Kids: “they will cause you a lot of stress and unhappiness”

Well I spent almost my entire weekend on the couch yelling at my TV. I love me some Olympics and I love me some USA. In fact, I’m only getting to writing this blog post now (11:45pm) because I just finished watching the US girls gymnastics team compete. I seriously love the Olympics so much that I will watch any sport that has a US athlete in it, even if I have no idea what is going on….yeah I’m talking to you fencers.

Anywhoozle, While I was watching the Olympics my phone chirped at me and I noticed I got a blog comment from a known PDITF hater. Said reader wrote (amongst other things):

“I don’t think you want kids at all. I don’t think you want to get divorced, either. But honestly, if you don’t want kids 100%, you need to let her go and find a man who does. It’s not fair to her.”

I responded,

“Have you ever considered I DO want children. Just not right now. Exactly the same way I feel (and write) about a buying a house. It’s possible to want things in the future. I don’t expect you to believe me, but there is not much I can do about that.”

Then I get this epic email response: 

“Babies are foreign objects to me.”

“I have never changed a diaper.”

“It’s in my best interest to get her to hold off.”

“Babies make me nervous.”

“I have no idea how much work caring for a child is.”

Yeah. That sounds like someone who can’t wait to have kids to me. Not that I care. I’m only approaching this as someone who …okay fine, kind of finds this amusing, and as someone who made the decision not to have children when I’d barely reached adulthood. It’s just funny how your wife is so ready to have kids and you so don’t want them. Because see, someone who wanted kids would get married and have kids. You’re trying to avoid having kids. Simply put, you don’t want them.

Comparing something like a house, that you can sell or walk away from, to a person who may well outlive you and who will demand all of your resources for potentially decades…is ridiculous.

I will share a little insight. I have changed diapers. It’s not pleasant. I kind of envy you, to be honest. I’ve never had kids, but from having siblings I can say: they will quickly deplete your money, they will keep you awake at night, they will cause you a lot of stress and unhappiness, and they are messy and will smear their peanut-butter-covered hands all over your new coffee table. They will get juice stains and crumbs in your new car. You will become an exhausted, burnt-out zombie whose friends will say “Wow, he used to be so much fun. What happened?” You may even grow to resent your children. You may begin taking it out on them. They in turn will resent you. And you’ll probably have to deal with that for the rest of your life.

I don’t even really like you, so I don’t know why I’m giving you the benefit of this information. Having kids is not something to be taken lightly. It’s not “just what people do” after getting married. It is not something to go into half-heartedly, and it’s not something to bribe your wife away from with vacations and presents. It’s something you should want completely. In other words, you should be aching for children as you read what I am telling you. The absence of children should be a horrible hole in your life. You don’t want children with all of yourself. Therefore, I would tell you not to have children. There are already too many people in the world. Your sure-to-be-resented spawn’s existence is not only unnecessary but foolish. You don’t want kids. I know this. You know this.

Please stop fooling yourself. If your wife decides to divorce you, it will be much easier to get over that than to get over having kids. I know you’re Christian and blah blah divorce is a horrible thing, your parents didn’t divorce so therefore nobody does…but guess what. Sometimes, that’s life. Things don’t always go how you want them to.

Realize that you don’t want children, and you will feel better, I promise. Grow up, be a man, and tell your wife, so she can decide if she wants to stay with you or whether it will end your marriage. Just do what’s right, for once.

Epic email right? That’s why I love blogging so much…. It keeps my life interesting. Oh, and Girl Ninja, in case you weren’t already aware…. I’m not ready for kids yet 🙂

 Go USA!!!!!

p.s. I am going to be out-of-town all next week. If you have a blog (or don’t have a blog) and want to write a post to be published on this site while I’m gone shoot me an email and let’s make it happen.

Unfinished Business

Exactly one year ago Girl Ninja quit her teaching job in San Diego to come move up north and join me in Seattle. It didn’t dawn on me until last week, that Girl Ninja didn’t just leave her former employer behind, but she may have also left behind some retirement savings in her old 403b. Having no clue how much she may or may not have in this 403b, I had her call the school district and get some information.

