Advice For Someone Starting Their Careers

The other week my friend asked me if I (we, including Brian) had any advice to give her niece who is starting out her career. I thought about it for a bit but there are a few things I would say.

Don’t Give It Your “All”

I gave this advice to a guy I used to work with. He would put in extra hours… when there was a deployment outside business hours he wouldn’t count that as part of his 40 hours. He took PTO for errands and appointments, etc even though he was already giving the company more than 40 hours of his time.

I told him to stop doing that. The company doesn’t care… well, they do but in their own selfish way. They owe you, you don’t owe them. You owe them your best work and your time… 40 hours a week. Anything you give them extra, they don’t appreciate.

And I know a lot of people say this isn’t true but I’ve given three of my four companies this “extra time” of mine and received nothing in return. My first company, as I was leaving, I put in 10+ hours of work every day to get them this certification they were working towards. I didn’t see an extra dime in my final paycheck when everything was calculated (PTO I didn’t spend). My second job I pulled a weekend once for a big deployment and we didn’t get anything extra for it. I would stay extra a few times for my various jobs but never received anything… not even a “thank you” some of the times.

Don’t bust your butt for your employer. Don’t be a slave to them. Work your mandatory 40 hours and go home and enjoy your life.

You Have To Jump

My uncle once joked that I changed jobs more than he did underwear. I changed jobs four times in my 14 year career. (Five if you count the “fuck up.” But I needed that “fuck up” to get a better salary… hence this point…)

In order to get a pay increase, you have to leave. Once you’re with a company, they don’t give big raises. Shit, even if you get a “promotion” it could be months before you see a pay increase. And if you do, it’s probably going to be miniscule.

I know of this from experience and talking with other people. My first pay increase was 5%. I was only making $38,000 a year and I got a 5% increase! I thought that was awesome! But I did the math on that. While 5% is huge, I kept going with that… Even if I got a 5% pay increase every year I’d only make around $62,000 when I got to ten years there. It would take me over 20 years to get into six figures.

One company, I was so close to making six one year. I got a 1.5% increase (not even COL). I didn’t get to six that year but I did the year afterwards. And that 1.5% I got, compared to other people, I did really well! Others I know only got 0.5%! And no bonuses.

The only time I have been able to get pay increases is when I switched jobs. So every three years, no matter what, I started looking. My last job I even threatened to quit in order to get what I deserved. My pay they were giving me wasn’t keeping up with inflation and I called them out on it. I put in a two week resignation notice then they started talking. They met me close to my number so I was happy.

You gotta jump. And keep jumping.

Bonuses Are A Thing Of The Past

There aren’t many companies out there that give bonuses. I was lucky to be with two companies who gave out bonuses. But it was miniscule. It was $500… maybe $1,500. Nothing like that National Lampoon’s movie where the dude was able to take everyone on his family a vacation with his bonus. Nope, that shit doesn’t happen in the real world.

Be Good At What You Want To Do And Do What You’re Good At

Try not to take a job that you don’t have any passion for. You’re not going to be good at it. You’re not going to want to give it the time and practice it takes. You need to have a passion for what you do.

I was very good at what I did. I’ve gotten so many complements throughout my career of how good I am; bosses and coworkers alike.

The best advice I was given was from my uncle (not the underwear uncle, lol). I just got a call back from two companies (for my first career job). One offered me $38,000 and one offered me $32,000. I wanted to go with the $32,000 because it seemed like more career growth even though I would be doing Java which is something I did not enjoy at all. He told me to go with the $38,000 one because you don’t want to be miserable.

You need to have a passion and a drive in what you chose to do. Trust me, it does help.

401k’s Are A Joke

When you need to jump companies so much, and especially with the stock market taking big shits every ten years, 401k’s are a joke. It takes years to become “vested.” And if you need to jump jobs so much,  you’re not going to be “vested” so that company can take all what they “gave you” away.

Plus… the fucking stock market crashed four times during my life alone and I’m still a few years from 40!

I don’t know what to do for retirement income. I mean, the stock market is so evil and unpredictable and you could lose all your money if you don’t keep up with it and invest it correctly. Remember, that’s on you. Your company isn’t picking and swapping out the best bonds and stocks. You need to keep up with your own 401k.

There are no pensions anymore, thanks, Boomers!  So if you don’t want to do a 401k route, you can save up to buy a rental property. But even there, that could be a shit show. I did it and it didn’t turn out like I’d hoped.


I know others have had different, wonderful experiences with companies and I’m not one to judge all companies. These just have been my experiences with the four companies that I’ve worked for. And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

You just have to be cautious and look out for yourself. Your company usually isn’t.

Again, these are just my opinions and my two cents. I’m sure a lot of people have had a lot of success doing the opposite of what I’ve stated here. But they’re lucky. And you can find really good companies that you want to stay and work for for the rest of your career. I wish I had found one.

In the end, this is what worked out for me.

Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving To Portugal

There are quite a lot of things I wish I knew before moving here. The journey still isn’t over yet as we’re still not settled into a place of our own. We are days away from closing on our condo we bought in Lagos. Getting this far has been a really difficult journey.

I thought I’d write down some of my thoughts on this as this process isn’t for the faint of heart and it has definitely been depressing, trying, challenging, and downright draining. It feels like the universe is against this decision I made and it’s trying to tell me to abandon hope of this dream.

