FTC Disclosure:

I am not paid or compensated in any way to write product reviews posted to this blog. There are affiliate links posted throughout this blog. So, when you click through on links and buy something, I may receive a commission. I pay for the products with my own funds. Product reviews always reflect my own experience with and honest opinion of the product as a consumer.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Why I No Longer Give Money to Beggars

I would like to think of myself as a charitable and generous person. If I have it to give to a church or worthy cause, I will. I draw boundaries at my giving, though. There was a time that I would give freely to panhandlers on the streets. However, since my financial situation is not as favorable as it was in the past, I have had to cut back in a major way on my giving to panhandlers.

After a closer look, I decided to nearly eliminate giving to panhandlers. It is not that I look down on the homeless or less fortunate. I have been homeless through no fault of my own, as a child, so I know exactly what it is like. I am also aware of what it is like to reside in shelters, in cars, and basically live from pillar-to-post. So, I am not here to cast aspersions on those whom are less fortunate than I am. On extremely rare occasions, I do give to panhandlers, when my gut instinct tells me that I should.

Anyway, I have observed of late that there is prevalence in scammer/panhandlers. These are the people that stand at busy intersections, with cardboard signs with statements scrawled on them, such as “Will work for food or money”. For the most part these people are full of shit. The way that I look at it, if you have the balls and gusto to stand in an intersection looking like a hot mess, begging for money, then you can get up and hustle for money. I mean, do some real work to earn money. We aren’t responsible for these people, they are responsible for taking care of themselves.

The scammer/panhandlers are just playing on our sympathies and they excel at it. Those little dollar bills that suckers give to them really stack up, too. I have not conducted a survey or taken a poll, but I think that most of the scam artists make more money in one day than the average American does in one week. They have the easiest job on Earth. All they have to do is wave and flash a toothless smile. Some of them may or may not be homeless, but many of them don’t have to be. They can take that money a make a fresh start if they truly wanted to. But this is the lifestyle that many of them choose. 

There are times that it is painfully obvious that panhandlers are scamming folks.  Once, I was at a gas station with my sister and this well dressed guy was panhandling.  I think he wanted gas money.  I almost hit the ceiling when my sister reached into her purse and handed him $5.  I told her that she just took food out her kids mouths to give to a scam artist.  The guy was wearing an Ambercrombie & Fitch leather belt.  If he was in such dire need of money he would sell that belt for cash.

I remember several years ago, I was getting ready to enter a Winn-Dixie supermarket. There was a young man loitering in front of the door begging for money. He asked me for a dollar and I felt sorry and gave it to him. He appeared to be able bodied and healthy. So, when I saw the same young man standing in front of Publix a week later, I was pissed. As I approached the store's entrance, I already knew he was going to ask for money, and I had a big fat “No!!” waiting for his ass. If he has a brain and a mouth, then he can get a J-O-B! In spite of the economic downtown, we are living in the land of opportunity.

I suspect that the scammers take most of the money to support substance abuse problems. I don’t want to be a part of that. A friend, of a friend, of a friend knows some people that panhandle on a regular basis. From what I hear, these “career panhandlers” use some of the money collected to support drinking problems. The panhandlers even bragged about making well over $200 in just a few hours. People like that don’t contribute to society. They are dead weights and use up resources for those who really need it, like starving and homeless children.

Long story short, I feel more comfortable giving donations to reputable charities, rather than individuals on the street. At least, there is a greater chance that your money is going to be properly allocated. I don’t donate to charities for tax write offs, but there is that added benefit as well when you donate to reputable nonprofits and charities.

What is your take on this? Do you give money to beggars? Should we feel compassion for scammer/panhandlers?

