Depressing News

I hate to have two “downer” posts in a row, but I just can’t help myself. People suck. Bad. I don’t even know why I bother reading the news anymore as it just reminds me how broken this world really is. Here’s the latest reason (via a CNN article) I’ve lost hope for humanity…

Janitor finds mentally disabled people locked in basement; 3 arrested.

Three people have been arrested and accused of holding the disabled people captive and stealing their Social Security checks.

Authorities believe the four were trapped in the tiny room for up to a week. Ray Evers said they suffered from bed sores and “injuries that are very, very hard to describe.”

Seriously? How messed up do you have to be to kidnap, torture, and steal from a mentally disabled person?

Yesterday an Indy Car driver died while racing, and while that story is sad enough, it’s not as sad as the horrible jokes people made about his death in a YouTube comments thread.

Last week eight people were killed in a Salon in California.

We could even take this depressing news and relate it to personal finance. Big banks are trying to nickel and dime us, Ponzi Schemes are as popular as Justin Bieber’s hair, and a Chase staff member had a customer arrested for trying to cash a legitimate check. Check out the horrific details of that last story….

Njoku was taken to jail on June 24, 2010, which was a Thursday. The next day, Chase Special Investigations, realized it was a mistake. The check was legitimate. The Investigator called Auburn Police and left a message with the detective handling the case, but it was her day off. So Njoku stayed in jail for the entire weekend. Finally, on Monday, he was released.

[Meanwhile]

Njoku’s car had been towed from the bank parking lot and his check seized as evidence. “I had to wait a couple of weeks [for the check]” he said, “and my car got sold/auctioned off.”

Njoku says he didn’t have the money to pay the impound fees and fines to get his car back before it was sold.  He said he also lost his job because he couldn’t show up for work while he was in jail.

One minute you are walking in to your bank to make a deposit. The next minute you are thrown in jail, jobless, and without a vehicle. What is the world coming to?

Can someone give me some happy news (hopefully personal) that will restore my faith in humanity?

Seriously conflicted about the iPhone 4s

I’ve been tracking the delivery of my iPhone 4s like a hawk. In fact, it should be getting dropped off at my door in the next few hours. I’ve been rockin’ the iPhone 3G like a boss for over three years now — longest I’ve ever had one phone — and it’s time for an upgrade. The 3G is more frustrating than it is helpful, it’s that slow. I’ve been drooling over the 4s ever since it was announced, but now I’m sitting here thinking I should return it.

Although I often second guess myself (due to extreme bouts of frugality) that is actually NOT the reason I’m conflicted today. No, it’s something much worse. I was reading the news yesterday and happened upon a story about how/where iPhones are made. I. Was. Shocked. Here’s the first few paragraphs from that story…

Normally, the launch of a new Apple device such as the iPhone 4S would make Mike Daisey salivate. But not this year.

Daisey, a monologuist in the vein of Spalding Gray and a recovering “Apple fanboy,” has not upgraded his phone since flying to China to investigate how those smooth, beautifully designed hand-held gizmos are made.

What he found was horrific labor conditions, impossibly long hours and the use of crippling, repetitive motions. He met very young factory workers whose joints in their hands were damaged because they performed the same action thousands of times a shift.

“I was woefully ignorant most of my life. Even though I love the devices deeply, I never had any idea how they were made and never thought about it in the least,” says Daisey, who had assumed robots put together his iPad and iPhone.

Seriously!? I mean just yesterday I said these exact words in my post about Occupy Wall Street: “You think Bank of America is going to stop charging that $5 debit card fee if you say “I hate you Bank of America” while you’re swiping it at the grocery store? Not a chance. You have to say “I hate you Bank of America” and start banking somewhere else. Empty threats are a waste of oxygen.”

Here’s what that statment should look like today: “You think Apple is going to stop engaging in unethical business practices if you say “I hate you Apple” while you’re tweeting from your iPhone? Not a chance. You have to say “I hate you Apple” and start tweeting somewhere else. Empty threats are a waste of oxygen.”