Turns out, homegirl had nearly $4,000 in her 403b. The school district told us we had three options for that money:

1. Keep the money in her SDUSD account.

2. Withdraw the money and put it in our savings account.

3. Transfer the funds to a personal IRA Girl Ninja hasn’t yet created.

We ruled out option one in the blink of an eye. There is no way we were going to leave the funds in a School District account that she can’t access. Option two, although appealing (who wouldn’t want a couple extra grand in their bank account?) also was a bad deal since we would have to pay federal and state income tax on the funds…plus an additional 10% penalty for taking an early withdrawal. That would have ended up as a net $3,000 payment to us, but nearly $400 in fees being paid to the IRS. Who the frick wants to give the IRS $400 of money they don’t deserve? We sure as heck don’t, so we did the responsible thing and created a personal IRA for Girl Ninja so we can have all $4,000 rolled in to her new account. What’s more, I’ll get to include that $4,000 in our next Net Worth update which, if you couldn’t guess, makes me a happy camper. This story had a happy ending…

Now let me share with you a story that makes my heart hurt.

Someone I know recently passed away. He left behind a pregnant wife (lets call her Jane) and three children. I also know, when he filled out his life insurance forms six years ago (before he had any kids), he put his wife as a 60% beneficiary, and his parents as 40% beneficiaries of his $175,000 policy.

The tragedy in this story, aside from the untimely death of this young man, is that I can say with reasonable confidence had he actually thought about the life insurance paperwork he filled out (pre-family) in 2006, he would have made sure his wife/kids were the sole beneficiaries on the policy in 2012.

Instead, I’m literally watching the money his parents received be squandered away. They even had the nerve to approach Jane at their son’s funeral and ask her when they could expect their cut of the life insurance policy… so they could buy a new car. Ugh 🙁

Jane is forced to watch her ex-in laws blow $70,000 on things like cars and washer and dryers (they posted a picture of their new W/D on Facebook last week), instead of having that money go towards a house, groceries/diapers, or college tuition for her kids. And to think, this whole ordeal could have been avoided if that old life insurance form was simply updated.

If this doesn’t serve as a kick in the butt to get your unfinished business taken care of I don’t know what will.

What unfinished business (financial or otherwise) have you been putting off? Creating a will? Changing your name? Opening an IRA? Finishing up those last few classes to get your degree?

p.s. I just realized I still need to make Girl Ninja the sole beneficiary on a few of my pre-marriage accounts.

Don’t be an idiot.

I was watching House Hunters yesterday and it featured a couple that was looking to buy in the greater Seattle area. The couple had recently moved from Texas and their goals was to buy a house within 45 days of arriving. I like House Hunters, but I hated that couple.

Multiple times during the episode the couple would make a comment like “Well in Texas the layouts aren’t like this.” or “In Texas, this house would cost half the price and be twice the size.” Guess freakin’ what Todo. YOU’RE NOT IN TEXAS ANYMORE.

I get that house prices in Texas are insanely cheap compared to the West Coast. I also get that New York prices are unbelievably high compared to Seattle. People, what are the three rules of real estate? Location, location, location. Regardless of what you might want to believe, WHERE you buy a house DRASTICALLY affects the value of said house. Your house in Texas costs $200,000 because fewer people live in Houston (per square mile) than Seattle. And fewer people (per square mile) live in Seattle, than San Francisco. Increased Demand = Increased Price.

Not too long ago, I blogged about our recent experience visiting some Seattle Open Houses. The three houses we viewed we’re all price around $400,000, incredibly small (like 2bd/1bth 1,300 sqft), and built over 60 years ago. Needless to say, $400,000 in Seattle buys you a very mediocre house that will likely need some major updating.

While many left constructive criticism or helpful hints, some readers provided worthless comments like “In Arizona houses are like $240,000. If I were you, I’d be looking for something more in that price range.”, “Wow, $400,000 for that? Can’t you get something nicer?” And….

Look at what you can get in your price range in XYZ, TX (where I live).

http://www.redfin.com/somerandomhouse

I think you need to see what you can get in other locations before you decide to spend that much money there.

