New Year Musings

Every year, I think to myself, what can be some of my New Year’s resolutions that I know that I will (not) keep? So this year, I decided to write some resolutions that I will not be able to attain in 2012, but will try to..

  • Lose weight. The more the better. Every year I say, I’m going to lose 10 to 15 pounds and this year I went the reverse direction and gained.  Not Good.  I guess the “See Food” diet just doesn’t work. Either, I change this pattern in 2012, or, I’ll be facing more medical bills and ailments than I did this year..
  • Be Debt Free: This year, financially was better than 2010, but I’m no closer to being debt free than I was last year.. It’s not like I spend more recklessley this year on credit cards, but chasing the moving target gets harder and harder. I’ve tried different stragegies to reduce debt, but it’s like I keep floating in the same pool of debt..  In 2012, I gotta think of a strategy that will really make a dent in my credit card balances, or I’ll be writing about it AGAIN next year at this time. Gotta figure out how to use less plastic and/or pay off what you buy… Both are good ideas in theory..

 

  • Have 6 month cushion of Money – Yeah right.. Refer to “Be Debt Free”. Only difference now is that my household income has gotten a spike upwards, but that doesn’t mean, my savings to debt ratio has gotten better.. Sad but true. I guess the motto “the more you make, the more you spend” applies here”.
  • Reduce my Medical Bills by taking care of my health.. Refer to bullet 1.. “Lose Weight”. It seems if I can’t do this, my medical bills will continue to go up every year..
  • Make my other passion BharatBeat successful: In 2011, my partner and I made some progress by setting up a dedicated page on Facebook .. but getting people “LIKE” us continues to be a challenge. In 2012, our goal is to finally step out of our comfort zone and go all out… maybe people will “LIKE” us then?? We shall see
  • Make strides in my Day Job – Actually 2011 was pretty good here for me… Enjoy my job, have a challenging position.. yet the rise to a higher pay scale continues to elude.. Yes, I know.. “Work hard and you shall succeed”..

Even with my cynical outlook, I do realize that what I have far exceeds my expectations of where I thought I would be as I hit the half century mark as well as well as 2011 draws to a close.. Now the question is what 2012 resolutions should I write that are actually attainable goals?

 

Latest post is on BharatBeat Blog

Dad went with his family  to see a Bollywood Blockbuster on XMAS day… Of course, you gotta see his unique take on what happened at the movie theater

 

Half Century – Getting Older

Dad celebrated a major milestone birthday yesterday with great fanfare and a party.. Yet somehow I really don’t know how to feel. Should I feel like belong as an eligable member for AARP or do I continue to act when I hit the big 40?

I really don’t know. Fortunately for me, the milestone was overshadowed (I hope) with the 50th wedding anniversary of my in-laws. Now that is a milestone that deserves recognition!

Typically, I reflect on my birthday, my accomplishments and where I am during that day. Yesterday, when I did this, I felt a quiet sense of achievement for the first half century of my life. I’m financially stable (almost), have a wonderful family (inner circle and my extended family), and I’m somewhat healthy. Of course there is room for improvement and enhancing my quality of life, but over the past few months, I’ve done just that.

My finances are starting to stabilize (debt anyone?). This continues to be my obsession of course, but I’m taking steps to address this ongoing issue which I’ve written about in the past. I’m also  addressing my nagging health problems and paying attention when my body is giving me warning signs.

So when I think about my first half century of life.. I do feel good about myself. I’ve made it this far with my survival senses intact. I’ve persevered and achieved success (as I see it) and my wife and kids are my achievement. Seeing them succeed and continue to succeed, is my achievement. Yes, I’m not that wealthy financially.. but I’ve laid down the foundation for future wealth.. Only time will tell (over the next decade) if I’ve made the right decisions.

I’ve been persistent is achieving some level of a comfortable life for my family. Of course it’s never been easy to maintain this sense of persistence with the many obstacles life throws in your “road of life”, but hey who doesn’t face these?

So as I sit here writing, I’m thinking I’m doing fine. I just need to work on improving my mindset to be more optimistic and less sarcastic.. Maybe reducing the sarcasm will be a bit harder than being more optimistic.. 🙂

I had a great day yesterday.. I felt the love of my wife and kids, and my extended family. They gave me a wonderful party and I felt truly blessed that my friends that I made when I was growing up in NYC were there to share this day with me.  Isn’t that what life is all about? Accepting the love your friends/family gives you and giving it back?

TTFN Dad..

Direct Buy – Are you a member?

A few weeks ago, I received a nondescript bulk mail saying this was my last chance to get a free “Microsoft computer or touchpad”. I was in jeopardy of losing out on this great deal! So instinctively I called the phone number on this mailer as I did not want to lose out on the deal of a lifetime. Everyone that knows my mantra, “If it’s free, it’s for me“.

