Hardware

Philadelphia, Pa – July 2021

About a week after I got back from my four-day stint in Wildwood at my sister’s shore house I figured I should probably look for a job.

I had been on unemployment for over a year and a half and it was about to run out for good.

Back in March of 2020 when I was laid off from my hospitality job at a sports bar working 55 hours a week on my feet, I was happy to be off.

After working for 40 years I was happy to get a break. What began as a time of apprehension, quickly became a joy when I started getting $360 a week plus another $600 a week from the government which lasted 6 months. (Not to mention the $1200 stimulus checks I got!) Then they extended unemployment past that and still provided $300 extra per week so I was in good shape financially over the whole year and a half.

During that time I monetized this blog with WordPress ads, and Google AdSense, and acquired my own advertisers to promote their brands on my site. So there was that added income rolling in. I also published six books over that year and a half. Phicklephilly: One Man’s Journey to Find Love in Philadelphia, Phicklephilly II: He’s Found Love, But Can He Keep It?, Crazy Dating Stories, Sun Stories: Tales from a Tanning Salon, Angel with a Broken Wing, & Below The Wheel. So, royalties were rolling in from the sale of all of those books.

Back in April, I started cranking up some freelance writing assignments from different companies across the country. That brought me thousands of dollars and is still going on today. I was in great shape financially. I made more money and grew my investments during the pandemic than when I was working 55 hours a week in some terrible bar job.

I could see why once things started up again restaurants couldn’t find people who wanted to work. People were making great money on unemployment and all realized they could enjoy the summer and maybe find a vocation that was better than working in hospitality. It’s horrible, demanding work and I wouldn’t recommend that type of job to anyone.

It’s full of drug addicts, alcoholics, mentally ill people, illegal aliens, felons, and those who can’t get a job doing anything else. I was told by an executive in the hospitality industry that it attracts the very worst people. I had to agree with him. It’s a thankless, garbage life.

I decided I could never go back to anything like that but didn’t completely rule it out if I couldn’t find anything else at almost 60 years of age. But I was told by friends that they knew I’d get something because of my skills and personality.

During the pandemic, I decided that if I could find a little job to keep myself in step with humanity that was somewhere locally, I’d take it. Maybe something in retail in my neighborhood. But who knows?

About a week after I came back from Wildwood, I decided to look. I updated my resume and made a dozen copies at the local Kinkos over on 15th street. I applied to a few places on Craigslist and Indeed but didn’t hear anything.

The Last Week of July 2021

One day I walked over to the hardware store that’s a block and a half away from my house. I wanted to pick up a timer for some mini lights in my bedroom. While I was there I asked one of the guys working there if they were hiring. He said they were and to bring my resume in the next day. I did, and it was taken by one of the managers.

The next day I got a call from the owner and he asked me to come in and meet with the general manager the next day. I went in and met with him and was hired on the spot. I started that Friday and have been there ever since.

But here’s the thing… the same day I dropped my resume off at the hardware store I met with the owner of a local bar at 23rd and Sansom. He hired me on the spot as well. I told him I had managed a restaurant but never tended bar. He didn’t care but hired me anyway. I was shocked at my flood of good fortune.

I later had to decline the bar gig because I didn’t want to have to work until 2:30 in the morning. No way! Not doing that.

But the hardware gig is great. The guys I work with are nice and the whole vibe of the place is laid back. The work is easy and the customers are great. It’s nice to serve the community and help them with all of their household needs.

I was surprised how smooth my transition went from being unemployed for a year and a half to a nice job a block and a half from my house.

It’s been a great year of freedom and creativity, and now this cat has once again landed on his feet!

 

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

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

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

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.

 

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

Buy the book, Phicklephilly now available on Amazon!

Listen to Phicklephilly LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly       Facebook: phicklephilly     Twitter: @phicklephilly

How to Save the Most Money at Bars, According to Bartenders

Did those cocktails from last night leave a few extra, unexpected digits on your credit card?

(And, uh, maybe those drinks merrily offered to your friends — hey, put it on my tab! — didn’t help.)

