Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Bride Calls Off Wedding, Feeds Homeless at the Reception


Photo: Sarah Cummins, 25, who called off her wedding and fed the homeless at the $30K reception.

This story was just too good to pass up and not pass along. It's taken (as is the photo) from this msn.com article, which you can access by clicking here. The author of the article is Maureen C. Gilmer.

The nitty-gritty is that Cummins and her mother spent upwards of thirty grand to pay for the wedding and invitation. She worked overtime and long hours for years, she says, to pay for this. One wonders why the groom-to-be isn't said to have done the same thing, which is perhaps indicative of why the wedding was called off to begin with. Unfortunately, she's not saying. And kudos to Cummins for not airing out that dirty laundry once the press and the internet descended upon her, by the way. Many of us have been less than discrete about verbalizing the incidents that have greatly bothered us, and naming the names of those who did them to us. Mine's in the memoir, baby!

So she had a non-refundable contract with the Ritz Charles, which must be near Indianapolis, where this article was first published. Sounds...ritzy. All that food for 170 guests--and kudos to Cummins for sending out reverse RSVPs to those 170 people, and for even knowing 170 people to invite to her reception, I suppose. I'm not sure I even know 170 people. Well, okay, I do, but only about 5 of them would be invited to any reception of mine.

Apparently, this last-second wedding and reception cancellation has happened before. I know this because a) that has to be why this stuff is non-refundable to begin with, because last-second cancellations happen so often that it has to be paid for, period; and b) last year I was told a story about a woman of about this age, in my neck of the woods, who called off her wedding and reception. She and her mother paid over $40,000 for everything, including the reception spot in the Caribbean. But the guy turned out to be slime, which the teller of this story, and her parents, and the bride-to-be's friends, and possibly innocent passersby and concerned motorists--all told this woman that her husband was slime and she'd be better off not being married to him. This woman agreed with them about two weeks before the scheduled wedding and reception. Anyway, they went on the vacation anyway, and everyone who was supposed to go still went (except for the groom-to-be, who was apparently in a jail cell), and they all had a helluva time, as well they should, since the whole thing caused a lifetime of PTSD and stress, and cost over forty grand.

But I digress. What did Sarah Cummins do? Well, she called local homeless shelters and invited 170 homeless people to the ritzy Ritz Charles. They dined on...Well, I'll finally quote the article:

"On the menu are bourbon-glazed meatballs, goat cheese and roasted garlic bruschetta, chicken breast with artichokes and Chardonnay cream sauce and, yes, wedding cake."

Sounds good to me! And the surroundings?

"The dinner will take place in the hotel's garden pavilion because Cummins said she always wanted an outdoor wedding but didn't want to risk the weather...She and her mother will arrive early Saturday to set up the centerpieces they designed themselves — gold Eiffel Tower vases with roses."

And afterwards? What about the honeymoon?

"When it's over, Cummins said she's leaving on her honeymoon Sunday to the Dominican Republic — alone — before returning for classes at Purdue."

What a great idea! I suspect Sarah Cummins will get many more marriage proposals after this. An attractive woman with that much money to spend on a reception who's smart enough and rich enough to go to Purdue? Where in Indianapolis did this happen?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

They Lie #2 "Interest Free for 6 Years"



I'm no Warren Buffet. (See the photo. That's Warren Buffett. From his own Wikipedia page.) I have a tax guy and a retirement guy because I don't know enough about taxes and retirement portfolios to do them myself. (Or do I? Hmmm...) But at my age (Don't ask; I'm not telling), I do know a thing or two about saving money and not overspending, which is the same thing. And I know enough to know that people, businesses and organizations will lie to make themselves a buck. As House used to say, "Everybody lies." And as I say...Well, see the previous blog about lies by clicking here.

So here's how a local (and national, I think) furniture store lied in a mailing recently:

It sent me a red, white and blue (July 4th week, right? Plus I'll bet it works subliminally) offer that said I could get any mattress or piece of furniture I wanted, and I wouldn't have to pay any interest for over 6 years. That 6 year thing was shown twice, in giant multi-colored print, twice on the same one page of this thing.

So there's a lot wrong here.

First, I noticed right away that there was not one single photo of a mattress of piece of furniture. (See the photo below? Furniture, right? Not one single photo of something like that in this ad. The photo is from jordans.com/living-room, by the way.) So what's being sold here? Furniture and mattresses? Nope. The furniture store is selling its payment options. And the option here is to get whatever you want, interest-free, for 6 years. So that struck me as odd, that a furniture store was focusing on its payment and interest options. Why would it do that? Well, I'll bet that they make more money on the interest payments than they do on their own furniture. That's why car companies sell cars the same way in TV ads. You see the car on the road, but the guys babble about the interest payments, or the no-interest, or the leasing options. They make more money off the money than they do off the car. Same here with furniture. Good for them, bad for you. Why? Because if someone's making money off your money, you're paying too much money. If you weren't, there wouldn't be any surplus money for them to make money off of. You'd pay just the price for the furniture, for example, so the store, the supplier and the employees get paid, but that's it. They have to move on. If someone's making money off your money, which is what interest is, then you're paying too much money. You don't want to do that.



