I must admit the minds of crooks, scammers, hackers, thieves, call them as you wish, is amazingly inventive and it takes imagination to protect ourselves from the EVER evolving art of scamming!

I decided to share this “observation” with everyone, because recently I had an AHA!!! moment that there is a PATTERN which could be applied to any products or companies. It is NOT about the names of products or companies which could, and ARE CHANGED as soon as the consumers discover them.

What is the KEY to discover a scam before you loose money?

If you get ANY FREE offers which ONLY require you to pay $3.95 or $4.99 or EVEN ONE PENNY by using your credit or debit card, think twice before giving away your card information.
All the scammer wants is your card’s information. Once they have it, before you realize what is happening, they could max out your card!


Recently, I noticed after ending transactions with reputable, safe and secure institutions, such as my bank, a “SURVEY” is offered, as if from the institution I just did business with, and as if the institution OFFERS it. As a “thank you,” I am offered a FREE product for answering three questions.
The best and safest is to CLOSE the WINDOW and NOT click on OK!!!

However, if you are curious, as I am, and you click on ok and answer the three questions, and as a reward you are offered a few FREE products, of which you could choose one or two and only pay for shipping, think TWICE before you give out your credit or debit card information thinking you will only be charged for the shipping! Chances are you might be charged for much more. Of course, some “free offers” might be legitimate. It is up to us to make a choice and take a risk.

Could we have the best of both worlds?
What do I mean by it? If I feel the free product is something I really, really could not live without and I want it so much, I’m willing to risk, there is a way to avoid being totally scammed…

How to risk without risking being scammed?

Buy a PREPAID CARD with a very low limit. Of course, the lower the limit, the smaller the risk!

This is a perfect illustration of the proverb:
Better safe than sorry!

Enjoy your hard earned money and please share with us your experiences and tips!

How to Save Money And Still Live Versus Exist

The simple mention of the words money, save, budget cause my brain to freeze!

When I worked in the financial planning industry, helping my clients to budget was  routine. It seemed so simple and doable! It is, but if one never budgeted before, as any change, it could be difficult at the beginning, but worth sticking to it until it truly becomes routine.

Here are some general rules:

1. Keep it simple!

2. Know your NET income.

3. Determine your fix expenses versus variable/ flexible expenses.

4. Shop around for BOTH.

5. Know what to pay first and why.

Fix Expenses are those nagging bills which you don’t have the power to change. However, you do have the option to shop around and use less (examples of fix expenses: mortgage/rent, taxes, health, car, homeowners/renters insurance, water, heat, electricity, cable TV, internet.) You could drive less, use less water and turn off the electricity when you leave a room.  One might argue that you don’t have to have a T.V. or internet, but the reality is, most of us feel disconnected without these conveniences of our modern lives. Personally, I consider Netflix ($8 month) as a necessity to maintain my sanity, so I have it listed under fix expenses, mental health care:)

In truth, the story that follows determined me to write this post and would like to share it with you.

Perhaps I am the only person on Earth experiencing financial difficulties and trying to cut corners, but just in case there are others in similar situations, I am writing about it anyway. If it could  help one person, it would be better than none.

Here is the story:  

My health insurance premium increased to $582.70 every two month (this constitutes just the “supplement part,” meaning, in addition I also pay $104 monthly.) For me, this is a prohibitive amount and the increase forced me to look into alternatives.

I will not go into the details of how long and convoluted the path to a less expensive premium was, but well worth it. I managed to find a similar plan for $131.30 monthly. I hope the saying, “If it looks too good to be true,” doesn’t apply! If we do the math, this change results in an annual saving of $1,920.60!!! Not too shabby and worth it every second I spent on hold with the insurance companies.

In other words, when writing down your budget, take each FIX EXPENSE and take the time to determine if it could be lowered.  Most times, it could.

