Free at last! As we mentioned in our March Dividend Portfolio Update we are finally back on the road and settled in Utah once again. Most importantly, we are free from the work-camping hell we found ourselves in for the last five plus months.
We will be doing another blog on the experience, but in short there were many issues we, and every other work-camper, had with our time in Mesa as it turned out to be a terrible experience.
For starters as we said the deal itself just wasn’t worth the time or hassle. We knew the details, or most of them at least, and we agreed to them beforehand so that’s on us. We hoped to find a place that we enjoyed and could return to when we winter in the southwest and we were a willing to take a subpar deal if it meant being at a great place. The bad financial deal turned out to be the least of the problems as the whole experience in and of itself was horrible.
Another issue was the additional monthly fees that were never disclosed to any of us in the paperwork or during the orientation. In fact, we didn’t find out about these additional fees until we received our first statement more than a month after we started working. Granted the fees were not a large sum and we covered the cost with our hours worked, but they should be disclosed upfront to begin with so we could have factored that expense into our decision making process.
Everyone’s financial situation is different and a few extra bucks or having to work more hours could be a dealbreaker for some people when it comes to covering the resort expenses. This was the exact case for one of our fellow work-campers who left months early due to the absurd costs. Also, as an accountant, I despise undisclosed fees and it makes me question a companies ethics if they don’t have the wherewithal to be upfront about stuff like this.
Finally we have the work and the work environment. As we mentioned in previous updates we spent more time doing manual labor as opposed to the work described to us in the interview process and the orientation. It seemed the “fun events” were reserved for the chosen few while the rest of us only served to do the heavy lifting and setup for their good times.
In fact, the only time we worked an actual concert event is when we needed to go to California a couple of weeks ago and asked for a day off. This forced a schedule change so that we could meet our hours minimum. Other than that we were on the manual labor team.
Then you have the work environment. Describing it as unprofessional would be an understatement as the leadership of our department was an abject failure. The director has no business managing people as she is completely void of interpersonal skills or professionalism.
For example, she was is unable to effectively communicate project expectations leaving others to try and decipher her plans at their own peril. She was unable to control her emotions and resorted to yelling at the work-campers even if it was in front of resort guests. She was unable to handle any adversity and would get visibly angry at the first sign of it, often walking away from people and employees cursing and muttering under her breath about how stupid everyone is. And she was never open to suggestions even if it would help events run smoother or improve the guests experience.
In fact, I personally made a suggestion about the placement of some tables for a concert to make the viewing angle better for the guests. This didn’t go over well and I was promptly dressed down in front of my wife and co-workers. But it wasn’t just me as everyone got that treatment from her at some point, even the chosen ones.
For the most part the work-campers all got along, but there was an obvious divide between the chosen few and everyone else. This divide was perpetuated by managements actions and her treatment of the employees. Most of us still worked well together despite the drama and in the end even some of the chosen few were not happy with how we were being treated and said they don’t plan on coming back again. They finally had enough of the bullshit too.
This is just a small sample of what we were dealing with and why we were ready to get out of there. It’s just really unfortunate as it could have been a much better experience. Anyway, we will go into more detail when we get our blog together as there is a whole lot more to the story. And as you can probably tell, we have a lot to say about the matter.
Enough of that, lets get down to the business at hand!
Here is how our portfolio performed in March 2023:
(Our original portfolio goal $1.5m)
Portfolio = $1,381,495
Our Portfolio Increased By $22,616 or 1.66% From The End Of February
Year-To-Date Our Portfolio Has Increased By $56,868 or 4.29%
Net Worth = $1,439,449
Our Net Worth Increased By $23,629 or 1.67% From The End Of February
Unless you are living in a cave it’s become apparent that this fed is on a mission to ensure they go down in history as the absolute worst FOMC ever assembled. We have said for almost a year now that raising rates too fast will have major consequences as the impact slowly works it’s way through the system. Well here we are with banks failing, manufacturing crumbling and confidence in the economy eroding. But hey, unemployment is still looking good so let’s keep raising rates based on that lagging information! Wait, what, companies are announcing layoffs on a daily basis? LALALALALA I can’t hear that because my ego hurts!
