Finance Lesson: Many of you are going to see this for the first time

What is “this”? It’s called inflation. Many of you have never seen it and don’t really know what it is. You will begin to, if you haven’t already, hear more about inflation. As your Gen X friends will tell you, in the 70’s and early 80’s inflation was high. Mortgage interest rates at 15%+, yes that’s right you know those rates that are 3% or less now? Goods and services, in proportion to income was very expensive. Gallon of gas in 1980? $1.19 a gallon. I know doesn’t seem like much does it?

Not a lot of corollas back then, hybrids? Didn’t exist yet. You had gas guzzlers that were getting horrible gas mileage. Median income for a family in 1980? 21,000.00 Annual. However, the consumer price index from 1977-1980 increased 13.5%. That means, basically (not precisely) that the item you bought in 1977 was 13.5% more expensive just 3 years later. Now this wasn’t everything of course but it was inflation that was out of control.

Enter 2021. Notice the housing market is hot? Have you been to Home Depot to buy some plants or fencing for your yard? Prices are on average 6.5% higher than 2 years ago (for many goods and services not all). Now this is a result of covid, plus people going back to work plus government stimulus. So we have the trifecta of an inflationary period, increased government subsidy (more money in the market) more people working (more money in the market) and industries shut down for extended periods.

Am I contagious?
High amount of money and less goods and services = costs rise.

That in essence is inflation. Inflation is a good monetary solution to one or both problems. Meaning if prices are going up, demand is high (or goods are in shortage) that induces economic activity in those areas. A deep freeze in Florida kills the orange crop, oranges go up in price. Everyone gets 1000 in cash from the government, you are willing to spend more for the oranges now because someone gave you more money to spend. That gives the person producing the oranges more money to reinvest in orange production, increasing the supply and driving the cost down, overtime.

The issue here is time. The simple examples I have given are all in the abstract of time meaning the end game, increased production of oranges as I exampled, could take years. Now if the money supply decreases (the gov stops sending stimulus) you still have to pay the higher price for the oranges. This ushers in the inflationary period. The other lever that mitigates this scenario is increased wages, this is likely to happen as more and more of the world opens up.

In the short term you should expect to pay more for goods and services. It is a sellers’ market so to speak and if you have a skill or service that is in demand (construction, physical labor, lawn care etc.) this is an opportunity for you to make a lot of money. On the flip side, things you want are going to start costing more. That coffee you love every morning? The trucking company delivering to your shoppe is paying more in gas now, it’s likely that cost will transfer to how much your coffee costs.

Inflation is the reality of a good economy going through a natural ebb and flow. It’s not fun when things go up in price, unless you’re the one selling the item and making more money. I believe we are entering into an inflationary period, many of you have never seen it and will wonder what the hell is going on. $3.00 a gallon for gas? Very likely. Remember to keep an eye on your spending and keep an eye on wages for your chosen profession. It’s likely that as costs go up, so will wages but you must be willing to leverage your skill set (and possibly move jobs) to make more to mitigate the costs.

I think we are heading for a good period for workers, things are opening up and there will be good jobs to be had. The down side is inflation is starting to creep in and it’s been so low for so long I don’t think we can escape it this time.

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Reintegration fears

The vaccine has been out now for a while, millions of people have been vaccinated (myself included) it’s now time to discuss materially reopening a reintegration back to the way things used to be. Yes, that means removing mask mandates, restrictions on gathering, penalties and the vast government dip into its citizen’s civil liberties.

As more and more vaccines happen it becomes harder and harder to make the argument for quarantine protocols. At some point we are all going to have to agree, regardless of where you fall on Covid, that it’s time to move back to a pre covid world. For those of us with anxiety? That’s another potentially crippling outcome. It’s not the fear of reintegration exclusively, its everything else that goes with it. I found a good article here that talks about some of these issues.

From the article: “Fear is normal. You and I are supposed to fear the virus because it’s dangerous. The difference, however, in terms of developing a psychopathological response is whether you end up behaving in … overly safe ways that lock you into the fear,” said Spada. “My expectation is we’re going to have … chunks of the population that are avoiding re-engagement and constantly worrying about the virus for months to come, whether they are vaccinated or not.”