Here are some things I wish I knew before and how much I’m so depressed about this difficult situation:

  • Getting stuff shipped to Portugal is a VERY DIFFICULT PROCESS.
    • Bri flew back to the states on December 3rd to try to get all the paperwork we needed together, titles mailed, inventory, organization, timing, etc. He STILL wasn’t able to do it in THREE WEEKS!
    • Bri flew back a few days before Christmas without having much progress on getting our stuff shipped here.
    • We had to go to the Junta to get a special form like four times. The shippers fucked it up, the Junta fucked it up, and the Junta had very difficult requirements for people to meet.
    • We paid another $2,000 around January then another $6,000 in June just to get our stuff due to the shippers delays. All done I’d say we paid around $30,000 just to get our stuff here. Not worth it.
    • UPDATE 6/13/2023: We finally got our stuff on May 30th 2023!
  • You STILL need a US address for a lot of things!
    • Shipping is a big one as they need to mail back the certificado de bagagem.
    • Having your mail forwarded somewhere. The USPS won’t forward to Portugal!
  • You need some people in the US to help you!
    • My sister was able to help me with the certificado de bagagem as she can mail things and it gets there a lot sooner (and cheaper) than from Portugal.
    • Brian’s parents have helped us a lot along the way. Our mail is forwarded to their house. We still use their address for official things that need a US address.
      • Working with the embassy requires a US address.
      • Shipping stuff!
  • The dollar to euro kills you. The conversion rate varies and it makes A HUGE difference.
    • Another reason Bri flew back to the States was to move our money from our US bank to our Portuguese bank. You can do this online but it is a lot easier to do it by going to your bank. Quicker too. Our big condo purchase we had a budget; we have exceeded it since the dollar dropped so much in value by the time we hit closing.
    • Having a US credit card doesn’t help. I do minor things with euros (cash) but a lot of things I put on the credit card. It does a poor exchange rate and might charge extra since I’m out of the US.
    • I’m not sure what others do. It really is like playing the stock market on how much it changes cause it changes constantly.
  • When buying a house or a condo there are A LOT of taxes and fees. We are paying 8% of the price in taxes. There are also other fees the buyer (me) needs to pay such as 1% for the lawyer, a notary fee of 1,000€, registration fee of 250€, legal fee of 6,458€. All of these are on top of the full amount which is paid directly to the seller. No money goes into an escrow or anything like in the US.
  • Finding things can be difficult.
    • Sometimes you need to know the right things to search for in google. Example is finding carpeting. We are carpet people. In Portugal (maybe even Europe… and the US is starting to do this too) people like hardwood. Carpeting isn’t common. Finding a place that does wall to wall carpeting has been challenging. Turns out you need to google “custom carpeting” to find places that can hopefully do what they do in the states. We’re still not over this hurdle!
    • Finding a furniture place is proving to be a little difficult too. There are quite a few places that do “custom furniture” and it can be very expensive! We luckily found a few places like Marlo (in the US) that has furniture you can buy already made.
  • Without transportation, some things aren’t accessible.
  • Getting your cell phone switched was challenging. I wanted to keep my US number so I can keep up with friends and family.
    • When I originally arrived here I used my roaming which was $10 a day. Not ideal.
    • I bought a sim card for 15€ for a month with 6 gigs. Great deal!
      • Renewing this was a pain in the ass if I didn’t want to buy a new one every month.
    • I had to port my US number to another service (leaving AT&T). I needed to provide the latest bill, your account number, password, and all your information. I’m using iPlum (which turns out to be really shitty). This porting over process can take more than a week.
      • My US calls and texts are through an app on my phone (iPlum).
      • iPlum is charging me $108 a year for their service.
      • According to their Fair Usage Policy for Unlimited Plans “unlimited plans” are limited to 2,500 “credits” a month. Sending or receiving a text is a “credit.” Every minute you spend on the phone is a “credit.” I had to buy extra “credits” since I ran out last month and my service was going to be suspended. I bought $20 worth of “credits” which gives me 2,000 extra. It’s bullshit.
      • The iPlum app is a piece of shit!
        • Half the time I don’t know who is calling (I don’t recognize many phone numbers).
        • When someone sends a picture, I don’t know who sent it.
        • Sometimes I can’t even tell who sent the text message as it’s just a phone number.
        • It’s clunky as I need to touch many things and menus just to send a text or make a call.
        • I had to change my credentials since my phone is now Portuguese number and NOT US so it thought all my contacts where Portuguese numbers.
        • The calls drop sometimes and it’s difficult to hear. I have my volume to the max and I still can’t hear my uncle very well.
        • UPDATE 6/13/2023: I currently cannot text since iPlum has now required registration which I can’t prove that I’m an individual without paying a lot of money. It’s ridiculous.
    • Bottom line: be prepared for a few days of hardship and stress and don’t get iPlum. They’re a rip off and a piece of shit. I will be replacing them next year.
  • You get nickeled and dimed a lot when going through these processes. It feels like death by 1,000 cuts.
  • Don’t import cars or motorcycles over.
    • We did some research online and it felt like it was going to be a fairly simple process. It isn’t. We’re in the tenth circle of hell with this.
    • The government agencies (IMT) and Hyundai and Honda do not help you.
    • Your vehicles might need to be converted and it’s just a miserable situation. It isn’t worth it. Sell your shit. Let it go. Don’t bring it for the love of God.

I will be updating this post maybe from time to time. Many times I’m getting and got depressed about everything and it feels hopeless a lot. I wish I could go back in time and change some of my decisions.

So far I would change:

  • I would have sold/given away a lot more stuff and went with UPackWeShip or something similar.
  • I would have sold my car and my bike. It would have killed me because I love them but I would have.
  • I would have quit my job sooner in order to accomplish more in the states and have done more research before I went over so I could have been more ready for the bureocracy which is Portugal.

I miss my friends and my sister a lot.

Expenses Through The First Month Of Living In Portugal

One of the many reasons I moved here is the cost of living is very low. That is put to the test by actually living here. Could we do it living on our investments?

After the first month I can safely say YES. I’ve been keeping track of all of our expenses (except rent) on google sheets. I logged every receipt and every time I spent cash and would do a tally every so often to get an average.


