New Car – Part 3

1986

I was working at Midlantic Union Trust Bank in Wildwood. Life was good. I had resigned to the world of the rat race. Short hair, and suit and tie every day. I looked good back then, and was making my way.

That’s me at my sister, Janice’s wedding. (Sup, ladies…)

One Sunday, I was driving out somewhere in the Villas just taking a drive and listening to my cassettes in the stereo. I was traveling north and it had been raining and the road was a little wet.

From the left at an intersection a green sedan pulled out. A Cadillac traveling south that was going to fast, swerved into my lane and struck my Subaru head on. I tried to pull away to the right, to deflect the impact but she slammed right into me. She had lost control and skidded right into the oncoming lane.

It all happened so fast. But then because your mind goes into hyperdrive, everything starts to move in slow motion. I saw as the woman fell sideways down on the seat in her Caddy.

I looked over at the passenger seat beside me. The cigarette that I was smoking was sitting on the cushion. I quickly snatched it up and put it in the ashtray. (Funny what you do when you’re on auto pilot.)

The cassette in the stereo continued to play as all the lights came on and the motor quit. It was the song, Critical Mass from Aerosmith’s 1978 album, Draw the Line. (Oh, the irony)

I couldn’t get out of my door, because it was jammed shut. I unhooked the seatbelt from across my hips. I then crawled out across the seats to the passenger door which I was able to open. I got out of the car, and felt like the wind was knocked out of me from the impact. I was also in a bit of a daze. I remember spitting out blood, but that was from when my tongue had jammed into my teeth and was cut on either side.

I slowly walked around the front of the car and the entire front end was destroyed. Radiator fluid poured from the wounded vehicle. I uttered the following words:

“Damn… I only had six more payments.”

Some people ran towards me saying they had seen the whole thing and it was all the Cadillac’s fault. Of course it was. I was just cruising along in my own lane when that woman came crashing into me.

Dazed, I walked across the street. (Left the scene of the accident) I went into a gas station and used the payphone. I called my dad and told him what happened, where I was and asked that he come out and get me. I had never been in a car accident before.

I hung up and returned to the scene of the accident. By then the police were there and I told them I was the driver of the Subaru. They interviewed me and the witnesses. An ambulance arrived and took the lady in the Cadillac to the hospital.

A wrecker came and moved the cars off the road. My XT coupe sat in the parking lot of the gas station where I had placed the call to my dad.

My father arrived and was glad I was okay. He said that when I called he had been taking a nap, and stated that when told him I had been in a traffic accident he thought he was dreaming. Odd, but here he was within a half hour. I remember him saying he originally didn’t think the accident had been that bad because I looked fine. But then he walked over to my car and looked at the front of it, he was surprised I wasn’t in worse shape than I was.

Another ambulance arrived, and at the recommendation of the police and my father, I let them take me to the hospital. I remember them affixing a support frame around my head and neck and putting me on a stretcher and placing me in the ambulance.

I was securely strapped in and off we went to Burdett Tomlin Hospital in Cape May Court House. I felt okay, but was having a bit of anxiety strapped to a gurney in the back of a van looking out the back windows as the sky and treetops went by.

When we got there they checked me out. I had been wearing a t-shirt, a flannel button down and a thick black peacoat. That’s three layers of clothing. I had been hit so hard that through all of that I had the beginnings of a yellow bruise on my chest from the impact. The seatbelt that went across my lap, had cut through my jeans and I had lacerations across both of my hips. (Right through my pants!) The cuts on either side of my tongue were minor and no longer bled. They checked all my vitals, and after some chatting and joking with the nurses, I was released to the custody of my dad.

He reiterated that he didn’t think it was that bad of an accident until he saw how badly damaged the front of my car was.

“After seeing that son, I will never drive a car again without wearing a seatbelt. I know now it saved your life.”

No one wore seatbelts back in the sixties and seventies. Some cars didn’t even have them! But after that day I never saw my dad drive without wearing one. So, good things can rise from the bad events in our lives.

The only after effects from the accident were, feeling a little dazed for a couple of days after the event, and a sore neck. I did notice that for a few weeks after the accident when I did drive a car, I was a little nervous and a bit more cautious when approaching an intersection.

The insurance came through after the usual nonsense and they had deemed the car undrivable. They settled, and the car was totaled.

I went back to the dealership, and got another XT just like it. It was identical to my former fallen steed. But you know what? It was never the same. It was simply a replacement to my first love. It was as if someone I loved had passed away and I got a girl that looked just like her, but it just wasn’t her. Make sense?

I drove that XT for many years after that, but eventually traded it in for  a’94 green emerald pearl, Toyota Camry. I was married and it was nice to have a big spacious car with air conditioning.

I’ve owned several cars after that, but I’ll never forget my first New Car.

The days when I was the one with the coolest car in town.

On a final note…

Here’s a shot of the last great car I owned and loved. A Mazda Millenia!

Check out those vanity plates!

I had a girlfriend named Kate that I was in love with at the time. She was my first muse and inspiration for Angel with a Broken Wing.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to Phicklephilly LIVE on Spotify!

Tales of Rock – 10 Richest Rock Stars in The World in 2020 And Their Net Worth

Is that Bon Jovi or Glenn Close?

Image Source

The richest rock stars in the world at the moment are worth several billions of dollars combined. That’s quite a whole lot, but who are these rock stars? This is the question many fans of rock music have often asked over the years as they try to find out which of their famous rock stars have made the most money from their musical careers.

Apparently, the world has witnessed the rise of many insanely gifted rock stars who have thrilled fans with their purely unique musical talents. Rock stars like Elton John, Paul McCartney, and many others of their kind, have cemented their names on the sands of time as some of the most popular and most influential music legends in the world. The contribution of rock stars to the growth of music trends in the globe cannot be overstated and many rock stars remain among the most successful and richest music artists to date.

There are many wealthy musicians who are making waves in the rock genre at the moment, but who exactly are the richest rock stars in the world right now? Let’s look at the facts immediately.

10 Richest Rock Stars In The World And Their Net Worth

Like we have mentioned earlier, there are many wealthy rock stars at the moment who have established themselves as musical icons looked upon as legends. Apparently, some are richer than others and so, we have done our investigation, and will now present you with the richest rock stars in the world right now.

1. Paul McCartney – $1.2 billion

Paul McCartney

The name Paul McCartney is one of the most resounding names in the world of music and the man behind that name is regarded as one of the most successful people to have handled the microphone. McCartney, an English singer who is also a songwriter, composer and producer rose to fame while he was a member of the legendary rock band, The Beatles. He served as a co-lead vocalist of The Beatles with another legendary music figure John Lennon and rose to become one of the most beloved rock stars of all time.

Following the disbandment of The Beatles group, Paul McCartney went on to build a solo career that is regarded as one of the most successful of all time. He has sold more than 100 million records all over the world and has written or co-written 32 songs that have reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Paul McCartney currently tops the list of the richest rock stars in the world at the moment and his net worth has been revealed to be $1.2 billion by different sources.

