Finding Freedom

How quickly can a fool find his money again?

I currently have a whole bunch of debt. Hmm...I wonder how much I could get for my kidneys?
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Friday, June 30, 2006
Jose, Can You See?
The professional baseball team that I sang the National Anthem for has just picked up Jose Canseco for their team.

Whatever anybody thinks about the man, he was one of my favorite players when I was a little boy collecting baseball cards. So, if and when I get to sing for the team again, I hope that I'll be able to pick up an autograph.

In any case, what I found interesting about the article is that the league's maximum pay per player is $2500 a month. That is the MOST someone could get. As far as I can tell, they only play three months of the year, although I would imagine that they would probably practice at least a month before games start which I would also imagine that they get paid for. This would mean that for the other eight or nine months a year, these guys have regular jobs like the rest of us.

Sidenote: it seems like this league would really be the people's choice if they opted to market that. Like, "For three months, so and so is a baseball player, but during the school year he works as a teacher." I know I'd rather watch people who I could identify with versus high paid professional athletes.

But back to the money, twenty-five hundred bucks is a far cry from the millions Canseco was making at the height of his pro career. However, I suspect that he's not doing it for the money. I think he, like Rickey Henderson who played for this team last year, is just looking for an opportunity to get back into the majors.

And I wish him luck.
posted by shamedsteven @ 9:53 AM   2 comments
Thursday, June 29, 2006
The Economics of Not Doing the Right Thing
If you follow baseball at all, you have no doubt heard about Brett Myers and the Philadelphia Phillies. If you're not a baseball fan, I will give a brief synopsis of the situation.

Brett Myers was arrested last week for hitting his wife. Upon getting bailed out of jail, the Phillies allowed him to pitch his next game as he is probably the best pitcher that the team has. The team has received much scrutiny for their decision, and the team let Myers take a leave of absence.

I can only think that the reason that they let him play in the game is that professional sports is a huge business, and you make a lot more money if you do well. What they were apparently not thinking about was the fact that most people in this country don't like men who abuse their wives and don't like people who pretty obviously try to sweep a serious issue under the carpet in order to win a game.

I haven't heard about the fiscal impact for the team since they allowed him to play, but I will certainly keep my eyes open for the economic consequences. I can only imagine that ticket sales will suffer, but that is pure speculation.
posted by shamedsteven @ 12:39 PM   0 comments
Under 30 Honor Roll
The Under 30 Honor Roll is a group of personal finance writers who are all, for the most, just starting out in their jobs or careers. It was organized by Kira over at Penny Foolish.

I have added a sidebar with links to all of the members so far. If you have a chance, give them a read; they all provide unique perspectives on the various money issues that they are dealing with.
posted by shamedsteven @ 10:06 AM   0 comments
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Normally, I get to drive into work with my girlfriend, which is terrific because we split the cost of the parking garage, and our employer subsidizes what we spend.

However, sometimes, due to different commitments in the evenings (rehearsals, etc.), we have to drive separately, and usually I will volunteer to just go find parking elsewhere. There are times when I can find free parking on the street, but generally, I am forced to park in a lot.

Tangent: Man, if I ever get a good deal of money together, I'd buy a parking lot. Talk about value versus amount of work done! Tangent end.

My Mecca of parking is the six dollar lot. I love it. Six dollars to park all day? That's really not that bad, especially if you only do it once or twice a month. Unfortunately, that lot (understandably) fills up rather quickly, leaving me to search out the Sodom and Gomorra of parking lots: the eight to twelve dollar lots.

Yikes! Just the sound of it feels like a shiv entering my back.

About the only plus sign to any of these lots is the fact that some will take card: credit or debit. It is awesome to not have to worry about having cash when you are furiously strung out on caffeine, hoping to get to work on time. On the minus side, it's really easy to forget, especially if you pay with card, that parking for one day cost you just about a half-hour's wages.