Other ways you might be able to lower fix expenses:

Check out if based on your income or age you might qualify for a lower rate. If you are over 50, many companies offer discounts (I believe AARP starts giving such discounts after 50)  Another example is Verizon, which based on age and disability offers a less expensive rate for your phone. Please check with Verizon, as I am NOT sure of the specific rules and they change often. Please don’t be mad at me if they don’t offer the discounts which I think they do.)

Car insurance is another example of a fix expense which you might be able to lower, depending on the number of miles you drive, the purpose (is it for work, pleasure, both?) number and age of drivers, taking an online good driver exam, etc) You could also lower your premium when you “bundle” and use the same company for your homeowners insurance as well. If you select a higher deductible (what you pay before your insurance company does) would significantly lower your premium, as you assume more risk.

I guess this is all that comes to my mind about lowering fix expenses…

Let’s move to the fun part: Fluctuating expenses!!!

Examples: Food, gas (transportation,) unexpected house or car repairs, eating out, clothing, toiletries (soap, shampoo, tooth paste, skin care products) hair cuts, etc.


In Central Pennsylvania we are lucky to have plenty of farms. Not only could we buy less expensive food, but also fresh and hopefully, pesticide free.

We know the general rule:

The larger quantity of anything, one purchases, the less expensive it is. This rule is excellent for large families. If you are a couple or a single person, you might not be able to eat the large quantity before it spoils. If you buy large quantities, either buy non-perishables, or share with a friend.

Don’t assume that because it’s Walmart, it has the cheapest prices.

For instance, in Central PA, I find that a local chain, Sharp Shopper, carries for CERTAIN items, better and fresher produce. Most areas have such local stores, make sure you compare.

Purchasing gas. Gas could be a major expense we could not avoid, especially in areas where public transportation is non-existent.

We always have choices. One could just pull in the first gas station and fill the tank whenever it’s  empty. I am not one of these people, and must confess this is a habit my ex-husband carved in my brain so deeply, I am hopeless: I MUST FIND the cheapest gas!!! This could be good or dangerous, if driving around to find the cheapest gas, you run out of gas, as I did!

Let’s say such an example is not realistic, but what follows, is.

. Some people have Sam’s Club Memberships and qualify for gas (purchased only from Sam’s gas station) which is generally cheaper than the average price of gas, by .05 – .06 cents. The grocery store, Giant, offers a similar deal if one purchases a certain amount of groceries.

Several gas stations in my area, offer similar discounts if one pays in cash. Always make sure you read the small print on the sign.

Another general rule, when shopping make sure you remember to look at the very bottom shelves, as well as the highest.

Use Groupons and coupons and similar services which would save you money.

I am not a coupon clipper and always felt guilty when the cashier at the grocery stores asked: “Any coupons?” and I had to admit I had none!

When companies such as Groupon emerged, my problem was solved at last! Groupon could save you money on just about anything, including travel, massages and haircuts. All you have to do to receive their best offers, is,  provide Groupon with your zip code and they would email you the offers in your area. I even use groupons when I travel. If you know well in advance when and where you will be, provide Groupon with the zip code of that specific area, and you will receive pertinent offers. Oh God, I sound like a commercial for Groupon:) Disclaimer: they do not pay me and I do not profit in any way. Just like groupons:))

If after applying all these simple suggestions, one is still behind paying current bills, prioratize what you pay first and always contact the company if you are unable to pay on time. For instance, if you know that your county or borough will turn off your water, pay that bill first. If you are unable to pay the entire amount on anything, contact the company and ask for a payment plan. Generally, it is important to pay your credit cards on time. If you don’t, not only would you incur huge late payment fees, but it may negatively affect your credit history. When you pay a credit card bill, try to pay more than the minimum amount required, as otherwise the interest is so high, it would take you forever and a day to finish paying it.

I just remembered, at the beginning of the post I said “keep it simple,” and this post is already too long.

I hope it helps someone, somewhere in our world and I encourage you to please share with us your saving tips.

Wishing everyone a great weekend. With all the money we saved, let’s treat ourselves to a cone of ice cream. I like Rita’s with or without a groupon. After all, one must have a good reason to save money!

Law and Rules!

