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?
You can email me at steven.jericho@gmail.com
Monday, July 31, 2006
The Move
Well, the move is just about over. Lord knows how I managed to keep so much stuff in the little space that I had in my former room. I have just a few items left at the old place that I still need to take, as well as a massive cleaning project that needs to get done before the end of the first.

My family came down to help me clean, and I am and will be forever grateful to them for that kindness. The hauling, lifting, and carrying would have been replaced by cursing, crying, and "suiciding" had I had to do it by myself. It was an exhausting task, and one that I wouldn't wish on anybody.

Needless to say, I've been dragging all weekend, and even, or should I say, especially today as I have made it back to work. What can I say? The prospect of more working after a weekend spent working is not a particularly appealing concept.

But, as my mom used to tell me, somehow life goes on. And so I'm off to get all my end of the month stuff done here before having a rehearsal and then trying to clean up what I can at the old place to salvage some manner of a deposit.

Wish me luck. :-)
posted by shamedsteven @ 11:58 AM   0 comments
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Moving Day Is Here
Hi All,

To those who come here regularly, I just wanted to drop a note to say that I will be moving, with the help of my dad and brother, tomorrow for the majority of the day. Due to this, I will most likely be unable to post.

I hope that you all have terrific weekends!
posted by shamedsteven @ 1:18 PM   4 comments
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
With Moving Comes Apprehension
In some ways, I wish that I could have stayed at my old apartment. Well, I wish that I could have continued to pay the same amount of rent that I am now. The apartment itself is nice enough, but I suspect that it is a mere five minute drive to the center of hell considering how hot is has been there lately.

The new location is much better in just about every standpoint, but it will also cost just about twice as much. I suspect that it will likely be worth it in that I will have a much shorter commute to work, although with the girlfriend now living further away, the carpooling may come with a greater cost of gas.

I wonder if I am just averse to change...

Ah well. Beautiful La Jolla, here I come!
posted by shamedsteven @ 4:00 PM   0 comments
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Financial Planning
My girlfriend and I met today with a financial planner that had been recommended to us. The financial planner had some good ideas about things that we needed to get started on.

One thing that she kept saying is that because we are so young, we have the option of waiting on some things, or, conversely, getting a head start on other things that will place us in a good place come the end of our lives.

It was a really informative time for me because she talked about some issues that I didn't have very much information about, such as life insurance, how a Roth IRA functions versus a 401k, and how I should be allocating my money in the plan that the company chose for me when I got hired.

She does her work for us entirely free until we start making money off of things that she has chosen for us. I suspect that most financial planners would work this way as well, as there would be a huge eventual margin for getting paid off. So, for those of you just getting started off like I am, I would recommend trying to find someone like a financial planner to give you advice and to help you make the most money that you can with the money that you are making.
posted by shamedsteven @ 1:07 PM   7 comments
Monday, July 24, 2006
Something Kuwait Has Right
Due to their record profits from oil, the government of Kuwait has announced that they will give each citizen six hundred and ninety bucks a piece.

Wow. With our national debt being so huge, I can't even imagine America being in a place that they would even consider such a thing. That's amazing.
posted by shamedsteven @ 4:19 PM   0 comments
Friday, July 21, 2006
Acting Payday
I received my first payment for acting the other day. One of the shows that I am in now pays their actors, and just recently received the check. I rushed and made a photocopy of it, and I intend to frame it.

While it barely covers gas costs (the theatre is on the other side of the metropolis that I live in), I am extremely glad to receive the couple hundred dollars they agreed to pay me. This money will be useful in paying my higher rent with the move.

But, with the pay being so low versus the amount of time expended, none of the actors are really doing it for the money. I know that for myself, even this token of payment makes me feel like I am taking a step in the right direction with my career, even if it is a baby one. This payment is symbolic for me as a step in the right direction, and it encourages to keep following my dreams.

I know that sounds cheesy, but, hey, we've all got to start somewhere, right?
posted by shamedsteven @ 11:12 AM   1 comments
Thursday, July 20, 2006
HSBC Online
I'm having a bit of trouble with my HSBC account due to the fact that I haven't received my account number in the mail, and I don't think that I was given one when I signed up under the auspices that I would be sent one in the mail.

This leaves me unable to access my account.

While I didn't open my account with a whole lot of money, it's a little disconcerting to be unable to get to it.

I'll have to give them a call and see if we can't figure something out.

I am unimpressed with their service as of yet, but perhaps their customer service will redeem them. I find this unlikely, however, as I have already sent them an email, and was told just to wait for the letter. I opened the account a month ago. You'd think that I'd have it by now.
posted by shamedsteven @ 9:21 AM   1 comments
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Why I Love My Job
So, my boss sends out an email to our department this morning stating that he has two tickets for today's Padres' game that are going to go unused unless somebody wants them. I, of course, would rather watch baseball than work, so I volunteer to take them off of his hands, to which he says okay.

