More Opinion by The Springboard

THE UPRISING OF THE AMERICAN PARTY "Clearly the voters are engaged right now, at least for sure on the republican side, and what they have concluded is that the republican party has not done their job. Thus, Donald Trump gets their vote."

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

You Should Be Playing The Stinking Lottery

Look, I will be the first to tell you. Yes, indeed, playing the lottery is most of the time a complete and utter waste of money. And anyone who has followed me knows all too well that I don't like to waste money.

But, there is still that chance, however slight, that you could walk away with millions upon millions of dollars if you play the lottery.

I always look at it in the simplest of terms. The dollar or two I spend here and there playing the lottery is a drop in the bucket mostly, and there are many things I spend money on that are a total waste of money even if it does not seem like it.

Like being out running around taking care of errands, for example, and buying a 20 ounce bottle of Coke because I happen to get thirsty. How much is that 20 ounce bottle of Coke, folks? It's about $1.59.

But I am getting a bottle of Coke, you say. I am getting a VALUE for that bottle of Coke. That Coke, unlike that lottery ticket that will most likely lose, provides no value unless I win. But so long as I get to drink the Coke, I win.

Nope. Hear me out, here.

You overpaid for that 20 ounce bottle of Coke because you could have bought a 12 pack of cans, for example, for about $4. You would have gotten 144 ounces of Coke doing it that way. Your ultimate cost for 20 ounces of Coke, buying the 12 pack, would have only been 56 cents. You paid $1.03 more for that bottle of Coke than you needed to.

You WASTED over $1. And what's more, you probably would never have felt that way about it. To you, you got your Coke, and you paid a fair price, all is good.

At the end of the day the simplest fact is that someone has to win the lottery. Most likely, yes. It is true. It will NOT likely be you. But it most certainly will not be you if you don't have a ticket in your hand.

The odds may be totally against you to win anything significant by playing the lottery. But technically the odds are very much in your favor that you will pay more for a bottle of Coke than a 12 pack of cans.

I'd spend that extra $1 on a chance at winning millions any day over having a quick, refreshing, overpriced bottle of Coke.

I think you should too.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Free Stuff Ain't Free, Folks

With the democrats getting going in their "race to the White House," we are of course hearing the beginnings of all sorts of promises they are making that are supposed to make your life better, and perhaps in some ways more prosperous even.

But, it's "free" stuff they are mostly chattering on about, folks.

Free college tuition, free healthcare, and even one of the contenders, a businessman by the name of Andrew Yang, is talking about just simply cutting every single citizen over the age of 18 a guaranteed monthly check for $1,000 to help boost your bottom line and supposedly, level the playing field.

But the reality is that nothing that is government funded is actually government funded. It is taxpayer funded.

The reality is, folks, that at the end of the day SOMEONE has to pay for all of this stuff that the government wants to "give" you. Remember, the government DOES NOT operate as a FOR PROFIT organization. EVERYTHING the government takes in in revenue comes directly from you...the TAXPAYER.

The government is not out there opening up a few McDonald's franchises to take in a few extra bucks. They are getting every single dime of what they take in from the people who pay taxes.

So what is a free college tuition? It is a tuition that you will ultimately actually pay for anyway. And depending on how things go, your children and grandchildren, and even your great grandchildren will have to pay for as well.

What is a free $1,000 per month? It is basically taking from Peter to pay Paul. You give the government your tax dollars, and they give it back to you in the form of a guaranteed monthly payment.

Anybody should be scratching their head at that.

Beyond that, you might be saying hey, there are enough of those evil millionaires and billionaires out there who can pay more into the system certainly to help to cover all of this free stuff. So then, if that were the case, it is actually free, right?

But hold on a minute here. Here's a little fact that you need to know.

Even if you literally confiscated every single dime of every single millionaire and billionaire in the country, you would not even come CLOSE to covering the amount of money needed to pay for all of this free stuff, let alone make a dent at all in the deficit NOR the debt itself.

And eventually, the money would run out. No matter how you look at it, the only way any of these programs stands a chance to be viable, everyone would have to pay something. Ultimately, the tax code would have to be rewritten to now find ways of getting more money from the hands of even those in the 50% who don't technically pay any taxes at all.

By the way, it should be noted that if you paid $5,000 in taxes but got a refund check of $7,000, you are part of that 50% that does not pay any taxes at all.

