Monday, March 28, 2011

ATMs: Are They Really That Convenient?

It goes without saying that most, if not, all folks (at least those with a banking or credit union account) has a debit card. I use mine a lot, but not too much. I keep some cash on hand, especially for purchasing gas.  I rarely pay at gas pumps that charge me additional fees. Many stations, and my bank charges me up to $3 extra/time at the pump. This means more frequent trips to the ATM.


ATMs are usually the most crowded on paydays (1st and 16th if each month, and Thursdays and Fridays) . Once upon a time, this was a rapid way to get some quick cash from your account without having to actually see a live teller or banker. Plus they are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, unlike banks and credit unions.   Now it seems some people have no respect or etiquette for others in regards to ATMs. Often at the drive thru, people will take the longest time! They will literally be balancing their checkbooks right there at the machine.  If not that, they are making multiple withdrawals, deposits, and the like. I believe that if you're going to do this, go inside and see the teller. These devices are for quick and easy withdrawals and deposits. One should have in mind how much money they have in their account first of all, and make an appropriate withdrawal or deposit. This doesn't have to be rocket science, especially now with online banking.


I normally have to plan ahead when making an ATM run just because of folks that make it inconvenient and time consuming. I don't even want to get started on the smaller banks that only have one machine at their location. During peak times (and other times), at least two are necessary. I don't think this is asking too much.


Often I will get cash when I pay with my debit card at Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and other such stores. I avoid fees, plus it is actually pretty convenient. I usually won't ask for large amounts for the simple fact that I know that many registers don't keep a lot of cash on hand. They are stores and not banks.


I usually always have a good ATM story every week as crazy things never cease to happen. I'm sure this week will be no different. Now if only my bank had an automatic teller in the local Wal-Mart. There's one in the local Prime Outlets Mall (the Yellow Mall), but I don't frequent that mall. Hence, another inconvenience for a machine designed to revolutionize how we receive and deposit monies from our accounts.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Love and marriage, love and marriage

Many of you know how the theme song to the hit TV show "Married With Children" goes. And there is a lot of truth behind that song. There are too many folks that believe you need money, the perfect wedding, the right house, etc, etc, to be married. They're updating their page daily on, carefully planning every detail of the BIG day. That all is fine and dandy, but what about love?

It seems songwriter, musical artists, authors, etc will never run out of material to write about as long as love and marriage stays the way it currently is. This is officially the beginning of spring, and often when many weddings occur. I've already attended one wedding this year, and set to attend 4 more, one of which I will be a groomsman. I can say that these weddings include couples who are in love and are getting hitched for the right reasons. That's not always the case, however.

Marriage just isn't valued as it once was decades ago. It seems now soo many couples want to keep up with the Joneses and care more about the wedding than the marriage itself. I'm not saying the wedding shouldn't be a special, joyous occasion. You shouldn't need to go broke or deep in debt for that perfect day and/or honeymoon. Be reasonable and focus on the life that's being built.

There are two well-known statistics regarding marriage. Nearly 50% of them end in divorce. Also, nearly 50% of black women will go through their lifetime without getting married. Those are scary stats, especially if you're a black woman. Such stats have prompted guys to compile lists saying why black women aren't married. One of my friends and classmates (whom is a successful, intelligent, black woman herself) fired back with her own reasons why men aren't married. I have to say there was a lot of merit in both notes.

Now I'm 32, never been married, and I have no kids. And here's why. First of all, I didn't feel I was mentally, financially, or spiritually ready to be a husband in my 20s. I was kind of sheltered as a teen and in my early 20s, not dating very often. I wanted to get those experiences first. Next, I have yet to meet the woman that completes me that feels the same way. I feel I am an attractive man, inside and out. However, I seem to attract women that I cannot foresee a future with. Lastly, I still have some growing to do, especially when it comes to love. I'm still not ready to settle down just yet, but I'm getting closer by the day. That could be as a result of reason #2.

I do know this: when I do say "I do" I want it to be forever. I want a lady that completes me, is perfect for me, is my best friend, accepts me for who I am, and that I'm completely in love with. That day will come I know. Until then, I will wait patiently and watch and learn from the mistakes of others who didn't take marriage (or love) seriously enough.
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Monday, March 14, 2011

Lent: Not just for Catholics and a very important part of my life

This Wednesday, February 13 (the day before Valentines Day) is Ash Wednesday, also the beginning of  Lent.   Lent is the period of time between Ash Wednesday and Good Friday where people (mostly Catholics) make a sacrifice during this time. It's usually a food item or a vice such as television, movies, or a habit such as cursing or the like. Many folks worldwide that are NOT Catholic actually practice Lent now. I can say from a personal standpoint that it is a spiritual journey, and a test of faith and willpower.

I've been participating in Lent for about 10 years now. I've sacrificed various things throughout the years.  Four years ago, I gave up sweet foods. That was tough and grueling, but I made it all 40+ days. This year, I'm giving up sweet tea, and many drinks with sugar. This actually entails a lot, especially when I eat out. Many know that I enjoy my sweet tea. I have recently learned how to make it also. Can't get it as good as Mom yet, but I'm getting there. I am consuming more lean proteins and fresh fruits and veggies. I'm confident this will go well.

The most common thing for people to give up during Lent is meat. Catholics already will not eat meat on Friday, only fish. This has prompted McDonald's and other restaurant chains to put their fish sandwiches on sale. That's obviously a temptation this year. I know by March 31, those specials will end.

I actually enjoy Lent because I see how strong I am spiritually and mentally. I also get to see how dependent I am on what I'm sacrificing. When Good Friday comes, I'm able to evaluate how much I need that vice in the first place, and I often moderate my usage of it.

I would encourage anyone to give Lent a shot, but only if they're serious. It's no longer considered just a Catholic thing, but it is important and beneficial.

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