The last couple of weeks have been perhaps the most crazy weeks of my life. You'd think that getting sued for a million dollars for helping people is pretty crazy. That's actually #2 on the Crazy Week list.
I shouldn't go into the biggest event, but I'm nothing if not transparent. Plus, I can't resist...
There's a bit of a fight going on with my wife's military benefits between the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense. I believe The Health and Human Services is right by the letter of the law they cited and we should receive the benefit. (Of course I'm going to believe that, right?) The Department of Defense is right in the practical case that it would come out of their budget.
It is a significant benefit in that is a completely life-altering change for us. I have enough trouble fighting MLM companies, so I'm going to let the Department of Defense slide just this one time. We were kind of singled out and if I were to fight it, there's a chance that they'd apply the policy to thousands of families rather than just a few.
Anyway, let's move on.
Last week was also crazy for another reason. It is probably more accurate to call it awkward.
I created a GoFundMe account.
I felt like an instant failure. I've been writing about personal finance for nearly 10 years. I've written about having an emergency fund numerous times and here I am essentially begging for money.
As they say the devil is in the details.
It seems that helping consumers avoid financial pitfalls can get very expensive to me personally. I had no idea that Freedom of Speech/Press seems to apply only to the people who have tens of thousands of dollars to pay lawyers for long expensive trials. I imagined it was something like The People's Court or Judge Judy where I could simply show the court that I really care for people and that I've done the best research I can to help them. I figured that the judge would take a quick look, reprimand the bullying company, and throw it out of court in about 8 minutes. (Maybe 13 minutes if he or she wanted to lay into them for their behavior for wasting tax payer dollars by bringing it to court.)
That's not how it works at all. The cost of fighting a single lawsuit can easily be $100,000 or more. Heck, the NFL's lawsuit against Tom Brady to confirm a DeflateGate suspension has already run an estimated $20 million dollars. Imagine how much good you could do in some third-world countries with some of that kind of money?
When I plan our finances, I had made reasonable allowances. I know where the money for our mortgage and cars are going to come from. We live very frugally, so the other expenses are very minimal. Just as importantly, they haven't changed much over the years other than the addition of two children. While that sounds like it would be expensive, it hasn't been. Their grandparents have bargain-hunted to get great clothes at pennies on the dollar (Thanks Mom!). They don't eat much food (even though we try).
We know what things are generally going to cost if a water heater breaks here or there, it's no big issue. The emergency fund that we had in place is great and it covers us whenever there's a reasonable emergency expense.
Ironically, planning our finances so well can lead a financial difficulty. Let me explain.
I write my opinion of what I believe to be scams for the same reasons that Ethan Vanderbuilt states here. He explains it much more eloquently than I ever could, but he doesn't like to see people's entrepreneurial hopes turned against them.
Educating people on how to avoid those pitfalls is very important to me. A few days ago, a fellow blogger, Joe from Retire by 40 wrote about finding a meaningful life after retirement. I'm not retired, but my focus on educating people about scams is a huge part of finding a meaningful life. The emails and comments I receive from readers who thank me show me that I'm really helping people. Whether or not Le-Vel is a scam or what anyone's opinion of it is, the testimonials I've received for the Le-Vel article are extensive.
"Let’s keep this alive, because I’m guessing after 10 years you have saved people a whole lot more than what you are asking for in this pursuit of keeping your first amendment rights, and I’m grateful that you are willing to put yourself into the line of fire so that we have the opportunity to see the WHOLE picture."
For some reason, the awkwardness didn't go away. Instead it was replaced with questions:
"If I'm begging people for money with a GoFundMe, should I continue to feed my dog Merrick's highly-rated grain-free dog food or instead go with the cheapest dog food?"
"How can I write about luxuries like my Amazon Echo (even though I got it for $99), when I'm asking for money from people who, most likely, do not have the luxury of an Amazon Echo?"
It's a thorny issue and I don't have any answers.
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