Thursday, 20 AUG 2015 :: Notes on several topics

  • Christmas begins in AUGUST! 
I subscribe to American Express's OPEN forum emails and the one I read today included an article about preparing for Christmas sales now.  (the link is in my Crafts Explored blog post for today)  I was going for a September start, and will be planning for Christmas all year as time goes I can understand the early focus. 

Small businesses need a little bit of time to prepare for the holidays, right?  :-)  Not really.  The smaller you are, I think, the more you have to plan for the whole year.  Of course, I am aware large companies have to pay a lot of employees with their profits, and if there are no profits, the employees have to go.  I guess we ALL have to plan our holiday selling strategies... sales, coupons, advertising, marketing, social media efforts, free advertising, and any other efforts you might make toward increasing your sales.

I understand, from last year's studying on the subject, that you have to submit possible product suggestions for holiday columns to individual writers during the summer... that is how far ahead you have to be on that topic!

Today I read some articles about
  • Turning your hobbies into businesses/income
One was at and the other was a FORBES article link from the fiverr article. I had some problems finding the links to the article, but they tested out OK, so I hope they work for whoever reads this post.

This is what Etsy does for creative craftspeople who are searching for a sales outlet.
It is what fiverr does for other skilled people who want to expand their reach.
It is the goal of everyone looking for extra income.

Doing what you love in order to provide what you need to live, that is employment heaven.  :-)

I found a saying in an ad somewhere (a long time ago) and I taped it to my checkbook.  I says a job you love is never work....  good comparison.

  • I was also looking into a secured credit card.
I am trying to find a way into traditional credit (I don't know why... it just seems like I should own one credit card in my lifetime, which is near its end.  :-)  So I keep trying to get a secured credit card.

Today I discovered all the fees.

Not good.

The first fee is the annual payment... $29 a year on my info sheet.

If you pay your charges in full before the deadline, there is no interest payment... BUT the due dates seem to vary from 24 to 30 days... no first of the month or same day each month.  I see why there is so much to complain about.  I am wondering if the due date is calculated for each individual purchase. If I buy something on the first of the month, is that payment due by the 23rd???

It may sound funny to all you credit monsters for me to be wondering this, but I haven't had a credit card before... I have no idea how it works.  I only know what I have read in the papers or heard on the news.  :-)  I guess I should include the internet in that equation.  No one says credit cards are great, they say they are a survival necessity, required suffering.

For the card I was looking at, the annual interest rate is 18.99% for normal transactions, and for cash advances it is 23.99%...  ALL the interest rates vary according to the Prime Rate...  and, the minimum interest is $2.  So, what it is saying is that for every $100 I borrow/use, I pay $20-$25 a year for the least, that is what I think it is saying. 

If you are late making a payment, they will charge you $38.  With an irregular payment due date, that can become an expensive detail.  And, if there is some reason your payment gets returned (?), you will be charged up to $35 for that trespass. 

I read one suggestion along my path of discovery that  said it was a good idea to just send in the payment as soon as you can.  I can see how that would avoid any problems for the cardholder.

For this card, you can't attach the payments to any existing account you may have at the bank.  No automatic payment option to make sure there are no late payments or returned payments that can be corrected.

There is no going over the amount you have secured for the card overdraft options.  I think this is fair... you don't have a good financial history, and can't get credit through the normal channels.  That makes the annual fee less objectionable, too. 

Looking at the high fees for cash advances, I don't know why anyone would do that... I hope I never do.  If I have it as my emergency fund, it may become a solution, but I think it would have to be a last resort.

A lot of small business adventures are started with credit cards.  It isn't something that was available to me.  A secured card was the only possibility, but I was never able to save enough money to get one. 

For me, it was a way I could buy a computer, a smartphone, a better camera... 

At one point, $500 would have been enough.  Now I would need a lot more. You can't buy a smartphone for $500... or a decent laptop... or a great camera for uploading things to the internet.  And the software you need is a LOT more than that.  I think I will need at least a $1000 limit, but would be better off with $5000.  I wonder what the monthly payments are on a $5000 credit debt.

