Manage your money people, it’s important.

This morning I witnessed another fine example of people not really caring about their personal finances, or at the very least ignoring the problems they may have. I was in the break room at work, we have Burrito vendors come out during the week. The vendor is sitting there and an employee walks in and first asks if they take checks, the vendor replies “Yes.” To me, not a huge red flag, not a lot of people with cash on hand and if they really want a Burrito they might need to write a check.

Then, that question was followed up with, “can you just take my debit card number?” Again the vendor replied “yes,” on a side note I think this is just dumbfounding that people are so trusting, but hey. After that response the employee then asks, “will you run it today or tomorrow?” Leading one to believe that this $3.00 burrito may very well overdraw the account or that the account is already overdrawn.

I have to tell you, if you can’t afford a $3.00 burrito, it is time to sit down and go over everything. I’m not saying you should be able to buy a $3.00 burrito with no difficulty, but manage your personal finances. The economy is in the toilet, and if you have a good job there is no reason you shouldn’t be solvent and saving. You can still spend money, but you might be more careful about what you are spending your money on and keeping track of actual costs.

We are rapidly approaching the holiday season, one of the most popular things for people to do when personal finances are in bad shape is say “F it, I will deal with it later” and spend like mad. Don’t, there are other options. I was in a tight situation some years ago and instead of going out and buying gifts on the lists of my family members I chose to try and make gifts, or do something meaningful.

Remember, the holidays are not always about tangible material items, though we sure make it seem that way. November 1 is right around the corner, it’s a good time to take a look at your finances, and your plan for the next two months. Most families set budgets, if you don’t already, now is a good time to start.

Most of all, never feel pressured by family or friends about money. Either you can afford something or you can’t with your budget. No shame in saying no, or not this month or whatever response you like to use. I spent a good part of my 20’s in big debt, worked my ass off to get rid of it and stay out of it.

I am not rich, and I can’t say I am wealthy by most standards, but I don’t live beyond my means. it does take discipline and it’s not easy, but in the long run, your life and your families life will be much better by showing restraint and responsibility.

The near future is pretty bleak for the economy, it’s depressing and not taking vacations, making purchases and all that really adds up and makes life hard. Just remember, this is all going to get better, but it might be a year or two before we really start to see any improvement.

Keep putting money away for retirement, keep putting money away for emergencies. If you aren’t comfortable putting your new retirement contributions into stocks and mutual funds try and keep them in a money market or something similar. There is still risk, but a lot less. Also, IRA’s at banks have a yield, but are insured so that is another alternative.

One last thing, personal finances are just that, personal. They aren’t anyone’s business but yours. If you need help or guidance, don’t be afraid to ask, just ask the right people. Don’t ask your friend with $15K in revolving debt. It is even worth spending a little bit to speak to a financial planner or if you are in debt talk with an organization like Consumer Credit Counseling Services.

In the end, yes this post is about a person not having the money for a $3.00 burrito yet deciding to go into debt over it. However, this is just a small example of the larger problem we are seeing right now and it is really really important we stay focused on personal finances and protect ourselves as best we can against this horribly beat down economy.

Politics and you…and me

One of the things I love about being an American is that I can have whatever political view I choose. However, some of my fellow American’s seem to feel that my political views are wrong and theirs are right.

Lets remember this one thing, we are all in this together. Being a citizen of the United States of America means you take a stake in the success of your country by electing other citizens to represent you and and to lead the country.

Frankly, I don’t care what “party” has control, I don’t care what religion, race, gender or sexual orientation our elected officials are. Single, married, divorced, separated, living in sin, I don’t care.

What I want is for every American including our elected officials to take a step back and look around. Think about the greater good and not your personal agendas. Our country is very much like a large corporation. As tax-paying citizens we are all shareholders in this corporation. If things aren’t being run right, then it’s time to change leadership.

We are never going to be the powerhouse we once were as a country because as citizens we are too hung up blaming political parties for our problems. In reality it’s apathy that is our problem. We have the power as citizens to make this country better, we have the power to get this country back on track. Unfortunately, we need a leader that has the knowledge and the skill to take the helm and get us there. I say unfortunately because our current outlook is not very rosy.

