secluded sleepy serene sunset light
presaging warm and tender nighttime
in love’s gentle arms and contented sight
and promises whispered soft, low, in rhyme
emotions adoring, congruent, pacific, so right
words and pictures by jack collier
jack collier firstname.lastname@example.org
Easy Lifestyle Changes Could Save You A Small Fortune.
There some very basic things you can do which, added together, will save you a great deal of money. These changes to the way you live your life are not difficult, they’re not complicated, and they will not take up a lot of your time. In fact, all of these things are what my granny used to call; ‘basic common sense’. Get on with it, smell the roses, save yourself some money, and live a better life.
- Pay off all your credit and store card bills. The average interest rate on credit card debt is around 16%, with some banks charging as much as 79.9% per annum, this is just extortion and usury. Far better to borrow elsewhere, at a cheaper rate, and pay off your plastic.
- Use the internet and find cheaper providers for your gas, electricity, water, mobile phone, (cell phone), land line telephone, internet, cable television, and car insurance. Switch to the cheapest provider because customer service will always suck, no matter who you are with. And, by the way, do you really need all those rubbish TV channels?
- Lower the temperature of your heating, and raise the temperature of your air conditioning by a couple of degrees. We all pay far too much for heating and cooling our homes.
- Lower the temperature at which you wash your clothes. There is a 30C setting on my washing machine, (about 90F), and most of the time that’s what I use. This gets rid of most dirt and stains, but it does not get rid of germs, and it’s not hot enough to get whites clean. So, I still always wash my bed linen and whites at 90C, (about 200F). Mind you, I always use biological washing powder which works well at lower temperatures.
- Always make a shopping list. Far too many people go into a store and come out with a whole bunch of stuff they don’t really want or need, while forgetting the important thing they went in for. Make a shopping list and never, ever make impulse purchases.
- Try own-brand goods. Very often the own-brand products are just as good as the more expensive named-brands. Quite often own-brand products are made in the same factories and on the same production lines as named brands. Stores always try to make you buy the most expensive, premium goods.
- Never buy ‘designer labels’ ~ don’t be a logo whore, and who wants some other guy’s name on their clothes and shoes anyway? It’s pathetic.
- Learn to do DIY. I hate contractors, repair men, decorators, gardeners, with a passion. If it needs doing then 90% of the time I do it myself. Learn to decorate, put up a shelf, fix a leaky tap, (faucet), and save yourself an absolute fortune.
- Make your travel arrangements early and do it on the internet. Always shop around for the cheapest deal. Always pay by credit card. Get a brochure from the travel agent for information and to give you a comparison.
- Learn to drive properly. Almost everyone I know is a crap driver, especially women. Almost everyone I know drives too fast, races between the lights, uses the accelerator hard and the brakes hard, and sits in the wrong gear. Drive a little slower and learn what anticipation means and you will not only use less petrol, (gas), there will be much less wear and tear on your car.
- Don’t always buy the newest, top-of-the-range car. A low mileage used car, or the basic model in the new car range can save you thousands. Remember, the biggest cost of owning a car is depreciation. Most cars will lose between 50% – 60% of their value in the first 3 years. (Just don’t buy an Edsel ~ people will laugh.)
- Walk, don’t drive. If you don’t have far to go and don’t have much to carry, don’t drive, walk instead. That won’t only save you money, walking will do wonders for your health and fitness.
- Give up smoking / vaping. Both will seriously damage your health, both can kill you, and both will cost you a fortune. A pack of 20 cigarettes will cost you about £7 in the UK and about $7 in California, (USA prices vary by state). So, a 10 a day habit will cost you about £1,300 per annum in the UK and $1,300 a year in California ~ a lot of money for a disgusting habit that’s killing you.
- Cut down on your drinking. Too much booze will make you fat, ill, and temporarily or permanently stupid ~ it will eventually kill you. How much booze is too much? If you drink a bottle of wine a night, or 4 bottles of beer, or a quarter of a bottle of spirits, then you are drinking far too much. Decent booze is hellishly expensive.
- STOP GAMBLING. Gambling is exactly the same as throwing your hard-earned money in the trash. Gambling is an addiction, and all gamblers lose heavily over time, always, with no exceptions, (not even the Cincinnati Kid).