This mailer was of course for a DirectBuy sales pitch presentation in Edison NJ.. Here’s my review of my visit..Of course your mileage may vary and all that legalese.

Today my wife and I went to a Direct Buy Showroom in Edison NJ. We were drawn in by the promise of a “voucher” for a laptop/netbook or touchpad. Of course to get this you have to endure an hour and 45 minute presentation and the gratuitous heavy sales pitch. Even after knowing of this up front, I convinced my wife to go with you to check it out. Hey  my wife and I had some time to kill on a Friday night and how bad could it be? BTW, those are famous last words that have haunted me in many situations in my life..

Of course even before the date of the presentation, you speak to a really nice agent, who assures you that you are not going to be pressured to buy anything.. They just want to provide a presentation.. yeah right..

Direct Buy is a catalog shopping/ordering showroom where a sales rep from DirectBuy helps you order everything for your home (Except Computers) at wholesale or “manufacturer’s prices”.  Sounds good right? Here’s the catch.. The Membership fee is outrageous. The membership fee is almost $6,000 for a period of 5 years and $190 for each year for years 6 – 10.

Why is the membership fee is so high?

How do you get the best value for this $6K membership?

First you get your “guide” who tells you how much you can save for about half hour and then you get the other “Peter” who  spends over an hour talking about DirectBuy and how much you have to be a member of this buying service by showing videos of some low-level TV starts to show how great DirectBuy is for your home purchases. During the presentation, me being the skeptic was googling on my smart phone, reviews of the DirectBuy experience.  I personally felt some level of brain washing going on during these videos which automatically turned me off. Many say DirectBuy is a scam, but I don’t think it is. That is if you can afford this expense in your life!

In my opinion, this is a great deal if you have major renovations in your home (Kitchen, floors, windows, furniture) over a short period of time, you can recover your 6K membership fee in the savings you get from the wholesale prices. If you are not planning on this.. you are in for sticker shock at the membership price! Membership is truly a case of “use it or lose it” with your finances.

In my opinion:

DirectBuy is  simply mathematics and economics. If you USE the Direct Busy service for major home purchase for a repeated period of time (5 years)  you will save money. If you don’t, you will lose money!

Of course the heavy sales tactics is in play once you finish your “presentation time”.  As soon as we said “NO” to our guide (“The Other Peter”).. he promptly got up without even a word and  opened the entrance to the showroom door for us to leave the premises.. No “have a nice day”, just opened the door and was escorting us out of the presentation.. I felt cheated and angered at the same time. Needless to say, I won’t be part of this happy place as a paying member anytime soon. We had to remind “Peter” that we were here with the Gift and he acted like he knew nothing of this.. hmm. He stormed behind the desk and reluctantly gave us the voucher for the laptop or the TouchPad..and gave us a nod and looked the other way as we left the showroom..

Now onto the process to get the “freebie”:

Even the procedure to get this freebie using the voucher is beyond belief.

Go online with your “authorization number” on a non-Secure site and activate your voucher! The site you go to is nondescript and you are not in a secure HTTPS environment!

Follow these steps exactly or you don’t get the gift and nothing is refundable:

Print out an “activation claim Form and within 5 days send it to “Electronic Claim Center”.

  • Send in the form with the voucher, proof of ID in a certified self-addressed envelope within 5 days of printing out the activation
  • Then you will get back a “certificate”  with which you pay an activation” fee and plus pay shipping and handling via Money Order (Right Money Order Only!)and within 2 to 4 weeks you may or may not get your laptop or your tablet.

Somehow the whole process above sounds fishy to me.. I don’t think I’ll bite on this bait… What is to prevent this company from my using to perpetuate credit fraud since now they have my license!

I gotta admit that this whole experience left me annoyed to say the least. Why would I do all of the above when I could go on-line and get a tablet for less than $100? Thanks but no thanks.. Not gonna do this..

If I ever need to have a bare home and need furnish every room and want to save hundreds of dollars on thing I absolutely need, DirectBuy will easily cover the heavy 3 or 5 year membership fee. Otherwise.. I’ll take a pass on this offer!

Oh by the way.. don’t forget the secretive nature of DirectBuy.. They constantly tell during the presentation that you are part of the secret society that knows bargains and you should not tell any retailer that you are a member of DirectBuy.. This is actually the line that was said during the video presentation and by the presenter!

What’s your experience with DirectBuy?

What I learned is that If I want an affordable discount I can still rely on my $50 membership to Costco to give me the best value bang for my buck!

  • I don’t need to increase my debt to savings ratio by going into instant debt by the membership fee nor the instant billing that occurs when you buy from this membership only club.
  • I don’t want to pay thousands of dollars in upfront membership fees if I don’t plan on having large home purchases..
  • I like to touch and feel my purchases, and not buy from a catalogue.
  • I don’t want to be a member of a secret society of shoppers that pay for the price of secrecy..

I could go on and on… but I think you get my point.