There are laws, and there are rules. Some serve us, some don’t…

A law is so to speak “written in stone” and hard to change. Rules are the “individual babies” of various institutions. “Babies” the leadership decided to vote in with the scope to boost the good functioning of the institution.

Recently, life forced me to reflect at a deeper level on the topic of laws and rules, as one specific “rule,” affected my life deeply and not in a positive way.

How many times have I heard that one thing or another could not happen, could not be done, because a law, from years before, prevented an action. An action, which under the new circumstances of our lives would have been beneficial to people. Yes, people, as in the very humans (or their grandchildren) who made the laws in the first place. Did it ever happen to you? This realization, made me question:

Do we make the laws or do they make us? Are we prisoners of our own laws?

Furthermore, knowing that the only certain thing in life is CHANGE, how could people change old laws  using a timely democratic system, to meet the present needs of the majority adequately?

Another, less permanent category, are new “rules” (not yet laws) made in principle to “improve the good functioning of a institution and serve its clients.”  The rules are made at local levels  and  at  surface they are made keeping in mind the benefits of the clients.

However,  a personal experience, forced me to look at a deeper level and made me question the true goals of a specific rule…This “rule” affected my life at a very personal level, at a time when I was counting on support and was paying for it.

On a superficial analysis,  the rule seemed  illogical, but on a deeper level, I thought the new rule was not made having in mind the clients’ benefits, but to boost profits to the institution as a primary goal. Hmm… what do the “wise ones” say?” FOLLOW THE MONEY!!!

Generally new rules have the hidden or explicit role to boost profits. Nothing wrong with it, but what if this is a health care facility, even worse, a mental health facility of great reputation. What if these apparently benign new rule, impacts  negatively the lives of people who are already affected by emotional problems? They had the need and the courage to  walk in the facility, answer endless questionnaires, put their most intimate problems on a plate and start treatment trusting their therapist and the system?   How about them? How about if the new rule disrupts a process already hard? What could be the consequences to the very people the facility is responsible to serve and help? I could only speak for myself…

This post might seem mysterious, as I do not name “names,” but the problem of  a rule made by a specific institution, affected me profoundly and  is at the core of what inspired this writing. Why I decided to write about it?

I made a commitment to JUSTICE  and TRUTH and am holding myself responsible to the promise I made:

Always write the NUDE TRUTH. I am still in a process of “discovery” and this post will have a follow up. It will have the same title (plus PART II.)

Meanwhile,  I’d appreciate your opinions on the basic question of laws and rules, who they serve and how could they be changed through a more expeditious democratic system when and if they cease to accomplish the very purpose for which they were made in the first place? Could you think of any such laws/rules, that affected you?

Happy thinking!



The Value Of A Penny

How many times we look down  at the road we walk on and  at our feet, covered  in dirt, we see something which might be a penny. It is a penny!

Should I bent and pick it up? Hmm… it’s dirty, rusty… it’s JUST a penny!

How many times we kept walking, leaving that dirty penny behind, in its own misery, too cheap to deserve our effort to bend and cleaning it up?

If we shop, and we are short a penny, most times there would be a penny jar to the rescue, or a kind shopper, behind us, who would offer help. Most of us were both the person in need of a penny and the kind shopper who offered the penny.

Not so, if humans are not involved. If you receive a computer generated bill, and is short a penny, your payment will be rejected as insufficient. It doesn’t matter if it’s a penny or $300. Suddenly the value of the penny is equal to that of any amount of money.

How did I figure this out?

Last December, when I received a notice that my water was going to be turned off at the end of the month because of non-payment.

On a closer look, I discovered the payment I made on time, was not picked up from a box outside my borough. The delay, resulted in a “penalty” of .98 cents, to which a “late fee of .05 cents was added and the warning to have my water turned off within two weeks from receiving the news.

Now, every time I think I see a penny covered in dust, I pick it up, clean it and safe it in a special jar, labeled: PENNY EMERGENCY.

Respect the value of the penny because if you don’t have it, it is as valuable as any amount of money. 