Secondly, and maybe more important, YOU NEVER WANT TO PAY INTEREST ON ANYTHING, EVER, FOR ANY REASON. That's so important that I put it in impolite and angry caps. But the word "interest" is a swear word, right up there with mother----er and the C-word. In fact, it's even worse, because like an STD, once you've got it, you're never going to be able to make it go away. Right? Do you owe interest payments on a credit card? How about your student loans? Look at your mortgage. How much are you paying in interest? Interest in mortgages are unavoidable if you want a house (I've got 2 mortgages, so I know), but in everything else it is very easily avoidable. (If I can't afford to pay the monthly credit card bill, I don't buy it. And come hell or high water, I WILL pay off that credit card bill in full, and I will not make monthly payments on it, ever, for any reason. I don't have a cent of credit card debt, and I had no life for a few years after I got my degree so that I could pay off my student loans all at once, so I don't own a cent of student loans, either. But I truthfully was lifeless for a few years as I saved to pay off that bad boy.) If it's not an emergency--and I'm talking someone is dying here, or your house is about to cave in--and if you don't have the money, you don't buy it. Period. This furniture ad in the mail was banking on the fact (See what I did there?) that people are so used to interest payments, that the real kicker of the ad was the interest-free option and not the furniture. That's crazy. Because, once again, if you're paying interest, you're paying too much for something. There's no second course. If you're trying to lose weight, there's no dessert after dinner. And if you're trying to stay out of debt, there's no interest after the one initial payment.

You might think that you've got 6 years to pay that thing off, so you won't have to pay any interest at all. Fine--if that's true. But is it? What do you have to do to get the 6 years of no interest? What do you have to sign for? I'll bet you'll have to get that furniture company's credit card, and you'll have to get an account with them, or with whomever runs their financial backing. So someone's already making money off of you, and they're betting that you won't pay it off in 6 years. I repeat, someone's making money off of you, and someone's betting against you. That's inherently negative and should scare you away.

Well, let's read the fine print. After every "6 Years" there's an *. An asterisk means there's a catch, a stipulation, and it means someone's trying to screw you. If they weren't, the information would be in as giant, multi-colored print as the "6 Years." There's another * after "No minimum purchase" and a tiny crucifix (Why hasn't someone harped on that blasphemy, using a tiny crucifix symbol to screw people out of their own money?) after "No money down." They're also betting you won't read the fine print. No one ever reads the fine print. You should always read the fine print. So let's read the fine print. And I'm looking for the answer to the question: How much would the interest be?

Whoa! If you don't pay the amount in time, you'll be hit with 29.99% interest! Holy crap! That means you'll owe in interest $30 for every $100 you haven't paid. That's crazy! That's $300 for every $1000. That's insane. Is that worth the risk? Hell no! If you don't have any credit card debt, your own credit card has a lower APR than that. And, furthermore, you're already thinking badly because if you can't afford to pay it on your very next month's credit card bill, you shouldn't buy it at all. You can't afford to think that you have 6 years to pay that off. I can't. I can only afford to think that I've got 1 MONTH to pay it off, and if I can't do that, I don't buy it. Period. And, yes, my furniture's older, but it's comfortable enough. And, yes, I do deserve better--but that doesn't mean that I'm going to get it, or that I'm entitled to it. I have to earn it, and if I don't have the money for it in 30 days, I haven't earned it. Don't start down that interest-free road, because you don't know where that road ends. And "interest-free" doesn't mean "free." And if you're playing games with interest, you'll lose.



Photo: An asterisk in an early Greek papyrus. It's possible people were getting screwed with it then, about 2,000 years ago. From the Wikipedia page for the word "asterisk."

And it says here: "For $X a month you could redecorate every room in your entire home." No. No you can't. It takes a few grand to do that, and if you're like me, you won't be able to pay back a few grand in 6 years. If you can, then wait those 6 years and save and pay cash for everything so nobody makes a dime off your money and you're not in debt. Redecorating my home with brand new furniture would cost over $10,000. There's no way in hell I'd be able to pay that off in 10 years, never mind 6. And that'll be $3,000 extra in interest. So instead of $10,000, I'd owe $13,000.

And it doesn't say here that you can pay more than your equal monthly payment. Because you want to pay that off before the 6 years, right? To do that, you have to pay more than the equal monthly payment, every single month. If you're not allowed to do that--if you have to pay just the equal monthly payment so that you're stuck with this contract for exactly 6 years, then you're screwed. Because crap happens, and you're going to fall behind on a payment, maybe even the very last one, 6 years later, and your now in debt, or at the very least your credit takes a big hit.