© Copyright 2013 Susan Broadbelt


The Nice Changes at Pompano Beach, Florida Pier Lot

Sailboat off the coast of Pompano Beach, Florida

Beach chairs on Pompano Beach, Florida

The fishing pier at Pompano Beach, Florida- inside view

The fishing pier at Pompano Beach, Florida-
outside view

Moon over Pompano Beach

High rise condos and Beach chairs
 on the shores of Pompano Beach, Florida

High rises on Pompano Beach-
taken from the fishing pier

Pompano Beach has upped its game. I am specifically referring to the Pier Lot on Pompano Beach, along A1A, between Atlantic Blvd and NE 5th Street. I really love going to the beach to relax, meditate, and free my mind. Pompano Beach and Hollywood Beach are my beaches of choice here in South Florida. But Pompano Beach is my favorite beach, because it is less “ghetto” than Fort Lauderdale Beach and there are less troublemakers frequenting Pompano Beach.

I recently went to the Pompano Beach Pier Lot after a 8 or 9 month hiatus and there are some remarkable changes to the Pier Lot. I guess that the city wanted to improve the landscaping and amenities there in order to attract more tourists (as well as locals) and increase revenues. Before the developments, there was hardly anything there, but the fishing pier, sparse parking, a concession stand, volleyball nets, and restrooms. All in all, I think that they have done a good job.

From what I can see the biggest changes have occurred in parking, landscaping, pavement, and seating. Whereas before, you had to drive in circles to find parking, there is much more metered parking spaces available. It costs about $1.00 an hour to park on Pompano Beach, which is the going rate in Greater Fort Lauderdale. There are computerized parking meters along the sidewalks, which accept cash, credit cards and debit cards. As far as horticulture and pavement goes, the city has put up more palm trees and flowers along the new sidewalk. Also, the strip of road behind A1A looks newly paved, painted, and improved. There are also wooden beach chairs, more barbeques grills, and more picnic benches. If my memory is serving me correctly, most of that didn’t exist before.

The weather was just right on my most recent visit. Nice and breezy. I decided not to get in the water, but rather to take a stroll on the beach and enjoy the lovely scenery. I went down and hung out at the  fishing pier for a bit. I always get a kick out of the people trying to catch fish, who end up "catching rocks" on the ocean floor instead.  It has happened to me several times so I can relate.  Plus, it is hiliarious to watch the sea birds trying to swoop down and steal bait and fish.  

It was just before sunset when I took most of the photos, so I was able to capture a beautiful shot of the moon. By the way, there is a public library just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the beach area. Also, there are plenty of restaurants, bars, and hotels within walking distance along A1A. Anyways, if you are ever on this side of town, check out the Pompano Beach Pier Lot.


More info:



© Copyright 2013 Susan Broadbelt


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tri-Rail: A Great Public Transportation Option

Side view of Tri-Rail train car

SFRTA/Tri-Rail Easy Card
Tap Machine

SFRTA/Tri-Rail Easy Card
Tap Machine

Tri-Rail vending machine for train fare rides
Easy Pay cards and passes

Tri-Rail Train Schedule Bulletin Board

I love visiting Dade county from time-to-time. The atmosphere is very lively there and the culture is rich and diverse. There are many entertainment venues, tourist attractions, restaurants, etc. But, I hate driving to Dade county, Florida. The traffic is horrible and don’t get me started about driving to Miami on I-95. I had to commute from Broward to Miami for many years and it was brutal at times. The parking in Dade county is sometimes scarce and costly. This is especially true in certain areas of Miami-Dade county. Drivers have to worry about feeding money into parking meters or paying to park at a lot or garage. If you aren’t cognizant of these facts, you could end up with traffic tickets, a towed vehicle, and/or road rage.

So, when I need to travel to Dade county, I prefer to travel there via Tri-Rail versus driving. It saves me a whole lot of stress, gasoline expense, plus it is a nice train ride. The Tri-Rail train is air-conditioned, and has fairly comfortable seats. It also has Wi-Fi internet, although, I had trouble connecting to it with my LG Optimus V the last time that I took a ride on Tri-Rail. There is security onboard the train whom randomly check passengers’ tickets.

Tri-Rail runs from Palm Beach County to Dade County. The train goes as far north as Mangonia Park and as far south as Hialeah. I noticed that several people use Tri-Rail to commute to work between counties. Some of them may opt to park their cars at the Tri-Rail station and take the train from there. I use Tri-Rail to get to popular places like Bayfront park and the West Palm Beach Waterfront.