How the hell can I in good conscience buy an iPhone? If I do, I am essentially enabling/encouraging Apple to continue doing what they’re doing; contracting work out to sketchy technology manufacturers. The only way to make it clear that I don’t support unfair labor practices is to vote with my dollar, and not purchase Apple products.

But I love Apple products. In our house alone we have two iPads, two Macbooks, a Mac Mini, two iPhones, and a handful of old iPods. The iPhone 4s is arguably the best phone to have ever existed and I would want nothing more than to own one. But at what cost? At the cost of someone’s well-being? No, I guess I don’t need a new phone that bad.

I want to keep the iPhone so, so, so bad, but after reading this article can’t figure out a way to justify the purchase. The worst thing I could do is say “Man, Apple is involved in some shady business, but the phone is cool enough I’ll pretend I never heard the bad stuff.”

Am I the only person that’s just now hearing about these inhumane work conditions? Why are people willing to compromise their moral/ethical beliefs just so they can have a cool phone? If you are getting (or already have) an iPhone (or similar device), how do you reconcile the information from this report with your desire to own an Apple product? (I seriously believe everyone that has an Apple product has a moral obligation to answer those questions)

 

p.s. on a much less depressing note I had my first media mention in a published media outlet. If you head to your local grocery store and pick up a copy of this month’s Readers Digest, you’ll notice on page 55 there is a brief reference to myself and my blog (so what if the article is about foam mattress toppers). I found out last night, Readers Digest is the fifth most circulated publication in the world. Pretty sure that means it’s time for me to write a book… right? Took a pic of the article ’cause I was so excited….

 

The thorn in my side.

I like to consider myself a pretty good manager of money. Money comes in, and money goes out. It’s a simple process really. But no matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to get a handle on the Ninja household average food budget. This one category is totally throwing my whole game off. Take a look at this ridiculous graph of how much eating costs us each month (groceries and dining out).

How the heck do we go from $400ish in the early part of the year, to a low of $280 in spring, to the mid $700’s in late summer? Our average food budget is as crazy as Britney Spears was when she cut off all her hair….

Leave Britney alone (anyone get that joke?).

Britney’s right, the Ninja’s food budget IS crazy and I don’t know what to do about it. Girl Ninja and I both agree that there is no reason we should be spending so much. In a perfect world, we’d be dropping about $250-$300/month at the grocery store and about $150-$200/month dining out. All in we’d love to keep our food spending to about $450/month. WHY CAN’T WE DO IT!?

Food is the thorn in our side, or I guess the thorn in our budget. It’s the only category that fluctuates on such extreme measures. We plan to limit our dining out to weekends only, pay better attention to what is on sale, and throw in a few “cheap” meals during the week (tomato soup and grilled cheese, black bean soup, etc). We obviously can manage just fine on a $450 average food budget ’cause I don’t remember starving in January, February, April, or July. It’s just gonna take a little more discipline and planning, but I’m confident we can figure something out. Worse case scenario; I stop eating altogether. Oh and don’t worry. We wont turn in to extreme couponers. I hate those people.

What item in your budget always seems to throw ya off (food, travel, clothes, gas, etc)? How much do you spend each month on dining out and groceries (dollar amount and number of people in family)?

If you’re with Bank Of America, you’re dumb or lazy.

As much as I’d like to think only good things about customers of Bank of America (since some of you may fall in to that category), I’m seriously beginning to doubt their intelligence. I’m sure you’ve already heard the latest on why Bank of America sucks, but I couldn’t help but share my two cents on the matter with you all today. If you aren’t familiar with what I’m talking about, let me enlighten you…

Starting in early 2012, Bank of America will begin charging some of their customers $5/month for all non-atm debit card usage. You either have to go to an ATM and get cash for all your purchases, or succumb to the $5/monthly fee for using your debit card. Let’s be honest here, BoA knows that you will likely find yourself in a situation where you need to use your debit card at least once each month. Swipe it once, BAM, you just became five dollars poorer. Say it with me ya’ll:

BANK OF AMERICA SUCKS!!!!!

