When You’re Not Sure Whether To Laugh Or Cry

I almost didn’t believe it when I saw a friend of mine post a series of tweets by columnist James Bloodworth, who recently wrote a book about how so much work these days goes unpaid, and that’s part of the problem that faces the younger generation these days.

Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up.

Personally, I’ve never liked the Huffington Post all that much.  I read stuff on there from time to time, because they have built up such a big following that it’s inevitable that’s where a lot of content will appear.  But, it’s never been my go-to place.

I think a lot of that stems from my thoughts on the original founder, Ariana Huffington.  She’s one of those famous people that I just feel doesn’t deserve to be famous.  It’s kind of like how I know many people feel about the Kardashians!

Now, I know that she rose to fame long before I was aware, but once I was, and I looked back, she just didn’t seem to have a moment where I felt she deserved to have the spotlight.  She just sort of snuck in and took it.

So, while I know she sold the site that bears her name, a lot of the ideals, practices, and well, the simple distrust, still remain.

And, stuff like this doesn’t help.

I mean, they don’t see the irony of seeking someone out to write an article about their book about not getting paid, and then make it clear that they aren’t going to pay him?  Yet, you best bet that they’re going to make a profit from it!

I don’t get it.

Actually, I do.  Because that’s the way of the world now.  The people that have the money are fine to make more, but everybody else gets scraps, or in the case of the Huffington Post, they offer EXPOSURE, and well, isn’t that just as good? (so they say).

Short answer: No.  Exposure doesn’t pay the bills.

I think that this all started back in the Great Recession.  A few years ago.  Don’t you remember when people started losing their jobs and their houses and all that, and it somehow became a mainstream line to hear over and over again:

“Well, I’m just lucky I still have a job.”

Think about it.  How often did you say that or hear that or read it or see it come up in some form?  It was everywhere.  And, look what it’s done.  It lowered the bar.  Down to the ground.

People started saying that, and those that control the jobs heard it, and had their a-ha moment.  and they started conditioning people to really believe it. Does this sound familiar:

Boss: “Hey, team, we need to raise your health care contributions this year and by the way no raises this year.  It’s tough but we were glad to have you still with us”
Employee 1: “Wow, that sucks.”
Employee 2: “Yeah, but I’m just thankful I still have a job.”
Employee 1: *nods*

And, look, here we still are today.  Isn’t life grand?

Are we laughing or crying yet?  Maybe both?

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Scoring a Deal: Common Car Insurance Quandaries to Be Aware Of

Car insurance can be extremely confusing. There’s of course basic coverage and protection to have, but then there are also additional items and sub limits that you need to be aware of. Not every motorist’s situation will call for additional coverages or higher than minimum protection, but you never want to guess with insurance coverage. After all, it’s designed to protect your financials in case something unexpected happens.

Here are some of the more common options that you should be considering as you move forward with your car insurance situation:

Uninsured and Underinsured Coverage

While it’s nice to assume that everyone pays for car insurance (it is the law), you should know that there are many people operating vehicles without it. There are countless more people who are covered but underinsured, and that’s still a scary thought. What if your car is worth $30,000 and when someone slams into you, you find that their minimum coverage only covers $15,000?

In addition to the other damage that could be caused (hitting a fence, causing damage to a neighboring building or tearing up the yard where one of the cars ends up, just to name a few), you now have someone either with zero car insurance or with the “cut rate” state minimums and they will be responsible to pay all of that money. The chances that it actually happens are slim to none, so you can use the uninsured and underinsured options your policy provides you with to make sure your insurance steps in when someone else’s simply isn’t able to cover you. This is definitely an option to consider simply for the reason that you can put your insurance and your own foresight ahead of anyone else’s.

Common Exclusions and Barred Drivers

You need to know the specific language of your actual policy to know what it excludes and covers. What if you’re towing a trailer and your policy doesn’t allow coverage on the trailer due to the size? What if you are delivering pizzas on the side to make more cash, or driving for Uber, and the policy excludes any work-related driving? What if your roommate needs to back the car out of the driveway so he can get his car out, and in doing so backs into a car parked on the street?

All of these things not only can happen, but they do, each and every day. You have to know that your specific auto policy is not just a guideline but actually a legal contract that you are responsible to maintain and follow the directions and agreement within. If you do something that is excluded or not covered on the policy, and you happen to suffer a loss, you’ll be left with a vehicle beat to pieces that you may not have money to repair. Know the specifics ahead of time and verify that the company you receive a quote from will in fact step up when something goes wrong.