2. Bono – $700 million

Bono is a musician who also ranks very high on the list of the richest rock stars in the world at the moment. An Irish singer and songwriter, Bono, whose real name is Paul David Hewson, is best known around the world as the lead vocalist of the globally famous rock band U2. He is also the main lyricist of the group. Over the years, he has won over so many admirers around the world who consider him to be among the most talented musicians on earth.

Apart from his work with the U2 band, Bono has also collaborated with so many other popular artists to create mind-blowing music. He has also created soundtracks to major movies and has also invested in several ventures as a businessman.

At the moment, Bono’s net worth has been revealed to be $700 million by different sources, making him one of the richest rock stars in the world right now.

3. Jimmy Buffett – $600 million

Jimmy Buffett

Born in Pascagoula, Mississippi, Jimmy Buffett is an American musician who established himself as one of the most gifted songwriters of his time. He is known for composing songs that portray an “island escapism” lifestyle. The musician has a band called the Coral Reefer Band, with whom he tours the globe and records hit songs. Today, he has millions of devoted fans around the world who are often referred to as “Parrotheads”.

Having sold out millions of records during his career, which has spanned across more than 50 years so far, Jimmy Buffett is a very wealthy man. At the moment, Jimmy Buffet’s net worth has been revealed to be about $600 million by different sources.

4. Elton John – $500 million

Elton John

Widely regarded as one of the most significant musicians from England, Elton John has established himself as one of the most highly acclaimed and successful solo artists of all time. Having kick-started his career since 1962, he has gone on to release globally famous hit tracks and albums, breaking records and selling a mind-blowing number of records. As a matter of fact, he is regarded as one of the world’s best-selling music artists, having sold out 300 million records so far.

Elton John has made so much money as a musician and is regarded as one of the richest rock stars at the moment. Right now, his net worth has been revealed to be about $500 million by different sources.

5. Bruce Springsteen – $500 million

Bruce Springsteen

An insanely talented man, Bruce Springsteen is an American singer, songwriter, and musician who is revered for his songwriting skills which have been hailed by many over the years. Having spent more than 50 years making music, Springsteen has cemented his status as one of the most successful rock stars in the world. He has made giant strides both as a solo artist and the leader of the popular American rock group, E Street Band, winning so many awards for his incredible work.

Bruce Springsteen is a very wealthy man at the moment and is considered to be one of the richest rock stars in the world, having sold out more than 135 million records worldwide during his career so far. At the moment, his net worth has been revealed to be $500 million, tying him with Elton John.

6. Jon Bon Jovi – $410 million

Jon Bon Jovi, whose real name at birth is actually John Francis Bongiovi Jr., is an American singer and songwriter. He is also an actor, a record producer, and philanthropist who has gained widespread fame around the world. The musician is known as the leader of Bon Jovi, a popular, Grammy-award winning rock band which has churned out lots of super hit tracks that are globally listened to. It is noteworthy that he has also released some solo albums as well.

Apparently, Jon Bon Jovi is a wealthy man; with his band, he has sold over 130 million albums worldwide, raking in millions of dollars. At the moment, the singer’s net worth has been revealed to be $410 million, making him one of the most wealthy rock stars right now.

7. Sting – $400 million

Sting

An English musician, Sting is regarded as one of the most influential musicians from Britain alongside Elton John. The singer whose full name is Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, is known for leading the famous rock band, the Police from 1977 to 1984, before launching a solo career in 1985. His work with the Police band and as a solo singer has earned him so many awards including 17 Grammy Awards.

Like his contemporaries, Sting is a very wealthy man, having sold over 100 million records both as a solo singer and with his band. Today, his net worth has been revealed to be $400 million, placing him high among the richest rock stars in the world at the moment.

8. Mick Jagger – $360 million

Mick Jagger

Widely described as one of the most popular and influential front-men in the history of rock & roll, Mick Jagger is an English musician who has risen to become one of the most celebrated rock stars of his generation. Jagger, who has been in the music industry for more than 5 decades, rose to global stardom as the lead singer and one of the founder members of the Rolling Stones, a world-famous English rock band. However, he has also had a solo career and has also acted in movies over the years.

Mick Jagger has climbed to number one spot on the UK and US singles charts with 13 singles both as a solo artist and with his band. He has also sold millions of records with his band raking in a lot of money over the years alongside his acting career. At the moment, Mick Jagger’s net worth has been revealed to be $360 million.

9. Gene Simmons – $350 million

Gene Simmons

Known for his dramatic costumes and energetic stage performances, Gene Simmons is an Israeli-American musician, singer, and songwriter who has won the admiration of millions around the world with his rather wild stage persona. He shot to widespread fame as the lead singer and co-founder of Kiss, an American rock band.

Gene Simmons is a very successful musician; along with his band, Kiss, he has sold out as many as 100 million albums worldwide making them one of the biggest-selling bands of all time. At the moment, Gene Simmons’ net worth has been revealed to be $350 million.

10. Ringo Starr – $350 million

Ringo Starr, whose real name is Sir Richard Starkey, is a highly respected English musician, singer, and songwriter who is renowned for his vocal strength and songwriting skills. The musician who is an actor originally gained widespread fame as the drummer for the popular band, The Beatles. However, when The Beatles disbanded, he kick-started his solo career and released some really successful singles.

Since he started his career, Ringo Starr has achieved a lot of success and has raked in quite a lot of wealth. In fact, he is now reported to be the richest drummer in the world and one of the richest rock stars in the world with a net worth of $350 million.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

Think You’re Too Broke to Date? You’re Not Alone

If, like 30% of millennials, you believe you’re too broke to date, we have a few suggestions for you. 

It appears that searching for a soul mate just got a little tougher, at least for some millennials. According to dating app Match, 33% of young singles believe that their financial situation is getting in the way of dating. What’s more, 20% don’t even think they should be dating at all until they achieve a particular income level.

Why is money getting in the way of dating?

Singles managed to find a way to court during global wars, depressions, political upheavals, and pandemics. What’s different about today, and why do a third of young singles believe that earning more money would make a difference?

The great recession may have played a role in the way millennials feel about finding their soul mates. For a large swath of millennials, the recession set the stage for their early adulthood. In 2008 alone, 2.6 million jobs were lost, and the total number of unemployed surpassed 11 million.

Into this dreary economic picture emerged fresh-faced millennials, 40% of whom held at least a bachelor’s degree in 2016. But being the most educated generation yet did not help them get a job. For example, only 44% of law school students who graduated between 2009 and 2017 said they had a good job waiting for them.

In fact, millennials of all education levels were impacted by the recession. For the 60% without a degree, jobs in farming and manufacturing had dried up. It was more difficult to start a business due to tight credit, and there were fewer opportunities for apprenticeships. A generation earlier, it had been blue-collar jobs that kept the economy humming, but now those jobs were scarce.

And with full-time employment hard to come by, many have been pushed to take part-time jobs. According to a study on underemployment by The Economic Policy Institute (EPI), in 2018, 11.1% of young college graduates were underemployed, up from 9.4% in 2007 and 6.9% in 2000.