This has the potential to be a serious issue not just for those who are in fear of reintegration but for everyone else who is striving to return to normalcy. There is no “new normal” only normal and the problem has always been what is normal for you might not be normal for me. I’m not proposing that anyone’s fears, or desire to get things back to normal are wrong. What I am saying is we potentially have a large chunk of the world population who will be living in fear for years to come.

Fear is devastating, regardless of the source.

Is it irrational? Not to them and that’s why we all have to do the best we can to make sure we create the safest environment possible. The quickest way to achieve this is getting the vaccination. I am no vaccine advocate I don’t believe personally that anyone should be forced to do anything. That said Covid has taken on a social and political life of its own and when you argue (whatever side you are on) over the solution it makes it extremely difficult to move forward.

There will always be people who chose to live in fear. There will always be people who have no choice but to live in fear because of their anxiety. There will always be people who will never accept government mandates. It’s never going to be perfect and there is always going to be risk. Covid has made many entities (media, pharmaceutical companies) way too much money to ever go away completely.

That said we can do our part one person at a time. If you can get vaccinated it, do it. If you can help someone get vaccinated do it. At some point in the future so many people will be vaccinated the fear should subside. Something else will present itself, it always does but for now, if you are still in fear you have my empathy. Many of us are doing the right thing and getting vaccinated, things are getting better you have to prepare for the next phase, reintegration.

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Quick Financial tip: “are there any discounts available?”

As you know we do finance pieces on this blog from time to time. Please remember that any financial advice you receive here is strictly my opinion based on years of experience, before making any financial decision you should do your own research and become as educated as possible to ensure you make the right decision for you.

“Are there any discounts available?”

Money is extremely important, save it where you can!

You’d be surprised how many are, and equally surprised at how many people never ask. Many people feel uncomfortable asking for a discount when they are making a purchase. I understand believe me I do, but there are a lot of discounts you can get just by asking at the register. Here is another thing to keep in mind, the person behind the register isn’t the “company” they are normal people like you and me. They like discounts too and most people, if they can will give you one.

There may be a sale going on you weren’t aware of, there may be a specific product rebate you weren’t aware of. That’s actually part of a cashier’s job in a retail setting. It’s not just to take your money or up sell you, it’s to ensure you cash out is a positive experience so you will want to come back soon and buy more. Part of how they do that is getting you available discounts. Now will some people give you attitude when you ask? Yes. Aren’t they already giving you attitude though? I mean unfriendly cashiers are unfriendly regardless, so might as well ask.

Will this work every time? No. Will this work more often than you think? Yes. Even online shopping, look at the checkout menu, there is often a “coupon” or “discounts” button click it! Having anxiety sucks, and asking people for things is often uncomfortable, but saving money to help with your financial freedom later down the line is one of the most empowering things you can do now to help your anxiety later.

Do it, ask if there are any discounts available.

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The Vaccine knocked me out

So I got my second vaccine shot Monday and it wrecked me by Monday night. My wife is an RN and fortunately when patients cancel she is able to distribute that unused vaccine to family and friends, once its opened it has to be used. We are lucky in that regard, the vaccine itself? First shot my shoulder was very sore. Second really knocked me out, shivering, flu like symptoms. I was warned this would happen but it literally took me out of action on Tuesday which is the day I usually write Wednesdays and Fridays posts for this blog.

Its late Tuesday night as I write this (about 1:30 AM so technically Wed morning) I still feel like shit. Im glad I got the vaccine and glad my family has the ability to have access. Believe me I am not discounting this given how many people want it and cant get it. I will survive of course I just need to sleep but cant I am so cold.

To be blunt this blog has been in a rut for a month or two which is mainly because I have been in rut. I am, for lack of a more eloquent phrase, having a shitty April. Lots of small things have happened that have contributed to me being unhappy and depressed. Now this vaccine effect has kicked in and I’m blah. I will have an opportunity to write on Thursday which is good news and hope to pull myself out of these doldrums.

Go figure, the guy who writes a blog that has hundreds of posts on anxiety, stress and depression is depressed…..

Just a couple of good nights sleep, that’s all I need.

