Money Nightmares: Homeless, Hungry & a Disappearing 401k

This is the first post I’ll be dedicating to someone. Gavin who writes on his blog about how much he spends needs a little motivation to reign in his expenses. Fortunately for him, (and unfortunately for the subjects of my stories) I have a lot of tales about people whose spending habits have set them back dramatically. I should also add that these stories, that at times feature some people in my close circle of friends or family, are what inspire me to keep track of my money. I grew up witnessing first hand how fiscal irresponsibility ruin lives. Hopefully they will have the same effect on you: scared straight.

We have a family friend in her 60s, whose life has been in a downward spiral for nearly 15 years as a result of her bad money management practices. As I write this post, she still faces financial hardships and continues to make bad decisions. The point of this post, or any other post I may write about money nightmares, is not to humiliate those who struggle, but to highlight the long term consequences of small, but cumulative, bad decisions. The story I am about to tell is redacted for details in an attempt to protect the identity of those involved. However, any information I provide regarding the major purchases are factual.

This family friend is a wife and a mother. She was always the type to shop at Barney’s, Saks, Neiman Marcus and other high end stores. She somehow managed to make it work on a combined household income of approximately $60,000. It certainly helped that her children were a little older and were gainfully employed, not relying on her for their most basic needs. I never knew her to have financial troubles until one seemingly routine event started a domino effect that sent her spiraling out of control. After driving her car for a number of years, she decided it was time for a new one. However, rather than getting something comparable in price and quality, she and her husband decided to get a more luxurious upgrade costing 3 times more than her original car. As if it wasn’t bad enough to triple your transportation cost without a raise that is directly proportional to the expense, they decided they needed a second car. So they went from one moderately priced car, to one very expensive car plus another moderately priced car. Within a year of the major car purchase, they also opted to buy a bigger house, despite the fact that they were empty nesters. Unfortunately, the husband got into an accident and was only collecting 60% of his income. With both incomes, they were barely breaking even, but when the husband spent months with almost half of his pay, things started to go south really quickly. The first setback was losing one of the vehicles when it was repossessed. The second set back was a short sale of their house. Finally, after moving to a more affordable apartment, the husband went back to work, but playing catch up on their bills hindered their ability to keep the second vehicle. They lost that car through an other repo as well.

You would think that with this much trouble, the bad luck would end there. But it didn’t. They bought another new car, more moderately priced this time, because they needed it. Where they live, it’s very hard to get around on public transportation. However, she got laid off when her company downsized and found herself quickly out of a job. She was unemployed for nearly 2 years before she was able to find work in her field again. They struggled to pay the bills and eventually had to go stay with a family friend after she paid hefty fees to tap into her 401k and saw her retirement funds dwindle down to $0 (she was not yet 60). The husband’s income just couldn’t cover all their expenses plus housing. But when she found work and they were able to move to their own apartment, to celebrate, they went on a European vacation. A month after she came back from vacation, the car they were driving at that time was repo’d. That’s about 3 lost cars in less than 10 years. But there’s more!  She said she was a fighter and wouldn’t let that deter her. She fully furnished her apartment with brand new everything. Meanwhile, there were days she couldn’t afford to eat. She recently got a raise and decided to fall into the trap of lifestyle inflation (see link for info). We met up for dinner and she announced that she would celebrate her raise by going in the market for a fancy SUV. Of course, there’s the trip she has planned for later this year, but we won’t even discuss that. That’s a very small expense relative to how much a new car will cost her in monthly payments and insurance.

Sure, she could have found better use for that money like repairing her damaged credit, replenishing her 401k, going grocery shopping so she can start eating 3 times a day again, but I guess none of her priorities lie there. So here she is, in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, no chance of ever retiring unless she becomes completely government dependent, but she’s looking for more things to buy. I have known her for a very long time and I know her story does not end there. So I know I will have more horrors to report.

As I write this, I can’t wrap my head around it all. I know that if I didn’t experience it first hand, I would not believe that any functional adult could be this short sighted. But it’s a reality and these people are in my circle Most of of those who are avid blog readers and willfully blow our meager paychecks o intrinsically worthless things tend to be Gen X/Millennials. We are so far removed from our golden age that we can’t even begin to understand the hole we are digging for ourselves with the decisions we make. I hope this inspires you to change. If not, I have other stories.

How’s that for a terrifying Halloween?

