Hold Onto Your Car!

Copyright: stanciuc

The pandemic has created many shortages and supply chain issues, among them toilet paper, disinfecting supplies, and workout equipment. But did you know that there is also a shortage of used automobiles? Two major factors which have caused so many people to turn towards used cars are decreased new automobile production, and budget concerns which have resulted from decreases in income. If you have an extra used car sitting around that’s not being used, it may be a small gold mine for you if you sell it right now, because the demand is so high. But if your used vehicle is one you actually need in order to get around, and it’s in good mechanical shape, you’re better off holding onto it until the surge in demand simmers down.

Even my car, which is a 6 year old economy car, is now worth about $1,400 more this year than it was at the beginning of 2020. Strange, but it’s true. Prior to the pandemic, I had actually considered selling my car and getting a newer model, but I am definitely pushing my plans back by about 3 years or more. I truly hope that when I am ready to get a different car, the supply chain issues with new automobile production will not be an issue like they are right now.

If you are in the market to buy a used car, you already know how difficult it is to actually locate one. It took one of my dear friends four months before she was able to find a used car to purchase. She looked everywhere, and kept responding to listings which turned out to be sleazy dealers instead of the private parties they claimed to be. The vehicles were not in good mechanical condition, so they never passed mechanical inspection. The only reason why she was finally able to find a decent car to buy was because a friend of hers whose mother was going to buy one from a family member changed her mind, and offered to sell the car to my friend. Had that not occurred, my friend would likely still be on the hunt for a set of wheels.

If you can purchase a new car instead of struggling to find a used one, be prepared to pay about 5% more than before March of 2020.

Why I Hate The Phrase, “It Is What It Is”

“It is what it is.’

I cannot understand why this phrase has become so popular, because it is incredibly stupid and redundant. I cringe every single time I hear someone utter it, and am dismayed by the number of people I know who have adopted this into their current communication behaviors. Why has it suddenly become so trendy to state the obvious in this manner? I can’t help but think that everyone who utters this string of words either hasn’t given much thought to the circular reasoning buried in it, or has developed a pathological and resigned attitude towards life in which circumstances are shrugged off. Come on guys, take a little responsibility, would you?

Copyright: rnl

If we look at res ipsa loquitur logic, this legal term indicates that someone is presumed to be negligent if that individual had control over what caused the injury. But since I took two years of Latin in high school, I am more intrigued by the original semantics and logic of this particular phrase. If we apply this idea of negligence to the statement, “it is what it is”, does that mean that people are blaming fate, or the lockdown, for the unraveling of society which has occurred in the past year and a half, or are they simply resigning themselves to fate when they utter that? All I know is that I have heard it far too often since spring of last year, and it is raising my ire.

I truly enjoy and appreciate what Ethan Ryan from The Fiddleback has to say about this idiotic statement:

“It is what it is” is a waste of words, a waste of breath. I mean, sure, I get it. It expresses the same sentiment as the French “C’est la vie!” But still, it irks me. It’s just a repetitive series of defeatist monosyllables. Why not just say “It is,” or for that matter, “It’s”?

Of course it is what it is! How could it be anything but it?

The only context in which that phrase would be appropriate would be if somebody asked “Is it what it is?” and you said, “Yes, it is what it is.” Presumably you’d have this conversation in an assisted living home with a demented loved one attempting to categorize an ice cream cone.

When you write “It is what it is” as a mathematical algorithm it looks like this:

it = it

In logic, this is called the law of identity, which states that an object is the same as itself. “A is A” is a tautology. Here are some more:

1 = 1

pineapple = pineapple

J = J

☺ = ☺

poop = poop

X = X

Those are analytical facts, verified by their consistency within the rules of a symbol system. But they’re also stupid and irrelevant. They’re true under all possible circumstances, and they demand little of the world for their truth. You don’t need evidence to back up the claim “Poop is what poop is.”

Here’s another tautology:

Formula_Ryan

Seems logical, right? I don’t know, I’m not a logician.

