Check back

Photo by Aimee on Pexels.com

Yesterday the invasion and subjagation of Ukraine began. The Soviets, er, I mean Russian government is up to it’s old tricks. There was no doubt that it was going to happen. The writing on the wall started well before the last administration. Not to say that the previous administration could have stopped it either, but there shouldn’t have been any surprise that it was only a matter of time.

I listened to Mr. President’s speech and then Q & A after. One thing really stuck out to me.

“Let’s check back in a month and see how the sanctions are working on Russia…” or something to that effect. I can’t remember the exact wording but I was like, “Do you really think the Ukrainian people have a month? This is all going to be over in a month.”

Ukraine is vastly out manned, out gunned, and honestly there are no good options for providing aid to them. We live in a world where the spectre of a nuclear war (if not just a limited, tactical one) hangs over our heads when dealing with Russia or China. But, in this case, Putin is almost sure the Americans will do not much of anything to stop him.

Sanctions aren’t the answer and it can’t be the only answer.

Sanctions take a LONG time to have any effect and almost always it is the people of a country that is harmed by them, not the government or the elite. It’s not like Putin is going to wake up one morning, head to the ATM, and get the “Funds Denied” message so he decides the war with and invasion of Ukraine isn’t worth it. Let’s be real.

I don’t want war, but I am not sure what would convince Putin to stand down. He knows the American people don’t have the stomach for more war (after 20+ years in Afghanistan and the fiasco of a withdrawal there). Most Americans likely will rattle the sabers, talk big, even attend rallies protesting Putin’s actions, but when it comes time to actually get out of their comfort zones and ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING or SACRIFICE SOMETHNG they will balk.

So, we are left with “check back in a month”.

I feel sorry for Ukraine and the lack of action that they really needed from the West to keep it from happening.

I feel sorry for my children and grandchildren as we enter a new Cold War era…

Payment plan

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Just curious here…

What do you think of those “Buy me a coffee” buttons?

Are they annoying? Have you considered “buying a coffee”? Have you “bought a coffee” for anyone?

Do people really make money with those things? WordPress is advertising this type of thing again and I am wondering what people think of this?

What kind of content do you think warrants a “donation”?

Truly curious if you have used them (on your site) or if you have thought about it or if you have have used them (on someone else’s site)?

What do you know?

Better off?

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

We’re coming up on an election again – Nov 2. As I look at the ballot sitting on the counter along with the Voter’s Guide, I am forced to stop and think about where we were a year ago. The question that keeps coming up in my mind, am I better off this year than I was last year? Maybe it’s an unfair comparison, maybe it isn’t. How are we to judge our politicians if we don’t look at it through that lens?

There were lots of promises that were made from the Democrats – LOTS of promises about making things better for everyone, if they could just get rid of the evil, orange man in the White House. Well, they were able to swing the vote (one way or another) to get their guy into the office, along with a whole bunch of other offices, with a promise of “Build Back Better” and it’s time to survey the land for improvement.

I don’t see any. None.

We’re coming up on a year and, quite frankly, I am not better off. I am actually noticing a lot of changes that are making life just a little bit more uncomfortable. The changes are slow in most cases, but there are some rather obvious ones that haven’t been slow at all.

I don’t know if you have noticed….of course you have noticed, jeez, you’re not blind…but the cost of EVERYTHING has gone up. Like everything! Automobiles, food, fuel, electronics, you name it. There isn’t a single thing that I have notices where the price has gone down. It’s more expensive to buy anything and everything. Those bills are creeping higher and higher. This wasn’t the case a year ago, so I am not better off there.

The government keeps reaching into my pocket and taking more money. Taxes have gone up on payroll, the ones that already existed before this administration took office (at the national level and the state level). But since then, there have been new taxes (not ones I asked for or voted on) have been added to my paycheck. So, nope, not better off here either.

Here’s something to think about too. About a year ago, most everyone was unvaccinated because the vaccine was just being approved and getting ready for rollout. Hospitalizations were high, but there was no claim that they were overwhelmed at that time. Now, more than 2/3rds of the country is vaccinated and they want to blame everything on the unvaccinated. Supposedly the hospitals are overwhelmed and there is now a mandate for workers to be vaccinated to keep their jobs and businesses want proof of vaccination before you can spend money at their place of business. I am near certain I am not better off now than I was last year at this time.

