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The Poor Get Poorer: Quick Preview

For a long time I have wanted to write a blog titled “The Rich Get Richer, The Poor Get Poorer, and Why” which would focus on exactly that. I don’t care to make this specific post into a full fledged blog today, but I am currently working on a more lengthy, detailed, and most importantly helpful post on this in the background.

Working in the finance industry certainly gives me an interesting perspective into the inner workings on personal finance. What I mean by this is the small, itty bitty decisions people like you and me make every day, every hour, which impact our financial well being.

We can talk economics all day long but even on a micro scale, economics is still a macro issue. We could debate and fight and bicker and argue but no matter your view on economics or government fiscal policy no single piece of legislation would have any significant, lasting, or even immediate impact on anyone’s financial status.  Ultimately, none of those debates really matter.

What I’ve found is that the biggest factor that plays into peoples financial health, so to speak, are the tiny decisions they make on a daily basis. We’re always going to have those outlier data points such as kids born into super rich families or those born in a dumpster with one eye and a tail. But if you show me 20 people who are struggling, I can show 17 of those same people who are struggling because of a series of shitty financial decision making.

This isn’t my way of berating anyone. A lot of the people who make bad decisions don’t know they are making them. And importantly, a lot of the decisions they make which adversely affect their financial health aren’t always immediately presented as financial in nature, or they don’t suspect it will have any immediate financial consequence, if at all.

The spark for this random post on a Thursday evening was one of my clients. I have literally thousands of clients. I interact with dozens a day, hundreds per week. I have seen it all. Filthy rich, to flithy poor. Incredibly intelligent to “aw, bless your heart”.

Today I had a very nice client contact me. She was concerned about the price of her insurance going up, as we all are. So I dug into her car insurance to see what the deal was. How dare her rates go up! Rates have been going on steadily across the state thanks to all you texting-and-drivers out there, so it’s not uncommon for someone’s rates to seemingly go up for “no reason”.

Well that wasn’t the case. A couple months ago back in August she had a suspension on her license which in California pretty much is a death blow to your insurability. The reason for the suspension was a “failure to appear” which just means that she got a ticket, didn’t pay the ticket (or contest it), and now the California DMV dinged her driving record. She basically got a ticket and did nothing.

Now, she probably thought that by not paying the ticket, she was saving the $300-450 the ticket costs. (Speeding tickets were $360 in California circa 2016 are are probably higher now. Carpool tickets were $481 circa 2014.)

Unfortunately, she didn’t realize the financial consequences of not paying the ticket. Even if the government never gets a dime from her for that ticket, she’s still going to pay handsomely for it, and in fact, will pay much more.

In this particular clients case, her insurance is $685 every six months. Her insurance renews in a couple days, and because of the suspension, her new premium will be $974. Let’s do some math. All things held the same, her insurance is going up $289 every six months. Score, right? Wrong. Suspensions, tickets, and accidents stay on your records for 36 months, or in insurance terms, about 6 renewals. This means that this suspension will ultimately cost her $1,734 over the next three years just from increased insurance premiums.

And this specific client doesn’t even have an expensive account. She’s driving an 11 year old car, with the state minimum liability limits. If she owned a new car, or had decent limits, or had multiple cars, you could very easily take that increased premium and double it. She rents, and probably thinks it’s okay to have the coverage she has, but if she was a homeowner or someone who for security reasons needed to have good coverage, this one little suspension would have ended up costing them close to three grand.

Let that sink in for just a second. THREE. THOUSAND. DOLLARS.

I’m not blowing smoke. This is all legit. The numbers are real. I see this day in and day out. This sweet girl turned what was probably a $400 ticket into a $1700 problem. Had she known about all of this I have no doubt that she would have made a different decision. But we have a huge population of people who don’t know the financial consequences of their actions. And this was a relatively minor mistake. Unless she took traffic school, this ticket is invariably going to end up on her driving record as well, and she’ll get docked for that as well. More money.

