Category: Money

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I Could Have Saved Nine Dollars

Posting resumes, following an unplanned hiatus. Dad is in a state of physical decline, and concern grows about how long he will be with us. One of my sisters asked me to join her—she from Florida, me from California—for a Presidents’ Day holiday weekend trip home, which is Aroostook County, Maine. I logged 2,950 air miles each way.

My trip started in San Diego and first stopped in Los Angeles, following a 22-minute flight with connection to Newark and onward to final destination Presque Isle. Hungry, I grabbed a burger while at LAX. I shot the Featured Image, using Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, while waiting for my $20.25 beef patty.

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Coin Collection

While waiting outside the Smart & Final for my wife, who was grocery shopping (bless her!), I hung out in the parking lot by the wall where, on the other side, homeless folk sometimes hang out. On the ledge, I came upon a small collection of coins.

My question: Did some good Samaritan leave loose change for the unhoused (hate that term) to find, or were the coins perhaps gathered and forgotten? Either, or neither, could be true.

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When Time Runs Out

For weeks, I have seen a sign outside one of the long-time, local University Heights businesses: Relocation moving sale. Today, I walked by and could see men working inside around fixtures, so I stopped by to ask where is the new location. There is none. Yet. Maybe never.

Commercial rents rise like insane homeless people shouting and swearing as they pull along their belongings in shopping carts. The store’s proprietor told me that his rent nearly doubled, leaving him little option other than to close up after first opening—in nearby Hillcrest—in 1974. What worse way to celebrate 50 years, eh?

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Prime Cuts

Like many other Amazon customers, the day after Christmas (Bah humbug to you, too, Jeff Bezos), I received email informing that “starting January 29, Prime Video movies and TV shows will include limited advertisements”. That one sentence sentences my Prime membership to execution. I won’t renew when the current annual period expires.

My family’s first Amazon purchase was in 1998, and we joined Prime a decade later. One of the benefits for which we keep the service is commercial-free video content. Advertising changes everything. Free, fast shipping isn’t compelling enough.

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Live at Winslow?

Opening of the 379-unit apartment building—along Park Blvd between El Cajon and Meade—continues to reverberate across my neighborhood of University Heights and nearby Hillcrest and North Park. Winslow’s rentals reset the comparative market rate—a term that I loathe—that other landlords would use to charge their tenants, exiting or new, more.

Another impact is the building, which fills one full block and dramatically changes the character of that stretch of Park Blvd. The residential complex, and other newer multi-unit structures, also increase congestion and traffic—oh, let’s not forget competition for parking spots.

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Now That’s Frightening

Welcome to another blast from the past. I captured the Feature Image on this date in 2012, using Galaxy Nexus, which was codeveloped by Google and Samsung and manufactured by the latter company. Vitals: f/2.75, ISO 50, 1/115 sec, 3.43mm; 3:40 p.m. PDT.

Location: Monroe, between Cleveland and Maryland, in University Heights. The property is good measurement of San Diego’s changing housing market. The place sold for $520,000 in June 2011. The family living there moved to a larger home and put this place on the market, where it went for $617,500 in September 2013.

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The Most Unaffordable City

San Diego is too prestigious a place. In July 2023, rents exceeded San Francisco. Yikes! Last month, the median-selling price for residences (houses and more) topped $1 million. The city earns yet another distinction: U.S. News & World Report has crowned San Diego as “#1 in most expensive places to live”. Uh, yeah.

Los Angeles is second; broadly, California cities capture seven spots in the top ten. Oh joy. I marvel at how suddenly—catastrophically—was the transition from, quoting the motto, “America’s finest city” to America’s most unaffordable place to live. Four years ago, food, sundries, and housing cost so much less.

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Sixteen Years Ago Today

On Oct. 15, 2007, the Wilcox family arrived in San Diego from the Washington, D.C.-metro area. Within days, I began to understand the character of Communist California Culture and regret relocating. But we came to assist my aged father-in-law, so that he might maintain freedom to live in his apartment, which he did until passing away there at age 95 in January 2017.

My wife and I talked about returning to the East Coast almost immediately after her dad’s death. But our only child (an adult, by then) was attached to Southern California, and she wasn’t ready for us to leave her. We stayed—or shall I say overstayed—our time here. San Diego has changed all too much in terrible ways—almost all brought about by state and/or local mandates.

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The Winslow at Night

University Heights’ biggest, newest apartment complex—with 379 units—is anything but affordable housing. Rentals at the Winslow start at $2,400 for a 484-square-foot studio and go up to $5,945 for 1300-sq-ft apartment with two bedrooms and baths. San Diego officials propagate the myth that building more residences will decrease housing costs and therefore increase availability across lower income brackets.

But the opposite is reality: As newer complexes open, higher rents go with them, lifting the so-called “market rate” that other landlords watch as measure for what they charge their tenants. More is more, meaning rents rise with the new builds raised.

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Housing’s New Selling High is a Low Blow for San Diego

In July 2017, when we were home shopping, I started to monitor—and occasionally write about—the local housing market. The next month, countywide, median price for a single-family residence reached $610,000, according to San Diego Association of Realtors. Fast-forward six years and $1,025,000 is median, according to SDAR, which released the data yesterday.

By my quick math, that’s a 68-percent increase, which makes homeownership an outstanding investment for anyone owning before SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns in early 2020 or increased interest rates this year and last. For anyone else not fairly wealthy, the choices are rent, move, or live on the streets—something of an increasingly common lifestyle.

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Drives Me Crazy

I can’t complain about the weather, because inland San Diego County scorched today. Here in University Heights, which is closer to the coast, temperature reached toasty 30.5 degrees Celsius (87 Fahrenheit). As I write, it’s cooler 25 C (77 F) and best reason for the evening walk recently completed.

For days, I meant to document gasoline prices on the rise, after something of a decline that nevertheless was ghastly high compared to other states. According to AAA, the national average, as of this very day, is $3.83 per gallon. What a break. My local station at El Cajon Blvd and Texas Street is only $1.77 higher. Average for all California is $5.41 per gallon, which, by the way, is highest price for any state—even Alaska and Hawaii.