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Going Broke Trying To Not Look Broke

Economists often talk about how we are a consumer driven economy. Our retail addiction is what keeps corporations rich and what keeps us struggling. If there is any doubt, all one has to do is look at the credit card debt that plagues our country and we can see the spending problem this country has. Ultimately, I think it comes down to one thing: we are so obsessed about the appearance of having money, that we actually stop caring about ACTUALLY having money.

I am making this post after recalling an interaction I had with an acquaintance. We were sitting in a group of 4 or 5 people and we were talking about shopping and savings tips. I am not sure what exactly led to that part of the conversation, but at one point, I made a comment about me being frugal. He chimed in, jokingly, I think… with: “Cheap. I think the word you’re looking for is cheap.” Of course everyone laughed. For a brief moment, I thought ‘that was kind of rude’ but then I looked around the room and laughed too. The feeling of feeling slighted was short lived when I reminded myself that everyone in the room but me was crippled by debt, both consumer and student loans. Some of them have borrowed to repay older debts, some are paying for frivolous expenses they had years ago, including still paying for a wedding that happened 4 years before. These were not the people I was going to allow to make me feel bad about my spending habits. Of course, they could have guilt-tripped me into racking up enough debt to portray a “baller” lifestyle, but at what cost?

While they might have felt as though I took the joke lightheartedly, in reality I wasn’t laughing with them, I was laughing at them. This was not to be mean spirited. It’s more of an incredulous laugh at people who, while they’ve done everything wrong, they still have not figured it out, and their attitude seems to indicate that they refuse to make any effort in the right direction. They are going broke, trying to not look broke. Am I the only one who thinks it’s better to have $1,000 in a $100 purse than to have a $100 in a $1,000 purse?

Never Pay Full Price: Groceries

Is anyone else as adverse as I am to paying full price? Since I haven’t been blogging very long, people may not know that I am a first generation American. My parents come from a culture where you haggle everything. I spent time in my parents’ homeland and experienced first hand how it works. I’ve seen my mom haggle about food. My dad once got $50 prescription glasses for me at the optician. My parents have haggled the price to get the house painted. It’s almost a game to see how low you can get a vendor to go before they give you your walking papers.

Personally, I am an avid coupon clipper and discount seeker. I am always on the hunt for the next promotion, the best deal and the highest savings. I really don’t like paying full price! I just don’t like it… It’s an illness lol. This doesn’t mean I never do. At times, we have no choice. If it’s a grocery item that I need, we won’t go without it, hoping it goes on sale soon. But if I have a choice, I will stretch my dollar with every discount available.

Here are my dollar-stretching tricks:

Be ready to go to more than one store. Not everything will be the same price everywhere. You’re really short changing yourself if you do your grocery shopping in one location. Stores aren’t always competing with each other because they may not be the same kind of store or trying to attract the same clientele. For example, Walmart will not be looking to match Costco prices. If you think mayonnaise will be the same price in both places, you might be missing out.

Know your stores. I shop at the same 3 places every time: the ethnic food store, the regular grocery store and the club warehouse store. This means I usually know what the staples cost at each location. As a result, if a one of them is running a great sale, I know which store will or won’t beat the sale price.

Be prepared. BJs sends their members a new book of coupon at the beginning of every month. This means before I even leave the house, I know everything they’ve discounted. That preparation allows me to go to BJs last because I can compare the prices from the other stores to their sale price. That way, if the regular store doesn’t have a great deal, I know I’m likely to be saving more at BJs because of the bulk pricing.

Look for value, not for cheap products. If a 24-pack of Brand A bottled water cost $4.50 and a 12-pack of Brand B bottled water costs $3.75, the 12-pack might seem like a better deal but you’d need to spend $7.5 to get 24 bottles of Brand B. While you might think you’re saving 75 cents, you’re actually over paying. This may seem like a “duh” kind of tip, but this was a simple example to help illustrate my point. The difference in quantity may not be as obvious. You could be looking at 2 bottles of mustard, with one being 28 ounces and the other being 32 ounces, only 4 ounces more. It’s much easier to miss the value when the difference is that small.

Non-perishables are your friend. They’re the best things you can stock up on. They don’t go bad and you’ll always need them. This weekend alone, I scored 4 gallons of laundry detergent at $5 each, which are normally $9. Sure, we now I have to find somewhere to store them, but they won’t expire and we’ll always need clean clothes.