What about paying her other bills late? Late fees. Cancellation fees. Reinstatement fees. Utility shut off fees. Utility start up fees. All real things, all tied to real expenses businesses have to pay for when such instances occur. Internal estimates from some of my companies say that when all is said and done, it can cost anywhere from $5 to $7 for them to mail documents to a client. So that $10 cancellation fee you got that you thought was bullshit? Think again.

The point I am trying to drive home here is this. Everything is a financial decision. The car you buy, the state, city, neighborhood, and even the specific house you live in. The food you eat. Whether or not you have a baby. Your lifestyle choices. I drink Coca Cola and recently had a $1,300 root canal, after dental insurance. You bet your ass I wish I could have gone back and not drank sugary beverages and spared myself the time, physical pain, and money. of getting my damn teeth fixed.

But bodily health issues aside, the one common denominator that I see with people who are financially unhealthy, is that they fail to get in front of their finances. They carry over credit card balances. They let checks bounce. They get eaten alive by the aforementioned fees. Those $10 “pain in the ass” fees as small as they are individually, will amass into financial colon cancer if unattended.

But the single greatest litmus test between the rich and the poor is which side of interest you fall on. Are you earning interest, or paying interest? Here’s a hint: Banks make interest on your money by lending it out to others via mortgages. You pay interest on your mortgage, car loan, student loan, and credit cards. It’s not just interest. It’s dividends, residuals, royalties. Those little tiny (or in the case of mortgages) not so tiny sums of money that over years, over decades, are the difference between one socioeconomic bracket, and the one three brackets over.

That’s it for today. Just remember, every thing you do is a financial decision. If financial independence and strength is important to you, decide wisely.

Game of Thrones Season Six Finale Review

SPOILER ALERT

The Game of Thrones season six finale raised just as many questions as it answered. Where one door closed, another was opened. While audiences everywhere breathe a collective sigh of relief over long overdue grievances finally being settled, we reel in anticipation of what is to come next season.

The annihilation of House Tyrell, the unification of the North, the destruction of the Great Sept, Bran Stark finally assuming the role of the three-eyed raven, the slaughter of the faith militant, and Daenerys finally setting sail for Westeros, army, dragons n’ all. And we finally got confirmation of what we all already suspected was the case – that Jon Snow is the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. Many a reign have ended. Many a feuds have been settled. But bad blood has been created that may shift the tides of power.

The Age of Women

In previous seasons of GOT there was a strong theme of the young replacing the old. We’ve seen Rob Stark assume the head of House Stark and ultimately be declared the King of the North. We’ve seen Jon Snow become the leader of the Night’s Watch. We’ve seen Geoffrey claim the throne previously held by his father Robert. The ancient Greek story of Cronus devouring his father Uranus has been a recurring theme as well, with Ramsey Bolton killing his father Roose Bolton, Tyrion killing Tywin, and Euron Greyjoy killing Balon Greyjoy.

Now, we enter The Age of Women. Cersei Lannister is now the Queen of Westeros, and arguably the head of House Lannister. Olenna Tyrell is the head of House Tyrell. Ellaria Sand rules Dorne. And of course let’s not forget Daenerys Targaryen commands an army of unsullied, Dothraki, the Second Sons, a massive fleet of ships, and drumroll… three dragons. Sansa Stark has done quite well for herself, outliving her enemies and managing to take back Winterfell. Arya Stark is making a name- er… lack thereof? for herself and has crossed quite a few names off her list. Brienne of Tarth is the most trusted confident of several high ranking persons. But perhaps my favorite character of Womandom and certainly the most worthy of admiration is the young, thunderous Lyanna Mormont. This girl is going places. Her stature inversely corresponds to the respect she commands. Her age inversely corresponds to her wisdom. And let’s just be real: Lyanna Mormont is a badass.

Cersei Unchained

My better half noticed that Cersei is also not adorned with the usual Lannister gold. Neither does she appear ravishing, per her norm. Instead her attire strikes a more stern, and militaristic look. Besides her cheekbones (did you catch that reference?), Cersei only had one redeeming trait and that was the love she had for her children. The only thing that kept Cersei in check in the earlier seasons was her concern for her children. Acting too hastily could jeopardize the wellbeing of her children. Now husbandless, fatherless, and childless, Cersei no longer has any moral restraints towards violence and doing anything to acquire and keep power. I am interested, and worried to see what Cersei unchained is capable of.