Start Date End Date Total Number Of Days Average Per Day
10/31/2022 11/16/2022 €557.81 16 €34.86
11/17/2022 11/26/2022 €341.77 9 €37.97
11/26/2022 12/1/2022 €83.97 5 €16.79
€983.55 30 €32.79

This list doesn’t include the following:

  • €1,100/month for our AirBnB in Quarteira
  • Around $250 we spent on our cellphone apps to keep our number and to be able to call and text people in the US
  • Streaming services (we currently have HBO Max which is €45 a year, Netflix which is €15 a month, and NFL GamePass which is €60 a year)
    • Side note: We can get what they call SkyShowtime (which we did for a few days then realized it didn’t have ALL Showtime on it). This service is very new so they’re still working out the bugs. We might subscribe to something else which gets us Showtime/Paramount next year.

A lot of this cost is miscellaneous expenses such as:

  • A new jacket (I lost both my jackets somewhere along the way to our AirBnB the first day)
  • A new pair of shoes (I think we’re going to need a lot of shoes since we do a lot of walking)
  • We went to eat out maybe 6 or 7 times (plus a few random cafés, pastelarias, and bars)
  • The first two days we had a rental car which was €250 to rent and €50 in gas
  • Two sim cards which have 15 gigs for €15 a piece
  • I drink A LOT of juice!

We could have been a lot more frugal (like not going out to eat or cafés or drinking so much cerveja) but I don’t want to do that. We could have also spent a lot more.

The US dollar to date is also a little bit weaker than the Euro so that total isn’t in US dollars.

I’m going to continue to do this for a few months until I feel comfortable and to get a good idea of how much it costs to live here for two people and two dogs.

Minimalists – Thoughts

Over the weekend we went to Rehobeth Beach with a friend who has a house there. We decided to watch the Minimalists documentary. It’s about downsizing and owning less and buying less “stuff” to simplify your life and make you happier.

We had a discussion afterward and here were my thoughts:

  • The need to buy stuff I believe goes back to our caveman days when we used to hunt. We no longer hunt as a species since we go to work and come home. We no longer need to hunt or gather our food. Buying “stuff” and getting deals I think fuels that need that we still have to hunt… a need that’s built into us.
  • Games like Pokemon Go may help with this need to hunt. Instead of hunting out good deals and obtaining “stuff”, we can hunt Pokemon through the game.
  • Technology reduces our need for “stuff.” Look at e-readers and Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, etc. We have no need for a library full of books or a shelf full of DVDs. Our books, movies, and music are on our mobile devices and can be played anytime.

For years now I’ve felt like I have too much “stuff.” My Uncle George says the word “stuff” all the time referring to things we don’t need but we have anyway.

The documentary was good and worth a watch. However I think they missed the entire point. They identified the problem of not being happy and having “stuff” that makes you temporarily happy. Then that feeling goes away and items that used to make you happy no longer do their job.

The documentary goes through several people and their stories of how they minimized their lives by living in smaller spaces and letting go of a lot of their belongings… thus making their lives happier.

The problem with these stories is that they’ve all had a life changing event… they retired or chose to do something else. Most of these people quit their jobs, became minimalists, and wrote books about their minimalist lives. Notice anything? They quit their 40+ hour a week jobs to do something else.

They never mentioned the core issue here which is that unhappiness can come from us working way too much. They mentioned climbing the corporate ladder. When they stopped climbing and when they downsized and was able to have money to do what they really wanted to do, they were happier.

I’m pretty happy in my life but I know I could be a lot more happy if I were to quit my job or go part time. I’m looking forward to being “quazi-retired” and working part time so I’d have more time.

It’s a very well known fact that us Americans do not get enough time off. Every other industrialized country on Earth gets like 6 weeks paid vacation a year. What do they do? They go on trips. Since us Americans do not get time off, we buy stuff with our access money. Possessions to us Americans are the vacations to those in other countries.

Anyway, those are my thoughts.

Here’s some stuff I can alleviate from my life to live more simple:

  • Do that 333 thing. 33 items of clothing for 3 months. Get rid of some of my hats and clothes I don’t wear.
  • Get rid of the two TVs we don’t use. I have this old RCA TV from when I was a kid. It still works but I don’t use it.
  • Get rid of a lot of my dad’s stuff that I kept. It just sits around. Someone else might get more use out of it than me. It doesn’t bring me joy; it’s just “stuff.”

Curing World Hunger

The United Nations put a price on solving our global food crisis (world hunger). The price is around $34 billion a year (in 2008 it was $30 billion a year).

Put that number in prospective… in 2015 the military budget was $598.5 billion which is almost 20x more than it would cost to provide food for all the food insecure people on the planet.

Even if we weren’t to cut anything from our military or any other budget, we could still cure this problem and be a hero to all the world. (Just imagine how much respect we’d get if WE helped that many people.)

The population of the United States was 318.9 million in 2014. Assuming about half the population pays taxes that’s 159,450,000 who pay taxes. If we were to raise taxes to fund the necessary $34 billion a year to cure world hunger, we’re looking at a tax increase of $213.24 a year. That’s roughly $0.59 a day!

I think solving food insecurity in the world is worth another 59 cents a day I have to pay in taxes.

Delivery Fee

I wanted to do a quick blog post about pizza delivery fees. As some of you know, I used to do pizza delivery for Domino’s back in college. Fun times. Lots of stories.

Anyway, pizza drivers are making less today than what I made when I did it due to delivery fees that pizza and other delivery places put onto the price of the order.