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A quick note about this blog

This isn’t a formal post today more of an informational piece about this blog. Recently I have received a few offers to have sponsored content. I vetted the sources and they seem legitimate and not phishing scams, as best I can tell anyway. I appreciated it, but made clear to those who inquired this isn’t a commercial blog. I am not doing this for financial gain, you don’t (and wont) see ads on this blog. There is no sponsored content etc. Product endorsements? If I like something I will talk about it but wont do paid endorsements.

Many people blog to make money or as a side hustle, that’s cool you do you. For me? This is just my corner of the blogosphere. I post what I want, how I want, when I want. Sponsored content won’t happen here, ads won’t happen (I won’t put them on anyway). This blog will always be free for anyone who wants to read it and interact with it, that includes all past content. The only way I would ever monetize this blog is having something like a patreon where if people wanted to support they could, all voluntary. That isn’t happening anytime soon either.

If you subscribe, like and comment on this blog I truly appreciate it. I hope this blog is a small piece of the web you can enjoy a few minutes out of your day free of commercials or etsy’s, or ads or “buy my hat” pitches… It’s “A Gen X Point of View” and you are welcome here, regardless of your age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religion. No purchase required, no catches, no strings attached.

Your Pagan Friend,

Karac.

How I helped create a survival fund for “her”

This is a story from my personal history, I will not name names or give too much specific detail. Before I go too far into the post, I want to say clearly if you know someone who is being abused help them. Don’t shrug it off, or bury it, even if it’s an acquaintance.

At one point in my life, a family member of mine was in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship. Many of us knew, but not the depth of how far it went but that’s another story. I was approached at a family gathering by “her” and another relative. They knew I was in finance and they needed help. I assumed they were going to ask me for money, but what they asked was entirely different.

“Can you help –her- get to a point where she can leave”

It may not be a perfect quote and honestly thinking back what I recall most was “her” eyes and face. She was so sad, hurt, broken and I felt helpless. I really didn’t know what to say or do, I knew what the issue was but here it was in my lap, I was asked to help and get involved. I remember my Father telling me once “don’t get involved in other people’s marriages” and you know he was right. However, there are exceptions to every rule, I thought to myself I just found one.

What happened next took 2 years. Yes, it was a long journey for all of us. I’m not going to lie and tell you I was on the edge of my seat with worry or panic. I know that’s not heroic but its honest. I was asked to help, not to press or make things worse, there were children involved. I wanted to call the police, I was told emphatically no. I was, in a tough spot emotionally. I wanted to do more but if I did, things would have been 10 times worse, at least that’s what I tell myself to feel better now, I don’t know.

“she” is one tough lady, and I admire her so much. Before we go on to much further let me say “she” and her kids are great now, things worked out well. So what did I do exactly? Well mostly what I was asked:

  1. I took her to a bank and set up an account for her. We did it without the husband, normally thats impossible because these POS are control freaks but I was family, it wasn’t unusual for me to see “her” from time to time.
  2. I made ATM deposits for “her” as often as I could.
  3. I kept all of it a secret from our family. A notable caveat, I told my wife because I respect her and that’s a secret you shouldn’t keep in a marriage. There was no way an affair could be suspected due to my family ties with “her”
Enough
I dont know how “she” managed for years like this, but “she” did it.

No I didn’t fund it. At the time I was raising my own kids and making ends meet I don’t have a lot of spare cash. Did I round up an 80.00 deposit to 100.00? ya. We finally got to a point where “she” had accumulated 10,00.00 in cash. He didn’t know because I was making the deposits. Statements? Went to a PO Box I set up for her couple hundred bucks not hard. He had no idea, and yes for those 2 years’ things carried on for them much the same.

Let me say this here, this was not a blood bath. No I am not trying to justifying anything but not every day was abuse, the majority were quiet. However, “she” lived in fear and I had to live with knowing that I couldn’t do as much as I wanted, it was her request and I was going to be dammed if I put her and her kids in harm’s way. So 2 years in with 10K in the bank, we go out to lunch, husband doesnt suspect anything. A typical pompas ass clueless moron who was so sure of himself, I wanted to hurt him badly it really was one of the hardest things Ive done, not do more. That must sound ridiculous, I cant explain it really.