Ouch! Just kick me in the junk, too, and call me Susan, why don't you!
posted by shamedsteven @ 5:12 PM   0 comments
High I.Q.? Nope, Haiku!
Before I get to the haiku for today, I wanted to link to what Dilbert's creator Scott Adams had to say about tipping today. Here is an exerpt:

"Yesterday I gave a speech at a hotel in San Francisco. Afterwards, the hotel valet was retrieving my car as I waited out front. I guarded my tiny carry-on sized bag against the two drooling doormen as their eyelids made cha-ching sounds. You could almost hear them thinking 'If I can touch his bag, he'll have to give me money.'"

The whole post is delightfully funny, as is most of what he has to say on his site, and it illustrates some of the confusion about tipping that we have in our society, especially for those of us who aren't super wealthy. It's obvious that we should tip waiters and waitresses, but what about the occasional bathroom attendant or hotel clerk in a fancy hotel? Do we tip them?

Actually, now that I'm writing this, I am reminded that the fellow who writes over at Waiter Rant re-posted an article from the Daily News about what amount is expected for tipping at various places of business. You can find that link here.

Also, Financial Freedumb posted a humorous article on how he hates tip jars, largely due to the fact that they are asking for a tip before the actual service is rendered. He then concludes the post with a pay-pal donation button. That's funny.

All right, let's get down to the poetry that describes something that went on in the last week that I know that you all are eagerly awaiting. Or at least I'll pretend that you are. :-)

Show me the money!
To solve the world's transgressions,
Foundation gets cash.
posted by shamedsteven @ 9:54 AM   1 comments
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Cingular Wireless
I, like most people nowadays, have and use a cell phone. It is in fact, my primary phone because I got frustrated with how poorly Cox treated me as a land-line customer. I signed originally with Cingular because it is the company that my family uses, and, as such, I get free cell calls to them at any time.

Still, even with those free calls, my phone bill is just about sixty-three bucks a month, which is not quite outrageous, but it still seems a little steep.

Does anybody have any advice on saving money with cell phones (other than just not having one)? Are the other companies (T-Mobil, Verizon, etc) any better at keeping prices down? Are they any special tricks or secret hand-shakes that would help me to get a better rate?

Any advice is helpful as I will likely be re-signing soon.
posted by shamedsteven @ 4:51 PM   3 comments
At what point does a job cease being a job and start being a career?

For a lucky few, a career is what you actually went to school for, and it is the place where your passion lies. For some, you get a job where you start making a little better money than you are used to, and you eventually get stuck there for thirty years. And I would even imagine that there are some who tell themselves that they just have a day job to support them while they get their careers on track, but who never manage to quit the day job and never manage to get their careers going.

I gotta tell you guys that the last two of those scare me quite a bit. Oftentimes I get caught up in the, "I've got to pay off the credit cards, I've got to eliminate my debt, I've got to make money" mindset, that I forget about what is truly important to me.

Oftentimes work feels like a circle of Dante's inferno: I work and work and work and feel that I never accomplish anything worthwhile.

It is not that I am averse to work, it is simply that (and I know that this is subjective and a very special after school special sentiment) I want to feel that I have accomplished something with my life.

As someone much smarter than I am said, "What good is it to gain the whole world, and lose your own soul?"

I will be outlining my plan to get myself on track in subsequent posts. There has to be a better way.
posted by shamedsteven @ 10:59 AM   2 comments
Monday, June 26, 2006
A Customer
In order to not give too many specifics about what I do, let's just say that I create invoices for a service that my company provides.

Today, I got an email from one of my larger customers. This customer's invoices are generally in the neighborhood of eight or nine hundred thousand dollars.

The customer was writing me because I had made a mistake on their latest invoice.

When I received the email, I immediately went into kind of a shock. You know, it was like, "Oh No! They have found some huge, outrageous glaring error in my work! Surely heads will roll!"*

Would you like to know how much that invoice was off by? I'll tell you.

Six dollars.

Yep, you read that right. Not sixty or six hundred or six thousand, but six dollars.

I was amazed that she had even realized that a mistake had been made. I will correct the error, of course, but this got me to thinking.

What if we, as consumers, were as eagle-eyed in our credit card statements? Perhaps everyone else is, but most of the time I don't even note the interest rate. I just kind of check to make sure that the amount of the minimum payment is about the same as last month.

With as many people there are that use credit cards, I am sure that the companies must make the occasional mistake, and most of us probably don't even pay attention.