The term underemployed includes graduates who are unemployed as well as those who could only find part-time jobs. Other research puts the total unemployment rate for millennials (with or without a degree) at over 12%, which is much higher than the national average.

Employment is not the only area where millennials are struggling. They are also a lot more reliant on their parents. A study by The Ascent found that 63% of millennials still depended on their folks financially to some extent. And no fewer than 33% of 25–29 year-olds still live with their parents or grandparents, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. To put that in perspective, that’s nearly three times more than in the 1970s. It makes sense that young people might want the stability of their own apartment before finding that special someone.

All in all, many young adults are working hard just to find jobs and get homes, which pushes dating down the agenda. Millennials have become the largest generation, outnumbering baby boomers by 11 million. That means more competition for everything they do, from landing a job to dating.

The high cost of dating

In 2018, the average cost of a date — including two dinners, one bottle of wine, and two movie tickets — was $102.32. That number does not include other costs, like gasoline. For a millennial buried in student loan debt or struggling to find a job that supports them, $102.32 per date may feel excessive.

Fortunately, there are other ways to get to know someone without breaking the bank. If you really want to get out there but feel stuck financially, here are some ways to make it happen:

  • Check out local museums. Some offer free or discounted ticket days. It’s a great way to show a potential love interest that you’re cultured.
  • Have a pool day at your neighborhood swimming hole.
  • Get friends together and enjoy a bonfire and s’mores.
  • Attend a lecture or book reading (it’s much more interesting than it sounds and can spark a great conversation).
  • Tour a cool business. Wineries, breweries, chocolatiers, and bakeries often offer tours that also allow you to sample the goods.

Get your finances in order

Whether you are struggling to find a job or keen to pay down your debt before you get into a relationship, there’s plenty of things you can do right now to become financially stable. According to research by The Ascent, 70.7% of people identified setting financial goals as a desired trait in a romantic partner, so perhaps that would be a good way to start.

These four steps are an easy way to begin:

  • Find a consistent source of income. If you’re unable to land a full-time job, look for two part-time jobs that allow you to use your talents while getting your financial house in order.
  • Create a budget. Our research showed that 70.4% of people value a partner who follows a budget. Even if your bills are few and your income is low, a budget allows you to fully understand your monthly expenses and set savings and debt repayment goals.
  • Build up your credit score. You don’t need to earn a lot of money to have a high credit score. Make sure you pay bills on time and try not to spend more than you can pay off each month to keep your credit utilization ratio low.
  • Save up an emergency fund with three to six months’ worth of living expenses. That way if your car breaks down or you need to do some unexpected house repairs, you’ll be able to pay for them without going into debt.

Don’t put off finding love just because you aren’t where you want to be financially. There are plenty of affordable ways to date, and you need to get finances in order, no matter what your romantic status is.

Savings account rates are skyrocketing — Earn 23x your bank

Many people are missing out on guaranteed returns as their money languishes in a big bank savings account earning next to no interest. Our picks of the best online savings accounts can earn you more than 23x the national average savings account rate.

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

Phicklephilly – Do It Yourself

“What’s with all the ads on my favorite blog?”

It’s been an interesting time during quarantine due to the Covid-19 crisis. I’ve had the pleasure of finally taking a rest from working 55 hours a week on my feet in a business that’s incredibly challenging. My daughter and I worked in the same industry, and we both agree that we needed a break. I think the workforce as a whole needed a break.

The first week or so it was just strange. Then we sort of settled into the fact that we couldn’t go to our jobs anymore.

What would we do with this sudden, paid free time?

We’ve had some ideas.  I decided to make phicklephilly.wordpress.com into my own domain. I bought Phicklephilly.com four years ago and own it. So I called the nice folks over at GoDaddy and had that integrated into my site. Now it’s more searchable on Google and has brought so much more traffic to the site. If you google phicklephilly now, it’s the first thing that comes up. That, and my books.

With that came wordpress ads. They run ads on your site, and that generates revenue. You have to complete a bunch of forms for that and give them all of your tax info. Because it’s real income.

But here’s the thing… the revenue for the ads run is minimal. They’ll serve thousands of ads on your site. But the return is tiny. Phicklephilly has been around for over four years and I have a tons of content. (Over 2,000 posts) I’ve always been prolific. I figured, more content, more page views. It worked, but I’d probably need millions of page views to make any money from these free ads thrown to me by wordpress.

I’m not complaining, but I felt I needed to do more. So I recently signed up for Google Analytics. That opens up the world of Adsense. Once that’s processed over the next few weeks, that’ll generate ads on my site which will equal more revenue. I’m looking forward to that. The site is really coming into it’s own. We’ve hit 50,000 page views so far this year, with 84,000 visitors, 2200 subscribers, and over 147,000 page views since its inception. So, we’re growing.

But while writing Angel with a Broken Wing, there was something nagging at me. The itch I had to create was being satiated by writing the book, but I felt there was something more I could do for Phicklephilly. The little blog that started me on this journey shortly after the death of my father in 2016.

I started to think… I’m putting all of these pieces together, is there something else I could do?

While creating Angel with a Broken Wing I would listen to music on Youtube. I’ve been listening to everything! It’s been great, but sometimes between songs they run these commercials. I don’t really mind it if it doesn’t go on to long. I grew up in a world where radio and TV were supported by commercials.

I worked in advertising for 10 years when I returned to Philadelphia from New York back in 2007.

I remember as I was typing one day, this ad came on for a company called, Dr. Squatch. I stopped what I was doing to watch it. Normally, when people are enjoying  a show or listening to music, all they want to do is skip the ads. But Dr. Squatch’s ads were so good, I was captivated by their brand. It was a brilliant, fun campaign to promote their male hygiene products. You know an ad is good when you WANT to watch it because it’s so engaging.

It got me thinking… all I did for 10 years in Philly was sell advertising. Digital advertising. For Philly.com, a happy hour website, and Philly Weekly. I started with nothing at all three of those companies and made it work. Most people don’t like to sell, or can’t sell. Either you have it or you don’t. No one likes rejection, and that’s 95% of sales. You need mad game to sell. It’s a ruthless, thankless business. But perfect for me. An over achiever with low self esteem, and a track record of closing impossible deals. In banking as a broker I was a million dollar producer every year. At Philly.com I was billing $40k a month. It all comes down to who will relentlessly make calls on clients, meet with them, close them, cross sell them, and get referrals. Then repeat that over and over again. That’s sales. Just run down the game and kill it everyday. Like a lion on the savanna, you hunt every day to feed your cubs. Most days you go hungry. But you keep at it. Most don’t have the will to keep at it. But if you do, like anything else, eventually you’ll make a kill.

So, here I am creating content for my dating and relationship blog here in Philly during quarantine. How can I write a blog like this in quarantine? I feel like I’ve been grounded by my parents and I can’t go out and do what I do socially.

But, while I’m waiting for WordPress and google analytics and adsense to all come together for me, I should maybe try to do what I’m good at.