The media doesn’t report the facts, they report agenda. The “fact checkers” don’t check facts, they check against an agenda. Social media suppresses speech it doesn’t agree with, factual or not. Tolerance, across the board, is at an all time low. Natural rights are being taken away in favor of government granted privileges. “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” seems to only apply if you are falling in line with the group-think. Think outside of that, well, you’re a hateful and intolerant bigot and you don’t deserve the same things being claimed all people deserve when they weren’t in charge. Again, I am not better off here either.

The border crisis is at epic proportions. China is flexing it’s muscle across the globe and making things less safe and testing supersonic missiles . There are cyber-spies or hackers under every rock (seemingly) these days. Afghanistan was a freaking disaster, where the Taliban have regained power and a safe haven for terrorists is now open for business again. North Korea is launching more missiles. Iran is doing their own thing with nuclear development, again. The world isn’t getting any safer, so I don’t feel better off on this front either.

Sure, some would argue that the Republicans are blocking everything the Democrats are trying to do to make things better for all
Americans. If they would just let the infrastructure (and other pet projects of the Liberals) bill pass…all I can say to that is that you’re dumb if you think that is the answer. Sure, the infrastructure needs some definite improvement, but you do realize that the money has to come from somewhere, right? The government is either going to reach real deep into your pockets (especially if you’re rich and worked hard for that money or made wise choices to get it) or it will be grabbed from businesses who will pass along the lost revenue due to taxes on to the consumer via higher costs on the goods you buy every day. YOU are going to be paying for that giant price tag, one way or another. So, no, that plan doesn’t really make my life better either.

So, What do you say? Do you like the way things are going so far? Are you truly better off today than you were a year ago?

Anyone really care?

Photo by Frans Van Heerden on Pexels.com

So, there is supposedly one of the biggest sporting spectacles on Earth starting today (really is started a couple days ago with a soccer game) and I have to admit, I could care less. Like, I won’t even go out of my way one iota to see what is going on with the competition.

Does anyone really care about the Tokyo Olympics?

I mean, obviously, the athletes do but beyond that is there anyone left that really cares all that much?

I used to love the Olympics when I was younger and I can’t completely put my finger on the reason I don’t care about it now, but maybe it is because there is just too much attention paid to the athletes themselves and their only concern is really on themselves rather than representing the country for which they compete. I know for sure I could care not a lick for the politics and social agenda being injected into the sports.

Or maybe it’s the fact that the cities/countries that host the games are expected to spend HUGE amounts of money to build modern, spectacular facilities and new infrastructure to support the games. The spending has gotten ridiculous – money that could be spent elsewhere – all for the sake of impressing the world for a short period of time. After the Olympics are over, some of the facilities are converted for public use and others are just abandoned.

There is no luster left in the competition, despite the Olympic committee trying to generate it. At least, there isn’t any for me.

I am curious then, who is still interested (let alone excited) for the Olympics? If it still gets your attention, why? If you are no longer interested like me, what was it that caused you to practically ignore that it was even taking place?

Take my money

Photo by Alexander Mils on Pexels.com

Every had something you really, really, really wanted to buy but couldn’t because they can’t keep it in stock? I am sure you probably have, so that is kind of a silly question.

To throw a whole twist to the situation is that it is only available online, which is more convenient than having to go into the store to check the inventory but it still causes an issue because there is no way to find out when it is back in stock. Like, there is no way to sign up for a notification when it is in fact back in stock. That’s seems weird because, ya know, technology…but it just isn’t an option for this retailer.

I do have some information that it will be restocked “at the end of May,” so there is that to go on. It was also previously not showing up on the website when it was out of stock the first time, but now it is again. That leads me to believe that it could be stocked at any time. So, now I am reduced to checking every hour to see if it pops up.

A similar item was in stock, then out of stock, then magically appeared as in stock, only to be out of stock less than 6 hours later. It wasn’t what I really wanted, but seriously debated the purchase as it was close and did I want to risk waiting for the other one I really wanted? I decided to wait. Which might pay off, but the waiting is excruciating.