  • Becoming a Working Together Member
I am very close to getting PayPal purchasing links on the website for becoming a member.

Monthly payment options are important to me. I wanted to have an office set up for processing them, but haven't been able to get that far.  Online payments are an important part of the outreach for WT products and services.  Auto-payments would be a great solution.

I need to figure out what I can do in my situation... how to best process payments and deliver the merchandise that comes with each purchase. 

Updating my pricing is the first step... costs have changed since I did that the last time.  I don't have a financial back-up.  Fees will have to cover expenses... and I am not sure how much online activity requires.  I have read that it can equal a big part of a business budget.

I want to create a better description of what fees will cover, too.

This is all in the process of being done.

19 AUG 2015 :: Conflicting goals

With the heat too much for me to go running around, I decided to get some other things done.

In my quest to make sure I don't spend money that has been budgeted for other things, I have been holding off on going to any stores.  Today was my planned day to shop because it is the day of my favorite shopping event (the Salvation Army's 50% off day at their Thrift Stores).  Near the thrift store there is also a WinCo food store, where I wanted to get enough food to get by for now.  With the heat rising too high for me to go out, I decided I better figure out some meals with what I already had.   I am beginning to feel like this is a survival challenge, but I'm not sure who I am competing with!  :-)

  • Money
  • Food
  • Health
  • Weight-loss
  • Exercise
  • Emergency Preparations
  • Budgeting
  • Crafts
  • Online Sales

Lots of goals that sometimes interfere with each other, and all take time to deal with.  Which one do I focus on first?

It often seems like I have to focus on one goal for a day or a week or a month...and all the others have to wait.  Finding a way to prioritize my goals has always been the first challenge, the second challenge has always been money for what was needed to accomplish a goal.

It isn't easy to achieve in poverty, within your personal skills and limitations, but we try our best to find a way.  I still remember biographies I read where business were created from the smallest amounts of money and the need/ability to sell.

Right now, my focus is on money, food, and weight-loss, including building an emergency pantry, finding healthy recipes, eating smaller portions, and stretching my money as far as it can go.

I don't know if any of those things matter to you, but I will share my experiences so you can see what it is like for another person. 

In my constant focus on food, I often wonder if I am a "foodie" or scarred by years of poverty and the ongoing struggle to find enough food to get through each month with my children.  Creating as much of an emergency food pantry as possible has been an ongoing priority whenever I was able to set up a household.  Emergency water supplies has also been part of the preparation process.

When you have children, the priorities are urgent.  When it is just you, the options change, but the basic needs continue.  We have to find a way to eat, a way to prepare food, a way to stretch our food budgets, and some way to store our food supplies, if we can.  Eating is a human requirement... we cannot survive without it.

As a senior, I am entering a different struggle for survival...and health issues affect my ability to create solutions to my survival problems.  Here I keep reminding myself of Colonel Sanders and Mary Kay and Grandma Moses (?) and others who started or succeeded in their senior years.  With the internet as a sales opportunity, I am hopeful I can rise economically once I discover the best path to that goal.

So I have been trying to find that key to success for me... what direction is the most important, and which direction can I actually afford to go in?  I am hopeful that my continued efforts will lead to some level of financial blessing and the establishment of what will go on beyond my life.  Conflicting goals has been a challenge since the beginning of Working Together, and it still is.  Like Edison, I know the thousands of ways that don't work.

Pray that GOD will open the way to a better future for me and for all those I planned to help. Thanks.

18 AUG 2015 :: Housing and Immigration

I was browsing Facebook earlier and came across some items of interest to me...  immigration remedies of Donald Trump and Public Housing.

I responded to the idea that just because babies happen to be born here they automatically become citizens.  I have considered this issue before.  I think it must be from way back when, maybe when we first settled the US... to assure the new residents that they would be US citizens instead of English or French or whatever else existed.

I don't really know the history, and I didn't look it up because it wasn't something that was important enough to me to do that.  I am sure others have already done that.  My view is that just being born in a foreign country doesn't make a child a citizen of that country, they are a citizen of the country their mother belongs to.  I hate to think of my child not being a US citizen if I happen to be traveling and it decided to be born.