Sell digital advertising while I’m waiting for them to get their act together. It’s what I’m good at. Selling stuff. Any job I’ve ever worked where I don’t get to create or sell stuff I usually fail. Because we have plenty of people that are built to take orders and work hard to build somebody else’s dream. Business leaders love cheap labor.

Don’t get me wrong… Phicklephilly, and writing books isn’t my dream. The only dream I ever had died 40 years ago in Los Angeles as a failed rockstar. Now the only dreams I have come to me during slumber and that’s just my brain dumping thoughts, feelings and images to keep me sane.

Phicklephilly has been a glorious hobby. Yea, it’s a hobby. If you don’t have a hobby, you should think about maybe getting one. It’s a lovely release from all of the things you HAVE to do everyday to survive. It’s a sweet little pleasure that you get to create.

It’s kind of cool to watch something that started as a passion or a hobby become something bigger. It’s like a garden. You tend the seeds and the plants and vegetables, with water, care and sunlight. It starts to grow. Because you care about it. You like it. It’s fun. It feels good. It’s not a job to pay the bills. It’s your thing. It belongs to you. 

I don’t know why I never thought about this back in March, but I guess I was busy writing my book. But it started to work on me about two months ago. Back in May I decided that part of my day would be dedicated to going through all of my leads and contacts. I have hundreds from New Jersey, New York, and obviously Philly.

I would spend only one hour a day for 60 days going through all of my social contacts, (business ones, not you drunken assholes) business contacts, business cards, Linkedin, old sales files from the last 20 years, and see what that would yield. I called on every advertising agency in my old book of business. I knew if I dug into all of my New York contacts, I could mine some gold. Sometimes the one hour goal would stretch beyond that, but I wanted to do it everyday consistently. I didn’t talk about it to anyone, in case it never came to fruition.

Which brings me to this.

The sight obviously looks different. Especially the sidebar. I wanted to fit them all in where I could.

At least for now.

What’s weird is… I remember being contacted years ago by acquaintances that had attached themselves to me like sea lampreys in the industry. They had their websites about Philly, or food, or music. They always wanted me to sell ads for them on their sites. I have no idea what their business plan was for their sites, but I can guess. Write a blog with some relevant content about something they were passionate about. But somewhere they thought they’d like to run ads on their site and make money. Sadly, they didn’t possess the ability to execute that part. So they approach some schlub to do it for them. They have no revenue to pay said individual. Sadly, all of those sites have failed, and hopefully those folks found jobs somewhere. I get it. Great idea. Poorly executed.

But don’t be nice to me thinking I’m going to do your job for you. That’s just fiction, man.

Most writers can write, But there aren’t really any writers out there that can sell.

So, I’ve been digging in hard everyday for the last few months to maybe monetize Phicklephilly. There’s no way I’d do this for free for someone else’s little dream, but for my little hobby…sure.

I haven’t sold advertising since 2017. But I still have all of my contacts from my corporate life. I haven’t had a platform worth selling anything on. But the cool thing is, Phicklephilly just sort of grew like a weed over the last 4 years. It grew because I gave it a lot of love. (Along with all of you reading this!)

So here we are.

Funny what you can accomplish when you don’t have a job to go to.

I know for the moment the site is looking a bit cluttered, but I wanted to show everybody that decided to run on my site. I’ll clean it up, and WordPress and Google will help me out.

I’m blown away by the support that all of these brands have brought to Phicklephilly. 

I want to take a moment and thank everybody!

ALYAKA, AQUATALIA, BERETTA, BERRYLOOK, HARD TAIL, TRETORN, BUXTON, EVERLAST (You guy have been great! I appreciate all of the rapid responses!) FREDRICKS OF HOLLYWOOD (I have a story for you guys from my youth when I first saw your ads in a Hollywood gossip mag!) GRAND SLAM – NEW YORK, JACH’S – NEW YORK, KATY PERRY (Katy… your agency is a delight to work with!) LANCER, LIFELINE, LUVYLE   (I love you guys! Thanks for Berrylook!), MADDA FELLA, MADISON STYLE, PURLISSE, ROYAL DOULTON (Thank you guys in London for being first!), SLEEPSTAR, SMOKO (Beautiful ads, guys!), WATERFORD, WEDGWOOD, YOUNGBLOOD MINERAL COSMETICS (Best models ever!)

You guys rock! You’ve all been so kind and patient with me. I can write, but I suck at all of the technical stuff. I just love that I was able to pitch you guys and you got it. I can’t run all of your stuff all of the time, but I’ll do my best to promote your brands on the site to the best of my abilities!

Thank you!

(If any of you readers have any opinions about the way the site looks, please let me know!)

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

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What Should I Do With My Stimulus Check? How To Save Money During The Coronavirus Crisis

A month into social distancing measures, most people are trying to understand the full scope of how the coronavirus pandemic will impact their lives. As state and local governments order people to stay home, many of us have shifted to work from home indefinitely, continued positions on the front lines, or lost jobs altogether. As a result, the economy has thrown retirement savings and other investments for a loop.

These changes, like any issue related to the gender pay gap, disproportionately affect women, who make up 75% of health care practitioners, almost 90% of health care support staff and one-third of independent contractors, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than 700,000 jobs were eliminated during the first wave of coronavirus-related layoffs in March, NPR reported, 60% of which were held by women; a recent report from the National Women’s Law Center found that women, especially Latinx, black, and indigenous women, are overrepresented in low-wage jobs and will be hit hardest by a post-COVID-19 recession. Women who are still employed might need to juggle new responsibilities like caring for children who are now learning remotely or for sick relatives alongside, you know, doing their jobs.

Financially speaking, it’s a tough time for everybody. Bustle spoke with economics and personal finance experts about what you should be doing with your money right now.

Plan How You’ll Use Your Stimulus Check

The stimulus package signed at the end of March is meant to offset some of the losses from the shaky economy. Single individuals who made less than $75,000 in 2018 will get $1,200, plus $500 per child. People making up to $99,000 and married couples who filed jointly might get slightly different amounts.

Yana Rodgers, faculty director for the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University, says the package is “a step in the right direction but … insufficient” — not enough people qualify for stimulus checks, the checks won’t come quickly enough, and $1,200 isn’t really enough to sustain a household through this crisis.

Ande Frazier, a certified financial planner and CEO and editor-in-chief of MyWorth, a personal finance site, suggests using this money to cover immediate needs or boost your emergency fund. Lauren Anastasio, a certified financial planner at SoFi, a personal finance company, says that your emergency fund should consist of three to six months’ worth of essential living expenses; if you’re wondering what that number is, calculate everything you spend money on in a month and multiply that by at least three. If you don’t already have a budget, that would be a good project to take on now, too.

If you’re strapped for cash, plan to be “ruthless” with your spending for the next few months, Frazier says. Write down how much money is coming in and out, when your bills are due, and what you can cut. If you’re working from home, your transportation costs will likely be lower or nonexistent; if you take money out of your paycheck pre-tax for subway tickets or parking, ask HR if you can pause that deduction for now. You can also cut back on food expenses by meal prepping, Frazier says.