Look, there is no doubt that SVB failing is as much about their horrible banking practices as any other factors. However, when the fed raises rates the banks also need to adjust their holdings so they don’t get caught holding devalued paper. Some of their holdings need to be marked down or up to market value on their books and with rates rising too fast and bond prices plummeting these banks now have billions, if not trillions, of dollars in paper losses.
Sure if they hold to maturity they don’t lose anything, but what if they are forced to sell in order to provide liquidity to their customers? The paper loss is now a real loss and that’s what happened with SVB. Word got out they were in trouble and then companies and people ran, most virtually, on the bank to get their money out. As such, the bank tried to get more liquidity to cover the withdrawals and they were eventually forced to sell their bond portfolio at a massive, now realized, loss.
Then, as is natural, everyone started looking at all of the regional banks for the same type of situation and the dominos started to fall. It’s not the first or last time this has happened, but it was compounded by the fact that this fed has been incompetent and convoluted in their communication by sending mixed signals to banks and pretty much everyone else from the get go.
Remember they had no intention on raising rates as inflation was “transitory”. That message gave a clear ok to the banks to buy long dated bonds at horribly low rates since rates were not expected to increase anytime soon. But oopsy, the fed was dead wrong and now the banks are stuck holding giant bags of garbage as a result. So as has become customary in our country at this point the government steps in with the bailout.
Yes, it’s a bailout! The government, politicians and disingenuous hacks will pretend it’s not by splitting hairs and pointing to the shiny object of distraction. They will say executives and equity holders are being wiped out and that the expenses are being covered by increased fees paid into the FDIC by the other banks themselves.
But, as usual they will fail to mention how the banks get money to pay those fees. That would be from their customers ergo the taxpayers in the form of passing along the expense down stream to the consumers. Every single business does this so let’s not pretend the banks would never do it and the government has taken some moral high ground in this situation. It’s a bailout, no if’s, ands or but’s about it!
Wash, rinse and repeat!
I won’t venture to guess how things will eventually turn out. I felt like the fed had an opportunity and a reason to pause, but instead they decided to roll the dice once again. I fear that will also be the case come the next meeting as their insistence that they are data driven doesn’t align with their actions when the data is produced. And apparently raising rates while banks are failing is now acceptable practice.
So our stance is to just sit back and see how it goes because we can’t do anything about it anyway. This too shall pass, let’s just hope we still have a banking system and money left when it finally does.
Let’s take a look at our expenses for the month.
Here is how we did on our spending for March 2023:
Monthly Budget = $5,000
Total spend for March 2023 = $4,540
Over/Under Monthly Budget = $460
Over/Under Budget YTD = $413
Less Prepaid Site Fees = -$587
Net Over/Under Budget YTD = $1,000
March turned out to be a little more expensive than we had planned for. We took our aforementioned trip to California to visit family which we knew would come at a cost. Then we saw an opportunity to get out of Mesa a day earlier than scheduled and we took it. As did several other work-campers. Can’t imagine why!
Because of this we incurred the related travel expenses for fuel and an overnight stay in March instead of April when we were scheduled to exit. These two decisions added approximately $700 to our expense category in the month of March, but it was well worth it to see open road and leave the drama behind.
Now for the good news. Despite these expenses we still came in $413 under budget for the month! Year to date that puts us squarely at $1,000 under budget net of prepaid site fees. Not bad at all considering some of the large expenses we have had to pay out this year!
Looking forward to April it’s going be an expensive month as we need to pay for the insurance for our Jeep and our RV. It will also be the first time in almost six months that we have to pay out of pocket for our site fees and this campground is a little over our normal monthly budget. As such we expect to be in the red for April which is why we were so happy to have a little cushion after the first three months of the year.
Most importantly, we are back to living the life we enjoy! While our time in Mesa was not the best we did make some new lifelong friends and we also discovered that we will be camping just down the road from them in the late fall and winter months. This was such amazing news! We will all go on our adventures for the season and meet back up in a better, and much more fun, environment later this year to share stories and some drinks.
Even in the worst moments this lifestyle provided us with some positive returns and something to look forward to later in our journey. That’s what it’s all about folks!!
Thank you as always for taking time to read our blog. We appreciate everyone following us on our journey and we look forward to any feedback from our readers in the comments below.
See you on the road!!
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