What concerns me are rhetorical tautologies such as:

“I am what I am.” ~ God talking to Moses

“I yam what I yam.” ~ Popeye talking to Olive Oyl

“Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” ~ Gertrude Stein

“A horse is a horse, of course, of course.” ~ the Mr. Ed theme song

“It is what it is what it is what it is what it is what it is what it is.” ~ this essay

It is it. A is A. But redundancies are redundant, aren’t they? Be succinct. Next time your umbrella breaks, or your toilet gets clogged, or your house burns down, just shrug and say “It’s.”

That’s obnoxious advice, I know. Defeatism gets us nowhere. Life is hard, but that’s no excuse to spout meaningless clichés. There are so many fantastic adjectives and nouns and verbs out there, humming in a deep pocket of your brain. Use your words. Don’t just say “It is what it is.” We already know that.

Wittgenstein said philosophy is the headache you get from banging your head up against the limits of language. When I came across that line I decided I was done studying philosophy. Years later, my head is still hurting. Philosophy is dangerous.

Whatever.

It’s.

——–
Ethan Ryan

Cutting Out The Fat

One of the healthiest things I have done this year is to eliminate a very toxic person from my life. It took me over ten years to realize that this person was never a true friend, and that I was always regarded as “just Stacey”, not as an important or special person. I foolishly kept making generous gestures, including buying this person a new phone when the old one became nonfunctional, even though I struggled to pay for that replacement phone and felt the financial impact of my own generosity. I went so far as to stock special supplements, foods and beverages, which I never personally consumed, in my home to accommodate this person’s visits, even visiting stores I would not normally frequent in order to purchase these special items. In short, I was too nice to a person who never deserved any of it. I have saved money since I cut this person off. I don’t miss being drained financially, emotionally, mentally, even physically. This person NEVER cared about me, and has never wanted to help me with something as simple as taking out the trash while I was preparing food. If I asked for such a favor, this person would say, “You’re just gonna have to wait”, and would take his time reading his book or watching TV before he would begrudgingly get up and toss the garbage.

Copyright: bsd555

I was never good enough in this person’s eyes, and was always being told that if I did things his way, then my life would be so much better. One example was when he stated that a mini fridge I had in a corner of my dining room was not positioned optimally, and that I should pivot it 90 degrees. We bickered about it for several minutes, then I acquiesced. Upon attempting to pivot the fridge, we discovered why I had positioned the fridge the way I had done when I moved in. Basically, the way that I had arranged the fridge was the ONLY way I could plug it into the wall without using an extension cord. So we pivoted the fridge back to its original spot, yet this person never admitted that his insistence on moving the fridge might have been unnecessary. I received unsolicited advice on my finances, how I stored my pantry items, how my home gym was set up, etc. When I say that this person would constantly tell me how to do things, I am definitely not exaggerating. I was ALWAYS in his shadow, even when I knew that his suggestions were no better than the manner in which I did things. It was exasperating and frustrating to deal with this constant criticism.

You might be asking how I could have let someone take advantage of me like this for so many years, and the only thing I can say is that I somehow believed that this person was a good friend. Something clicked in my brain when he decided to wash his car in front of my garage, using water I pay for, and using car wash accessories I also paid for, without asking me if he could do so. I had to study for my family practice board recertification exam, so I told him I needed a couple of weeks to really hunker down and study. I took the exam, then he rudely ignored me for several more weeks (we would often hang out on a weekly basis), triggering an epiphany in me. Only then was I able to stand tall and speak my mind, then sever ties.

When You Just Don’t Like Him

Copyright: estradaanton

Have you ever met someone who seemed to have all the qualities you were looking for in a partner, then after getting to know each other, you kept getting reminders of how much you didn’t like the person? There are two men who come to mind, one whom I dated in 2019 (I’ll call him Sam), and one whom I met during the pandemic (let’s call him Rick). The fact that they were both intelligent and educated actually threw a major wrench in things, because I relish a good intellectual conversation, and didn’t realize that both men simply HAD to be right during any dispute, no matter what. The fact that I had political views which differed from both guys fueled quite a bit of animosity, which strengthened my conviction to avoid any chatter which veered in a political direction.

