Disconnected

I want to emphasize I am not perfect, I never claimed to be, and I know I never will be.

However, I find the older I get and the more I learn about my family, the more disconnected I feel from them. This is especially true of my father. It amazes me how I had the best relationship with him as a kid, but as an adult, it’s the polar opposite. I suppose that’s the curse of losing one’s innocence.

The biggest barrier is my attempts to learn financial responsibility. It really astounds me no one – absolutely no one – in my (immediate) family has any clue about finances, and at this point, it’s now a case of being unable to teach an old dog new tricks. My biggest mistakes – attending college when I wasn’t ready and financing my first car with a co-signer – came out of pressure, but the upside is those mistakes made it abundantly clear my family, no matter how much I love them, are not the people to go to for life advice. Regarding cars particularly, knowing about them does not correlate with having any financial sense.

For the record, I am aware financing a car can be a good decision. However, my father makes barely more money than me (I bring in roughly $2K a month), but his car payment plus insurance nearly equals my household’s rent. And in all the years he had to save money with his late girlfriend paying most of their household expenses (including rent), he never did. Simultaneously, my dad complains constantly he hates living with his dad. Find the problem.

I taught myself planning, budgeting, and saving, and as of late, I’m learning about investing, which a good friend got me started on. Am I perfect? Absolutely not. But I reached the point I’m able to plan out a month’s worth of expenses, and move them around as needed. Though I have a bad habit of frivolous spending I’m trying to kick, I stick to my budget, including savings, and I don’t sacrifice bills for pleasure. The bit of money I spend frivolously is the remainder after all my week’s expenses are paid.

It’s indeed strange to be berated for trying to be responsible, and I feel the more I try to pull myself together and recover from my mistakes, the more distant I grow from my family. It’s truly not something I like, but have no clue how to fix. How do you re-connect with people you can’t talk to, you can’t look up to, you can’t trust with advice? I don’t mean my personal goals. I can’t talk to them about the future, about finance, about feelings, about anything. How do I re-connect without feeling like I’m making myself small?

If you know, please teach me.

Shame, Audacity, Entitlement

I swear I am not trying to make this a series. I simply couldn’t resist these.

An anti-MLM account I follow posted these. There are two things MLM sellers are good at: shaming, and having zero shame. Right now, many are using the response to the coronavirus pandemic to try to recruit people into their schemes. They’re notorious for using 9/11 and close family members’ deaths, so I can’t say I’m shocked.

These particular posts caught my eye not only for their attempt at shaming and their audacity, but the sheer entitlement! I am no angel, but if I ever speak like this, I give all my loved ones explicit permission to smack me in the head until I regain common sense. Or until I lose consciousness. Whichever occurs first.

At the same time, it’s hilarious. Remember, these are people who claim to run their own business. Even if what they do was legitimate, who would want to work with a business owner who behaves like this?

Clearly, this person has never heard of payment plans. Also, the only company with a phone that expensive is Apple, and even that applies only to their latest phone, the iPhone 11 Pro. The phone’s price is dependent upon how much space you choose. Speaking for myself, my smartphone was $200, but smartphones nowadays can cost as little $30. Technology marches on.

Mentioning Starbucks is common and I’m really eager to know who buys Starbucks every day. No, that’s not sarcasm. I hate coffee, so I guess the equivalent for me would be chocolate, but even I can’t eat chocolate every day. I’d quickly grow sick of the taste. But if someone really is buying a $7 cup of Starbucks every day, I’d imagine that $210 a month isn’t putting a dent in their wallet. In other words, they probably don’t need extra income and aren’t seeking it.

This one could be a good message if it weren’t to promote MLM! There is a lot to unpack in this one.

Healthy groceries ($100) “too expensive”

Dinner date ($100) “reasonable”

Maybe to someone who makes $50K a year after taxes. My boyfriend and I went out many times prior to lockdown. The bill never hit $100. Also, I’m sure most people wish their families ate only $100 a month worth of groceries! I’d love if mine did! I buy $100 worth of groceries and they’re gone in a week. I’d save a lot of money if eating weren’t a necessity.

Therapist ($130) “absurd”

Trip to Target ($130) “great deals!”

