Who are you blogging for?

Admittedly, a great question, though no one asked it of me, I asked it of myself.  The long and short of it is, I’m blogging for me.  This isn’t the first journal I’ve had, I’ve kept online journals and blogs on different platforms for many years.  LiveJournal, DeadJournal, Blogger and some other places that no longer exist, for one reason or another.  Too, I have a presence on social media, but I don’t link to them, because I’m not in this for clicks, for follows (though I’m happy to see people have found me on the highways and byways of the blogosphere and I welcome anyone that can put up with my long-windedness and weirdness) or for collecting thousands of nameless, faceless people who are reading, or collecting blogs to be a part of.  I’m pretty much just talking about my life, my journey through my job, what I do for fun and so on.  I try to be humorous at times, I’m going to be examining my belly-button lint from time to time, and expressing myself as best that I can.  I’d most definitely admit I’m not perfect, and if you read me long enough, you’ll most assuredly see that’s the case.  I certainly welcome comments, ideas, criticism, but flames or insults will get you shuttled off to purgatory.  This isn’t the time or place for that sort of stuff.  Just a fair warning from the start, thankyouverymuch.

At the bottom of the page, in case you hadn’t noticed before, there’s a link to my other blog, which isn’t updated as much as this one, but I’m planning over time to be writing more there, as I will have something to say and experience, and be able to journal about.  In actuality, this blog is the red-headed step child as it were, it was started as an afterthought last year and not really attended to.  I was trying to use the other blog as a ‘catch-all’ and I discovered that it wasn’t really working out very well in that regard.  I really needed two blogs, one for average ‘every-day’ sorts of things, and that one that covers the more specific gamut of what I do with some of my free time.  It’s not necessarily for the faint of heart, but if you’re the adventurous sort, it might tickle your fancy.  Then again, it might not.

So basically, without going into too much detail, that’s the reason for this tome.  FWIW.

Tackling Debt

One of the main problems most people have these days is debt.  In that, I’m pretty much no different, though there have been times in my life when I was for the most part debt free.  Having been lax over the last 10 years, that’s no longer the case, and I’m in the process of doing something about it, since I have retirement coming more into view with every passing month of work and life.  I don’t have a lot in the way of assets, the way my wife and I have structured our ‘things that have great value’, by and large they’re not really in my name per se, so I don’t have full ownership of them.  We own a house (with a mortgage) and we lease our vehicle.  Consequently, we don’t ever have large bills to pay insofar as car repairs, since all the vehicles that we lease are brand new, only ever get to three years in age before they’re turned in, and are completely under warranty for all the time we’re driving them.  And its fully covered by our auto insurance policy.

Over the years I’ve made some really dumb decisions with money, and that’s contributed to the current hole that I’m in.  Too, I have several credit cards with sizable balances, and rather sneakily, the banks that own them have been inching up the interest rates little by little, making it harder and harder to pay them off in an easy manner.  Where at one time one of the lesser interest rates was around 11%, it’s now been jacked up to 13.25% and so on.  My worst interest rate card is about 26%, and I’d really like to cancel that one, except it carries a balance.  So while watching YouTube videos instead of doing things around the house, I stumbled upon a method that seems to have a pretty good following, as well as many success stories.

It’s called the Seven Baby Steps, and it seems to be pretty straightforward.  Now granted, the originator of this system posits that the best method to start with is saving $1000 for some sort of family emergency, but I’m forgoing that since I have sufficient funds already socked away that can be accessed if there was some sort of dire need for it.  The second step is what’s called the Debt Snowball approach.  Listing all of your debts that have interest rates, regardless of what those rates are, just list the debts from lowest to highest in terms of balances.  Start paying off the lowest amount first with as much as you can afford to throw at it, remembering to pay off the other debts with the minimum payment.  Once the first one is paid off, add the amount that you were putting towards that to the next one in line and keep going until your debts are paid off.  It doesn’t say anything about cancelling credit cards, since every one you cancel has an effect on your credit score.  So you need to be careful about that.

For the past several years I’ve been maintaining a database with my credit card debts so I can keep track of what the interest rates are, when they’re paid every month, balances, and so on.  I’ve steadily been able to put about $1000 towards the debt every month from what I make, but it hasn’t been doing very well because I’ve been torpedoing my efforts through spending on frivolous things, lending people money and so on.  Which just means I need to get a little medieval with my spending, with my saving and with my dedication towards getting out of debt, not adding to it!  I have to admit I’ve tried a similar sort of plan for the last year or so, trying to pay off the higher interest rated card first, the so-called Avalanche method, but it’s had only limited success.  Again, when I run low on my checking account balance, I tend to go to the credit cards, and generally the ones that have the larger interest rates also have the bigger credit lines.  So it can be a trap of sorts, when you borrow more than you can really afford, and are paying high interest as well as putting it out over time.  I can easily see how people get to the point where bankruptcy seems to be the only logical option.  Large financial institutions get forgiveness easily, your average borrower, not so much.

Either way, I’ll be revisiting this issue more in the months to come.

Getting the most bang for your buck

While I’ve been ensconced in this roto-tiller nightmare, I’ve learned a good deal about small engines, and older machines as well.  Though I’ve sort of discovered that which I already knew to a certain extent.  The older your machine, generally the more expensive the items are to replace on it.  Unless you can find ones that are similar, and more often used, therefore less expensive.  Which is what I’m in the process of searching for now.

Its been like a detective story, to a certain extent.  I have this engine, that’s been working like a champ for 40 plus years, and then suddenly, it starts to misbehave.  For a while I baby it, and finally, it quits.  So, I think to myself that it’s going to be a relatively easy fix.  Take off the offending part, find its replacement, unbolt one, bolt the other on, pull the starter cord and all’s right with the world.  Except it didn’t happen that way.  After taking the carburetor apart, I’ve discovered for the past 20 years, when I moved the choke lever, in actuality it wouldn’t have made a difference if I left it in any position, because a flange is missing from it.  So it’s ‘wide open’ all the time.  Curious how the people that ‘fixed’ it all those years ago never mentioned this was the case.   Too, finding the correct model of the tiller was nearly impossible because the identifying ‘plate’ was made out of paper and has completely eroded/erased over the intervening 40 some odd years.  Somewhat fortunately, when the tiller was put together, identifying numbers were stamped into the metal of both the engine shroud as well as the carburetor, but rust and corrosion as all but obscured them as well.

I’m increasingly thinking that it would be better just to get a new carburetor and bolt it on, hoping for the best.  Getting an original is going to cost upwards of $70-80 USD and that’s too much for something like that.  A repair for the entire unit including oil change etc. would be less than that, even if I were to include mileage to and from whatever repair place I could find.  To that end, I took the best amount of information that I have and placed an order on eBay for a compatible carburetor and it should be delivered here on/around June 3.

Even though I’m sort of giving up on the whole ‘repair the old’ strategy, I’m going to hold onto the old unit for reference if the new one happens to go sideways.  Even though there are parts missing from it, I could still use it for repairs down the road, as much of the unit is still functional.  Too, I took time to clean it and put it back together, so I know better how it all works.  At least for now.  So I’m ok with having it clutter up one portion of the garage.  Considering the rest of the clutter in the garage, that’s in dire need of attention, it will be good to move onto another one of my projects.