I’ll still be so pissed if student loans are forgiven.

Back in the Occupy Wall Street hayday, Circa 2011, I wrote my 8th most popular post ever. It was simply titled “I’ll be so pissed if Student loans are forgiven“.

Yesterday I read an article by the New Yorker titled “A Student-Debt Revolt Begins“. Here’s a snippet from the article, but make sure to click through and read the whole piece.

On Monday, Heiney and fourteen other people who took out loans to attend Corinthian announced that they are going on a “debt strike,” and will stop repaying their loans. They believe that they have both ethical and legal grounds for what appears to be an unprecedented collective action against the debt charged to students who attended Corinthian schools, and they are also making a broader statement about the trillion dollars of student debt owed throughout the country.

If you took the time to read the whole piece, you’ll learn that it’s pretty clear Corinthian was likely not putting the students’ needs first. But then again, what would one expect from a for-profit entity? Of course the executives primary concerns are going to be how much money they will make, and how much money they can make for their investors.

It’s also abundantly clear Corinthian was taking advantage of the government’s generosity just as much, if not more, than they were taking advantage of their students.

Does this sound familiar? How about just a few years ago when all the financial institutions utilized predatory lending practices, knowing the fed was there to bail the bank out in the event the crap hit the fan.

Tons of upside. Virtually no downside. 

But to be honest, I actually feel for Heiney and think she should pursue legal recourse. If the college operated unethically, and the Dept of Education, requires that colleges do operate ethically, then I don’t know if the blame can necessarily be placed on her decision to enroll.

If she was deceived and lied to, how can I demand she pay back her loans. Lord knows if I was unknowingly ripped off, I’d like a chance to plead my case and get some type of relief.

BUT

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If she is successful in getting her student loans forgiven, then I would demand she forfeit any degree or credential she earned from her student-loan subsidized education.

I mean, her whole case is predicated on the fact that the school she attended sucked, wasn’t actually worth a single penny, and she feels her degree is useless.

Fine.

Give up the degree and I’m cool with you being able to explore student loan forgiveness.

Treat student loan forgiveness the same way that we treat foreclosures and bankruptcy.

I don’t get to revolt against my mortgage AND keep my house. No. The bank will kick my butt out, take back the house, and essentially forgive my loan (and damage my credit a good bit).

I don’t get to file bankruptcy, but keep my vacation properties, fishing boat, two dirtbikes, and $40,000 in personal savings. If I go to Bankruptcy court and convince the judge I can’t afford to pay back my creditors, the court takes whatever I do have, and distributes it amongst my creditors. My loan is forgiven, but I have to forfeit most of the things that debt allowed me to acquire.

So yes, even in Ms Heiney’s situation, as sad as it is. I will still be SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO pissed if her student loans are forgiven.

You can not have your cake and eat it too. 

Where do you see the student loan forgiveness issue going?

I think it’s inevitable and within 10 years student loan forgiveness will be a thing. And I’m sure it will be abused just like bankruptcy and foreclosure often are.

Heck, I’d take a damaged credit score for a couple years if it means I can swoop a free degree in the process.

*** keep in mind I graduated college with $28,000 of student loan debt, which was above the national average for my graduation year, so I’m intimately familiar with the “Frick, what did I do” feelings that come with a student loan obligation***

You might be wealthy, but are you free?


You ever read a blog post that went something like this…

You might want to think twice before you buy that scooter. It would set you back $3,000, and will likely only provide you entertainment for a handful of years.

What if you invested that money instead? 

If you put $2,000 in to a Roth IRA and let it grow for 30 years, at 8%, you would end up with $30,000. 

THIRTY-THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!!

Is that scooter really worth $30,000 to you? I didn’t think so. Now go give yourself a spanking and put yourself in time out for even thinking that buying a scooter was reasonable! 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read some iteration of the post above. Maybe instead of a scooter, it’s a vacation. Or a boat. Or a house. Or probably the most popular topic for an argument like this to appear, a wedding post.