There are many options available for purchasing train fare (one way, round trip, monthly, 12 trip, etc.). I don’t usually need to go to Dade county during the week. Therefore, I find that it is cheaper for me to purchase trip a $5 weekend pass to board the Tri-Rail. The weekend pass allows unlimited train rides for one weekend day only.

Passengers can purchase an Easy Pay card and load funds onto the card or buy a paper ticket. With the Easy Pay Card it is convenient and they can be registered for protection. One thing I dislike with these cards is that if you “Tap” them too many times at the machine and station gates, you are may be charged excess fare. So, be careful with that if you decide to use an Easy Pay card.

Another feature of Tri-Rail is that the stations provide easy access to other public transportations systems such as Miami-Dade transit, Metrorail, Broward County transit, and Palm Tran, as well as Taxi cabs. Passengers can receive discounted bus fare if transferring directly form a Tri-Rail station to county transit bus. Some Tri-Rail stations happen to also have Greyhound bus stations and Amtrak stations. There is usually security and passenger parking at Tri-Rail stations.

For additional info, visit


Copyright 2013  

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Don’t Depend on Social Security

The current Social Security system is broken. It was started in 1935 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as part of the New Deal. Social Security was put in place to help the elderly, the disabled, and fatherless children. It was a great idea in theory, but in practice it has warped into a fiscal nightmare.

Most of the contributions made today are used to fund the current recipients of Social Security.  This means that the monies collected from the paychecks of people working now are used to pay those whom are currently getting Social Security payments. From my understanding, it has been like this from the program's inception.  Here's part the problem with Social Security:  People are living longer and less babies are being born.   So, there will be less people available to enter the workforce.  A reduced amount of younger wage earners in the workforce means reduced amounts on money to pump into the Social Security system for current receipts of Social Security.

So the question is, “Where is the money going to come from to pay those whom are working, when those folks are ready to retire?”  I think that the answer is that there will be no money available. This is unless the government can somehow keep the scheme going or find a viable way to fix the Social Security system.

I just received an annual “merit” increase, which is not even enough to keep up with inflation or the cost of living. I was looking forward to having a couple a dollars more on my paycheck to at least put some more gas in my car. When I got a recent paycheck, I noted that I got my expected "merit" increase. However, instead of my paycheck growing larger, the net pay was actually lower due to the new tax hike. More specifically, my Social Security taxes were almost double what I normally pay each pay period. Boy was I pissed. The Payroll Tax cut expired, which led to a 2% increase in employee FICA withholding. So employees will have to pay 6.2% in FICA instead of 4.2% from each paycheck.

This just confirms my suspicion that the government could be trying to stick it to us. I first became suspicious when I learned that the Social Security system was in financial trouble. Then the suspicion grew as legislators took measures to raise the retirement age. As it stands, I will not be able to draw full Social Security benefits until I am 67 years of age. This may change, depending on what the legislation is in the distant future.

The average life expectancy of most people in the U.S. is about 76 or so. If the government raised the retirement age to 70, then the average person would not collect Social Security benefits very long. That’s considering the folks who actually make it to retirement age and decide to defer payments until they reach full retirement age.The people whom have been working most of their adult lives and paying into the Social Security system for decades are the ones that are going to get screwed. It could also mean that most older Americans will have to work for the rest of their lives, without retiring.

My advice to you younger working adults is to start funding a 401k, especially if your employer matches contributions. I am not the greatest fan of 401ks, because they tend to lack diversity of investment options. I don’t like mutual funds, because I lost a shit load of money with them in my 401k during the stock market crash between 2000-2001. I still think that 401ks are okay if there is the option to invest in something other than stock mutual funds AND there is a generous employer match program.

IRAs (Individual Retirement Account) are much better than 401ks, since there is a wide variety of investment options available, including bonds and individual company stocks. I'm not a financial expert, but in my opinion, Roth IRAs are the best of them all for employees. Brokerage companies like, Fidelity are excellent and investors can set up an IRA through them. They provide some tools to help you do research into choosing investments for your portfolio. I would caution that if you do contribute money to a 401k or an IRA, keep in mind that there is an early withdraw penalty of 10% by Uncle Sam on top of the usual federal income taxes that you will pay.