Things progressed very rapidly with Sam, and by the fourth date, he started referring to me as his girlfriend. Before I knew what was happening, he began to plan out every single weekend for us without consulting with me beforehand. He went so far as to tell me that I would be required to join him and his mother’s family for Thanksgiving, which I completely rejected. It was all too much, too fast, and my independent nature rebelled against Sam’s need to control every part of the relationship. He was also arrogant, had a tendency to insult others whom he deemed less intelligent than him, had the clammiest hands I have ever felt, and was clumsy and terrible in bed (sorry guys, but that matters). I finally ended our relationship after three months via a very heated phone call in which he kept insisting that he had plans for us, and that I was “disobeying” him by breaking up with him. That should tell you something about the hell I went through.

Rick was very different from Sam in a number of respects. First of all, Rick was into fitness and weightlifting, he was very easy on the eyes, and had a more laid back attitude. I soon realized that Rick’s laid back attitude was partially due to a general lack of interest he had in me, which meant that he just wouldn’t make an effort to see me. We’d make plans, and he would conveniently “forget”, stating that he didn’t think we had “PLANS plans”. Rick had even pulled this stunt on Valentine’s Day, when we made plans to get together, only to have him back out with that same lame excuse. The only time we had Zoom calls was when I would suggest that we schedule one, and we didn’t even go out in public until late July of this year. I bet if I hadn’t complained that we had only seen each other in person 6 times over the span of 8 months, and that we would meet either at his home or mine, we would have never gone anywhere. I enjoyed going to a restaurant so much that I suggested that we go out for sushi a month later, and stated that it would be my treat. I figured that at least I would be able to enjoy the sushi meal as well. It didn’t surprise me that Rick didn’t flake this time, and made sure to honor plans for the sushi dinner I had offered to finance. Only moments after I paid the bill, which was over $200, Rick actually complained that he preferred the plain sushi selections over the more exotic ones, so I decided right then and there that I would never take him for sushi again.

Rick had a tendency to dole out unsolicited medical advice numerous times when I mentioned maladies such as neck pain or a rash. Who on earth would have the nerve to deliver medical advice to a board certified physician? Rick would, and it infuriated me every single time. Another very rude habit he had was that he ALWAYS had his phone by his side, and would often look at it, even while I was talking to him. We also argued about politics, cars, and spending habits, and as I realized how little common sense this guy had, my attraction to him flickered out like a snuffed out candle.

One of these days, it would be nice to meet someone who isn’t contentious, arrogant, flaky, or controlling.

Design A Budget Which Works For You

Copyright: akkamulator

Not too long ago, I went shopping at a retail home goods store with a good friend. When we approached the checkstand, my friend experienced a bit of sticker shock, because she kept adding things to her cart and hadn’t kept track of how much she was spending. When I suggested that she might want to review what she had in her cart and perhaps pare down, she responded with, “Well, it will somehow work out. I still have some room on my credit card.” We kept chatting as the sales clerk rang up my friend’s items, and she continued with, “I never know how much I have in my checking account, and I don’t keep a budget, so I always hope and pray that I make it each month.” By this time I was cringing at what my friend was saying, and I also became very concerned for her financial health.

If you are like my friend and choose to throw caution to the wind by refusing to follow a structured budget, you have signed up for a rocky financial future. You may argue that you have the same fixed expenses each month, such as mortgage/rent, cell phone, and your car payment, and that you somehow always know approximately how much you spend on groceries and fuel for your car, but if I challenged you and asked you to itemize those expenses, I would bet that there is some overspending occurring. If you are also forgetting about discretionary expenses like a regular Starbuck’s habit, or even worse, you are neglecting retirement savings or contributions to an emergency fund, then you are skating on very thin ice indeed.

You might be thinking, “But I don’t know how to make a budget!” The whole idea of sitting down and creating a budget may sound daunting, but all it entails is writing down all of your income sources for each month, then creating a separate list of all of your monthly expenses. Once you have the basic framework of your regular expenses, you can add in your occasional expenses, such as personal care items (haircuts, etc.), auto insurance, upcoming vacations, etc. so that you are aware of the need to cover them. If you really dig deep, you will probably encounter hidden expenditures you weren’t completely aware of, such as streaming movie rentals, outdoor dining, or even online subscriptions which you might have forgotten about.

