The Thursday Think Tanks are semi-random thoughts that may not necessarily fall directly into the category of finances, but I still feel are worth sharing. Read at your own risk!
Starting Credit Card Debt (01.01.19): $126,310.77
Current Credit Card Debt: $109,299.87
Total Paid Off: $17,010.90
Income Going to Savings: 2%
We moved in June of last year. The town we previously lived in has a pretty severe homeless problem, and with that comes a lot of drug activity and bad behavior.
We were fortunate to live in a nice part of town, but we still often had issues in our neighborhood. We were a sleepy little housing community of quiet cul-de-sacs, gardens, parks, and backyard BBQs, and everyone got along great. It was the type of quiet community you might see in a Ron Howard movie, and we loved it.
Then we started to hear rumors of “that one house.” It was on the main street, about 8 houses down from ours, and looked perfectly presentable on the outside.
As time went on though, we began to see odd cars coming and going at all hours of the evening, and sketchy looking dudes on bicycles with backpacks seemed to always be riding through our neighborhood almost always headed in the direction of that house.
Our particular house shared a fence with a charming little park that was inhabited by laughing children and teenage basketball players during the day. But at night we started seeing cars parked in the parking lot of that park from our upstairs window, and began to notice odd behavior like one car pulling in and placing something in the garbage can. That car would then leave, and moments later a different car would pull up and fish something out of that same garbage can before driving off.
The absolute kicker came one morning as I headed off to work. I was standing on the front lawn saying goodbye to my wife who was in the upstairs window holding our infant child when she suddenly pointed and asked, “What is that in the grass?” I walked over to find a used hypodermic needle had been discarded on my perfect-enough-to-keep-up-with-the-Joneses front lawn!
Quick Tangent: We sold the home previous to the one in this story because I woke up one morning and found a used toilet plunger on my front lawn. I was sitting at the window, sipping my morning coffee when it caught my eye like some kind of wood and rubber middle finger sticking up from my lawn. My wife wandered out of the bedroom yawning, and I looked at her and said, “Good morning, Honey, we’re moving.” True story.
So we called the police, and they took a report about the needle. We had two small children at the time, so we were both pretty worked up thinking about what might have happened if they had been the ones to find that thing. While at our house, the Officer hinted that they were aware of the house down the street and to please be patient while the police did their jobs.
A couple of months later, they sure as heck did their jobs! They busted through the front door of “that one house” Lethal Weapon style, complete with SWAT vehicles, assault rifles and tear gas. They arrested the owner, a single mother of 1, her daughter, and several accomplices.
Turns out Mom had gotten a divorce and didn’t want to get a job, so she and her daughter’s boyfriend went into business manufacturing and selling meth from inside her home to a good chunk of the folks in our county. The police knew of the park drops, the sketchy guys on bikes, and the entire operation via a year long monitoring and sting operation!
The kicker? After serving 1.5 years in prison, she DID IT AGAIN.
From the same house.
She’s back in prison now, and new people own the home.
While all of that was going on, I bought 3 of those fancy little battery-powered Ring cameras. These aren’t the little ones that replace your doorbell, but are instead little standalone camera units with motion lights and sensors that bolt to your exterior wall. The batteries need to be charged every month or so, but it was worth it to have some piece of mind with everything going on in our community.
When we moved last year, we were delighted to find a home in a gated community within our price range. Having spent nearly two years dealing with “that one house,” we wanted to hedge our bets as much as possible when it came to crime deterrents. However I still brought the little cameras with me, installed them all, and put in freshly-charged batteries.
After a month of them being tripped by deer, my kids, a neighborhood cat, and a bird or two, I stopped charging the batteries.
Recently on our Facebook community page, someone mentioned seeing some suspicious activity in the neighborhood. It’s probably nothing, but I went ahead and charged up the batteries anyway. I can deal with 2 hours of charging batteries just to make sure we don’t have any goobers rummaging through our things while we are gone!
The entire setup cost me around $200 bucks, and the piece of mind it gives us is awesome enough that I highly recommend them as a good affordable option to the more expensive home security systems.
Tonight I might even catch the d*ckhead racoon that’s been pooping in our flower garden.