I, for one, am going to check the statements a little more closely next time around.

*All right, so my response wasn't that dramatic. Let's call it artistic liberty.
posted by shamedsteven @ 4:35 PM   2 comments
Something That Irks Me
Though I know that it shouldn't bother me, I hate how my pay schedule worked out this period. I got paid on Friday, and I will not get paid again until the seventh. Rent, however, is due on the first. This puts rent just about equally between pay checks.

For some reason, I always expect a pay check the day before, or a few days before rent is due. That way I can prioritize in my mind the rent money. However, and I don't expect this to happen, when pay day is a week away from rent day, I find it a lot easier to prioritize my money in other ways, thus leaving me up the proverbial creek when rent day comes a knockin'.

It's a silly thing to worry about, I know.

Also, has everybody heard the distinction between Fridays you get paid and Fridays that you don't get paid? If you get paid, that's Good Friday; if you don't get paid, it's Passover. That's funny.
posted by shamedsteven @ 9:06 AM   2 comments
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Strong Bad Emails

For those of you that do not frequent, let me just say that you are missing something very funny. This site features, among other things, the handsome character to the left answering emails from visitors to the site. His responses range from being humorous to hilarious.

In any case, he answered an email that had to do with credit cards, and so I thought that I would post the link here in an effort to make those of us with credit card woes smile a little bit.

Here is the link.

posted by shamedsteven @ 11:53 AM   1 comments
The Best Worst Financial Advice
One thing that I learned when I was really scraping the bottom of the barrel as far as money goes was that I really hated overdrafting. At $25 a pop, it gets old real fast.

However, I found that if I could plan ahead to know when I was going to have to overdraft, I could make a system that worked for me. It was kind of like financial planning for the destitute.

For example, instead of continuing to write checks or pay for things on the debit card with the $25 ding every time, I found that if I just made a substantial withdrawl from the ATM, I would just get charged the fee once as opposed to over and over. With my bank letting me overdraft up to five hundred dollars, I found that this worked pretty well. I would then wait for my next paycheck to get me back to the positive side.

Unfortunately, once you get in the cycle of overdrafting like that, it's very difficult to get out of that money hole. Even if you get five hundred bucks a week, like I was, that still just brings you back to zero, which means that you'll have to just continue overdrafting to survive.

Obviously it would be much better to just not go in the red at all. That's why I'm calling this the best worst financial advice. But if you are really stuck, this will save you some money.
posted by shamedsteven @ 11:05 AM   0 comments
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Haiku Wednesday
My sleep is haunted
For I purchased a meal
With my card last year.

The haiku today is about the nature of credit card debt. At least for me, I find it very easy to purchase something small on credit because my mind believes that, come bill time, it will be very easy to pay off.

Unfortunately, the roads to both hell and credit card debt (or maybe it's the same road) are paved with good intentions. Enough small purchases made equals hundreds or thousands of dollars that one can't possibly pay at month's end.

You add interest, and then you've got a sloppy bed of debt that you've made to lie in. Good luck waking up from that.
posted by shamedsteven @ 1:21 PM   0 comments
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Credit Quotes
Here are some quotes that I came across today about credit. Some of them made me smile, and I hope that they lighten your load a bit as well.

"Money isn't everything - there's credit cards, money orders, and travelers' checks."

"Life was a lot simpler when what we honored was father and mother rather than all major credit cards."
-Robert Orben

"This is my ultimate fantasy: watching QVC with a credit card while making love and eating at the same time."
-Yasmine Bleeth

"Modern man drives a mortgaged car over a bond-financed highway on credit card gas."
-Earl Wilson
posted by shamedsteven @ 5:09 PM   1 comments
The Economics of Doing the Right Thing
As I have mentioned previously, I am currently working for a theatre company. The show is a very small one, and there are only seven of us in the cast, with two understudies.

Last night, the director harped on one of the actresses. He said, among a bunch of other less than kind statements, something about how he didn't understand her bitchiness. This largely caused the rest of the actors to just look at the floor in a kind of stunned silence, though any of us could have spoken up.

The actress spoken to later wanted to quit, and reasonably so. She thinks that she will just speak to the board of directors once the show is up and running, which is probably a good choice. I would advise her to speak with him about it, but she has already done so once, and it has obviously not created a positive outcome.