Would you tell someone wanting to live in New York to consider moving to South Dakota just because house prices are cheaper? Would you tell someone looking for beach front property in San Diego to cap out at $500,000? No. That would be dumb. Just like it would be dumb to suggest I move to a city (or community) where I DON’T want to live, just so my house can be nicer/cheaper.

I get it if you just can’t relate, I really do. I get that if $400,000 in Texas buys you a McMansion, you might be shocked that it buys you a shack in San Francisco. Shocked is fine, but simply saying “find something cheaper” is useless. Cheaper real estate will always exist, but we looked at houses in Seattle because we wanted to LIVE in Seattle. Funny how that works, huh?

 

Things I want to punch in the face: Luck

Look, I hate black licorice, hipsters, and smelly people, but nothing, I MEAN NOTHING, gets under my skin more than someone calling me lucky. I hate, hate, hate it. For realsies!

Here are the types of things people say that really irk me…

Person #1: “Oh you are so lucky you can make money blogging.”

If you type “Luck” in to Google this is what you get: “Success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.” Do you see now why I hate when people call me lucky? It’s like they are writing off the fact that I have written five articles a week, every week, for 2.5 years. I work my butt off to try to make this blog not suck. Yes, I make money on the side, but only because I am constantly networking with other bloggers, advertisers, and learning about ways to make money blogging. Trust me, if someone was like “Hey Ninja, we don’t know anything about you, but we would like to give you $10,000 for no reason.” Then I would have no problem calling myself lucky. Unfortunately that hasn’t happened yet.

Person #2: “You are so lucky you got a good job out of college.”

I am lucky that I graduated college prior to the economy going down the toilet, no denying that. But do you want to know the real reason I got a great job out college? It’s really quite simple. I applied for a great job. If you don’t apply for your dream job, you have a 100% chance of not getting it. If you are only applying to jobs you actually want, it only takes one offer to change your life! I didn’t have connections. No one handed me my job.

Person #3: “You’re lucky you’re married”

Lucky to be married? No. Blessed? Definitely! You see, I’m old school. I didn’t date Girl Ninja, I courted her. From the minute I started having feelings for her, I did everything I could to win her heart. It took me six months to convince her to date me. Another eighteen to convince her to love me. And four years to convince her to marry me. My marriage definitely isn’t about luck. It’s about authentic, intentional love.

Calling someone lucky, that actually isn’t, is like telling that same person “You don’t deserve the happiness you have, because you haven’t earned it.”

Before you all accuse me of being ungrateful or arrogant, let me clarify something. I’m not saying that everyone who works hard will be successful, but simply that most successful people are typically hard workers. Does that make sense? I know that I’m blessed to have the things I have and I don’t take them for granted, but I refuse to attribute my success to random chance. You say I’m lucky, I say you are insulting me.

Am I the only person that hates being called lucky? What is a better choice of word? Fortunate? Blessed?

p.s. No denying certain aspects of my life were lucky (like being raised by financially stable parents or being born in the US). I’m not stupid. I know those things were completely out of my control.

 

Why being finacially stable kinda sucks

Girl Ninja and I spent a wonderful four-day weekend in Palm Springs for Thanksgiving and, as you might guess, we got in super late last night. While today’s post won’t be a long one, I still think the message is important. And that message my friends is this: Being stable kinda sucks.

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on life, money, jobs, housing, cars, location, kids, savings, etc. I don’t know why, but it seems like a few times  a year I get in a little funk. A funk where I start to convince myself being “responsible” is overrated.

Even though I’m happy with my job, I sometimes dream about being fired. Not because I think unemployment would be fun, or getting another job would be a cake-walk, but because I’d probably learn a lot about myself in the process of looking for new work. I know I have a great gig, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes dream of working at Subway.

I’m also not so convinced investing, saving, and just general fiscal responsibility is all it’s cracked up to be. Discretionary income can be a headache. A few years ago, I had a ton of student loan debt and a much smaller income. Every dollar I made went to paying down my massive debt. Life was simpler back then. But now that the debts are paid off, and my income has grown, I’m more stressed than I was when I owed $28,000 to Sallie Mae.

How much of our discretionary income should we save? How much should we put in to retirement? Should we go to Hawaii this summer because we can afford it? What type of car should we buy? How big of a home do we want? Blah, blah, blah. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying “being broke is awesome”. I’m simply trying to bring attention to the fact that fiscal responsibility is no walk in the park.

