Monday, April 25, 2005

PayPal Annoyance

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I'm annoyed with PayPal.

I probably shouldn't be.

I got an email last week informing me that they have "limited access to your account until additional security measures can be completed". Initially, I took this with a grain of salt, as I get these types of emails fairly often, and they're always "phishing" scams. But this email had no link to click on in it, giving me the impression that this might be legit. So I signed into my PayPal account, and sure enough, I'm on limited access. I can receive money and payments, but I cannot transfer money or make any withdrawals until I update my security information.

The reason given is "unusual activity" on my account, which, to me, the only thing I've been doing differently is I've been using my new PayPal debit card to pay for gas in my car and a couple of other purchases. This is unusual, apparently.

So I go through and start completing the security checks. There are three levels you have to complete. I do the first two easily, stuff like changing your password, answering some security questions like mother's maiden name, last 4 digits of SS# and a couple other things. Then the third step. They want your phone number so they can match it to your home address.

There's the problem. I use Vonage as my home phone number and apparently PayPal can't connect a phone # to a physical street address on a Vonage phone as they would be able to on a regular phone. So I fail that test. What they need to do now is mail me, via snail mail, a 6 digit code to my home address, and when I get that, I can go to the PayPal page, enter it, and hopefully complete my security check. They say it should take 5-7 business days to get that code.

Here's my problems. I'm going on vacation next week...leaving this Friday night. If the code doesn't come before then, I won't be able to use my debit card at all while I'm gone. Second, my other website hosting is bill through my PayPal account. If I haven't validated my account before the 1st, the payment will not go through. I will have to make alternative arrangements...perhaps. I'm planning on switching over my hosting the end of the week to a less expensive, but more full-featured plan. That's all part of a busy week here.

I suppose I should be grateful that PayPal is beefing up security in this manner, but I wish my account didn't have to be basically shut down for a week and half and punish me, even though no security was actually broken.

Thanks to all who participated in the guest blog entry with Tripp Friedler, there were some interesting comments posted.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Guestblog Entry from Author Tripp Friedler

This is a post from Tripp Friedler, author of "Free Gulliver" over the course of the next few days Friedler will respond to comments made by readers. We look forward to a good exchange of ideas here on Simply My Life...

First I would like to thank Bruce for allowing me some air time. I feel right at home here because my book is all about simplifying your life. It is about cutting all those pesky little things that tie us down. It is about getting freed.

I have done many things over my career (restaurateur, record producer, fashion photographer) but for the last 15 years I have been involved in financial consulting. I have worked with numerous clients and I began to notice that they all had the same basic issues. They were focusing so much on accumulating wealth that they were forgetting about having fun. My book is about getting rich but it has very little to do with money.

One issue most relevant to many of my clients is retirement. Somehow in our society retirement has become a good thing. In fact, many people today will stay in jobs they hate just to be able to save for retirement. In some ways this is like getting married, coming back from the honeymoon, and stating that you cannot wait for the divorce.

If we look at really successful people, they do not "retire." In fact, Suze Orman who preaches about retirement is herself not retiring. She has plenty of money yet continues to work. She understands that when you do what you love you never want to stop.

I know many people will say, "Easier said than done. I hate my job but at least it pays well." My question is; what is the appropriate trade off between a job you hate that pays well and one you enjoy doing that pays less?

So I would like to end with the following question: Do you think it is smarter to do work you love and save very little or work you do not like and save a lot?

Author of "Free Gulliver: Six Swift Lessons in Life Planning"

Thursday, April 14, 2005

No more credit card debt!

Alright, so the money was transferred to my bank account and I paid the credit card debt. Actually I will still have a balance of about $100 on there, but I will pay that in the next couple weeks and then stick the credit card in my desk where I won't have it with me.

My plan of using my PayPal debit card to pay for my gas is working out good thus far this month, and it's been needed. Things are very tight this month, and in three weeks I'll be spending a week in the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Some friends of mine rent a house out there once a year or so, and it's a huge house and after we all split the cost, it only comes to about $150 per person for the whole week. We also divide up the making of the meals, so that each couple or pair is responsible for providing food on one day. We drive down there, so all in all, it is a very inexpensive week of vacation.

I'll try to get together a snapshot of my financial picture here sometime like I used to do....

More on "Free Gulliver"

More on "Free Gulliver", the book by Tripp Friedler, who will be a guest on this blog next Monday, April 18th.

Scheduled to publish April 16, the book acts as a swift kick in the pants to remind those people who have just finished their taxes that now is a good time to plan their lives.

Free Gulliver takes the conventional wisdom of financial planning -- how to get what you need to do what you want -- and turns it upside down: how to start doing what you want, *now*, and how to deal with the financial fallout.

As a nation gets nervous about Social Security, Friedler reminds us that "you never retire from a job you love." He'll show you how to stop saving for retirement and start building a job you never want to leave: one that will provide you with income into your second century.