The summer I delivered pizza, it used to be $15.75 for the 555 deal from Domino’s. People would usually be nice and give the full $20 for tip; so we’d get $4.75 tip. I come into work one day, first order is a 555, go to the dude’s house and notice that it’s now $16.75… I thought he might have ordered an extra topping or something… Nope, it was the new $1 delivery fee. All of a sudden I was getting less money with the 555’s. Not only that, a lot of people stopped tipping as much since they were under the false assumption that the extra $1 went to the driver when it did not. It went to corporate profits.

The Huffington Post did a good article on it.

So just to set the record straight: a delivery fee DOES NOT go to the driver. Please tip these guys. It’s hard for them. It’s their wear and tear on their cars. They live off minimum wage and tips and whatever minuscule money they get per run (when I did it it was 85 cents a run).

Quickie On Minimum Wage & When I Used To Earn It

When I was in college my husband (then boyfriend) and I worked this minimum wage job up in western Maryland just so we could be together. We worked 30-40 hours a week so pretty much full time. We earned the minimum wage of $5.15 an hour.

I remember getting my paycheck and it instantly going to food and rent and that was it. I didn’t have any left over. In fact I may have owed money.

Maryland is awesome and liberal so since then the minimum wage in our state has risen to $8.00 an hour (soon to be $8.25 July 1st 2015, $8.75 July 1st 2016, $9.25 July 1st 2017, and $10.10 July 1st 2018). I wrote my congressmen a lot of letters regarding the minimum wage in our state.

Using an inflation calculator, if I were a college student working minimum wage now, I’d be earning around $7 an hour in circa 2005 dollars. That could have afforded me a lot better life. I might have actually gotten by without borrowing money that summer.

Well that’s this blog post’s story. Vote Bernie Sanders and vote for a higher minimum wage!

Verizon Wireless “Surcharges”

Isn’t it bull s**t that we have to pay “surcharges.” They’re getting to be ridiculous. These “surcharges” cost me $13 a month. My Verizon bill is almost $200 for two phone lines, 700 minutes, unlimited text, and 6 GB of data on one phone and unlimited on the other.

But these “surcharges” go up every month it seems.

When I hover over the ? on my bill, a bubble appears which explains their surcharges

It states:

Verizon Wireless Surcharges – Includes charges to recover or help defray costs of taxes and of governmental charges and fees imposed on us by the government. Other Charges and Credits – includes charges for products and services, and credits owing.

So it’s the governments fault? I see. The government charges too much in taxes so they need to pass that onto their consumer. Makes sense.

But wait. It turns out they don’t pay taxes! What the f**k? They actually make a s**t ton of profit and still pay no taxes. They even get money back from the government!

At least they create jobs right? Nope. Turns out, their tax breaks don’t even create jobs.

It’s such bull s**t. I think I’m going to start to complain. Why should I pay more to pad their bottom line even more than it is now when they pay nothing in taxes? I pay taxes! You pay taxes! Why should we pay more of “their taxes?”

I’m fed up with this country sometimes. It’s bull s**t.

Spread the word.

Brian’s Open Letter To Pepco & The American People

Dear Pepco and the American People,

First off I would like to say I’m sorry for getting solar panels on my house and buying all of those energy saving light bulbs. After three months with virtually no bill I now realize my error of my ways. The hard working people of Pepco no longer need to supply my old energy guzzling house with power. Instead I seem to be feeding them which can only go to reduce their huge quarterly profits. To make up for this I am sure Pepco is now going to charge even higher rates to my friends and neighbors, since they already charge the most for power in the state of Maryland. I now know I am costing Pepco lost revenue and they’ll have more reason to complain about the corporate tax rate which they, like many other companies (GE, BP, Exxon, Verizon, etc), do not actually pay.

Next I would like to send out a special apology to the people of West Virginia. For generations they have ripped up there land destroyed mountain tops and done everything else in the pursuit of coal. For generations they have toiled to provide me with the polluting coal and I so thoughtfully got solar panels not taking into the considerations their feelings or the sacrifices they are willing to make just so I can have unclean power.

Lastly I would like to say sorry to the American people as a whole. After hearing about all the possible clean energy jobs that could be created by going solar I bought into the hype. I now know the truth. Yes I am saving money and yes I did get the government to pay for 60% of my solar panels but at what cost I ask you? At the cost of all those jobs lost in West Virgina ripping up the land to give me unclean coal? At the cost of Pepco’s profits? My solar cost jobs, yes I know it is possible someone will have to come out and service my solar panels at some point but it has a 25 year warranty so you know it is going to last. Yes, I know it took someone to build my panels but think of all the coal I would have used without my solar system! Lastly, as I gazed today at my almost non-existent bill, I realized I am costing the government because I am taxed on my power usage and since I do not use any power, the government does not make any money off of me either. I am not a rich person and I am not exempt from taxes like the rich.

I’m sorry America,
A Maryland Solar Customer

GOP Pledge & Scare Tactics

The Republicans released their “Pledge to America” if they regain control of Congress later this year. It’s full of the same old same old rhetoric you’d expect from the selfish GOP, such as extending the Bush tax cuts. It omits how it’s going to pay for them as well as what they plan to do about entitlement programs (like Medicare and Social Security). They also want to overturn the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (health care reform) the Dems passed earlier this year. Furthermore, they want to put an end to the stimulus.

I just have to wonder, when HCR starts going into effect and the American people FINALLY see the good it will do, will the GOP jump on the bandwagon like most of them did with the stimulus? Or with the auto bailout?

I’d also like to know who’s buying Newt Gingrich’s recent comments? Seriously, is that guy off his rocker or what?

What scares me is that people actually listen to and believe it. I know a few of them myself. They’re anti-Muslim, far right conservatives who actually buy into these scare tactics. They preach that Muslims are going to take over our country, that we’re beginning to implement Sharia Law, they think Obama wants socialism, they think this country to be founded on Christian beliefs, and they actually believe Fox News to be factual.