- Never, ever, join a gym, and if you have gym membership, then cancel it. Most people with gym memberships don’t go often enough to get their money’s worth. Gyms are poor value for money and bad places for most people to exercise ~ you’re breathing stale air, being made to listen to loud music, and you’re indoors under artificial lights. Nasty. Exercise for free instead.
- Plan ahead and buy stuff in the sales, at discount stores, and in thrift stores.
- Claim all your tax and other benefits. Use the internet at learn what you can really claim.
- Never use pay per view TV or TV services such as Netflix ~ this is just stupid. Do you really need to dumb down so much as to sit in front of the TV, and pay extra for the privilege, over and above whatever stupid cable subscription you are already paying for this crap?
- Never, ever buy extended warranties on things like a car, new washing machine, or television. These warranties are scams, not worth the paper they’re printed on, and cost a fortune.
- Stop buying expensive pre-prepared, ready meals. Learn to cook instead. ‘Ready meals’ are full of unmentionable crap, and are terrible value for money.
Remember, when you want to save money, when you want to stop wasting money, the internet is your friend. You may think you don’t have the time to spend on internet research, trust me, you do have loads of spare time, it’s just that you waste that too. Stop ruining your mind by watching hours of drivel on the TV, stop ruining your health by spending time in your usual sleazy pub / bar, and stop making excuses.
Never, ever, sign anything you don’t understand. Never, ever, trust a salesperson.
California Road Trip.
Echo Beach, Route 66, Hotel California
Gorillaz, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band
California Girls, Breakfast in America
California Rain, California King Bed
Dog Breath, Champagne, Back to California
I’m Going Home, Get Back, Grateful Dead
pictures by the girl riding shotgun
jack collier doing the driving
I dreamed of you last night
we were by the seashore, having fun
feeling friendly, loving, caring, feeling so right
walking together, until the last warm rays of the sun
words and pictures by jack collier
Manners Maketh the Man, (and Woman).
With Christmas festivities in full swing, some of us are going to have to go out and about to meet a lot of people we don’t normally mix with. This is not always a pleasure. Not everyone we meet is civilised and well mannered. There are some real animals out there.
A mature Englishman is allowed to have an opinion of what constitutes civilised behaviour, and what marks people out as heading in the general direction of the low IQ knuckle-draggers and sleazy slatterns. I will admit to having some pet hates, and that my opinions and tastes are a trifle old-fashioned, preppy, conventional, proper, and, well, English. However, some of the douchebags out there could do with some good, old-fashioned, English manners.
Among the things that I really hate to see and be near are;
- People walking along the street, or in the mall, who aren’t looking where they’re going, usually because they’re engrossed in their smart phone / cell. These idiots are a danger to themselves and others. These same people probably browse social media while they’re driving.
- ‘Friends’ sitting together and looking at their smart-phone / cell / tablet rather than engaging in some intelligent and lively conversation. That’s just about as ill-mannered as it gets.
- People who smoke without asking if it’s OK with everyone else present. Thank you, I don’t want your disgusting and unhealthy habit in my personal space.
- Smokers who throw their cigarette butts onto the street / out of the car window / into a potted plant / into their coffee cup.
- People who drop litter in the street when there is a litter-bin, (trash can), just feet / yards away. How stupid and lazy is that?
- Dog owners who don’t clean up the disgusting mess their pooch makes. Oh, and dog owners who assume that everyone will just love their nasty animal. As it goes, I’m a cat person anyway.
- Parents who don’t control their screaming, badly behaved children in stores / restaurants / on public transport / in airports….
- Opinionated people who not only assume that you are remotely interested in their political views, but that you also agree with them. Three things a polite Englishman will never willingly discuss; politics, money, and women.
- Slobs who drink beer straight out of the bottle. Have you any idea where beer bottles are stored and how many cockroaches / mice / rats have scuttled across those bottles? For goodness sake, have some style and get a glass.
- People who eat with their mouth open while they are walking along the street / around the mall / waiting in queues. That is gross.
- And then there are those people who will tell all and sundry about their unpleasant medical problem. To be honest, I don’t want to know about flatulence, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, or any other issue that anyone has with their body. Please keep these things between you and your doctor.
