I think I've always been cheap. My wife and I have joked that we'd be those rich people that everyone hates, still using coupons and shopping at Goodwill. This is just something that we're used to, and it makes you feel better to not only save money, but to "get that bargain" and feel like - in the battle of consumer v. merchant - you've won a round. You know that you're probably paying way more than you should for some things with markups and margins and all that, so any opportunity to "stick it to the man" gives you a little bit of a rush.
I mentioned coupons before, and food shopping is one of the easier places to "save money", whether it be by using coupons, buying store brands, taking advantage of sales, buying in bulk, or various other methods of saving. If you're lucky enough to live in a major residential area like I do, you have stores competing to get your business, which leads to big savings. Within a few miles from my house, we have three supermarket chains, a Target, and a Walmart, all competing for my dollar.
That's all well and good, but what about utilities? Most utilities don't have competition (how many electric companies do you have?) but some do, namely television, phone, and internet. Often, this unholy trinity of "luxury utilities" gets bundled together for "one low price", but like any "bundle" or "combo", you have to look carefully to see whether or not you're really saving anything, or if it's worth the hassle. Personally, I prefer to have everything separate; that way, if you have an issue with one service, you're not obligated to stay just because that same company has your other services, and you don't run the risk of breaking a contract (which generally any "bundle package" entails.)
So let's attack these three one by one.
I think most of us go though financial issues at one time or another. It could be something minor, like an unexpected bill, or something major, like the loss of a job. Regardless of the severity, it never feels good. Personally, I get this knot in my stomach, usually when I get the email from my bank about a "low balance". How we react to that knot affects whether or not the knot will come back, and its frequency.
Some people make well thought out decisions, carefully looking at options, making minor changes in lifestyle and choices to make things easier as a whole, despite perhaps making it a little harder in the short term. "You don't know what you've got until it's gone" applies to both Cinderella ballads and stuff like instant Netflix. Choose carefully. Cancelling a service may seem good on paper, but once its done, it often can be more difficult to bring back and you can incur "reactivation fees" on top of restoring the service.
Some people take a more drastic route, electing to do things for money that they never thought they'd do. We get to see this a lot in the entertainment industry, where there's a great deal of money to be had, depending on what level you're willing to embarrass yourself or "sell out". It might be as simple as a commercial in Japan, or something like the show Splash. The actors in these cases are generally doing these jobs with an ulterior motive; while the money is often the main reason, exposure to the public can often be the real reason the actors take the jobs. This exposure can occasionally be taken too literally. But hey - if you're an actor "lowering yourself" to do a commercial, remember that those commercials are where you probably started, and where tons of actors would give anything to get the commercial you have. Oh, and a word of advice? Read the script first:
For a lot of people though, there's the lottery. Just a little bit of hope against a mountain of odds. Lets face it - anyone playing the lottery knows that chances are more likely that they're not going to win it than win it, but it's that glimmer of hope - that one in a million chance - that keep people going to websites like lottery.net to see if their numbers came up.
Whatever way you have to do it, I wish you the best of luck.
(And if you do hit that jackpot, I'll take a cut. It was my idea, remember?)
About three months ago, I set out on a quest to find a Premier League soccer team. English soccer was coming on channels that I actually received in the States, and after enough time playing Football Manager to actually adopt a Scottish team (Celtic) and an Italian team (AC Milan), I figured it would be easy enough to adopt an English team.
I was wrong.
I've been threatening to become a soccer fan for a couple of years now (thanks, Football Manager 2012) and now with news that England's Premier League has a full-blown American TV contract with NBC Sports, it might be time to pick a team there. I've thrown my support behind a few teams (usually thanks to FM) such as Celtic in the Scottish Premier League and the local Carolina Railhawks, but I've let to get behind a team in a "major" league. With other sports, there's always been some outside influence that made me a fan of the team, whether it be my mom's brainwashing at birth (New York Yankees), my grandparents not wanting to use a catalog (Miami Dolphins), or proximity (Carolina Hurricanes). But not here. I'm flying (relatively) blind going into this. I will do this the way that people were meant to support sports teams - for petty, ridiculous reasons.
