Tag Archive | money

Credit Card Class

Now I assume that most of us have some type of bank card, either a credit card or debit card. It doesn’t matter which because both can be used to go shopping online or in a physical store. Now I won’t preach about budgeting your money. What you spend your money on is your business.

The problem is that banks just want your money because that’s how they stay in business. When you open an account, you give the bank your money and they give you a little plastic card in exchange, and to many banks have to many rules/fees about using the cards to access your own money.

But I really wish that it was required that every bank gave a mandated class on how to use a credit card everytime you get one. What I mean is…a class to teach you how to use the card to pay for items at a register if the business doesn’t have a chip reader. You would be surprised how many people argue with me about the fact that their card has a chip, so they HAVE to use it. Well guess what folks, your chipped card also has a strip on the back and it’s about time you refresh your memory on how to use it. It wasn’t that many years ago that we all used that strip before the silly chip was invented. Actually the chip was added to bank cards in the Fall of 2015, so unless you got your very first card after 2015, then you should remember how to slide a card at any register.

There are times when a credit card machine will decline a card, and sometimes it’s just because they can’t use the chip reader. I had a customer who had just used his card in another business before shopping in my store. His card worked fine in the other business but not in mine. He called his bank up to find out why. He had to explain that he was on vacation at a national park and that he was shopping in a store that didn’t have a chip reader. Quite a few stores in small communities (in the middle of nowhere) are not set up to accept the chip on cards. After being on the phone for about 15-20 minutes asking for permission to spend his own money, the bank told him to try the card again. After the phone call his card worked…which proved that the only reason it declined before, was the bank was refusing to let it go through not because there was anything wrong with the store’s machine. So now I use that guy as an example when other customers have cards that decline. So far, nobody else wants to take 20 minutes to call their bank. It’s easier for most people to just have someone else in their group pay with a different card.

I had another guy slide 5 different cards through our register to pay for his items. Why someone needs 5 different cards is beyond my comprehension. If a register declines your card when you use the magnetic strip, then you might have the option to try the same card by “tapping” the card with Apple-pay. I don’t fully understand Apple-pay and because I move around all over the country so often, my bank has never offered me that option. But I do recognize cards that have the option and will tell customers to use it if their card declines when the use the magnetic strip. Then I end up with a customer who will try to tap their card, even though their card doesn’t have that option. It’s because the bank never took the time to verbally explain their particular card’s account to them. They are just standing in a register line and see 1 customer use apple pay so they assume that they can also.

If I tell a customer to enter the card manually, they have no idea what I am talking about. When I tell them that they have to type in their numbers, then they will just type in 4 numbers as they are putting the card back in their pockets. Huh, ok, obviously it’s a debit card and they just put their pin number on the screen, for anyone to see. So I have to explain that all cards run as a credit card and unless they have all 14-16 numbers of their card memorized they need to get the card back out and type all the numbers from the card, along with the expiration date and the 3-number code on the back.

Sometimes they get all confused and have no idea what to do. So they either hand me their card telling me to do it or they decide to pay with cash. Then they get disappointed when I tell them that my store (and no business in the area) does Cashback with cards. The atm machines in the area have been empty for about a month because they guy whose job it was to fill them with cash has quit so customers can no longer get cash from them when their cards decline. If customers would just learn how to use their card for everything then they wouldn’t need cash…well unless they need to go to our post office or the laundromat in the campground nearby. Obviously if you have a bank card, you got it so you wouldn’t have to carry cash around, so why ask for Cashback?

Banks claim that a chip makes your card more secure. My argument to that is, if anyone stole my card there is nothing stopping them from using my card in any business that runs all cards as credit. If the business ran debit cards correctly then whoever was using the card would need a pin number. That new chip can’t tell if the card owner or a thief went shopping.

Even with all the information that’s supposed to be in a chip, my bank still has a hard time keeping track of me. I move around often and don’t always update my address with my bank. So now my bank will send me a new debit card about every 4 months. Sometimes it will take almost a month to get the new card because the bank sent it to an old address that I’m no longer located at. If the chip in my debit card is so secure, that my own bank can’t read it’s information to know that I have moved across the country again…then why does a chip hold such information? Who is this info for?

Actually I do have a few older relatives that refuse to shop online or pay any bills online because they would never dream of putting their card info on the Internet. Oh heck, some of them still send out paper checks to pay utility bills, while others will drive to the utility office twice a month to pay cash towards a bill. I also have one relative who pays for everything with his credit card. It’s easier for him to keep track of where is money went. If he ever needs to challenge a charge from any business and the business doesn’t want to refund his payment, then he can pull out his file of receipts…with dates, item purchase numbers and what else he needs to get the head of his credit card company to get his money back. So it boggles my mind, when customers don’t want receipts at my store..they even tell me that they don’t want to know how much they spent on vacation.

