Are you dependent?

Today is moving day!!!! Since, I’m moving out of my current apartment and in to my Ninja Lair I had the cable and internet turned off. That means I’m totally being a wifi whore and stealing internet from one of my neighbors open connections. I’m a criminal.

For the first half of the day, I couldn’t help but feel extremely pathetic. I realized I am completely dependent upon an internet connection. Ew. That makes me feel gross just saying it, but it’s true. I could barely function. I contemplated painting my nails black, my face white, and writing poetry. Yeah, I was just that emo.

I decided to make a list of things I couldn’t imagine living without…

1. Air, water, food, shelter, blah blah blah…self explanatory

2. Internet. What the heck would I do if I couldn’t watch cute dog movies at the click of a button (watch til the end)…

3. Cell phone. Holy cow. It’s disgusting how anxious I get if I am not within earshot of my celly cell. What if mom ninja wants to get a hold of her baby boy? I can’t have her worrying by not answering.

4. Puma Socks. These lovely little socks make my feet want to say “Oh, oh oh oh, oh oh oh oh oh, oh oh oh oh oh, Oh my gosh” (did you pick up on the Usher reference?)

5. Razor. Seeing that my facial hair grows in about as awkward as a 13 year old Russian boys,ย  I need to shave almost every single day.

6. Rainbow sandals. If you are from California you know what these are. If you’re not then let me inform you: They are the greatest sandals known to man kind. That is all.

7. Bedroom fan. Let’s face it there is one fundamental difference between man and woman. Men are always hot and women are always freezing. I turn a fan on every night when I go to bed, even if it’s 40 degrees outside. At first this was so I didn’t overheat, but now I’ve gotten so use to the gentle hum I can’t go to sleep without the background noise.

I could probably keep rambling on, but instead I’d love to hear some of the things that you couldn’t live without. Makeup? Bicycle? Bananas? Let’s get quirky up in hurr.

Ask a Ninja

A business man got on an elevator in a building. When he entered the elevator, there was a blonde already inside and she greeted him by saying, “T-G-I-F” (letters only).

He smiled at her and replied, “S-H-I-T” (letters only).”

She looked at him, puzzled, and said, “T-G-I-F” again.

He acknowledged her remark again by answering, “S-H-I-T.”

The blond was trying to be friendly, so she smiled her biggest smile and said as sweetly as possibly “T-G-I-F” another time.

The man smiled back to her and once again replied with a quizzical expression, “S-H-I-T.”

The blond finally decided to explain things, and this time she said, “T-G-I-F, Thank Goodness It’s Friday, get it?”

The man answered, “Sorry, Honey, It’s Thursday.”

Ha!! Lucky for us, it really is Friday. I love Fridays. And in honor of wrapping up another work week, it only seems appropriate to also take a break from the typical personal finance mumbo jumbo. I blog anonymously, but that doesn’t mean that I’m scared of getting personal. I figured we might try something new today. I’m gonna give you all an opportunity to ask me anything you’d like, and assuming it’s not a sketchy question, I’ll comment back with my response. Here are a few to help get the ball rolling…

Question: Why’d you name your blog “Punch Debt In The Face?”

Answer: Umm, because it’s questionably one of the most glorious PF blog names of all time. I can’t take credit for the inspiration, however, this idea came from a much higher power…. a unicorn. Okay, not really. The name just popped in my head one day.

Question: What’s your favorite piece of financial wisdom

Answer: I loved learning that you don’t have to make a ton of money to end up rich. Discipline, drive, and luck go a long way.

Question: Did you watch Captain Planet growing up?

Answer: No. The Parental Ninjas didn’t like the political undertones in the show. I also wasn’t allowed to watch Ren & Stimpy because it was too crude. I was a deprived child.

Question: What do you and Girl Ninja look like?

Answer: This… (minus the awkward black bars running across our faces)

Question: Any siblings?

Answer: Yes. An older sister who is a freakin’ genius (no joke, she skipped 3 yrs of school and graduated college at 19 with a B.S. in computer science), and a younger brother who is 6’7. No really, he’s Six Foot Seven. Wait, does that make me the little brother?

Question: What mutual funds do you own?