And they think I’m wrong when I dispute their “facts”!

I try to see the other side of things, but I can’t even wrap my mind around it… To think that our country is in serious jeopardy and ready to be taken over. Who do these people really want their country back from? Last I checked, we as AMERICANS still had it.

I actually had one guy tell me to hell with the Bill Of Rights if it stops Muslims from building a Mosque near Ground Zero. What are some people in this country becoming and when will they stop? What could be next? Showing up to rally’s wearing KKK clothing?

Obama’s Afghanistan Surge Speech Prediction

If you haven’t heard, Obama is planning to implement a “surge” in Afghanistan. He’s going to announce his plan to send more than 30,000 additional troops (and who knows how many government contractors) to the war next Tuesday.

My prediction for Obama’s speech is another “Bush” like speech:

  • The war is necessary
  • We need to change the strategy in Afghanistan (meaning things remain the same)
  • Our security as a nation relies on it
  • This war is not open ended
  • This war is the “good war”
  • We want to hand responsibility to the Afghans ASAP
  • Benchmarks (that probably won’t matter nor will they be met)
  • How we plan to work with other nations to ensure a stable Afghanistan
  • We need to “finish the job”
  • The next few months (or years) will “demand more patience, sacrifice, and resolve”

The speech will also NOT contain the following:

  • An exit strategy
  • A time line
  • How much more this war will cost
  • The goal
  • How much strain this war is putting on our already strained military
  • In what way this war is tied to our national security

This war is a drain. Obama is sending every other brigade left to Afghanistan leaving us with very few units. We need to cut our losses, end both wars, and send our troops home where they belong.

It never ceases to amaze me how the Congress and the president can be so willing to escalate a war with all the problems we’re facing here. We’re told we have to accept cutbacks on health care and our infrastructure in order to help balance the budget, yet every time there’s a war bill, Congress rubber stamps it. I don’t understand how we have to compromise on health care yet the wars have no compromise. They can be funded open endedly.

I wrote to my congressmen, Ben Cardin, asking him to help push HR 676 (Universal Single Payer Health Care for the US). He wrote back to me:

As a member of the Senate Budget Committee, I firmly believe that any reform proposals we enact must be fully paid for, and the budget resolution passed by Congress requires that.

What about the wars, Senator?

Debunking A Cash For Clunkers Article

I’m fairly certain this article is right leaning:

Five Reasons “Cash For Clunkers” Is A Joke

By now I’m sure you’ve heard Obama has passed a bill, Cash For Clunkers. I visited Yahoo news today like I usually do since Yahoo is my home page and I read this interesting, BS article.

  1. Not sure if the author of this article has ever traded in a car but you can’t get much for it. Nine out of ten times you’re better off trying to sell it on your own. Dealerships usually rip people off. In the article it even states that you’ll get MORE for it with the CFC bill than you would normally… Not really seeing why the bill won’t work if people are getting MORE MONEY from their cars.
  2. Yeah average price of a new car might be $24,000 but honestly, if you’re hurting for money and need a car, I’d go with a Rabbit or a Yaris. Even now with Ford and GM not doing so well, I’d go for a Focus. Much cheaper than the $24K this guy is saying a new car is. A Yaris costs $12,200 MSRP, negotiate a little, could get it down to $11,500 easy… CFC makes the car a whopping $8,000. Say you had to borrow $9K, that’s only $174 a month at 6%.
  3. Some people might not need their big SUV anymore, or their truck, or their minivan. And some trucks DO get better fuel efficiency than before. And if your truck is old and on its last leg, now could be the perfect opportunity. Furthermore, the bill states different qualifications for trucks.
  4. This argument is weak at best… and pretty funny. Don’t scrap your car because it MIGHT be a future classic? Pretty pathetic. Yeah, I’m going to hang on to my 1994 Chrysler cause it might be worth much more one day. And how do classic cars get value anyway? Because there are only A FEW LEFT. I honestly don’t think people are going to keep their junkers in hopes that one day (could be 20 years or 50 years down the road) it could be worth something. You know how much it costs to store a car? The guy who wrote this article certainly doesn’t.
  5. That’s a problem with Ford and GM, not with the CFC program. If they were hoping this bill provided a boost to the automotive business here, they would have put in the bill that the car must be traded in at a Ford or GM dealership.

Re People’s Participation: I actually know a few people that can benefit from this program. One of them is going to participate and trade his 1993 Mercedes in for either a Toyota Prius or a Toyota Yaris.

Debunking The Right About Higher Taxes In Maryland

I usually have some pretty good debates with my fathers lawyer who is a Republican. He always likes to blame Democrats for the problems we face in our state and in our country (like all good Republicans, right).

Anyway, so he recently said how one third of the rich people in this state have since moved or changed their permanent residences due to O’Malley hiking up their taxes. So, what the Right likes to think is that it drove out rich people and increased taxes on the working. They’re correct, but let’s take a look at the numbers:

The increase on the rich of they “grinned and bared it” would be another $106,000,000 revenue to the state.

In reality it put us in the hole -$100,000,000. (Figures from the Wall Street Journal.)

So that’s a -$206,000,000 swing that we have to make up to (baring that the tax increase on the rich would balance the budget) keep the budget balanced for the year. In other words, Maryland needs to make up $206,000,000 MORE than last year.

According to Wikipedia, the population of Maryland is 5,633,600 people. Assuming that only half pay taxes, which is more than fair in my opionion, that leaves us with 2,816,800 tax payers.

Doing our math on this:

$206,000,000/2,816,800 = $73.13 per tax payer

So, the Right (and some Democrats no doubt) lead you to believe that increasing taxes on the rich will drive them away leaving only the middle and lower classes to make up the difference. Sorry but I’m a lot happier paying barely $100 more A YEAR than other alternatives… look what California is facing. Also keep in mind that inflation is a little more than 4% a year so an extra $100 per tax payer may not be so bad.

