Morning

   As I sit and hear the water bubbling in the percolator on the stove, I am considering how my financial problems have been eating away at my happiness. And as a slave to debt and payments in adult life, I’m constantly reminded of how little I’ve kept for myself while others have taken from me– all the while, I believed that it was a good thing, to pay later for something I felt I had to have post haste. The thing is that I have blamed others and really taken a look at the proverbial mirror, and I’ve seen what kind of dimwit I’ve always been. But in the same breath, those who are ignorant are not ill-intended towards that which they don’t know. Sadly, this is a reality for many millions of people. They’re not taught the ways of the dollar, and how spending less by buying none of the crap you really need is not entirely discouraged. Our whole lives have revolved around buying everything on credit, or in the form of a down payment, or some other means by which to purchase something over the course of time, since you didn’t have that money to begin with.
Thus, I’ve decided it is going to take great testicular fortitude to reverse the financial damages I’ve rendered to myself. I’ve not dug myself into SEVERE debt, luckily. I rent an apartment, and so I don’t owe for a mortgage. I do have car payments, nice smart phones (ironic) for my fiancee and myself, child support arrears (definitely blaming others for my own luck)– and here it is YEARS later, and I’m coming to the realization that I had not exercised the very common sense I told people was not very common. Spouting off quotes doth not a smart man make (to make use of random, non-verbatim, and highly altered quotes as a means to prove a point). As a newly-discovered personality trait, I’ve suctioned myself down a funnel, into a twisting spiral that is reality and karma only to discover that I, myself, have lived verily as a hypocrite. And ignorant one at that.
Denial knows no boundaries, intellectual or otherwise. As it turns out, I’m a great reader! I’m an okay writer! And I’m very much sobered by this slow-but-steady reality check. As a person who has not done much in the way of intelligence at all, I’m very much sobered by the fact that I have never taken the time to even learn much about budgeting, financial intelligence, or money in general. I have heard from countless people over my lifetime: “More money would be awesome.” “I could use more money.” “If I had a million dollars, I would be set!” The unfortunate thing about desiring more money is that it would be used as a means to highly fuel one of the greater problems that we as a society have already had to face for decades: we’ll waste it on crap if we have neither the proper financial literacy nor proper discipline. We’ll buy things on credit, buy the expensive house, the expensive car, the expensive this-or-that with high maintenance costs.
Look, I’m a custodian. I know a thing or two about cleaning, and basic maintenance is not exactly rocket science to me. I can fix a gasket in a faucet, soft reset phones, figure out the damn remote for the TV, and kick the dog if it doesn’t work— just like anyone else. I do all of these things in the run-down apartment which I live, and yet when it comes to controlling my spending habits, I’m like a kid in a candy store. “Gimme this and that and all of it! Shiny! The hardest part about learning this is that I actually have to look at myself, and I see a dunce cap on a donkey. Regret sucks!
So, I’ve made it a point to really start to try some of the savings and payment exercises as expressed by a man who goes by the name Dave Ramsey. This is a person who has written a few books, held many seminars, taught millions about controlling their money, and means by which to eliminate their debts. It seems as if he not only has good content, but he knows a thing or two about what has worked for him during his lifetime.
By this time next year, if I can change my spending habits and stick to it with great diligence, then I should be out of the debt hole. But, I understand fully that it will take a monumental degree of discipline, heartache, and tantrums by my inner gimme kid. The only thing I should be investing in at this point is my knowledge of money, but it starts with the first step. All great journeys begin with the first step.
Baby step number one is to save for an emergency fund. This is almost unheard of in my household, but I’m starting off by keeping accurate count of how much I have in my emergency fund, which I will store somewhere. I’m not sure WHERE just yet, but I will have it somewhere.
As I work through the book, I’ll be keeping a sort-of journey through my Instagram. I already have a single post regarding some related reading, with a total of five or six books that I’ve been working through over the last few weeks. They are:

How To Read A Book
The 9 Steps To Financial Freedom
Rich Dad Poor Dad
The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People
The Total Money Makeover
Cash Flow Quadrant
Wealth 101: Wealth Is Much More Than Money

So, that’s a lot to absorb, but when I study something, sometimes I use a laser focus for extended periods of time. A lot of this is basically common sense, but it still doesn’t hurt to read a book on the subject as written by those who have actually done something to make money far in excess of what I’ve even achieved to date. If you have any awesome tips that I could use, please feel free to share with me in the comment section below!