Answer: Three different Vanguard funds. VTSMX, VGTSX, and NAESX

Question: Why did you start blogging?

Answer: Honestly, ’cause I wanted to see if I could make a name for myself in the PF blogososphere. Oh and makeย  money doing it. I’m shallow, I know.

Alright, you get the point. You ask. I answer. Pretty simple huh? Ask away…

p.s. If you all have no interest in me or my life, you can watch this beatboxing flutist instead…

Certified Bada$$

Have you ever heard of StrengthsQuest? It’s one of the most popular personality profiles this side of the Milky Way. My college required all incoming freshmen to take the personality test. Upon completion, you get a printout of your five most dominate strengths. The database consists of 34 unique strengths. They are….

* Achiever * Activator * Adaptability * Analytical * Arranger * Belief * Command * Communication * Competition * Connectedness * Consistency * Context * Deliberative * Developer * Discipline * Empathy * Focus * Futuristic * Harmony * Ideation * Includer * Individualization * Input * Intellection * Learner * Maximizer * Positivity * Relator * Responsibility * Restorative * Self-Assurance * Significance * Strategic * Woo

So like I mentioned, my freshmen year of college I took the test and here were my top 5 strengths (in no particular order)…

1) Responsibility

2) Activator

3) Competition

4) Futuristic

5) Maximizer

I’m convinced if Certified Bada$$ was a strength that would have been top of my list, possibly followed by Frugal Mother Lover. Don’t you agree?

For what it’s worth, I usually don’t put much value in what some “test” says my personality is like, but honestly, I think this was pretty darn accurate. Even you, strange creepy guy that’s reading my blog in your underwear, can probably see some of these qualities in my writing. I say this not because I think I’m totally awesome and you allย  should envy me, but because these five strengths are directly responsible for my financial success.

I most identify with the Futuristic tag. I remember walking out of Organic Chemistry one day while talking with one of my classmates. He said, “Ninja, how the heck do you have an A in this class,? It’s freakin’ hard.” I replied, “It’s simple. I work my butt off so I can get an A, cause if I get all A’s in college I will have better job prospects. If I have better job prospects, I’ll make more money. If I make more money, I can have a more comfortable life. If I have a more comfortable life, I have the freedom to do what I want, when I want.”

To me, failing even one O-chem test was not an option, because if I did, I thought it could seriously affect the rest of my life.

I think this also reigns true in my financial choices. In 2008, I entered the work force at $38,000/yr. Today my salary is $62,500/yr. Do you want to know how much my “cost of living” has gone up over those last two years? Zero. My rent, groceries, and entertainment expenses all remain the same as they did when I was making a lot less. I chose not to increase my standard of living during my raises ’cause I knew it would afford me better opportunities in the future. And so far it is paying off huge. I’ve paid down over $24,000 in student loan debt. I’ve invested $15,000 in my Roth IRA. And I’ve contributed $14,000 to my 401K. As each day passes, I’m becoming more and more financially free and it feels unbe-FREAKIN-lievable.

I have my five strengths written on a white board sitting above my desk. Every now and again I’ll look them over and make sure I am maximizing my potential in each specific area. If I’m not, than I only have myself to blame.

It’s probably important to address the fact that your specific strengths are not what is necessarily important, but more how you use them. No one strength is better than another.

So, reader, of the 34 strengths listed above, what do you think your top five would be?

I isn’t perfect

I’m praying to 8lb 6oz baby jesus that I am not your primary source of financial wisdom. I should be ranking somewhere between MSN Money and People Of Walmart. Over the last year, a few of you have began to confuse me with serious PF blogs. I regret to inform you, I ain’t one of ’em.

That said, I do love me some personal finance. I probably read between 5 and 10 PF related articles and news stories a day. I follow other PF blogs. And have been known to read a PF book or two. I know more about money than the average citizen, but probably WAAAY less than you.

I’ve received a hand full of comments and emails over the last couple months indicating some of you are concerned with the direction of my blog. (As if I ever had a clear direction in the first place?) I assume this is a result of my tendency to blog about my engagement.

