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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Why I Abhor Multi Level Marketing Schemes and "Businesses"

Please excuse my hastily put together image. Yes, its someone putting money in the trash, because, at best, thats what MLMs are.

Today I want to talk to you about a topic that is near and dear to me. A topic that hits home for me, very much. A topic that is misunderstood by many. And a topic that I feel is extremely important to talk about. With some embarassing confessions included. 

It is the topic of multi-level marketing, also known as MLMs.

Before I get into it, I want to say that I am all for promoting small businesses. While there are perks for working for large businesses (I have to say I definitely am jealous sometimes of my friends who work for Google), there are many benefits of working for yourself, having your own business. I, myself, am someone who works only for myself- it is what works best for my personality, lifestyle, being a single mom and a stay at home mom, and previously a homeschooling mom. And when people want to build up their business, I'm happy to give them tips, discuss technicalities of it, like the best ways to accept money, whether with credit card processors such as NAB, or wire transfers, or paypal, and tips on how to deal with clients as needed and stand your ground when important. (Do you know how many times a day I respond to emails saying "My prices are non negotiable"?) I've also been known, occasionally, to advertise for my friends businesses.
But one thing I will not do is help anyone who runs a multilevel marketing business. And in fact, not only will I not help them with their "business", I often will have as little as possible to do with them, and may even unfriend them.

Let me tell you a story.

It's an embarassing story.

One I don't think I've ever told anyone before.

But it's important. And that's why I'm going to air my dirty laundry for the entire world to see.

Remember how I've written before about when I was completely broke

Well, broke people can get really desperate, and out of desperation, make bad decisions. Hoping that it'll make their situation get better. But, of course, it gets worse.

So there was this guy who approached myself or Mike, I don't remember. And he said that he had a business opportunity for us, something he can do on his own time, and it is able to make a great deal of money. 

He invited us to meet with him in this lobby of a hotel, where he'd explain to us how it works.

He had a whole slideshow prepared. First about the product, and then about how this business opportunity works.

You pay a certain amount of money to join and buy products. Then you sell those products to other people. And make profit. But you make even more profit if you show other people that they can make money with this, because when they sign up to be sellers, you make a profit, and make a cut off all the sales they make, and then if people join in under them, they can make a profit off them, and you make a profit off them as well, and so on and so forth.

And then the product. Well, if it sounds too good to be true, it is. Supposedly it was this "patented" technology that was this tablet that you stuck in your fuel tank of your car. And it made your car burn fuel more efficiently, and you get more miles to the gallon. So however much money you spent on these tablets, you saved more money on gas, or so the story told.

It sounded great, we were desperate, I have no idea where we got the money to join because, as I mentioned, we were strapped for cash, and we tried to sell these tablets. I hit up the taxi stands in the city, because taxis use a lot of gas, and if they could spend less money on gas, they'd be making more money, and they'd love this product, recommend it to their friends, and buy more. Yay!

Only, no one bought. 

The only one person who did buy was my former sister in law.

And I don't know if its connected or not, quite possibly yes, but not long after she did so, her car engine overheated, caught on fire, and her car blew up.

Only casualty being the car.

Fortunately.

If there ever is a story more apt that shows why multilevel marketing schemes are bad news, its this one. 

And yes, I'm embarassed that I ever was part of this. Which is why this is the first time I'm ever telling this story. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So, what exactly is multilevel marketing, and why is it so bad?

Multilevel marketing is also known as network marketing or referal marketing are a modern day pyramic scheme that dupes people into making the owners of the business rich while everyone else just loses money. 

As I mentioned in my story above, you always have to spend money to join. And you generally have to keep paying money to remain a seller, often on a monthly basis. Of course, for this you generally get "product" but the products are typically inferior, but more on that later. But since that doesn't generally make enough money, you're encouraged to find people to join the company "under you" also called the "downline" so that any money they make, and any people they get to join under them, you'll also make a profit from.