Ask for a rain check or ask that they honor the price. Sometimes, a deal is so good that those who came before you will wipe out the shelves. You can ask for a rain check that allows you to come back and get the item at the sale price when it’s in stock again. If it’s something you need, you can ask to talk to a manager. From my experience, every time I’ve tried it, the manager on duty has always been willing to give me a comparable item (in nature and size) for the sale price advertised.

This is how I keep the pantry stocked at the best prices possible. What’s your key to good bargains?

Go Dutch

I’ve been talking about money a lot lately. This wasn’t intended to be a money blog but we usually gravitate to what we know. As someone whose goal is to make a comfortable, financially independent life for herself, and who works in the banking industry at a more macro level, money happens to be one of the things I know best. However, an opportunity came my way to talk about relationships after I stumbled across a Facebook post on a newly launched app. Now, it would be just my luck that this also ties into money somehow. However, this is mostly about the social aspects of money and its link to romantic relationships.

The Founders of “Go Dutch” (left to right: Alexandria Willis, Olamide Bamidele and Alysia Sargent). Photo Credit: ChicagoInno

Three black women from Chicago launched an app that matches people who want to go on dates but want to split the bill in half. The idea is that the woman gets to show that she’s self-sufficient & the man will know that she’s not just looking for a free meal. Sound noble right? It depends on whom you ask.

I hope you have some time on your hands because this could get long. However it’s a complex issue that has both gender and racial implications and it would barely scratch the surface and do it justice if I were to only summarize it.

I’ve been on dates where I’ve split the check both ways as well as dates where the man has paid. I never do the check dance. If I reach for my wallet, my credit card is coming out. However, those dates usually meant different things and my purpose was to send a specific message in each situation. Usually a guy who I don’t want to see again for any reason of my choosing, will not be allowed to pay for my half of the dinner. The generally accepted practice in our society is that friends split checks on a fun night out. If you’ve proven yourself to not be worthy of any other type of relationship beyond a friendship, it’s only fair that I pay for my share of the meal. There’s no sense in making you invest in me when I know very well that I have no intention in giving you anymore of my time.

However, when it comes to a man who I think has the potential to be a real life partner, I firmly believe that he should demonstrate both his willingness and his ability to provide for provide for a family. Regardless of the advancements that women have made in the workforce, it does not change the fact that 1) we still do not have true pay equality and 2) women remain the child bearers. Childbearing and childbirth leave women physically and emotionally vulnerable for up to a year. Women can be bed ridden during their pregnancy and may even die in childbirth. Is it really absurd to want a man who is a good provider? How can a man be trusted to provide for a wife who is forced to stay home until she gives birth if he can’t afford a meal? Should she work until her water breaks? What if she dies during childbirth? How will he take care of the child if he can’t pay for movie tickets?

Now, everyone’s definition of a date is different. A woman dating a man making minimum wage shouldn’t expect regular Smith and Wollensky dinners. The nature of the date should reflect the socio-economic profiles as well as the tastes of the involved parties. Where the date happens or how much is spent is not relevant. A man could take you to the neighborhood pizza place and still show you a good time. But if he can’t pay for 2 slices and 2 cans of Coke on his own, he might not be ready to be in a relationship.

Due to this, I am particularly distressed that the founders were black women. It’s an accomplishment to see women, particularly women of color, in the technology sector (even if they didn’t code the app themselves–they might have, but I’m not sure). But at the same time, it is bittersweet. It’s hard to see that black women have once again lowered their standards. We are raised to “give a brother a chance”. Don’t get another brother locked up even if he hit you because there are enough of them in jail. Don’t ask too much of a man because he may still be working on himself. To give a more visible example, I’m sure you’ve seen this picture of the POTUS and the FLOTUS, pushing this idea that Michelle “gave a brother on the come-up a chance” and in return he made her First Lady.

These memes are everywhere and the simple minded folks who like, share and comment “YAAASSS!!!” on these posts completely ignore the fact that the Prez was a Harvard Law student who was already on a path to success when they met. Instead, they want to promote the practice of taking on a damaged man with no goals or plans, and sticking around until he figures it out. A man shouldn’t be a project. If I want a fixer upper, I’ll get myself some real estate. After years of saying: “Who cares if he lives with his mother? So what if he drives your car around and plays video games all day? So what if you have to pay his bills?” why wouldn’t 3 beautiful and accomplished black women think they don’t even deserve for a guy to give them a meal? No other cultural group teaches their women to aim this low. This is a case where being pro-black is more about doing what’s good for the men rather than the community as a whole. This post here talks about how pro-blackness often excludes women.

