Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Are You Affluent"

So, are you?If you have $1 million in liquid assets -- not including your home -- you, my friend are rich. At least according to most wealth-management firms.
Before you break out the champagne and caviar, you might want to check the guest list. With about a million millionaires, that's hardly an exclusive club these days. (Try running
a quick calculation. You may be closer to membership than you think.)
The truly rich dwell in places like Rolling Hills, Calif. (where the average household income is $305,700) and Munsey Park, N.Y. (average household income $117,600). Heck, even residents of Montville, N.J., No. 300 on the list of richest communities, aren't doing too bad, with the average household income in the $100,000-plus range.Feeling a little like a pauper? Pshaw. Most organizations define the "upper class" as those with an annual income figure of $70,000. The next tier consists of more than 47 million households that earn at least $50,000. Depending on where you live, your 2,200-sq. ft. four-bedroom single-family home is either workaday or a manse. When Coldwell Banker compared home prices in more than 300 markets, it found a $1.2 million difference for the same-size home in La Jolla, Calif. and Binghamton, N.Y.
While there may be a million-dollar difference in how our homes are priced, there doesn't appear to be a wide gulf dividing the haves and have-nots when it comes to filling our home entertainment armoires, walk-in closets, and heated garages.
Lately it seems that Richie Rich and the rest of us are buying the same stoves, cars, video cameras, and cigars. When our parents upgraded the cabinets, counters, and appliances in their 1950s ramblers, they spent just $9,000 in inflation-adjusted dollars. Today, the average cost of a kitchen remodel is more than $50,000.
Lifestyles of the rich and famous? We're living it. What do you think??

Sunday, November 29, 2009


The craze for miniature dogs isn't limited to American celebrities. The petite pets are popular in both Australia and Japan, although in Japan, the intensity of the interest in the trend is pushing breeders to try to meet Japanese desire for ever-smaller and ever-cuter puppies. And that is leading to some real problems for the animals. Inbreeding has led to crippled or deformed animals and puppy mills are producing more animals than the public can handle.
The most popular breeds at the moment are ones that are naturally small, such as chihuahuas. It is especially popular to get them in exotic colors, like the blue-grey puppy pictured. These unusual colors are recessive traits and repeatedly breeding for them, often using the same couple of dogs and their offspring because they are known to have the genes, is what causes the dogs to have unfortunate genetic defects. Many are killed at birth, but others lack limbs or are prone to deafness, eye problems and nervous disorders.
A prized puppy can go for as much as $10,000, making it worthwhile for some breeders to pursue these dogs in spite of the risks to the dogs themselves. Breeders are left to self-regulate, but as long as the demand is high, so will the temptation for unscrupulous breeders.