So, what is a starnado, and why did starnado make the cut as the name of this blog? After asking my colleagues for ideas and getting responses like “johnsiedoesbikesandteachin” I decided to ponder ideas on my own. Honestly, my favorite idea was “jackofall” since I do often feel as though I am a jack of all trades, master of none. Continue reading
Christmas Day is just inserted in the title because it is referenced later and it nicely abbreviates to CD. This abbreviation also happens to be the same for a Certificate of Deposit, which is really what this post is about.
I imagine most of us have likely been in the position where it is right before Christmas, a family member’s birthday, or a trip and the time to pay for the event is upon us before we have set aside the money needed to pay. With the convenience of the credit card, we charge the necessary amount needed to get through the event. If we are fortunate enough, we pay off the credit card balance before finance charges start to build. If we are like the majority of Americans, we now have more debt hanging over us.
What I would like to propose here is a way to relieve the financial burden of such scenarios, and in the process actually make a small sum of money. In essence this small sum is like paying yourself for exhibiting self-control related to finances and planning.
In this scenario I will be using actual numbers for account minimums and interest rates from my local credit union. Collectively, local credit unions have lower minimums and higher interest rates. Credit union vs. Bank is a whole different post someday…
Here we go! For the sake of minimums I will be using our credit union’s CD minimum of $500. This $500 would be money used for purchasing gifts for the Christmas holiday. (By the end of this post my hope is you can insert any life event using the same concept).
CDs are similar to savings accounts in that they are insured “money in the bank” and thus virtually risk free. The funds are insured, and, assuming there are no early withdrawal penalties, the investment is considered to be as safe as cash in a savings or checking account. -Investopedia
Our bank is currently offering a 9-month CD special of 2.25% APR (Annual Percentage Rate). My credit card carries an 13% interest rate for any statement balance I do not pay off in time. Stay with me, I know it might sound like jargon and math!
If I opened a $500 9-month CD today, on December 15 my account would be credited with $508.41. A net gain of $8.41. Now I completely understand this does not sound like much, especially given there is an early withdrawal penalty if you end up needing the money back quickly.
$8.41 sounds much better when looking at the credit card alternative. If I put $500 on a credit card at Christmas and then pay it off in the same 9-month period of time, I will pay at least $50 in interest. This makes the net gain almost $60 for planning ahead and putting money in the CD.
The biggest benefit is not financial. If you have experienced the frustration/sadness of racking up credit card debt during what should be a time of celebration, this plan will ease that pain! Going back to the scenario of opening a CD today, the CD will mature right before the holiday. Anything you have charged leading up to the event can be paid off with the money you have already set aside. Add to this that modest interest bump helping out as well.
This scenario assumes a $500 CD due to the minimum our credit union has set for opening a CD. If you have an event in the future that will be $2,000 or more, you can multiply the interest out and save even more. We have done this for a trip in the past and made $50 in interest. Again, on its own $50 was not much, but it is some. More importantly, the $50 was in addition to not having to borrow with a credit card.
I imagine as some read this they may think, “Well it must be nice to have $500 or $2,000 to put aside, there is no way I can put that much away!” If this is you I would ask this question. If you are not able to put aside $500 now, are you reallyable to put $500 on a credit card? The credit card is a crutch. At times a necessary one. A credit card is not a device that should be used for planned borrowing.
If you have the self-control to pay off a credit card, you have the self-control to open a CD for planned events. If you do not currently have the personal, financial, or emotional ability to pay off a credit card balance, that is a topic for another time.
I hope this is in some way helpful, and I challenge you to pick a future event you know you will need to save for and open a CD. CDs come in varying lengths and at varying interest rates. For this post, a 9-month CD makes sense as we prepare for Christmas in December. For next spring break, we could open a 12-month CD and have at least part of a trip paid for. Many credit unions or banks will even offer CDs up to 60-months in duration. That is five years out for planning!
Whether you are able to plan 3-months or 60-months out, the feeling of setting “untouchable” money aside and then having it flood back into your account is a great feeling. Last month we had a CD mature we had not been counting as part of our family budget and it felt like hitting the lottery. In fact, I have never won more than $50 in the lottery so with respect to money, I guess this felt much better!