Paying for a date is more symbolic than anything. If we go out once a week, I’m clearly feeding myself just fine during the other 20 meals I’m going to have when we aren’t together. Evidently, I’m not looking for a handout. I’m looking for a man to demonstrate that he absolutely wants to provide for me even if he doesn’t have to. Does he have to pay for every date until we get married? No, because I’m certainly not going to wear stilettos and little black dresses until then. But there is a courtship phase that we must both prove ourselves. No amount of progressive literature can ever erase the aforementioned biological differences (pregnancy) and our country’s refusal to becoming more family friendly by refusing to pay for maternity leave.

I’ve always maintained that some of the concepts of third-wave feminism have done little to improve the social standing of black women. And I’m being generous with this description. The launch of Go Dutch is a materialization of my assessment. With the out of wedlock birth rate of black children being higher than 70%, we already have generations of black men who don’t marry at the same rate as their non-black counterparts, normalizing the fact that black women have a permanent baby mama status, to the point where this has become a racially coded term. We are now going to normalize the fact that black women can’t even get a meal out of a guy who wants her to entertain him. This is not progress, it is not empowerment. This is damaging.

While I am fully aware of the fact that not every woman wants to be married, it doesn’t change the fact that people who are married live longer healthier lives (source 1 and source 2), and have better economic standing. With SINGLE black women having a median net worth of nearly nothing, why would the average black woman be discouraged from positioning herself in a way that would likely improve her socio-economic standing and life expectancy? It’s bad and worsening as you can see here and here. I am not standing on some morality soap box attempting to regulate people’s sex lives. I am, however, tired of pretending that people raising kids alone are not emotionally, financially and physically stretched to the limit. The seemingly small incidents that we dismiss as outliers can quickly become pervasive social issues that erode our communities from the inside out, and do nothing to improve our lives.

Before I wrote this, I talked to my husband about what was going through my mind and he said: “But if I care about you, it’s not a big deal if I pay for something. I want to buy you a meal.” If you have a man like that in your life, hug him. If you don’t, find one. Because soon enough, you’ll end up with a guy who doesn’t think he should have to do anything for you. Because rather than it being a small gesture of care, paying for a date will soon be considered something that suckers do.

When it comes to the notion of standing by a man who does not demonstrate the characteristics of caring for the woman in his life, my advice to women is as follows:  your loyalty should be to your children and ensuring they have the best possible lives. If dating, marrying and procreating with a man who can and wants to do things for you hurts another man’s ego, that’s fine. You have no duty to cater to any adult male you did not bring into this world. I wish someone would have given that advice to these ladies. Maybe they could have channeled their greatness into doing something that improves the overall quality of black women’s lives, rather than something that will only lowers the standards of what my beautiful sisters should hope to get.

Your Ultimate Credit Card Guide

Swipe… Swipe… Swipe *Justin Bieber Voice*

So you’ve decided to get a credit card. How grown up of you! Maybe you have financially savvy parents who were open about their finances and taught you how to use plastic in the safest way possible. Or maybe your dad routinely requested an increase in his limit and swiped, swiped, swiped. I’m not sure which category you fall in but let me teach you how not to ruin your life.

(It’s important that I acknowledge that this advice, like any other advice, may not be applicable to everyone. Some people will use credit cards because they’re between jobs and need to live until their next opportunity. However, these are unusual circumstances and the average credit card user is not necessarily faced with that choice. Happy reading!)

