Living Lessons From Dead Kittens.

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Kittens were flying.

flying Kittens

Not in the joyful verse of a storybook tale read aloud to wind down the kids before sleep.

Distant from a place of precious fluff balls, gossamer wings; where white feathers lullaby children.

Just the opposite.

This memory jumps right from the pages of a magazine I loved almost as much as Mad.

Terror Tales.

terror tales

Bone-chilling cries.

A skyscraper wall of piercing sound – decibels of feline sirens carried three city-blocks deep, two buildings high.

I remember. Straight up at 2:10am, my nightmares, which are frequent due to a three-year horrific fight with a former employer, increasingly begin with flying, howling kittens. Fur matted in life fluids. The more kittens, the stronger the images, the stronger I cold-sweat the bed.

1975 – Drowned out pop melodies of summer booming from open windows; 70’s tunes played from Panasonic hand held radios from behind shadows, dingy shades that framed pre-WW2 tenement pane glass.

“Brandy, you’re a fine girl…”

City traffic fumes rise high and hang heavy in humidity. Inhaling them is a compromise. A choice to swelter through a New York August behind closed windows, or fool yourself into believing a blast furnace of urban air is a refreshing alternative.

I enjoyed the confluence of odors; after years they smelled like home – auto exhaust, hot tar, ethnic cooking; easier on eyes and nostrils compared to the rank of cigarettes and beer that destroyed oxygen within our small apartment.

I swear the lead-based wall paint would emit a strange odor when the worst of summer heat arrived. The walls were coated in poison. I was doomed. At night, I’d dream how the shiny white lead chips that always pooled at the baseboards, would come alive, enter my bed and eat my skin. I didn’t sleep much as a kid.

“What a good wife you would be…”

The strong signal from Music Radio 77 WABC-AM drowned out. Harry Harrison’s legendary airwave trademark phrases fade to black; overwhelmed by shrill feline vocal daggers which ricocheted off concrete, found its human auditory target, and penetrated my skull.

Urban dwellers fortunate enough to enjoy white noise and chilled air of window air-conditioning units were spared of the sounds of people living and dying in a restless city.

window AC

I hated them; all comfortable in their icy luxury.

And there was the laughter.

It was out of place. Insane.

No way in hell should giggling immediately shadow the screams. Horror squares in happy round holes just don’t fit. In psycho movies – sure, but not real life.

I approached the red brick and banged-up aluminum doors of single-car garages in rows that bordered the Brooklyn apartment complex I called home. The panic noises I’ll never forget, grew louder. It sounded like babies being tortured. And that disturbing chuckling.

insane laughter

I needed to understand what was happening. My mind screamed “run.” My legs moved ahead. Faster than the upper part of my body. Labored but steadily onward.

I was close enough to observe three pre-teen boys on a garage roof. A kitten in each hand; six small lives gripped by the mid-section, writhing desperately to break free.

The ringleader of the demon trio, I recognized immediately. That ruddy complexion, dark eyes closer to his ears than the middle of his face, the unkempt hair. No surprise it was the neighborhood terrorist, a bully to all: V. He made so much of an impression on me that today all bullies I encounter lose their identities and take on bloated, blotchy Vinny face.

He and two other soulless boys in unison were raising helpless animals above their heads and like taking jump shots with basketballs, were propelling tiny bodies into the air. I took solace in the fact that cats land on their paws. I imagined them a bit shaken, possibly injured, but still able to flee from the scene quicker than these pudgy kids could catch them.

Wishful thinking.

It was a cowardly method for a frightened brain to work through the disgusting activity unfolding before my eyes. I despised the fear that gripped me more than I hated the thugs.

Deep breaths.

I felt my speeding heart squeeze through the veins inside my ears; t temporarily blocked all other input. I needed to see the kittens. In my head, I was already cycling through save-and-escape plans; my goal was to grab as many of the injured I could carry and then run like the wind. Anywhere. Just away. How can I get this done without getting my ass kicked?