If anyone takes on this challenge, I would love to hear how it works out for you. No financial details needed, but it would be great to read if someone else has found this ‘interest’ing trick useful. Peace.
I sit. I Listen.
I allow silence to surround.
With winter fading and spring awaiting,
no leaves on tree or ground.
With little wind the forest rests,
and invites me to do the same.
I close my eyes and rest as well,
and let the woods reclaim.
With mother nature all around it’s easy to let go.
Of all my stress and worry, right now I do not know.
And as I sit and listen to the stillness of the breeze,
my focus shifts to “Posted” signs, stapled to the trees.
They rustle and they rattle and break the peaceful quiet.
We have broken nature, though society denies it.
Nature is the great inventor of what was and is to come.
While we continue to abuse her, we become more numb.
What can a single soul like me do to help amend?
Certainly not turn away, ignore, or just pretend.
Nature needs us more than ever, this I truly know.
Our gifts alone can help or harm, destroy or let regrow.
Remove the “Posted” from the land, and also from your mind.
Nature is here to be protected, not destroyed by humankind.
I sit. I listen. I think of what could be.
For nature has already given all needs for you and me.
Last week in The Grand Rapids Press I found it interesting to find two articles which seem to pivot around the same idea. Article #1 titled “These toys can help kids have healthier minds, bodies” was written by a Harvard Health doctor and the list of toys to help a child’s mind includes: Blocks, drawing materials, dollhouses, cars, play kitchen, dress-up clothes.
For those of you who read this list and said “yeah right, any child would get bored with these.” you are not alone. Dr. McCarthy admits boredom might be the result of some of these toys, but she also points out that boredom might be a key piece to breeding creativity. “If they are constantly entertained, they will never learn to entertain themselves, and they will miss out on important opportunities to create and explore.”
Now just a few pages later in the same edition of The Grand Rapids Press is the article titled ” ‘Fortnite’ addiction is forcing kids into video-game rehab”. Whoa. In this article Jef Feeley and Christopher Palmeri give a laundry list of issues with kids being hooked into gaming, specifically Fortnite.
- A divorce service in the United Kingdom cited ‘Fortnite’ as the reason in 200 petitions for divorce.
- The Vancouver Canucks banned Fortnite after players were consistently missing meetings and team dinners.
- David Price, the star pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, was scratched from a start after wrist issues similar to carpal tunnel were heightened due to excessive Fortnite play.
- Kids have been tricking parents into credit card purchases for the game, sometimes racking up hundreds of dollars in unplanned bills.
- In June 2018 the World Health Organization designated “gaming disorder” as a disease for the first time.
“This game is like heroin. Once you are hooked, it’s hard to get unhooked.” In 2013 psychologists began using the term Nomophobia to describe the irrational fear of being without your mobile phone or being unable to use your phone for some reason. Withdraw symptoms are similar to other addictive substances like alcohol or drugs. Shakes, headache, anxiety, and nausea are physical manifestations of this addiction to electronics.
Potentially the worst part of this growing issue is that there is a consensus that gaming addiction is going to continue to grow as a problem. Electronic device addiction has simply run amok!
The sad irony in my reading last week was that the research-based, tried and true toys for helping develop young minds are incredibly simplistic. Blocks. Cars. Kitchen. The piece that makes something unique and special is the creativity a kid puts with the toy to entertain themselves. When comparing the extremes of the toy technology spectrum it is a bit baffling how research continues to show that simple toys create more mental growth than the latest “greatest” technology.
As 2018 comes to a close I hope and pray the future holds an emphasis on getting back to the basics. Michio Kaku has given his prediction of what the future of jobs will hold, and I completely agree. The ability to create, to process, and to collaborate will be much more important than the ability to complete repetitive tasks. Gaming is in many ways the pinnacle of becoming fluent at a repetitive task. Since a gaming platform is encoded, users are confined to carrying out functions that have a pre-determined result.
Now whether or not their is an argument about gaming being necessary to stay relevant in digital society might carry some weight, but that is a a topic for another time. Peace.
There was a time in my life when I enjoyed getting mail of any kind. Packages, junk mail, bank statements, ads, and newspapers were a welcome addition to my mailbox. For me those days are numbered. I am getting tired of carrying junk mail from mailbox directly to the recycling bin.
