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!

Jealousy

This is probably the pettiest post I’ve ever written for this blog, and if it’s not, I’m scared to search through my archives and find what is.

The gist of it is: My boyfriend makes more money than me and I’m mad.

Yeah, that’s it.

Okay, that’s not really it, but most people wouldn’t read beyond that. If you’ve read this far, I assume you’re willing to, so I’ll explain.

It’s not him personally. It’s that the only reason he makes more than me is he lives in a state with a higher minimum wage than the one I reside in, and we’re both paid only $2 above our states’ respective minimum wages. The cost of living is higher is in his state, but our living situations make that factor irrelevant on both sides.

I suppose that doesn’t make how I feel better. He doesn’t make the minimum wage laws, and I’m certainly not trying to insinuate he shouldn’t make a livable wage (I am very much in favor of raising the minimum wage nationwide; no, I don’t think having to work a low-skills job means someone should be unable to afford food, clothes, and shelter). My frustration is when it comes to our personal situations, the only reason he makes more than I do by chance. He happens to live in a state with a higher minimum wage than me. He works hard – I’ll never deny that – but I work hard as well, and knowing that is what sparks the jealousy to begin with.

Since I am the worst person at hiding my feelings, he knows this and I unintentionally made him feel bad. Of course, he shouldn’t feel bad, but I could’ve said nothing and he still would’ve figured it out (note: he’s very good at sensing something’s wrong with me; where and when he picked that up, I’m also clueless). I confess I also feel bad because when I was the only of us making money, he felt guilty I paid for most of our outings and constantly insisted on paying me back, despite my protests he doesn’t have to (thankfully, he hasn’t tried to pay me back for all of that; paying for our outings wasn’t a loan!). I’m happy he does have a job and he is making money, especially since his self-worth was crumbling before he was, but I’m bitter about the reason he makes more than I do.

I guess in the end, almost everyone has something that gives them an edge, even a tiny one. Now, if I could only find mine.

Got Credit?

Things I need to do: stop talking. Too bad the chances of that are nil.

Almost a year ago, I mentioned I never want to have credit because, from the perspectives I got of many cardholders and reviews, it was overall a trap. Can I go back and slap myself now?

Okay, I still am cautious, but it turns out credit cards and debts aren’t so scary if you can manage them. Currently, I have a total of three credit cards and a limit across all three of $2,700. I only planned on one, but I was attracted to the second for its cashback reward and the third is a medical credit card, which is immensely helpful and allowed me to get the new eyeglasses I very much needed. I stick with the advice of spending less than 10% and several months of on-time payments with the first card was rewarded with an increase in my credit limit for that card. Before I attained the third card, my credit score read over 700, into the “good” zone, and I was very proud of that. The debt for my eyeglasses caused it to tank by a lot, but I’ve been assured it will climb again after I pay that debt off, which I have been doing steadily since. Thankfully, my job pays me enough to let me pay four times the monthly minimum payment so I can avoid interest after six months. With the other two cards, I pay off the balance in full every month.

Having just one credit card proved to be more helpful than I expected. It allowed me to pay for something I may have needed right then, but not have to pay with my own cash until I got my paycheck. That’s not to say I use my credit cards just for the heck of it, but they are used for small purchases like train tickets or a small snack to hold me over at work. The only “big” purchase I really use one card for is my cell phone bill, and I didn’t do that until I got the increased limit on the first card to avoid spending more than 10% of its limit. I don’t forget credit must be paid back!

I’ve had credit offers come through mail and email since I got my first card, and the offers have only increased since then. It’s gotten to the point I get at least one credit offer every week, some from the same companies I’ve already said no to. I just cut them them and throw them in the trash. I’d think the debt I have and my score tanking would decrease the amount of offers, but it seems like I’m now getting them simply because I have a pulse. One was even a pre-paid debit card, and it was not a sample card! It wasn’t activated, however, so I was able to discard it without consequence. Why the heck would I load a debit card with my own money when I could just use the one I already have from my bank that’s connected to an account with my money?