I will be spending this afternoon downtown in the sun at beautiful Petco Park watching the Padres beat up on the Phillies.

Can life get better? I submit that it cannot.

And now, the haiku for this Wednesday.

So Ken Lay has died,
And his wife gets the money,
That he stole from us.
posted by shamedsteven @ 9:50 AM   1 comments
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
One Shot
As a new tactic towards paying off my debt, I think that I will implement something that occurred from time to time in my gambling days.

When you are sitting at a blackjack table, the dealer will often times joke with you that you should just take all of the money in front of you, and bet it on one hand, or "one shot" it. If you win, you double up; if you lose, you just lose your money more quickly than you would have before.

I saw few people actually bet this way for the obvious reason that nobody really wants to risk all of their money at once. They would rather get their money nickel and dimed away in the name of "fun."

Now, what does this have to do with paying off debt, you ask?

Well, I get paid, on average, twice a month with the occasional three times a month fluke. The first paycheck, especially now that I'm moving, will go towards rent and utilities and other necessities that ensure that I have somewhere to live. The second check, however, I think I am going to use to pay the minimum on most of my credit card payments, and then I'll use the rest of the paycheck to make a large payment to one of the credit cards.

While there may be better methods towards paying off debt, I like to see results, and the capacity to see a card that has a balance of $900 go to $100 or less in the space of a couple days will be a wonderful method for me to feel like I'm getting somewhere.

Money is already tight this month, so I will be unable to implement this until August. I'll let you all know how it works out.
posted by shamedsteven @ 10:22 AM   2 comments
Monday, July 17, 2006
One Thing to Do Over
As we all get older and older, a do-over is something that occurs less and less in our lives. As a child, if you serve poorly in four square for example, it is relatively easy to call "Do-Over!" and get another shot at it. As an adult, as much as I'd like to call Capital One and say claim the do-over principle, I think that it would not fall on very sympathetic ears.

This is why it is important to do the things that we have decided to do well.

Problogger is running a series of guest posts from fairly prolific bloggers that are all centered on the question, "What would you do differently if you were to start blogging all over again?"

I am finding this series very informative and educational, as I am very new to the blogging scene. Go give it a glance through; you never know what tips you might come away with.
posted by shamedsteven @ 10:53 AM   0 comments
Friday, July 14, 2006
For Those Still in College
If you're looking for an easy way to make money, my advice to you is to not get a music degree unless you really want to be a teacher or you are extraordinarily talented.

Cnn.com has posted some numbers on which majors will make you the most money right out of college. Give it a look if you have a chance.
posted by shamedsteven @ 2:31 PM   0 comments
Moving
I will be moving geographically come the end of this month. I am pretty excited about it, as I will be moving to a much nicer place, and I will be paying a very reasonable amount for it.

I am starting to wonder about how much moving will cost, however. My grandfather has a truck, and I'm trying to get my dad and my brother to bring it down to help out; however, even if that will not cost monetarily, it's going to be very costly physically. When you consider that I will have a shows and/or rehearsals going on intermittently as well, I just hope that I don't get sick, because I really couldn't have that.

When you take into account that it's looking like I'll have to take at least a partial day off of work to get the job done, there will be some monetary issues. Ah well, at least I have flex time to use.

Does anybody have any tips for saving on moving?
posted by shamedsteven @ 9:43 AM   0 comments
Thursday, July 13, 2006
A New Challenge
Actively trying to save money is a new challenge for me.

When I was growing up, the only thing that my mom wanted me to pay for was summer camp. With my attitude being, "So, you want me to pay to go to a place where I don't know anyone when I can just stay at home and watch Nick Jr. for free? Yeah, I'll get right on that," I ended up just staying at home.

My girlfriend and I have talked many times about the various ways that we are considering training our eventual children about money.

One way that we think would be good for teenagers is to, once a quarter or so, give them a lump sum of money in exchange for various chores. We would have them then use a percentage of that money for rent (to make them get used to it), a percentage for charitable giving, a percentage for savings, and so on. The catch would understandably be that they wouldn't receive any more money until next quarter.

I like this idea because I think that it would have worked well for me. While my parents did teach me some things about money, I wish that they would have shown me more. One technique that my mother used, which I'm sure was well-intentioned, was to write on my savings account statements the words "Free Money!" next to the interest earned column. The problem was that as a child, the prospect of earning ten or fifteen cents for free was not nearly as enticing as having a new book or magazine. Further, I didn't understand savings because it seemed like I always had to put stuff in, but I couldn't ever take it out. What's up with that?

