The Perilous World of Finance

There is yet another bike race taking place; we’re in the second week of the tour of Spain (La Vuelta a Espana, and here I would use a tilde but under New WordPress I don’t know how to do that). But I am not watching it, particularly.

It is starting to feeling a bit of “too much of a good thing,” bike race upon bike race upon bike race, but what it really comes down to is that my very expensive bike channel that strongly suggested it charged by the month and specifically said I could “cancel anytime” further promised that among the races I could watch with my service was La Vuelta.

But that’s as hollow as all the rest of this terrible company’s promises, and I turn out to be not nearly Canadian enough to view the coverage they keep dangling in tantalizing fashion, in two languages. Just yesterday FloSports sent me a personal invitation: watch La Vuelta live!

Ever the deluded fool, I clicked on the link they sent, only to be guided to something purporting to cover Stage 7, which took place the day before, and based on how the coverage was going, I doubt we were ever going to get anywhere near actual racing.

So far, then, my bike-race-watching habit cost me more than $8 per day to watch the Giro, and it’s making me question my financial acumen in other, more expensive realms.

Now that I know Lynn and I paid for a house with defective windows and a party-boy plumber, for instance, I’m wondering just how many things we’ll get to pay for twice. I do feel somewhat comforted that my neighbors’ plumbing company, which has already been here four times (once for routine boiler maintenance that seems a prudent investment), hasn’t been terribly critical of the work they see. One of the guys even told me it all looked “very clean and well-done,” even if the connectors weren’t anything he himself would have used.

At work I’m also starting to question everything financial, and I figure no matter what Kara and I decide, it’s going to work against us.

It feels like there’s been more than an average share of equipment failures this year, most recently the wall heater behind Kara’s desk. She has been trying to go without it, but yesterday, two months away from the onset of actual cold, she and Vann were hunkered down under coats and blankets in a positively Dickensian scene. We are looking into replacing the heater today.

We’ll just use some of our assistance money — oh, wait. There isn’t any.

The State of Colorado, disappointingly slow to react on almost every facet of Pandemia, has just today pledged to send out checks to people on unemployment making less than $52,000 per year. Time frame on delivery of these checks? Early December. Amount? $375. That ought to keep people warm, don’t you think?

For businesses, there’s always the Gap Fund, conceived of in late spring, promised in early August, actually rolled out in mid-September, with rejections issued by mid-October. It is mostly rejection, too: the fund announced, to its surprise, that 5,500 businesses had applied for $135 million in assistance.

The fund, which initially had $25 million to spend, has finally awarded not quite $7 million of it to a whopping 500, or 9 percent, of the applicants. And then went back out to solicit more applications. In the meantime, I don’t expect any of the awardees, none of which were Pat’s Screen Printing, to see any money for literal months.

The 5,000 of us that weren’t funded in the first of who knows how many — because isn’t this fun — rounds of “opportunity” were rolled into a second round, for which applications (because we certainly don’t have enough of those) closed yesterday. While we don’t have to reapply, we “might want to consider” making our applications stronger, and here are some of the helpful suggestions on offer:

  1. Priority Businesses: businesses owned by veterans, women, and individuals from a racial or ethnic minority and businesses located in rural areas are given high priority.
  2. Access to Prior Assistance:  businesses who have had no prior, or insufficient, access to federal, state, and/or local COVID-19 assistance are given high priority.
  3. Future Viability: businesses whose business model is poised to be sustainable and grow into the future are given high priority.
  4. Community Impact: businesses that have a positive economic and/or social impact that ripples through their communities are given high priority.

Instead of a heater I guess I’ll just run out and find a female combat veteran of color who so far has managed without assistance but now finds herself in need while lifting up the entire community around her.

I do not understand how we go back to our application and rewrite it to incorporate a single one of those “suggestions” without becoming completely prevaricational.

I assume, a month from now, the Gap Fund will announce it has located 300 businesses that meet its criteria and awarded another average of $13,400 in assistance that these companies can receive perhaps next March, and that the remaining 8,000 businesses have been rolled into a third round for consideration and gosh isn’t this great how we are helping our fellow Coloradans out.

In the meantime the federal Small Business Association has changed its mind for only the third or fourth time so far on the forgiveness process for the Paycheck Protection Program, along with deciding that that other advances, ours to keep, are now instead loans. For some reason, I can’t find anyone who can clarify any of this.

I spent two days trying to call Paypal, which holds my PPP loan. I called during hours they said their “U.S.-based team” answered the phone, only to hear a recording telling me they were closed for the day. I located some online info and Paypal offered to “chat” — except that “Tom” never showed up on their end of it, so there I was, talking to myself as I so often do.

Yesterday I was finally told that they are still “evaluating” the newest PPP form and don’t know when, if ever, they will get around to using it.

I figure, at the rate my life is going, if I continue waiting before applying, this will somehow preclude me from any future federal assistance that might never be on offer anyway. Or, if I do apply for forgiveness, the day after it is granted all loans that are still open will receive an automatic $10,000 boost. Those of you with closed loans can fill out this 10-page form that we will change 20 times during the application process.

I have zero idea of where even to turn for advice, so I will just move forward, one small step at a time, confident only in that if there’s a financial decision ahead of me, I will choose unwisely.

In the meantime there’s always the comfort of my Spanish bike race, which I can watch on Youtube for free each evening after the live event has concluded. That seems like a deal, right?

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