Once you have determined how much money is coming in each month, and how much money must be spent on fixed and variable expenses, you can see which expenses are unnecessary or frivolous, and you can also determine what other financial goals for which you can earmark part of your income. Examples of good financial goals are the following:

  • Paying off credit card debt (make sure that you add your monthly payments into your monthly budget!)
  • Vacation plans
  • Retirement planning
  • Adding to an emergency fund

Once your budget is completed, make sure to refer to it at least once a month, and as you reach certain financial goals (especially paying off credit card debt), you can make adjustments to your budget. Funds which were previously being funneled in one direction can be redirected to another goal, such as cushioning your retirement accounts or emergency fund. I can’t stress enough how important it is to focus on eliminating any credit card debt, because nothing erodes financial security more than this type of debt. Think about it: if you are paying 19.9% APR on a credit card balance of $2,000, that means that the credit card company is making an extra $400 in a year (this is a very rough estimate, since you would be making payments each month on that original balance). The other problem is that most people will add to a credit card balance, which pushes you into deeper debt. With credit card debt, it’s like taking one step forward and two steps back, so if you have credit card debt, HELOC’s, or another high interest debt, your primary focus should always be on aggressively paying those balances down. Once you are free from credit card debt, I strongly recommend that you curtail usage of any credit cards and use cash or a debit card instead.

When you stick to your budget, you may be surprised by how much it will improve your financial picture. A budget establishes a framework which enables you to move towards financial goals you might never have thought you could ever reach. Another great thing about an effective budget is that it doesn’t have to be static, so as your goals change and you reach certain markers, you can make adjustments to further fortify your financial position.

Simple Yet Effective Self-Care Tips for Entrepreneurs — And Why It’s So Important You Make Time for Them

Check out this very informative article by Jason Lewis, targeted towards entrepreneurs to help them learn how to practice self-care.

Jason Lewis is a personal trainer, who specializes in helping senior citizens stay fit and healthy. He is also the primary caretaker of his mom after her surgery. He created StrongWell.org and enjoys curating fitness programs that cater to the needs of people over 65.

Most entrepreneurs are of the notion that they have to clock an inhuman number of hours each week to obtain some semblance of success. This is the only explanation for the fact that 33% of small business owners put in an average of 50 hours per week and another 25% clock 60 or more. Yet, while many of the world’s most successful business owners agree that a nine-to-five workweek just won’t cut it, most also concede that self-care is an integral component of long-term success. If you have plans to make it big in your industry, take time out of your busy schedule to treat yourself.

The Case for Self-Care

According to Psychology Today, self-care is a key driver of leadership and workplace success. Below are a few benefits of self-care that back this assertion:

  • The most effective self-care activities, which include eating healthy, working out, getting enough sleep, and spending quality time with the people you love, are all known workplace performance enhancers.
  • Self-care keeps you from working more, which actually helps your productivity. Research shows that working more than 50 hours a week produces zero productivity gain.
  • Self-care activities boost your creativity and confidence and decrease your stress and anxiety.
  • Self-care prevents career-crippling crises from occurring.

Now that you understand the importance of self-care, explore ways you can incorporate it into your schedule for the most impact.

Get Plenty of ZZs

Successful people may burn the midnight oil or wake up at the crack of dawn, but rest assured, they sleep. According to a CNBC report, some of the most successful people — including Jeff Bezos, Tobias Lutke, Bill Gates, and Lebron James — get seven to eight hours of sleep per night. So, wake up or go to bed at whatever time you want, but be sure you clock your eight hours.

Hit the Gym

Exercise is important regardless of how you choose to make a living. However, if you won’t rest until you find success as an entrepreneur, then get moving. Per one survey, 76% of some of the most incredibly successful business leaders workout for at least 30 minutes each day. Research shows that exercise releases brain chemicals that improve memory, boost concentration and increase mental awareness.

