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The Craziest Week of My Life?

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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.

The reason for the GoFundMe is because of the aforementioned lawsuit. That piggybacks on LifeVantage suing me in 2013 as well as RainSoft's lawsuit from last year which still on-going.

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.

You'd think that awkwardness of my GoFundMe would go away if I re-frame it as it being about readers helping future readers. As one commenter wrote:

"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?"

and

"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.

Posted on March 3, 2016.

This post deals with:

... and focuses on:

Introspection

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7 Responses to “The Craziest Week of My Life?”

  1. Patricia says:

    Wow, sorry you are going through such a rough patch LM! Yes, I can see why this is a crazy and awkward time since the posting of the GoFundMe. If I can be of any encouragement is just that you should remember that the money that you are asking for in the GoFundMe is not in any way an indication of your personal finance gone awry or that you are not a very conscientious personal financial blogger.

    First off, your advice in your non-MLM articles as I’ve read have been very conservative and helpful in the life-hacker sense- nothing that people couldn’t find out if they didn’t scour the web themselves, but nice that you have it in one concise site. Whether you follow your own advice or not, is irrelevant to me and personally, I’ve found your advice and observations is quite sound.

    Second, your help of for those involved with MLMs or people in MLMs is truly selfless- we know of “MLM mafias” and how they just pelt their insults and attacks on “negative” opinions. With your facts and info, MLMs have a point of vulnerability that is not seen too much on the internet even as a whole. The funds you ask for are nothing if not a good cause. Free speech especially to help those who do not have the voice of reason that you can portray need those who have the eloquence and wisdom to put out opposing and true information.

    I hope you can feel encouraged by the monetary support you get on the GoFundMe and not feel burdened by guilt or shame. There is nothing shameful about standing up for other people. Not to get too philosophical, but you are in a sense running an anti-bully campaign. :)

    However, if it ever gets too much for you and your family, and obviously if monetarily you don’t raise enough to continue with the lawyers, you have to make sure to do the monetarily wisest thing for your family first and foremost. Anyway, will hope for good updates and thank you for your transparency and all that you are trying to accomplish.

  2. Chris says:

    I’m not a naysayer at all, but they will come out of the woodwork and scrutinize every little thing you do or say. Especially once you have hit the submit button. As soon as you do that, people take that as your word as being bond.

    I love your work and appreciate your crusade but like the last poster said if it ever becomes detrimental to your family and marriage I’d leave it alone. Unless you have all your lawyers working those anti-slap suits for you then hang it up and try to help people in other ways with your vast knowledge and research skills.

    Honestly I wouldn’t care if you owned a Tesla but as long as you got it for a bargain and you can afford it go for it. The go fund me should only be used for the legal fees and any fees that relate to your blog, and as long as you are showing fiscal responsibility then I see no problem with what you are doing. However you will have naysayers that will demand that you live like you preach.

    As for the legal situation itself, you’re pretty much in a David vs Goliath situation. You’re going up against the Donald Trumps of the MLMs, and all they keep doing is yelling “I’m going to sue you!” They have the money to do it and make it a lengthy process. And it sucks that the government won’t and can’t open up cases against them. Like you said they only have so much money to prosecute and investigate so many companies. That’s why the EPA is worthless, along with almost every other federal organization. We’re all screwed.

    Btw, this is being typed using the Swype function on my phone just in case there are any errors. Because anytime you speak some real stuff you gotta use correct punctuation or else you get discounted.

    • Lazy Man says:

      Thanks for the comments Patricia and Chris. They are really helpful.

      I view it as an anti-bully campaign myself. I’d love to resolve my differences with Le-Vel in a way that we can agree is simply expressing my opinion per my First Amendment rights. I reached out their lawyers to do just that. They came back with the same demands as in their cease and desist which amounted to “delete everything and never speak of us again” in my opinion. (It sucks that I have end every sentence with “in my opinion.”)

      Chris, you are completely right. It is a David vs. Goliath situation. I’m hoping that with enough Davids we can take down Goliath. That might be the worst Biblical reference ever, but you get the idea.

  3. Big-D says:

    One of the things that I so as a side gig, is being a college professor. That means that I love well reasoned, thought out, thorough research into a topic. I have never felt anything you have posted is anything but of the highest level reasoning (maybe except your love of the Patriots .. but that comes from a Colts fan ;).

    Never be ashamed to ask for help, never be ashamed to take a break, never be afraid to quit if need be for sanity/security/family, etc.

  4. That is whack! I would certainly hope a judge would be able to quickly dismiss the case to avoid legal fees. I believe in the UK if a company sues and loses, they have to pay the legal fees for the other party. We need some systemic changes, but in the meantime I gave a small donation.

    I also don’t think you need to be able to answer those tough questions at the end. You shouldn’t have to bear this burden alone, so no shame in asking for help funding it, and no need to adjust your lifestyle because of it.

  5. Patty says:

    Once again, all I can do is reiterate all the well thought-out comments before mine. So, as a shy but ardent follower of your blog, please let me say that I hope you do what is right for you and realize that you have fought one hell of a fight. I’m not saying to give up, but please do what you need for you, your family and your sanity.
    Back in 2008, you kept me from buying some nasty, overpriced juice I was being pressured to buy. For all the information the internet is supposed to have ready and available, it is near impossible to get proper information about these scams. It’s no wonder that they are going to fight dirty to keep scamming the world.
    Every penny I donated to your fund felt like a meager payment for all the information, knowledge and great entertainment your blog provides. You are one of the good ones LM and you owe it to yourself to knock of the guilt and enjoy bossing your Echo around. Besides, $99 was a steal!

  6. Tracey Scamper says:

    The bottom line is that Le-vel is run by a narcissistic douche bag named Jason Camper who can’t pour piss out of a boot with the instructions written on the heel. However, he got lucky and found a way to make some money in a pyramid scheme.

    He was at Advocare for years, did well there, but then blew himself up. Some of his peers from his Advocare days have some really terrible things to say about him.

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