Consider this my permission to flip those other PF bloggers the internet version of the bird and tell ’em to buzz off. Unless of course, your goal is to be miserable for the rest of your life.

Then by all means, drink the kool-aid.

Personal finance bloggers commonly confuse the terms financial freedom and wealth.

THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING.

Say I had $1,000,000 in my 401k right now. I am literally a millionaire. You’d probably even say I was wealthy.

But am I free?

HECK NO!

My 401k isn’t going to pay my cable bill, put groceries on our table, or a car in my driveway for another 30+ years. Yeah, I’m a millionaire, but I’m no more free than the dude that bags groceries down the street at the local Safeway.

We both still have to go to work tomorrow.

Do you get it? 

You need to be working towards financial freedom, not wealth building.

Even though I still have to work, I consider myself relatively free. My job provides the best work/life balance of anyone I know. We have a roof over our head. We contribute 15%-20% towards retirement. And we’re content living within our means, no pinching pennies, but we still have to be mindful of our spending. As far as I’m concerned; we’re retired.

It’s a beautiful place to be, and a place I hope you are in, or working towards finding. 

Don’t get discouraged by the PF bloggers who talk about how great early retirement is even though they are still slaves to their blog (or their portfolios), who make you feel terrible for buying a new car, or who tell you there is no such thing as saving too much.

Those bloggers suck.

You be the best YOU you can be. Make a plan. Stick to it. And enjoy the ride along the way…even if that means you end up having a $30,000 wedding.

You don’t have to be a millionaire to be happy. Promise. 

I hate all Extreme Cheapskates.

Apparently there is a show on TLC called Extreme Cheapskates.

I hate it.

Full disclosure: I’ve never actually watched an episode since Girl Ninja and I didn’t sign up for cable until a week before I left for Europe. But what I have done is watched a few clips from the show on the TLC website. It’s disturbing.

The show focuses on people who go to great lengths to save a few bucks. The clip above features a couple who takes all of their showers together. They give themselves two minutes TOTAL to get clean. They not only share the same bottle of shampoo, but the guy actually takes the soapy suds out of his wife’s shampooed hair, to clean his.

It gets worse.

They then proceed to use the same razor. Right as the woman finishes shaving her armpits, homeboy takes the razor and starts shaving his face with it. Yuck.

IT GETS EVEN WORSE. 

They then pop out of the shower and share a toothbrush to brush their teeth. I had enough as I watched them share the same piece of dental floss to clean their teeth. #VOMIT

I’m sorry to inform you, but these actions don’t make you appear as though you are a budget conscious saver. Heck I wouldn’t even use the term “Extreme Cheapskate” to label your actions. The only word I can think of that adequately describes your behavior is WEIRD. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind sharing a shower with Girl Ninja on occasion, but when we do, I can assure you it’s not to save money 😉

But hey, at least you aren’t peeing in a bottle to save some money on your water bill…

Don’t even get me started on bottle pee-er lady. She admits to having a gym membership, but wont flush her freakin’ toilet? Oh, or the lady that doesn’t believe in buying toilet paper so she wipes her butt with her hand.

Faith in humanity is gone forever.

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

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I can’t go a day without reading a blog post or news article that predicts the end of the United States as we know it. Some people even stocking up on ammunition, bottled water, and canned food, convinced the zombie apocalypse economic Armageddon is coming.

I get it. It’s not uncommon for me to hear an older Christian person say something like “The world is really going to hell in a hand basket. This must be a sign that the rapture is upon us.” Assuming their generation will be the one in which Christ returns. I’ve got news for them. They’ve been wrong 2,013 years and counting.

Maybe you aren’t Christian so that example isn’t relatable. Let me make it more personal.

On numerous occasions I’ve had this feeling that I was going to die young. Not necessarily tomorrow, but in my 30’s or 40’s. After sharing this morbid feeling with a handful of friends, it turns out they too have thought the exact same thing. Apparently this feeling is pretty common. In fact, I bet most of you have also felt at some point that your days would be cut short. Am I right?