Yes, it is absurd some people can’t get mental healthcare because they can’t afford it. To my knowledge, some insurance will cover it, but it can be a fight. That is a shame. As for Target, or any big box store, if you need things like appliances and furniture, getting those things for $130 total really might be a great deal! I found a sturdy dresser with seven drawers for under $100 on Amazon.

Average college class ($1,000) “expensive”

iPhone ($1,000) “a necessity”

Most people use financial aid to afford college if their income is that low. And what those subjects have in common is, as I said above, payment plans. Though I wouldn’t advise it, you can lease an iPhone. If financial aid doesn’t cover the full cost of college, most people can work something out with the school. Note that schools are also a business.

Kid’s summer camp ($180) “too much”

New pair of shoes ($180) “they were on sale”

Hahahahaha!! This is one I’m almost certain would be the other way around. And let me say summer camp isn’t a necessity and there’s nothing wrong with a parent treating themselves to a new pair of shoes. Also, new shoes do not have to cost $180 to be of good quality. I wonder if there is some projection in these examples.

60 minutes of exercise “I wish I had time!”

60 minutes on Instagram “OMG time flies!”

I’ll give a small pass for this one, if only for it being the least ridiculous comparison. However, you can do one hour of exercise and one hour of surfing on Instagram in the same day. Thus, I think this is moot.

60 minutes working your business – “I’m too busy”

60 minutes on Netflix – “Another episode!”

I prefer Hulu and Prime Video (for Pokemon), but Netflix and Disney+ rock too. And again, you can use two hours in a day separately. Well, if work took only an hour.

30 minutes of self-development – “I don’t feel like it.”

30 minutes of a murder mystery podcast – “let’s listen to another

I’m beginning to feel like this person has a weird sense of time. And what does self-development mean in this context? Reading a book about self-love?

Health products ($100) “too expensive”

Starbucks every other day ($100) “I need it”

Exactly what kind of health products are we talking about here? Health products can be a “treat” too. If they were a necessity, they’d probably be prescribed by a doctor.

Like I said, the context of this is what makes it terrible more than the message itself. I don’t totally hate this one, but it ultimately is still shaming people for how they spend their time and money. I could see this one being okay only if someone were constantly complaining, and still not for the sake of promoting MLM.

If someone is prioritizing eating, I think they have their priorities correct.

This one is funny and enraging because the entitlement is so blatant! She really thinks people shouldn’t buy themselves clothing, should customize their social media how she wants, and shouldn’t use products they are familiar with (if someone is subscribed, they likely know what comes in the box) and works well for their skin.

No, in a year, I’m going to still be pointing and laughing.

Last, but sadly, not least:

I can’t stop laughing. She is angry. She calls other people’s lives bad and assumes they’re unhappy because they refused to buy from her. She is really angry people spent their money on what they want instead of buying from her because she begged. And now, they won’t get a free oil set! What a pity!

If she’s in bad debt, that sucks, but that’s ultimately her problem. She can’t rely on other people to pay off her debt for her.

More Work, Fewer Paychecks

So far, my new position as full-time has been good. There’s only one problem I was unaware of before transferring: full-time employees are paid bi-weekly.

Bad.

Yes, I know being paid bi-weekly means a bigger paycheck, but that’s a big duh because it’s payment for two weeks instead of one. I prefer getting paid weekly, and if anything, that’s encouragement to return to my old site as soon as I no longer need full-time hours (although I’ll ask if pay is still weekly before transferring!). That’s also, for me, less motivation to go any higher than I am now… especially since the pay rate switches from hourly to salary at certain levels. I will be absolutely damned if I work overtime and am essentially on call for no extra money. I will not work twelve hours and get paid for eight. No! And yes, salary is cheaper than hourly for that reason, so companies do it.

In the realm of first world problems, however, I’m disappointed I now have only two Fridays to look forward too. The other two are bland. Getting my paycheck would motivate me to go to work to make more money, and after the getting over the hurdle of the weekend and Monday, I’d look forward to Friday being close again. Now, that happiness is thirteen days away instead of six. It definitely makes me miss my old site, and makes me envious of my boyfriend, who still gets to joyfully await his paycheck in the pre-dawn hours of every Friday.