Paying taxes is NOT sending the government a check, or having them pull money out of your paycheck. Paying taxes is either getting less back than you paid in, or owing more than you paid in.

If I paid the government $5,000 and got a refund for $2,000, I paid taxes. They kept $3,000. Catch my drift?

I only bring these examples up since many people think they are taxpayers just because they send some of their money to the government. But unless you get less back than you paid are not a taxpayer.

Look, the main point here is that nothing in this world is ever free. Everything ultimately must be paid for by someone. And there is not enough money, believe it or not—but it's the truth—to cover the expenses of everyone in the country when it comes to just college tuition and healthcare alone, let alone anything else the government may want to promise to hand out to you.

Free is not free, and the more you take, ultimately the less you will get in the end.

No one ever got ahead from a handout. Anyone on welfare or food stamps has not gotten rich from that money. Nor has anyone who collects social security alone ever get ahead.

As the democrats get up on their podiums and start making promises to give you this and give you that, keep in mind that what they are actually giving you is something you have already, or will eventually have to pay for one way or another.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

How To Very Simply Manage Monthly Expenses

Let's face it. Budgeting sucks. I am very good with my money, and always have something left over to put into savings and investments. But honestly, if I had to do a real budget I have to tell you I would most certainly fall flat on my face.

It's hard to make predictions, for example, as to what I will actually spend—or need for that matter—when it comes to food, clothes, gas for the cars, and even entertainment.

So, instead of actual budgeting, what I do instead is simply do a monthly "budget" of sorts. But there's a catch here. I also pay myself a salary based on the anticipated monthly expenses.

The first step is to know how much money you make, and have a general idea of how much money you will need to get your monthly expenses covered. Both fixed and fluctuating. Take some time to save up enough money to cover at least one month's worth of salary. This admittedly take a while depending on how much you have and what you can put away. But trust me, it is worth doing.

Here I will give you a real time example using one of my recent monthly salary/budgets just to help to illustrate what is going on here so that you can more easily apply the principles. So, first off I already have my salary saved and ready to be dispersed at the beginning of the month.

I now will write down all of my expenses, also having predetermined what my monthly spending allowance will be. This, for me, is generally a fixed number which has been arrived at based on some general knowledge of what my monthly spending on food, gas, clothes, leisure, and whatever else that is not generally a bill, looks like.

For me that number is $1,200 per month.

  • Mortgage, $1,100
  • Truck payment, $300
  • Cable and Internet services, $189.00
  • Cell phone, $67
  • Water bill, $50
  • Trash and sewer, $35
  • Electric and gas, $103
  • Spending, $1,200
From all of this I get a total of $3,149 which I will draw from whatever account I have used to generate my salary. Again, I will do this on the 1st of the month.

Now that my entire month is covered right down to spending, I will not and do not need my paychecks for anything as they come in. This is critical, because now you have to work on replenishing your salary for the next month.

As soon as you get your paychecks, don't worry so much about the amount of them, just put the entire paycheck into whatever account you are drawing salary from (hopefully it is a savings or investment account).

Ideally, if you've done things right you will at the very least put back all of the money you took for your salary. In a better scenario you have worked out your expenses well enough that you will put back more money than you drew.

If you find you are consistently matching your draw or putting back less, simply make some adjustments. Most likely your spending budget is also one of the larger parts of your monthly expenditures, so that might be the best place to start to look to make some of those adjustments.

Get out a separate pad of paper to keep track of your monthly spending. This makes this very easy to track. Keep your receipts and start subtracting every time you put gas in the car, buy groceries, eat out, or go to the movies.

Be careful to not overspend in any of the weeks before the next salary draw, especially in the first couple of weeks. Otherwise you may wind up in what I like to call the "end of the month crunch." That is, toward the end of the month as you start to run out of money you may find yourself cash strapped and may wind up resorting to using credit cards, taking out payday loans or title loans, or simply being stuck in the house not able to go anywhere or do anything.

That's a counterproductive situation as it will discourage you from wanting to continue to apply this process.