Exercise does not have to be your typical weightlifting and running routine. Richard Branson plays tennis and kitesurfs. Jessica Alba does yoga and Krav Maga. Oprah averages at least 10,000 steps per day.

Remember to Breathe

Though relaxation seems like the opposite of productivity, you need to take a breather if you want to have more energy to put toward your business. Relaxation techniques will vary for everyone, but a few of the more effective ones include listening to music, writing, walking, and simply breathing. It also doesn’t hurt to say no to tasks that add a lot of stress and little benefit to your life.

Another way to relieve stress is by choosing to structure your business as an LLC. An LLC comes with numerous tax advantages, limited personal liability, minimal amounts of paperwork, and ample flexibility. They are easy to form on your own or via an online formation service — call the Zen Business phone number for assistance.

Find Ways to Save Time

As an entrepreneur, you may feel like you have to do it all, but know that you really don’t. In fact, by outsourcing menial but still important tasks, you can save time, money, and energy — all of which you can put toward the growth of your startup.

Self-care is crucial to your success as an entrepreneur. Start showing yourself some compassion today by doing any of the above. Reach out to Stacey for the fitness and nutrition guidance you need to be your best self

Image via Unsplash

Living Room Makeover

Have you ever lived with the same furniture and decor for so long, you just need a change? I had the same living room sofa, throw pillows and area rug for 15 years, and was so tired of looking at the same color scheme and the same items, that I was itching to switch it up. Another compelling reason to redecorate was the fact that the living room I have had for the past 3-1/2 years is much smaller than two previous living rooms I had before, so the dark color story which I had selected made my living area feel very dark and cavelike, to the point where it just depressed me. It was also painfully obvious to me that when I moved into my current space three years ago, I had thrown the living room furniture into the space without any regard for design, flow or mood. At no point did I take any pride in that particular space. It took three years of me avoiding that one room in my house, only because the colors were too drab, before I became aware of how much it was affecting my mood.

Living room before
Living room after

Since I could not afford to replace the espresso leather sectional I have had since 2004, I decided to purchase a light colored rug, light colored blankets, and light colored pillows. By June of this year, I began searching for and purchasing new items for the space. I also sold the 8 foot tall artificial palm which was wedged in one corner of the room, and I got rid of the second ottoman which took up much needed space. When I chose the textiles for the living room makeover, I made sure to select soft, cozy fabrics, so that when people sat on the sofa, they would feel snug and comfortable.

What do you think of the redo?

Corner before
Corner after
Entertainment unit before
Entertainment unit after
Entertainment unit form above
Living room from above

Beautiful wool lotus rug is the centerpiece of the living room redo

How the Pandemic Made Wine O’Clock Acceptable

Copyright: iridi

Shortly after COVID-19 caused a global lockdown in early 2020, many of us began to regard having a cocktail before 5 pm as acceptable. Conventional rules about how most people used to live were thrown out the window when we were suddenly trapped inside our homes, bored, stressed out, and uncertain about our futures. I don’t doubt for a second that many people turned to booze as a coping mechanism, to quell concerns over the mysterious virus which froze the world in trepidation, and to soothe anxiety over job security and financial wellness. Perhaps some individuals also turned to libations to manage the aggravation which resulted from the constant close proximity to family members from whom they used to be able to escape when they were able to leave the house for work. I suspect boredom has triggered a fair amount of drinking as well.

Copyright: ajlber

During full lockdown, alcohol merchants made it easy for people stuck at home craving a glass of cabernet sauvignon to order online or through apps and have ethanol elixirs delivered to their residences. Even now, with restrictions largely lifted, restaurants and other food-centered businesses have come up with cheeky suggestions on how alcohol can calm spirits ravaged by the chaotic and confusing events which COVID-19 created. It’s surprising to me how so many people who never drank on a regular basis admitted to drinking on a daily basis during full lockdown, because it smoothed the rough edges of a tumultuous and frightening time in history.