She and I and a couple of other cast members went out last night for drinks after rehearsal, and just kind of thought about what the director's deal was. Everyone had his or her opportunity to vent.

While I hope to not trivialize what has happened, my purpose in bringing this up here is that I am trying to look at it from a series of different perspectives in order to realize the most truth. Because of that, I thought that I would take a look at it from a purely economic perspective here. This may come across as heartless, but remember, it's only one of the ways that I'm looking at it.

I think that from an economic standpoint, the biggest thing going through my mind was, "How can I keep this from getting me in trouble." I know that that is selfish, and I hope that in the future I will react better, but last night, that was my gut reaction.

So, in purely economic terms, I was seeking immediate gratification. I at first thought that this would not cost me anything, which would have worked out well. However, it turns out that not doing what is right kinds of weighs on one's heart. It really doesn't feel too good that I didn't stand up for my friend.

However, what if I had spoken up, and things had gotten further out of control? What if we had both been fired? While it is a long shot, it certainly is a possibility. That would, obviously, leave one or both of us out of work, which would negatively affect us economically as we are getting paid for this show. Further, if we were fired, what effect would our absence then have on the theatre? How negatively would ticket sales react to losing two people two weeks before the show.

And what would become of my own relationship with the director? For some reason, he seems to like me more than most of the rest of the cast. From a personal economic standpoint, does it make sense to lose what I have worked to gain from him? And then to face the potential of facing his unkindness in the future?

Economically, at least from these couple of areas, it makes sense to stay silent, that is, if I can silence my conscience, which I am not sure that I can do. I'm not a very good utilitarian, it seems.

My conclusion: I hope that next time I will speak up. Though it might not make sense from an economist's standpoint, it is morally reprehensible to treat another human being like that.
posted by shamedsteven @ 1:20 PM   0 comments
Monday, June 19, 2006
Monday Afternoon
So here we are on another Monday afternoon, and as I get up to take a look out at the view from the eighth floor, I can't help but think that there has to be a better way to make money and get by in this country. Or at least one that doesn't feel like it's killing me softly (with its song).

What makes my situation particularly bad is the fact that I understand better than anyone else the fact that because of my bills, I need to work here. There is no company that would pay me as well, especially considering my lack of experience in the matters that I work with.

The music degree seemed like a good idea at the time... :-)

I figured out though, that if I had twenty-four weekly voice students as opposed to the half of one I have now (she only comes every other week), I could make a comparable amount of money to what I am currently making.

So, if any of you know of twenty-four students who are looking for a voice or beginning piano teacher, let me know.

Until that glorious day, I must return to the crunching of numbers.
posted by shamedsteven @ 4:10 PM   0 comments
Because I am a sucker, I signed up with HSBC largely due to their Best Buy card promotion. I haven't received the gift card just yet, but when I do get it, I will likely be a new dvd closer to nirvana.

I would have gone with ING Direct due to their free money promotion, but with all of the credit card bills coming every month, I couldn't muster up the two hundred and fifty big ones necessary to qualify for it.

Oh well. Someday my prince will the form of filthy lucre. And on that day, I will have an account with ING.
posted by shamedsteven @ 9:50 AM   0 comments
Friday, June 16, 2006
The Weekend Loometh
On this Friday, as I cannot wait for five o'clock to come so that I can again find the bliss of some good old-fashioned rest, I am reminded again of my grandfather.

My grandfather is 83 years old, and he still owns, manages, and maintains a laundromat. He used to have three laundromats, but in the last couple of years he has sold one and he has had the other one annexed by the shopping center that it was in so that they property owner could lease the land to a huge discount grocery store. So now he has one, but that's not the point.

The point is that when I was younger (say ten to fifteen years ago), I wondered why my grandfather didn't retire. This was not because I thought that the man who taught me how to whistle was incapable of the tasks of operating his own businesses; rather, the idea of retirement was just one that various venues of entertainment had led me to believe that people over the age of sixty-five should have a right to do.

One day I asked him about retiring, and he good-naturedly answered with something along the lines of, "Why would I retire?" As I recall, he didn't really pose any more of a thought than that; he left it as a question that would force that chubby little kid (me) to think.