The type of scuzzy people who do some or all of the ill-mannered things above have one thing in common above all else, (apart from the fact that they are irredeemably common). These people care nothing for anyone else’s finer feelings, and very little for themselves.
The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any. ~ Fred Astaire
Good manners cost nothing. I firmly believe that before you can truly respect yourself you have to respect others too. If you want to be a slob, skank, slut… then please do it in the privacy of your own home, rather than inflicting yourself upon decent people.
these opinions are mine and mine alone
Most People Don’t Really Manage Their Money.
After more years in Banking and Finance than I care to admit, I can remember very few people who took responsibility for, and properly managed, their personal finances. In my bitter experience, most people lived from one month to another without knowing where their money was going, or what they could really afford, or what was totally outside their budget.
If it comes to that, very few people have a proper, written, up to date, personal and household budget. If you can put your hand up and say that you do, and that it is actually written down, (or on a spreadsheet, or otherwise on your computer), then you can skip the rest of this post and award yourself a gold star.
The point of having a budget is that it stops you being caught out by unpleasant financial surprises. A budget also lets you plan ahead, for the rest of this year, next year, for the next two or three years, for a wedding, your kid’s college, for your retirement…
These are the steps you need to follow if you are going to create or revise your budget.
- Make a list of all the money you owe. Before you save anything, before you make any investments, you should work towards paying off any and all loans and credit cards balances you have. And, you can’t plan to pay off your loans early if you don’t have a proper budget.
- Make a list of all the regular payments you have to make. These will range from your mortgage, property taxes, utilities bills, right through to charitable donations, cable TV, and gym membership…
- Make a list of your usual necessary expenses that you pay as you go along. How much petrol do you put in your car each month? How much do you spend on groceries, clothes, shoes…
- Make a list of how much your usual discretionary purchases are costing you. These are things you don’t actually need. How much do you spend at your local bar or any bars. How much does eating out cost you each month? What do you pay for cigarettes / vaping supplies each month. How much do you waste on gambling and booze.
- Write down anything else that you buy on a regular basis, and how much it costs you. Add in an amount for contingencies; all that stuff you can’t remember buying, and those weird impulse purchases.
- Put all these lists of the money you spend into order of importance.
- Turn all these lists into a monthly budget, which might look something like this;
Obviously your numbers will be totally different, and you may have some different categories, for example; health insurance, pet care insurance, cigarettes, booze, sports club membership…. (And as it goes, the example I’ve shown is poorly ordered, for example Transportation should be above toiletries and grooming.)
This kind of budget lets you begin to do some real financial planning.
Look at your budget, the most vital things should be at the top, and the things you could really get by without should be at the bottom. It should fit with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. (albeit turned on its head)
If your monthly total is less than you earn, all well and good. Don’t save or invest your spare cash, use it to pay off some of the money you owe, like your mortgage. Saving or investing while you owe money elsewhere is stupid money management.
If your monthly total is more than you earn, you’re in trouble. You need to cut your spending, and you start by cutting at the bottom of your budget, not at the top. Spend less money in bars, buying cigarettes, eating out, gambling, buying booze, being the member of a gym…
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds, nineteen shillings and sixpence, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds and six pence, result misery. ~ Mr Mcawber, by Charles Dickens
Don’t even think about saving, investing, buying a new car, or building your pension fund, if you don’t have a proper realistic and honest written budget, one that you can stick to. You know it’s good advice, the kind of advice George Bailey would give you.
these opinions are mine and mine alone
You know what? Today I’m sick of the miserable English winter. I’m a bit fed up with all the Xmas false bonhomie and commercialism that precedes the real joy of Christmas. So, just to please myself here are some shots from road trips I took in the warm Southern California Sunshine. These pictures were taken with a Lumix pocket camera.
All these pictures were taken by
jack collier and
the girl riding shotgun
Before we go any further to talk about the most common types on insurance ~ and do you need them or not? ~ there is something you should know about insurance agreements. Any contract of insurance is a contract uberrimae fidei ~ a contract of utmost good faith. This means that you must tell your insurance company everything and anything which may have a bearing on the risk they are taking on. If you keep any significant information back, the chances are you are not insured at all.