  1. Find a card with cash back or other great rewards. They want you business, it’s only fair that they sweeten the deal. Who doesn’t like being rewarded?
  2. Pay your bill in full every month. This will help you avoid interest, late charges or any other fees associated with using a credit card. It also helps prevent it from piling up and getting out of control. Credit card debt in America totaled $847 BILLION in 2013. I don’t now about you, but that sounds like a lot of money to me.
    1. Bonus: If you do 1 and 2 combined, you will actually be getting paid to use free money. Think about it, 1.5% cash back + $0 in interest. I’m no genius but you see what I’m getting at.
  3. Pay your bill on time. You could be paying an extra $30 per statement on late charges. If you want to give away fre money, ask me for my PayPal. The billion and trillion dollar banks do not need it.
  4. Do not get a card with an annual fee unless the rewards far outweigh the benefits. Otherwise, it’s more money down the drain for something you’re not maximizing. And if you DO have an annual fee, get acquainted with all of your perks. All of them. Your fee is paying for those and you don’t want to leave anything on the table. Use the concierge, cash in the points, check you bags if it’s a travel card, etc.
  5. Don’t double pay. Some credit card companies will offer road side assistance as part of their incentives. Are you paying for an auto club? Are you paying more to your insurance company for the same service? If you already have it built into your card, don’t spend the extra money for the same service to another company.
  6. Know your warranties. Higher end credit card like AmEx will provide an extended warranty some items you buy on the card. If that’s the case, why are you paying the store for something that is already covered? Not to mention, you have a manufacturer’s warranty anyway. Granted, AmEx may place a limit on how many claims you can file or a maximum amount. But if you’re breaking that many things a year, maybe you should chill out on the shopping until you’re less accident prone.
  7. Don’t close your oldest credit card. It has the best snap shot of your payment history and your usage of credit. It’s your best advocate. Don’t eliminate it.
  8. Don’t overspend. Credit cards are not intended to expand your purchasing power. The main point of the card should be to tell interested parties (potential mortgage lenders or car financiers) that you know how to act when you have your hands on other people’s money. If you intended to get a $50 purse because that’s all you can afford, it doesn’t mean that you should spend $100 if you decide to use your credit card rather than the 50 you had in your pocket. Because sooner or later, usually within 30 days, you get a bill and you will eventually have to pay for it. If you didn’t have $100 this month, you may not have it next month either. Use your card to build credit and get rewards. Not to live a life you can’t afford.
  9. Mind your line. Keep a close eye on your credit line. Few things will hurt you as much as maxing out your card or even getting dangerously close to your limit. If you were approved for a $7,000 line, I highly recommend you don’t buy your lady a $6,500 engagement ring on that card. When it’s time to buy a house and the bank has to run your credit, she’ll thank you for it.
  10. Stay away from cash advances. The average credit card interest rate nationally is 15%. If you want to see how bad cash advances are take a look at my own monthly bank statement below. My regular interest rate is 7.24%, however, advances, which are non-purchases, have an interest rate between 16 and 21 percent, more than twice what my normal rate is. Now think about someone with less than ideal credit who’s starting out with a base interest rate of 15%. Do you really want to be paying 30% on cash advance?

Cash Advance

I’m sure I’m forgetting something… let’s hear it! How do you use credit?

UPDATE:

I’m adding this update to illustrate one of the multitude of reasons it’s important to avoid, manage and/or conquer debt (depending on what stage you’re in). Personal stories that aren’t overshadowed by statistics are so important. Read about one here.

(Originally published on 10/10/15, updated on 10/11/15)

Slow and Steady

Step yo’ money game up!

You need money to make money

At least that’s what we’ve been told. What if not true? Well, what if it’s not entirely true? While it certainly makes it much easier to make money when you already have money to invest, there is another possible, albeit difficult way to save and invest your way to a better financial situation: living well below your means. I don’t know about you but I’ve never met anyone who spent their way to wealth. Not unless they were buying stocks or real estate.

While I’m not claiming expert status because I’m certainly no millionaire, I’ve managed to exponentially increase my net worth from negative to 6 figures in less than 10 years (in the spirit of disclosure I must clarify that about 1/2 of that is tied up in the equity in my home).

It’s a slow process that requires patience and perseverance. It also requires being with someone who shares your values. You can’t work towards your goals alone while your partner wastes money like no one’s business. Here are my tried and true methods. Some are big some are small but ignoring most or all of them will certainly delay you.