The package will also expand unemployment benefits; you can receive an additional $600 a week through the end of July and can get benefits for up to 39 weeks rather than the usual 26. If you’ve lost your job or been furloughed because of coronavirus, you can go to your state’s department of labor and see what you’re eligible for.

If you’re totally secure in your emergency fund and want to use the extra money to help others out, Frazier recommends donating it to domestic violence organizations or another cause close to your heart.

Call Your Bill Collectors About Coronavirus Relief

If the pandemic means you can’t cover your heat or electric costs, call your lenders to adjust or defer your repayment plans, Anastasio says. If you specify that you’ve been impacted by coronavirus-related job cuts, they may offer programs that will prevent your accounts from being reported to credit bureaus for late or missing payments.

Under the new stimulus package, federal student loan payments will be suspended until Sept. 30, according to The New York Times, so that’s one bill people won’t have to worry about; Frazier recommends putting the money you’d spend on paying off loans directly into savings if you don’t need it right away.

Frazier has been advising her clients to pay the minimum on their debts and concentrate on stashing as much money as possible in their emergency funds. If you want to continue paying off your debts during this period, try the avalanche method, or paying the minimum across all your debt and use the money left over to pay off anything high interest. If your debt feels overwhelming, try the snowball repayment method, meaning you pay off your smaller debts before moving onto the bigger ones.

Leave Your Retirement Savings Alone… Unless You Really, Really Need It

It might be tempting, but pulling money from your retirement probably isn’t worth it, unless your situation is truly drastic. Instead, Frazier recommends waiting out the market downturn.

“I know that this is very uncomfortable, but it truly is a natural part of the market cycle,” Anastasio says. “And for those younger investors who are experiencing this for the first time and watching their portfolio go down … this is not the first time they’re going to experience this during their career.”

Frazier recommends looking at your savings, the cash value of your life insurance policy, or even a home equity loan instead.

If you absolutely need to withdraw from your retirement savings, you can take out up to $100,000 from your 401(k) or IRA without being hit with a 10% penalty, thanks to the stimulus package, but you’ll still have to pay regular income tax on it, Frazier says.

“Taking money from your retirement funds probably should be a last resort,” she says.

Don’t Panic Invest During The Stock Market Downturn

You might have heard that with the downturn, it’s like stocks are “on sale.” Anastasio has heard of inexperienced investors who are borrowing money or even using their emergency funds to invest in stocks at a lower price, but she says it’s not a great idea to withdraw from an emergency fund for anything other than an emergency.

Most people shouldn’t make any changes to their investment strategy right now, Anastasio says. She says she’d rather see her clients focus on building a cash reserve — that three to six months’ worth of expenses — than trying to make short-term gains on the stock market. Ideally, you want to have those savings and your high-interest debt paid off before doing any kind of investing, she says. That way, you’ll be prepared to take care of yourself if you’re laid off or furloughed or if you get sick.

If your savings are in good shape and you’re itching to get into the market, talk to a financial advisor to make sure you’re making the best use of your money. But remember that no one is sure how long these ups and downs will last, and the stock market will still be there when this is all over.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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Phicklephilly Is Now A Dot Com!

Yesterday, I decided that after much research I should upgrade my wordpress account to a premium account.

For nearly four years, I’ve been writing phicklphilly on this platform. It’s been great. I started this blog in the summer of 2016 with a single post and hoped that I could stick with it.

So many times creative people start projects and never finish them. It’s sometimes hard for the creative mind to stay focused. The ideas are good, but the difficult part is bringing the body over with the mind.

My brain wants to be a writer, but the hard part is the actual writing. I think we can all relate to that. It’s like deciding to get in shape. You may say you’re going on a diet and starting a work out regimen, but getting the body to come along with that idea can be the major challenge.

So I paid the fee with some trepidation and navigated through the process. I wanted to monetize my site because I figured after four years I should have enough monthly traffic to get approved for that.

What I quickly realized is that once you upgrade, if you want to really take advantage of all the features of a premium account, you need a domain.

WordPress offered some horrible options. phi-ckl-ephi-lly.com, phicklephillies.com, phicklephilly.me, phicklephilly.tv. Just awful.

I’m like… I’m not using any of these crappy domain names.

But then I remembered something…

Three and a half years ago, when I was six months into writing Phicklephilly, I went on GoDaddy and bought the domain, Phicklephilly.com for $60. It was mine for the next five years. It was cheap because phicklephilly is a made up word. So there was zero competition to acquire the name.

I called GoDaddy last night, and spoke with a nice young man named Casey in Iowa of all places. We chatted and I explained my dilemma. I assumed there wasn’t much threat of coronavirus in Iowa. Who has any reason to go to Iowa? But he told me they were in quarantine too. All of the restaurants and bars are closed. So he’s been refinishing his basement. He has a couple of his buddies over and they put up drywall, shoot pool, play darts and drink beer. Sounds like a fun time.

He went into his system and found my account. (I had to go dig back into emails from 2016 to find my customer number!) He sent a transfer notice over to wordpress and that was it. It was that easy. I couldn’t believe how simple it was.

I got an email from wordpress to say they were accepting the transfer of my own domain. They proceeded to charge me and $18 fee for that. (I think I have to pay that every year, but who cares? That’s cheap!) I’m so glad I thought of doing this years ago.

So, if you look in the browser you’ll notice it now says, phicklephilly.com and no longer says, phicklephilly.wordpress.com anymore. It’s so cool to have the 24/7 support of wordpress, google analytics, more memory for data, photos and videos and of course ad space. Now that I have a solid domain and a blog website I own, I can now monetize the site. No pesky pop up ads, just digital banners around the site. Top and bottom and maybe one in the sidebar.

So with the sales from my books, and hopefully some revenue generated from the blog, I could see some return on my investment from my new premium account.

You shouldn’t see any real change in phicklephilly, which for me is comforting. I’ll just keep cranking out the quality content that I hope people continue to enjoy.

Also when I publish, the posts copy to Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest. So there’s an expansion in my reach.

I’m very happy about being able to take this step. It’s nice to see the site continue to grow. I suppose when the quarantine is over, I’ll order some new business cards!

Thanks to you all for your continued support of my work. It’s a delight to write phicklephilly everyday!

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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Proposed: $2,000 Monthly Stimulus Checks And Canceled Rent And Mortgage Payments For 1 Year

Sounds good to me!

The CARES Act provided a lifeline for taxpayers and small businesses. But as a one-time cash payment, many fear that it didn’t do enough to support taxpayers in one of our country’s greatest times of need. Especially in light of the fact that many people still have not received their stimulus checks.

To address this, members of Congress have made two separate proposals, one that would provide Americans over the age of 16 with a $2,000 monthly check for up to 12 months, and one that would cancel rent and mortgage payments through the duration of the coronavirus emergency.

Let’s take a deeper look:

Proposal #1: $2,000 Monthly Stimulus Check

Representatives Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Tim Ryan (D-OH) introduced the Emergency Money for the People Act. This Act, if passed, would provide additional cash payments to Americans who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Emergency Money for the People Act would provide a $2,000 monthly payment to every qualifying American over the age of 16 for up to 12 months.

