We are getting shut down!!!!

If you’ve been following the news lately I’m sure you’ve heard the federal government is due to shut down on Friday at midnight as the stopgap funding runs dry. If you’re not familiar with a shutdown, it basically means all “non-essential” operations of the federal government would cease immediately. 

That means most (if not all) National Parks would be closed. It would be darn near impossible to apply for a passport. And it would make visiting offices like the Social Security Administration a nightmare due to limited staffing. The last significant government shutdown occurred during the transition from 1995 to 1996, lasting 21 days total. For 21 days federal employees were furloughed and forced to stay at home.

What are my feelings on the shutdown? I guess if the government can’t afford to continue operations it should probably be forced to reduce its financial obligations. Just like any private business that can’t afford to pay its bills must make take drastic measures to reduce spending, the government should be no different.

I guess the scariest thing about a shutdown is you don’t know how long it will last. If you aren’t working, you aren’t getting paid. That could put a serious strain on federal employees that don’t have adequate savings established to cover their expenses for a few weeks.

How will the shutdown affect me? Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it), my position is considered mission essential and therefore even if the government shuts down, I still have to work. I do get paid for that work though, so it’s all good.

This might make a bunch of you angry (and rightfully so), but the reason I wouldn’t mind being furloughed is that during every other shutdown in history, Congress has always authorized back payment to all the furloughed employees for the time they couldn’t work. Do you know what that means? They basically got free vacation! That’s depressing to have to keep working, when you know others are kicking back, relaxing all cool, shooting some b-ball outside of the school…and will get paid for it.

I’m thankful I have a job. Thankful my position is important enough to keep around even in the event of a shutdown (job security). And thankful that the government has to figure its stuff out before it can keep writing checks. Just like I wasn’t complaining when our salaries were frozen, I won’t complain if the government shuts down.

Do you have any opinions on the government shutdown? How long do you think it will last, do you think employees will receive back pay, etc? What cut backs (if any) have you faced at your work over the last few years (reduction in force/hours, elimination of some benefits, salary freezes)?

p.s. I’m doing my best to coerce Girl Ninja into writing a guest post during her Xmas vacation. You all should totally peer pressure her in to doing so in the comments below 🙂

The easiest money I’ve ever made…ever!

I’ve been pretty fortunate to happen across some pretty easy money throughout my life. I started tutoring my Senior year of college at a rate of $20/hour. Within a few short months I was able to charge upwards of $50/hour. Then there was the time I house-sat for one of the families I tutored and they paid me $750 for three days of watching their TV and eating their food. Who pays for that? Being able to make money blogging is also pretty rad, but nothing, NOTHING, comes close to the time I was a television background extra on Veronica Mars.

My mom really loved Veronica Mars and when she found out they did their filming in San Diego, she basically forced me to apply to the company that casts the background extras for the show. To appease my mother I applied. A few months had passed and I heard nothing. Then, one day, my phone rang. It was someone from the production company telling me I was picked to be an extra on Veronica Mars. I was instructed to bring a nice suit and to show up at noon to an old business complex in the area.

Once I got to the set, I was told to suit up as I’d be playing a FBI agent. They took my picture, made me a fake FBI badge, and corralled all us extras in to a big conference room for holding. Every 30 minutes or so a casting director would come in to the holding area and describe the next scene. He would round-up a group of us extras and take us to where they were filming. Once the cameras started rolling we pretended to do “backgroundy” type things. In one scene I was suppose to look like I was flipping through a bunch of paperwork. In another, I had to pretend I was listening to a lecture in an auditorium. In another, I walked out of an elevator. Highly technical stuff, I know. After a few takes of each scene, the extras were sent back to the holding room, until we were needed again for another scene. It was a long day. Exciting at times, and really boring at others. Filming ended just after 2am.

As I was driving back to my college campus, I realized I had no idea how much I would be getting paid for 10 hours of background work. I figured it would be around $10/hour, so I was expecting a $100-ish payday. Boy was I wrong. A few weeks after filming  I got my paycheck in the mail, opened it up, and my jaw dropped when I saw the payment: $1,200. That means I got paid $120/hour to do nothing more than sit in a big holding room, and walk past the camera a few times. This was definitely the easiest money I’ve ever made.

Why don’t you take a minute out of your busy Friday, and leave a comment sharing the easiest money you’ve ever made. The more details the better, maybe we can use these stories as ideas to increase our side income 🙂

p.s. Yes, that is actually me in the pictures above.

Annual Review

September 30th marked the end of the fiscal year for the federal government. That means every October each federal employee goes through an annual review with their supervisor. Today is mine.

How awkward would it be if I got fired? That would sure suck.

This will be my fourth annual review with the Fed, but it will be my first since my transfer to Seattle. This one will be different from the others, because unlike my time in San Diego, I have only met my boss one time for about an hour and I’ve never been to our local field office. Kind of weird to sit down and have someone whom I don’t interact with much tell me I’m either really awesome or a total waste of tax payer money.

I had never had to undergo an annual review for any of the part-time jobs I held in college. Needless to say, I was super nervous for my first annual review. I quickly realized that the “real world” was nothing like college. In school, I was constantly getting feedback from my professors, counselors, and peers in regards to my performance. In the working world, however, you are just expected to do well. The mantra “No news is good news” really is true. I’m never excited to see my bosses name pop up on caller ID, if it does, it almost always means I did something wrong.