Denny’s Senior Menu

©Jonathan Weiss/123RF.COM

Though I have often joked about the 55+ senior menu at Denny’s, but now that I am about to turn 55, I am tempted to visit the famous chain diner so that I can finally order from it. I’m not big on diner fare, and there is a part of me that just doesn’t want to admit that I am really that old, but it might be fun to post some silly images on social media to chronicle my passage into the 55+ zone. I also recently found out that, in addition to having access to the old timers’ menu, I will also be able to flash my AARP membership card (which I have had since the age of 50) to receive a 15% discount off the bill. Not bad for an old geezer, right?

Never Again, Overstock!

<a href=”Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_piscine26′>piscine26Image ID : 162532375
Source: 123rf.com
Copyright : piscine26 

I will never order a single item from Overstock after the experience I had in May of this year. I happened to see a rug on Overstock which was exactly what I was looking for to serve as the centerpiece for my living room makeover, so I ordered it on Sunday, May 16th, shortly after midnight. About seven hours later, I noticed that I had ordered one size larger than what I needed, so I hopped onto Overstock’s online chat to cancel that order. The representative told me the order had shipped and could not be canceled, which I didn’t believe for a second. I asked what the situation was with return shipping, and was told I would be responsible for it. When I expressed my displeasure over that information, the representative suggested that I join Club O which would entitle me to free returns. I figured I had no other choice, so I paid $19.95 for Club O, and then placed an order for the proper size rug which I needed.

I then received emails from Overstock on May 20th stating that both orders were ready to ship, with an estimated arrival date of May 24th. How could that be if the first order I had placed had supposedly shipped on May 16th? Though I didn’t believe that the orders would ship on May 20th, I anticipated their arrival on May 24th. May 24th came and went, with no rugs in sight. I then got two text messages on May 25th (NINE DAYS after I placed both orders) informing me that the rugs had shipped on that date from northern California (I am in southern California). Honestly, why send emails and texts with estimated shipping and arrival dates which are completely inaccurate?

Both rugs arrived on May 27th, propped up against my garage door. I immediately called Overstock to initiate a return on the larger rug, and was told that I would have to pay $208 in return shipping. I mentioned that I had Club O, and the response from the representative was that with Club O, members only get store credit, no credits back to their original form of payment. The only way I could receive a refund back to my original payment method was by paying return shipping. By this time I was livid, and asked to speak to a supervisor, only to have the call cut off, so I had to call again. The best the second representative could do was to cover $101 in return shipping, so I begrudgingly agreed to the offer, knowing that $107 would be deducted from my refund. I also insisted on having my Club O membership canceled and the membership fee credited back to my account, with which the representative happily obliged.

The rug I was returning was picked up by UPS on May 28th, and Overstock received it on June 4th. On June 10th, I started wondering when I would receive my refund, and was prepared to call them, when I noticed that I had a new voicemail on my phone. What was strange was that the voicemail message was left by the first representative with whom I had spoken on May 27th, and she stated that her supervisor was willing to make a one time exception and cover the full cost of return shipping. I have no idea why my phone didn’t alert me for 15 days, but that’s a whole other issue. I called Overstock on May 11th and was able to arrange for Overstock to make an adjustment on the return request to cover the full return shipping cost.

I was told to wait 3-5 business days to receive a refund from receipt of the returned rug, which means that I should have received a refund by June 11th. I FINALLY received a refund on June 22nd, but it was only for the rug, and not for the 5 year protection plan. I had to contact Overstock yet again to inquire about the missing portion of the refund. By June 23, I received a refund for the protection plan. Sorry Overstock, but no customer should ever have to endure what I did just to get my money back.

Thank goodness I love the rug I kept, because I would be especially irate if the smaller rug hadn’t worked out. In addition, with the exception of the rude online chat agent I spoke with on May 16th, the representatives I spoke with on the phone were all so professional and friendly that they made the whole miserable experience more tolerable. Nevertheless, I will do everything in my power to avoid Overstock, which is a shame since I have purchased some wonderful items from the site over the past 20 years. If you happen to see something on Overstock you happen to love, do some price comparisons and research, because you might be able to find a similar deal on Amazon or some other site which won’t try to gouge you with outrageous return shipping charges. And forget about Club O, it’s a complete ripoff.