Oddly enough, it took me a while to figure it out.

As a child, one is idealistic. Any occupation that is not saving the world is not necessarily a bad job choice, but if you had to take a job that involved saving the world versus a job that didn't save the world, why not take the one that saves the world? And so, while I never thought poorly of my grandfather, I never understood why he would want to keep working.

That is, I never understood that until I realized this: saving the world starts at home, with yourself and your loved ones. While my grandfather may not be curing cancer or feeding the homeless (although his previous job was with NASA, which I think is pretty doggone cool), he was making sure that he and my grandmother had what they needed to live comfortably. Heck, he made enough to make sure his grandkids lived comfortably (we always received an obscene amount of Christmas presents from him and grandma).

My point? My grandfather has come to a point where he doesn't need to work to live; he is at a point where he lives to work. He doesn't retire because he enjoys providing for his family, as well as, I imagine, finding freedom in being able to maintain something that many people his age would never be able to do.

If we could all come to a place where what we do gave us so much happiness and fulfillment, I can only imagine how happy we'd be. Maybe we'd all take time to share our joy; maybe we'd all take the time to teach a child to whistle. In any case, we'd all certainly be better off.

What do you think?
posted by shamedsteven @ 1:58 PM   0 comments
Money Market Accounts
Beancounterblog is in the process of publishing a series of investing options, and today they posted about money market accounts, as opposed to money market funds.

If you are just starting to get a grip on your financial life like I am, this series is extraordinarily valuable as it provides a good deal of in-depth information.
posted by shamedsteven @ 11:14 AM   0 comments
Thursday, June 15, 2006
While I appreciate this website trying to talk me up, there is no way that the median salaried income for an actor in San Diego is $48,965.

Or if there is, then I am not looking hard enough, because that would be a nine grand raise from my current cushy desk job.

Where, oh, where do you get these numbers,
posted by shamedsteven @ 2:13 PM   2 comments
What I notice that I think is funny about a lot of personal finance bloggers is that everybody seems so motivated towards doing things, and I must admit, that I often am guilty of the same thing. However, upon some reflection, I think the biggest reason that my goal is to pay everything down, is not so that I can have more or do more, but so that I do less.

Essentially, I sold my freedom by making poor monetary decisions. I became money's slave. Because of this, I work a job that pays the bills but kills my passions and my dreams a little bit more each and every day.

Now it might be that on other days, I want too much, but today I just want enough. I want enough to get by and support myself and my loved ones. I want money not to be the end result of my work (as it is now) but a means wherewith to accomplish the things that I love to do.

I want my freedom back, and I know that this is the attitude of the spoiled brat: to desire without work. But I know that I will have to work at this, and I know that by the end of this journey I will appreciate every dollar more than I ever could have before. Like the released prisoner who gets his first breath of fresh air outside of the prison, I want to breathe freely again.

And I will.
posted by shamedsteven @ 11:43 AM   1 comments
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Haiku Wednesdays
I have decided to add a new feature to this site: I will be writing a new haiku every Wednesday that has something to do with personal finance.

For that one person sitting in the back of the room who doesn't know what a haiku is, it is a Japanese form of poetry that does not focus on rhyme, but rather on a specific number of syllables. The first line has five syllables, the second has seven syllables, and the third has five again.

When I first learned about these in grade school, the teacher had us write one for homework. Unfortunately, I thought that each line had to be just one word! I had a very difficult time coming up with five and seven letter words to make my poem out of.

Anyways, here is today's installment, which has to do with HSBC's decision to offer free gift cards to Best Buy as part of a sign-on bonus for new accounts.

You don't have to give money,
A gift card will do!

It seems to me that the average person would be more enticed by free cash, like they have done over at ING Direct, but perhaps they are making money hand over fist from Best Buy for the cross promotion. I'll have to keep an eye on this to see if people are signing up.
posted by shamedsteven @ 1:30 PM   0 comments
How I Got "Chased"
The week before last, I transferred most of my debt from my Chase card to a separate card, and I reported that the Chase card was down to a zero balance.