Navigating the cost of going out, whether to a sophisticated cocktail bar or your favorite dive down the street, isn’t as easy as it might seem.

This is especially true if you’re ultimately trying to have fun and not think about finances, and if you’re not seasoned at figuring out the maze of a drinks menu, which somehow always looks a little fuzzier as the night rolls on.

To see if it’s possible to save money on one of most people’s biggest expenses (without swearing off drinking altogether, which is always an option), we talked to those who know best: bartenders themselves. Here, they share their own tips and strategies for going out — without going over-budget.

Well, well, well.

“Happy hour of course is the first thing that comes to everyone’s mind, but there are other ways to find good deals,” says Meredith Hayman, cocktail director at R6 Distillery in El Segundo, California, who’s also worked behind the bar in the Los Angeles area for over 13 years.

“Check out the well offerings [also known as house or rail liquors because they’re the go-to spirits used by staff],” she says. “Every bar offers these and they are typically around $10 and often what they use in their cocktails anyway. Talk to them and ask what’s in their well.”

Be honest, and servers will frequently be honest in return about which well options are worthwhile or not — and when you land on a promising option, you can request it in a standard cocktail.

Happy hour doesn’t have to be so obvious.

Happy hour mostly exists to lure in new customers and increase foot traffic during off-peak hours with large-volume orders. It has advantages (the discounts!) and disadvantages (the crowds!), but one perk is the ability to squeeze a few dollars off more experimental items.

“There are some interesting takes on [happy hour], especially in wine bars, where they use reduced pricing as a means to have their guests try different grape varietals and move out of their comfort zones, which I am all for,” says Frank Caiafa, beverage director at The Stayton Room at New York City’s Lexington Hotel. This can also apply to new tap beers or a house cocktail the head bartender is tweaking. If you’re willing to try something new, resist going to your default order and read the list from top to bottom.

Fall back on the shot-and-beer specials — or the wine bottle list.

“In more divey spots, where I am wary that I will get a good cocktail, a shot and beer can go a long way,” Hayman advises. Otherwise known as boilermakers, these supreme deals deliver exactly what’s listed and pack an alcoholic punch. They may or may not be advertised, but just ask your bartender to see what’s available.

Also “check out the wine bottle list,” Hayman adds, especially if you’re a discerning wine fan at a place with a decent list. “Don’t be scared. You can get a bottle for $40, and that is four drinks right there.” It’s not always easy, but estimating what you might drink at the beginning of the night — and what your drinking partner’s plan is, too — can save you both some money.

Go with draft beer…

Draft beer, or beer delivered directly from the keg, is the prize of any brew fan. It also makes the most monetary sense. “Choose draft when you can. There’s less overhead for the bar and the brewery,” Hayman advises, so the quality is higher for the price. “You also get a better beer, since it’s been dispensed from the tap. Think tap soda over bottled soda.”

…but don’t limit yourself anywhere on the menu.

If the draft list is sparse, look into all the offerings including canned and bottled beers (especially the former, which cost less to produce and can present amazing deals) to find something you think you’ll love.

The same goes for spirits. You may find that the standard liquor pour and that premium brand you’ve wanted to try are only separated by a few dollars.

Remember that you’re allowed to ask questions.

A nice cocktail bar is more expensive than a sports bar, and that’s by design. In a high-end establishment, especially in a city with a high cost of living, “be prepared to spend $13 to $18 a cocktail,” says Hayman.

But there’s a bonus: “You tend to get an expert along with it. Here you find the cocktails geeks, the hospitality experts, the ones that make this their career, their focus, their purpose,” Hayman says. “There is no question they can’t answer and you leave feeling that the cost was well worth it.” And while it’s not reflected that way in your checking account, isn’t it true a cocktail you adore at least feels less expensive?

About that infamous “buyback.”

The “buyback,” or the practice of getting a drink for free from your bartender, is mythical and poorly understood. You should never expect it just because you bought three beers or unloaded your thoughts about the latest season of Succession. But it can feel like a gift for those who do get it — and those people are always good patrons.