So, you have a product. Quality to be discussed below. You often have lots and lots of products. That you spent lots of money on. And to sell them you need to find clients.

Do you know how often I get contacted by random people that have my number? A lady I met in the supermarket once. The parent of kids in my kids' classes. That person who I talked with at the playground. A neighbor I once borrowed something from.

Usually if I get a call from someone I'm not expecting, I already know how this conversation will go. The first two minutes, if I'm lucky, they might be making small talk. "Hey, how are you, how's it going? How are your kids doing? What's new with your life?" And then comes the "punch line". "So, have you heard of this company 'Forever Living?'" "I found this product that makes my life so much better and I wanted you to benefit as well." "Are you looking for a way to increase your earnings?" And even if its someone that you do talk to occasionally, it turns your relationship into something where they want something from you, like when a relative who never calls you all of a sudden wants to strike up a relationship so they can sell to you.

By being involved in multilevel marketing schemes, you end up trying to turn everyone into a client. Because that is what you need to do in order to not lose money. (More on that in a minute.) Every interaction turns into a sales pitch. Every Facebook post and Instagram post turns into a sales pitch. Get togethers, classes, and parties are very thinly veiled sales pitches. Everything they write, its because they want you to buy into their company. They post pictures of them sipping lattes or on cruises with hashtags and pithy quotes about them "living the life" because of this MLM company. They post pictures of them with products in the background "Just a pretty picture of myself" but really trying to get you to buy their product. These sales tactics are so insidius that people refer to MLM salespeople as huns (in reference to both the aggressive huns, and the fact that they usually approach you referring to you as honey when trying to make a sale). 

But, as annoying as this is, and as socially problematic as this is (no way to get people to hate you more than get involved in this irritating sales tactic), these products are problematic as well. 

I don't even know what the name of that tablet that makes your gas bills lower, but if it were any good, don't you think it would have become famous? Been marketed the "normal way" instead of getting the lowly people on the street to do their work for them? 
Other companies that are MLM, like Lularoe, have inferior quality products at extremely jacked up prices.
Or you can even have companies like DoTerra, that sell essential oils, which isn't something I oppose, but the prices for essential oils through them is ridiculously more than buying from a company like NOW Foods or anything available on Iherb or Amazon. 
Or Melaluca which sells tea tree oil products, which you can get much cheaper through any other health food source.

Anything thats a good product that you can get through an MLM, you can get cheaper, and generally better, NOT through an MLM.

But then you have companies like Optavia, who have a product that is dangerous. A "meal supplement" that they get you to take and eat very few other stuff. They basically put you on a dangerous starvation diet, that not only can contribute to eating disorders, but messes with your metabolism and can permanently harm your body.

And then because what they do is already becoming known as dangerous, they market themselves not under the name Optavia, because people are already skeptical of Optavia, but instead say they're "health coaches" and profess themselves to be professionals about nutrition and health, when all they are professionals are is in conning people into buying dangerous products. They post pictures of themselves and others with bags of sugar representing to people how much weight they lost, without mentioning the name of the company they're promoting, or the dangers involved in it, not to mention the very hefty price tag.

These people don't just content themselves with marketing to people on their feed and people in their social circles, they often message people who share pictures about themselves or talk about anything, trying to market their "weight loss products" which in addition to being extremely intrusive, can be very triggering to people who have eating disorders. Randomly messaging strangers to tell them their body isn't good and you can sell them a product to fix them and you're a "professional coach" is reckless endangerment.

Then you have the people who sell essential oils who claim to be professional healers, when again, they haven't learned anything other than which products to attempt to sell for what. They don't actually have an education in this, to know which essential oils are fine, which are helpful for certain things, and which are actually dangerous and contraindicated for certain people and situations. They just want to make sales.

So in addition to all these aforementioned problems with multilevel marketing...

IT DOESN'T ACTUALLY MAKE YOU MONEY!!!!!