However, I looked online a few days later, and I saw that I had a balance due. I was okay with this because I realized that I had left a little bit on the card and then there had been interest added to that card. So, again I paid it down to zero.

So, imagine my surprise when I check my account yesterday to see that I still owe $34.63 when I have already paid it down. I will have to check my statements, but I suspect that they are operating one of those sneaky two-cycle billing operations.

Cheeky buggers.
posted by shamedsteven @ 7:50 AM   1 comments
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Texas Tea
And in some good news for the day, oil has fallen below $69 a gallon.

I, for one, am looking forward to seeing some extra money at the gas pump.
posted by shamedsteven @ 6:31 PM   0 comments
Blockbuster Online
I could be wrong, but it seems to me that Blockbuster Online is a particulatly economic way to entertain yourself. The least expensive plan is $9.99 a month plus tax. This plan only lets you have one movie at a time, but in addition to that, you get two free in-store rentals a month. With the two in-store rentals likely costing you seven or eight bucks, your net cost is still just two or three dollars a month.

In addition, I understand that they ship very quickly as well.

Now, some of you will argue that a book will provide better, long-term entertainment, and I would agree with you. However, if you buy books at anything like the rate that I have bought them at in the past, two or three bucks seems like a much cheaper way to go.

Others of you will argue that you would save ten bucks by not signing up with Blockbuster at all, and that is true as well. I spend a lot of time watching movies with my girlfriend, however, and so this plan sounds especially good to me, but it should be noted that you will only be saving money if you would have likely paid more for the same service anyway.

In addition, Blockbuster also has promotional codes that I found online. One of them is FRIENDS, which will supposedly get you your first month free. I don't know if it actually works, but I assume that it would. Why would the internet lie to me? :-)
posted by shamedsteven @ 5:08 PM   0 comments
A New Template
I saw this template, and it caught my eye. It is simple, and yet, I think, very nice. If you want, let me know what you think of it.

Much thanks to Isnaini for providing quality free templates to the blogging world.
posted by shamedsteven @ 12:32 PM   0 comments
Saving Money at Disneyland
This deal is probably only useful if you live in Southern California (and in fact, you can only utilize it if you live in certain zip codes), but I thought that I'd post about it anyway in the hope that it would be useful.

Costco is currently selling four Disneyland tickets for the price of $119, which is approximately a 50% savings off of even the Southern California discounted tickets at the gate.

The only real caveat to the issue, other than having to be a Costco member to purchase the tickets, is that the same person needs to use them for all four days. So, if you have say, a family of four, you will need to purchase four of these packages.

But, if you think that you will be going to Disneyland four times in the next several months, it is certainly a much cheaper way to do so than buying tickets at the front gate, or even buying a seasonal pass. In fact, an added plus to buying through Costco is that you will not have "black-out" dates where you can't get in with your seasonal pass for free.
posted by shamedsteven @ 10:16 AM   0 comments
The Perils of Saving Money on Clothing
The author of The Daily Dump has written up a wonderfully funny post in which he describes the perils of trying to buy a new suit for a discounted price. Here is an excerpt:

"But now I am faced with back-to-back events, Saturday and Sunday, both of which will likely have many similar attendees. And I will be a lot of things in this life, but I refuse to be 'the guy who wears the same suit with a different tie to a gala the day after he wore the suit to a separate gala the day before.' Just like I refuse to be the guy who falls for his favorite hooker. It's tacky."

You can read the entire post here.
posted by shamedsteven @ 9:42 AM   0 comments
Monday, June 12, 2006
A Person the Credit Cards Would Love to Have as a Customer
What follows is an excerpt from here:

"TOKYO (Reuters) - A Japanese man who robbed a post office returned more money than he stole and turned himself in after deciding to come clean for the sake of his girlfriend.
The 33-year-old stole 340,000 yen ($2,300) at knifepoint from a post office in western Tokyo in March. Ridden with guilt, he went back to the post office at the end of May and left 350,000 yen in an envelope on the counter before running off."

Let me first say that I am glad that he came clean. Once you start to disregard your conscience, it is very difficult to start up again. What is fascinating to me, however, is that fact that he chose to pay it back with interest. This is truly a repentant soul.