I feel really weird writing a post about why being financially stable isn’t that great. I’m probably coming across as really ungrateful and/or unappreciative of the blessings GN and I have. That definitely isn’t my intention, as I know we are extremely fortunate to be where we are. That said, I’m hoping a few of you can relate. Anyone understand where I’m coming from? Can you give a few more examples why being stable kind of sucks?

p.s. How was your Thanksgiving.

p.p.s. If you are Canadian (Mo D, and others) you didn’t have Thanksgiving, so how was your weekend?

The opposition


PDITF is a single author blog. Ninety-five percent of the articles are written by me, the other 5% are guest posts. Today, I thought I’d mix it up even more and allow a few unsuspecting people to hijack today’s post. My article about student loans being forgiven has quickly become one of my most popular. It currently has 87 comments, and counting. I thought I’d share with you a few of them.

Let’s get right to it….

If you forgive one type of debt, you kind of have to forgive all debt. Who’s to say that one debt is greater or more important thus needing forgiving then another. It’s just all so stupid. If in the end you can’t pay for something, don’t sign the paper work in the beginning stating you can.

Pretty reasonable first line right? The banks were bailed out so students should be too. WRONG. The banks shouldn’t have been bailed out, and students shouldn’t be bailed out. Goes back to the age-old adage “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” You do realize if your student loan is forgiven the balance doesn’t disappear in to space. No, instead YOUR student loan balance now becomes MY headache (via taxes). I don’t want to pay for your student loans any more than I wanted to pay for my neighbor’s house.

And then there is my personal favorite, this one came in late last night while I was watching an episode of Pretty Little Liars (warning: the commenter’s thoughts are difficult to follow)

So… back to the Iphone that was made by worker bees in China…. Did you keep it/are you using it? The answer to that question pretty much illustrates the rest of any of your like mentality. You’re either hypocritical or you’re not. Your response to the whole OWS movement seems based from a pretty “world is roses” and overall very ignorant stance. Somewhat parallel but not as dumb as the dirt poor Republicans who keep voting against themselves. You seem to not realise the point that you cannot truly “function” in society without some/most items made in deplorable conditions (even bums use discarded Starbucks cups and wear Nikes). Protesters include nurses, students, all types of professionals. Just because these are again – a function of modern day society – virtually inescapable in Modern Day America – doesn’t mean that you can’t disagree with how they are made. In fact, it should outrage you more. The corporate greed that has gone into their making at the expense of the natural habitat and the 99% if you will for the benefit of the fattest is what people are making a statement against. If you are outraged about the working conditions in China for a product you buy in America, yet seem to think the protesters are silly and infantile you are just another dirt poor Republican voting against yourself (just on a different scale). You seemed more intelligent than that.

First, please for the love of bacon, learn how to use a freakin’ comma. I had to re-read this garbage a handful of times before I could even understand what it was you were trying to say.

Second, yes I did keep the iPhone (which is probably worthy of a blog post in and of itself). Mainly because of these comments. It seems that just about everything, from the TV I watch to the clothes I wear are byproducts of questionable work conditions. Unfortunately, (almost) everything in America was made somewhere else. Anyone know of a cell phone manufacturer that doesn’t outsource? It was a lose-lose situation. Check out this article for more information.

Lastly….what? Are you drunk, high, stupid, or a combination of all three? What does this sentence even mean “Your response to the whole OWS movement seems based from a pretty ‘world is roses’ and overall very ignorant stance.”? If you are going to insult me and call me things like “a dirt poor Republican” please at least have an agenda or reason for doing so. I’m all for people posting their opposing point of views (Stacking Cash and Larry can testify to this), but at least have some meat and potatoes along with your comment. To the anonymous commenter that wrote the above, click here.

I’m totally glad my post got people thinking and brought both sides of the table to discussion. Although, I do particularly enjoy reading comments from people who agree with me (haha, it’s true). Like this one…

Besides, the inherent “unfairness” of forgiving student loan debt, it just doesn’t make sense as a stimulus. I’m an economist, and here’s how that idea stacks up to me:

A Keynesian stimulus is concerned with short-term spending increases – the usual cutoff is about 24 months. So the question that must be asked of anything that is claimed as a stimulus is: “how much marginal (i.e. extra) money will be in the national pockets if it’s implemented?”