Instead we put a first, last, and security deposit down on a 2 bedroom apt hours away. The landlord was someone we were referred to as understanding the plight of those who are abused. He did everything he could to keep her location a secret. 2 weeks later we went to a lawyer’s office who is sympathetic to abuse victims.

We used the rest of the money for a retainer, and within 2 weeks “he” was in handcuffs and charged with domestic battery. Things were hairy after that for a little while, until his new reality sunk in and “he” realized things were going to get real for him. He became an angel, got help, cleaned up, straightened up and by all accounts has done the best he can to make things better for “her”. No she didn’t take him back, yes he did –some- time.

The worst part was the 2 years. It’s one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I wasn’t perfect, I did the best I could with the hand I was dealt. We all came out a little stronger for it I suppose. If you know someone who is being abused do the most you can for them, and do the best you can for them, but never do nothing.

Ugh….

4 things everyone with Anxiety should be doing (or start doing) NOW

If you have anxiety, depending on the day everything can slip. A bad day can set you back a week, a bad week a month and so on. Everyone has different triggers and this post isn’t meant to shame anyone. What it is intended to do is to give you 4 things you should be doing every day, even in the throes of a serious bout of anxiety. These aren’t fixes, but what they do is they create consistent actions and routines that will allow you to anchor yourself on the days (weeks or months) where you have crippling anxiety. Every other day these will be natural events, the list is not complicated or exhausted but they are MUST DO’S

  1. The Mouth Routine: No this isn’t perverted… Twice a day, when you wake, and before you got to sleep you should be cleaning your mouth. The health benefits are for another post but how it makes you FEEL is what is important here. A clean fresh mouth is well, refreshing. What should you do for a “Mouth Routine?”
    • Brush
    • Floss
    • Mouthwash
    • Tongue comb or rake – You can brush your tongue as well, trust me on this one.
  2. Vitamin D: I take a lot of Vitamin D. I’ve read a lot online about the importance of this vitamin and this post isn’t intended to be a science piece I did a post here many moons ago click it for an elaboration. If you are uncomfortable with Vitamin D fine, take a multivitamin. This should be done at the same time every day. I take mine at noon.
  3. Consistent Sleep schedule: This is easier than it looks. I’m not saying you have to sleep for 8 hours, I know most people can’t, particularly with anxiety. What I am saying, and you should be doing is going to bed and rising the same time every day. Sleep is how your body repairs. It’s critical for all aspects of your health and you need to create a consistent schedule for it. Mine?
    • Weekdays – Sunday thru Thursday: I am in bed screens off by 10:30PM. Even if I can’t fall asleep, I lay there. I get up between 4:30AM and 7:00AM depending on what days I go to the gym.
    • Weekends – Friday thru Saturday: I am in bed screens off by 1AM. I get up between 7AM and 9AM. I game, watch movies/shows used to go out will again after covid. Friday night and Saturday night I stay up but rarely past 1, and often in bed by midnight.
  4. Human Contact: You need to talk to someone, touch someone, and have human contact (non sexually is the context here, but sex is fine but another post all together). Anxiety can be isolating and even if it’s just some emails or a text you have to talk to someone every day. This may sound silly, but believe it or not there are many of us who can go weeks and not talk to anyone at all. You need human interaction, you need to “feel” and “sense” other people.
Ugh, lists….

Every day do these things. Do not wait, don’t make excuses start working on them. These will help you and give you confidence and self-worth. Anxiety can be crippling, isolating, desperate. Fight back with simple tools. Even if you only do one of the items above it will have a dramatic impact on you for the positive.

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The Value of Time !

“Don’t waste your time with explanations: people only hear what they want to hear.”
― Paulo Coelho

It’s time for us to do another post on the value of time. As I have said before, time is the most valuable commodity in the world. It does not care about your gender, your sexuality, your race, your financial standing. We all have a limited amount of time and how we use it is imperative to our overall happiness as individuals. What makes you happy might be much different then what makes me happy, but we both should be striving to spend more time trying to do those things.

The quote we are using today is a really good one. It hits on two extremely important concepts that are high value. The main point being “people only hear what they want to hear”. That is so true and it’s pretty universal. All you need to do is go on twitter for an hour and you will see exactly what I mean. We all want affirmation its part of the social construct and the human condition. What the quote is telling us is don’t waste your time explaining to others.