It occurs to me, however, that perhaps post offices shouldn't have so much easily stealable cash. If you're the post office, why do you even need that much green, or blue, or whatever color yen is? Or, at the very least, you could invest in a safe. Call me crazy (and be on the lookout for playing with words ahead), but in a sense, it doesn't make much sense to leave that many cents lying around.

Finally, it should be noted that he did it for his girlfriend. My first reaction was, "Aw! Isn't that sweet!" But as I thought about it more, I began to wonder about the whole story. Was it a "I love her so much that I can't bear for her to be in a relationship with a thief," kind of thing, or was it a "For crying out loud, I can't take any more nagging about stealing it. FINE! I'll take it back!" kind of thing?

Only time will tell.
posted by shamedsteven @ 1:26 PM   1 comments
Hidden Fees for Credit Cards
Consumerism Commentary recently ran an excellent series of hidden ways that credit cards make money off of the consumer. If you are in a similar financial boat as I am in (i.e. a sinking one), I encourage you go over to that site and check them out, as they are stupidly easy ways to be forced to give the credit cards more money than you absolutely have to.
posted by shamedsteven @ 10:08 AM   0 comments
Friday, June 09, 2006
Discounts on Flying
John Battelle has come across a website that has started tracking highs and lows for plane fares, so that we as consumers may know approximately when the cheapest time to fly is. The program is currently in its beta phase, but I anticipate that this program, upon completion, will be a valuable resource to anyone who flies regularly.
posted by shamedsteven @ 5:20 PM   0 comments
Last Night
In an effort to speak about things that will hopefully have an impact on my career, I will write about what I did last night.

Was it illegal? Did it involve cloak and dagger? Was an Osborne involved?

The answer to all of the above is no.

As I have stated previously, I am planning on a career in the performing arts, either by singing or acting or some combination of the two. Unfortunately, the arts are not necessarily the best way to make money, especially for those of us just starting out. It is because of this that I currently have a solid job making solid money so that I can solidify my financial position (solidly :-) ). However, I believe that I took a step last night that will, if nothing else, look good on a resume.

I was able to sing the National Anthem at a professional baseball game.

Now, some of you will of course ask, "Did you get to sing for the San Diego Padres, who are arguably the best team in professional sports?" Sadly, the answer to that question would be no.

There are, apparently, other professional baseball leagues which are kind of on par with AAA (minor league) baseball teams. I got to sing for one of their games.

While this did not pay anything (other than free seats, which I'm sure a Mastercard commercial would call priceless), I am confident that having this on my resume will perhaps provide future work. I anticipate that it will go something like this:

Me: I sang the National Anthem at a kind of professional baseball game.
Prospective Employer: I would like to bear your children.
Me: Sir, I think that that's inappropriate.
Prospective Employer: You're fired!
Me: You never think about my feelings!

And then I'll have some kind of sexual harassment lawsuit that I can milk for millions of dollars so that I can continue to sing and act for free.

It's genius. Why didn't I think of that before?

But seriously, it was a lot of fun, and I am looking forward to when I get to do it again later this month.
posted by shamedsteven @ 2:54 PM   0 comments
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
June Update
Here is an update on how it's coming with the credit card payments. After doing a balance transfer to a lower APR card, I am particularly pleased to see that Chase has a zero balance now.

Chase - $0 :-)
Orchard Bank - $25.44
PPBC - $740*
Discover - $900*
Providian - $900*
Citibank - $1500*
Aspire - $2033
Capital One - $2953
MBNA - $4224.43
B of A - $4400

Total: $17,675.87
Last Month's Total: $18,343.03
Percent Reduced By: 3.6%

That's not too bad for one month, I think. I'm pleased.

*These balances have not had the interest rate applied to them after payment yet, which is probably going to fudge up my figures down the line, and is something that I should wait for in the future, but I was just excited to see what I had paid down. What? I'm excited about paying it off!
posted by shamedsteven @ 9:56 AM   0 comments
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
A fellow blogger has encouraged others to sit down and to think about what goals they have for their sites, and I took his challenge as an opportunity to consider how I'd like to shape this piece of how I see the world: my blog.