Let’s say that Joe Occupier has $60,000 in student loan debt and has payments of $500 a month. If the government forgives his loan, it costs them $60,000. Assuming Joe spends *all* of the money he saves (which is a crazy ambitious assumption), he’ll put an extra ($500*24)=$12,000 in to to economy. So the federal government is paying $60k for $12k in stimulus.

You’ll never find an economist to back this plan up.

Am I terrible blogger for calling out some of the very people who read my blog? Perhaps. But if you really believe I’m a “dirt poor Republican” I’d rather you just not read my blog at all. At least then it’s a win-win for both of us 🙂

I’ll be SOOOO pissed if student loans are forgiven

I was really hoping to avoid talking about Occupy Wall Street again. I gave insights in to my stance on the movement last week and didn’t feel as though more needed to be said. That was until yesterday when I read this story on the Huffington Post…

While the Occupy Wall Street movement continues to grow and spread, there is no common call to action. I propose that the first call to action to help ease the economic stress of Americans is to forgive student loan debt. What do you say?

I say, “You sir are an idiot.”

I need not remind you (readers) that I graduated college with $28,000 in student loan debt in 2007. According to Huff Post that’s $4,000 more than the national average in 2009. So before you start accusing me of being part of the 1% let’s get a few things straight. 1) I’m not. 2) My parents aren’t either. Glad we got that settled.

Let’s talk about my story. I knew full well when I signed up to go to a private school that it was about three times more expensive than a local university would have been. I also knew that I would have to take out student loans to be able to go to said private school. I didn’t really think about the repercussions of taking on debt and gladly signed my life away. These are the facts as I see them.

To be perfectly honest, I was shocked to see the total balance of my student loans upon graduation. Twenty eight thousand dollars is a big scary number, especially when you have no employment lined up. I did what most grads do, I consolidated my loans and deferred them for six months.

What I didn’t do was complain that the college tricked me in to signing up for the debt. And I didn’t expect my Alma Mater to find me gainful employment upon graduation. I knew I got myself in the mess, and I was the only person that could get myself out. I accepted responsibility for my ignorant actions.

So guess what I did? I got a job and started making my minimum payments. I then got a second job, and a third job, so I could make accelerated payments. After 2.5 years, I was debt free. I didn’t expect the government, big business, my college, Sallie Mae, my parents, or you, to pay off the loan I voluntarily signed up for. I accepted my situation, and worked my a$$ off to improve it. Sending off that last payment was incredible.

Do you know how frustrating it is to work so hard (as I chronicled in many blog posts) to accomplish a goal, only to have it marginalized by a group of people who want the same thing, but aren’t willing to go to the lengths I did to achieve it. I was EXACTLY where you are now, a few years ago. The difference was I didn’t go Occupy Wall Street, I occupied multiple jobs.

If Joe starts eating healthy/exercising more and loses 50 pounds as a result, do I suddenly have a right to demand the local plastic surgeon give me free liposuction so I can have the same results as Joe? Even if I have a genetic makeup that makes it much more difficult for me to lose weight? Fat chance (pun absolutely intended).

I can only think of one situation in which I would entertain the idea of allowing student loans to be bankrupt-able/forgiven: If and only if the individual would relinquish all credits and degrees earned. The worse thing we could do is forgive the debt and let them keep their degrees. Hell, I’d take a few dings on my credit score if it meant I got a “free” degree out of the gig.

Lastly, if you really are pissed off about the whole student loan/cost of college issue, you should probably go protest your college, not Wall Street.

I’ve already paid off my student loans. Don’t force me to pay yours off too. Unleash the hounds.

p.s. Just to make a few things clear. I am not saying the lending practices associated with student loans are great. And I’m not saying the exponentially increasing cost of college is acceptable. I’m all for reforming tuition rates and lending practices. Student loan forgiveness is not reform, it’s a lame solution that doesn’t solve the much more complex problem.