Parents struggling to save for college might be surprised at Friedler's advice: Try cutting back on work and sharing that time with your kids, even if it means less money for college. "The time you spend with your children pays bigger dividends than any investment you will ever make."

Tripp Friedler is an attorney, estate planner, chartered life underwriter, and Gulliver-gone-wild. He is the father of three children. Free Gulliver helps people rig their finances to achieve life goals. It's a swift trip. Won't you give it a ride?

A listing for the author's blog tour:

The "Never Retire" Blog Tour
Featuring Tripp Friedler, author of "Free Gulliver"
Starting Monday, April 18, 2005, at the following blogs:

* All Things Financial

* Simplify My Life

* The Budgeting Babe

Here's some more from the publisher of the book:

Do the turbulent waters of a troubled economy find you looking for a life jacket? Are you trying to get ahead but feel like you're treading water? Do you come home exhausted at the end of the day, unable to muster the energy to pursue your dreams in your "spare time"? Do you feel tied down by the little things, unable to tend to your life goals because just tending to your life is too taxing?

Maybe you're a Gulliver? You remember: Big guy, gets in a shipwreck, swims to shore, exhausted, falls asleep. Wakes up in the morning to find Lilliputians have tied him down - - little guys with tiny strings -- so he can't move. Ever feel like Gulliver? Sure you have. We all have. The time has come to cut those knots.

Free Gulliver is a little book for big people. It will help you slice through those knotty problems that keep you from doing what you were put here to do. You remember what that is, don't you? That thing you put on the back burner so long ago an hour in the microwave wouldn't thaw it. That gift you have. That natural talent you can't find an outlet for -- can't afford to pursue -- not until you get your debts paid down, not until the kids are in school, not until the kids are through college, not until you retire... Little things. Lilliputians with little strings. Keeping you from the life you love.

Free Gulliver will show you how to cut through those lines, little by little, and get moving again toward the life you love. It's written by Tripp Friedler, an attorney, estate planner, chartered life underwriter, and Gulliver-gone- wild. Tripp has studied the life plans of the rich and famous and found out -- guess what? -- they're just as stuck as the rest of us. Friedler has made a business of helping people get their lives back on track. He can help you, too.

Free Gulliver: Six Swift Lessons in Life Planning will help you:

Remember what you're supposed to be doing here
Take an honest look at where you're life journey is right now
Free up the time and money you need to be you
Find unexpected ways to express your natural talents
Make a life plan that realistically gets you from here to there

Free Gulliver turns financial planning upside down (as if your finances haven't been through enough upsets lately). Instead of helping you have enough money when you retire to do what you really want to do, it helps you start doing what you want today, because you never retire from a life you love. Free Gulliver will help you find meaning and fulfillment while still generating the income you need to get by. It will liberate you from the little things that tie you down. It's a swift trip. Won't you give it a try?


"For those who feel that things have gotten too complicated, too tangled up, too damned crazy, this book offers candid, straightforward, and practical advice. There is real help here, and the calm voice of someone who's been there and found a way to make his own life better. It's the kind of help we can all use from time to time."
-- Alan M. Webber, Founding Editor, Fast Company

"For all people who want to simplify their lives and still reach their goals, Tripp Friedler has written a delightful and useful book. It shows how to clarify your vision and focus on what's important. With real case studies and reference to his own journey, Friedler makes his lessons wonderfully readable."
-- Walter Isaacson, CEO, The Aspen Institute

"Tripp Friedler uses straight talk and apt illustrations to teach how to free ourselves and find the meaning that lies waiting in every life. By following his own passion, he helps us realize ours."
-- Peter White, Wealth Advisor

"This book is terrific. Traditional, financial life planning leaves you believing that the proper asset allocation or security selection will bring happiness. This is not the case. In order to live a full life everyone needs to ask the questions that are presented in this book. Friedler challenges the reader to think, discuss and set the groundwork for a balanced and fulfilling life. It is truly a shame that this aspect has been left out for so long."
-- Peter Ricchiuti, Assistant Dean, A. B. Freeman School of Business, Tulane University and Director Of Research, Burkenroad Reports

"Tripp Friedler, using his own life experiences, takes us on a wonderful journey. Along the way, we learn to better understand how our career and retirement can become more meaningful and satisfying to us. We also get to learn the importance of defining the legacy we will leave for future generations. He helps us enjoy the journey and achieve our goals."
-- Frank Helsom, Former CEO, Bessemer Trust

"With an unusually caring and human voice, Tripp Friedler explains how having a better life comes down to making simple choices. Friedler uses plain language and real-world examples to guide readers through a decision-making process that can profoundly improve their lives. For anyone stressed out about the quality of their life and what the future will bring, this warmly written book will help you see-and realize-your own possibilities."
-- Keith Mcallister, Media Consultant, Former Executive Vice President and Managing Editor, CNN

Friday, April 08, 2005

Paying off Credit Card Debt

I've decided that I'm going to transfer $3000 from my VirtualBank eMM account and go ahead and pay off my credit card debt.

I know some of you are likely saying: "About time!"