I have heard about dual citizenship... but not sure of the details...whether the child becomes a citizen of the parent's different countries, or of the mother's original citizen country and the place it is born.

This is an issue because of all the laws we have to deal with now... for courts, for benefits, for education, for a lot of costly things.  If money wasn't involved, would anyone care?

It is easy to dismiss the humanity of so many people because they are not like you, are from a different place, speak a different language.  The more fearful we become, the more desperate we become... and we make bad decisions when we are desperate.

America doesn't have to fight much of the battles it has created with the immigration dilemma.  We can register people who want to enter the country, take a zillion forms of ID to make sure we can track them if they decide to do wrong  --  like fingerprints, hand prints, voice prints, videos and facial recognition and body shape details, DNA, tracking information like DOB (and birth certificates), family contacts, license numbers (International Drivers Licenses/IDs could be required), medical histories, education histories, create tax account numbers for work records and tax payments, etc.  I don't think too many criminals are going to willingly go through that kind of process. 

Good people who just want to provide for their families and escape the horrors of their home countries will apply, will go to meet their loved ones already in the US, and then try to find jobs.  With language barriers, they are not going to start out with the jobs everyone else wants.  These people will not be a burden on the tax systems, they will add to its finances. They will find their own and build a life there.  Most of these workers are just trying to help their families, work hard, and stay out of trouble...they contribute to America!


In the public housing arena, I came across a headline that said someone making over a half million dollars a year was still in a public housing unit...

I found it hard to believe, but in the limited details of the article, it was mentioned that the family moved into the unit in 1974 and wasn't over the income guidelines until 2011 (approximately) wasn't mentioned what the income came from.  Maybe they have an internet fortune...all from a computer in their den.  It is also true that everyone in a house is considered income for the government.  Maybe the money belongs to one of the kids... 40 years in one apartment would suggest there might be kids in the picture.

People seem to think that poor families are somehow not like them... that they don't have family and friends, that they don't have lives, that they don't become part of the neighborhood, build memories, create a life.

I also commented that a 40 year old apartment probably wasn't worth much...
I mentioned that they could be in a building that was part subsidized and part not subsidized.
Maybe they could purchase their own unit, or the whole building...
Maybe the residents are old and disabled... ready to retire... have most of their money from all the things they struggled for in those forty years...

The possibilities are really endless.

I did notice the article cited over a million HUD units throughout the US and its territories... there was also a graphic about the how many of those were over the income guidelines, with one category at $1 to $10K over... imagine how many of those people were just a few dollars over the limits... should they be kicked onto the street for it?  What if they lose their job because they were kicked out?  Then they would have to get on the ten-year waiting list all over again.  Not a smart idea.

The other thing I noticed in the graphics was that in the HUD units that had people over the income guidelines there was over half a million people on the waiting lists.  I think the problem is a bit bigger than just one family having a lot of money suddenly...  maybe they won the lottery, or inherited something, or won a lawsuit.   I wonder....

Ownership is my personal viewpoint... people need to become permanently established so they can build their lives in one place.  Homeless families become a different statistic if they begin a new life with home ownership. 

Government subsidies are when the resident pays 30% of their income and the government supplements the remainder of the rents due.  Maybe the government can find a way to make a mortgage 30% of the resident's income and not have to pay money to supplement it... the government would be getting income instead of subsidizing housing.

I think there are better options... but we don't look for them.  We just complain and create media headlines.  I suppose there are other political issues involved, too... like who gets the contracts and who makes the money and who influences the decisions and... but long-term solutions are what we need, for housing and a lot of other problems we face as a country.

What would you suggest?

17 AUG 2015 :: What is the most important thing in the world?

What is the most important thing in the world?

It is much harder to answer this question than you think.

In our "modern" societies, money seems to be at the top of the list.  If you don't have it, it can seem like money is all that matters.  If you have a lot of it, you get pretty attached to what it can do for your life.  I haven't seen too many people WANT to lose the comforts they have risen to.

In equaling human value to money, we have set up a system of national and international opinions. 

