Correcting the Lies About My Money Situation

By Gene Steinberg

After a period of severe financial distress, I decided to do what others have done and take my situation public. I weighed the pros and cons, and realized that some people would severely object to anyone who chose this method to ask for help. But I did it anyway; the situation was really that bad.

Now asking for donations isn’t unusual. Lots of people who run blogs or other online businesses have Donate buttons. Some even depend on those donations to put food on the table and pay the rent. No doubt I made the mistake of explaining the source of my problem, because the situation was urgent. Being honest and forthright about my needs had unintended consequences.

Fortunately, most of you understood what was really going on, and some of you were even willing to help.

But a few online bloggers decided to run hate campaigns against me. Mixing the basic facts of my situation with lies, they have been relentless.

But you deserve to know the facts, so I’ll respond to the false claims here:

Accusation: Gene refuses to get a job, and expects people to hand him money to fund his lavish lifestyle.

Response: A few bloggers continue to spread this lie. Even though they’ve been corrected time and time again, they repeat the same falsehoods. One of those people even has a donate button on his website, so maybe he hopes some of you will help him rather than me.

The people who make these false claims have no idea what my personal finances really are. They don’t care!

The truth is that I’ve always had an income, but it has varied all over the place. I earn money from the radio shows and my tech blog through ads and subscriptions to The Paracast+ and The Tech Night Owl+.

The 2007 recession made it difficult to find outside work for a while, but conditions are getting better.

Additional money comes from social security; not a lot, but it helps. I have also had different part-time gigs, such as consulting, writing and ride sharing (Uber and Lyft).

I have also sought financial assistance from government and charitable agencies. Only limited help for older Americans is available in Arizona; they mostly focus on young families with children.

Question: Gene lives a lavish lifestyle.

Hardly. My rent about average for this part of the country. We’ve moved to cheaper and cheaper places in recent years. The household furniture is sparse and old; it was purchased shortly after my wife and I got married 40 years ago. Since then, we’ve spent $100 for a do-it-yourself chest. We bought a mattress and box spring 12 years ago, and it really needs to be replaced. The family TV, acquired with a professional discount, is more than five years old. My notebook computer was purchased in 2010.

Our diets consist mostly of breakfast cereal, bagels with cream cheese or peanut butter, soups and the occasional salad. My wife prefers breakfast bars. When I’m outside working, I might stop for a cheap sandwich at a fast food restaurant or convenience store. Beverages consist of coffee, water and diet sodas. We may eat out on a special occasion, but even then we choose a fairly inexpensive Chinese or Mediterranean restaurant.

I’ve gone over my personal finances with friends to see where I can save, and I can tell you my lifestyle is anything but lavish.

Accusation: Gene has been begging for money for 10 years, and doesn’t do a thing to change the situation.

Response: My first requests for donations were not about me, but my late brother-in-law Stephen. I began to help him deal with the outgrowth of a series of legal issues in 2003. One of those legal issues involved the proceeds from a large stock sale, but he assured me that everything would soon be resolved in his favor so he could collect his money.

So I slowly emptied my bank account of my life savings and handed money to him. My son offered his college savings to help. After all, it was about family. But the legal roadblocks remained in place, so when I ran out of money, I began to post online donation requests to continue to help Stephen and his family. Some of you might recall my original money appeals, which included photos of his handicapped son.

They were all about Stephen and his family, not about me!

Stephen died in 2014. His legal problems were never resolved, and my personal finances were devastated. My son managed to cover most of his college education with grants and scholarships, but he continues to pay off a small student loan because of the money he lost.

My income is slowly increasing, so I’m getting closer and closer to moving past this nightmare. Obviously nobody is forced to donate, and nobody is forced to read the newsletters and posts about my situation.

Let me make it clear: My financial problems are real. If you have any questions about my situation, or need more information about specific bills, just ask.

After all this time, I realize that I’ve probably worn out my welcome, and most of you have family and other personal obligations that demand more attention. These are hard times for everyone. But I did want to set the record straight for those who still have questions about my situation.

Meanwhile, if you feel you can still help out, please send a payment via PayPal. You may send it to [email protected] or use the Donate button on any of my sites.

Very truly yours,

Gene Steinberg

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