In which I’m on to this now

In the past time-has-no-meaning-anymore-so-let’s-say a month or so, I have developed and abandoned several new hobbies. I was super into woodturning for a while, and recently I’ve developed a fascination with paper- and bookmaking. I have turned no wood, made no paper, crafted no books, but I’ve been watching a lot of videos. I’ve managed to avoid spending any money on anything, although the fact of the matter is investing in the few things I’d need to make some shitty little notebooks with my copious spare time and brain cycles would actually not cost very much.

The other day I discovered that an app I was already using for something else allows me to buy stocks and Bitcoin. On a lark, and because I’m so unused to the concept of having spare funds that I don’t know what the hell to do with it, I bought $20 in Apple stock and $20 in Bitcoin, and at some point in between then and now I bought $25 in Moderna stock and upped the Apple buy to $25 so that they were even. Because that is how you make stock decisions; you look at how much you’ve spent on two entirely different companies and even the amounts out just for the hell of it.

Bitcoin has plunged in value since I bought it. Like, to the point that there are articles being written about it. I’ve made like two bucks on the stocks. But the fact is, I don’t know anything about any of this and in theory I would like to retire some day, so … maybe I should learn something about how, like, investments work? When I was unemployed a few years I had to cash out what little retirement I had so we could, like, keep the house, so in theory I have some investments in some funds somewhere and some retirement accounts, maybe something with a K in the name of it or something, although it’s not a 401K because something something public employee, I don’t know. But I don’t know anything about this.

(An example of how little I know: I found out earlier that a Pfizer … subsidiary … named BioNTech may be close to a Parkinson’s vaccine. I don’t know what a subsidiary actually is or whether BioNTech is one, but the companies are related somehow. BioNTech is BNTX on the Nasdaq and the app I’m using appears to not know it exists and I don’t know why, because I don’t actually really know what the Nasdaq is, or if it’s different from what I’m using to invest, and blah blah blah blah. I do not actually really know what “The Dow” is, in any functional way, other than it seems to be a graph that reacts to the emotions of rich people on any given day. I’m real real real dumb about this. I need to be less dumb, so I need a way to learn.)

So here’s my question, if there’s anyone out there who knows a useful amount of information about this: if I were to want to fiddle with the idea of being a small-time investor for a little while, making the occasional trade to the tune of, like, $20-25 a week or something like that, what apps or services should I be looking at for something like that? Ideally with a portfolio that has independent existence outside the app, so that I can take it with me, so to speak? The Bitcoin thing isn’t something I’m dedicated to, and I’m fine with the idea of selling everything I’ve bought in this app before moving to another one– I’m using such small amounts of money right now that even if I took a hit on it it’s not a thing I’m worried about.

Also, before you say anything, yes, I understand that right now is probably not a great time to get into the market, what with the impending civil war and all; again, I’m just dipping my toes in and only putting in money I’m willing to lose. I’m not about to suddenly invest an entire paycheck and cross my fingers that I’m going to get rich or something like that.

But all that said: any suggestions?

How to be bad with money

Quick note, just because it entertains me: due to a combination of 1) some bonus money from the state connected to last year’s teacher evaluations and 2) an actual raise arriving with retroactive pay back to the beginning of this school year, tomorrow’s check is going to be almost a grand higher than usual. I knew this was coming eventually, but I just found out yesterday that it was going to be this week– and both coming on the same check was a pleasant surprise.

Now, remember that I just bought a TV and a Playstation 5, along with a couple of games, with the clear knowledge that this money was coming and that was how I’d pay for it. I also recently ordered a new desk chair, which wasn’t cheap either.

So this money is spent. Again, I knew it was coming, so this isn’t an issue of me just tossing funds out there and hoping, but the bonus money is spent.

And naturally, my first though this morning upon seeing how much the extra funds were going to be was Ooh, I should go splurge on something!

Sigh.

Possibly more later; I always like to record it when I notice I’m dumb.

In which brain melty need stopping

It has been a hell of a day, not in a bad way but in a there is too much information in my head and I don’t know what to do with any of it sort of way. I was out and about for a couple of hours– actual hours! Not just a quick trip to the Target in my back yard!– this morning, mostly running errands for my father-in-law, and I just had a conversation with my wife that ended with not only deciding to go ahead and move forward with LASIK but I also need to look into either a home equity loan or a mortgage refinance tomorrow, and there was a lot of talk about things like new roofs and bathroom and kitchen renovations and my brain has already spent some time today trying to figure out how to rearrange my office so that the layout makes a little bit more sense and that’s a lot of work and there is some work around the house that I need to do and oh a lot of that stuff needs contractors and do we know any contractors or maybe does your dad know any contractors and I really need to repurpose my entire computer setup to be better for video editing because I’m going to have to do a lot of that this fall one way or another and oh America just had its biggest day so far in terms of new cases of COVID so let’s fall down that depressing-ass rabbit hole too while we’re at it.

I need a nap.


7:46 PM, Wednesday June 24: 2,376,263 confirmed cases and 121,932 Americans dead.

Okay FINE then I WON’T

The picture almost makes customer service seem cool, doesn’t it?

I was recently able to zero out all but one of my credit cards, and Lord willing and the creek don’t rise it shouldn’t be long until I’m able to whack that one as well. I was startled to see a bill show up from one of my cards a few days ago; the card actually got overpaid a bit so the last I’d looked at it they owed me money, which is always a fun thing to have happen with a credit card. Turns out they’d charged me a $59 annual fee. Now, chances are this fee has been around for all if not most of the time I’ve had this card, but during damn near 100% of that time I’ve carried a balance. It pissed me off that I suddenly owed them an annual fee on a card with no balance, so I did a brief check to make sure it wouldn’t affect my credit rating too unduly and then called to cancel the card.

(A five minute period ensues here, as we go from blustery-but-dry outside to torrential rainstorm hello tropical storm Cristobal in about ten seconds and then the power blinks out. By the time I have the computer back online and the Internet back up, the rain has stopped.)

Anyway. That was a long lead-in to a quick resolution, but: it turns out that if you’ve had a credit card for 23 years and you call them and say something along the lines of “Hey, y’all charged me this annual fee. I don’t wanna pay it. Cancel the card!” they will not only remove the fee from your card (and, to be honest, I pretty much expected this result) but they will set things so that you are never charged an annual fee again. Which, paradoxically, is kind of annoying, because I find you must pay this annual fee, unless you don’t want to to be really obnoxious as a policy.

But, hey, I guess I don’t have to cut the card up now? All told, I’d rather have the credit than not, so I went ahead and kept it.

Also, I can see blue sky outside now. Weather is weird.


5:45 PM, Tuesday June 9: 1,973,803 confirmed cases and 111,751 Americans dead.

An addendum to the previous post

One of the following two things is true, and I’m not sure which, despite having read more than your average person about British history and literature:

OPTION ONE: British currency, pre-Euro, is bullshit, and I refuse to believe anyone can keep track of how many guineas are in a shilling or how many Robux are in a whangdoodle or whatever; y’all make fun of us for not having the metric system but this is how you do your money?

OPTION TWO: British currency is not in and of itself bullshit, but the way people write about it is; anyone mentioning British currency in any capacity is consistently doing the equivalent of saying “she spent three dollars, two quarters, two dimes and three pennies” instead of the more sensible “she spent $3.73.”

It’s gotta be one or the other, I just don’t know which.