Home Depot (we’re not going to use the superfluous definite article that’s part of their name) is twice as profitable as Lowe’s, despite only slightly larger revenue and equity. Here’s how they do it.
We had to replace the blades on a standard indoor ceiling fan, probably because a renter’s kid decided to play with a broom or something while the fan was spinning. Children are awful. Anyhow, the fan is a Hampton Bay® model, Home Depot’s store brand. And these fans are cheap, like $35. Each of the 5 blades attaches to the hub with 3 screws, which meant all an enterprising homeowner has to do is measure the blades, buy new ones, unscrew the existing ones and replace them with the new ones, right? What could be easier?
If only. The blades appeared to be attached to the hub with hex screws (Allen screws for our Canadian friends), but no hex key (Allen key for our Canadian friends) of any size fit the heads. Upon closer examination, the screws had Torx heads.
Instead of a hexagon, a Torx head looks more like a Star of David. THE JEWS CONTROL THE CONSTRUCTION TRADES, TOO. Hex keys are easy to find, Torx screwdrivers not so much. Still, we eventually found one (well, several – they come in sets that encompass varying widths) and tried it. Nothing.
Upon further review it wasn’t a Torx head, it was a Torx Security head.
See the difference? That minuscule post in the middle of the pattern makes it a different head, requiring a different driver. Oh, and the local Home Depot doesn’t sell Torx Security drivers. Nor does Lowe’s. Nor did 2 of the 3 Ace Hardwares that don’t require a plane to get to. The 3rd Ace Hardware had one such driver left. $22, or $3 less than Home Depot’s cheapest indoor fan.
Torx Security heads are intentionally scarce. They were created for stuff like consumer electronics toys where the manufacturer doesn’t want you playing with the innards, or for things worth stealing. Hotel room safes, etc. Who the hell is going to steal a ceiling fan blade?
No one, but Home Depot is counting on you being trepid (the antonym of intrepid?) enough to give up searching for a Torx Security driver and just buy a new fan. Especially since the screw hole pattern in the new blades, with the same brand name, Home Depot’s own, didn’t match the pattern in the old blades anyway.
Screw them, in a manner of speaking. We reattached the old, beat-up blade and will leave it there until it falls off.
Now for the Carnival. Blog posts from hither and occasionally yon:
Newly 20/15 sighted Paula Pant at Afford Anything got LASIKed last week. In her honor, we’re going to summarize her post in this tiny font. Paula’s unusual among personal finance bloggers in that she thinks there exist objectives beyond frugality. If there’s one place you should spend profligately, it’s your health. Saving your co-pay means little when you’re spending your nights in an iron lung.
This post seemed good in theory, but is a soggy mess in practice. Peter Buscemi at Four Quadrant tells us how to create a marketing budget, and writes like a cloistered academic who can communicate with the outside world only via mutated and unintelligible Corporatespeak:
It’s important that the numbers associated with this plan are modeled out to document when they need to be designed, developed and executed and what they produce, when they produce trickled through the waterfall and what it will cost. Details here are critical. If there is a need to decrease expenses and program dollars come under scrutiny, this detail will allow the correlation of qualified opportunities and revenue dollars reduced by program dollar cuts.
Sure enough, he lectures at the University of South Florida. He clearly wrote his own bio, too:
Peter is a strategic and visionary marketing executive and brand champion who has leveraged his unique combination of classical training and entrepreneurial experience at start-ups and F500 companies to transform technology innovations into multimillion-dollar revenue streams.
Ace, we don’t have time for this. Our readers expect us to inform and entertain them, not bore them silly with buzzwords and an absence of commas. Come back when you learn to make your points concisely.
David DeSouza at TaxFix gives our British readers 3 ways to earn tax-free interest on their investments. It’s all about ISAs, R85 forms, and other details that sound exotic to unfamiliar ears here on the fun side of the Atlantic.
Last month, Abbott Labs spun off its research drug operations into a company with the preposterous name of AbbVie. Dividend Growth Investor now owns shares of 2 companies, and explains the surprisingly generous dividend payout scheme for both Abbott Laboratories and AbbVie.
(Post rejected because it was 6 months old. Which is a shame, because it looked good and timeless, but we’ve rejected posts for being younger than that.)
Two things we love here at Control Your Cash: Student loans, and tax refunds! Seriously, if you’re financing an education that will keep you in debt for decades, and letting Uncle Sam enjoy your money interest-free for months on end, you’re an idiot. If you are such an idiot, borrowing money and then loaning it to the Treasury at your expense, Kristen at My Dollar Plan thinks you should use the latter to pay for the former. Her opening line:
The best part about doing your taxes is to hopefully, be getting a large tax refund check when it’s all said and done.