This seed got planted in my head a while back by Bill Simmons, eons ago when he used to write about sports and be entertaining. He wrote his post(s) back in 2006, and had the help of a huge readership that sent him thousands of emails to give his reasoning for picking their team. Email would be obsolete (and I'd be long dead) before I reached 100 emails about the subject, so I don't have the benefit that he did going into this. All I have is Wikipedia and a few facts I've gotten from the handful of soccer fans that I know.
Our home internet went down yesterday morning sometime, and by the time I woke up this morning, it still wasn't back up, which meant contacting my provider, Time Warner Cable, to bitch and moan about the service. Mind you, I've been a TWC customer since we moved down to NC almost seven years ago, and I've been quite happy with them; outages have been few and far between, usually resolved within the hour. I've always been a fan of cable internet over DSL, and from other experiences friends & family have had in the area with DSL, I've never felt I made the wrong choice.
That isn't to say that I love Time Warner Cable. I love cable internet. The company behind them? Notsomuch.
Through my life, I've always had issues with my appearance, mainly my body. I can remember being young - pre-teen age - and being concerned that I was fat because I had a "gut". We would play shirts-and-skins basketball and I hated taking off my shirt because of that "gut" that I saw myself as having. I knew that I wasn't "fat" in that I saw people who were overweight and I knew that I wasn't built like them, but that I also wasn't packing six-pack abs or anything like that. I was self-conscious about my body, like probably 95% of the world. When I graduated high school, I was still self-conscious about my "gut", but I didn't have a weight issue; I was six-foot-two and a hundred and sixty-three pounds. There's a team picture of my varsity basketball team and I'm standing in the middle holding the basketball, and I'm thin as a rail. I still didn't see myself that way, but in hindsight, I was.
We've all had our fun with the Manti Te'o story. If you're new to this, Te'o is a star linebacker for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, finished second in the Heisman Trophy race, and is a projected first round pick in the next NFL Draft. This season, as Notre Dame was making a run towards being the #1 ranked college football team in the country, stories began to run about the team in major publications, including one about Te'o fighting through tragedy after learning about the death of his grandmother and his girlfriend within the span of six hours, only to have a great game against then tenth-ranked Michigan State, on the road, giving the Fighting Irish their best start in ten years.
Except that his girlfriend didn't exist. (His grandmother did, though, and she did die - that's not crap.) Deadspin.com broke the story yesterday, sending millions scrambling to think of some clever reference to girlfriends in Canada, George Glass, or something else I don't feel like finding a link to. Notre Dame says that Te'o been duped by someone on the Internet, while Deadspin implies Te'o may have been part of the ruse, noting a connection between Te'o and the person believed to be behind Te'o's fake dead girlfriend's Twitter account.
What we're left with now is trying to sort everything out. If Te'o was in fact duped, how does that happen in 2012? Supposedly in a relationship for three years, how does Te'o not ever see his girlfriend in person? Notre Dame plays Stanford every season, and played there twice - 2009 and 2011 - and the '09 game was when they supposedly met. No Skype? No webcam? No meeting in 2011? She couldn't have come to the USC game in 2010? Is Te'o that naive? Was he being used for money?
Or, if Te'o was part of it, why would he do it? Was it an attempt for more media attention in his senior season to improve draft position? Was it something cooked up by Notre Dame PR to give their highest profile player some more exposure and a Heisman run in a weak field?
All of these seem a bit dubious. A college athlete isn't exactly the best target for money, boosters be damned. A pro athlete you could see, but college? Not so much. And as for PR, it would have been just as easy to just push the "dead grandmother" story (which was legit) as it would have been to push the dual deaths. Tragic is tragic, and adding an additional death to one that actually happened seems like (pardon the wording) overkill.
So I've been going over "what if" scenarios in my head, and one keeps sticking over and over, and would make all the jokes all the more empty and kind of turn the accusing finger on society a bit.
What if Manti Te'o is gay?
You know the deal. Pretty much every person who writes about baseball on their blog has to do a post on "their ballot" for the Hall of Fame, since voting for the Hall is pretty much one of the ultimate goals of being a baseball writer.
So I'll cut through the flowery crap that usually prefaces these things (especially since I tend to get long-winded - SHOCKING I know) and get right into the ballot. There are 37 players on this year's ballot, and as I've mentioned in the past, that doesn't mean that there was only 37 players who were eligible for election. Some didn't make that cut, but we'll get to those guys later.