Of course this blog is assuming the rich were driven out because of higher taxes. One article from the Baltimore Sun actually suggests it’s due to the estate tax being so high in Maryland.

I Gotta Ask, What Do They Do?

Brian and I are in the process of buying our first house. My father once told me there are a lot of incentives for first time home buyers. After doing hours of research, I find there really aren’t any. There is actually only one we could find that we actually qualify for ($7,500 “loan” that we pay back through taxes). All the rest are for incomes less than what we’re making. Of course, we’re trying to find ones in Maryland and from Montgomery County. We make too much money! We make a little over the MEAN income in MoCo.

It blows my mind. One of the programs can give us a mortgage rate of some 5.5% (fixed). We just got approval from our bank at 4.75% (fixed). Yeah, who would go with that?

My question is, what the hell do these politicians do? They obviously just sit on their asses and not pass things that need to be passed. Or update laws and programs that need to catch up with the times. 5.5% would have been great a few years ago, but now it’s pretty high. All these programs we can’t qualify for because we make too much money, how come they haven’t been updated? Bri and I are a little below middle class. We don’t qualify for anything! Who does? We couldn’t afford a house if we made less. These programs need to be updated. I don’t know anyone who it applies to, they all make too much money! But we don’t make that much, honestly!

The lady who lives below me had her childrens school food benefit (where the state assists in school lunches) taken away from her because she got a little pay raise and now she doesn’t qualify anymore. She can’t afford not to have it.

I just want to know why these programs haven’t been updated for inflation. It took 10 years to increase minimum wage, it took 28 years to increase the FDIC insurance to $250,000. What the hell do these people do who should be passing laws to update these very important programs?

Bri’s Idea Of How To Fix The Housing Market

As many of you know, Brian was running for House Of Representatives until my father passed away. Things got crazy (and it’s still crazy) so he decided to drop out. Before he did, he gathered a bunch of views and ideas he had and put them up on his website.

Since the idiots in Congress can’t get their act together and pass a bill that would try to save us all from hell, I persuaded Brian to start calling around and tell them his idea. This idea would fix the housing market which would lead to a more stable economy, thus saving us all from a recession or depression. Here’s his plan (from his website):

In the past couple of months many people have noticed mortgage companies and banks have been losing a lot of money and people are being forced out of their homes. It is terrible when people lose their life savings, their homes, and have their credit ruined all in one fell swoop. I think there are a couple of very simple steps to correct this situation so no more people will fall prey to this kind of lending again.

The first thing to do is save people who are in foreclosure or who are about to go into foreclosure. In order to do this, I propose that we use the HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) to refinance all the loans that are resetting to higher rates into fixed rate mortgages. I would also increase the amount of time that a family has to pay back the loan from a traditional 15 or 30 years so that they can spread out the payments to something that they can still afford today (say a 60 year mortgage) with no penalties for early payment. People can say in their homes with a mortgage that is manageable. Also, they should be able to pay towards the mortgage what they can afford to spare in order to pay the loan off faster without penalty.

The second step to saving the mortgage industry is to enact legislation that will stop predatory lending. This legislation should force mortgage companies and brokers to make potential buyers more aware of the consequences of the loans they sign.

Just wanted to put Brian’s idea out there. He already called a few of our Maryland congressmen and explained it. They probably won’t get back to him cause they don’t care.

Brian doesn’t care if he gets credit for this idea or not. He just wants a solution, as do I, as should all of us.

If you think this is a good idea, share it or whatever.

It’s As Good A Thing To Bet On As Any

I’m trying to get people to join my pool of bets for the V P picks for the Presidential Nominees.

If you want in, it’s $20 for two picks (Democrat and Republican). Choose who you think McCain’s V P will be and who Obama’s V P will be. Get in soon by contacting me somehow.

McCain’s Actual “Straight Talk Express”

Below are a lot of issues I compiled to show McCain’s various flip flops on issues or a list of issues where McCain’s view has “evolved”:

1999: McCain: “Certainly in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade, which would then force X number of women in America to [undergo] illegal and dangerous operations.”

2008: For a repeal of Roe vs Wade.


1999: McCain supported drilling moratorium. He also scolded the special interests in Washington that sought offshore drilling leases.

2008: Vowed to end the federal ban on offshore oil drilling.


2001 and 2003: McCain voted against Bush tax cuts.

2008: Supports Bush tax cuts and will EXTEND them as president.


2003: McCain: “Amnesty has to be an important part because there are people who have lived in this country for 20, 30 or 40 years, who have raised children here and pay taxes here and are not citizens.”

2007: McCain: “The fact is that I’ve never supported amnesty.”


2002: McCain: “I believe that the success will be fairly easy.”

2007: McCain: “I knew it was probably going to be long and hard and tough and those who voted for it and thought that somehow it was going to be some kind of an easy task, they were mistaken.”

2008: McCain: “But again, I would remind you, I said we would have an easy victory. We did.”


2008: McCain: “This success that we have achieved is still fragile and could be reversed.” and “If we do what Sen. Obama wants to do, then all of that could be reversed.” (When asked about a possible Iraq timetable.)

2008: McCain: “I think it’s a pretty good timetable, as we should, or horizons for withdrawal.” (When asked about what Maliki wants to do which is what Obama has been saying all along, a 16 month time table.)


2008: McCain: “I think gay marriage should be allowed if there’s a ceremony kinda thing, if you want to call it that. I don’t have any problem with that.”

2008: McCain: “I do not believe gay marriages should be legal.” (During the same debate.)