No thanks. I'm throwing it away. Actually, I'm throwing it in the firepit, so I don't have to buy kindling. I'll save money off of the money this furniture company paid to mail this to me. So help me, I'll make money off of them.

And so that's how they lie. Misdirection, in this case. This furniture company is selling money with this ad, not furniture. Always ask yourself, "What would they gain doing that?" If someone were to call them up and ask them if they made more money off its payment plans or its furniture, I'll bet they'll say the payment plans. And that's how they lie. Not as bad as the flat-out lies meant to actually fool me like the last blog. This isn't for a power trip or for political gain. And everyone's got to make a buck, so this doesn't make me angry like the last one, but still...Ain't nothing for free in this world, right? Not even 6 years of interest-free payments. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Especially if there's money involved. (Some things, and some people, are actually as good as they sound. But not if there's money involved.)

Next time on "They Lie": A mortgage company insisting they're holding a really low interest payment percentage for me that's actually higher than the one I already have.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

They Lie -- Fake News on the Radio



Photo: Original 1st Edition of the hardcover, from the book's Wikipedia page

One of my (many) personal catch-phrases that I say (perhaps way) too often is: "It's not that I don't really trust anyone, or anything...It's just that I don't really trust anyone--or anything." Occasionally I've wondered if maybe I'm being a little too paranoid or cynical. But then this past week happened. The last 10 days or so have blissfully reinforced my outlook. I've been emboldened, and it seems to me that I'm right, sadly but surely, that everywhere around us are "Lies! Lies!" (Those quotes were for a friend of mine. Those two words are amongst his favorite catch-phrases.)

So here's one of the lies flung at me recently:

1. A radio station commercial that sounds like a newswoman reading a report, but which is actually a commercial for an organization that represents the National Republican Party.

If you're in RI, listen in to B101. (And, no, that's my better half's preferred station, not mine. I don't have a preferred station. I mostly listen to CDs and YouTube.) Anyway, here's what this woman says. In a newscaster's tone, she tells us that 80% believe that the news about Trump and Russia is overblown and that we should all just move on. (This is before we knew that Trump Jr. sold his soul to that devil.) She then says that 75% believe that it is wrong for a foreign leader to mock our president.

But...80% and 75% of whom, exactly? She doesn't say. Now if she'd said the 80% came from 8 out of 10 Republicans polled, I'd believe that. And 80 out of 100. Or 800 out of 1000. Or, hell, even 4 out of 5. That's the number of dentists from that commercial, right? (Watch out for numbers. They don't lie, but they can be manipulated. You ever notice that polls--during ballgames, for example, when they ask a seemingly random and irrelevant question and then tell you to text your answer--are always gauged by percentage and not whole numbers? Because they don't want you to know that only 5 people texted, or only 10 people were polled. So, yeah, 4 out of 5 and 8 out of 10 are 80%, but is that a relevant stat?

Photo: from qz.com, (which got it from the Associated Press), as is the quote in quotation marks:


"This meeting was the one in which Trump gave highly classified information to Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and ambassador Sergei Kislyak."

Another thing: If that woman is saying that 80% of the country--across all political lines--think that we need to move on from this Trump-Russia thing (Notice I didn't use a slash there, like Trump/Russia, because those two really are connected.), then I assure you that's straight-up BS. Lots of Republicans are wary and leery of Trump & Russia, so I'll bet that more than 20% of them would say it needs more looking into. And I double-dog assure you that if even all of the country's Republicans believed the news is "fake news"--which is not the case--then you still need a very high percentage of Democrats and Independents to feel the same way in order to make the 80% stat accurate. Do you honestly think that about half of all Democrats and Independents think that way? That's a "Hell, no!" no matter what your opinion is on the Trump-Russia issue itself.

Why the ad that sounds like a newscast? LIES! That's for the people who believe what they hear (Mistake 1) and who don't think about what they read or hear (Mistake 2) and who then tell others what they hear and relay it as fact when it isn't (Mistake 3).

 Who made that ad? Well, who has the most to gain by it? C'mon, isn't that creepy? That's right out of Animal Farm, and it's scary. (And shame on you if you don't know the reference. Animal Farm and 1984 should be required reading right now.) That's shady people working for shady politicians who are shadily using the media (in this case, the radio) to spread falsity and lies to benefit themselves and to give themselves more power. That should frighten and anger you, and if it doesn't, well, that's what they're counting on.

And a fake newscaster saying fake stats like it's news? Yeah--that's literally "fake news," people. And from the very people who swear it's being used against them. These people are slimy. I need to take a shower just having to think about these people. But think I do, and you should, too.

Please let me know if you've heard this ad, or something like it. Share your story.

Next time on "They Lie": furniture mailings that push "interest-free monthly payment options" more than their furniture, and a mortgage company insisting they're holding a really low interest payment percentage for me that's actually higher than the one I already have.