Poor people are never seen as valuable.  If there isn't anyone less than you, you are at the bottom of the economic scale, so you have to make sure there is someone lesser than you. 

People who cost too much to keep around are easy to let starvation, if need be...and against their will, the will of those who love them and would be willing to care for them, by lethal injection, by making them feel that they are a burden on society and need to be willing to die, by murdering them, by profiting by their slavery, by harvesting their organs and selling them, by not treating them, by doing a lot of things that are not worthy of any humane society.

Money seems to create our value systems, including how we value ourselves.  We seem to think that people are "successful" to the degree they have money.

We see in America and other places in the world that money issues turn seemingly nice people into really horrible people.  The fear of not having enough, not staying at the comfort level you are use to, can make men and women change... 
  • There has to be someone to blame,
  • someone to make this painful change go away,
  • some way to make the government provide what we want,
  • and some way to make poor people stop taking all the money we need for ourselves. 
Riots happen when our lifestyles are forcibly reduced.

In socialist countries it is called "austerity measures," but it really means the government is going broke.  When the government goes broke, so do its citizens.

In America, austerity measures would affect Social Security and Medicare, Senior meal programs, Welfare, Food Stamps (SNAP), WIC, and Medicaid, School Lunch programs, School Health Clinics, Alternative Schools, Homeless programs, subsidies for housing, transportation, and home ownership, Early Childhood Education, all the charities that operate with government funding, and more than I can think of right now.

We aren't an official government-run country, yet, but we are almost there.  Our taxes keep rising, and our personal incomes keep falling.  This seems, to me, to be a direct road into a government-run lifestyle.  The last I calculated it, taxes are taking half of some people's incomes already, some pay less and some pay more, but it seems to me that EVERYONE is paying too much!

When you try to decide what the most important thing in the world really is, it is impossible to decide.

If there is no food, then food rises up to the top of the list. 
No water?  Right up there. 
How about no air to breathe? 

( How would any of us solve these problems ? ! )

What about freedom?  America is the land of the free, right?  Have you looked at our country lately?  We have some serious problems and they are reducing our freedoms every day.  We sacrifice freedom for money, for a job, for public safety, for the rights of a few instead of the rights of most, for fifteen minutes of fame......

What about our personal dreams?  Are they the most important thing in the world?  Maybe just in our world...

The battles between good people and those who will do "whatever it takes" to get whatever they want are increasing. 

People in China and India can take away our lives by hacking our do we protect ourselves from things like that?  Most ordinary people have no idea. 

What about the rapidly rising problem of gangs?  Shootings are growing and innocent people are caught up in the violence and drama.  America is becoming the land of the gang lord, not the land of the free. 

Those without any sense of morality are overcoming our children, our families, our churches, our schools, our lives.  Watching or reading the news is becoming a lesson in crime.  Watching TV and listening to the radio is becoming an X-rated encounter.  Without a biblical sense of morality, there are no guidelines, no boundaries, no ways to measure right and wrong, and no respect for other human beings.  There is nothing to use as a guide.  What good people consider harmful for human consumption becomes the norm.

What IS the most important thing in the world?

What one thing can't we live without?
What one thing is everything else built upon?
What ONE thing matters more than anything else?

I don't think it's money, even though money is a tool to make life better for ourselves and others.  If there wasn't any money, what would matter most?

It is a hard question to answer... even if you say "GOD" is the most important thing in the world.

Before there was a printing press, there was only what people shared with each other, what they learned from the rabbi, the priest, the pastor, the teacher, the parent...  is there a GOD if there isn't a Bible to read?  Is education important?  Reading?  Or just good leaders?

Is the internet replacing the printing press?  Can we rely on it?  How will we know if something has been altered? words and meanings changed?  if something is true?    The internet is making us vulnerable to coercion, manipulation, bad judgments, wrong decisions, all based on the possibility that our sources will be compromised.

We are heading into a world that none of us can even imagine right now.  Who will be our leaders?  Will their decisions be based on money, on GOD, on their own self-interests, the needs of others, moral principles or lusts?

What do you think the most important thing in the world is?