Article after article after article after article after article after article shows study after study after study with proof that 99% of people involved in MLMs lose money from it.

So in addition to alienating people, losing friends, pissing people off, and doing dangerous things, it isn't even a good way to earn money. It is a lose, lose, lose, lose situation. Nearly everyone I know that has been involved in MLMs in the past regrets it, other than a few that still buy into it, for the simple reason that MLM companies use cult like mind control techniques.

I abhor, detest, hate, say any bad words you want MLMs because MLM culture is to prey on the weak and vulnerable and screw people over when they are in their worst situations. 

In the past, you could have maybe said people are naive and don't know better, but anyone who has any connection whatsoever to the outside world can see article after article about the dangers of these, and people who choose to go ahead with these anyhow are knowingly engaging in predatory dangerous behavior and I can't say enough about bad things.

If you are a reader of my blog and you DO work in MLM, its not too late. Stop marketing Forever, Scentsy, Jamberry, Avon, doTerra, ItWorks, JuicePlus, Herbalife, NuSkin, Shaklee, Beachbody, or any of the other numerous MLMs out there. Stop trying to make back what you spent in the company (no, its not an investment) because you won't ever make it, and if you do make it, it's only by conning other people. 

Yes, I know, its hard to be strapped for cash. And if you are starting a business, I'll help you out, maybe give you tips and advice, maybe promote you, maybe use your services. As long as you're a legit business.

But if you're an MLM hun? Well, expect me to call you out on it. Because MLM is a dangerous predatory practice and is not a viable "small business". Period.

Free Lambs Heads and What I Did With Them

This post contains graphic pictures of lambs heads. You have been warned. Don't read on if you will get grossed out by pictures.


I recently had a conversation with someone about veganism, or rather, why I have no plans on ever being a vegan. I've written about it here before on my blog, but while I care about animals wellbeing, I put my own health and wellbeing above animals, and my body needs animal meat to be healthy. In an ideal world, I'd either grow my own free range animals which I then slaughter humanely, or I'd be a hunter using either a rifle or a crossbow with lighted nocks hunting the truly free range animals. Or buying meat from people who do the same with their meat. But unfortunately, my finances and life circumstances do not allow me to do that.

 So I get my meat the conventional way. The supermarket. But because I do, after all, care about animals' lives and acknowledge that they die for me to nourish my body, I try my best to make sure to use the entire animal and not to let any part of the animal go to waste, so that if it does die to feed us, at least I won't take part in wasting it. This means that I will eat the "weird bits" from animals, and think it is especially important to do so. Even and especially if other people think it's "gross".

You're Never Too Old To Chase A Dream

I remember when I was in college way back when there were some 60 year old people in my class. These were people that never had the opportunity to get a college degree, but decided it was important to them, either as a goal in and of itself, or for a career change, and they decided to pursue it. They are a constant reminder to me that you're never too old to chase a dream. Here's some more from a reader on the topic.


Do you ever feel like you're too old to go and chase the dream that you want to? As though life has passed you by and you've settled down so much so that you feel like this is you now. It's one of the most common misconceptions that anyone can have. Your life is controlled by you and you can change your path at any time. All it means is that you have to put in some serious extra time and effort to make sure that you get there. Even if you have a car on finance, a house to pay for, and food to put on the table for children, you can still chase your dream. We're our own worst enemies when it comes to decision making, especially when it comes to big changes in life. We, as humans, are creatures of habit, and it's those habits that we're seeking to change today. We're going to show you exactly how you can do that! Keep on reading to find out more.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

What It's Like Having a Dog, Two Years Later


This summer was 2 years from when we brought our dog, Snickers, home. Getting her, while something I've wanted my whole life, was a more or less "split second" decision. One day I'm talking with my son Lee about getting a dog, the next day I talked with my therapist about whether or not it was right for that stage in my life, the next day I found her, and the day after we brought her home. I wasn't incredibly prepared for it, and some people, when making a spontaneous decision such as that, end up regretting it, and then try rehoming the dog not much later. Which makes me sad, because that is traumatic for the dog, not to mention for the family. But fortunately, spontaneous and all, getting a dog was absolutely the right decision for our family, and I couldn't ask for a more perfect dog. After 2 years, and off the "honeymoon high" I just wanted to share some of the ups and downs about having a dog in our family.