Yes, I know bi-weekly pay is cheaper for companies and that’s why they do it. Why else would companies advertise weekly pay as a perk of a job? It is one of those perks that entices me and I would leave my current job in a heartbeat if I found a full-time job that pays weekly. Considering the apparent rarity, if such a job worked out, that company would have me for a long time.

The easy answer would be give myself something else to look forward to on the Fridays I don’t get paid, but I work Saturday to Tuesday, so that’s easier said than done. However, I am trying to switch my schedule to Monday to Thursday, so I always have weekends off. Then, I’ll definitely have something to look forward to every Friday.

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Ninety Days Working

Today is my 90th of employment at my warehouse job. Woohoo!

I also finally turned in my resignation notice to my retail job. I am no longer on call. I am not their employee anymore. One of my former managers recently posted how much the store looks like trash after she visited, and while the unexpected validation was unnecessary, I consider it reassuring of my choice. Ironically, and funny, the store finally got a new store manager one day after I quit.

What is so special about ninety days? First, and most importantly to me, I think it’s safe to say I’m… safe. If I haven’t been fired by now, I don’t have much reason to expect it. Second, it means I’ve finally managed to hold on to a job that’s not retail. Granted, at three months, I was proclaiming I love my retail job too, but that was before the store fell into the deepest pit of hell. Even back then, the store had some problems I simply didn’t have enough experience to see yet, but no workplace is perfect.

The most significant difference to me is the pay rate. I know there’s more a job than money, but let’s face it: we all have bills to pay. But I’m not talking solely about base pay. I’m talking about where it goes.

In retail, I started at $9/hr. Three years later, I left at $10.41. That would be a big deal if not for two facts: the extra dollar came from a temporary promotion (company policy forbids withdrawing a raise), and new employees with zero experience (like I started with) for the same position would be hired at $11/hr. Unsurprisingly, that contributed to some of the employees who had experience jumping ship (not that most of the new ones stayed for long). The other matter is you get a twenty cent raise once a year. In other words, if my state’s minimum wage hadn’t risen this past summer, I would’ve gotten a 41 cent raise in three years.

Meanwhile, at my warehouse job, I got a 75 cent raise. Please refer back to the title of this post.

Three years to get a raise of less than half a dollar or three months to get a raise of 3/4ths of a dollar? Tough choice.

Yes, I realize that depends on the workplace itself rather than the industry, but that doesn’t invalidate my point. I’ve been told there’s often a better chance of making more money by switching jobs than switching positions in a job. Which means I likely will have to leave my warehouse job someday if I want more money. For now, it works for me, so not someday soon.

180 days – six months – will be in January. Let’s see if I can leave this year with this job.

Return to the Past… Again!

Have I mentioned I’m really bad at keeping promises to myself? I’m sure I have.

Way back in 2013, I talked about rejoining Neopets, a game I played a lot in my childhood, and being “determined” to stick around. As I’m sure you can guess from the first sentence, that didn’t happen. Six years later, I’m on there again! This time, I didn’t lose my passwords because I kept them in a Word document. I confess it’s name to see so much age on my accounts. Of course, with the site being twenty years old, there are much older accounts than mine. Too bad I didn’t discover it when I was five. I started when I was around ten, so my very first account would be 14 or 15 years old by now. Darn it! Then again, ten-year-old me had very bad taste in usernames.

Anyway, as I do with most things, I did a little bit of research on what’s happened with the site lately. It still has a good user base, but I also found some things that were very unsettling, to say the least. Specifically, incidents of fraud and horrible customer service, some incidents dating back to when I was still a child. However, as I said in my last post about reviews, those kind of complaints are to be taken with a grain of salt.

There’s something in one particular review about Neopets on a website called Site Jabber that stuck out to me and prompted me to create this post.

Getting a million Neopoints is a difficult task on its own, and by just playing a few games, it could take well over a year to get that. If that’s the case, can anyone imagine trying to earn 50 million NP or 100 million NP for those Battledome weapons and other useful paintbrushes and potions? No. It was out of reach for probably 90% of players. Basically, anything that can make the game more useful or interesting for you is impossible to achieve so why bother?