My experience does make me curious about one thing: how do people get in over heads with credit card debt? Barring medical and other unforeseen necessary expenses, and the company screwing you over (I’m not ignorant; I know some companies suck), it seems like credit card debt is the easiest debt to avoid. Yet, I’ve read of people being thousands of dollars in credit card debt, as high as $100,000 in one anecdote I read. I can’t even spend $100 in a week unless it’s for bills. I remember when I saw my first card’s limit increased and my immediate thought was, “What the heck am I going to spend that much money on?!” Of course, my viewpoints aren’t universal, but the point is reading of people in huge amounts of credit card debt that is not medical or other unforeseen expenses leaves me stunned.

I certainly don’t plan to acquire debt just because I know I can pay it off. I love not owing money to anyone! I cannot wait until my eyeglasses are paid off and the balance on my medical credit card reads zero. I could’ve paid it off with my savings, but I figured it’s better not to wipe out my savings account.

I have no regrets about getting a credit card. In fact, increasing my credit score is what let me get that medical credit card. I applied for it two years prior and was rejected because my score was awful. I had no idea it came with such a huge limit, but since it covered the whole cost of my eyeglasses, along with insurance, I’m very grateful. And yes, I know better than to max out my credit  cards! Not something I want to do anyway since, again, that money must be paid back! I also don’t plan to have a lot of credit cards. I do know a high limit of credit is good for your score, but I’m not someone who needs a lot of credit.  Then again, maybe I do to stay under 10% of my total limit.

Deserves The Best

I’m not the only one with college troubles. My best friend struggled with school and, despite trying her hardest, couldn’t keep her grades satisfactory. In actuality, it’s not entirely her fault. They’re her grades, yes, but the school screwed her over more than once. I helped her write an appeal and we’re both hoping it gets approve, so she can continue attending.

I was so angry when she told me she might lose her aid and be forced to withdraw. Not only because the school screwed her over, but because she works harder than anyone I know in my personal life. I don’t want to be there, so I couldn’t care less what they do to me, but she deserves to have her dreams more than anyone because she works the hardest. Whatever help I am able to give to her, I will.

If, heaven forbid, her letter isn’t approved, she will be heartbroken and I will lose my mind.

My Future Is Their Future

For the past few weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and yesterday, I came to a realization (I seem to do that a lot). Everything I’m doing for my future is not really for me. It’s for my family.

I didn’t want to attend college just yet. They pressured me to do it. I wanted to work for a while first. While I want a job/career related to technology, I took IT merely because it’s said to be one of the highest-paying jobs out there. While I want to be financially secure and not struggling paycheck to paycheck, I don’t care about making more money than everyone else. I don’t need a high-flying career. In fact, I want to be self-employed.

The belief that I need to be making the most money came from my family’s pressure. As long as I can live comfortably and fully support myself, I’m fine with however much I make.

I’m not ruling out college entirely, but I did go for the wrong reasons. I know not everything is fun and games and I don’t expect it to be, but I feel miserable and having my family’s approval isn’t worth that. If this is supposed to be my future, why am I doing nothing for myself and everything for them?

I don’t regret going entirely because I have gotten some good things out of it and if nothing else, I’ve learned I do not have the aptitude for anything with a boatload of science or math, or the patience to sit and be spoon-fed information as if I’m still in high school. Now, I’m trying to consider every option I really do have and see past the path that’s been painted out for me.

What I like most is design and while I wouldn’t want hand-drawing to be more than a hobby, I’d be fine with creating and designing websites being more than one. Maybe there’s a job or career for that. It’ll never be as lucrative as something like IT, but as I said, I don’t care about making more money than everybody else. No amount of money is worth is being miserable.

But I think, above all, I need to stop giving in to pressure. How long is it going to take me to learn that lesson?