So, folks should focus on setting up their own retirement account instead of expecting that the government will be there to provide for them when they are old and can’t work anymore. Keep in mind that Social Security is not a retirement account or a pension plan. Social Security should be thought of as more of a supplement to income. Young, working, and able bodied people need to transform their thinking about spending, find ways to increase income and avoid massive debt. Dependable insurance (i.e. life, auto, homeowner's, long term care) is a must, as well. 

If you have the mentality that the government will take care of you, then you will be at the mercy of Congress, the President, and the lobbyists. We are already know that most of them don’t give two doggy squats or a rat's ass about the constituents. Some politicians are more concerned about creating or altering laws in order to protect their own interests and to advance their own financial agendas. 

Remember how Romney talked about getting rid of most entitlement programs?  A few years ago, Senator Joe Lieberman (now retired) was arguing that entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare be cut. He wanted this in order to avoid cuts in defense spending and to help balance the national budget. I suspect that politicians who lean towards making spending cuts in social programs and education rather than defense, are trying to make money for their friends in the military industrial complex. Be proactive and look out for yourself, because no one else will!

© Copyright 2013 Susan Broadbelt


Monday, January 14, 2013

CVS Haul: Lubriderm Advanced Therapy Lotion and Aveeno Active Naturals Lotion

During this CVS shopping haul there were sales running on Lubriderm lotions and Aveeno lotions.  Each bottle had a sale price of $4.99 each.  I purchased 2 Lubriderm Advanced Therapy lotions, 16 fl. oz. and 2 Aveeno Active Naturals skin calming lotions 7.0 fl. oz.  I used two CVS Extrabucks (earned from prior transactions) and three manufacturer coupons.

This is a breakdown of the haul:

1 Lubriderm Advanced therapy lotion               $4.99
1 Lubriderm Advanced therapy lotion               $4.99
1 Aveeno Active naturals skin calming lotion   $4.99
1 Aveeno Active naturals skin calming lotion   $4.99
Subtotal before coupons, Extrabucks, etc.  $19.96

coupons and extrabucks applied:

1 manufacturer coupon for Lubriderm lotion       -$1.50
1 manufacturer coupon for Lubriderm lotion       -$1.50
1 manufacturer coupon for 2 Aveeno products   -$3.00
1 CVS Extrabucks reward                                        -$4.00
1 CVS Beauty Club reward                                      -$5.00
Final total and out-of-pocket cost                         $5.29

I didn't earn any Extrabucks during this transaction.

© Copyright 2013  Susan Broadbelt


CVS Haul L’Oreal Youth Code Serum

L'Oreal YouthCode Serum Intense- CVS Haul

I did a shopping trip at CVS/ Pharmacy and it consisted of only two L’Oreal Youth Code Serum packs. The relevant promotion running at the time was “Spend $30 or more on L’Oreal products and earn $10 in CVS Extrabucks rewards”. Also, L’Oreal Youth Code Serum was on sale for $19.99 each. The promotion was active from Sunday, January 6, 2013 through Saturday, January 12, 2013.

This is a breakdown of the transaction:

1 L’Oreal Youth Code Serum 1 oz. $19.99

1 L’Oreal Youth Code Serum 1 oz. $19.99
Subtotal before coupons and Extrabucks, etc. $39.98
The following coupons and Extrabucks were applied:

1 manufacturer coupon L’Oreal youth code skin care product -$1.00

1 manufacturer coupon L’Oreal youth code skin care product -$1.00

1 CVS Quarterly Extrabucks reward for -$13.50
Final total after taxes, coupons, Extrabucks, etc. $26.07

I screwed up in a few ways with this transaction and ended up spending a little bit more out of pocket than I really should have. The first screwed up is improper planning and disorganization. I have a little problem with procrastination and sometimes like to wait until the last day of the sale to make purchases. This is not good because you run the risk of the product being out of stock and having to request rain checks, etc.