This would include individuals who were left out of the CARES Act, such as some high school and college students and adults with disabilities who were ineligible to receive the stimulus check because they were claimed as a dependent on another tax return.

Monthly Stimulus Payments Would Be Easier to Receive

Not everyone has a bank or a home address. To address this, the Emergency Money for the People Act calls for individuals to get this money through direct deposit, check, pre-paid debit card, or mobile money platforms such as Venmo, Zelle, or PayPal.

$2,000 Monthly Stimulus Check Eligibility:

  • Every American age 16 and older making less than $130,000 annually would receive at least $2,000 per month.
  • Married couples earning less than $260,000 would receive at least $4,000 per month.
  • Qualifying families with children will receive an additional $500 per child – for up to three children.
  • Those who had no earnings, were unemployed, or are currently unemployed would also be eligible for the stimulus even if they didn’t file a tax return.
  • Those who were not eligible in 2019 or 2018 but would be eligible in 2020, could submit at least two consecutive months of paychecks to verify income eligibility.

You can learn more on Rep. Khanna’s website or read the full bill here.

See this article to see the current one-time $1,200 stimulus check rules.

Proposal #2: Cancel Rent & Mortgage Payments Through The Coronavirus Emergency

Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) introduced the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act. This Act, if approved, would call for a nationwide cancellation of rents and home mortgage payments through the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, or up to one year.

The bill would include:

  • Full rent payment forgiveness for your primary residence
  • Full mortgage payment forgiveness for your primary residence
  • No accumulation of debt for renters or homeowners
  • No negative impact on their credit rating or rental history.
  • It would establish a relief fund for landlords and mortgage holders to cover losses
  • It would create an optional fund to finance the purchase of private rental properties to increase the availability of affordable housing.

The bill would be retroactive to March 13, 2020, and would last for one year, unless extended. Renters and homeowners who made payments during April 2020 would be reimbursed for their payments.

No Double-Dipping Allowed. The bill would only allow taxpayers to receive coverage for their primary residence. It would not cover second homes, vacation homes, or other non-primary residences. Those who have both a mortgage and also rent a home would have to choose the home for which they would want to receive financial relief.

Landlords and Mortgage Companies Would be Covered Through a Fund Managed Through the Department of Housing and Urban Development

The Department of Housing and Urban Development would create a relief fund for lenders and landlords to cover the lost rental and mortgage payments they would have received.

To receive these funds, lenders and landlords would be required to follow federal guidelines for fair lending and renting practices for five years.

You can learn more on Rep. Omar’s website, or read the full proposal here.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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Special Report: Prepare For The Ultimate Gaslighting

You are not crazy, my friends

*Gaslighting, if you don’t know the word, is defined as manipulation into doubting your own sanity; as in, Carl made Mary think she was crazy, even though she clearly caught him cheating. He gaslit her.

Pretty soon, as the country begins to figure out how we “open back up” and move forward, very powerful forces will try to convince us all to get back to normal. (That never happened. What are you talking about?) Billions of dollars will be spent on advertising, messaging, and television and media content to make you feel comfortable again. It will come in the traditional forms — a billboard here, a hundred commercials there — and in new-media forms: a 2020–2021 generation of memes to remind you that what you want again is normalcy. In truth, you want the feeling of normalcy, and we all want it. We want desperately to feel good again, to get back to the routines of life, to not lie in bed at night wondering how we’re going to afford our rent and bills, to not wake to an endless scroll of human tragedy on our phones, to have a cup of perfectly brewed coffee, and simply leave the house for work. The need for comfort will be real, and it will be strong. And every brand in America will come to your rescue, dear consumer, to help take away that darkness and get life back to the way it was before the crisis. I urge you to be well aware of what is coming.

For the last hundred years, the multibillion-dollar advertising business has operated based on this cardinal principle: Find the consumer’s problem and fix it with your product. When the problem is practical and tactical, the solution is “as seen on TV” and available at Home Depot. Command strips will save me from having to repaint. So will Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser. Elfa shelving will get rid of the mess in my closet. The Ring doorbell will let me see who’s on the porch if I can’t take my eyes off Netflix. But when the problem is emotional, the fix becomes a new staple in your life, and you become a lifelong loyalist. Coca-Cola makes you: happy. A Mercedes makes you: successful. Taking your kids to Disneyland makes you: proud. Smart marketers know how to highlight what brands can do for you to make your life easier. But brilliant marketers know how to rewire your heart. And, make no mistake, the heart is what has been most traumatized this last month. We are, as a society, now vulnerable in a whole new way.

What the trauma has shown us, though, cannot be unseen. A carless Los Angeles has clear blue skies as pollution has simply stopped. In a quiet New York, you can hear the birds chirp in the middle of Madison Avenue. Coyotes have been spotted on the Golden Gate Bridge. These are the postcard images of what the world might be like if we could find a way to have a less deadly daily effect on the planet. What’s not fit for a postcard are the other scenes we have witnessed: a health care system that cannot provide basic protective equipment for its frontline; small businesses — and very large ones — that do not have enough cash to pay their rent or workers, sending over 16 million people to seek unemployment benefits; a government that has so severely damaged the credibility of our media that 300 million people don’t know who to listen to for basic facts that can save their lives.

The cat is out of the bag. We, as a nation, have deeply disturbing problems. You’re right. That’s not news. They are problems we ignore every day, not because we’re terrible people or because we don’t care about fixing them, but because we don’t have time. Sorry, we have other shit to do. The plain truth is that no matter our ethnicity, religion, gender, political party (the list goes on), nor even our socioeconomic status, as Americans we share this: We are busy. We’re out and about hustling to make our own lives work. We have goals to meet and meetings to attend and mortgages to pay — all while the phone is ringing and the laptop is pinging. And when we get home, Crate and Barrel and Louis Vuitton and Andy Cohen make us feel just good enough to get up the next day and do it all over again. It is very easy to close your eyes to a problem when you barely have enough time to close them to sleep. The greatest misconception among us, which causes deep and painful social and political tension every day in this country, is that we somehow don’t care about each other. White people don’t care about the problems of black America. Men don’t care about women’s rights. Cops don’t care about the communities they serve. Humans don’t care about the environment. These couldn’t be further from the truth. We do care. We just don’t have the time to do anything about it. Maybe that’s just me. But maybe it’s you, too.

Well, the treadmill you’ve been on for decades just stopped. Bam! And that feeling you have right now is the same as if you’d been thrown off your Peloton bike and onto the ground: What in the holy fuck just happened? I hope you might consider this: What happened is inexplicably incredible. It’s the greatest gift ever unwrapped. Not the deaths, not the virus, but The Great Pause. It is, in a word, profound. Please don’t recoil from the bright light beaming through the window. I know it hurts your eyes. It hurts mine, too. But the curtain is wide open. What the crisis has given us is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see ourselves and our country in the plainest of views. At no other time, ever in our lives, have we gotten the opportunity to see what would happen if the world simply stopped. Here it is. We’re in it. Stores are closed. Restaurants are empty. Streets and six-lane highways are barren. Even the planet itself is rattling less (true story). And because it is rarer than rare, it has brought to light all of the beautiful and painful truths of how we live. And that feels weird. Really weird. Because it has… never… happened… before. If we want to create a better country and a better world for our kids, and if we want to make sure we are even sustainable as a nation and as a democracy, we have to pay attention to how we feel right now. I cannot speak for you, but I imagine you feel like I do: devastated, depressed, and heartbroken.