I couldn’t move faster. I tried.  I was disappointed by sludgy footfalls. As I turned the corner, as I came upon the asphalt alley between long rows of garage doors, there stood a fourth culprit.

I was shocked to see a thug at ground level. Right below where the three other boys were up and into the driveway.

I didn’t recognize number four; I thought I knew all the assholes in my Brooklyn neighborhood.

Tall, sinewy. I remember the definition in his biceps that popped his veins.

A devil in red Ked sneakers.

Kitten three released – fly in the sky.

Damn the fate of gravity.

Tiny legs, paws flailing.

I was far enough from the action remain noticed but close enough to take in the fiendish plan unfolding.

Red Ked gripped a wooden bat.

In a pro-baseball player stance, he swung with full force at kittens “pitched” to him from 8 feet above.

bloddy bat

The home run kitten-head balls were the worst.

There was living sound one second, deadly silence the next. Mid scream. Then nothing.

And again – laughter. The serious side-splitting kind.

The swing-and-miss felines dazed by a rough asphalt landing, failed to hit pavement and flee. They sort of dragged themselves off, walking with an unsteady gait. Definitely not fast enough. Much different than I imagined.

I observed the keen sweat beads on Vinny’s face as he maintained visual contact on the shaky cat balls.

Close to ripe for another pitch.

I prayed for a strike-out afternoon.

I stood unnoticed. In front of a garage – door open. Empty, dark. I sauntered into the black to gather my wits. I needed to think fast. I glanced upon an abandoned tire iron in a back corner. Upright against a cinder block wall, begging me for my attention. Not sure how I noticed it in the darkness but there it was. Calling me.

I grabbed for it hard. I held on to it like it was a lifeguard and I was about to go under for a third time.

As I accepted what I needed to do.

From dark to light.

Firm stride onward.

Closer now to red Keds, I’m able to observe how his sneakers were white at one time. Sick to my stomach. He looked at me then.

I was the next fat pitch.

No matter what I was in a strikeout zone.

No matter what.

Secure in a place where dead kittens don’t interrupt the summer, my life and ultimately my dreams (nightmares).

Looking Glass pop stuck in my head. An endless musical loop that refused to stop.

“He came on a summer’s day. Bringin’ gifts from far away.”

Surprise. Your turn to be the ball, red Keds.

Here’s your gift.

red ked

Random Thoughts.

At one time, any time, you’re at risk of becoming a dead kitten. Something bigger and menacing will swing at you, long to crush your skull, ruin what’s left of your existence.

For three years I’ve been hit repeatedly by a large corporate red Ked, a former employer spinning outright lies, bashing my reputation, attempting to take me out and away from the profession I love.

Oh, I’m staggering, my gait a bit shaky, but I won’t be tossed in front of high-paid legal bullies for another chance at a feeding frenzy. They took much from me, already. Money, family, physical and mental health. But I’m still here. And I have found my weapons.

Ready to strike. My turn to swing.

It’s these incidents, the events that position me next in line behind the next dead kitten, that ultimately define how quickly I escape and survive (thrive). Unfortunately, I know Louisville Sluggers continue to lurk; bullies are like that. Life is good. Then they come out of nowhere just to fuck with you. Dryer lint can catch on fire and take the house down with it. I heard that.

Whatever swings with murder in its eyes, will eventually tire and move on because it can’t kill me. What stays after the hit sharpens my resolve, clarifies me and steels my purpose. And I’m not sure what energy stays exactly, but I’m glad for it. Like a warm, comforting shadow. Bullies and dead kittens show up right before defining moments.

It’s all about tire irons. The strongest arsenal, the most effective weapons I possess reveal themselves deep in black corners. Just when I think I’m a sitting duck, an obliterated feline, I accept and allow what’s about to happen as if I chose it. At that point, I am a clear thinker. A fighter.

Many people look for hope in light. Not sure I get it. I’ve learned that you must venture and stumble through darkness to discover what’s good. The universe reveals itself and nurtures me when I accept my fate and understand deeply that what I’m experiencing, as painful as it may be, needed to occur.