2005: McCain introduced the McCain Amendment 1977 or the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 which prohibits the inhumane treatment of prisoners by interrogations.

2007: McCain: “People who have worn the uniform and had the experience know that this is a terrible and odious practice and should never be condoned in the U.S. We are a better nation than that.” (In response to the issue of waterboarding)

2008: McCain sided with Bush and supported a veto of an anti-warterboarding bill.


2004: McCain: “I don’t see how you can possibly, overtime, make sure that young Americans are able to receive Social Security benefits.” (Without privatizing Social Security.)

2008: McCain: “I’m not for, quote, privatizing Social Security. I never have been. I never will be.”


2008: McCain: “I mean being involved in that, it’s beyond belief.”

Yet McCain has been associated with extremists like John Haggy and Ron Parsley (who he campaigned with earlier last year).


2007: McCain: “I think that presidents have the obligation to obey and enforce laws that are passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, no matter what the situation is.” and “I don’t think the president has the right to disobey any law.”

2008: McCain believes Bush has the authority to conduct warrentless wiretapping.


2006: McCain: “I agree with President Roosevelt, and I remain opposed to full repeal of the estate tax.”

2008: McCain: “The estate tax is one of the most unfair tax laws on the books.”


2008: McCain has been quoted as saying “will not leave office without balancing the federal budget” and has said in February he would balance the budget by the end of his first term.

2008: One of McCain’s economic advisers has said “McCain’s overall goal is to balance the budget by the end of his second term” later in April.


2008: McCain: “I don’t like obscene profits being made anywhere. I’d be glad to look not just at the windfall profits tax, that’s not what bothers me, but we should look at any incentives that we are giving to people, or industries or corporations, that are distorting the markets.”

2008: McCain: “If that plan sounds familiar, it’s because that was President Carter’s big idea, too.” and “I’m all for recycling, but it’s better applied to paper and plastic than to the failed policies of the 1970s.” (McCain also criticized Obama for supporting it.)


1983: Opposed the holiday’s creation.

2008: Supports the holiday, even made a speech on it in 2008.


1985: Voted against imposing sanctions against South Africa.

1986: Voted against considering imposing economic sanctions against South Africa.

2008: McCain: “We should privatize the sanctions against Iran by launching a worldwide divestment campaign. …Years ago, the moral clarity and conviction of civilized nations came together in a divestment campaign against South Africa, helping to rid that nation of the evil of apartheid.”


2005 and 2006: McCain votes against establishment of a 9/11 kind of Congressional commission to examine the Federal, State, and local government response to Katrina. Both proposals sponsored by Senator Clinton.

2008: McCain: “I have supported every investigation and ways of finding out what caused the tragedy.”


2005: McCain: “I think that there has to be all points of view presented. But they’ve got to be thoroughly presented.”

2008: McCain: “Should it be taught in a science class? Probably not.”


2005: McCain: “I’m going to be honest, I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues.”

2007: McCain: “I am not an expert on Wall Street.” and “The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should.” and “I’ve got Greenspan’s book.”

2008: McCain: “I have not. I have not. Actually, I have not. I said that I am stronger on national security issues because of all the time I spent in the military. I’m very strong on the economy. I understand it.” (When confronted about him saying he’s not an expert on the economy. He interrupted the interviewer.)


2006: McCain voted to declare English the national language of the US.

2008: McCain has his campaign website available in Spanish with the greeting “Bienvenido! Estamos Unidos con McCain” .


2005: McCain: “As part of a compromise I could.” (Support lifting on the cap on Social Security taxes.)

2007: McCain: “I want to right now tell you I will not support a tax increase. I don’t see how it would be. It’s off the table, certainly, now.”

2007: McCain: “I am against tax increases. I am against increases in taxes. I think there are ways to fix Social Security without that.”

2008: McCain: “There is nothing that’s off the table. I have my positions, and I’ll articulate them. But nothing’s off the table.” (In response to a question regarding whether or not he would increase payroll taxes)


2007: McCain: “I might consider it, I don’t think it’s necessary, but I might consider it if you could design a draft where everybody equally could serve.” (When asked about reinstating the draft.)

2008: McCain: “I don’t know what would make a draft happen unless we were in an all-out World War III.” and “I do not believe the draft is even practicable or desirable.”

2008: McCain: “Ma’am let me say that I don’t disagree with anything you said and thank you and I am grateful for your support of all of our veterans.” (When a veteran asked if we don’t reenact the draft, there won’t be anyone to get Bin Laden.)


McCain said he’d pay for this prize by eliminating pork barrel projects (unspecified pork barrel projects) yet he said that eliminating those would pay for his other spending.


McCain has used his wife’s corporate jet for campaign purposes. McCain in 2007 backed legislation requiring presidential candidates to pay the cost of flying on corporate jets. Using his wife’s jet is, obviously, exempt from this legislation.



  • What military experience do you have that makes you qualified to be president?
  • How come when I go to Courageous Service on your website nothing’s there?
  • What SPECIFIC earmarks will you cut to save $100 billion?
  • Will you cut the $4.3 billion aid to Israel and Egypt (it’s an earmark)?
  • Do you think we have memory loss or something when you say you haven’t said you’re not good on the economy when there are quotes everywhere contradicting that statement?
  • How can you say you’re in touch with the American people when your wife, Cindy McCain, spent $750,000 in credit card charges in ONE MONTH?
  • How can you claim that you are in touch with the American people when you don’t even know how many houses you own?
  • How can you prove you understand America’s hardships and problems?
  • Do you believe that you were tortured in Vietnam? According to the Bush Administration’s definition of torture (which you side with and support), you WERE NOT tortured.
  • Would you reinstate the draft to fight all these wars you want to wage? Yes or no. Simple answer please.