The North United

This was the biggest highlight of the episode to me. It was a long time coming when Jon Snow and Sansa Stark finally met each other once again. Then came the battle for Winterfell, after an unsuccessful wooing of other houses. But now the day has finally come when a wolf flag flutters over the turrets of Winterfell, and one by one the Northern houses are falling into line, pledging their loyalty. And we know that Bran is but a stone’s throw away, and even Arya is now back in Westeros and ready for action. We’ve never had so many Starks in such close proximity and in such good standing since the first season. This to me is so great because Game of Thrones rarely rewards Team Stark with good news.

From the crippling of Bran Stark, the beheading of Ned Stark, to the Red Wedding, to the rape of Sansa Stark, the blinding of Arya Stark, to the betrayal and murder of Jon Snow, the Stark family has had a very hard run. Nothing has come easy for them. But the one thing we can take from this is that the Starks are hard sons of bitches. They don’t go down easy. Despite their humble demeanors, the Starks are to be reckoned with and it is very nice to finally get a taste of justice.

Starks United Against No Enemy

I’ll always be Team Stark and though they aren’t jousting for the Iron throne I do hope they deliver one hell of an ass kicking. Except that there isn’t really any living ass to kick. Ned Stark was killed by Geoffrey who is dead. Rickon Stark was killed by Ramsey Bolton, who is dead. Anyone who was once captured and worth saving is now dead. The Starks are united now, but against who? I suppose against the white walkers but I feel like delivering an ass whooping to a bunch of snow zombies just doesn’t have the same appeal as say, killing a bunch of Lannisters would. When God gives you lemons, I guess…

Perhaps the Starks could rally and retake Riverrun, the ancestral home of their mother.

Whichever direction the wolves point their fangs, I hope to see Bran and Arya get back into the fold. Imagine the powerhouse of having John Snow, King of the North, leader of the Freefolk, and technically still commander of the Night’s Watch, teamed up with the now savvy Sansa Stark, along with Bran the mind-controlling warg / omniscient raven, and Arya the ruthless assassin who can change faces. They would be an unstoppable force that could rain down vengeance on their enemies. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. But with Daenerys and her dragons coming, Bran might want to practice warging out on something a little larger than Hodor…

Redemption of Theon

What I love about this show is that you can really like a character and then have them do something you totally disagree with. Good people that do bad things. Bad people that do good things or have the occasionally pearl of wisdom. The story is full of multilayered characters that are complex and ever evolving. Theon Greyjoy is one such character. Theon was not a prominent character in the season finale, it even season six, but I felt he deserved an honorable mention. Despite some seriously bad decisions (chiefly, groping his own sister), I really like the guy. He betrayed the Starks, yes, but life also dealt him a Karmic blow and he has since atoned for his sins. Despite everything thrown against him, Theon has also managed to push through. Perhaps being raised with the Starks rubbed off on him, and that tenacity that makes Starks so hard to kill is part of Theon’s character as well. Deep down, I think Theon always considered himself a Stark, and he knows now that he made a horrible mistake when he betrayed them. I am curious to see how his story unfolds, and if he ever officially redeems himself in the eyes of the Starks.

I Love Daenerys Targaryen…’s Entourage

I’ll just come out and say it. Dany’s is okay. She’s okay. She’s not awesome. I don’t hate her. But I don’t love her either. But you know what I always have loved? Her entourage! Say what you will about Dany, the girl keeps some good company.

Khal Drogo was a beast! That guys knew how to fight and I wish we got to see him past the first season. Jorah Mormont is an intriguing character who would go to hell and back for Dany, even after being banished by her twice and contracting greyscale. Sir Barristan Selmy, former Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, traveled half the known world to serve Dany and give the figurative bird to the Lannisters and he too could throw down. Then we have Greyworm, the leader of the unsullied who can kill two men with one swing of the dagger. Then we have the gorgeous Missandei who speaks like a million languages. And then we have Daario Naharis, leader of the Second Sons. A man who is so bad ass he can kill a charging horse with a quick throw of a knife and kill a man on horseback without breaking a sweat. Also in Dany’s ensemble are three fire breathing dragons. And of course let’s not forget the latest addition to Dany’s ever impressive cast – Tyrion Motherf**king Lannister.