If you are a BoA customer this is the perfect excuse to leave that pitiful hell hole! Get out before they start to nickel and dime you to death.

Deductive reasoning forces me to assume that any/all Bank of America customers must either be stupid or lazy. What other possible explanation could be offered? I know there are ways around the fees, and that you personally may not have to deal with these new policies, but that doesn’t make BoA’s business model any less sketchy. Think about it like this:

You like Jack in the Box. You especially love their two tacos for $0.99 deal. You eat Jack in the Box once a week. One day you are watching the news and catch a report that there is an E. coli outbreak amongst Jack in the Crack products. In fact, four people have died from the E. coli poisoning and hundreds of people are hospitalized. How do you react?  You don’t just say to yourself, “Well even though everyone else is getting E.Coli, I haven’t, so I I’m gonna keep eating Jack in the Box.” Instead, not only do you stop eating J in the B, but you tell all your friends and family to avoid the restaurant as well. If you continue to eat Jack in the Box tacos, even when their tacos are literally killing customers, you MUST be either dumb or lazy. (in case you weren’t aware there really was a Jack in the Box E. coli issue, this crap really happened!)

Just like you don’t have to get E. Coli to realize you should stop eating Jack in the Box, you shouldn’t have to be fee’d to death before realizing Bank of America sucks. Contrary to popular belief, Free checking and free savings accounts do still exist. And not only that, but they exist with banks and credit unions that actually put their customers first! Vote with your dollar people and stay the heck away from BoA.

Who do you bank with? How do you feel about them? If you say anything but “They freakin’ rock my face off” you need to start shopping for a new bank (ING, Ally, USAA are all awesome). Do you think Bank of America sucks as much as I do? Anyone brave enough to defend BoA?

p.s. If you hate your bank and want to switch, but don’t know how or who to go with, you can always email me and I’ll throw out a few recommendations.

p.p.s. If you are reading this via email or a feed reader and don’t see my stick figure drawing, you have to click over to my website to see it. I accidentally hit publish before I uploaded the image which means it might not be showing up in your feed.

Things I want to punch in the face: Black Licorice

Okay kiddos. At the request one of my loyal Canadian readers, it’s time I go on another rant. This time we mean serious business. Do you remember my post about how much I hate cats? Well, if you multiplied my disdain for fury felines by eleventy-billion, that would be how much I hate black licorice.

Seriously, is there anyone in the world that likes this stuff? Every now and again, I feel a little risky and take my taste buds on a little adventure. Recently, this involved accepting the challenge of a friend to eat black licorice. I knew I didn’t like the stuff, but I hadn’t tried it in years. “Maybe my taste buds have matured?” I thought to myself. I use to hate broccoli, but now I love it, so perhaps black licorice would be similar?

WRONG!

The stuff seriously tastes like an amalgamation of horse vomit, baby forehead sweat, and three-day old underwear. It’s just gross. Period. End of story.

Even if by some freak chance you enjoy the taste of black licorice, what the heck makes you think other people are going to? If I liked to drink my own urine you wouldn’t want me to offer you a glass, would you? No? Didn’t think so. Keep your licorice to yourself.

I can’t believe these disgusting sticks of distgustingness have infiltrated the candy aisle. They have no right sitting next to such delicious treats as Reese’s Pieces and the oh-so-famous Snickers bar.

You can’t put a bunch of maggot feces in a bag, label it Maggot-O’s, and stick it in the candy aisle can you? Why is black licorice not required to meet the same level of tasty deliciousness that all other candies must? It’s a conspiracy I tell you, a conspiracy!

Man, I’m in a bad mood now. Haha, never knew my hate for something could be so strong. Other food items that make me want to projectile vomit all over myself are; warm pineapple (whoever decided to start putting this amazing fruit on pizza should be shot), bacon (seriously the grossest looking food I’ve ever seen, ever), and olives (oh gosh, don’t get me started on olives).

Do you like black licorice? What foods do you absolutely hate with a passion?

p.s. Girl Ninja likes black licorice. Grounds for separation?