It couldn’t have happened any other way.

Looking back, those challenging episodes have formed a perspective I’ve used to help others make their way through red Ked moments.

Death is only the beginning. A music legend once told me that death is only the beginning. Near death, too. And before he passed, he told me again. I’m thinking in life we face several deaths. Illness, divorce, loss of inner circle relationships. And the beat goes on. Then stops. Then continues. The beating is the same, the sound is different.

Before nightfall I sit in the backyard, my dog Rosie next to me. I ponder who and what I lost up to then. I sort of feel like Michael Corleone at the end of Godfather III. Alone. Thinking in my last scene I should fall out of my chair. Dead. Rosie’s hot breath yapping in my cold face.

What an embarrassing way to go for Michael.

dead michael

Except I don’t drop. I’m fortunate to remember that with each liability, every loss, I gain a greater asset.

And I’m at peace. Finally.

Dead kittens are also dead presidents. How many times have I bloodied my net worth with a bat? Oh, many. I’ve loaned money to relatives who didn’t care if my credit went bust (never again), I worked for one of the worst penny stock chop shops and had my father purchase stock I knew would go bust (sorry dad), just to collect a commission, I have over-purchased shit I didn’t need, spent extravagantly at restaurants, too much wine. All dead money that taught me valuable living lessons.

“Hey asshole, what do you think you’re going to do with that thing?”

And as kittens were falling, I kicked red Ked in the shin. Before another word, he went down. I remember one furball jump in panic over his face, her back paws scratching deep into red Ked forehead (score).

I then slammed the iron down hard on his right shoulder.

RK lost his grip on the bat.

I wanted to hit him again.

I wanted him dead.

For all the kittens.

Past, present and future.

I grabbed his weapon and ran.

Directly to my Cousin Louis’ apartment 9 blocks away. He was NYPD. Built like Sly Stallone.

When I’m asleep and I see dead kittens, I know something big and life-changing is clawing at me.

Another lesson up at bat.

From the blood.

The music plays in my head.

And they disappear.

At least for now.

I hit the snooze.

“I know what you look like and I’ll see you before long.”

Ben Nichols.

This Old Death.

kittens with angel wings

An Extended Warranty: Do You Really Need One?

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As featured in USA Today for NerdWallet. 

It seems you can’t buy anything without escaping that awkward encounter just when you think your transaction is concluded.

“You can buy an extended warranty for an additional ____ dollars. Wouldn’t you like to protect your purchase?”

It feels like a wallet violation.

At least buy me dinner first.

It’s enough to keep me out of brick & mortar stores forever.

cash register

I’m not sure why I consistently feel bad saying no, and I teach financial discipline for a living. I want to feel good about what I spend money on, not guilty. It feels wrong to leave my purchase exposed to who knows what. Most of the time I politely say no and quickly move on.

Extended warranties have become a profit center for businesses, especially retailers. The peace of mind can be costly. For example, on average, an extended warranty can add an additional 10% to 25% to the purchase price of an item. There’s no doubt they’re considered a formidable driver of revenue.

When you think of the most common extended warranty, you may think of those for cars. However, they’re now offered on almost every consumer durable you buy. Recently, a good friend was offered an extended warranty for $14 on a $75 football from a national sporting goods chain. Of course he was wise enough to turn it down.

So, how do you determine when it’s smart to consider an extended warranty?

1. If replacing the item would lead to financial strain, transfer the risk.

Regardless of the cost of the product or service, an extended warranty should be considered if repairs or replacement could drain emergency cash reserves or increase your credit card debt. You don’t need to decide on an extended warranty right away. You’ll have a period of time, usually 30 days from the date of the transaction, to add coverage. Review what is covered under the standard warranty; for example, most services and goods will carry some form of protection or replacement for at least a year. If a major repair or replacement has the potential to place your household balance sheet in jeopardy, then it makes sense to transfer the risk to the manufacturer and pay for protection.

