbed the apartment and used the cheapest material they could find. For example I can hear my neighbors downstairs so clear it feels like we live together. My bedroom is over their bedroom and at night I can hear everything. I've hear my neighbor's boyfriend snore... I hear her clear her throat.. I wake up every morning at 5:00 am because when their alarms goes off it sounds like the clock is setting right on my night stand. Did I mention that they have a Siberian Husky who howls all night. Then there is the 40 steps I must climb to get to my apartment. So with that in mind I decided to look for another place. Then I found the perfect place that was everything I ever wanted in a home. First of all it was a house...no stairs to climb..two fire places, a sun porch, backyard and two bedrooms. And the rent was cheaper than my one bedroom apartment. Everything was fine until last Friday when the real estate agent called and said there was a problem with the owner and they were no longer able to lease me the home..

WTF... I have to move out of my apartment in 9 days and I do not have another place lined up. I have been looking high and low but unable to find something to my liking. I am very picky, I prefer everything to be rehabbed or extremely maintained. My bathroom and kitchen must be up to parr, they are my favorite spots. So when I look at places with old cabinets, ugly refrigerators, unsightly linoleum, and small bathrooms I cringe. Plus with this being income tax season many places have increased their rent amounts.

So if I do not find anything asap...I will be chilling at Mom's until I find a spot. Yes a grown ass woman at home with Mom. I found an apartment that is 200.00 cheaper than my current apartment. But it is a shot gun style apartment, very very small and there are kids in the apartment. And when the landlord called my references she asked them how I handle conflict. WTH...my friend asked me what the has to do with renting me an apartment. So needless to say I am a bit nervous about dealing with them. I want to know what type of conflict I might encounter at their apartment.

Then there is the other apartment that is 20.00 more than more current rent. It's a gorgeous apartment. I love it...but it will not be ready until April. Although I love that apartment the street it located on is extremely busy. The street is in a business district and people are always walking up and down the block. Some of the people look like they would rob you in a heart beat. But the area is currently at the point of gentrification and soon will be the new hot spot.

So I gotta move up outta this place next weekend and the only sure spot I got is mama's. So if you see me and I look pissed off and sound crabby just know at this time I am homeless and irritated right now.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Koreans and the Black Hair Business

In the late 70's most beauty supply stores in my neighborhood were black. As a matter of fact, there were not very many and the ones that existed were very small. Suddenly around the late 80's early 90's I noticed beauty supply stores started popping up on every corner. This time they were bigger, offered more products and strangely enough ran by Koreans. Soon enough the small black beauty supplies began to fade away, finding it hard to compete with the Koreans who had more products and at a cheaper price.

We all know that black women are serious about our hair. We buy relaxers,wigs,weaves, detachable ponytails, hot curlers, ceramic flat irons, pressing combs ect. So basically the beauty supply and distribution business is a billion dollar industry. With all the beauty supplies in the hood and all the sistahs flocking to buy merchandise, who profits the most from the sale?

We all know that Madame CJ Walker made her first million in the beauty industry. Well it may be hard to find a black person in today's market making million(s) of dollars selling or distributing beauty supplies. The reason for this is the Koreans dominate the market. Some even refuse to sale products made by black distributors. In many cases the Koreans will allow a limited amount of black made products in their store....then after a short while they will start making their own brand of the product and refuse to sale the black made product.

I respect everyone hustle don't get me wrong the black beauty industry was an open market that went virtually undeserved for years. However, many of these Korean run shops never invest in the neighborhoods they serve. Hell in most cases you will never see a black person even working in the store.

I am so happy that I went natural because I no longer contribute to making Koreans richer. This issue is wayyyy bigger than I can cover. But trust and believe it is a big deal. If possible try to find and shop and a black owned beauty supply store. If you are unsure where to find one goggle Black Owned Beauty Supply Association. Understand.. it is very important to put money back into the hands of people that look like us. Yes...the product may be a bit higher priced but it's worth it.