End of an ok year

I generally post a new blog once a week, and I think of it as an exercise. I used to write letters to friends.  It’s easier this way, and  you can upload photos.

Obviously, I have an opinion about most things.  This is somewhat exacerbated by my  roommate, a foreign national from Japan.  He’s been with me 12 years now.  He says it’s inertia, but there are several reasons he’s still here.  His company, a consulting firm, went out of business, and  even though he has dual Ph.D.s in mechanical engineering and computer science (and is bilingual Japanese/English), he hasn’t found a new job. This is telling, as he says he has the minimum requirements for a job. What does this say about the rest of us….and the global economy?

I have managed to piece jobs together, as I have always done this, but I am afraid I am more sophisticated about the actual economics of the businesses I work for than the owners.  Yes, they are  doing well and managing ok, but one keeps making bad hires and spending money on  what are, at best, break-even propositions. The other actually bought herself a job. I know she loves having the business, but  the physicality of it can easily burn you out.  Both are at the limits of their physical growth.

I had been contracting to a very small company (literally a ‘mom-&-pop’ shop) that   had a small pet shop storefront AND provided dog walking and pet-sitting services. They also  shrunk in this bad economy, and  as the owners are married, had not been communicating or  investing in the business as they should have. It got very stressful, as they managed very  seat-of-the-pants.  I know you have to be flexible when you own a small service business, but giving me  10 minutes notice to work was not working for ME.  Nor was not buying the equipment necessary to provide  grooming services with integrity. After telling them several times, I told them: no more.  I felt bad  and continue to feel bad as they had a lot of potential. They just didn’t respect each other, so could not plan to grow.

Meanwhile,  on the personal front, mortgage interest rates are 2% below what I continue to pay on a loan I have about 5 years left on. I owe about $50,000 on the house.  I am not under water by any means. In fact, I have paid additional principle down (as an alternative to ‘saving’ it & actually losing money.  Paying down a debt at 5% is like saving at  5%—remember that…)The house has over doubled in value since I bought it,but— according to RealtyTrack & Zillow, what was at its peak  worth $600,000 is now worth $238,000.  I actually think it  is probably worth about $50,000 more, as it is a rewired, replumbed 2 flat (a somewhat rare commodity as none are for sale), but the property taxes hover around $600 a month, bringing the  value down.  I am going to stick it out a few more years, but I am afraid I will have to  really explore all the options. There is no chance property taxes will go down. Taxes in Illinois are among the highest in the nation  because of what we allowed out politicians to do to  public employee pension funds  (that is, not contribute actuarially to keep them solvent, and allow double dipping as well)..  In fact, it’s happening in many parts of the country.  The really truly only solution for us barely middle class people is expatriation.

I never thought I’d live to see the day where i could not afford to buy a dog to show, or to show a dog, or  compete in dog performance events. A friend who has been breeding dogs over 50 years, who is an AKC breeder of merit, told me she could no longer afford to show dogs AND pay her property taxes.  I believe the AKC is oblivious.  I really remember when some very working class people living in absolute dumps were showing dogs.  They are gone.

Now, I am actually at the point that I could sell this place, not as profitably as I had hoped, but still do very well, buy a place —gosh, there are so many places;  Michigan, Florida,l Alabama, I am sure I could find others—for under $50,000, and  do ok. just retire, but i cam going to stick it out a few more years here & just be frugal.

My next  blog post—which will be the first for 2013, will be about altruism, and  supporting my values.  I would be interested in  hearing from readers  what they do to conserve and live their values,too. Several people asked me who reads my blog.I get an average of 20 hits a day from people looking for information.  I also have about 20  subscribers.   I will tell you, what  people look for are my blogs on spike collars NOT being training collars, and the George Peter Murdock map of Africa. next  googled subjects are  about how Yelp! reviews have to be taken with a grain of salt, and  my experience working for  corporate pate stores. Also, proud to say, my blog on housebreaking the difficult dog gets a lot of hits.  If I have sparked an idea in just one person’s mind that will lead to them taking an action to making the world a better place, for me, that’s enough.


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