Know What Your Limits Are

It is extremely important to know what is excluded, but you also want to know every benefit afforded to you when shopping for new car insurance rates. That’s why when you start looking for liability car insurance coverage on sites like CoverHound, you’re able to see exactly what your limits are and also what they include. What if your limits do include the perks like rental reimbursement and towing after a collision? Do your limits include lost wages as a result of not being able to work for a few weeks? What about the coverage for your passengers that are inside the vehicle? Some people think that every car insurance option is exactly the same, however, there are so many options offered by insurance companies that if you don’t know what you have (and if you don’t ask) then you’ll always be asking yourself hypotheticals without the peace of mind of knowing the answer.

Knowing the amount of car insurance you pay as well as the amount of coverage you have are essential to know, but other pertinent information still lies within. Drivers need to know that their vehicle and their financial assets (as well as their health) will be protected in case something does happen and an accident does occur. By taking the time to thoroughly quote auto insurance with a provider that knows their stuff, you have a much better shot of being covered in the worst-case scenario of an auto accident.

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Rashes and Scratches: How I’m Dealing With My Eczema – 2016 Edition

I’ve had eczema for a few years now.  It’s pretty rare, though not totally uncommon, to develop it as an adult.  Typically children are more prone to it and grow out of it, or adults that have it often had it as a kid.  I don’t think that I did.  In any case, it’s been an ongoing thing but as time has gone on, I’ve learned more and more ways to work through it.

Here are some of the recent activities in my ongoing battle with eczema.

Understand My Eczema Triggers

I don’t have breakouts all of the time, but when I do, I’ve found that there are often things that lead to them for me.  All of these things are quite common as far as triggers go:

  • Cold, dry weather – It definitely spikes in the winter time when the air is cold and dry
  • Stress – If I have a high level of stress, I seem to be more prone to outbreaks
  • Too Little Sleep – If I average 7 or more hours per night, this seems to help me out a lot.  If I fall below that, I have noticed that outbreaks are a lot more common.
  • Cleaning Products – Washing dishes by hand or cleaning with harsher products seems to really ratchet things up.  Even wearing gloves did not seem to help.  But more on that in a second.

Understood and Re-Upped My Medication

One of the things that worked out really good over the past few years was a topical medicine called ProTopic.  It was originally prescribed to me when it was a fairly new product, and there were quite a few concerns at the time.  One was that it was thought to have led to higher incidents of skin cancer.  Another was that it could weaken the skin.

mb-2016-05-doctorNow that it’s been around a lot longer, the larger sample size of available research has largely reduced these concerns.  As far as the cancer goes, there are no real differences in the rate of skin cancer for people who are on the medicine or who aren’t.

And the thinning of skin turns out not to be the case either.  That tends to happen when you use steroid based products for a long period of time, but ProTopic is not a steroid, but instead is an immuno suppressant, meaning that it really works to squash the response of the immune system that triggers the breakouts.  I also talked to the doctor about the concern that I could be building a tolerance to where my body would no longer respond, and she said that based on my usage, I have a long ways to go before she would be concerned about this.  That’s good!

The downside of the medicine is that it is expensive.  Even a now-available generic version, cost me $305 for a tube.  The good news on that is that I use it very sparingly, so this tube could end up lasting a long time.  At the worst, I’d estimate that it would last six months, but based on how much I’ve used my previous amounts, it could last as long as two years.

Reduced Mildew

We have a few areas where mildew seems to build up a lot.  One is in our washing machine, which is a front loader that unfortunately was one of the early models, and I found that the area around the soap / bleach dispenser was never drying out and causing huge buildups of mildew.  Maybe this had nothing to do with eczema, but either way, the idea that our clothes, towels, and bedding were being washed in it and then coming with our bodies gave me the idea to clean things out once and for all.  I spent a couple of hours erradicating all traces from the machine (using bleach, which ironically triggered an outbreak *lol*) and I now actually remove the little drawer and keep the inside dry to prevent new buildup from taking place.  It defies logic to have to take the blasted thing out before bed, and then put it back in before I leave for work, but actually once you do it a few times, the absurdity kind of drops off.

