More Jackson County Opinions...

February 27, 2002

By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
February 27, 2002

A financial strategy that works
So many of you benefited from my sure-fire weight loss plan that I feel led to share with you my equally successful financial strategy. And like always, I am offering it absolutely free. I believe they call it "no load." Whatever that means.
I pay The Atlanta Journal-Constitution $217 a year just to read The Vent. Best investment I ever made.
Did you see the one in the Sunday, Feb. 10 edition? "I had two grandfathers who told me all my life not to invest in the stock market. I guess they were right."
Must be a fairly young guy.
I had two grandfathers, but back in the 1920s and early 1930s I don't think they had ever heard of a stock market. Leastwise, I don't recall them ever mentioning it.
As far as I know, their only investment was in next year's crop, and their only worry was, would it be enough to put food on the table and shoes on their feet.
Oh, they also worried if next year's crop would be enough to pay off the seed and mule loan down at the local bank.
I don't know this for sure, but I suspect if they had a couple of extra bucks, one would be in the bank and the other one hidden under the mattress. That would be their idea of a diversified portfolio.
If they were alive today, I'd wager they would tell me not to gamble on the stock market. Had they been able to afford a newspaper, and thus keep up with the goings on in the financial world, I know they would have told me to resist that temptation.
In this day and age, you don't have to invest in the stock market. There are what you call financial advisors and stockbrokers out there who will do it for you—for a fee. ("No load" does not apply to them.) In fact, there are about as many financial advisors and stockbrokers out there as there are lawyers.
One of them is doing it to me. Excuse me, I meant to say for me. Whatever, he isn't doing very well right now.
But I don't fault him. It's the economy, Stupid! Your financial expert, guru or wizard isn't doing very well by you, either.
I have access to The Jackson Herald, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, umpteen radio station (including Clark Howard on WSB), and a plethora of TV programs (including Moneyline on CNN), I still don't know what's going on in the financial world.
But tell me, am I any worse off than the rest of you know-it-alls? Does it make you feel good to know if the market is a bull or bear? Both will gore you if you get too close.
So you know what DOW stands for. As far as I know, it may mean Down On Work, Down on Wealth, Down On Worry or Down On the World.
Just because I'm a financial idiot, does that make you any richer than I am? Oh, sure, you may have more money than I do. So what!
As I understand it, we are all in the same sinking boat. We are losing our butts.
But I have an advantage. Most of you are trying to see how much money and how many toys you can accumulate before you die. I'm trying my best to spend all of my money before I transfer. I'll leave it to the kids to share the toys.
No, I don't think the kids will fight over 'em. If they do, I hope they all lose.
OK, I promised to share my successful financial strategy with you. It is making money. Granted, it ain't making much. A year ago it was earning 2.5 percent. The last time I looked, it was down to 1 percent.
I am talking about my little piddling checking account up at the local bank. So it ain't making me rich. It ain't making me poor, either.
If I started losing money, I guess I'd have to make my wants fewer. As I've told you before, that's one way to become richer.
I wouldn't have to give up my cell phone. You can't give up something you've never had, just like you can't come back from some place you haven't been, or teach something you don't know.
I could get rid of the TV and save a bundle on cable bills. One of the vehicles would have to go. Eating out would be a thing of the past. I'd miss The Vent, but I can get along without it; cancel my subscription to The AJC. I'll hang onto the radio, to listen to the Dawgs' games.
Yes, I can get by on less. Less money and fewer toys may even motivate me to read some good books. Or take a leisurely walk in the woods. Go fishing again. Get reacquainted with nature.
OK, one thing that bothers you about my sure-fire financial strategy. What if the bank fails?
Not to worry. Like my two wise grandfathers, I have a little nest egg hidden under my mattress.
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.

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By:Jana Adams
The Jackson Herald
February 27, 2002

"I can't believe you haven't called!"
I finally gave up and got caller i.d.
Somehow my name ended up on some list somewhere and I began getting a ridiculous number of telemarketing calls. Even as I requested to one that my name be taken off their list, another would call.
I admit to being curt with several telemarketers who called when, finally home for the day, I was just settling down with dinner and a book. I simply donıt want to listen to it anymore; I generally donıt purchase things over the phone and I resent the intrusion into my free time. So now I interrupt, saying quickly and immediately, ³Iım sorry, Iım not interested,² and hang up.
Of course, they usually call right back.
I used to feel compelled to be polite and at least listen to the spiel, especially since my first college job the first quarter of my freshman year was working in the alumni office making evening calls to request that former Berry College students give money and more money (oh, yeah, beyond what they had paid in tuition years before).
³Well, I certainly understand that $2,500 might be a little much, Mrs. So-and-So; however, would you feel more comfortable with $1,500?² I would ask, my voice quavering as I read flat out from my scripted questions.
Yep, sure enough, my supervisor was listening in on my line, and as soon as I hung up the phone, she would barrel out from behind a cubicle and tell me what I had done wrong, highlighting my lack of aggressiveness, I mean, persuasiveness.
I lasted one quarter. One evening, an elderly lady began telling me how her husband had suffered numerous health problems and they had incurred high bills, and I simply could not continue with my ³I understand, and, well, then, how would you feel about $750?² My supervisor came out from behind her wall and told me how I should have pressed forward. I finished out the quarter and moved on to another job.
OK, so I have some sympathy for the person behind the calls; thatıs their job, they have to be persistent and persuasive. But enough is enough. Do they really have to call right back after you have said ³No, thank you?² (Aahhh, OK, Iıve had one second to think about it, and youıre right, that is a product or credit card or calling plan that I would like to have — thanks for calling back immediately!)
Now that I have caller i.d., I can see that I am still on someoneıs list. ³Unknown Caller² and ³Blocked Call² are very familiar with my phone number. I assume the numbers are programmed into a computer somehow, as some weeks ³Unknown Caller² logs in like clockwork every other hour during the day and ³Blocked Call² fills in the blanks.
The newest trends are to have a programmed voice call a programmed number, or to have a telemarketer call and ask that you call them back. Sometimes they even call to put you on hold. Of course you should hang up.
I laughed when Zach told me about ³Jim Collins² calling and leaving a message on his answering machine about a loan company, and how he should have his financial records ready at-hand next time— as if a loan of any sort is business you would take care of over the phone.
Not only did Jim Collins want him to have his banking records ready to recite to a stranger over the phone, he wanted Zach to call him back to do so. The next message, almost belligerent, began, ³This is Jim Collins. I canıt believe you havenıt called!²
I laughed, but I was amazed when, a day later, Jim Collins also called me, wondering aloud on my answering machine why I hadnıt called him immediately when I received his letter about getting a loan.
OK. Just where is this list we are on and how did we get there? Just who is this Jim Collins? Just why should I answer the phone when ³Unknown Caller² makes his nightly call?
Well, I could retaliate with a service that completely blocks all telemarketing calls (which I would have to pay for), or I could pick up the phone and say, simply, ³Take me off your list. Donıt call me again. Ever, ever, ever!²
Thatıs supposed to work. Until the next ³Unknown Caller² puts your name on a list.
Jana Adams is features editor of The Jackson Herald and a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers.
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