1) I would like to see my readership grow by ten percent a month. I will accomplish this through developing relationships with other bloggers as well as writing valuable content worth reading (that is part of the point, after all, right?)
2) I would like to see my Adsense revenue grow by twenty percent a month, which should be relatively easy to achieve, especially as I am making so little at it right now :-). I will accomplish this by sticking to primarily the same subject so that the ads will be what the readers are looking for.
3) I would like to develop as a writer, and while this is a much more subjective, and therefore immeasurable, goal, I am already seeing improvements.

Those are my top three. While there are certainly more, I will be spending the most time in the coming days to see these ones through.

While writing this, it occurs to me that writing takes an act of ego in that, by writing, you assume that what you have written ought to be read. Hopefully with the development of number 3, this will increasingly be the case with this site.
posted by shamedsteven @ 2:42 PM   3 comments
Carpooling Saves Money,
But it runs the risk of being a pain in the butt.

I am fortunate. My girlfriend and I work in the same office building, and so we alternate cars by either the day or by weeks, and so, between us, we tend to only have to purchase a tank of gas per car every other week, which is especially nice with Southern California gas prices being as high as they are.

Also, our company provides a discount to a parking garage. The girlfriend and I alternate months on paying that, and so it's only about thirty-seven or thirty-eight bucks a month for parking.

All in all, it's a pretty sweet deal. But I wonder how well it would work for people who don't work at the same place. It seems like it would be a huge pain in the behind to try to work out schedules. It's pretty great for me, but I wonder how it is for other people.

Do any people reading this carpool? If so, how does it work out for you?
posted by shamedsteven @ 2:19 PM   0 comments
Monday, June 05, 2006
The Artist's Life
I currently work a desk job, but my true love and desire is in the arts, particularly with singing and acting. What I have come to find out, though I always had it in the back of my mind, is that it is very difficult to make a living at either of these, unless you get "discovered." Therefore, due to the nasty habit that I have of getting hungry three times a day, I work a desk job that slowly robs me of my sanity.

Recently, though, I have come to be a part in two local productions, and I am either the lead or one of the leads in these shows. As far as monetary ramifications, I will receive a $200 stipend for one show, and I will receive nothing in a monetary sense for the other.

While it is exciting to finally get an acting job that pays, I find that it puts my passion into a crucible of sorts to test whether or not I really desire to do what I have always had the desire to do.

The economics of the show that I am getting paid for works out thusly: It is a twelve hour commitment per week for rehearsals, and it will be about sixteen hours a week for performances. This doesn't count the hour of driving time per rehearsal, as well as, let's conservatively say, the ten hours working of on my part at home. With seven weeks of rehearsals and six weeks of performances, the total number of hours is somewhere in the ballpark of 230 hours of work, which works out to $0.869 per hour.

But it could be argued that is time that I likely would not have been making money anyway, so even a slight intake of money is better than none.

What I am fortunately finding out through this whole process, however, is that the money is just the icing on the already incredibly delicious cake. I would do it for free, and, in fact, I will be for the other show this summer.

It is with great happiness that I observe that I am still in love with what I have always loved. Now, let's just see if I can make working at a theatre a viable economic alternative to working at a desk; if I can do that, I will be, of all men, most happy.
posted by shamedsteven @ 2:02 PM   0 comments
Paying Down Balances
It is with a happy heart that I announce that I was able to pay down some of my cards by a good amount. Plus, it just does my heart good to see that my Chase balance is down at zero from the balance transfer.

Ah. It is good to take joy in little improvements in life, particularly those that improve my net worth. :-)

I haven't figured out the exact figures just yet, but when I do I will post them here.
posted by shamedsteven @ 10:06 AM   0 comments
Friday, June 02, 2006
Back at Work
Well, I'm back at work just in time for the weekend.

Is there anything sweeter than than the first day of your work week being the last one, especially if you have vacation time so that you get paid to not be at work? Can I write a coherent sentence.

We'll just have to see.
posted by shamedsteven @ 5:18 PM   0 comments
About Me
Name: Steven shamedsteven
Home: San Diego
About Me: Well, boys and girls, I, like a whole bunch of other people, made a series of "conscious, deliberate mistakes" and have ended up with a buttload of debt. What is chronicled here are some musings about the journey out.
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