For the most part our junk mail seems fairly limited to the classic pre-approved credit cards and insurance deals. For some reason State Farm seems to really be interested in getting my wife a new insurance policy. We average three letters a month from State Farm, all exactly the same letter just from a different insurance rep in the area. (I have a hunch there is a connection between the increase in junk mail from State Farm and my wife’s crush on Aaron Rodgers, but I guess I don’t really have any evidence to support this theory. Just a hunch…)
The past few months there has been an influx of junk mail, and the waste in resources really is bothering me. The fact that extra paper is being used, ink is being used for printing, and energy is wasted when the postal service handles the mail. It just seems unnecessary and thankfully I stumbled across a potential way to reduce the junk mail we receive.
The book Generation Green points to three websites that claim to remove unwanted junk mail from your mailbox. Unforunately, two of these sites are no longer registered. One of these sites, catalogchoice.org does provide a simple search option to remove your address from unwanted junk mail. As the book Generation Green points out, reducing junk mail is nice for de-cluttering your mail and helps to reduce paper waste and energy used to create and deliver the mail. Using the search link on there site you can reduce the amount of wasted paper and energy being use to create all this junk mail.
In my limited experience with the site so far it is quite easy to use. Just search for the company that is sending the unwanted mail and the site will direct you to a link to be removed from the mailings or supply the phone number to call in order to have your address removed from the company’s database.
Take a few minutes now to help reduce your junk mail and in the future you just may save energy, time, and resources. As I have mentioned in the post The Starfish Parable sometimes even small steps can end up making a big difference. Peace.
Today is giving Tuesday and if you are fortunate enough to give this year there is no shortage of options for where to send donations. This past week alone I have received an e-mail or a letter from a zoo, a food pantry, a church, nature preserve, and a school.Continue reading
What’s in a name?
William Shakespeare is perhaps the most famous person to ask this question in Romeo and Juliet Act 2 Scene 2: “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet”.
But my question is not referring to bridging a gap between disparate families. My question is different but perhaps just as complex.
What value does your name have?Continue reading
Growing up in western Michigan I traveled to Lake Michigan with my family before I can even remember. Photographs of being at the beach is my only evidence for how young I was when I first experienced one of Michigan’s greatest natural resources, fresh water. I have also felt the lakes presence both directly and indirectly due to the lakes great effect on the local climate and its affect on the ecosystem. The Great Lakes contain 95 percent of the United States fresh water supply, and only trail the polar ice caps and Lake Baikal in Siberia in total volume of freshwater globally. Without the Great Lakes, the entire region surrounding Michigan would be much different, including the types of jobs and natural life in and around the state. Continue reading
For those who know me you might be able to envision my reaction when I read the opening line from David Elliot’s book, Bull. Sorry Mom, I am just quoting here.
I literally set the book down.
But like a curious cat the intrigue of why a book would start in this way got the best of me so I reread the preface and started again.
I quickly understood this would be a unique read for me. I seem to stay in the non-fiction genre most of the time and this verse-novel version of the Minotaur tale from Greek mythology piqued my interest early.
With some thematic elements and some literary imagery fit for HBO the story reads quickly and presents the epic in an engaging way. Each of the seven characters communicates through their own poetic form. Another bonus in my mind is given the short stanzas of poetry, the story reads quickly. Continue reading
Have you ever come across an odd spider, insect, or plant and thought, “Hmm, what is this thing?!” Enter iNaturalist.
After downloading the app you can ‘Make an Observation’ by uploading a picture of the organism in question and the iNaturalist database will give you closely matched options. If the app does not automatically find a perfect match, the community of citizen scientists can suggest species information and help identify your unknown sample. Continue reading
A soft, steady click. Not more than the light click of a spacebar.
This little click is all it took to cause a week-long headache of a recurring battery failure on our Ford Explorer. A headache that peaked when the dead battery caused our son to be late for his first day of pre-school.
The issue in diagnosing the problem was the battery was fine to drive from Grand Rapids to North of Detroit, then the next morning it was dead. After recharging it was fine for a day. Then dead again. After recharging again we drove back to Grand Rapids with no trouble. Finally, another full day later the battery was dead on pre-school day #1. Continue reading