“When it’s all said and done.” “At the end of the day.” “Once the fat lady sings.” “When the cows come home.” Kristen, stop writing and don’t start again until you read this.
Nick at Making It In Today’s Economy, spare us your posts about how to save money on rent that include helpless hints such as “find a roommate”. Take your SEO-rich claptrap and park it somewhere else.
Here’s a good way to save money renting: buy instead.
Got a structured settlement that you want to turn into a lump sum for pennies on the dollar? If J.G. Wentworth’s website is down, try William at Quote Me A Price. He explains the difference between such a settlement and an annuity, and gives several dozen links to where you can forgo future returns for the indulgent pleasure of instant if smaller gratification.
The good posts don’t just fall out of the sky, you know. The thoughtful and bright Andrew at 101 Centavos, and we’re not calling him that just because he quotes us in his post, tells us why he forwent investing in Dow mainstay General Electric so he could bet on Air Products & Chemicals instead. Why? Among other reasons, because GE treats its 3rd World suppliers like garbage, forcing them to store inventory for months until GE deigns to take shipment.
Excerpts From GECitizenship.com:
Good citizenship is not bolted onto GE’s commercial enterprise. It is embedded into the strategy and actions within our business on a daily basis.
GE is committed to maintaining a culture of integrity, transparency, ethics and compliance.
GE is aware of its constantly evolving responsibilities and its impact on a global scale. We develop measurable strategies that drive operational excellence even as we work to add value to society. At GE, Citizenship is a full-time commitment built upon cultural behavior and actions.
Plus several more pages of human resources tripe that looks like Peter Buscemi wrote it and that no one, least of all CEO Jeff Immelt, will take seriously or even read.
You still haven’t bought whole life insurance? Good, you’re not insane. It’s the worst investment this side of Fannie Mae stock, and we say that every week, but it doesn’t stop the intrepid Josh Thompson at Becoming Your Own Bank from Becoming Our Own Punchline and sending us his company’s sales literature time and again. Fortunately, at last check his site was offline.
Last week Card Guys gave us a post from longtime CYC punching bag, journalistically trained Miranda Marquit. This week’s Card Guys post has no byline, which means that either Miranda went Alan Smithee on us, or whoever wrote it is embarrassed by it. If it’s the latter, the writer should be. This post tells us to vacation close to home, use sunscreen (if you’re going somewhere warm, and if you have fair skin), and not buy souvenirs. On closer examination, this has Miranda’s smell all over it.
Harry Campbell at Your PF Pro introduces us to Betterment, an online brokerage. Why is Harry writing about Betterment?
Reader TA writes in:
I’m wondering if you’ve heard anything about the Betterment.com site?
How convenient. If we go any deeper in our analysis of Harry’s post, we’ll be one website writing about another website writing about a 3rd. Sorry, that’s at least one step removed from where we need to be. We hope you understand.
You think your parents are hopeless? Michael at Financial Ramblings‘ dad almost didn’t take the required minimum distribution from his IRA last year. And he wouldn’t let Michael borrow the car or spend the night at his girlfriend’s house. Seriously, though: if Michael’s dad hadn’t taken the required minimum distribution in time, he could be looking at a 50% penalty.
Cameron Daniels, DQYDJ.net‘s Boy Prodigy, doesn’t obsess over every nickel as do the debt bloggers whom we regularly make fun of on this site. He could afford a nicer apartment, daily restaurant lunches and maybe even a new work wardrobe, yet he manages to keep his lifestyle from creeping. And his credit card balance at 0. Why is this so hard for the rest of you?
(Still, Cameron: You own a watch?)
We never know what Jason at Hull Financial Planning (Jason Hull. It’s his company) will bring us every week, we just know it’ll be money. This week, Jason’s YouTube interview with Mark Kohler of What Your CPA Isn’t Telling You renown. (Just for the record, the CYC principals love their CPAs. And their choice of swimwear.)
If you have a Federal Housing Administration mortgage, you might qualify for refinancing. Louis at Wallet Hub explains what you need to do. The FHA actually wants you to be upside-down, and might not even demand that you get your home appraised.
Finally, John Kiernan at Card Hub continues his series of roundtable discussions with various college professors. This week John asks the non-rhetorical question, “Where Do We Get Our Spending Habits From?” No conclusions reached, but an entertaining cavalcade of pronouncements from high atop the Ivory Complex.
Thanks again. We’re back on Investopedia, too. (Search for “McFarlane”.) And back here with new stuff every day. Mahalo.