Is This Expensive, Or Inexpensive?????

Universal wisdom tells us to speak or write about topics we have experienced personally and know directly.

For instance, I like dogs, nature, cooking and community, volunteer activities. I could address any of these topics with ease and writing or speaking about any of them wouldn’t feel like a burden, but as a joyous activity.

On the other hand, if for some mysterious reason, someone asks me (= forces me) to write about singing Opera or anything technological… oh… well, they would most likely conclude I was…not that smart. There must be a politically correct word for it, but I don’t know it.

In this post I am attempting to address the issue of expensive versus inexpensive, life purpose and perception.

A story will be used, to make it easier to relate to, because most likely a majority of us, humans, experienced it or a version of it directly, in our daily life.

Let’s say, someone would like to experience a massage. Oh, who wouldn’t like the soothing power of good touch. Most people would, but if someone experienced bad touch, then they would fear touch, based on their previous experiences.

This story addresses the people who love good touch and therapeutic massage helps them not only relax, but with a specific physical condition.

Let’s say, the prospective client asks the massage therapist (please note the use of the title, massage therapist, NOT” masseuse,” which in my mind has a sexual connotation. No “happy endings,” people!!!)

The professional described in this story is someone who went to school  for at least six months to become a massage therapist, who knows anatomy, respects privacy   and who passed difficult tests, both written and practical. A person who paid a lot of money and invested her/his soul to help others.

Back to the main stream of our story:

The massage therapist, who is still paying her school loans, responds to the prospective client:

“Sixty dollars an hour.”

“What, sixty dollars an hour!!! Wow, this is how much I spend for food weekly (I guess the prospective client was on a diet.)!!!”

I am intentionally leaving it up to YOU, the reader, to END the story…but will share my PERCEPTION.

If I were the therapist, I’d consider $60.00  a very reasonable fee. In doing so, I’d take into consideration the hundreds of hours I invested in learning the skills to help my clients; I’d consider the high quality equipment, the expensive aromatherapy and the oils/creams I use. Above it all, I’d consider the fact that a part of MY SOUL is invested in each person I help.

Is all of the above worth $60.00? MY PERCEPTION IS, YES, it is.

How about the prospective client’s  point of view? She/he, compares the cost of massage to grocery shopping. If we do that, indeed, the massage is expensive.  However,  isn’t that  comparing apples and oranges?

There is no right or wrong answer, but PERCEPTIONS and points of view, depending of our own interests. I used to say: when you give a massage for $60.00 is inexpensive. When you pay for a massage $60.00 it is expensive!

The key to this story and a confession:

Years ago, I was a massage therapist who was schooled by a group of nuns. The Medical Mission Sisters are known internationally for their excellent work and dedication to the poor.

At some point, in the past, I no longer could  follow the path of being useful by offering the best of me in that profession, but NEVER gave up that I was here, on Earth for a purpose!

Each of us has a purpose. Sometimes, (let’s face it, most times,) like many others, I do not understand the big picture, but must have FAITH. Hmm …Faith… it will be the topic of a different post.

Always DO ONE’S BEST– this is the motto which continues to guide my life!

With that as a guiding principle, I went to graduate school and earned my Master of Science in Counseling and Clinical Psychology. For most outsiders, it looked crazy, to go back to school  at an age when most think “retirement,” but to me it looked like the right thing to do, as I believe in life with a PURPOSE.

At the present time, despite physical limitations, using both  rich and diverse life experiences and higher education, I am an online Counselor for a global counseling company https://www.proventherapy.com/Rodica

I hope, in this way, I contribute a small piece to the good cause of de- stigmatizing  mental illness and making help available to people who, otherwise, would not afford quality counseling because of the lack of money.

If you read this post to the very end, I hope you found it helpful and have been reassured of your UNIQUE VALUE and PURPOSE on this life path!

Thank you for continuing to follow the waves of this life as we all are experiencing them… but perceive them differently.