Since, I was in a rush, I didn’t write the transactions out on a sheet of paper and make calculations ahead of time. There was no rhyme or reason to a few CVS transactions that I have completed in the past week. But that’s alright. I also took advantage of a sale on Roc Retinol products. Had I completed the Roc Retinol transaction first and then used the $17.00 CVS Extrabucks reward from that transaction towards the L'Oreal Youth Code transaction, I would have only paid $23.38 versus $26.07.

The other way that I screwed up is that I did not bring my reusable bag with me on the trip. For those who don’t know, CVS has a reward program called the Green Bag Tag. The program allows customers to earn credit towards Extrabucks every time they use reusable shopping bags. It was in my car for crying out loud! I didn’t realize it until I was already at the register. But that’s okay. Everyone makes mistakes and we learn from them (hopefully).

One thing I would suggest when purchasing these products is to hold onto your receipts for at least a few months. The reason being is that sometimes the manufacturers have mail-in rebates on these types of products. This is another great way to save money on shopping hauls. You usually need your receipt and/or the original UPC cutout from the product box.


Copyright 2013 Susan Broadbelt


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Victoria Secret underwear gifts

Victoria's Secret  panties 1- Leopard print panties

Victoria's Secret panties 2

Victoria's Secret panties 3

Victoria's Secret panties 4- solid pink

Victoria's Secret panties 5- Solid black

Victoria's Secret panties 6

Victoria's Secret panties 7

I am so happy that my boyfriend got me 7 pairs Victoria's Secret panties as a gift. He told me that he was very tired of my “granny panties” and that he doesn’t want to see them ever again. He even recommended that I either burn the granny panties or throw them out. I am a comfort gal, meaning that on most days I dress for comfort rather than fashion. I am that lady who is content wearing jeans and a sweatshirt when I am running errands and doing my chores. This includes wearing comfortable undergarments. I don't particularly feel comfortable wearing a string up my ass when I am trying to work. So, I swear buy Hanes and Fruit of the Loom briefs and lady boxers. I tend to avoid the sexier style of undergarments, especially is they aren’t mostly cotton. This is because cotton wicks moisture and sweat.

Anyhow, my boyfriend managed to find some stylish Victoria's Secret panties on sale for the holidays.  Most of the panties are made of cotton with a cotton crouch. He wanted to pick out some nice bras and lingere for me at Victoria Secret, but couldn't find any in my size, that he liked. I wear around size 14 and am large busted (D-cup). Victoria Secret is good at providing panties for some plus sized women, but  it sucks when it comes to providing a nice array of bras and other lingere for plus sized women. I guess that we would need to go to Fredricks of Hollywood or a local novelty store that caters to plus sized women.

My boyfriend wants me to think that he purchased each panty for $10.50. However, knowing how cheap miserly he is, I realize that he would never spend that amount of money on one pair of panties (neither would I). There is no reason to ever pay full price for stuff at Victoria Secret, since there are big sales on merchandise throughout the year. My boyfriend fouled up and left one of the discount tags on a pair of panties for $3.99. It doesn’t matter what he paid, since it is the thought that ultimately counts. I just think that it is funny that he wants me to believe he paid much more than he really did. 

© Copyright 2013 Susan Broadbelt


Friday, January 4, 2013

Sears Digital Coin Counting Jar: A Cute Way to Save Money

Digital Coin Counting Jar 1

Digital Coin Counting Money Jar 2
Digital Coin Counting Jar 3

I was shopping at Sears a few days ago and stumbled upon this cute little savings jar which is on sale for only $5. The regular price on the size that I purchased in $20. I have seen some brands of electronic coin counters that cost $50 and above. So, this is a good value at only $5. It is electronic and has an LCD that tells how much money is deposited into the jar. There is a device in the coin slot that can determine the amount that is deposited through the slot by the coin size. There is no slot for bills. It is a very simple desgin and the lid comes in many different colors, including camouflage. Also, the jar is a  transparent, tinted, hard plastic material and 2 AA batteries are needed to power the LCD. It’s a cute way to save those coins that you get back every time you go shopping. Plus, I earned a few points in my Shop Your Way Rewards account.

Copyright 2013 www.thewhimsicalmusingsofsusan.com


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