We have two primary candidates, one of which will be our next leader, neither of which has provided any real reason why they should be chosen for the job. With that, what are we to expect. If we select Obama he will spend his first term working on his re-election campaign for a second term. McCain could do the same thing, but if he were a smart man he would say and stick to being a one term president.

Regardless the United States of America is in a dire situation. We have dug a hole so deep I don’t think in my lifetime we will every make up for the damage caused in recent years. I can only blame myself, I mean I can run for office, I can be a in the Senate or Congress, heck soon I will be old enough to run for President.

Instead of siting in front of a TV or my computer getting angry at all the hate democrats have for republicans and vice versa I could be out there working to make a difference. And you know what’s really crazy, so can you! I know it’s weird, but yeah. You too can go make a difference.

As citizens we need to force change from a different angle, the angle needs to be that being a politician is a job that you will be held accountable for. We need to further change the rules on funding campaigns, and what it means to take on the role. There is NO reason at all any politician should be focusing on a re-election campaign until it is within a few months of the election.

So many candidates waste our money (their salary is paid by us) and time by focusing on their re-election and not on the country. Accountability! Especially with the President, every president is a single term president unless they meet certain criteria by the beginning of the last year of their term. Just like any other job, they need a performance review. I don’t care about polls, there need to be legitimate milestones in every presidential term that if the president can’t meet those goals they can’t run for a second consecutive term. They could run again further down the road, but not in succession. If they are a second term president, well we all know that is about your legacy and what you will be remembered for so maybe there is already enough incentive there, but I’m sure we can add milestones there and that can be directly related to their post presidency benefits.

There are problems with our political system that aren’t about the fundamentals, but the application. The fact that we are stuck in a two party system, and that most politicians are more like used car salesmen (and women) than people that should be making decisions about our country.

Lets be civil with each other in this election year, lets stop trashing the candidates and instead focus on educating the citizens on what is going to be done once elected and lets hold them accountable. Enough is enough, vote for the candidate you think will be the one that can lead us properly and can begin the healing process in this country. I will do the same. Who knows, maybe, just just maybe we will see some change for the better.

One last thing, while you may think it’s funny to send out mass emails to everyone in your address book pimping your political views, it’s not. Unless you want to engage in a civil conversation and truly express your thoughts and concerns about our country and now about why you don’t like some one I don’t want to hear it. I want to know what’s going to be done, not 3rd grade “My Dad is better than your Dad” type talk.

Hot enough for ya?

I am so sick and tired of listening to people bitch and moan about the heat. It’s all over the news, locally and nationally. This is not unheard of in Colorado. This is how the weather is here in the summer. We had a very mild spring and early summer. We were spoiled for a change, then it gets hot and everyone is in a tizzy.

Guess what, 6 months from now you will all be bitching that it is so cold. I have a grand idea, move the f*&^ away from Colorado. Go find a nice mild state that is boring as hell and has no seasons.

Pretty simple solution if you ask me. Oh, but it’s a dry heat.

Why PayPal sucks more than Paris Hilton

I am your typical average PayPal using American. It returns a decent rate and it’s nice to use for buying products. 99% of my transactions are me buying some sort of good or service. Nothing really bad there. However, that 1% of the time I actually accept money, it is always a nightmare.

My most recent experience revolves around a friend sending me money for some stickers they bought last year from me. The transaction was via a credit card. Now, Personal users like myself are not really allowed to accept credit cards, but the Fee schedule says we can accept up to 5 per year.

However, it wont let me accept the payment without upgrading my account. Now of course I could downgrade back to a personal, but you can only do that ONCE. So if I do it on this transaction I can never do it again. It’s not worth it.

Now you may be asking, why all the bitching and moaning Jay? Well here’s the thing, the fee schedule leads you to believe, as a personal account holder that you can accept up to 5 credit card (and similar) transactions in a 12 month period and at a high surcharge. This to me seems very reasonable as they are covering the costs of a CC transaction and making some money. Not a big deal to me.

However, they have to asterisks **. The funny thing here is there are two sections with **, I guess they don’t understand footnotes or annotation very well? I took a screen shot of their fee schedule and highlighted the areas of concern.

I think you’ll understand my complaint looking at this and realze that since eBay has taken over PayPal has become teh suck.