I have been waiting for the day, when every single customer in my store uses a bank card at my register. I wouldn’t have to worry about running out of change in my drawer. Of course I have been waiting for that for a long time. I don’t think it will happen anytime soon.


Grocery Shopping Inside a National Park

In February, sometime before my last roommate moved away, she mentioned a budget software that her son bought her. Well it got me checking for budget apps to download onto my tablet. Found one that I had enough space for. Its called “Spending Tracker”. It seems pretty easy to use and was an eye-opener when I posted the income that I had actually brought home in January (not the gross pay). I kept looking at the total I brought home “VS” the amount in my bank account at that time, and the realization hit me that I really do need to stick to a budget more then I had thought.

Lately I have seen a few blogs around the internet and some comments in facebook groups where different people post what they spend at a grocery store. Usually it’s from people who live in locations with more than one store, which allows them to shop around and compare prices. Well in my tiny community outside of the national park there is only 1 store, with 1 bigger store inside the park. Stores like Walmart, Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Safeway, are in Flagstaff which is about 90 minutes away. Without a car, they might as well be across the country. Thankfully I can order some food online from Walmart and Amazon, to be delivered to my post office box.

So with my new spending tracker app, I want to see exactly what I spend in a month for: #1. Starbucks, #2. Dining out (restaurants) #3. Groceries at store (both inside and outside the park), #4. Schwan’s food truck delivery. #5. Foods ordered online. The idea is to find out exactly what I am spending on all the food and drinks that I consume and then figure out a way to save money. This should be an interesting month, as myself and all the other locals like to complain that it’s expensive to shop and eat here.

Sure there are days where I don’t care about a price and will go eat out at one of the local buffets. My last buffet was for Easter dinner. Then I become a Scrooge for a few days after my big-spending moments and refuse to buy anything.

(Saturday) for lunch I finished up a bag of frozen broccoli and cheese sauce that I had gotten from the Schwan’s truck last week, and I mixed it with a mini Minute-Ready container of red quinoa & brown rice. My lunch is technically not on my diet, but it’s what I had ,easy access to today before I get ready for work.

Around 5:30pm, I started feeling kinda BLAH. Got an ice cream sandwich during my lunch break and felt better afterwards. It normally cost $1.79 but with my employee discount, it cost me $1.43. I didn’t really eat much all day which is probably why I wasn’t feeling my best.

(WEDNESDAY) 4/25/2018

I came up to the store to buy a couple avocados, bag of spinach, shredded cheese, and some junk that I didn’t really need. So what does the produce section look like in your store? My total (with my employee discount) came to $14.34.

Now I am heading back home to have a huge salad while I do laundry.

Life…What’s it for?

After checking the time on my phone a few times during the night, I finally got up to make coffee at 5:30am. Around 9am, I decided to do laundry and make a small salad to eat ( yes I skipped eggs today).

While waiting for the laundry, I sat on my bed trying to figure out what I wanted to do for the next 5 hours before I had to leave for work. I still need to clean off the spare bed in my room and I have a scarf that I need to finish crocheting. But wasn’t in the mood to do either of those. So instead I just laid down to rest until laundry was done.

I don’t really sleep much, but even if I am awake then I have no energy or motivation to do anything productive. Someone needs to wave a magic wand over my head and turn me into the energizer bunny. Otherwise I could literally just lay on my bed all day playing backgammon and canasta on my tablet. When the highlight of a day and the only reason to wake up is to have coffee and play a game with a computer for 5 hours, then it’s time to find a new way to spend my day…or start taking sleeping pills again in the middle of the night just so I only wake up for work.

It’s days like this that I actually miss being homeless in Georgia. I am almost tempted to call the Twins at “The Well” to get the latest gossip from the neighborhood. Even though I spent a lot of time on my phone while I was at The Well, I got to see other people every day. The twins used to drive me crazy sometimes but they still get excited to hear from me and always ask if I am ever going back there. Weird how you can be homeless but have lots of people around to talk to or help in some way if you needed it, I miss walking around Norwich Street and the park by the river…but I am living in a house across the country with nobody to talk to and no place to walk to except work/starbucks and nothing to look forward to except coffee and backgammon.

People always think that if a homeless person gets a job and moves into a house, then they are moving up in the world. Well sure they will have money as long as they keep the job. But isn’t money supposed to be the root of all evil? What good is having money if you just turn into a hermit hiding in 1 bedroom all by yourself (except when you are working to make more money). What good is money if you have no way or no time to enjoy it. If having money equals happiness, then does that mean only rich people are Happy? Hmm, some rich celebrities don’t always seem so happy on the covers of all those trash papers that you can find by the check out lines in Walmart or some news site on the Internet. So if money doesn’t guarantee happiness, then what the hell does? I have money now, but looked forward to most days more when I was living in my broken-down car in Georgia.

