No, I’m Not A Counterfeiter!

2017-06-05 conterfeit 20 bill.jpg

This morning I stopped by my neighborhood bank to deposit some cash that I figured didn’t have to be sitting around our house. The teller greeted me cheerfully, and started counting the cash. Then a pause. She recounted, stopping at one particular bill. A frown. She stuck the bill under the purplish light that checks for bad bills. Then she showed it to the teller in the next chair. Nope, don’t think that’s a good bill, she said. Both women held it up to the light and squinted at it. People were beginning to accumulate in the line behind me.

The teller asked me to look at the bill in question. Oh my, it certainly was off-center, as if it had been through a bad print job. She said they couldn’t accept the bill because it appeared to be fraudulent. About that time a third employee, I think the manager, walked by, took a look at the bill, and concurred with the two tellers. Wow, I said, I never noticed how off that bill looked. Honestly, I’m not manufacturing fake money in my basement (attempting to add a little humor). To which she replied, no I don’t think that, don’t worry, this just happens sometimes.

Then the teller had me initial the bill in one corner, and put her initials next to mine. I noticed a notebook on the counter behind her labeled “fraud book”. I said, well I guess this is going in your fraud book. No, she replied, this is going to the FBI. No kidding, I said. Hey, can I snap a picture of the bill before you send it off? She was staring at her computer screen, and didn’t say anything. I took that to be consent, or at least that she really didn’t care what I did, so I snapped a quick shot of the bill on the counter (see photo above).

As the teller typed on her computer, I asked if she was adding some notation to my account. No, she said, she was getting it ready for the FBI. Then she asked to see my ID again. She’d already seen, but she needed to see it again. Next it was my telephone number. At that point I started getting a little freaked out. Is the FBI going to call me? No, the teller answered, they turn it over to the Secret Service. The Secret Service – really? Do you have any idea where the bill came from? No, I do not, as it’s been sitting around my house for who knows how long. She said that’s what she figured – most people have no idea.

I left the bank feeling totally paranoid – like the FBI would be watching my bank account, monitoring my phone calls, looking at the bank video footage, etc. But hey, we’re already under constant surveillance. Everything is recorded, stored on servers, and preserved for future reference. It’s “1984” and so much more…

Money, Money, Money (2017)

money-money-money

(re-posted from December 29, 2014)

2017 is officially here. We’ve made lists of things to do better this year. On almost everyone’s list is something regarding money – saving more, getting out of debt, donating more, etc. If you’re really serious about your money resolution, it’s time to come up with a plan. Here are some ideas that have worked for our family over the years:

1. Give back! – Every time you get paid, write out a check, set aside the cash, or schedule an online payment to give back at least 10% of what you’ve earned. Many people of faith refer to it as tithing – giving back to God, since He’s the one who gives us the strength to work. Give it to the church/house of worship you’ve been attending. If you don’t have a church, find a missionary/charitable organization, and commit to regularly supporting them. If you are not religious, donate to your favorite charity. You’ll be amazed at how giving blesses the person who is giving.

2. Live BELOW your means! When you are looking for a house to buy and the bank okays you for a $200,000 loan, don’t buy a $200,000 house. Find a modest house that meets the needs of your family, and be okay with it not being bigger and better than your friends’ houses. Same idea for buying a car. Hey, it needs to get you from point A to point B, and be reliable. And if you’re at a point in life where you really can’t afford even a used car because the insurance would be a killer, get humble and explore the city bus system to see if it would work for you.

3. Pay the credit card(s) down to $0.00 every month. If you can’t do that, it means you’re spending more than your income. If you can’t pay it off entirely, pay as much as you can each month instead of the minimum, lock down your spending to just the bare essentials, and get it paid off as fast as you can. Don’t be a slave to credit card companies.

4. Analyze where every penny of your income is going with a fine-tooth comb, and separate out your “wants” from your “needs”. Make a list of every necessary expense – some will be weekly (groceries), some monthly (electricity), some quarterly (garbage pick-up), some bi-yearly (car insurance, property tax), and some yearly. Then get out the calculator and figure out how much that would average out to in a month. Compare it to what your monthly income is.

5. Look at everything you are buying that isn’t a need, and consider pitching it. This includes buying clothes, going out to eat, vacations, cable tv, expensive cell phones, etc. You get the idea.

6. Get rid of some of your “stuff”. Sell off things you don’t need/use, and put the money toward bills/debt. You’ll find it easier to clean the house without that extra stuff sitting there. Give those clothes you never wear to your favorite thrift store so someone else with a limited income can buy it reasonably. Got sentimental items around your house that mean way more to your brother or sister than they do to you? Give it to the one who will treasure it.

7. Develop a love for doing things that don’t cost any money. Talk to a friend or neighbor, spend time with your family, play table games instead of going out to a movie, check books out of your local library instead of buying them, listen to free pod-casts from i-tunes, take a long walk and do exercises at home instead of paying for an expensive gym membership, and so on.

So the bottom line is: 2017 will be what you make of it. What you do with your income is your decision, but you will be happier if you’re in control of your money, instead of your money controlling you. Blessings and peace to you in the new year!

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