Every person that has recommended I “get back to my roots” has been a dude. Dudes don’t like wedding talk. I can’t really blame them for not wanting to read about it once or twice a week. Lord knows I don’t follow any wedding blogs. While I understand where they are coming from, I have no plans to redirect this ship.

This whole marriage thing is a pretty big deal. It is not only the most significant life change I’ve ever made, but also the biggest financial change. I blog about things that are directly relevant to me. That means sometimes my posts will tickle your fancy, and other times you’ll think “Oh no, not another post about apartment shopping!” They are looking for the meat and potatoes of personal finance, when I am more like the soggy left over broccoli that no one wants to eat.

So let’s clear the air. I really only have a few goals when it comes to this here bloggy. 1) Be personal 2) Hopefully make you laugh from time to time 3) Tie in the majority of my posts with some element of PF and 4) Make a little money (hey I’m being honest). I’m not trying to change the world. I’m not trying to inspire you to change your financial perspective (although that would be pretty awesome if I did). Nor am I promising to be the most cutting edge and relevant PF blog out there. If you haven’t been feeling my blog as of late, you may or may not be able to unsubscribe by clicking here ;).

In an attempt to satisfy all PDITF readers, I’d like to ask a few simple questions.

Where do you get your financial counsel? I’m talking specifics; i.e. what blogs, books, websites, or shows. Feel free to link to them below so we can all have access to the cream of the crop.

What are some of your favorite topics I write about? What are your least favorite?

If you had to kiss me or Tom Cruise, who would it be?

Only you, and baby jesus, can help make PDITF a little less miserable, so please give me your two cents.

If you have enjoyed your time here, would you consider subscribing to my blog? If you don’t want to subscribe, I’ll just assume you’re a racist (only kidding). Oh, and if you’d prefer to receive updates via email you can do so by clicking here. Nothing beats a little shameless self promotion.

p.s if you click the link where I said “you can unsubscribe by clicking here, you’ll get a special treat ๐Ÿ™‚

Meet vulnerable Ninja…

Humility. It’s definitely a quality I lack. In fact, I’m quasi-arrogant. No, I don’t go around telling people how great I think I am. But honestly, sometimes I think that to myself.

This rings especially true in my financial life. I’m always comparing myself to my peers. I don’t like being average. Wait, let me rephrase that. I HATE BEING AVERAGE. While I don’t think the desire to surpass mediocrity is necessarily a bad thing, I do believe it leads to pride. And pride, my friends, leads to arrogance. And arrogance leads to being a douche bag. And last time I checked, I don’t want to be a douche bag. I mean look at this guy and tell me he doesn’t scream “Douche”….

It’s not uncommon for me to measure my financial success by comparison.

It generally looks like this….

Do I make more money than most of my friends? Yup

Do I have a larger savings than most of my friends? Yup

Do I have more in retirement … ? Yup

Do I have less debt … ? Yup

Does that make me better than them? Yup

Wait. No. No, it doesn’t. There is nothing wrong with answering “Yup” to the first four questions, but when I answer “Yup” to the last one, I’m in definite need of a douche-bag-reality-check.

Do I make more money than most of my friends? Sure, but why does that make me better than them? Answer: It doesn’t. Being that I graduated from a small private college, I have quite a few friends that went to work in the non-profit sector. They get paid diddly squat (haha, the word diddly is funny). They may not make as much as I do. And they may not be able to afford some of the “luxuries” I can. But what they lack in income, they more than make up for in life experiences.

Yeah, I make $65,000 per year, but when was the last time I went to Africa in an effort to stop child soldiering like my friend Jed? Oh wait, that’s right. I haven’t. Maybe my income’s not so awesome after all.

Last night, I was reminded I’m not as great as I think I am. I need to stop using my peers as a metric to evaluate my level of success. It doesn’t matter how much THEY make, how much debt THEY have, or how much THEY save. All that truly matters is that I am doing the best I can, with what I got.

Okay I’m going to go rescue a puppy or donate a kidney or something ๐Ÿ™‚

Do you ever struggle with pride?

How do you keep yourself humble?

Who inspires you the most (my guess is it’s not your friend that MAKES the most, but your friend that DOES the most)?