Improved Moisturizing 

One of the simple rules of thumb that my dermatologist told me is to make sure to use creams and not lotions.  They work differently and creams are better than lotions for eczema patients.  I’ve been working on trying to find one that I like best, and am right now working through an Aveeno formula specialized for eczema.  The creams are definitely more money and they also tend to be a little more messy as they’re more watery than lotions, but if it helps, I’m all for it.

Revamping My Cleaning Gloves (To Do)

When I told the dermatologist that cleaning solutions bothered me, she suggested gloves, and when I mentioned that they often irritated me, she said that’s common as sweat and condensation actually forms inside the glove, and this process can actually irritate the skin.  She has found that one thing that often works is to put a thin cotton glove on, then put the cleaning glove over that.  The cotton glove will absorb most of the moisture that forms inside the glove, thus preventing it from getting to the skin.  Now, the trick is just to find some thin enough cotton gloves where I can test this process.  Any ideas?

Overall

Eczema is no fun.  At one point over the past winter I decided I wanted to go cold turkey and see what would happen.  Big fail.  I ended up with spots in multiple places on my hands, fingers, and arms, and it itched so bad that I know I was spreading it around as I scratched it (even knowing that I shouldn’t).  Honestly, I hate being dependent on medicine but knowing that it works, I’m happy to continue on for now.

Hoping that one day there’s a miracle cure, but until then, I’ll do my best to deal with the rashes and scratches.

Readers, do you or does anyone in your family suffer from eczema?  Any miracles out there that I should know about?

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

If You Paid A Lot In Taxes, You Might Get Little Sympathy

I read a post on another one of my favorite blogs recently that rubbed me the wrong way a little bit.  I’m not going to point it out because I don’t think the post was written with the intent to get anybody upset, and it actually went off into some other advice that was practical and useful for many (thus why it’s still one of my favorite blogs), but it still gave me enough pause that I wanted to write about one aspect.

The post started off with the author complaining about having to pay a high number in federal taxes for last year.  He writes a lot about his profession and I can tell that he’s very knowledgeable, and I would wager that he is very good and very successful at what he does.

As such, I think he probably earns quite a good living.

Which, just to make very clear, I am 100% fine with.  People that do good work and are compensated well for it, I really have no problem at all with.

However, where it went a little off course was that he just jumped right into the fact that he was paying a lot of taxes, and glossed right over what I consider the even more important part of it.  What’s that?  It’s simple.

He’s  paying a lot more in taxes because he’s making a lot more money.

See, when you shift the focus of the sentence, you could easily look at the “making more money” aspect, in which case, who would complain about that?  Nobody.  Nobody at all would complain about making more money, right?

mb-2015-06-chartBut, if you’re paying more in taxes, aren’t you, in essence, complaining about making more money?

Now, I know that tax law is complicated and there are tons of factors that go into what people pay, so I know that people can make the same money and pay wildly different amounts in taxes, and vice versa, but I think it’s a safe bet to say that someone who pays $5,000 in taxes is likely making a lot less than someone who pays $25,000 in taxes.

See, it’s all about perspective.  You’d probably never hear the person that pays $5,000 in taxes say “Oh, wow, I wish I was paying $25,000 a year in taxes.”  That would sound almost silly, right?

But, what if, for the sake of argument, the two were making $50,000 and $250,000 respectively.  Would you think it crazy if the person making $50,000 thought “I wish I was making $250,000 a year.”  Of course not, who wouldn’t want that?

However, aren’t they really saying the same thing?

Let’s face it, everybody would like to pay less taxes, sure, I get that, but in the roughly 20 years I’ve been filing returns, it’s a pretty safe bet that if I’ve paid more taxes versus the prior year that I’ve started off by making more money.  I mean, you can’t really have it both ways, so which way would you rather have it, paying more and making more or paying the same but foregoing your growing income?  That could very well be the easiest question ever asked on this blog.

So, the point is that people can complain about paying taxes, but in many cases, aren’t you potentially complaining about making more money?   Have you ever heard of someone making such a complaint?  Well, if you’ve heard someone complaining that they’re paying tens of thousands of dollars in taxes, you may in fact have.

I think that , in the case of the blog post I read, it could have been nullified by starting things off with something along the lines of “Our income was good last year, but even so, it still sucks paying $<amount> in taxes.”  Acknowledging the other side might have earned a tad bit more empathy from me, anyway.

Readers, what do you think?  Do you see complaining about paying more taxes almost as complaining about making too much money?

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.