2. The bigger the purchase, the greater the consideration.

Durable goods like refrigerators, televisions, dishwashers, washers and dryers all come with standard warranties. Extended protection may not be required, as these items don’t break down frequently. However, before you say no, it’s best to investigate objective sources for repair histories for brands you’re seeking to purchase. Examine ratings on a website like www.consumerreports.org. Rarely do durables break down during the warranty period, according to Consumer Reports.

3. Forget the warranty; remember your savings account.

Instead of a warranty, consider directing money you would have spent into your emergency savings or money market account. Think of it as a cash bolster to handle repairs. In the case of a $250 warranty, add $21 a month to your budget.

4. Don’t get caught in the moment.

You may think that spending an additional 10% to 25% is no big deal after spending hundreds of dollars on something you want. Your brain will consider the purchase of an extended warranty small when compared to the greater cost of the item. As consumers we have a difficult time maintaining a rational head when it comes to additional expenditures for big purchases. Take time to step back and weigh the pros and cons. Examine the extended coverage as a stand-alone expense and the odds of using it.

5. Buy with your weaknesses in mind.

I purchase extended warranties for all portable electronics including laptops and smartphones if they cover accidental damage. I know my weaknesses; I tend to be clumsy with computers and cellphones. Make sure to examine how many instances are covered (plans will have limits) and the specifics for accident coverage. Understand your faults and use extended warranties when it protects your purchases against them.

6. How much is that item used?

Extended warranties can be useful for durable used items like automobiles and appliances. To cover your automobile, compare the costs of a dealer warranty to an independent organization like www.carchex.com, which offers several tiers of coverage (Titanium being the most inclusive). Home warranties that cover aging heating and air-conditioning systems can be worth the cost. It’s important to understand that standard maintenance is not included nor is full replacement. However, to keep appliances in operation longer and avoid the potential of frequent costly repairs, the expense of an extended warranty should be investigated.

7. Sometimes, extended warranties just don’t make sense.

Like my friend who was offered an extended warranty to protect against a flattened football, there are occasions when you’ll wonder how retailers have the nerve to sell coverage. If the purchase is $100 or less, take the chance with the manufacturer’s warranty and don’t worry about paying for an extended agreement.

In the frenzy of shopping, it’s easy to relent and say yes to aggressive salespeople.

When it comes to extended warranty purchases, don’t rush. Make the decision after reviewing the facts in the comfort of home, not in a pressured situation like checking out at a register with a line of shoppers behind you.

Many believe that extended warranties provide peace of mind.

How much is peace of mind truly costing you?

 

God Knows Where You Belong (Even When You Don’t).

Richard Rosso:

Every year, it was an adventure I looked forward to. A chance to escape the urban filth, the smell of incinerated used Kotex pads, the endless mounds of dog shit. A daddy/son adventure.

To upstate New York.

Originally posted on Random Thoughts of a Money Muse:

September 1970: “Shut the fuck up back there!”

Image

It was a cavernous black-on-black metal beast out of Detroit. A 1969 Cadillac Convertible with slick leather seats. With each turn, lane change, interchange between brake and acceleration, my little body was slung from side to side in the backseat (we weren’t fans of seatbelts back then) like an amusement ride just for me.

Every year, it was an adventure I looked forward to. A chance to escape the urban filth, the smell of incinerated used Kotex pads, the endless mounds of dog shit. A daddy/son adventure.

To upstate New York.

Where trees survived in packs and the air smelled sweet. The Catskills, specifically. The plan was always the same: First, the Catskill Game Farm (now gone), then Carson City (gone too), and last, a small retail establishment named “Roy’s,” which only sold stuffed animals.

Hundreds of them. I’ll never forget behind the front plate-glass window sat…

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Going “Double-Zero” – Five Steps To Greater Happiness & Wealth.

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I remember her.

How she looked then.

this is 1972

Funny.

It took me almost as long to write this blog post; the lingering sorrow of inner-circle loss is torpor for the soul. I never get used to it no matter how many times people depart on their own or I’m motivated to head out of Dodge.