Well I have wasted enough time today (Sunday) I need to get dressed for work. I get out of work tonight at 10pm and have to be back at 8:30 tomorrow morning. Won’t get much sleep tonight. But I like Monday mornings, cuz the store is always busy with deliveries. Actually I would not mind if they had me work from open-to- close. If I am awake anyways, then I might as well be at work doing something productive.

Debts, Budgets and Saving Money

It seems like I can be spontaneous and get some crazy idea to buy something that I could live without ( which means something that I don’t really NEED). Mostly I get these crazy ideas when I am bored or when I am in any stores with friends. One solution is don’t go to shopping in town with friends. It’s easier to walk out of a store if I am not waiting for someone else who is taking forever to shop.

I have been wanting to save money for:

1. New eye glasses, 2. Alternative Naturopathy Doctor in Flagstaff, 3. Online school, 4. A car (preferably a van/roadtrek), 5. Land

The glasses might be a “need”, the others could be considered a “want”…depending on where I am living. But as long as I want them, then I should figure out a way to pay for them.

Every now and then, I have a friend that will post something on facebook that came from the debt-guru, Dave Ramsey. Well today I decided to download 2 of his kindle books, along with a few other books on the subject. One is called “How to manage your money when you don’t have any”. That title actually made me laugh, because I am thinking…well that’s easy, no money means nothing to manage. But after starting to read the book, it’s obvious that the writer has never been homeless in GA, and lived on no money…zip, zilch, Nada, nothing, NO MONEY. Hmm, I wonder what advice the writer would give my friends in GA.

Another book I downloaded was “The no spend challenge guide”, well now that sounds like a title that my friends in GA could write. I haven’t checked the book out to see what it’s really about yet. But I will assume it’s like most and that any advice you get from a person who has any money will always be different from advice you get from a person with no money.

Yes I have had my job since right after Thanksgiving, so at this moment I have a little bit of money. But not enough to last me half a month without my job. I am lucky enough to live in a state with a minimum wage of $10.50/hour. My rent of $30/week ($120/month) is automatically deducted from my pay. That includes rent, utilities, cable (or dish tv??), and free crappy wifi. Unfortunately it also includes 6 housemates with 1 kitchen. Its employee housing, so the housing comes with the job. Not many places in the USA, that will allow you to live somewhere for so cheap. I know others that actually pay over $1,000 just for the rent and then about that much again for all their utilities combined. Now that’s totally ridiculous and high way robbery.

For the most part I like my job, but I don’t like the housing situation. I have applied for a transfer into the park, (2 different locations) in the village I would live in a dorm-style building. I could live without a car in the village and not worry about budgeting for that now. If I get back to Desert View then I would live in a 2 bedroom apartment with my own bathroom, but would definitely need a car.

I am getting tired of having to re-buy the same things everytime I move. Who wants to budget for things like pillows, bedding and kitchen supplies every 3-6-9 Months? Which really make big moves so ridiculous, because in the long run I end up losing money instead of saving it

I also have a bad habit of being spontaneous and just leaving this area all-together and ending up in some unknown place which doesn’t work out very well financially. So I end up back at the Grand Canyon eventually because it’s my safety net, it’s my home away from home, and it’s the 1 place that I just know that I can afford to live. Even knowing all that, I have still put in applications for Crater Lake and Zion and Badlands…none of them pay as much as I get now, it would take time and money to arrive at each location, it would take money to re-buy anything that I couldn’t pack to take with me…

Usually most “debt-gurus” will tell you to keep track of where you spend every penny for a week or 1 pay period…depending on how often you get paid. I know where my money goes…amazon and eating out. You see even though I have a nice kitchen at home, I have to many darn housemates so I have no real space to put food or cookware. And most of them are asleep and want the house to stay quiet when I get up in the mornings and/or don’t want to smell food at night either. Which is why I go sit in McDonald’s on Mondays when I am off work.

Maybe instead of worrying about budgets and saving money, I just need to think of staying in 1 spot for awhile. So I really hope I get a job in the village and live in Brandt Hall again. That really would solve some financial issues. Oh and the rent would be the same in the dorm as it is in my house now. The jobs inside the park will be with the same company, going through the same HR office, so if I ever do wander around the country later, it won’t look like I transferred jobs on paper. Yes, hiring managers around the country hate the fact that I can move around so much.

Cash or Credit

I work in a general store in a national park.  Of course we take credit/debit cards and we have an atm, for people that want to get cash out. 1 of my questions is, why do people “need” to use cash now-a-days? Is there anything that really requires cash anymore?

