Cheat Sheet Q & A:


Topic:  Comparing grocery shopping at Wal-Mart vs. Publix


Today’s entry was a result of a story I covered recently comparing grocery prices on like items between retailers.  If you missed it…  Wal-Mart beat Publix on like items by an average of 15% on price.  Here is a note from a listener after I presented that story. 



Interesting info on grocery price comparisons.  As someone who works in Wal-Mart (but not FOR Wal-Mart) and other supermarkets, I sometimes shop there after work because of the cheaper prices on some items I usually buy.


The extra "price" you may pay at Wal-Mart is in the following:


  • They are famous for OOS (out of stocks).  There was an AP or NY Times article last year in the press about OOS being a problem for Wal-Mart & they hired an outside company to remedy this for them.  Don't know what the stats are on this by now, but customers (thinking I work for Wal-Mart) frequently ask me about the missing items (any in the back?; when's it coming in?; etc.).  And they complain about not being able to find an employee to help them (Wal-Mart has cut way back on labor).  Customers will say "I'll just get it at Publix" (an extra trip).  You don't see these frequent "holes" in the shelves at Publix. 


  • Long lines to check out, so you have plenty of time to text & game on your iPhone.  Even at peak holiday time, Publix was able to check people out with very little wait.


  • Avoid using the rest rooms, unless its right after Maintenance has been in there (which is not that frequent). 


  • Stores are generally not clean, as they don't have the staff to keep up with it.


  • Check the expiration dates.  Have seen out-dated meat & dairy on the shelves.


These are just anecdotal observations on a specific group of stores, but there definitely can be an extra "price" for shopping there. 


Bottom Line:  I can’t speak to what this gentleman shared.  Candidly I haven’t been in a Wal-Mart in many years.  What I found to be interesting is that this describes the value of convenience.  All consumers have the same top two reasons they choose to shop at certain stores.  Price and convenience.  The only difference if the priority.  For those who are of lower socioeconomic status price is the biggest consideration and convenience is second.  For those of higher socioeconomic status it’s convenience first and price second.  That’s why despite the intense competition and even better prices that Wal-Mart offers Publix is and will likely continue to remain relevant.  They’ve always place a high priority on the experience which is part of the convenience of the shopping experience.   

If you have a topic or question you’d like me to address email me:

Audio Report:

Election year takeaways from the
Florida 13th Special Election:

Bottom Line:  There were a few projectable takeaways from the Florida 13th US House win by David Jolly over Alex Sink.  In yesterday’s Cheat Sheet I projected the following based on my Election formula: 

  • Alex Sink:  47.85%
  • David Jolly 47.65%
  • Others:  4.5%

<<If I apply my opinion to my research here’s what I think may happen…  The final piece of the projection, applying the late breakers, is based on an average of past elections.  Because I believe that the GOP currently has more momentum that Democrats I think it’s possible that a slight additional advantage may be had by Jolly with late breakers and could bring him a victory of 1% or less.  This will be very interesting.>>

So I’m 1 for 1 in 2014 so far.  The final results were almost exactly what I projected based on historical district trends and the average of the 7 available polls for that race.  Here were the actual results:


  • David Jolly:  48.4%
  • Alex Sink:  46.6%
  • Lucas Overby:  4.8%


So what does it mean?  Here are the takeaways:


  • There is a right lean but not red wave in place (at least yet).  The district voted 1% more Republican than it had in the average of the past 5 election cycles
  • More late breaking traditional Democrat votes went for the 3rd party Libertarian canidate than usual by .3%


So to put it another way…  About 1% more Independants opted for the GOP candiate than usual and the third party candiate was actually more likely to siphon late breaking votes from the Democrat than the Republican. 


Audio Report:



If you waited a year you’re paying a lot more for your mortgage:

Bottom Line:  As we enter our 3rd year of the real-estate recovery we’re aware that buying now will cost more than two or even a year ago.  But how much more?  You may be surprised. 

  • In the most recent quarter the average monthly mortgage was 21% higher than those obtained in the prior year

It stands to reason.  Higher home prices along with higher mortgage rates.  That’s an extra few hundred dollars per month for the average homeowner with a mortgage.  It serves as a reminder of why we shouldn’t take the current market conditions for granted.  Too many people realized they missed the bottom of the housing market and have been hoping that prices and/or rates would drop again.  That’s highly unlikely and the result is a lost opportunity. 

The average historic mortgage rate is 8% on a 30 year fixed rate mortgage.  We’re still at a very low level near 4.5%.  Home prices are likely to continue to appreciate and mortgage rates almost certainly will continue to slowly rise.  So the odds are that a year from now we’ll see another significant increase in the average mortgage size.  If you’ve been on the fence about whether to buy or wait and hope for cheaper prices, you’ll likely be sorry a year from now if you’re still waiting. 

Audio Report:

Don't take the iOS 7.1 update yet unless you’re surrounded by chargers:

Bottom Line:  Monday night the iOS 7.1 update was issued.  Among the features:

  • Interface refinements
  • Apple CarPlay adaptation
  • Improvements to Siri
  • Keyboard changes enhancements

There are some other minor tweaks but those are the meatiest changes.  You’ll notice the visual difference the first time you get a call on your device.  Here’s the thing.  I’d wait to install it unless you have chargers all around you. 

While I’ve yet to confirm with certainty that the new Apple 7.1 update is a battery drainer.  That’s been my experience so far.  I downloaded it right away Monday night.  It took about a half hour start to finish for the update.  Yesterday about midday I noticed that my battery was nearly dead.  I hadn’t used it any differently than normal and I’d usually be at about 80% of my battery life halfway through the day.  I actually had to run it out to my car and charge it in my car to keep it from dying. 

So…  I’d wait for the update to the update for 7.1.

Audio Report:


The odds are you’re accumulating debt faster than savings…:

Bottom Line:  Well it’s not all bad debt that we’re accumulating.  Much of the recent debt we’ve added has been housing related but it’s still not a great trend. 

  • 60% of adults are accumulating debt faster than savings

So this reminded me of a principal that will serve you well if you’re interested in using it.  It’s the philosophy of a third.  I recommend doing the following with all free cash flow during your life:

  • Taking a third and paying down debt starting with your highest interest debt and concluding with paying off your home
  • Taking a third to invest
  • Taking a third for you.  This is for home improvements, vacations, etc.

That path will ensure you’re making progress on all fronts simultaneously. 


Cities with the largest percentage of employers ready to hire this Spring (according to Manpower):

Bottom Line:

·         Provo-Orem, Utah
Net Increase: 29%

·         Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville, S.C.
Net Increase: 22%

·         Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Mich.
Net Increase: 22%

·         Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas
Net Increase: 22%

·         Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wis.
Net Increase: 22%

·         San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.
Net Increase: 22%

·         Albany-Schenectady-Troy, N.Y.
Net Increase: 21%

·         Worcester, Mass.
Net Increase: 21%

·         Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga.
Net Increase: 20%

·         Madison, Wis.
Net Increase: 20%

·         Salt Lake City, Utah
Net Increase: 20%

·         Birmingham-Hoover, Ala.
Net Increase: 19%

·         Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Mass.-N.H.
Net Increase: 19%

·         Orlando-Kissimmee, Fla.
Net Increase: 19%

·         Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, Calif.
Net Increase: 19%