Your time is running out…

This is the trick isn’t it? We want people to understand us, we want people to accept our ideas. Through that acceptance we get affirmation to some degree. It’s often the case though that the nod or “okay sure whatever you say” comment is just lip service. They don’t agree with you, but don’t want conflict.

Explanations should be reserved for people whom you really care about and love. If for example, you are in a bank and do something you think is odd, like missing the trash barrel when you are throwing away your drink. You rush over to pick it up and the person filling out their slip looks at you and you explain your action. That’s normal, I get it, but this person doesn’t matter. The entire interaction is almost exclusively an internal discussion with yourself and that for the other person within themselves.

You do you, of course but remember time is such a valuable commodity the last thing you want to do is spend it explaining something to someone whom probably is only going to hear what they want anyway. Do your best and maximize your time. Random people, which you will meet many don’t really matter, to you. Giving them your time in a meaningless endeavor saps you of your most valuable commodity. It’s okay to care what other people think, but remember, most people only hear what they want to hear.

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Speak up ! It’s not you it’s me….

I have Tinnitus. I’ve had it now for probably a decade to varying degrees but this spring it has been worse. It’s always bad when pollen counts rise, I don’t know why it just is. What is Tinnitus? Here is a site with all the info you could want on it.

The quick version? It is a constant ringing in the ears due to damage done to the auditory nerve which connects the inner ear to the brain. Obviously you get this from loud noise. In my teens and 20’s, back in the hazy days of the late 80’s early 90’s I went to a lot of concerts, parties my ass off, had a blast and did IRREPARABLE DAMAGE TO MY EAR.

I’m begging you to stop now. “Stop what dude?” Stop damaging your ears. Ear buds, car stereos, concerts (once covid clears). I am the future for you and let me tell you something it’s horrible when it’s bad. Now it’s not bad everyday but the days it is? I can’t think clearly, I can’t hear everything, it is depressing. Knowing your damaged sucks, knowing you can’t repair the damage is depressing, knowing you caused the damage is heart breaking, knowing you could have prevented it is soul crushing.

At times, it’s like having needles put in your ears

I know this is a “heavier” post then I usually make but I would not wish this fate on you. Is it survivable? Yes of course I am functioning well, but for the rest of my life I will have ringing in my ears and somedays it will be intense. I don’t want that for you, I don’t want you to damage yourself beyond repair and have to live with that nasty reality.

Turn the volume down, when you’re 50 (and you will be someday) you’ll reflect back on your younger life, hell you’re probably already doing that to a degree. When you do, ideally it won’t be with a ringing in your ears wondering what the hell you did and why. To end the post, I want to be clear this isn’t posted for pity, its posted as a cautionary tale, turn the volume down or you may damage your hearing and get Tinnitus.

I’d love to hear your responses but today isn’t a good day, you’ll have to speak up….

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Gandalf

The Wisdom of Tolkien … Again

Yes, it’s that time again! If you frequent this blog you know I drop quotes from Tolkien often. He is IMHO the master of fantasy prose with deep roots into mythology and the psychology of the human spirit. As a veteran of WWI to say his perspective on life was unique would be an understatement. We look at our world today and commiserate about how hard things are, divisive, negative. Imagine a moment living when Tolkien did….

Your late teens early 20’s you fight in a horrific world war; you then have a pandemic (the Spanish flu). Things are quiet for a while, the 20’s then you get to experience the Great depression, oh and to cap it off ANOTHER world war, twice as deadly as the first. Our lives are a cake walk in comparison in my view… So the wisdom?

“Maybe the paths that you each shall tread are already laid before your feet, though you do not see them. Good”
― 
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Tolkien is telling you here that wherever you are, whatever path you are on its been preselected for you. This is his subtle tip of the hat to fate and how as humans many of us fight it (“though you do not see them.) in vein. Our religious friends call this a “Divine Plan” pagans like me, its fate. Tolkien survived perhaps the most calamitous period of human history (as illustrated above). When you go through events like that, I suppose at some point you have to give yourself over to fate. Horrors like that, no one would actively seek.

You are doing awesome dear reader, one day at a time.

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