I hope

Transgender and Sexuality Choices –What is the Difference

Once upon a time… not really, but a few years ago,  I was in need of money. I always am and lotto didn’t pay off yet.

My only reasonable solution was to share my home.With that in mind, I placed an announcement on Craigs list. Room for rent, house share.

Immediately I was inundated with responses. The woman who was accomanied by 5 cats. No. Sorry, my three rescued dogs wouldn’t have appreciated a cats invasion. Then the  guy smelling excessively of Old Spice, who winked at me but had no job.

At last a normal looking man. Normal by my standards, blonde, shy-looking, medium height, knocked at my door.

He explained that he was married and they had  two kids. He was also honest, which I appreciated, and confessed he had an internet affair, moved with the internet love of his life, but the love of his life kicked him out after two weeks.

Now, the poor guy, an engineer working in my neighborhood had no place to go. Oh! yes, the wife had a new boyfriend and would not have him back! You go girl!!!

His private love-life was not my business, so, we became house-mates. His room had a separate entrance and bathroom, so there were days when I didn’t see him.

He moved in. All was great!

To my surprise, one evening, he knocked at my bedroom’s door and asked how did I like it, us being roommates.

“Housemates!” I corrected him.

“Are you on the computer?” He asked me.

“Yes, I am.”

He gave me a woman’s exotic name and I searched for her profile in the social media. Immediately, there it popped up the picture of a woman sitting on a fake fur (I hope it was fake!!!), blonde, long hair, heavy make-up, a glass of wine in hand.

“Do you like her?” He asked me.

Oh, my God, this guy thinks I am gay and wants to fix me up… I thought as the fight or flight syndrome started to kick in.

“She is okay… I am sorry, if I gave you the wrong impression, but am not gay. Frankly, I wish I were, it would uncomplicate my life!”

He blushed like a maiden and whispered:

“SHE, is ME!”

Oh, just that! She was him. I thought as quickly as I could without fainting or showing any emotions, as it was hard to understand the concept…

I finally regained my voice and asked:

“…soooo let me understand. Do you like women or men, if you are transgendering to be a woman.”

“I still like women better, but could go both ways, ” he responded.

I was deep in thought for a few minutes and then expressed my understanding of this new situation:

“So, you are a transgender lesbian or bisexual if need be?”

He confirmed and we lived together, happily ever after for another month. At the end of the month he moved in with another guy who was also a transgender lesbian.

He didn’t keep in touch so I have no idea how the story ended, but for many months after he moved, my neighbor asked:

“That couple, who lived with you. They were strange. Never together… He was coming home from work at 5, in his business suite, and the wife was always going out around mid-night, all dressed up to kill and coming back in the morning. Hmm they were…. interesting.”

“Yep,” I’d responded, ” Like in the  Cindarella fairy tale, only that she appeared at mid-night!”


The lesson: learn the huge difference between transgender and sexual preferences. Complex? Confused? Ask.


A Nobody!

A Nobody!.

How To Build a Good Credit Report (Score) while Young. Why It Is Important

Most of us don’t have a grandfather who left us  millions in trust, or hit the lottery, or found a huge amount of cash while cleaning a dead relative’s house.

Sadly, a majority of us depend on our credit for a majority of purchases,  from getting a cell phone to getting a car or a loan to buy a house or rent an apartment.

Unlike what common sense tells most people: PAY your bills in cash, this is NOT the best way to build your credit.

Why not? If you pay everything  in cash, you have NO credit history. A history of being a person who pays debts on time.The lenders want to see you are a good “risk” and they will get their loan back. If you have no credit history, how would they know? Sure, they could ask your mom or sister… just kidding.

What is a credit report:

A credit report is a system used by the lenders to decide whether or not to give you credit, a loan, and how much interest to charge you on the loan. The higher your FICA SCORE the better off you are. The potential lenders buy the credit reports from one or all of the three major credit reporting companies (more about them later.)

The credit report is based on your history of paying all your bills in time. When I say ALL, that includes credit cards.