And what a perfect time for Best Buy and H&M and Wal-Mart to help me feel normal again. If I could just have the new iPhone in my hand, if I could rest my feet on a pillow of new Nikes, if I could drink a venti blonde vanilla latte or sip a Diet Coke, then this very dark feeling would go away. You think I’m kidding, that I’m being cute, that I’m denying the very obvious benefits of having a roaring economy. You’re right. Our way of life is not ruinous. The economy is not, at its core, evil. Brands and their products create millions of jobs. Like people — and most anything in life — there are brands that are responsible and ethical, and there are others that are not. They are all part of a system that keeps us living long and strong. We have lifted more humans out of poverty through the power of economics than any other civilization in history. Yes, without a doubt, Americanism is a force for good. It is not some villainous plot to wreak havoc and destroy the planet and all our souls along with it. I get it, and I agree. But its flaws have been laid bare for all to see. It doesn’t work for everyone. It’s responsible for great destruction. It is so unevenly distributed in its benefit that three men own more wealth than 150 million people. Its intentions have been perverted, and the protection it offers has disappeared. In fact, it’s been brought to its knees by one pangolin.

And so the onslaught is coming. Get ready, my friends. What is about to be unleashed on American society will be the greatest campaign ever created to get you to feel normal again. It will come from brands, it will come from government, it will even come from each other, and it will come from the left and from the right. We will do anything, spend anything, believe anything, just so we can take away how horribly uncomfortable all of this feels. And on top of that, just to turn the screw that much more, will be the one effort that’s even greater: the all-out blitz to make you believe you never saw what you saw. The air wasn’t really cleaner; those images were fake. The hospitals weren’t really a war zone; those stories were hyperbole. The numbers were not that high; the press is lying. You didn’t see people in masks standing in the rain risking their lives to vote. Not in America. You didn’t see the leader of the free world push an unproven miracle drug like a late-night infomercial salesman. That was a crisis update. You didn’t see homeless people dead on the street. You didn’t see inequality. You didn’t see indifference. You didn’t see utter failure of leadership and systems.

But you did. You are not crazy, my friends. And so we are about to be gaslit in a truly unprecedented way. It starts with a check for $1,200 (Don’t say I never gave you anything) and then it will be so big that it will be bigly. And it will be a one-two punch from both big business and the big White House — inextricably intertwined now more than ever and being led by, as our luck would have it, a Marketer in Chief. Business and government are about to band together to knock us unconscious again. It will be funded like no other operation in our lifetimes. It will be fast. It will be furious. And it will be overwhelming. The Great American Return to Normal is coming.

From one citizen to another, I beg of you: Take a deep breath, ignore the deafening noise, and think deeply about what you want to put back into your life. This is our chance to define a new version of normal, a rare and truly sacred (yes, sacred) opportunity to get rid of the bullshit and to only bring back what works for us, what makes our lives richer, what makes our kids happier, what makes us truly proud. We get to Marie Kondo the shit out of it all. We care deeply about one another. That is clear. That can be seen in every supportive Facebook post, in every meal dropped off for a neighbor, in every Zoom birthday party. We are a good people. And as a good people, we want to define — on our own terms — what this country looks like in five, 10, 50 years. This is our chance to do that, the biggest one we have ever gotten. And the best one we’ll ever get.

We can do that on a personal scale in our homes, in how we choose to spend our family time on nights and weekends, what we watch, what we listen to, what we eat, and what we choose to spend our dollars on and where. We can do it locally in our communities, in what organizations we support, what truths we tell, and what events we attend. And we can do it nationally in our government, in which leaders we vote in and to whom we give power. If we want cleaner air, we can make it happen. If we want to protect our doctors and nurses from the next virus — and protect all Americans — we can make it happen. If we want our neighbors and friends to earn a dignified income, we can make that happen. If we want millions of kids to be able to eat if suddenly their school is closed, we can make that happen. And, yes, if we just want to live a simpler life, we can make that happen, too. But only if we resist the massive gaslighting that is about to come. It’s on its way. Look out.

 

I’d love to hear your comments…

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Buy Phicklephilly THE BOOK now available on Amazon!

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Dating When You’re $120,000 In Debt

I thought my six-figure student-loan debt was making me undatable, but was it really the numbers that kept me from reaching the fourth date?

Here’s one from one of my female readers.

A lot hinges on the third date with a new person. By this point, you’ve seen enough of this potential significant other to determine the direction you want this newfound relationship to go in. A casual fling, your next serious partner, someone you’re sure you never want to see again—that’s all decided by date three. It’s the date on which you show your cards, air your dealbreakers, and hold your breath, waiting for the person on the other side of the table to respond.

So when you do have cards to show, you dread this date—which is how I felt sitting across from a man with whom I could envision a future, my mouth dry and my palms slick, trying to summon the power to reveal what I thought made me incredibly undatable. It was the reason I believed I was still single after countless awkward encounters. But I could tell things were going to progress between us—I was already imagining what falling in love with this beautiful bearded man would be like—and I knew I had to give him a chance to bail. Gathering all my courage, I formed the words I hated saying out loud: “I have student debt.”

After four years at the University of New Haven, a private university I couldn’t afford, and two years earning a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, I was saddled with a $120,000 debt for a career that did not guarantee a hefty return on investment. Although I loved my chosen field, I knew there were less expensive paths I could have taken. On my worst days, I spent hours tossing and turning in bed, desperately wishing I could go back in time and persuade myself to go to a cheaper school. I wished I had understood the gravity of what I was getting myself into, but I am the first child in my family to go to college, and neither my parents nor I truly understood the enormity of the debt I would be shouldering.

I felt suffocated, like I was barely treading water in a storm. I had already cut back in every aspect of my life—living at home with my mom, bringing lunch to work every day, switching to water after only one drink on a night out with friends—and it was barely a life I wanted to live. I couldn’t fathom finding a partner to join me in this misery because, ultimately, who would want to marry that burden?

I started to equate my self-worth with my net worth—and I was in the red.

I always knew dating in New York City was going to be hard. I had never been confident—I was self-conscious about my hips, my laugh, the way I rambled when nervous—and I often thought of a first date as Judgment Day. The few minutes before coming face-to-face with a man I had swiped into existence were always the worst; my heart would beat in my throat as I imagined him sizing me up, mentally comparing me with the person he had imagined me to be.

Being both single and in debt conjures anxiety like none other. You’re already at your most vulnerable while playing the field. Now mix in the possibility of rejection based on your financial situation. I started to equate my self-worth with my net worth—and I was in the red. If you’re worth what’s in your bank account, then I wasn’t just worth nothing. I was less than nothing.