Then of course there are those people who drive me bonkers, when they don’t understand  that they need to carry their license or passport with them while shopping,  if the credit card is not signed. It’s  written on the back of your card that it is not authorized without a signature. Which is why most post offices refuse to accept any unsigned card (even if you remember to carry your identification) some people will write CID on the back of their card and still forget to carry their identification. They will get mad if I say that they need to walk back to the campground to get it or I will point to the atm and tell them that they can get cash out to pay for their stuff.

I just love it when spouses try to use each others card. A wife will say “Oh it’s my husband’s card but I sign for it all the time.” We’ll maybe so, but you ain’t doing it at my register. Or a husband will tell me that both names are on the account. Well sir if both names are not on the card that you handed me, then you ain’t using it at my register.

It drives me crazy when other stores/restaurants don’t ask for my ID when I hand them my unsigned debit card. Lately I have  noticed it in fast food places like Subway or Panda Express. Yes I realize that asking for ID would slow down the line while business is busy, but I don’t care. I want you to check my identification. I want to know that if my debit card gets stolen/lost that someone else won’t be able to use it without my ID.

Then yesterday, I paid a big bill at the dentist with my debit card, after shopping at Walmart. Later I tried to shop at the grocery store and was told that I had reached my daily limit with the card. Say whaaaat!? I had never heard this before…course I had never used the card to spend $500 in a single day before either. Damn, as I am sitting in the parking lot trying to figure out how to get enough gas in Kim’s truck to make it back home, I called the 800# on the back of the card to ask about the daily limit. The lady who answered finally agreed to raise the limit just enough so that I could get $20 in gas. Now there was a problem that don’t happen if you carry cash, but it’s a problem that I don’t like. Sure now I know that if anyone else tries to use my card that they won’t get over $500 worth of purchases. But I don’t like having that limit on myself. If I want to spend all my own $$ in 1 day then I should be able to.

Ok, I will get off my soapbox now and stop ranting…because it’s a beautiful sunny day outside and I wanna go check out the art show.



Hopefully whoever is reading this can see the above picture. It’s a picture of my paycheck stub that I got this week.  As you can see I worked 77.14 hours, which is about normal for 2 weeks.  I am in the state of California and the state taxes taken out are not as high as I expected. If you can see the deduction listed as “FCHSG-P” for $70, that is my rent for the 2 weeks. Which will make my rent about $140/month.


My take home pay of $531.44 for 2 weeks, might not be much to most people. Especially if those people pay about $1,000 or more every month for rent & utilities. Luckily all my utilities are included in my cheap rent. Breakfast and lunch are also free. Rent & meals are cheaper here then they were at Mt Rushmore..and seeing as I work for the same company at both locations then my deductions from Mt Rushmore is still listed on this paystub. Housing was $452 & meals were $1,130. So $1,582 for the 16 weeks I was there.

. About the only bill that I pay right now is Netflix which is  $8.99/month. Starting next month I will be paying for dental insurance. I have necessities  that I will need to buy like laundry soap & shampoo, but after that whatever money is left will just be an extra luxury. I have been wondering how much I will need to save for trips to the dentist, in Pahrump. Maybe I can dream real big and try saving money for another car….which by the way is alot cheaper in South Dakota near Mt Rushmore then it is anywhere near Death Valley.

Correct Change Please

I stayed home today, and was getting ready to go downstairs to wash some laundry. I was looking for quarters to put into the washer & dryer but all I had was a pile of pennies, and a few dimes and nickels. I used to keep all my change in different Pringle chip containers, but my quarter container would be empty. No matter how much money you have if you don’t have the correct coin to put into a washer…then all you have is dirty laundry. In my case,  I had dirty bedding because I spilled a cup of coffee on the sheets.
I finally saw a co-worker coming back upstairs after doing her laundry, and asked if she had anymore quarters. Luckily she did so I traded her for some dimes & nickles. Seeing as most of my money is on my debit card, I will have to see if anyone will trade me quarters for 50 pennies next time I want to wash my work uniforms.

Some people have done away with writing checks (me included), which when you get a new job and to set up paychecks to be direct deposited, the HR person always wants a voided check. I always have to tell them that I don’t write checks. I am smart enough to get a statement from the bank with the routing number and whatever other info they need. So if I don’t deal with checks or enough correct change, then I hope soon that washer & dryers will allow you to use an ATM card for laundry.

Here at the dorm, we all got a notice on our door that there will be an inspection sometime between today till the end of the month. So during the daytime, while I am at work I will hide my roomie’s coffee pot because I am pretty sure it’s 1 of those things that is not allowed  in the dorm rooms.  Could you imagine me not having a coffee pot around? Well actually there is a microwave downstairs in the community room to heat up water for instant coffee, but it’s convenient just stay in my own room. The rules about what we can have are stricter here then they were at the Grand Canyon. One of the young international students working here was sitting outside 1 night and asked if she was in prison.