Writing about this topic resurrects mourning and at the same time, casts a different light on tenebrous memories. Surrounded by the spirits of those who are gone steels my judgment, sharpens my perspective and allows me to effectively face my own weaknesses and all-too humanity.

Human losses define my Phase 2; the new, improved and clear headed iteration of me. Sharp edges cut clean to acceptance. Free of shackles.

All human connections good or bad, add richness to life. Although the bad ones fill volumes of lesson books with razor-bladed pages. Bleed and turn, bleed more.

Healthy relationships that turn black are worse.

cancer cells

Unfortunately, life suspended in a cancerous relationship soup, sucks away enough energy to prevent the spirit from moving on, growing. Self-worth fades to the grated pallor of steel. Perspective flash freezes like moisture in a high mid-winter sky.

You’re heavy, stuck and falling.

But there’s only so much pain a person can take. Everybody has a trigger, a breaking point. Something happens that jolts an awakening. Could be as subtle as a recurring, inner whisper. A word. An action. Or as dramatic as a crash and burn (I’m Italian; we add drama to our rigatoni).

By the time that happens, healing has begun. Before you know it the circle will begin again. A new connection, a stronger chain, a weaker link. The leaded steamroller of life moves forward – flesh, blood and emotions in its wake.

I look up to the clouds often. I breathe in the vast universe to revitalize my small world. Let’s say I focus higher to stay closer to the ground, especially when I lose those I care about.

In the past, blinded by my ego and overtaken by the egos of others, the sky meant nothing. Looking back, I’m not sure what happened to replenish my appreciation of simple things. It’s all a big blur. Ironically, I’m grateful how I mistakenly granted admittance to my inner circle to the wrong people, organizations and feelings because they all lead me to where I am today.

The friendship that began in 1972, between T and me, has created several of my deepest pauses of reflection. Months, years, years beyond years do that.

She was my dearest crush in fourth grade. I awkwardly stumbled through many juvenile affairs of the heart then – most of them hidden behind painful shyness, a lack of self-confidence driven by sappy daydreams of holding hands walking home from school.

On Friday nights, I pounded away – creating love notes on a baby-blue & white typewriter to school girls who would never care to read them. I barely recall their names but I never forget hers.

Rosso typewriter

She filtered simple, daily life experiences through a happiness prism which I found interesting at such a young age. I was an eternal fatalist. I saw the worst in everything first. I went directly to the worst-case scenario.

T was diplomatic to a fault. I was jealous of her consistently positive (occasionally cloying) perceptions of the world around her. Even when diagnosed with advanced breast cancer that upbeat perspective rarely waned. I waned. When she told me, all I had for her was silence.

“Hey, I’m not dead, yet.”

I admired her nature. She was restive, I was restless. She was a healthy distraction from my parent’s invidious marriage. Everybody wanted to be her friend.

I wouldn’t call T a frequent gambler although she had a strange passion for roulette. That’s it. Roulette. When I was 14 my parents bought me a roulette set (made by Kenner Toys, I think) for Christmas. We spun the silver disc inside that black, plastic wheel for hours. The thrill of hitting chosen numbers or black or red captured our attention.

The excitement was greater for T as she consistently played zero or double-zero. It was the deep green color that stood out in a sea of dark on a felt “table.” It felt different for her. She basked in the beauty of rare moments (like hitting the zeroes). Every time she hit it, which seemed often, I would get pissed off.

Personally, I rarely played the green zone. I think the odds of hitting zero or double-zero are like a bazillion to ten. I sought stronger probabilities.

Not T.

“I like the feeling I get when I hit double-zero.”

I so wanted a to feel like that look on T’s face when that little silver ball hit 00. Or when she beat breast cancer the first time in 1994. That smile. Post-brace face. Unforgettable. A grin born from the positive attitude which defined every part of her.

I asked her why and how she believed the impossible was possible.

She said – “because I make room for it.”

That was it.

She made room: In other words, there was a place in T’s mind and heart that created space for the impossible to be possible.

Her life was defined by double-zero.

double zero wheel

Making room.