I just want to give them my money. Why do they refuse to take it? Hell, I’ll even pre-order it, but they won’t even accept that either.

So, I am left to checking the website….OFTEN…in hopes that it suddenly appears in stock.

Frustrating and exciting at the same time. Know what I mean?

Stimulating mail theft

The first two rounds of stimulus money was direct deposited into my account because it was based off the 2019 tax return, a return that we got a refund from so the IRS had our bank account info. Unfortunately, the 2020 tax return didn’t see a return, but a payment. As such, the stimulus money was coming a different way…by mail.

OK, it’ll take longer to get (not that it was needed or desired – because, you know, taxes will be where the difference is made up from yet another hand out). I didn’t really think much of the way it would arrive until it arrived.

Mail theft is a VERY real problem.

I don’t know of a specific instance where my mail has been stolen, but I do have a mailbox out on the road and it is something I think about often. Therefore, the mail gets retrieved from the box as quickly as possible on most days.

So, imagine my surprise when the stimulus payment didn’t come in a relatively non-descript envelope, but one that essentially announces what is inside. No guessing needed. I know exactly what is inside just by looking at the envelope! Sometimes the government really is that stupid!

The little flyer inside the envelope (see below the envelope) makes it pretty clear what is inside the envelope, which is good – INSIDE the envelope.

Yes, I have heard the stories of people throwing away their stimulus payments, or their access to the stimulus payments. What I haven’t heard are the stories of people getting them stolen. I am pretty sure it has happened, so why don’t we hear about them?

Anyway, maybe I am just ranting about nothing. Maybe I am on to something. I don’t really know. I was just surprised by how obvious it was to the contents of the envelope.

Asking, for a friend…

Photo by Marlon Trottmann on Pexels.com

Asking for a friend. It’s a rhetorical question, really, but I still need to ask just to get it off my chest. You can provide your answers to the question in the comments, if you are so led. What would you do?

Scenario:

If you knew someone (let’s say a really good friend or even a family member) was struggling financially and you know that they had a history of making really poor decisions, what would you do when you learned they made yet another one?

Said someones are on state and federal assistance, have four kids, can’t keep up with rent or other bills, has debt collectors “knocking on the door,” and is basically using every sort of charity they can qualify for to meet needs the other sources can’t or won’t meet.

It’s tax return season and they likely will be getting a pretty substantial return based on the low income from the previous year and the number of children. There is also a pending 3rd stimulus payment coming up, so there is money coming in that could be used to do what needs to be done to get caught back up.

But, instead of using the money to do the right thing, some of the money is being used to ponder a move to another state, has been used to purchase flights to the possible state, and of course the spending for the trip will go up from there. The trip is being seen as a “vacation,” almost a scouting trip for their plans.

Advice?

They have been advised that moving is expensive (especially to a new state). They don’t have any prospects of a job at the place they would move. They have no real clue what the living expenses are like there.

They won’t listen to good counsel. Others have told them this is a terrible idea. Yet they charge forward.

So, I am asking for a friend…

What would you do? How would you address this? How would you go forward in this situation?

Good idea?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Well, I am not sure what to make of it, but the early indications are positive. I decided at the end of December to try something new and dabble in a little something I don’t know much about. I decided to “invest” in digital currency, or cryptocurrency, or virtual currency.

It’s not a large investment because I wanted to see how it works and just kind of dip my toes into it. Because of the high volatility of cryptocurrency, I am a bit leery of the stuff but at the same time kind of intrigued by it. As such, the time and money and opportunity all seemed to come together.

I have money that goes into a PayPal account that just kind of sits there. The long and short of it is that the money is basically “free money” that I get each month from resources that I published online while I was a teacher. I get sales from that each month and the amount varies widely based on the number of items purchased. So, there is a lump of “cash” sitting in the account mostly doing nothing. I could transfer it my regular bank account, but why? I look at it as a blind account for a rainy day.

Anyway, at the end of December I saw that PayPal was going to offer the ability to purchase digital currency. So, I decided to take a small-ish amount of that lump and see what happens. There isn’t a need to have access to that money, really, so it is mostly a long term investment.

