Wednesday, July 31, 2013

'Real Housewife' Teresa Giudice charged with tax fraud

Teresa and Joe Giudice's troubles with the IRS are truly unbelievable. The 39 count indictment is a train wreck to read. Although much of their blatant dirty deeds happened before Teresa ever signed on with Bravo, there are some interesting tidbits about Teresa's role on the popular Real Housewives of New Jersey. Notably, the compensation is much lower compared to reality T.V. top figures that used to be reported just a few years ago. 

  • Between June 2008 and October 2009, Teresa made approximately $110,000 between her reality show, appearances and her web site.
  • In 2009 Teresa and Joe signed on for Season 2 of Real Housewives at $110,000 for the season. This amounts to about $6,000 an episode.
  • The IRS is ticked that Teresa didn't disclose expected future income when she filed for bankruptcy in 2009. They allege she only disclosed her Bravo salary and did not disclose any other income from other sources such as her business and web site. She specifically told them, under oath, that her web site was not generating any income, when the IRS alleges in fact it was.
  • The IRS is also ticked that Teresa didn't disclose the true income from her many other business ventures.
  • The IRS is really, really ticked at this couple.
Teresa Giudice, middle
Teresa and Joe could face up to 30 years in prison. Their passports have been confiscated and Joe faces possible deportation to Italy if convicted.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The morality of freebies

Reality T.V. often makes a spectacle of lavishing families with expensive gifts and trips. Usually, for free.

The Duggars in China

Kristin Wong, an award-winning writer and film maker (MSN, Forbes), has been thinking a lot about the morality of personal finance lately. In a recent blog she tackled the question of whether it is moral to accept a freebie you don't really need or want. Kristin had this to say about this controversial issue:

Recently, I took advantage of a free pair of movie tickets to see “The Lone Ranger,” a movie I really have no desire to see. But the tickets were free! And they were limited, so without giving it much thought, I nabbed them. I needed them; they were free.
The Roloffs in Hawaii
Practically, this may have been a good decision. After all, it could be a fun, free date night idea. A good, cheap way to spend a Friday night with Brian.

But morally, this was kind of a crappy thing for me to do. Because maybe a hard-working mom saw the ‘Free Lone Ranger Ticket!’ link. And maybe she got excited because her daughter wanted to see it — but oops! Someone who doesn’t even appreciate the movie already got the last one because, “*shrug* It’s free.”
Part of being frugal, at least the moral part of it, is not taking more than what you need — not just because you can’t afford it, but because you want to leave more for everyone else. In this way, I think there is morality in thrift. What I did wasn’t frugal. It was cheap.

To me, the ongoing cheap vs. frugal debate proves that there’s morality in frugality. When does your frugality negatively affect others? Just because it’s a practical, sound financial decision for your budget doesn’t mean it’s a good decision overall. There are ethical questions to consider, which makes it seem like there is indeed morality in personal finance.
Money-related issues go beyond a cost-benefit analysis. We have to ask ourselves, is this hurting anyone?

Thanks for your common "cents", Kristin.

Monday, July 22, 2013

To the little prince: 'You are normal'

Prince William and Kate welcomed a baby boy today!

With all the excitement over the good news, it's easy to forget that the yet to be named prince already has his life's destiny planned for him. One day, perhaps not until most of us are long gone, he will be king of England. Until then, he will likely spend most of his life being dissected by the public. Even right down to his placenta (Says England's Mirror, Kate’s boy was a healthy 8lb 6oz, suggesting she ate well during her pregnancy and the placenta worked well.)

The Mirror wrote a rather frank open letter to the new royal, urging him to remember he has a "bumhole" like everyone else and to be wary of camera phones. But the snide article also has a few good tips for the tyke:

  • Privilege comes at a price. Yours is a beautifully gilded cage, but I wouldn’t want to spend my life in it. You can escape if you wish but bear in mind it’s a lot different outside than in.
  • Hold an opinion. Mummy has spoken publicly on fewer occasions than I have fingers, and everyone else has to keep their lips buttoned for constitutional reasons. But
    I reckon you can rule objectively – sign the paperwork, and so on – and still say, now and and again, that you disagree.
  • You must find your own way in a life for which there are too many rules and at the same time not enough, where you crave privacy and rely on the public, in which everyone you meet will bow and scrape.
  • At many points in your life someone will probably say that you’re ‘common’ because Mummy wasn’t Royal. This person is an idiot
  • You could do lots and you could do nothing at all. It’s up to you.
  • You are normal. If at any point as you grow up you doubt this, check your bumhole. If it’s still there, you’re normal.

We hope William and Kate will always make it their priority to help this baby have a happy and normal life as he swims in a very abnormal fishbowl. The Mirror calls him "lucky." Maybe not.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

PBS spoofs reality T.V.

A local New York PBS station has been launching a campaign against crappy reality T.V. And the T.V. spots they've produced and released this month are smart and funny.

PBS produced the first ever reality T.V. show, An American Family, and has been home to some of the finest reality T.V. since, from The Farmer's Wife to Frontline's Poor Kids. PBS has proven there is such a thing as quality reality T.V. No surprise watching other networks put out pure sludge these days must be frustrating to the network!

Here are some of PBS's hilarious spoofs. They're so spot on, you can barely tell they're parodies.

Meet the Tanners, about a family who loves the sun. "If you sass me you go to the shade!"

Long Island Landscapers. "Flamingos: elegant bird."

Clam Kings: "These two aren't shucking around!"

Friday, July 12, 2013

Steve moves on

To Honey Boo-Boo?

The ubiquitous pizza-loving "manager"/booby guard who once never left Kate's side, has been MIA for awhile now. He has suddenly popped up again in recent months both with TLC's Honey Boo Boo and with the Little Couple. File this under #Hahahahhahaha.

With Honey Boo Boo and company:


On Jen Arnold's trip to China to adopt her son. Does China have pizza? Hope so:

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Fourth!

50 Children: The Rescue Mission of Mr. and Mrs. Kraus

Independence Day is a day to honor and celebrate the birth of America, and the American spirit. One such couple that exemplifies just that were Philadelphians Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus.

In 1939, Gilbert, a lawyer, and Eleanor, who stayed home with their two small children, were very concerned about the impending war in Europe. The Krauses, Jewish themselves, traveled to Nazi occupied Germany. There, they orchestrated the rescue of 50 Jewish children back to the United States. Many of the children are still here and alive today.

The Kraus' bravery has been called a "quiet act of decency and humanity on the eve of one of modern history’s darkest chapters." On this special day, we remember the Krauses as just but one example of the American spirit. 50 Children is a short documentary which tells their remarkable story. Now that's a Pennsylvania couple whose reality is worth watching.

Available on