So in honor of T’s life and eternal life, I made it my mission to make room.

Go double-zero.

I started finding and cutting away my definition of cancer: Connections with people who drained my energy, fed off anger and frankly no longer fit into the positive life I was finally beginning to cultivate.

It’s not that they were bad; just bad for me.

I began to understand what she had been trying to tell me for decades.

And now, so should you.

Random Thoughts:

1). Double-zero creates space to breathe. It redefines the sky you’ve ignored. It allows you to fill your present with positive people and increased productivity as mental fatigue diminishes.

2). With double-zero you land less on black. There’s white space created for activities that fill in the hole. Great room to undertake those projects which fulfill you. The more you hit on 00, the faster your spin lands on inner peace. And it happens more often than it could in Roulette.

3). Double-zero is a clean slate. You’re open to new lessons; it’s a creator of second chances. The rebirth of a stronger inner circle.

4). Double-zero is not just a burning bridge. It’s using the intense light and heat from the fire to blind you from who and what you removed. It’s scorched earth. It’s the adult version of “you’re dead to me.” It’s cutting out, going cold turkey on cancerous people, situations, subjects, so you can live. No. Thrive. Never go back. Once you hit 00, take your sanity and cash out.

Double-zero isn’t forgiveness. Oh no. It’s inflamed forbearance. An internal act of defiance that transmits a clear, outward message to those who are unethical, untrustworthy and unwilling to to exhibit loyalties to love, silence, commitment and grace.

5). Someone is about to 00 you. Be ready. We have all been and will continue to be double-zeroed by others. It’s OK. Time to self-reflect. Most likely, you initiated 00, motivated the spin. Own it, burn it, move on.

Naturally, T would say I’m perceiving double-zero all wrong.

Damn my negativity.

negativity

Here are additional random thoughts T would place a stamp of approval on if she could.

 A). Double-zero is making that call you’re hesitant to make. The one that makes you a target, open to hurt. Vulnerable. It’s also the one that may positively change your life forever.

B). Double-zero is a complete awareness of who you are. And the great value you bring to the table. It’s destroying what society tells you is success and re-defining it outside the cubicle, middle management and others who “just don’t get you.”

C). Double-zero fuels you to fight another day. Positive energy is contagious. You’ll attract light, warmth and peace. Over time, you’ll be addicted to 00. Odds will be in your favor.

D). Double-zero is making radical changes to your finances. It’s shrinking to grow. It’s working on taking more in and having less go out. It’s freedom from debilitating debts to pursue what you love, not what you do to pay a big mortgage.

E). Double-zero is taking a stand. Recognizing and believing in the possibilities which can come from saying no more often, pursuing interests that fulfill your soul and again, cutting deep and away from all who choke off positive flow. You’ll look up at the sky more often.

Teresa, if your energy is still here, if your afterburn is around me – I feel it.

Thank you.

Rest well.

In your death, I found a secret of a life.

And I think others will, too.

 

 

 

Three Money & Life Lessons From “The Interview.”

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Before I continue, please note I refuse to (can’t) compare Franco & Rogen to Abbott & Costello.

Somebody I know just did that.

I can’t go there.

Readers are going: “Who is Abbott & Costello?”

SMH.

abbott and costello

I’m a firm believer there’s a lesson in everything. If my focus on the present is effective and I practice stillness in the manner of a Tolle master, i can learn from staring at a rock. No, seriously.

The movie  “The Interview,” which doesn’t star the beloved comedy duo of the 1940’s of course, has been a tremendous center of attention due to a hacking of Sony Pictures (allegedly, I’m still not buying it,) by get this – NORTH KOREA.

Wait: A country where blind hair stylists can make a “living” is smart enough to hack SONY Pictures and threaten us?

Tell me another one.

north kprea Who gets a haircut like this?

Now everybody needs to see this film. Even people who insisted they wouldn’t sit through this mindless nonsense are doing it “for freedom,” as it now represents our “God-given” right. They’re drawing a line in the sand. Don’t get me wrong,  I’m sure the flick is funny, however, it’s not like taking up arms at The Alamo.