I mean, who hasn’t gotten on a plane and thought “What if this thing goes down?” Our brain tells us we might die, but statistics show us our fear is completely ridiculous. We are significantly more likely to die from drowning, electrocution, or even falling down. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I might die when I walk down my stairs each morning, but it definitely crosses my mind when I buckle up on a plane.

I think I know why….

We get irrational when we don’t have control.

Yeah the plane could go down, but it probably wont. I could die in my 30’s, but I probably wont. The United States could cease to be an economic powerhouse during my lifetime, but it probably wont.

Who knows. Maybe I’m naive? This is my first recession as an adult after all. But my understanding is that the markets have crashed before. Politicians have acted irresponsibly before. And people have predicted America’s fall from power before.

I guess I need some of you “old folks” to chime in here and give your two cents. Is it different this time? Are we in a perfect storm? Or is it just another rainy day that has seemed to cloud our judgement?

For the record: I do think things will change over time, and tough times ate ahead, just not in a collapse-of-the-Roman-Empire-kind of way.

The Real World

I never want to be called an optimist. Optimistic people have a tendency to be frustratingly stupid, thinking the best is coming, when all signs say otherwise. I get the idea of hoping for the best, but I’ll never understand planning on the best.

I like to consider myself a realist. I make an intentional effort to think with my head and not my heart. Why do you think we are holding off buying a house, even though the idea of home ownership has some emotional advantages?

According to Merriam-Webster, optimism is defined as an inclination to anticipate the best possible outcome. That’s CRAZY!

I don’t know what world you’re living in, but where I’m from the stock market crashes, home prices drop, people lose their jobs, and people die unexpectedly.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with hoping for the best, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan for the worst. It’s a two-way street. I’m sure we all know people who live paycheck to paycheck by choice. They spend ever dollar they earn on two things; necessities (things like food, cleaning supplies, etc) and luxuries (facials, $100 bar tabs, lottery tickets, etc) . They use optimism as a justification for their behavior, believing that their next paycheck is guaranteed. They use optimism as an excuse to do stupid things, like not build up an emergency fund. Guess what buddy, if that paycheck doesn’t come, you are in deep, deep….trouble 😉

I’ve got news for you optimists: Rainy days lie ahead, bad things are going to happen to you, life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. Unfortunately, shady, immoral, greedy, and stupid people/businesses exist. And as long as they are around, optimism needs to take a hike and let discernment take control of the wheel.

Have you had to deal with some stupidly optimistic people? Do you just bite your tongue and watch them make bad decisions or do you attempt to intervene and share some realistic input? It’s tough to tell someone they are being too positive, but sometimes it’s too important not to!

I apparently have really crappy timing.

I called our agent the other morning to express interest in a house that  was newly listed (click here to see the listing). After a few back and forth emails, we decided we would look at it that evening (the same day it came on the market). A couple of hours later, my agent called to inform me we wouldn’t be looking at the house. Our appointment was for 5pm, but the listing agent had already received four cash offers, well above asking price, and had five more offers expected. What’s more, they were accepting one of these offers by 4pm, an hour before our appointment to see it.

I was frustrated. 

Not because I didn’t have a chance to even compete for the house – we probably wouldn’t have put in an offer – but because of the timing of our house hunting journey. Seriously annoying.

As I started thinking about it I just got more and more depressed. So depressed I compiled a list of other frustrating things that have happened during my, relatively short, 5-year PF journey:

I graduated college in 2007 with $28,000 of student loan debt. My sister, who graduated just a few years before me had a similar amount. But between her college graduation and mine, student loan interest rates nearly quadrupled.  Her $20,000+ student loan had a 2% interest rate, mine a 7% rate. There was nothing I could do about it. You can’t refinance student loans like you can a mortgage when rates drop. For no other reason than graduating in 2007, I had to pay four times as much interest as those who finished up just a couple of years before me. Did you know I actually considered NOT paying these loans off early, because part of my thinks when the student loan bubble bursts (which it surely will), student loans will get special treatments…possibly forgiven altogether. 