That's pretty much all there is to it. Again, ideally you are finding ways to increase your earnings and reduce your expenses so that as you go about this you are more often than not putting back more money than you are taking, which ultimately provides an opportunity to increase your income through wise saving and investing—goes into something I like call "income replacement," but that's for another day.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Bling And Yang Equals Bull Plop

Enter onto the democratic stage Mr. Andrew Yang, running for President of the United States, and marking himself as the next best thing to the current President Donald Trump. He is not a politician, but a serial entrepreneur. But fear not. We can see what happens when a non-politician becomes master of the White House. Of course I am a Donald Trump supporter, and it is no secret that I actually think when all is said and done, not only will Donald Trump easily slide into another four years as president, but he may go down in history as one of the best presidents we have ever had the privilege of knowing. I think he could easily stand along guys like Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan. And hey, because I am a fair guy, let's not forget John F. Kennedy. Historically he was also not a bad president at all. Just because he happened to have had a "D" next to his name does not automatically, to my mind, disqualify him from having been an excellent occupier of the People's House.

I am simply saying that it does not matter anymore, as Trump has proven, that you have to have political credentials in order to be an effective president.

But let's be clear as well. Just because you are NOT a politician does not automatically mean you are qualified to BE a president.

As of right now I think it is important to note that I don't think Andrew Yang has a fleeting chance in Hell to ever see the interior walls of the White House. But let's set that aside for a moment because there is something about what he is wanting to do—what his primary offering is to the People—that I find interesting.

Ludicrous. But interesting.

This election cycle on the democratic side as a whole will essentially turn out be a referendum on socialism, or a variation of forms of it. This is literally a campaign that will be about capitalism vs. socialism.

Now, while there are a few guys (and gals) on the stage denouncing socialism and rightly stating that if this is all the democrats are going to run on, the election is already over—I agree with that sentiment, by the way—those voices are few and far between. Interestingly enough, right now for whatever it is worth, I don't think the current front runner, Joe Biden, is one of those voices calling for socialism. But that's for another day.

The fact is that among the current 20 or so contenders in the game, the platform of most of them is simply to give something away. Name your prize: free healthcare, free education, amnesty for illegal immigrants, free and open name it.

And lo and behold, who will all of this free stuff come from? Ah, there you have it again as always. The evil rich people and the greedy corporations they run.

Forget for a moment that it is simply a fact that not a single democrat will acknowledge that even if you confiscated every single dime of the rich you'd still not be able to cover the damages on any of these things, let alone pay for current spending or pay off any of the debt we have.

So ultimately, even if THEY don't want to admit it (the democrats) the regular folks are still going to have to cough up for the lion's share of anything that might be "free."

But back to Yang. He wants to give every single American $1,000 per month. Sort of an idea along the lines of this whole "universal income" a lot of (let's be frank) whacko's having been talking about for a couple of years now.

Isn't that simply a subsidy? I mean, essentially that's what it is, right? A subsidy. Why has the cost of healthcare risen the way it has? Why has college tuition risen the way it has? Why did the cost of houses rise so rapidly during the real estate bubble?

It's simple folks. Anytime someone knows there is extra money out there to be had, they are going to take it. 

If I own a house and my tenant tells me he just got a huge pay raise, wouldn't I probably consider at the next rental raise that perhaps that tenant might be able to afford to pay $10-$20-$30 a month more?

Probably. I know he's got the money and so I know he can afford to pay a little more. 

This is the way the entire world works. Why do you think we track things like median income in this country? And who do you think is paying attention to that? Everybody knows what people have to spend. The oil companies, the cable companies, the phone companies, the grocery stores and food manufacturers...everyone. And they also know about what percentage of income any of these things should be, and so they also now what they are "entitled" to. Or maybe not entitled to. But they certainly know what is reasonably attainable from your pocket to theirs.

Why do you think so many people tend to live paycheck to paycheck? I mean, yes, there is a large part of the population that is simply inept when it comes to how to manage money properly. I have spoken about this for years. But, it also happens to be in part because these companies largely know what's out there and available for the taking, and so they adjust their prices accordingly, and unless you are wise to that fact, you will be hard pressed to ever get ahead of that little game that is being played on you.

So, what happens when you suddenly come into an extra $1,000 per month? What happens when those companies know all too well that there is an extra $12,000 a year for each and every American over the age of 18 floating around? Or potentially an extra $24,000 per household now in those wallets?

They simply take it.

If there is extra money in each and every single American's pocket, all that is going to happen is that the cost of every single good or service we buy will go higher. It's just the way it works. It's part of what drives inflation in the natural order of the economy. When there is more money floating around and when people are making more money, the cost of good and services rise.

So what, Mr. Yang, would be the value in that $1,000? It would eventually simply wash itself out. Not to mention what it may also do to productivity. But that too is for another day. No one is actually going to come out ahead. That money will simply be drained from your wallet just like virtually every dollar is drained right now. You would eventually have nothing to show for it, and there would be no gain.