I bought some Bitcoin and Ethereum, two of the most popular forms of digital currency. Why these two? Well, from what I can gather they are also the most stable – as far as that goes.

Anyway, I put $90 into Bitcoin and $20 into Ethereum. At that point, I was a very small, fractional, owner of the currency. Exciting right? Not really. When you look at the amount per share it is less than thrilling. One share is worth $55.4k at the moment. So, I own all of 0.00339408 for my $90 investment. Cool, right?

Well, that is the interesting part. For my original investment of $110, I now have a chunk of “cash” that sits at just under $242 (at time of publishing). I have more than doubled that little toe dip in just under two months. Is that a good return? I would say so, but at the same time it could go right back down to where I started in a heartbeat so I am not getting real excited.

BUT, I can certainly see why there are lots of people so enticed by this idea. Buy in, watch it go up, sell at a higher price. If you’re talking in BIG dollar amounts, this would make total sense. In fact, Elon Musk (he’s kinda bright, right?) just sunk $1.5 billion into Bitcoin from his Tesla company at the beginning of the month. He was looking to create more capital by leveraging Bitcoin. Seems it worked since the price has shot up since he invested.

I am not making or giving any financial advice, by any means. However, I am curious if there are any others out there that have ventured into these relatively unknown waters and what their experience has been.

Hit me up in the comments and let me know what you think. Good idea? Bad idea? Had good or bad success yourself?

You must think…

Photo by Martin Pu00e9chy on Pexels.com

You must think I am an idiot.

No, seriously, you must think so because you (and that is a collective “you” because there are a lot of you) seem to think I am going to be interested in your stupid money making scheme, scam, hustle, whatever. I don’t care if you’re the heir to a throne and need to dump money to hide in the US. I don’t care if you’re stranded in a foreign land and can’t get home but will double my “gift” when you return home. I don’t care if you have money to give me from some lottery I never entered as long as I pay a fee to get the money. I don’t care if your relatives are sick. I don’t care if you can’t feed your family. I don’t care if your crops or livestock died. I don’t care.

Stop following the blog.

I am not interested and I never will be – no matter how many times you change the name of the blog.

It doesn’t do any good to follow me because I won’t be following you back, not matter how good the “deal” or offer sounds.

So, if you must think I would be interested in your thing, think again.

I’m not.

Boosting BS

Photo by Markus Winkler on Pexels.com

There is a commercial out there on TV and probably on your streaming service that has me questioning the whole validity (not that I didn’t already) of credit scores, and the credit services in general.

Have you seen it? The commercial from Experian that says if you go to their site you can get a “credit boost” and raise your credit score simply by following the instructions once you have logged in. *disclaimer: I have not logged in to do this because I don’t need to, so I don’t know the exact steps.*

It’s all a marketing ploy.

As a reminder, this is one of the “big three” credit monitoring services, a for-profit company, so they are one of the companies that reports to other companies about your financial status and health.

Now, they will give you a “boost” for nothing.

Seems weird to me and causes me to ask a several questions: What good are credit scores really if a company can just “boost” it? Are they artificially inflating the numbers to make you (and of course, them) to look better in the consumer’s eye? If they aren’t artificially inflating the numbers, then are they artificially suppressing the numbers in order to give you the “boost” you supposedly deserve?

We are told that your credit score will go up over time if you manage your money well, pay your stuff on time, keep your credit usage level low in regards to your income, and not have companies always inquiring about your credit. This can only be done over time. So, if they can boost your score then time really doesn’t have to be a factor in calculating that credit score.

If they are artificially inflating the number then your credit score really means nothing in regards to accuracy since it doesn’t really reflect your true score.

If they are suppressing your true score so they can gift you a “boost” then your credit score really means nothing in regards to accuracy since it doesn’t really reflect your true score.

Since your credit score has always been based on time and actual financial transactions, either of the two actions above would mean the company is being dishonest about your credit score. Doesn’t it? I can’t think of any other conclusion.

So, either Experian is full of sh*it or your credit score is actually meaningless.

What do you think? Can you think of another conclusion based on this so called “boost”?