  • Have a payment plan for all debts. Avoiding debt is not always possible. Do so if you can, but if you do have debt, pay it off aggressively. Minimum payments are a trap. They’re meant to keep you in poverty and and fatten the debt holder’s pockets through continuous interest payments.
  • Think before you buy. If you’re an impulse shopper, taking some time before any purchase might put things in perspective and you may realize that you don’t really need it after all. It also helps to think about what better use you could have for the money. How much of an R&R is a European vacation when you know Sallie Mae is coming for you in 10 days? Affordability =/= good decision. Just because you can afford something doesn’t mean you should buy it or that you need it
  • Don’t use warehouse clubs stupidly. If you live alone, what are the chances that you finish that 64-ounce ketchup bottle before it expires. Although, you might be on a strict french fry diet, which I personally don’t recommend, but what do I know? Toilet paper on the other hand doesn’t expire and will always have a purpose. Same goes for detergent, dish soap etc. Not all foods from warehouses are bad. A giant box of cereal? Go for it, those things have a 2-year shelf life anyway, but put down the Crisco unless you’re a baker.
  • Maintain your car. If you already have a piece of junk car, this might not be very useful. But if you already have a reliable car with great engineering and good resale value, this is key. I spend an average of $500 per year on my car. Some years I spend $200 (oil and filter changes) some years I spend $1,000 (brakes, transmission etc.). However, it would cost me about $4,200 a year on a car note. Since it’s well maintained at the dealership, I can have a reliable car that’s paid off and costs me less over time. I don’t fall into the trap of leasing or buying a brand new car every few years. I also have lower insurance costs because as the car gets older, it costs less to ensure. I’ve had my car for 5 years and I hope to keep it for 5 more years. I haven’t even hit 100K miles yet!
  • Shop around. Everyone is out to make money. If you think they’re going to offer you a deal, you’re wrong. Ask and you shall receive. I negotiate my cable package every year. They’d rather take $20 off my bill than lose my business. That $20 is nothing to them and for me, it can be used towards my Christmas fund or an extra student loan payment.
  • . Have a budget. Oh my goodness… you don’t know how many people don’t have budgets or hate making them. Seriously, how do you go through life? If you’re not keeping track of what you’re spending how could you possibly ever have any money? Especially in this world of plastic… This is so important. It also helps you know exactly where you’re spending too much. $35 a week on lattes? Maybe you can use the $200 you saved from the cable bill to get yourself a Keurig. But how can you possibly know that if you don’t know where your money is going?
  • Say no to bank fees. $24 Billion on bank fees? That’s absurd. Get your monthly fees waived by setting up direct deposit or having a minimum balance. Keeping track of your money will prevent overdraft fees and making sure you’re using your bank’s ATM will keep those fees in check as well. At the very least, you should be aiming to make one large withdrawal rather than several little ones if you can’t find an ATM in your network.
  • Review your subscriptions. You never know what you subscribed to years ago that you may have forgotten to cancel. Check your credit card statement and see if there’s anything you’re not familiar with that looks recurring. Auto-renewal on frivolous thing can be a major money suck. Most things are available online anyway. Everything is better free anyway 😉

I have plenty more tips but what will I write about later if I put them all here? Share some of yours and let’s compare notes!

Mass Shootings and the Myth of the Polite Society

It’s quite unfortunate that our nation once again faces yet another mass shooting. How sad is it that when I hear about a shooting, my first question is, “How many?”. If the number is not “impressive” enough, I shrug it off. Why? Because I’ve become desensitized. It has happened so often that it has become the norm, and only a truly high number will shock me. That’s what happens when an occurrence becomes routine. I am not a mean evil person. What I am is an American who’s seen several shootings over her lifetime and every time, the body count has gone up, and with that, the last one just doesn’t seem so bad.

Columbine: 12

Aurora:12

Virginia Tech: 32

Sandy Hook: 26 (but 20 of them were children under 10)

This is how desensitization to violence happens.

Both sides of the political spectrum love claiming that the other uses a mass shooting as an opportunity to push their own twister agenda. As an apolitical person, I just want to ask: Do lives matter more than you ego?

I know the solution itself is not very simple. How do we get guns off the streets? Should they be outlawed? Neither one of these questions can be answered without navigating logistical and constitutional nightmares. We all know about the vast quantities of illegal guns on the streets. If you have any doubt, just look at Chicago statistics. I highly doubt these shootings are being committed by NRA members. However, does facing an enormous task mean we shouldn’t attempt it at all? And what about our Second Amendment Right? Oppressive Government, the Forefathers, blah…blah…blah… Well, we put restrictions on the First Amendment when it does become a nuisance. There are buffer zones for demonstration purposes, the whole “FIRE!” in a crowded theater thing, hate speech etc. So why should the Second Amendment, not have as many restrictions? Is an armed society really a polite society? It sounds more like a society of fearful people who are afraid that the next bat shit crazy person they encounter might be armed and go on a killing rampage. That’s not politeness.

And if you think that your little sawed off shotgun is what’s stopping the government from being tyrannical, you’re a simpleton who doesn’t understand the might of the American military. Our government is not tyrannical because it’s not interested in being so. Your hunting rifles are no match for drones.

May these new victims rest in peace and may their families find comfort. I will never understand how the world can be so evil and how our government can be so impotent against lobbyists.