Haterz gonna hate

My girl Krystal over at Give Me Back My Five Bucks wrote a post the other day about her plan to accelerate her mortgage payments. The article ended up getting picked up by The Consumerist and getting over 170 comments. My favorite of those 170 comments was by far and away the first one. It read…

Yeah, all of us are so financially blessed we can pay an extra 20% into our mortgages.

#HowToGetRichIfYouAreAlreadyRich

Bwahahaha. What a tool right? Anyone that reads Krystal’s blog knows she is no richer than Michael Jordan is white…oh wait…

White sox....get it?

I need not post a huge rebuttal to this toolbag’s comment however, as someone else summed things up perfectly by saying…

I’m sitting here stunned. This is the first Consumerist article EVER to contain advice that wasn’t applicable to 100% of the population. Totally makes it useless advice, doesn’t it?

#HowToMakeGoodDecisionsAndLiveWithinABudget
SoThatOtherPeopleCallYouRich

And that brings us to the moral of today’s story; Haters are gonna hate. It’s unfortunately that simple.

I remember a few weeks after I blogged about becoming debt free, I had a person email me saying they felt I was no longer relatable or appealing. Because my blog was called Punch Debt In The Face, but no longer had debt, I apparently lost all credibility in their eyes. In an effort to remain relevant, I’ve asked Sallie Mae to give me back my $28,000 student loan balance so I can re-punch it in the face.

Hahaha, yea right. If that’s what I’d have to do to keep you as a reader, please do me a favor and click here.

Do you know anyone that tends to bring others down to make themselves feel better? Have you ever been the victim of trolling? If I started a website called Punch Miserable People In The Face, would you subscribe?

p.s. We ‘re getting a new Macbook.

Rich people are going to hell.

I was reading a news article this morning about Dave Ramsey’s Tennessee home, and by home I mean 13,000 square foot mansion. According to the article, Dave’s house is estimated to have a market value of approximately $10,000,000. I read about the 4,600sq/ft basement, the 18 shower heads in the master bath, and his $1,400/month utility bill (his utility bill is more than my rent/insurance/utilities combined!!!). But the most fascinating part of the article wasn’t actually in the article, it was in the “comments” section.

It seemed that about half of the readers supported Dave and his desire to own a freakin’ huge house. The other half, however, were a little less enthusiastic…

That’s just over the top and is a big disappointment. I can’t believe he could not come up with something better to do with his money. I bet there are rooms in that house that he nor his family will ever see. Such a waste. And 18 shower heads, that is ridiculous. What other environmental wastes are there. He deserves luxury he has built an empire but this is over the top for anyone.

In fact some even hinted towards Dave spending eternity in hell…

How many toilets do you need? Who was that said it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man enter heaven. I’m not judging, but I do have an opinion

I’ve been known to criticize some of Dave’s teachings every now and again, but in this instance I actually have his back. Dave’s money is Dave’s money. Who am I to tell him how to spend it? You probably don’t want me telling you how much house you should buy, or how much money you need to donate to charity, so why do you think it’s okay to tell Dave what he should do with his cash?

How can people point a finger at Dave and say “You’re materialistic” then continue surfing the internet on their iPhones? It just doesn’t make sense to me. If wealth is truly as evil as some make it out to be, then I have bad news. WE ARE ALL EVIL.

Let’s be real. We live in America. A land where even the homeless have shelter, food, and Facebook accounts (anyone that’s been to a public library knows what I’m talking about). Even the poorest people in America enjoy many frivolities those in third world countries will never experience. So are we all going to hell? Me thinks not.

We each have to give according to our personal and spiritual convictions, not based off what someone else tells you to give. If Dave wants 32 shower heads, more power to him. If he wants to donate $32,000,000 he can do that do. I’ll let Dave worry about what he’s gonna do with his money, and I’ll worry about what I’m going to do with mine.

Do you think Dave Ramsey is a hypocrite? Does he have an obligation to donate more because he makes more?