First of all, the biggest thing is the love. Having a pet like Snickers just means there's an extra being to love in the home. No, I don't consider her my baby- I had four babies, and raising them is quite different from having a dog. But I don't love her any less, it's just a different love. The kids all adore her, though if I had to specify, I'd say Rose and Lee probably spend the most time with her. But she is an integral part of our family, and I've never regreted for one second getting her.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Don’t Buy These Baby Items Second Hand

I'm a big fan of shopping second hand, especially when it comes to items you won't be using for very long. But as this contributor shares in their important peice, for some items, you do not want to be shopping second hand. This is especially true for your fragile newborn infant. Here's more. Here's to keeping safe!

We all know that raising children is expensive, and before they’re even born it’s easy to spend a small fortune on all the essentials you’ll need before they make their grand entrance. So, it makes perfect sense to try and save money where you can, especially when these baby things will become obsolete within just a few short months. 

One of the quickest and safest ways to buy secondhand items is via friends, social media, bidding websites, forums and of course apps that are dedicated to second-hand sales. However, there are some items that parents should be wary of buying second hand. If you’re a new parent for the first time, you may be wondering what is safe to buy used and what’s not. Here we’ll explore the secondhand items you shouldn’t buy for your baby.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Celebrating Milestones, Corona Style


I was going to start this blog post writing about what the hardest part of life during corona, but as I was writing it I realized that it would be kinda silly to write what is the hardest because there are just so many challenging parts about this time period and picking just one is a fallacy. However, one thing that is definitely challenging about corona times is when you have a milestone that is a once in a lifetime (hopefully) event, something that you've probably been planning for for years, and then all your plans are for naught because they aren't possible in today's world. While some people chose to push off the event (though not everyone wants to wait indefinitely, because who knows when life will go back to normal?), most people decided to go ahead with the celebration, but in a very different and/or abridged way.

For example, my dad got married during this whole period. For a while I'd seen people post videos of their corona weddings, and I thought it really was beautiful. In my community, weddings usually are big affairs. Mine was "small" with under 200 people. But of those 170 or so people, do you know how many of them I'm actually truly still close with? 2 of them. Period. Others I haven't spoken to for years, others I don't even know how to get in touch with them if I want to, or they're just passing acquintances. When I think about how much money was spent on my wedding to please all these people that I really don't care at all about now, its ridiculous.

7 Reasons Why You Should Let A Tutor Teach Math To Your Children

I've been a math tutor. I've been homeschooled math so I got taught one on one. I had a tutor when I was learning a particularly hard portion of math. And having been with all that, I can tell you just how different math with a tutor is than math in a classroom. If your children are struggling with math, and math isn't your strong field, here's why you might want to consider get your child a math tutor. Oh, and even if you are good at math, often it is much easier to get children to sit down to learn with a tutor than with mom or dad.


Math is one of the most important classes students take. The skills acquired from this course are becoming increasingly critical in determining a student’s level of success in high school and the world beyond. This explains the level of distress felt by many parents when their children struggle with their math classes.

Many students will readily admit that math is their least favorite subject. As a matter of fact, some will give any excuse just to skip the class. It’s no wonder that math is one of the most commonly failed subjects. This may be because most students find it difficult to memorize long lists of formulas, or because the subject builds quickly on previous concepts and it's very easy for students who fall behind in one topic to become lost and unable to understand future topics.

Teachers often find it difficult to tailor their lessons to suit each student's style and pace because of the large number of students they have to teach at the same time. This is why many parents are hiring math tutors to coach their children and help them better understand the subject. Read on to see the various reasons why you should hire a math tutor for your child.