That was why cheating was rampage.. because no one could make that many Neopoints legitimately.

This. Is. False!

Unlike our very depressing world, Neopets really is an equal opportunity place. In fact, new users have a much better head start now than new users when I was a kid. It is time-consuming, but that goes for any game you want to make a lot of progress in. Now, I never reached millions, but I did reach one million on Neopets some years with zero cheating done. In an unrelated game, I also made a million in that currency without cheating. It may not be possible to do everything a game has to offer, but it is possible to become “rich” in any virtual setting if you put in the time and effort. And if you don’t want to, no judgment. It’s a game. It’s supposed to be fun, not a struggle. But that’s not a reason to violate the site’s rules and complain when you’re rightfully banned for it.

This person is correct that getting a million neopoints (the currency of the website’s virtual world) is difficult, and it would take a long time if you relied solely on games. But games are not the only way to make neopoints. There are actually many guides written about this, one of the best by a user I admire named Jenesis. Her guide is old, but it’s still relevant, as it’s very informative and probably my favorite guide on the subject.

Basically, anything that can make the game more useful or interesting for you is impossible to achieve so why bother?

This particular part is the next thing that bothers me so much. First of all, if everything that would make the site better for you involves striking rich in virtual currency, that’s a personal problem, not the staff’s fault. I was “poor” for most of my time on Neopets, yet I never had a problem having fun with the site before other things took more of my interest. Years ago, there was website dedicated to stories of how players became so addicted to the site, it bordered on being akin to a drug to them (video game addiction). Even if everything that improve personal experience does require being rich, it’s not impossible. Again, it takes a lot of time and effort. It irritates me to hell when people insist because they can’t, or won’t, do something, it’s not possible for anybody.

This untrue review continues:

This once “free” game with some advertising became a massive bloat of ads and then started to ask you to pay for Neopets Premium. Then you had to pay for items and then Neopet clothes. Now, you probably have to pay for everything.

This review is from 2016, and the bold word makes it more evident this person is exaggerating. For starters, the game is still ultimately free. Neopets does have a premium subscription and while they do advertise it (like every site ever with a premium service!), it’s not mandatory. You don’t have to pay for items and clothing. Spending any amount of real money for Neopets is purely optional. It’s no different than free games with in-app purchases. Spending real money gives you an advantage, but it’s not necessary to play the game. There is nothing users playing for free can’t achieve that users who pay for the premium subscription can. And while ads are annoying (again, this applies to any site, not just Neopets), you don’t need their premium service to block the ads. An ad blocker will do just fine. I use AdBlock Plus in Firefox.

There is a feature called the NC (NeoCash) Mall, which only uses real currency, but again, it’s optional. There’s no need to spend your real money.

Some other complaints are about being banned for legitimate offenses, like buying NeoCash or Neopoints from outside sources. Their virtual currency is not allowed to be sold! Buying their currency outside of their website is on the user, not the staff, and they state in their rules it isn’t allowed. The only exception is their own merchandise, for obvious reasons.

I don’t doubt there are legitimate complaints because no company is perfect and there are cold people out there. But a lot of ban complaints seem to be about cheating or falling for scams. While I have some sympathy for the latter, most common scams on the site won’t get you banned so much as inconvenience you for a while if you fall for them. To get banned for falling for a scam rather than being the perpetrator of one, my best guess is the scam took place outside of Neopets and involved something along the lines of selling their currency or items, which, again, is not allowed. Perhaps this is where I’m being judgmental, but that seems like an easy scam to avoid falling for. If it’s outside of Neopets, don’t buy it.

I chose to spend some real money for the site (back when I was a regular player) because I liked it that much and I could. Heck, now that I’m returning again, I spent some real money. I paid for one month of their premium service, though I cancelled automatic renewal because I don’t yet know if I’ll want to continue with it. Spending money for Neopets isn’t different than spending money on other games. Look at The Sims! Their current iteration has twenty-six packs. Including the base game, that would total $560, and that’s just the PC version. At least, you don’t have to download Neopets on every computer you want to play it on! I can play Neopets on break at school!