Every now and again I like to pick your guys/gals brains. It’s not only helpful for me to see if I am at relatable to the people who read PDITF, but hopefully it’s also helpful for you to see where you stand against the masses. Since the value in today’s post is probably coming from the comments section, and not these words, I’ll cut right to the chase.

What is your total credit card debt? 

It’s really that simple. Apparently the average household (that has at least one credit card) has nearly $16,000 in CC debt. Let’s see if that rings true for this community.

I’ll get this party started. Our CC balance currently stands at $6,505, and like always, will be paid off at the end of the month. What’s depressing is that our most expensive purchase included in that balance was $140 for car insurance. That means we have a ton of freakin’ small purchases that amount to a rather large balance. Dang.

Your turn. What’s your balance (and why is it what it is)? 

extra credit questions: What is the interest rate on your card(s)?

I woke up to a text from one my good friends yesterday morning that read “Can I pull 100% of my Roth contributions at any time without penalty?”  Why yes, yes you can. Roth contributions can be pulled at any time, for any reason, without any repercussions. That’s why I like to think of my Roth IRA as a second-tier emergency fund. My Roth is really just as liquid as my savings account and that’s why I think all young people should seriously consider opening one up. The Roth is  like the filet mignon of retirement planning for 20-somethings.

But today’s post isn’t actually about Roth IRA’s or filet mignon, but instead just a list about some of the most important things I’ve learned through my personal finance journey. In no specific order, here they are:

    • You don’t have to be rich to end up rich. Never knew a $50,000/year salary could turn in to millions in retirement if done right.
    • Albert Einstein once said the most powerful force in the universe is compound interest. I had no idea age played such a significant role in one’s financial future. The earlier you get your shizz together, the better off you will be down the road.
    • 401k’s sound really boring, but in reality they are pretty straightforward and typically provide a guaranteed return on investment (for example my employer automatically matches up to 5% of my gross salary in contributions). Can’t beat a 100% guaranteed return on investment anywhere.
    • Renting IS NOT a terrible financial decision.
    • Minimum payments on debt are the worst. I remember calculating how much my $28,000 student loan would end up costing me if I made minimum payments. The answer….$52,000. Minimum payments suck. BAD!
    • Credit Cards are pretty awesome when used responsibly. Girl Ninja and I get airline miles for every dollar we charge to the card, dollars we would have spent anyway for things like groceries and gas. Not to mention, that my C.C. also gives me a 30 day, interest free loan. Awesome sauce!
    • Investing really isn’t that complicated. In about 30 minutes you can set up and get started investing in a Roth IRA. Investing seems intimidating, but it really doesn’t have to be. Don’t let fear be an excuse not to act.
    • You don’t have to have a car payment. When Girl Ninja and I bought our car a handful of people made inferences that we must now be proud owners of a car payment. Not so much the case. A little saving goes a long way and contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to finance your next car either.

Alright I’ll end this geekgasm here. Don’t want to totally nerd out on you all, but man Personal Finance really can be exciting. The bullet points above were all things that really resonated with me as I’ve navigated the world of PF for the last few years.

What bullet points would be on your list?

What are some of your favorite things you’ve learned, or come across in your journey?

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I was chatting with a close friend a few days ago about the housing market. Big surprise right? We know what the median household income is in Seattle ($66,000), and we also know the median sales price of a home in Seattle right now is $380,000. What we don’t know is how the crap people can afford a $380,000 mortgage on a $66,000 annual income! There are only a few logical conclusions…

1. They inherited the property

2. They received a financial windfall

3. They are house poor. 

4. They are risk takers.

If they inherited the property, or received a financial windfall, good for them.

If they are house poor, I can’t say I’m jealous of them. Nothing about living paycheck to paycheck appeals to me. I would never want to be in a position where I have to sacrifice traveling, eating out, or skiing just so I can make a mortgage payment. No thank you.

But what about the people who are just willing to take a risk?

Debt has a pretty bad rap. Heck, I even named my blog Punch Debt In The Face because I think it’s so dumb. But reality is, debt can be a powerful tool for building wealth; like when one takes out a line of credit to start a business, or when someone finances a rental property.

Sure it’s risky. If the business fails, or the real estate market crumbles, you could lose everything. But how bad is that really? It’s not like you have to worry about going to jail. Maybe you get sent to collections and settle your debt for less than you owe, maybe you walk away from your house and get foreclosed on. Maybe you have to consider filing bankruptcy. While none of these things are particularly enjoyable, they are solutions.

Maybe I’m too conservative for my own good?

I mean, if we bought a $500,000 house in 2012 we’d have about 15% equity in the thing based on recent market appreciation. That’s a $75,000 gain in less than two years!!!