For example, if you have put bigger wheels and tyres than standard on your car, you should tell your car insurance company. If you’re an alcoholic / drug addict / smoker / overweight / pyromaniac, you should tell your Life Assurance company. If you have ever been refused insurance, you should tell your insurance company. And when you advise your insurance company of something pertinent, do it in writing.
All insurance companies love to collect premiums. All insurance companies hate to pay out for any claims, and will do anything and everything to avoid paying a claim. For example, you not telling your car insurance company that you have recently been found guilty of driving while intoxicated will most likely void your insurance entirely, and they will not pay out under any circumstances. So if in doubt, tell all, in writing ~ else you’re probably not insured at all. And, always pay your insurance premiums by automated bank transfer / direct debit / ACH transfer.
Your best friends when it comes to making a claim are photographs. Always take plenty of pictures of everything, including your home / car / self as it is right now, before anything bad happens. Store these pictures in a cloud, on your blog, in social media… so you can always get at them if the worst happens.
The five most common and necessary types of insurance are;
- Motor / car / vehicle / driver’s cover. In civilised countries it is a legal requirement for you to be insured for the exact car you are driving. The penalties for driving while uninsured are severe. In the small print of your insurance policy it probably says that you should not drive while you are incapable, and that includes driving after drinking. Have an accident drink driving and the chances are you are uninsured.
- Home and contents insurance. Because of the inflexible nature of the laws of probability, you should have your home and its contents fully insured, or face a life on the streets. Maybe add a margin of 10% in excess of the estimated values, to account for unexpected expenses while you put your life back together after your home has burned down, blown up due to a gas leak, been destroyed in an earthquake, flooded…
- Travel insurance. When travelling abroad you may, or probably may not, be entitled to medical services in the country you are visiting. You may have an accident, lose your luggage, get hijacked, robbed… any number of disasters may happen. Travel is by its very nature hazardous and stressful. Things which would be a minor inconvenience at home may become a catastrophe if they happen in a foreign country, or even a different state. If you are travelling abroad, or a very long way, you need comprehensive travel insurance. Only idiots don’t buy travel insurance.
- Medical / health insurance. I’m English and I don’t have any medical insurance, and that doesn’t bother me in the slightest, (for reasons that are too complicated to go into here I do have dental). In the United Kingdom we have a National Health Service, (NHS), which provides free treatment at the point of care. The NHS is paid for out of taxation. Canada has a similar system. If you live anywhere else you really, really need comprehensive medical cover. But remember, you must tell your insurer everything there is to know about your degenerate lifestyle.
- Life Assurance. (not life insurance, you are going to die, you can’t insure against it). A whole life policy pays out a sum of money when you die. You don’t need this. However, if you have a dependant family, then you may want to look after them when you’re dead, therefore most heads of households buy one or more life policies. You don’t actually need to do this. It’s actually much more cost-effective to just save the money you would have paid in premiums. But nobody has that much self-discipline. I have no dependants, therefore my life assurance policies are utterly pointless, except to pay for my funeral.
Getting life insurance is like making a bet you can’t win. If you live, you don’t get the money. If you die, you don’t get to enjoy the money. ~ Oliver Gaspirtz
There are many, many other common forms of insurance, and some really esoteric insurance policies. Lloyds of London will insure against just about anything. You could probably have got insured at Lloyds against Donald Trump being the 45th President of the United States. After all, insurance is really just a bet.
Even Life Assurance is just a bet. The bet isn’t about if you’re going to die or not ~ no matter how much you pray you are going to die. With life assurance the bet is about when you are going to die, not if. And, if you think about it, that’s just creepy.
these opinions are mine and mine alone
I like the desert. I also like Palm Springs, mountains, and cable cars ~ although this one near Palm Springs is called an Aerial Tramway. If you want to look like a manly man don’t be scared of cable cars.
All these shots were taken with a LUMIX Panasonic DMC-X53 pocket camera, which is far better to cart up a mountain that my old 35mm SLR with all its attendant lenses. My days of carrying around a heavy SLR are done and gone.
pictures by jack collier
and the girl riding shotgun
Until you have driven the Seilvio you have never lived.
And, the one and only time I broke down was in Switzerland, at the top of the Stelvio.