I began to think, Why bother? I felt even if someone liked me for who I was, my finances would send him running. Choosing me meant hitching yourself to my debt—and why do that when someone with fewer financial complications was only a few swipes away?

It didn’t help that those fears had been confirmed. When I casually mentioned to the law student with dark olive skin and bright eyes that I had taken out loans for school, he had all but done a spit take. His eyes went wide and his head jerked back, as though the thought of anyone but your parents paying for college was ludicrous. “For journalism?” he asked. “Good luck ever paying those off!” He laughed, then took a swig of his beer, and a hot wave of shame washed over me. There was no fourth date.

Then there was the tall bass player sleeping on a mattress on a floor in Brooklyn who, despite all better judgment, I was very into. He hadn’t finished school and politely nodded when I broached the subject. In the moment, I felt relieved, but a week later, as I obsessively checked my phone for new messages and racked my brain for reasons he had gone silent, I couldn’t come up with anything other than my debt.

Sometimes the topic would surface naturally in conversation, which makes sense considering roughly one in four Americans are paying off student loans, averaging $28,800 nationally, after graduating. This happened on my second date with a charming physicist. He mentioned how many of his classmates had six figures’ worth of debt. He felt bad for them, he said, but he couldn’t relate. His grandparents had footed his bill. I swallowed hard as my stomach sank to my feet. This time, I didn’t bother bringing up my story; I already knew how this would end. Before we parted ways, we made plans to see each other that weekend, but after two restless nights, I canceled the date, using a canned excuse. “I’m just really trying to focus on work right now,” I said. “It’s not you; I’m just not ready for a relationship.”

Choosing me meant hitching yourself to my debt—and why do that when someone with fewer financial complications was only a few swipes away?

So, in September 2017, with a montage of these memories playing on a loop in my mind, I placed both sweaty palms on the table in front of me, looked into the eyes of the man I hoped to call my boyfriend, and said, “I have student debt. A lot of it.” He blinked once, twice, waiting for me to continue. When I didn’t, he cocked his head. “And … ?” he asked. I blurted: “Like, so much that I’ll probably be paying it off until I’m in my 60s.” He looked at me for a while longer, then shrugged his shoulders. “That blows, but you’ll get through it. You’re a motivated person.” And that was that. It didn’t come up again because he didn’t care. He didn’t like me any less. He didn’t disappear. We kept seeing each other until eventually we decided to date exclusively. My debt wasn’t the dealbreaker I had set it up to be.

Although my debt does come up when we plan for the future, it doesn’t seem like a liability; rather, it’s a challenge we’ll face together when the time comes to make big financial decisions. Since my debt-to-income ratio is skewed, we’ve discussed the possibility of leaving my name off the mortgage if we decide to buy a house. Although my debt is mine alone to pay back, he’s made it clear that I don’t have to weather the mental stress of it by myself.

Months after I bared all, he pointed out that I had gotten worked up for no reason. And that’s when it hit me: Worrying that my debt was making me undatable was what was actually making me undatable—not the debt itself. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy that I was willing into existence by stressing about it. Looking back at each failed date, I see now that it’s a very strong possibility that I was letting my anxieties and the shame I felt when I thought of my debt color how I interpreted the way those men had reacted.

Unless I’m the recipient of some huge windfall, my debt is something I’ll have to hack away at slowly over time, not something that will change overnight. What I can change is the way I perceive it and how I let it affect the way I conduct my life. My net worth doesn’t define me; my actions, my personality, and the way I live my life do. Instead of being heavy baggage, the thing I let determine my dating life, it’s now just another part of who I am. Now, two years after that fated third date, I’ve stopped worrying about it so much. Instead, I focus that energy on the relationship I’m in with the man who sat across from me that night, the one who accepted me for who I was, debt and all.

 

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Three Months Of Salary For An Engagement Ring? How About Go F*ck Yourself?

Here’s a re-post from one of my readers…

Felt it was worth sharing.

Engagement rings have become my cause de guerre. I’m thirty and well over half of my closest friends are either engaged or married, so these puppies seem to smack me in the face on Instagram every week now. Sure, I’m a hopeless romantic at heart. Notting Hill, No Strings Attached, You’ve Got Mail, When Marry Met Sally, the first 70 minutes of La La Land… if TV Guide magazine tells me any of these movies will be on TBS superstation, my night is booked. But when it comes to engagement rings, my mouth fills with acrid bile.

Engagement rings are a massive industry. Some people blame DeBeers; I blame women. Dangerous words in these delicate times, I know. But at some point, we need to realize that women are capable of being terrible people, just like men. That’s equality. That’s progress. To illustrate this thesis, we look to Instagram.

As wedding ring/engagement photos have proliferated across my Instagram feed, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend: many women post a photo of the ring and write “he did such a good job!” It’s a deflection, a humble downplay, like posting a shredded bikini pic while pretending to eat a hot dog with a caption like “empty calories, full stomach, can’t lose!” It’s meant to throw us off the scent of what it really is: a vagina-measuring contest. Because what’s really happening here is that she’s posting a photo of a commodity, the price of which we immediately start to estimate. And by we, I mostly mean other women, because they know the ring market.

An olive branch: if women just owned what they were doing with these posts, I’d applaud them for it. Remember ’90s hip hop videos, where rappers would flex in backwards football jerseys as a strobe light hit their $60,000 Jesus piece, triggering epileptic fits for unmedicated children? It was a flex, and they relished it. You didn’t see Diddy brandishing his new spinning Sprewell pendant with a disclaimer like “my friend bought me this, and he knows me so well! Thanks dude!” Today, similarly, these ladies are flexing their new ice on Instagram; but they couch it with deferential words to their buyer fiancé. I would have nothing but respect for a ring post with a caption like “Look at the size of this fucking thing! He spent more than I thought he would!”

But that would be too obvious. That would violate the weird, unspoken decorum of ringstagramming. Thus, we’re left with these thinly-veiled humblebrags that credit some hapless fellow who simply brandished six credit cards and held his breath. Not only do these dudes probably not give a shit about credit, they’re not worthy of it! When it comes to rings, you know who actually did a good job? Sam and Frodo. The ’72 Dolphins. The Motorola Razr. Heidi Fleiss. The Undertaker. Barnum and Bailey. These are first ballot ring HOFers; not your Dave.

I have a family ring from my late grandmother. As a family, we believe in heirlooms and preserving memories. Also, my grandmother was a powerful wizard who learned the dark art of splitting her soul, a portion of which lives on in the horcrux I plan to give my lady someday. The ring is beautiful, too. It’s a far nicer ring than I could buy right now from Zales or Adam Sandler.

Still, I can’t help but wonder how an Instagram post of this ring will be received. Do I somehow love her less because I didn’t spend three months of my salary on it? Do I need to buy her something to supplement the ring, to emphasize this promise?

Maybe. Or maybe I’ll take the money I saved on a ring and put it towards something nice for myself. After all, I saved. I was fiscally responsible. Dare I say… I did such a good job.

 

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