Ways To Save Money

After reading (and laughing) at Yahoo tips on how to save money (I laugh because I do all of them, and then some), I decided to blog about a few money saving tips that I’ve been doing since college. Funny, even though I’m pretty financially sound right now, I still exercise these ways on saving money. Brian calls me a depression baby because of how I’m not willing to spend, how I constantly look out for how we spend our money, and of course, my constant worry over money.

Here’s a few tips that I have been doing since before college:

  • Set your room temperature to 68 in the winter and 75 in the summer. I don’t know how much money I’ve saved on my electric bill by wearing extra clothes around the house in the winter. This tip easily saves a boat load. Our electric bill is usually around $50/month all year long.
  • Buy wood. If you’re fortunate enough to have a woodstove, turn your heat down to a bare 60°. Use firewood in the winter. To heat our apartment in Frostburg, it cost us around $30/month in electric and $200/4 months firewood. Worth it. Also, isolate your house/apartment if necessary. Heat will stay in. They sell kits at any hardware store/Walmart.
  • Light candles. Lighting candles also increases the temperature in a room, and it makes the room smell good!
  • Don’t go out to eat. Try to cut back as far as you can on this luxury. I know it’s hard, but eating in, even if it is just by yourself, can save a boat load.
  • When going out to eat, order water. I don’t think I can count the money I’ve saved ever since high school from just ordering water instead of a beverage. Think about it, that $2 adds up, A LOT.
  • Cut each others hair. I saved a boat load in college by letting my friends cut my hair instead of paying a barber $20 to do it. Even now, Brian cuts my hair. I haven’t been to a barber in years.
  • Don’t splurge. Simple enough. If you don’t think you can afford it, don’t buy it. If you think it might hurt you later by buying something, simply leave the item alone until you feel more comfortable. It’ll be there later.
  • Buy things in bulk. When you have it, spend the extra few dollars to buy something in bulk instead of single items. Usually it’s much cheaper, price compare just in case. Use your parents Sam’s Club card, if they have one.
  • Buy things on sale. Don’t buy it just because it’s on sale, buy it if you need it, or may need it later. I understand brand names are a big one, but on the ones that you are able to “live with”, buy it when on sale.
  • Coupons, coupons, coupons. Get as many as you can on stuff you buy all the time. If you don’t need it but can afford to, buy the item if you have a coupon to use it later. Coupons have saved us so much money. Brian said, while he was cashiering, he’s seen totals of $90 go down to $20 because of coupons. It takes time to look, but coupons can save you a boat load at the store, on your car, out to eat, etc.
  • Don’t put too much stock into brand names, when you can. There are a few things that I don’t care, no taste difference, when buying brand names. Examples are sugar, pasta, stick butter, seasoning, milk, meat, potatoes, and all cleaning supplies. I ALWAYS buy store brand of these. Examples where I’m a brand name guru are cereal, cookies, biscuits, cakes, soda, soups, etc.
  • Buy two liters instead of cans. When cans are on sale, we get them, but that’s only. Two liters have saved us a lot over the years. Yes, they go flat easily, but that’s a sacrifice you have to make.
  • Don’t do a full pump of soap. Soap companies make it so that a lot comes out of the container in one simple pump. Pump softly, to get a little, it lathers anyway and your hands will be just as clean. A little dab’ll do ya.
  • Use the last of everything. The last slither of everything, over time, can save. I put water in my soap dispensers and laundry detergent when they get down to a certain level and mix it up. I get more uses this way and it does the same job. I also use the very last of butter, scrape sides of everything. That little bit can butter another biscuit!
  • Use towels instead of paper towels. Doing ordinary chores such as cleaning the counters, tables, and windows, use junk towels or wash clothes instead of using paper towels. Just throw them in the washer when you’re done. This saves on paper towels. Also, dry your hands with towels instead of paper towels. Simple.
  • Refill your water bottles. This saves a ton. Refill with tap water, it’s fine. I did this back in college and I still do it now.
  • Rechargeable batteries. Yup, when we got our Wii, I concluded my days of using ordinary batteries you have to buy over and over again were done. I have about 20 batteries that I use in everything, and just recharge when they’re done.
  • Rent movies instead of going to the movies. Going to the movies is a HUGE expense. It’s not worth it. Think about a ticket and a SMALL pop corn, $20, well that could have afforded you the DVD, couldn’t it? Yeah, maybe you won’t have much to talk about with friends, but it saves a lot of money in the long run. And when you have a group of friends who want to do something, rent some movies. Easy.
  • If you’re going to drink, don’t go out, buy from a liquor store and drink it at home. You won’t get pulled over from drunk driving, either. Don’t order drinks with your meal, they costs as much as you could buy at a liquor store for the ingredients! Don’t drink at bars, either. Simply buy stuff from a liquor store and drink them at home. It’s funner, too. The advantages of doing it this way are endless. Saves money, no drink and driving, a better time, ingredients left over, etc. We usually go to a bar first, then drink later at home, if you want that social atmosphere.
  • Get an Entertainment Book. I’m not sure how much they are. Last I heard they were $50 but they have thousands in savings if you use it. Lots of coupons! Good for families.
  • Get stuff from fast food restaurants. Napkins, straws, forks, etc can all be found at McDonalds and other restaurants. Just when you’re there, grab some extra for the house. This also works for salt and pepper, ketchup, and other stuff. Also, when you eat out at these places, REFILL your drink before you leave. Put it in the fridge for later!
  • Don’t discard change. It adds up.

I hope these simple tips can help you save money, as they’ve helped me over the years. I don’t think I can count how much money I’ve saved by doing some/all of these. Your standard of living DOESN’T go down as much as you think. So you don’t go out with your friends as much as you can/used to, but odds are, they’re looking to save money, too.