My problem up until this point is that I oftentimes still had the same mindset that I did as a child, and this is how I came to have this outrageous amount of debt. I would go into a store and think, "Well, I don't have enough in my checking account for that book, but I do have enough on my credit card. Why not? They say you can use credit for investments, and this is an investment for my mind!"

I'm doing a little bit better in this regard now, and the act of thinking up ways to train my eventual kids is a terrific exercise for me to figure out how to train myself so that I can eventually find freedom. Every day is a new opportunity to re-invent how I respond to money; let's hope that I keep re-inventing myself correctly in this new challenge.
posted by shamedsteven @ 11:37 AM   3 comments
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Something Slightly Offensive
Here is something that I just saw here:

Besides providing security, NBA bodyguards have taken on additional roles in the wake of Kobe Bryant's sexual assault case.

According to a GQ story on NBA groupies, some players are asking friends or bodyguards to stand in and watch any bedroom activities that might take place on the road.That way, should an accusation surface, a witness can help sort out the truth.

For the players, writer Lisa DePaulo points out, this "isn't just kinky, it's smart business."

Wow. Call me old fashioned, but if you're that worried about besmirching your reputation and/or keeping your "hard-earned" money, you may just want to keep it in your pants. Call me a prude, but I can't believe that there are girls who are willing to have their "bedroom activities" watched by someone else.

I view this an an economic decision on the part of the players, and that just makes it worse. This is horrible, and I don't want to think about it anymore.
posted by shamedsteven @ 5:57 PM   0 comments
Talk About Bad Ideas
An Italian electronics shop made the promise that if Italy won the World Cup, customers who purchased a television would get their money back. I'm sure this seemed like a good idea at the time as Italy was a pretty big underdog. Of course, we all know how that story ends.

Now, it's looking like it will cost the retailer over twelve million pounds.

I guess you can't blame them for trying, right?

Here's the link.
posted by shamedsteven @ 2:45 PM   2 comments
What Do You Do With Your Change?
I have always had a habit of collecting my change. Generally I would just have a little cup, and when it got full, I would roll it and take it to the bank, much to displeasure of the tellers.

However, for the last several months, I have been saving all of my change in an empty water jug, like the kind you find on water coolers. I don't always have a lot of change, but it makes me happy to see that money grow little by little.

And what is my plan for that money? I want to use whatever I save to help on the honeymoon when my girlfriend and I get married.

Now, some of you, I'm sure, will say, why not roll it every once in a while, and stick it in a high interest savings account. While this isn't a bad idea, I like the fact that once I put it in the jar, it becomes a little less accessable to get out, and, because I know that, it's reasonably easy to just forget about the money.

Like a grown up piggy bank, I like that once I put the money inside I can just forget about it. Eventually I will have to deal with it for sure, but in the meantime, it's fun to watch it grow.
posted by shamedsteven @ 1:18 PM   0 comments
Wednesday Haiku
Work work work work work,
It steals a part of my soul,
And I can't whistle.
posted by shamedsteven @ 10:55 AM   0 comments
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
FREE!
I forgot to post it earlier, and for that I apologize, but for all of those people out there with sweet tooths, 7-11, in honor of the date, offers free 7.11 ounce slurpees. All you have to do is go in and ask for one.

The only drawback is that they might run out of cups, at which point the promotion ends.

Mmm...free simple sugar goodness.
posted by shamedsteven @ 1:42 PM   0 comments
Boomerang Generation?
There is a new post in the Wikipedia which states that those of us born between 1981 and 1986 are being called the Boomerang Generation due to our proclivity towards moving home after we graduate from college.

As I'm sure many of us are feeling, this is due to the fact that the wages that we are being offered as a starting point for our careers are not large enough to pay off the debt that we have accumulated, in addition to a variety of other factors.

Penny Foolish posted about a similar topic today, except that hers was about a specific guest on Suze Orman's show.

If we are all as hard off as the article suggests, this begs many questions. How will we save for retirement if we are living paycheck to paycheck now? Without savings, will social security be enough? What changes can we affect in our lifestyles now to provide for our futures?

Unfortunately, if you're reading this, you likely have a personal finance blog of your own, which means that you are already thinking about these things, and you likely have a plan of your own. However, I would have to imagine that most of the population is without a plan, which will leave us, as a society, poorer and poorer.