Now, you also have to consider that someone has to pay for all that free money. Because it's really not free of course. Taxpayers would have to pay something to pay for it ultimately. So not only would the cost of goods and services rise, but so would your taxes washing out even more of that money. And if productivity is reduced, that potentially means less income tax revenue coming into the government coffers as well. So it's really a double whammy. No one gets ahead.

Long and short here, it's just a dumb idea no matter how you look at it. Sure, the thought of an extra $12,000 a year sounds appealing. Heck, for a guy like me who does not live paycheck to paycheck and who also makes a pretty decent living, there is a lot of appeal since I know I can likely take that $1,000 per month, save it, invest it, and gain handily on it—I can essentially game it and would indeed come out ahead even considering my examples as to how it would likely be a wash anyway.

But that's part of the point too. You see, people not having money is not really about society dealing a bad hand to the masses. It's not about unfairness or corporate greed or even low wages. It's about people not taking the time to improve their wealth, or having the knowledge to improve it. It's about people not understanding the value of money or understanding what it's intrinsic value happens to be over its in-front-of-you value.

So what happens if everyone gets that $1,000 per month? The haves and the have nots will be exactly where they started before they got the money. Nothing will change. The poor will simply be $12,000 a year poorer because they will simply spend the money and the rich will simply be richer because rich people know what to do with it—or frankly don't need it.

Part of the thing to think about here is that nobody has ever gotten better off by getting free money. Food stamp and welfare recipients don't see their lives improved. All of those folks who get more than they paid back in taxes every year do not get ahead. People who live on social security checks alone are almost all poor.

I don't think Andrew Yang has a chance to win anything, and I doubt anyone with even half a brain would think this idea makes an ounce of sense. But we shall see. At the end of the day all we need to do in this country to open doors of opportunity is to create an economic environment where that is conducive. And the good news is that is exactly what we are doing. That is exactly what Trump is doing. Less regulation, better trade deals, lower taxes for citizens and corporations are all things that are fostering economic growth, higher stock market values, more consumer activity, and wage increases across the nation.

If you look at all of the numbers it is quite clear that everyone is benefiting from this new booming economy. Don't feel like you are one of the ones participating? Let's be clear about one other thing here. Your prosperity and your economic improvement is of course going to be proportionate. What if the growth in your personal wealth is 5%? That's great. But if I have more money than you do, of course my 5% is going to be worth more. Is the top 1% getting more bang for their buck? You bet they are. But they also have more skin in the game, and so it makes sense. Fair is everyone getting their fair share of their contribution.

At the end of the day, if we can keep this ship sailing ahead, none of us is going to need that extra $1,000 per month. If we keep this ship sailing, I bet we'll all see way more than that when all is said and done.

In other words, don't settle for a simple handout when the value of everything else happening right now, this very minute, has far more value. You take this money, you cast this vote for any of this free stuff, all you are doing is selling yourself short, and in the end all of us will lose.

Well, of us except for the government. When they get done with us, if they have their way, they will have the power to control every aspect of our lives because we will need them more than ever. Land of the free was not a motto for handouts. It was a motto for self-motivation and individual opportunity for happiness and prosperity. Never lose sight of that.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

What I Saw Next Freaked Me Out

Upon a recent check-in on my Facebook page, as often does, a memory popped up wanting me to share it. It was from 10 years ago with my wife when we were touring the Miller Brewing Company in Milwaukee, WI.

At first I did not think much about it at all. There seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary. Here is a picture of our friends we were with that day. Kacha and Felix.

There is nothing out of the ordinary here. Just a couple of people standing for a pose in front of the Miller tasting room bar.

But there was that first picture of my wife and I that made we want to take a closer look at this picture we took of our friends. So, I blew that picture up a little bit to see what I might see in it.

Again, nothing out of the ordinary here to see. Just a couple of people posing in front of the bar. This made what I found in the picture of my wife and I astounding, and very creepy. 

Take a closer look. Do you see what I see in our picture?

Do you see it yet?

Something, or someone is in the image behind the bar that does not seem to belong there. So what are we seeing in the picture?

Is that a ghost? Perhaps some long lost old factory worker? A bartender from years past still tending the bar? And it seems to be looking at us.

Very creepy indeed. You decide. A ghost or just an odd play on lighting or something else?