C’mon, people.

davy crockett I shall die for Rogen & Franco,” Davy Crockett.

I give up.

I’m jumping on the bandwagon.

I love you guys!!

rogen and franco

I’m getting messages in my head (about money) from the hacking incident. Perhaps the stylist at SuperCuts was trying to do a North Korean Coiffure mind meld on me. Hmm.

Random Thoughts:

1). Decisions about money aren’t easy. Don’t kid yourself and don’t have financial pros make it sound easy (most of them are in debt like you). Money decisions are tougher than deciding to release a dopey movie after a hack and a threat of global annihilation. Money emotions flow deeper than the ink in your paper currency. Selling stocks to take profits, saving money is a big chore (especially since your wages rival a North Korean Palace toilet scrubber since 2009,) identifying your money weaknesses and working to change them, taking losses for the stock “dogs” you’ve held for a decade.

However, to be successful, you need to buy the ticket to greater wealth whatever that means to you. It could be $10,000 or $10,000,000, or being debt-free outside of the mortgage. Take a stand for more money in your pocket. A small step is still a step and it should be celebrated. Even more so than some dumbass movie.

Can you imagine the conversation between Sony pictures CEO Michael Lynton and Obama?

“I tried calling you.”

“No you didn’t.”

“I would have heard the phone.”

“Well, I tried.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“I don’t believe you didn’t hear the phone.”

“Michelle was talking to me.”

“Oh, now you’re blaming your wife?”

“No, it’s just a fact.”

“And how do you not know James Franco, you live in a hole?”

“I’m busy doing president stuff.”

“Like messing up names on TV?”

“That’s not nice.”

“I’m surprised you didn’t call Sony, Sunni.”

“That’s crossing the line, movie boy.”

“We make good movies. Things blow up and shit.”

“That’s not real.”

“I just want to get this damn movie in the theatres, can I do it?”

“Which one?”

“The Interview. GOD.”

“Just for that I’m going to tell you I think Ben Aflac would be a better James Bond.”

“It’s Ben AFFLECK and NO!…Are we good here? Megan Fox wants to re-make The Sugarland Express and she’s eating all the donuts in the commissary.”

“I wouldn’t want your job.”

“No shit.”

“Merry Christmas.”

“Happy holidays.”

“Oh, now we’re going to have this fight, huh??”

No, really. The NSA has all this.

2). Prepare for surprises. So, the car broke down, you got hit on the interstate, broke a leg. Died. Your farce film got the attention of a dictator. Whatever. A key to wealth is to anticipate the unanticipated. Make sure you have 3-6 months of living expenses in an emergency cash reserve, have enough life insurance to cover the family; you signed up for long-term disability coverage at work, the beneficiaries on retirement accounts are updated, you maintain expensive durables so they last longer (when was your last oil change?). You get the picture. Can you think of other surprises, outliers, “black swans” that can devastate your finances?

3). Know your enemies. Know your financial enemies. They’re all around you. Look in the mirror. Can they become your greatest allies? For Sony, overwhelming public attention will probably generate 1,000x the ticket sales for “The Interview.”

For example, I no longer hang out with people who skip out on financial obligations. Why be around those with horrible money habits? You know them. Stay away. Can you learn from the money mistakes you’ve made, others have made? My parents were the worst with money and both died in debt with the IRS knocking on my door. I’m the opposite. I learned that disrespecting money was not part of the egg and sperm union. Bad enough I have drug and alcohol abuse, depression and lunacy in my family. I didn’t need to inherit an insane money imprint, too.

So, today’s the Friday after Christmas.

I think I’ll head to the movies.

“Unbroken” sounds good.

unbroken

 

Five Money Lessons Straight from the Frown of Grumpy Cat.

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Oh c’mon – You know Grumpy Cat.

You live in a hole? GOOD. Stay there.

That’s just something Grumpy would lament.

grumpy cat - floating

The “lovably hate-able” feline with the permanent scowl on her face due to a physical shortcoming, an underbite, has been an internet smash and much, much more.