Importance Of Hiring A Math Tutor For Your Children


Saturday, September 19, 2020

I Really, Really, Really Want A Car

 


By the amount of reallys in the post title, you can probably get an idea of how much I want a car. For some it might surprise you and for some, not at all.

For years, I've been writing on this blog about life without a car. How I manage. How I do things by bus, by foot, a combination of those things. I've written about why I'm fine not having a car, why I don't desire a car, what issues there may be with having a car, how I structured my life to not need a car.

And yet.

I really, really, really, really want a car.

So, the reason I was able to handle living without a car for so many years was because I chose to live in a place with a very good public transportation system. Frequent buses, very cheaply, directly, more or less, to where I needed to go. And my kids were homeschooled and all was fine, because we went on trips when everyone else was in school, so we never really needed to deal with the bus system when it was really full. And I was working from home very part time only. I had time, lots of it, on my hand.

But then my kids went to school. All my kids are in school in another city. Three out of four of them have rides there in the morning and back in the afternoon, and one takes the bus. And if they miss their ride in the morning, they either are stuck at home for the rest of the day, or I have to spend hours taking them to their various schools by bus. This isn't good at all.

Additionally, now that they're in school, any time we want to take a trip is during a time that everyone else in the country also has off, which means the buses are ridiculously packed, which either makes it a very unpleasant journey, or simply impossible. More on that in a second. Which means we pretty much don't go on trips. And it sucks.

But then, corona. And everything else.

So our bus companies have laws about how many passengers they can take per ride. Even when it's not corona time, since my stop is the second to last stop on the bus's route before it leaves my town, often the bus gets filled before it gets to my stop. And if the bus is full, they just stop by and don't pick is up. Period. 
When it's vacation, this happens all the time. When its rush hour, it happens all the time. The likelihood of getting a bus when you actually need it is very low if you're traveling at all when other people travel. This didn't use to be such a problem for me because I'm a late riser so I traveled during less peak times, or, when homeschooling, we chose to go on trips during the school day instead of summer vacation. But with the kids in school and wanting to go on trips during vacation times, or if I have appointments during peak time, I'm more or less screwed. Bus after bus after bus is likely to pass without them letting anyone on.

And then corona happened. 
To minimize the spread on public transportation, and to ensure social distancing is somewhat possible, they started limiting the amount of people allowed on the bus at once, which is about half the original number allowed on the bus.
You can imagine that however bad it was to travel during peak times before corona, its infinitely worse after. And not just during peak times. At pretty much all times. I took a bus at midnight and the bus driver wouldn't drive because too many people got on the bus. At freaking midnight! 

The only way to avoid this was to go to the first stop of the route. Which, in my town, is a 15 minute walk up hill, in the heat, to take the bus before it gets filled up. 
Only everyone else is doing that as well, so often even at the first stop, after exhausting yourself going that far, there's a possibility that the bus will be too packed to allow you on.
And then if you're in the city, there's the same problem coming home. So it doesn't matter what stop you're closest to, you will need to first take another bus to the first stop of the route, so there's actually a chance that you will be able to get on. But oh, that midnight bus that wouldn't ride because it was too full? That was at the first stop on the route.

And I haven't even gotten to lockdown yet.

However bad the bus issues are during corona, during lockdown, there's no buses on weekends, and during the week the buses run at half schedule?
Already very full buses.
Half amount of people allowed on them.
Half the amount of buses.

And lets not even talk about the germs circulating on the bus.

It's bad news.

Did I mention that my kids go from my house to their dad's house and back again using public transportation???? The switches were happening every day beforehand, but because of how terrible the public transportation issues were, we decided to switch to their dad days be all in a row so they wouldn't have to go through that too often, but even that wasn't so great and didn't really work during lockdown.

