Sunday, September 10, 2017

Small traps to watch out for: My Merrill Lynch unexpected brokerage fees

Life has lots of small traps. Sharing this one in case it’s useful.

I once worked for a firm that granted me stock options that were held by Merrill Lynch. I appreciated them. When I left that firm I thought I’d cleaned out the brokerage account. I was warned I’d need to pay $65 a year to keep it so I wanted the money out.

I didn’t quite close it though [1], so a late dividend of $72 went into the account. I missed that — busy with other things and Emily manages our statements. When she was able to get me to look Merrill Lynch said I was too late — a yearly fee of $65 had left only $7.

This time I did close the account — so next year I won’t owe them $58!

Moral of the story — don’t leave inactive accounts lying around. They will bite you in the butt. Get the damned things closed.

[1] Actually, I thought I did close it. I wonder if the dividend reopened it. Maybe there really isn’t a useful lesson to this story … except to have as few accounts as possible so you can track the darned things …

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Elenco SnapCircuits 500 block layout

I have bought things for my children that I dreamt of as a child — but were out of my parent's price range.

Shockingly, my children have not always appreciated these gifts. For example — I think the Elenco Snap Circuits Pro 500 is a brilliant toy. I tried it on all 3 kids and was 0 for 3. No interest whatsoever.

Years later I needed to find a good home for it — but the parts had been scattered in a storage bin. Even though the components are in perfect shape the box had been water damaged by a minor basement flood and the “block layout” guide was unreadable. I tried to find one online but came up empty — though in writing this I discovered Elenco had it online all along. Happily I had a photo I’d taken and I found nothing was missing. I even have a candidate victim child to give the unused kit to.

Today, since I couldn’t find a photo on the web and Google couldn’t find the dang block layout, here’s one for anyone searching for it. (Assuming, of course, that Google indexes this page. It doesn’t index this kind of content anywhere near as well as it once did. Not coincidentally, once Google would have found that layout.)

SnapCircuits500 1

SnapCircuits500 2

I bought the extra books too!

SnapCircuits500 3

and here’s the box …

SnapCircuits500 4