Grumpy aka “Tardar Sauce” became a meme a couple of years ago and gained worldwide popularity by well, being grumpy and commenting  a straightforward “NO” to everything (and I mean everything), in sight.

Grumpy Cat isn’t just famous worldwide; she’s also a money maker.

Grumpy Cat Saving Money

 

Grumpy has brought in an astounding $100 million in revenue from merchandise (Grumpy has her own coffee – Grumppuccino), appearances, television shows.

Why is she so popular?

Perhaps Grumpy says no to all the things we wish we could. We like her spirit – she’s got spunk!

Yes, she’s cute too.

grumpy cat - so cute disgusting

I began to think about how Grumpy can help us improve our finances.

Can we learn from this irascible cat?

I think so.

Random Thoughts (Oh, this crap again?)

1). Understand your true money personality. Grumpy is finest when telling it “like it is.” The people who are good with money work with professionals to understand and minimize their money weaknesses and expand on their strengths. If you’re an over spender, admit it.  Make small changes that can lead to big results.

2). Debt can be irritating. If total monthly debt (including mortgage) exceeds 32% of your monthly gross income, then 2015 is a good time to knock 2% off. One improvement you can make right away is to cut your holiday gift budget by 10%. The last week of December total how much you spent for gifts this year and work to come in 10% less next year. Less debt means less grumpy. Use your debit card and cash more than credit, next year.

3). Saying “no” more often can lead to wealth. We all know Grumpy’s favorite answer to everything is always a resounding “NO.” Identify the ways saying “YES” hurt you, financially. For example, say “NO” to lending money to friends and family. As the economy improves, 2015 is the year to say “YES” to a new job. How do you know what your skills command in an improving marketplace? Get your resume together; keep your eyes open for opportunities to expand your paycheck.

4). Get unimpressed with things that can separate you from your cash. It takes quite a bit to impress Grumpy Cat. She’s always seeking to be unimpressed with well, everything. Do you really need to spend on the latest technology or smartphone or can it wait? If you’re looking to make a large purchase don’t be swayed by savvy sales pitches. Wait two weeks before you buy any item that costs more than $50. See if you can live without it. You may be surprised to discover that you’re unimpressed too and don’t need to spend the cash.

5). It’s ok not to care about what your neighbor is buying. I can picture Grumpy Cat staring out the front window of her home, saying no to new cars, new furniture and other stuff she doesn’t need because one thing we know about Grumpy: She just doesn’t care. Perhaps you care too much about impressing others and it’s costing you in the form of excessive credit card interest rate fees by spending more than you earn.

So, we all can’t be worth millions like Grumpy Cat.

That’s fine.

However, the characteristics that make her appealing are contagious.

Having a little Grumpy Cat inside can make us smarter with money decisions.

And that’s a “YES,” any day.

Aren’t you glad?

Grumpy Cat - happy I don't care

 

 

A Folded Cardboard Holiday. Four Ways to Stay Alive at Christmas.

Richard Rosso:

Christmas reminds me how relationships, like antique glass ornaments, can easily shatter. Shiny one day, swept up in the Dyson the next. As if the sparkle never existed. Unfixable.

Originally posted on Random Thoughts of a Money Muse:

I dislike Christmas. Not in a funny, green “Grinchy,” way either.

grumpy christmas

The holiday has clearly lost some of its sparkle for me, especially now, as cherished people I believed would be around for longer than a memory, decided to bail quickly from my inner wonderland. Clean gone. Like the three wise men who get misdirected by Apple Maps to the birthplace of Cee Lo Green instead of the second coming of you-know-who.

The problem with Christmas is it stirs ancient thoughts and the mental bias of anchoring. I dare you to gaze at a tree ornament you’ve unpacked this year, every year over the last ten and not recall “the moment.”  A vivid memory of  how you felt when you received it, who gave it to you, where you bought it. The weather that day you hung it from your fake Christmas tree. The eye color, hair color, smell, of the person who bought the cheap holiday trinket for…

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