I had heard that a lot of people in my age group move home after college. Heck, even a couple of my buddies from high school have done that; however, it is kind of sobering that people are starting to title our generation specifically in accordance to that aspect of our lifestyle. It makes me want to be a better person.
posted by shamedsteven @ 11:58 AM   0 comments
A Day Being Sick
Does anybody else have problems coming back to work after taking a sick day? Even as I was lying at home in bed yesterday, I found myself refreshed with the amount of possibility that the world had again.

And now, as I take a little break from work to write this, I feel that I am once again thrown off of a boat with a millstone tied around my neck.

Oh well. Back to work. One day I'll find a better way.
posted by shamedsteven @ 10:27 AM   0 comments
Friday, July 07, 2006
Pay per Post
There appears to be a lot of controversy around various personal finance sites about the new PayPerPost system. Many people consider it to be a very bad thing, even calling those who would do it sell-outs and spammers. Financial Freedumb and Make Love not Debt both express some strong opinions about the issue, and I'm sure many others do as well.

One of the big issues that seems to be a concern is that of credibility. If someone is paying you to write something, how can your reader truly discern your intentions in what you are writing about?

While this may be a valid concern if all of your reviews are very optimistic, from my understanding of the site, you are not necessarily supposed to give a positive review, you must just review the product, and leave that posted on your site for a specific amount of time. Therefore, one's credibility need not be called into question. If you like it, give it the thumbs up. If not, say it stinks. Either way, the writer is fulfilling his part of the bargain.

While on the topic of blogging for money, let me say this: one of the biggest ideas in our post-modern world is that things that are genuine and authentic are valuable. If one is blogging for money (directly, as opposed to Adsense or other ad income sources), one appears to be not writing for the sake of writing, but writing for the sake of getting paid. I don't really have an easy conclusion for this one, and this will be a difficult hurdle for bloggers to traverse should PayPerPost really take off.

One possible answer, though, is what if what you are getting paid to write about directly affects the content of your blog? For example, if I were to write an article about how to grow celery on this site, it wouldn't really fit, but if I were to write an article about how well or poorly HSBC Online Banking works, that would fit pretty well. If the topic goes with the theme of your site, shouldn't getting paid to write something that enhances your site's niche be a possible and even likely option? Why not get paid to write about what you would write about anyway?

Unfortunately, from what I've seen of the current opportunities on PayPerPost, they are too random to really be of value to me on this site. However, should that site take off and provide valuable topics for me to write about, that certainly would be a consideration.

I await your chastisement in the comments. :-)
posted by shamedsteven @ 2:35 PM   0 comments
Google Adsense
For those of you who are signed up with the Google Adsense program, be of good cheer. I am here to report that I just received my first check.

I am sure some of you are thinking, "He just started this site a month ago, how did he get paid already?" The answer to that is simply that I have another blog that highlights a different area of my life that I have been working on since January. So, if you do the math, it actually took me five months to get up to the minimum payout, which some would argue is not the best economic choice to make money.

But these sites for me are not just about making money. They are about writing and learning and making friends. Any of these three are larger reasons for blogging than making money is.

I just wanted to encourage those of you who feel like getting paid from Adsense is far away that it really does happen if you are patient and tenacious enough.
posted by shamedsteven @ 10:29 AM   1 comments
Thursday, July 06, 2006
For Those Who Have Gambled
There's a new blog of the day on Blogger.com which is about a guy who has managed to get ninety-one grand in debt through gambling.

His posts are entertaining and provide insight into life through the eyes of a gambler. As I think of money that I have lost through gambling, I read through his analysis of the psychology of the gambler and realize how much of it has been true for myself at some point in the past.

Here is the link.
posted by shamedsteven @ 11:01 AM   2 comments
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Haiku Day
Freedom is coming,
It washes over my soul,
And cleanses mistakes.
posted by shamedsteven @ 1:44 PM   0 comments
A Short Work Week
I love it when we get days off during the week.

For example, this week, we had to work Monday, but it was announced part way through the day that we could leave at lunch time should our work load permit. We then had yesterday off entirely.

So, today, I've got work, and it felt like a Monday, until I realized that I only had two more days this week that I have to work.

And the fact that I get paid for it all is the greatest gift yet.

Ah. Like so many fast food patrons in the commercials, I'm lovin' it.

Now if only I could convince them to serve margaritas at work, that would completely perfect it. :-)
posted by shamedsteven @ 10:24 AM   3 comments
Monday, July 03, 2006
Chase Manhattan Corp
Though I did get "Chased," I have just paid off what I assume will be the very last amount that I will have on that card for the foreseeable future.

Even though it was mostly a balance transfer that got me there, I am very excited that when I go online to look at my Chase credit card statement, it shows a big goose egg. It's always great to look and see that my debts are going down, but this zero means a lot.

I'll find freedom yet.
posted by shamedsteven @ 10:48 AM   2 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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