Sleepless On A Work Night

clock

If I didn’t know any better, I would say that the overdraft fees from my bank have caused my peace of mind to be in a bit of an uproar. Now, what’s life without a few hassles here and there?

Of course, if I had paid more mind when I paid the bills before, I wouldn’t be in this mess. You see, what I do is simple: The morning of my direct deposit, I immediately go pay my phone, cable, gas, electric and some other bills online, while my coffee is brewing. The problem here is also simple: Some places will not take the funds until the following week. Hence, this is a bad thing that gets me almost every time. It had been several months since my last overdraft fee, but this time I think I took out a bit too much to pay for food. I mean, feeding people is kind of a good thing, right?

So, what does one do about it? Well, there’s nothing you CAN do, really. The banks won’t pay all of those overdraft fees back. They’ll give you half of it back, and come up with some lame excuse as to why they can’t refund the full charge. I called once and their response was, non-verbatim: “We have an overdraft fee because we provide online services for our members.” I can’t think of a more lame excuse.

If they have the capacity to render your bank almost $200 in the negative, they have the capacity to remove one hundred percent of their charges. Their outright willingness to avoid  doing so is only minimally outrageous.

I wonder how many of their corporate people would be willing to try to live within their current means on $1,240 a month. I bet some of them wouldn’t care much for that overdraft. I bet they would flinch hard if it was going to interrupt their already-funded trip for an anniversary.

I have to rant because of how stupid I believe the overdraft fees are. They can charge multiple times per day, and the rest of the month is totally readjusted and re-budgeted until you can catch yourself up, even after paying the same amount in bills that you need to. I don’t see how banks expect this to be a good thing at all, except where lining the pockets of corporate is concerned. The way I see it– working full time just isn’t enough. I pay $300 a month in rent (that’s half, as my fiancee pays the other half), and another $600+ in child support on my own. I work for my local city. I’m among the lowest paid, as well as one of a few who are worked the hardest, and those in charge of the child support agency still see everything I make before taxes as the go-to number to base my income for such numbers.

throwing-money

Lots of things are broken in this world. Regulatory schemes are insane, and much against the will of the lowest paid and hardest workers. Some of you might be thinking that I’m just here to gripe. Maybe, but the point here is that I don’t believe overdraft is anything close to beneficial for those who use banks. It’s actually causing me a lot of stress, and that’s not what living is about. I’m doing multiple online things in an attempt to make money passively, but it turns out that writing a book takes a lot of time, much more so if you’re exhausted from working a full time job. It takes a lot of time to build up minuscule payments on Amazon Mechanical Turk. It’s taking a lot of my weekends to build and maintain a website, be an Amazon affiliate, as well as be an affiliate for Karatbars— I feel as if I’m plowing myself into the ground. All it takes is a second job, but who has time for that when they’re tired all the time?

gone

I suppose it’s my fault, but the general work environment doesn’t allow people to get out of the rat race. I recognize it for what it is– work hard, pay for electricity, rent a box to live in, pay for gas, pay your insurance, pay for car maintenance, pay for your car, pay taxes on your food, pay for clothing, pay for cable, pay for this, that, the other, everything else– all before you save that little bit of pocket change that is supposed to go towards retirement. I’m prepared to wait until some of those contracts expire, and those who wish to use certain features in the household will be responsible for paying for those luxuries. I don’t watch TV, but I use the internet heavily. I’ll take that bill. I use the gas for my stove top percolator, so I’ll pay that as well. I’ll pay for half of the electricity, I pay half the rent already, as I mentioned, so that’s not a problem.

Boy, does it suck being a military veteran to come home to this free country.