Monday

Fun and Entertaining Ideas on a Budget

One of the many challenges of being in debt is entertainment. Going to the movies, dinner out, or a family vacation may not be possible on a budget. However, that does not mean you have to bypass all forms of entertainment since there are many low-cost or free options.

Find Cheap or Free Museum Passes

If you check your local library, you may be able to obtain low-cost or free museum passes which your family can borrow. Many communities offer these passes on a regular basis to patrons of the library. There may be some restrictions which apply, but the cost savings can be significant. You may also wish to contact your local community center or senior center to see what resources they have available.
In most instances, these passes are donated by another patron, so they may have waiting lists, so you will want to plan ahead. Instead of purchasing a high-cost meal, pack a lunch from home and carry it along with you. Exploring local museums is educational, and can also be another way to enjoy fun and entertaining activities on a budget.

Free or Inexpensive Community Events

Many towns post some type of community calendar on a regular basis. You may find it on a local Facebook page or on your town's regular website. Check out upcoming events and you could find activities like movie nights, breakfasts run by community groups like Lions Clubs or Masons, or pot luck community dinners.
Most of these events will cost between $3.00 and $10.00 per person, but they are far less expensive than going to a restaurant. Additionally, you will be supporting community activities and donations provided by these groups.

Reading Groups, or Dance and Exercise Classes

Some people may find dance and exercise classes are available through a local senior center, community center, or their local VFW or American Legion. These classes are usually offered free, or for $5.00 or less per person. This is a great way to meet others in your community, get some exercise and enjoy yourself without breaking your budget.
If you love to read, there are often reading groups locally who are in search of new members. Books are selected by the group for reading and most of the time can be obtained from your library.  If you cannot find a class or group like this locally, consider approaching your local senior or community center and being an organizer of one of these events in your community.

Consider Community Service Organizations

Many communities have numerous volunteer organizations including town beautification committees, fraternal organizations, or newcomers' clubs. These groups often charge a membership fee, but they are also open to having someone volunteer their time without being a member. Some of these groups organize bus trips, town appreciation days, and other community events which you could have the opportunity to participate in for a fraction of what it would cost if you were not volunteering. In some cases, you may be able to participate for no fee.
Getting involved with a town project which involves your entire family can be very rewarding. Not only will you be showing your children the value of community involvement, you will get the added benefit of meeting people you might otherwise not have the opportunity to get to know.
Getting your financial life in order is challenging, particularly since you will be cutting corners to reduce your debt. Participating in fun and entertaining activities on a budget does not mean you have to stay home every night, you merely need to find events that fit your lifestyle. Get creative, think outside the box, and continue working towards your goal of being debt-free.

Thursday

Police Turn to Deception to Encourage You to Become an Informant

Imagine you are facing charges of possession of marijuana in Pennsylvania and the police tell you when they weighed the marijuana the total amount was 31 grams. They then explain that because you had more than 30 grams, you are possibly facing a year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

Now imagine the same police officer telling you that if you arrange a marijuana purchase from the person who sold you the product to begin with, they can reduce or eliminate the charges against you. Chances are, even if you doubted you had that amount of marijuana in your possession, you are tempted to accept their offer.

Police Deception and Informants

What the police officer is asking you to do is commit another illegal act, but with legal cover of an informant. However, there are a few things you should know about taking on the role of an informant in any case, and why it is even more risky if you are facing a criminal charge.

  • No guarantee if not in writing — if the officer is not willing to put his offer in writing, you could still be facing a criminal charge of possession. In addition, you could face an additional charge if you are involved in another purchase of marijuana.
  • Police use deceptive tactics – you may not realize it, but if the amount of marijuana in your possession was less than 30 grams, a good defense attorney could mean no jail time, no fine, and no charges.
  • Personal danger is possible — you could also be putting yourself in the path of additional harm if the people you are purchasing drugs from as an informant. In some cases, the danger could far outweigh a minor possession charge.

It is important for you to consider all options and exercise your right to have an attorney present before you answer any questions, make any deals, or make any declaration about your arrest.

Police Officer Deception is Legal

One thing to keep in mind, it is legal for a police officer to use deception to obtain a confession, or to "turn" you into an informant. It is likely the officer will not tell a big lie, more than likely it will be something minor that could possibly be shown to have been simply a misjudgment such as telling you there was slightly more drugs in your possession than were there. This is so the deception is not easily detectable by you while they are pressuring you for help.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are arrested and facing a possession charge, do not make the drastic decision to become an informant without speaking with an experienced attorney first. Keep in mind, a first-time offender may be able to have the charges dropped by completing a diversion program while on probation. In other cases, the arrest may have violated your rights. Do not allow an officer's deception to turn you into an informant without speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Pennsylvania

Image: From Wikimedia Commons: Lionel Allorge