While there are a great many characters in Game of Thrones, I think it is safe to say that Dany doesn’t make that list – at least not without her entourage.

Finale the Highlight of Season Six

It’s my humble opinion that season six has been the slowest, and dullest of most of the seasons. Blasphemy, I know. Not that I thought S6 was bad, but prior to it I thought every season was progressively better than the one preceding it. Season six to me seemed to flounder and stagnate. The last two (or few) episodes salvaged the season for me.

Had it not been for Jon Snow kicking the shit out of Ramsey Bolton the entire thing would have been a miss for me. I don’t know which made me happier: Geoffrey pathetically choking and spurting to death in front of his own mom, or John Snow beating Ramsey Bolton half to death with a shield and his bare hands only to then have his face mauled off by his own dogs as Sansa smugged.

Lyanna Mormont spearheading the North’s rally around Jon Snow as the rightful King of the North was another show stopper to me. I am completely done in by Lyanna Mormont. She sold the season finale and season seven will not be worthy without her. I sincerely hope we get to see more of this little titan in future episodes.

Although Cersei is not one of my favorite characters by any stretch, I was delighted to see her enact vengeance against the High Septon and faith militant. I just really dislike that guy. You’d think because I dislike Cersei, and the High Sparrow basically tortured her and then parading her through the streets naked and humiliated that I would consider him the enemy of my enemy. But I suppose my disdain for religious zealotry overshadows it, and it did please me so to see him blown to green smithereens… even if… ya know… Cersei also killed everyone else in town.

All said and done, season six was a success. While not as fast as I would have liked – it took about 3 episodes to really get some traction – it was thoroughly enjoyable and tied up a lot of the loose ends we had on the heels of season five. Season six was maaaaaarginally better than season five and to me it was the finale and pre-finale that pushed me over the edge. And now we have to wait nine excruciatingly horrible months for season seven.

Will Dany’s ships land safely in Westeros? Will the North be able to fend off the army of white walkers at their door? Will Cersei go bat shit crazy and kill everyone? Will Samwell Tarly figure out how to make Valyrian steel? Will Bran and Arya ever team back up with their siblings? Will Sandor Clegane find peace? Will Theon Greyjoy find redemption? Will Jorah Mormont find a cure? Will Jon Snow learn who his parents are and fight for his rightful place on the Iron Throne?

Many questions abound. But we now know one thing for certain.

Winter is here.

Game of Thrones Season 6 Mid-Season Thoughts

In just about an hour we’ll get to see episode 7 of season 6 of Game of Thrones. So I will quickly get this out before then in anticipation of this evening’s episode. Just to be clear this isn’t a review, or a synopsis. This is just my thoughts on the show and season so far.

Game of Thrones is a fantastic series. No, it’ a fantastic story – that does it a little more justice. It’s been two weeks so I imagine everyone is caught up on Hodor dying and yada yada so the cat’s out of the bag on a lot of the big surprises this season like that and John Snow coming back from the dead.

Hodor is a Pokemon

I know in my heart of hearts that I was in fact the first person to state that Hodor is a Pokemon. He is  Hodor, and all he says is Hodor, that makes him a pokemon. We’ll I guess a dead pokemon. Fuck you Bran! Also pokemon are Groot and Timmy from South Park. I’m actually starting to think Donald Trump might also be a pokemon. Maybe a half breed? He says his name very often. Anyways, that definitely was sad to see Hodor go and I totally blame Bran.