The first thing you must do when you turn 18, is to apply for a credit card. It will probably have a low limit (you may spend up to $300.00) That is fine. Take it, make small purchases on it and PAY on TIME. After a while, you will notice the credit company will increase your limit of spending and probably lower the interest you have to pay for balances NOT paid within 30 days. PLEASE note, you do not pay interest if you pay ON TIME.

What to watch for when you get credit card offers: FEES. They would advertise flying miles, trips, bonuses, but if they have an annual fee of $75 look for another card which has NO fees and gives you rewards.

After a while of paying your first credit card on time, you already have started establishing good credit. Apply for a 2nd. card and proceed with the same steps: PAY on time, no fees to have the card. Do not have more than two good credit cards, and pay on time, is my suggestion.

After a while, if you are one of those teens who starts working at 14, ask your parents to go with you and open a bank account. At the beginning it will probably be joint with your parent or guardian, but try to deposit into your account the money you earn working your  summers. Well… at least what you don’t spend on your first date.

Continue this process.

DO NOT apply for store credit cards which have huge interest rates on unpaid balances. The temptation of getting 10% OFF when you apply goes puff the second you have outstanding balances at 27%.

A misunderstanding I noticed is the difference between companies that charge for your credit report, and the ONLY place where, by Federal Law, you are entitled to one FREE credit report from each of the reporting agencies every 12 months.


The companies who charge you, are actually selling you a PROTECTION service which generally includes monitoring of possible identity theft. Just  be aware what you sign for.

Intersections Inc. (http://www.creditreport123.com) rates ALL TOP TEN such companies.

Also, breaks down the scores. NOTE: your credit report is a report and your SCORE is calculated based on your report. You get a FREE annual credit report annually, but to know your score, which determines your fate with lenders, you will probably have to pay.

Anyway, here is the break down on the SCORE. From 300 (worst– pay with the cash under the mattress) to 850 points (go wild, get a million dollar card) the lenders will BEG YOU to borrow! Still continue to pay on time as your credit report could change overnight and as a result your score.

According to Intersections Inc.

300-580 — very weak score

580-620 –weak

620-680– fair

680-720– good

720-8500 – EXCELLENT!!!!!!

As a suggestion, and with the alarming numbers of hackers and identity theft issues, I suggest you check your annual credit report FREE three times a year.

How you do this:

There are THREE major reporting agencies. Expirian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

DO NOT get all reports at one time. Order one from each, every  three months.

The web site which offers true FREE credit reports, with no strings attached is:


It will also have a link to: http://www.annualcreditreport.com



Equifax — 1888-397-3742

Fraud Hot line– 1888 766-0008

Experian — 1888-397-3742 (same telephone # for FRAUD)

TransUnion– 1800 916-8800

Hot line: 1800-680-7289

You could request and receive your credit report on line, or order toll free, at 877-322-8228

With the risk of repeating myself and being boring (which the topic in itself is depressing:(

I will reiterate why it is important to build and MAINTAIN good credit.

ALL lenders, from the small purchases of cell phones to buying cars and homes and renting apartments REQUEST your credit report. BASED on the credit report your  FICO score is calculated (see chart above)

If you have excellent credit you are a GOOD RISK. That means your lender has a good chance to get his loan back from you. As a result, a reward for your good financial habits, the lender will offer you a LOWER interest rate.

The report contains ALL your information, name, addresses, place of employment, marital status, late payments, bankruptcy, if you were sued or arrested.

The credit reports are vital for you to obtain loans, some jobs, buy a house or a car.


If you monitor your credit report three times a year, it is also more likely to catch an identity theft, or sign up for one of the security companies mentioned above, and pay extra. It is probably worth it.


Since about 60% of marriages end up in divorce, it is wise to keep SEPARATE credit cards, or if they are joint, and God forbid you are among the unfortunate 60%, make sure you take your name OFF the joint card. Even if you are divorced, if your divorced spouse continues to use the joint card and your name is still on it, if the spouse stops payments on the card, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE, even if you are divorce.

Enjoy this beautiful day, and pay your bills on time!!!