“The best way to get a buyback is to smile, be patient, and use your manners. At the end of the day, bartenders are human beings with feelings and emotions,” says Justin Campbell, bar director of The H.Wood Group, which is behind LA spots like Bootsy Bellows and The Nice Guy.

So don’t annoy your bartender by bragging about who you know. Don’t touch the garnish dishes. And don’t be obnoxious. Instead, be an amiable regular, because as Hayman succinctly puts it, “Many places reward you for your loyalty.”

 

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

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

Habits That Keep You Broke

It is becoming more and more common for people to complain about their finances openly. It is no longer uncommon to hear your friends, family or acquaintances tell you that they are “too broke” for a specific event or purchase. Admitting that inflation has made life extremely expensive for the common man, there are some habits that tend to keep you broke perpetually. This is a state of being that exists regardless of how much wealth you inherit or how much money you earn that arises from consistently maintaining these financially terrible decisions.

Living Above Your Means

In a world where appearing rich has become more important than being rich, most people tend to live above their means. They manage their extravagant expenses on credit cards and other forms of debt, thus leaving them paying a substantial sum towards interest payments while living in constant worry over meeting bill payments.

You Don’t Track Your Money

If you constantly find yourself wondering where all your money went, then you fall into this category. A common mistake people make is not keeping track of their cash flow. Several apps are now available to help you keep track of this by noting your inflow sources, your outflow sources and presenting you with a composite chart of where your money is spent. It is important to know where you spend more of your money in order to be able to know where you can cut down on your spending.

You Remain Lazy About Your Finances

It is common for people to procrastinate with regard to those activities which do not excite them or which do not require immediate attention. Understanding and working about with your personal finances tends to fall into this category and gets pushed over to a stage in life where you’re in financial pain already or have too little money for savings. Keeping track of your finances on a weekly basis is our recommendation.

You Spend Before You Save

A common saying in the Finance World is “Pay yourself first”. This talks about the importance of your first chunk of income being set aside for savings and emergency cushions and the balance amount being used to pay bills and debt. This helps to keep you afloat in all situations as opposed to the strategy of spending lavishly while saving scarcely and erratically.

You Expect Quick Results

Another common mistake you make is that you’re trying to get rich quick. This leads to getting caught up in quick-money scams or dissolving investments at the slightest of losses. Building wealth takes time, patience and perseverance.

You Live In A Consumer’s Mind-set

Consumer Mentality focuses on extravagant purchases of items such as clothing, accessories, cars, boats, etc. However, focus on such purchases leads away from purchases in appreciating assets such as Real Estate, Commodities, Stocks, ad so on. Constantly focusing on consumer purchases rather than investor purchases leaves you happy in the moment but unhappy in the long run. A balance between the two is required in order to live a happy and financially healthy life.

You Are Trying To Impress The World

Thanks to social media and a consumer mentality, everyone’s trying to one-up their followers on Instagram and Twitter with materialistic purchases. Instead of spending wisely, you’d rather post pictures of the expensive shopping spree you went on or the luxury vacation you took, etc. Focusing on your own money goals is more important than impressing others who in turn are trying to impress you with their posts!

You Rely On Your Credit Card Wrongly

Credit cards give you access to purchases even when you don’t have money in hand. One of the biggest mistakes we can make is using our credit cards to purchase items which we cannot afford. This essentially helps us fall into debt traps and keeps us constantly broke.

You Have No Financial Goals

Setting financial goals is crucial as that is what provides you with incentive to implement your financial plans. Choosing to save over spending requires us to prioritize a future need in lieu of today’s desire. This isn’t an easy choice to stick to but can be made easier by knowing that the money you’re keeping aside is for a new house, higher education, a comfortable retirement, etc.

You Don’t Know Basic Finance

No matter how many experts you get on board for help, you must be able to take charge of your money. Knowing the basics of investing, saving and personal finance can make all the difference in your thinking and spending habits.

 

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

Listen to Phicklephilly LIVE on Spotify!

Facebook: phicklephilly       Instagram: @phicklephilly       Twitter: @phicklephilly

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