I Blame Bran Stark for Everything

Think about it. What was it, the pilot episode and Bran Start was climbing up the side of that turret and his mom told him “no more climbing you little shit!” and then like 20 minutes later he’s at it again where he spots the incestuous doggy style love making of Cersei and Jaime Lannister. Then he gets his dumb ass pushed out of the window which then causes his mom to go nuts and kidnap Tyrion Lannister which then gets Ned Stark stabbed in the fucking leg (and all his men murdered) and probably contributed to him getting executed, and sets off this entire domino effect that results is basically everyone dying and wars and well, this amazing series I love watching. So thanks? But then Bran goes into his little dream world and lets the white walker touch him which gets that old tree guy, the forest children gremlin girls, Hodor and his own wolf killed. Way to fucking go Bran.

Daenerys Targaryen on Repeat

I do like Daenarys, don’t get me wrong. But does anyone feel like she’s kind of the tent pole preacher of the show? You sit through this like 50 minute long mass and it’s boring and there’s a lot of mention of people walking through deserts, and then all of a sudden “PRAISE JEZUSSSSSS!!!!! our lord and savior” and the pastor like makes some disabled chick walk again or something. Well that’s kind of like Daenerys Targaryen. Absofuckingutely nothing will happen and her story arc will kinda fizzle out and she hits rock bottom and then she does this grandstand thing and everyone’s all “OMFGODZORS can you believe she just [insert random crazy thing]!?!?!” and everyone’s back on the Dany train again. That’s kinda her M.O.

Husband dies, walks into a pyre with dragon eggs, burns her enemy, comes out naked, gets followers.

Goes to Astapor, gets a bunch of unsullied, frees them, burns her enemy, unfortunately doesn’t gets naked, gets more followers.

Walks into a giant hut, sets it on fire, comes out naked, gets more followers.

It just starts to feel really repetitive.

The Religious Shit is Boring

I liked the first couple seasons when there was all the politics going on. Tyrion and Little Finger and that dude with no dick all fighting back and forth in a battle of minds and wit to see who can out maneuver the other.

Now we have like all this religious crap going on. We got these red women chicks who can’t seem to agree on which horse to back. And are they all super old ugly women? Or just the one? And then there’s the many faced god storyline with Arya which to be is actually super boring. And then there are those trees with the faces and the old dude in the tree with the roots and wait what the fuck is going on again? And oh right back in the real world we have these Sparrow nut jobs who like to lock people up and then parade them around a city to naked to get feces thrown on them and contract like hepatitis or something. The only religious aspect of this show I find remotely interesting is the drowned god and that’s because no one talks about it.

I reallllllly hope we can breeze past all this religious stuff.

Okay shit I need to go to McDonalds to get a McFlurry before the show starts so I will end this blog now and write more later. Peace! McFlurry here I come!!!

Can you f*#&ing believe that guy?

The name says it all, but before I launch into some diatribe, what’s the deal?

I’ve wanted to start a website or a blog or something to vent for years and just never really got around to it. Every once in a while I’ll be perusing some web article or shared post on facebook and want to lash out at the screen. If I had purchased the warranty that the Geek Squad guy recommended, I might have thrown my computer out a window by now. But cooler heads prevailed.

I caught myself getting into arguments with friends on facebook, or better yet, strangers on news websites. What a waste of time, right?

We’ll the kicker I suppose is that some people think I’m an asshole for having the audacity to speak my mind. Apparently, I’m offensive. Newsflash to me. Not really.

But not offensive like “Your mother’s a whore” offensive. I don’t say stuff like that. More like “I have an idea that you disagree with, therefore you think I’m an asshole.” That kind of an asshole. So I mean, I’m not really an asshole in the traditional sense of the word, and definitely not in the literal sense, but more in the contemporary, people-need-to-stop-getting-so-uppity sense.

That’s where the name comes from. I feel like I have some good ideas, but I’m not always so politically correct about how I express or share them. I also cuss like a sailor and am not overly concerned about people being upset by my comments or sense of humor. These days, I almost feel compelled to use people’s reaction to my ideas as a measuring stick of their validity.

If after reading my blogs, people are saying “Can you fucking believe that guy?”, I’d consider that a win.

So don’t be dismayed or discouraged from reading my other blog posts. I’m actually a really nice guy, and I’ll be the first to line up if you ever need help moving.