Filling the Budget Pothole

Like a minnow and a whale unexpectedly colliding, I came out of my contact with Comcast alive but bruised. Comcast, being the whale, practically didn’t notice my presence. I bounced off its blubber back into the depths, reacquainted with my status in the ocean of life.

Fortunately my budget pothole is more-or-less repaired. Like most potholes though, you can see where it was because the fix is never perfect. In my case I stopped my landline service, which was the culprit. For years I paid $12 plus taxes and fees (!) to have a phone line attached to my internet service. This month my “promotional rate” ceased, meaning the rate went to the standard of $44 per month plus plus.

Comcast specializes in shoddy practises. They revolve around two planets. One, they want you to be a part of their ‘package’ system, which means some combination of cable tv junk and internet and voice. Choice is a non-word with these people. The second is this rampant use of ‘deals’ to get  you started, only to find that the rates ramp significantly in later months and years.

But you probably already know this. The lesson is ours to keep if you’re in business for yourself. Upfront honesty in pricing will win you way more friends in the long run. And my budget is back in decent shape, which will win me freedom in the long run.

Budget Pothole

Comcast

Well, if your budget is like mine, you’re proud of how you keep everything neatly stacked, tied, paid up and in general good order. The feeling of having a sound grip is an important part of learning to control money…and not let it control you.

Which is why it is SO galling to have happen what I just found. My Comcast bill jumped from $86 to $127. Let’s call that a 50% increase. FIFTY PERCENT!

What? WHAT? WHAAAAAT?

That’s not the worst of it. Not only do they not want me as a customer…I have precious little choice. Now I have the prospect of dealing with customer non-service to figure out what the Hell just stuck me in my beautifully proportioned fiscal situation.

The last time I dealt with these people, the Comcastian with whom I dealt said:

“We’re not an internet company, we’re a cable tv company.”

In that case you’ll be paying me back all the money you don’t want to be soiled with, just because I don’t avail myself of your sucky television “service”, right?

Awful. I guess Brian Roberts needs more cash to bankroll Clinton, H, into the White House. His solution to her $2.5 billion request: Screw. Me.

Hourly Disconnect

A setting straight of the record: Passive Income is rarely passive. You have to work for it. I was thinking of this after yesterday’s post, pondering just how “passive” one is when you’re saving or being entrepreneurial. Not very. So.

My definition of Passive Income is money you receive not directly related to the hourly or daily work you applied to create that income. When you have a paid job, you work hourly, or daily or yearly for your wages or salary. You will receive the money for a specific duty or activity, a narrow range of clearly defined functions. Even if you are a CEO of a company, you are still expected to complete recognized, agreed-upon tasks. If you don’t do them, you’re fired.

Passive Income is about creating the assets that create the money. Those assets might be dividend-paying stocks you own, or you devise an app, or it might be a work of art – music, a book, video – for which people pay you. You’re putting stuff into the better side of your balance sheet in the anticipation that money will find its way to them, and so to you.

Clearly there’s nothing passive about any of this. When you are in the process of writing a book there is no cheque waiting at the end of the month. But you might find a royalty cheque in your mailbox for each of the subsequent thirty years. At that point it’s passive; not when you’re plugging away day after day. It’s income displacement to the future, if you like.

There’s the difference. Passive Income might even mean MORE work than you’d otherwise apply to a job. But you are working towards dependence on your own accumulated assets, not the largesse of an employer.

And the big, underplayed upside is that there is no way you can be fired. Yay.

Pathways to Enrichment

Businesswoman

The quest for financial independence has one destination, but many pathways by which to find it.

You might  disagree with this: Although there are tried and true ways of getting from dependence to not, job number one is to find the way that works for you. The fit will determine the outcome.

For instance, buying and renting residential units and houses is a clear way to financial success. The downside is that you will necessarily deal with tenants (good and bad), condo associations, building upkeep, grounds maintenance, cleaning and showing when a tenant moves out and so on. Real estate requires management, which might not suit.

If you want a less head-achey way, you can keep your job and turn down the wick on your expenses. By saving (and passively investing in ETFs and the like) you will eventually have enough so that the job is optional. Although this comes with less aggravation, there will be frustrations around the constant delayed gratification and pressure to keep a lid on your spending – not to mention the fact that you have to keep that job.

Pretty much everything else requires some kind of entrepreneurship. Selling other folks’ stuff. Creating something yourself and selling it. Any kind of trading, by which I mean buying something low and selling it less low. These are active ways by which to (eventually) find passive income. This is the high energy/high reward end of the spectrum. Again, this will definitely not be for everyone.

The encouraging beauty of being here in 2015 is that the available choices are enormous. In the ledges and crevices between my generalizations are niches where people are waiting for you to provide a good or a service that will be your staircase to independence.

Time to start. Let’s do something.