Yeah, I guess sometimes I'm a little slow to come to realizations on certain things. It definitely makes more sense for me to do this on several levels.

1) My job is fairly secure, I don't fear losing it and needing to depend on emergency funds anytime soon.

2) If I did happen to have some sort of emergency, I could then use the paid off credit card.

3) Paying off the card means I'm not paying interest on that debt any longer, and also means I have one less monthly bill to pay. (Simplifying my life...)

4) I can then take that monthly payment I would be using to pay the credit card, $100 or more, and split it between the VirtualBank, ING Direct and my car payment.

5) With the savings of that interest, my savings accounts will be worth more, because the interest I'm gaining on those accounts won't be offset by the interest I'm losing on debt.

6) This will leave me essentially just one source of debt to my car payment. My life will be simpler, as noted above. My monthly payments will now be:

Car Payment
Cable/Internet Service
Vonage Phone Service
Car Insurance
Electric Bill
2 Savings Accounts
Gas (hoping to pay that using PayPal debit card each month)

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Orange Savings Account Opened

I took another step in making sure I'm saving money and having it spread around a little bit. Still haven't taken the step of investing yet, but now having $50 a week automatically deducted from my checking account each week, ($25 to two different accounts) should help me put something away.

When I bought the Quicken software last week, I installed it that night and noticed the icon that it put on my desktop plugging an offer to get $50 for opening an ING Direct Orange Savings account. I had thought about creating a second savings account to use for larger ticket items or vacations while still maintaining and not touching my "Emergency Funds" sitting over at VirtualBank. After reading earlier this week that ING Direct had raised the APY in their Orange Savings account to 3.00% I went ahead and decided to open the account.

It took less than 5 minutes to fill out the online forms and link my checking account. I initially funded the new savings account with only $50. Now looking at it this morning, my $50 is in there, as well as my $50 bonus for opening the account. In addition I set it up so that each Thursday $25 will be transfer from my checking account. So now I am sending $25 to this new account and $25 to the VirtualBank account.

In other financial news...I canceled my personal cell phone this week. My contract had run out in January, and I have been provided with a cell phone from my work, which my boss has told me is perfectly fine to use for personal calls, as there are a ton of minutes in the plan. So that will save me approx $80 a month, which is now going towards the Orange Savings account.

I've also been able to make a little money each month on one of my other web ventures, and that money comes to me via PayPal. Last month I got a PayPal debit card which allows me to use the money in my PayPal account anywhere I can pay with a credit card. I've decided that I'm going to use that account as much as I can to pay for the gas in my car. Right now my short term goal is to make enough coming into PayPal each month to pay for my gas. That's going to require me to be making about $300 a month. If I can do that, I will then put that extra $300 towards my credit card debt each month.

So there's a few things I'm doing financially right now...

Monday, April 04, 2005

Book Excerpt: "FREE GULLIVER: Six Swift Lessons in Life Planning"

Another excerpt from FREE GULLIVER: Six Swift Lessons in Life Planning. On April 18th, the author of the book, Tripp Friedler will be a guest on this web site. He will post an introductory comment, and then check in periodically during the next few days to respond to comments posted in response to his. It should be a great opportunity to share some knowledge and get some good information and advice.

Staying in a job you hate is crazy.

The first question I ask clients who want to talk about retirement is simple: Why? I try to get them to rethink the concept of retirement by defining the word. Most definitions I get are a variation of a simple idea: "Doing what you want, when you want." Under this definition, most people who love their jobs are already retired.

Look at Michael Jordan. Here is a man who so loved what he did that he refused to retire -- in fact, he added two more championships to his name. Many celebrities, athletes, actors and television journalists continue to work well beyond the "pinnacle" of their careers. While they might not have had the success of their youth, they were still productive. Their love of their profession was so strong that they refused to quit. Why should you quit?

Next I ask my clients what part of their work they most enjoy. What would they like to continue doing into retirement? Most of us have in our jobs a few tasks we love, and the luckiest of us have a whole day filled with enjoyable activities. I ask my clients to identify these pleasurable activities, and then try to make those tasks compose a majority of their time at work. I once heard a great line that sums up this philosophy:

Frank Sinatra did not move pianos.

The point is clear: focus on your passions and talents, and try not to get bogged down in the chores you hate. Be a Gulliver -- live large -- and don't let the little things tie you down. If you concentrate on what you love in your work and pursue it fully, your "Golden Years" can begin today.


1. List the things you love most about what you do for work.

2. Do you love these things enough to continue doing them during your retirement?

3. What percentage of your work time do you spend on these activities?

4. What can you do right now to increase the percentage of time spent working on these activities?

5. What do you think you could get paid to do only those activities you enjoy so much you'd continue to do them after you retire?

6. Do you think you can live on that income, considering the other resources you have (current savings, social security payments, etc.)?

7. What steps can you take to increase the income you earn from doing these activities?

8. List people you think have retired successfully.

9. Explain what you admire about their retirements.

10. How can you emulate what you like about these retirements?