What did I do?

Oh that’s right. I decided to keep saving money so we could easily afford a 20% down payment on a house priced $150,000 under what we were qualified to borrow. At last check, my savings account earned a paltry 0.75%. 

Do you see what I’m saying friends? It seems to me that the risk/reward comparison of using debt to leverage one’s financial position often favors reward. Think about it.

We buy a $500,000 house and sell it a year later for a $50,000 profit (after commissions). Or we buy a $500,000 house, watch the markets tank, and walk away from the property and let the bank deal with it (Washington is a non-recourse state). The system is set up to protect one against their own stupid decisions, so much so, that these stupid decisions are no longer necessarily stupid.

Interest rates are low, and house prices are still lower than pre-bubble days. Why not use the depressed market, and government bailouts (quantitative easing), as an opportunity to make some extra dough?

Oh that’s right, because I’m a wuss.

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Being conservative might not make me rich, but I guess it beats the possibility of being poor?

Retirement

July 20, 2014 · 8 comments

Hope you enjoy a guest post today from none other than my better half, Girl Ninja. 

As of June 13th, 2014, I am officially retired…and it feels so good.  I spent all nine months of my pregnancy looking forward to the days I get to spend at home holding my baby.  I know challenges are definitely coming my way, but along with that I am excited to help take care of a household, without feeling worn down from working all day long.

As Ninja and I transition from a DINK family, to a single income household, I am surprised by the challenge.  It isn’t a tighter budget, more mindful spending or being bored and stir-crazy at home.  It isn’t the guilty feeling of spending money that I am not bringing in.  Instead, it is the surprising feeling that I miss kindergarten.

I love teaching kindergarten.  I’m not sure I really knew how much I loved it, until I left it.  In the frenzy of kindergarten graduation, packing a classroom, and a rapidly approaching due date to meet my little one, I was busy checking off to-do lists.  As I was literally walking out the back door of my classroom, I turned back one last time…cue cheesy slow motion scene with sappy music in the background.  Then the tears came.  I cried my whole drive home.  I cried as I thought back over the lessons I had taught, and the lessons my 5 year olds had taught me.  Inside those four walls, there was safety to try, to fail, to achieve, to be challenged for both my students and myself.  Names and faces poured through my mind, and I was overcome with thankfulness, joy, and sadness to be ending this chapter of life and moving on to something new.

Walking by the “Back to School” sale at Target last week, I had to stop myself from browsing the sales and stocking up for the next year. Rather than spending my days teaching, loving on, and learning with 22 five-year olds from 8:30-3:30 each day, I will be spending my day (and currently my nights) teaching, loving, and learning with Baby Ninja.  Some daily challenges will be similar, some will be different.  I won’t have those 15 minute recess breaks, 30 minute lunch breaks, or that 3:30 end time for each day. September will be hard, as I know my friends and coworkers will be gearing up to set up their classrooms and prepare for a new group of students.

Will giving this part of my life up be worth it?

Yes, I know it definitely will.  I know these are years and days with Baby Ninja I won’t get back, and I can’t wait for each of them.

So, what’s my plan? Am I just going to go through my day-to-day with this back and forth mindset of missing my teacher days, while learning to love being a stay at home mom?

Well, we have a plan.  I am excited to have the opportunity to substitute (saying yes or no to work based on what works for me? Yes please!), and I also hope to begin tutoring a few students next year.  Ninja’s schedule will allow us to make this work without having to pay for childcare for Baby Ninja.

I’m so thankful that my love for being home with my baby boy, and my love for teaching don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  I am thankful for the ways that my career have prepared me, and given me at least a glimpse of what motherhood holds. I am thankful for a husband that works hard to make it possible for me to be home with Baby Ninja during these little years.

We hope you’ll stick around to see how it goes! 

 

 

Do your work benefits rock?

July 14, 2014

With the arrival of Baby Ninja in the rear view mirror, Girl Ninja and I are starting to receive a hefty amount of mail from my insurance company. All the hospital visits, the labor and delivery, the lactation consultations, the pediatric appointments, and medications; are looking for their cut of pie. Every time I check the […]

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No easy way around extra paychecks

July 10, 2014

For those of us that get paid every two weeks, we face a battle of epic proportions. Managing a budget is no easy task, especially when all months AREN’T created equal. Ten months a year we might bring home $4,000, but two months of the year we bring home $6,000. Why must such cruel things […]

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Markets at an all time high? Jump in.

July 6, 2014

I’ve been doing a lot of blogging lately about real estate and the stock market. The last two years have been insane for both markets. Epic and unsustainable are some of the adjectives that come to mind for the recent  gains. The general consensus amongst PF nerds is that one should strive to buy low and sell high. […]

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