Ya don’t know where you’re going…

You know the old saying, “You don’t know where you’re going, unless you know where you’ve been.”? I’ve concluded whoever came up with that phrase must have been drunk, or high, or drunk and high. If you look at my career progression, I don’t think anyone would have guessed I’d be where I am today. I sure as heck didn’t plan on being here.

Here’s a sequential rundown of my positions (from high school to present)…

  1. Assembled x-ray machine equipment in a factory
  2. Worked for my college campus’ student activities dept
  3. Kitchen cook at summer camp
  4. Director of student activities for college campus
  5. Ropes/outdoor activities guide at summer camp
  6. Jansport stickerer (put price stickers on backpacks for 8 hours)
  7. Pac-sun retail
  8. Building manager for college campus building
  9. Background “extra” for various television shows
  10. Psychiatric technician
  11. Special Agent

Seeing that my first 10 positions are in no way related to my current job, I don’t think anyone would have predicted I’d be a Special Agent. Maybe the phrase holds true for some people, but I’d be willing to bet the majority of us would have pretty diverse career paths.

Let’s see how accurate this statement is, shall we? Take a second to drop me a comment with your job progression. Reflecting on your career path would you say you could have predicted you’d be where you are today? I’ve had 11 jobs in the last six years, how many have you had?

p.s. On Monday I will be hosting the carnival of personal finance so be sure to check back then. I expect there to be a bunch of awesome PF articles. Happy weekend everyone ๐Ÿ™‚

Ninja’s favorite things

I’m a man, so I often spend my time doing manly things like cutting wood, building super-robots, and punching walruses in the face. But every once in a while, Girl Ninja uses her feminine magic to get me to do some rather unmanly things. Specifically, watch Oprah. Yeah I know, embarrassing.

As miserable as suffering through an hour of Oprah was, I did find one thing intriguing. Apparently she does a show each year called ‘Oprah’s Favorite Things’ where she endorses some of her favorite products. I may not be a middle aged, billionaire, black woman, but I still think it would be fun to share with you some of Ninja’s favorite things…

Mach 3

Gillette has the best marketing strategy ever. On my 18th birthday, they sent me a free Mach 3 razor. Well, 6 years later, I have remained a faithful and loyal Mach 3 fan. I could never imagine shaving my ugly face with anything but this wonderful creation. It truly has changed my life.

Puma Socks

I have an unhealthy love for Puma socks. In fact, I just went and counted how many pairs I have…48. That’s right Four-Eight. There are very few things in life that compare to the joy a new pair of these socks bring me. I don’t know what they are made out of (my guess is they are made out of heaven and rainbows) but everytime I put them on, they feel brand new. They may be a little more expensive than generic socks, but trust me, they are well worth the investment.

Apple Products

I know, I know. I’m totally an Apple whore. I was a PC lover for life…that is until I got my first Macbook. Something about Apples products make me feel sexy. I’m pretty sure women can’t help but throw themselves at me when they see me talking on my iPhone. Their products may be overpriced, but worth every penny.

WordPress

I started blogging on blogger.com. While it was definitely a great format to learn on, I’m a bajillion times happier now that I am using WordPress. The functionality, custimization, and overall experience on WP has been well worth every ounce of frustration I dealt with when I made the switch. If you are using blogger, and want to get serious about your blog, it’s time you drink the kool-aid and join the WP cult. You won’t regret it.

Chicken

Yeah that’s right. I’m endorsing a live animal. Wait, scratch that. I’m actually endorsing the dead version of chicken…aka food. I seriously have some type of chicken in just about every meal I eat. I just can’t get enough of the stuff. Added bonus… chicken is actually good for you.

Toilet bowl urine

I’m a firm believe in the old adage “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down.” I’m doing my part to save the world, one less flush at a time. Yes it may be a little gross, and I probably wont get away with it once I’m married, but for now letting the yellow mellow has done wonders for my water bill. It’s 1.6 gallons of instant savings each time you don’t flush ๐Ÿ˜‰

I have about 10 other things that would qualify as one of “Ninja’s favorite things”, but I think I’ll save them for another day. So men and women of the world, what are some of your favorite things? What products would you die without? I want to know what products you love, so I can figure out if I need ’em too!