I graduated college in 2007. Wait. Didn’t I just say that? Yeah I did. I was fortunate to get a job right out of school, but many of my peers weren’t. I got my degree just in time to watch America take a dump on itself. I finally had an income and an ability to contribute to my retirement accounts. Too bad that virtually every dollar I invested during my first few years working, dropped in value. I get that investments will go up and down over time, but having my first exposure to Wall Street be during the Great Recession wasn’t exactly ideal.

I also decided to be a good Ninja and save up 20% for a down payment. Girl Ninja and I reached that threshold in January, right in time to kiss the buyers market goodbye. Inventory is at an all time low. House prices are up a stupid 18% year-over-year. And interest rates are ticking up. Had we just been irresponsible and bought a place last year (with only 10% down), we would have gotten waaaaaaayyyyy more bang for our buck.

We have a ton of money in a savings account. Why is this a bad thing you ask? Well, when I had just a few thousand in my high-yield savings account, I was earning 3% or more on my money. Now that we finally have a substantial amount of liquidity, my high-yield (can you even call it that anymore?) savings account pays a paltry 0.75% APY…FOUR TIMES LESS!!!! There’s nothing quite like having money in the bank, when the bank is arguably the worst place for it to be right now.

Ugh, I could keep going, but I can only wallow in my own self pity for so long. As frustrating as some of these circumstances can be, I gotta keep my head up and fight the good fight. Hindsight is always 20/20 and some of these things I really had no control over.  You can’t let an unfortunate thing, like a recession, totally rock your world and keep you from doing what you know is right.

I’d love to hear some of the frustrating things you’ve experienced during your financial journey. Share them below!

Stupid Tax Got Me Again.

I just spent the last week in literally one of the most beautiful places in the world (Malibu, B.C.), but man oh man does it feel good to be home. Girl Ninja and I spent most of the weekend playing catch up on chores – grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning. Yesterday, we got to step away from our “grown-up” duties as we celebrated one of our closest friend’s birthdays….at his parents lake house 🙂

We spent the day wake-surfing, swimming, eating, and celebrating our friend. Things were going great until I made a terrible decision. A decision I will not soon forget. I approached my beautiful bride after an hour or so of being on the water (she stayed behind to catch some rays in the yard) and asked her if she would like to join me for an epic paddleboarding session. For those of you that don’t know what paddleboarding is, it’s essentially a long foam surfboard that floats on the water. You stand on it and with a long oar and row yourself around the lake. See Exhibit A:

This is not me

Being the genius I am, I suggest Girl Ninja and I attempt to ride together on one paddle board. She would sit on the front criss-cross-applesauce, and I would stand behind her and paddle us to and fro. Being a good sport, she hopped on the board, I stood up without issue, I got a few strokes in…and sure enough our momentum, mixed with the waves, mixed with my lack of balance caused the surfboard to being flipping. I jumped in the water, and at the very moment my head was submerging, I realized my sunglasses were still on my face. Or at least they were. In the blink of an eye they were ripped off my head out of reach. They found a new home on the lake’s floor. 

If it was a crappy pair of $10 sunglasses from Rite Aid it wouldn’t be a big deal, but these were $170 Ray-Bans. I instantly had a pit in my stomach. Not so much because I lost the glasses, but because I was stupid enough to get in the water with them on my face. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

I paid a hefty fine in stupid-tax yesterday. What’s more, although Girl Ninja felt bad about my loss, it didn’t take her more than few minutes to say “See, so now when I do something stupid by accident you have to give me grace.” She takes my moment of self-deprecation and makes it a teachable moment. We all make mistakes. We all do stupid things at one point or another. And if you’re lucky you’ll have a partner that not only tells you what you did was stupid, but will use it as an opportunity for them to get a “pass” when they do something equally stupid down the road. Gotta love that girl.

Time to go get myself a no-name pair of sunglasses until I can prove to myself I’m responsible enough for a luxury pair.

p.s. Here is a picture I took of Malibu (and yes, those are snow-capped mountains shooting out of the ocean)…