So during our first lockdown period, the kids were with me the entire time. It simply wasn't possible to rely on public transportation to switch them back and forth. We are now in our second lockdown, and the same is happening.

I mean, life without a car now pretty much is hell. And we have no idea how long this corona situation will last. It may be quite a while, since it'll take a long time until a vaccine will be ready, and then the likelihood of it working is still up for debate (especially since corona immunity doesn't last???).

And then I haven't even added up the time issue and the mental health issue and the money issue.

As someone who is supporting my kids as a single mom, my time is precious. My energy is precious. My resources are precious. Walking to the start of the route plus the time the extended route takes is at least an extra 35 minutes of my time on the way to the city, plus the energy it takes. On the way home, it adds an hour to my way. All this is time that I cannot be working or recharging.

Then there's the jobs that I can only do if I have a car to get there, because I simply cannot get to them via public transportation, or public transportation comes so rarely that it is unreliable. This includes my foraging classes, painting apartments (which I've started doing for pay), and some small scale takeout I've been doing.

For this reason, I've been renting a car as needed. I figured renting a car each time would be much cheaper than owning a car, since cars are expensive here, but part of the expense in owning a car here is extremely expensive gas, which I anyhow need to pay for when renting a car. But I was doing that, even though the price added up.

And then the summer came, and the price of the car rentals went up, because they were in demand, and I realized that I could barely justify the larger expense of the car rentals, so I didn't rent a car the entire summer (other than our one trip camping) so I wasn't able to take on a lot of jobs.

My dad who is a frugal master, and my best friend Michelle who is also amazing at frugal calculations, both commented to me that with the amount of times I was renting a car, I should look into buying one.

And now I'm really considering it.

Because without a car, life is really untenable, especially with corona, especially as a single mom.

I was afraid of the costs, but I found out that I could buy a used car for 1/4 of the price I thought it was. And that the cost of maintaining a car here isn't as expensive as I originally thought.

So now I am facing some tough decisions.

Do I get a car?

I need to add up how much I've spent on a car over the last year and see how that compares to owning a car. 

I need to calculate how much more money I'd be able to earn if I had a car, and factor in my mental health and those benefits as well.

I have lots of thinking to do.

But I can't make any decision yet, because certain things are coming up in the future that might severely negatively affect my finances, and I can't make a large financial decision until I know what the results will be.

But I really, really, really, really want a car.

I'm praying that this can become a financial reality for our family.

Nutritional Deficiencies Commonly Associated with Neurocognitive Conditions and ASD

As a mom of two kids with ASD, I found this article sent in from a reader really fascinating. I hope you do too.



What is ASD?

ASD stands for “Autism Spectrum Disorder,” and describes a set of neurocognitive conditions that may appear within the first three years of life. While an exact cause of the disorder is yet unknown, early indications may manifest in infants. Symptoms such as a delay in talking or reduction of speech, disinterest in social interactions, an aversion to physical touch, or a difficulty with eye contact may be indicative of ASD. For more information and help regarding raising a person with ASD or any other neurocognitive conditions, My Spectrum Heroes contains all of the most up-to-date information and tools to help you be a successful caregiver [1].

Friday, September 18, 2020

The Age Old Free and Easy Fix


 About half a year ago, my dryer stopped working. It turned on and heated up, but wouldn't turn anymore. I hired a fixer to come fix it, but a few days after he fixed it, it stopped working again. This was during our Corona lockdown and he couldn't even come fix it. But then lockdown ended and he fixed it again, but then after about two weeks it stopped working yet again. Each time it was the same part that broke, and after three times and enough money invested in "fixing" it I was done. I didn't want to throw good money after bad so I decided that three strikes and it was out, and I bought myself a new dryer.

So my dryer was a big expense and it wasn't one I had been planning on (my dryer still was relatively new- only 2 years old) and I had just paid a few times to get it fixed.

On top of that, I had lots of other expenses, and money has been tight for various reasons.

And then my new dryer stopped working.

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