Now that I’ve become familiar with the way my agency works — and how I am evaluated– I’m feeling much better walking in to today’s review. Definitely better than I felt walking in to my first one. I’m sure I’ll be told a few things I need to work on, and hopefully a few things I totally kick butt at. Annual reviews are nowhere near as scary as they use to be.

…Enter lame personal finance tie in…

This is just like the first time I “reviewed” my financial situation. It was scary. I had a crap load of debt, and only a few shekels in my bank account. My first financial annual review wasn’t pretty. But now, after learning more about the way money works, I’m doing alright. Just like I no longer expect to be praised every time I do something well in my professional life, I don’t expect to be affirmed each time I make a smart financial move (although it would be kind of cool if I got congratulatory remarks each month my net worth went up…haha). There may not be a lot of glory in managing your personal finances, but there is definitely a satisfaction in knowing you’re taking necessary steps to secure a brighter future. Can I get an amen?

Do you have to go through an annual review with your employer? What does that typically look like? Do you find the review helpful, or is just a waste of time?

I kinda wanna get fired, but not really.


Half way through my Sophomore year of college I saw a job announcement to be a RA (residence assistant) in one of my college’s dorms. My roommate that year was already an RA so I knew quite a bit about the position and how it worked. Although the position was unpaid, RA’s receive free room and board (a $7,000 value). I desperately wanted the job.

I didn’t get it.

I was shocked. It was the first time in my life I had really wanted something, worked hard for it, and didn’t get it. At first I was pissed. Why didn’t I get it? I was definitely qualified for the position and I knew all the right people. I was a shoe in. So I thought.

In the blink of an eye my world came crashing down. I panicked. What the heck am I going to do next year? Am I going to be forced to work in my college’s cafeteria? What is wrong with me? If I didn’t get this job, will anyone hire me?

Once the panic wore off, I was able to take a deep breath, calm down, and establish a plan. A few weeks later I ended up getting a different on campus job as a building manager. If you don’t know what a building manager does, neither do I, ’cause I’m pretty sure I got paid to surf Facebook and watch movies. It ended up being the sweetest job ever and actually paid better than the $7,000 stipend I would have gotten as a RA. Being rejected from the RA position was one of the best things that happened to me in college.

I miss that feeling. The “Holy $#!%, what am I going to do” feeling. Part of me wishes I got fired tomorrow. I feel like I’ve become complacent (read: stagnant) in my personal and professional development. If I got fired, however, I’d be faced with a huge challenge; finding employment in a crappy economy. The thought of not knowing what the heck I am I going to do is both scary and exciting. Maybe I’d focus more on growing this blog (self employment), maybe I’d land a better/higher paying gig elsewhere, maybe I’d end up at McDonald’s asking “You want fries with that?“.

Nietzsche said “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”, and ya know what? I think he’s right. Although I don’t REALLY want to be fired tomorrow, I’d be lying if I said the thought of it wasn’t slightly intriguing. What is/was the most difficult thing you’ve faced recently? Do feel like you grew because of it? Do you ever feel unchallenged/stagnant/boring/predictable like me?

What was it like in the good ol days?

I graduated college in May 2007. In November of that same year, I got my current job with Uncle Sam. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the recession began one month later, December 2007. This means that my entire adult life has taken place during a really crappy time to try and do things. Jobs are sparse, creditors are cracking down, people actually have to be able to afford a home before they qualify for a mortgage, and the stock market is, well you know, about as stable as Charlie Sheen is sober.

When the recession is all I’ve ever known, it’s hard for me to truly understand how things have changed. Were people having jobs thrown at them? Could people really buy a house that was twice what they could actually afford? Were people’s investment portfolios making insane returns year after year? Apparently, the answer to each of those questions is “YES!”

Personally, and I don’t mean to make this sound like I’m bragging ’cause I’m really not, the Ninja household has been fortunate to not only survive during the recession, but thrive in it. In 2007, I was an unemployed college graduate with a few thousand dollars in savings and $28,000 in student loan obligations. Over the last four years, I’ve been promoted a handful of times, started this blog (which brings in $10,000-ish a year), gotten married (to a working woman), and managed to stash some serious cash in both our retirement plans and savings accounts. A lot of hard work, and definitely some dumb luck, have helped us continue moving forward

That said, we know our story is not necessarily typical. I obviously have zero real world knowledge prior to 2007, and am aware not everyone is as fortunate as we have been.

I thought it would be interesting to hear from those of you who are 28 years or older. You all experienced the “boom” and the “bust”. I want to hear your perspective on how things have changed. What was it like in the good ol days (2003 to 2007)? Did you buy a home you shouldn’t have been approved for? Could you get a new job at the snap of a finger? Have you been directly impacted by the recession in any way? I’d love some insight from people who experienced this firsthand.

For my younger readers (let’s say 27 or less), what’s your experience been with the recession? Do you feel like life is more difficult than it should be? Or since this is all you’ve ever known have you learned to roll with the punches and make it work?

p.s. like my blog on facebook…NOW!

TRINKs (Triple Income No Kids) For The Win

 

Although I make a decent second income from PDITF, it’s not nearly as life changing as it could be. If I really wanted to make money blogging I would start SEOing the bajeezus out of my posts and spamming you with credit card offers. But since I like you guys too darn much, I guess I need to find another way to bring home the bacon.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about starting a business. What business you ask? I have no freakin’ clue, but I do know said business must a) cost very little to start, b) have virtually no overhead, c) make me money, d) involve the internet, and e) probably involve a partnership with another individual.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no desire (at least at this point) to become full time self-employed. I kind of like working for someone else, knowing when and how much I’ll be paid each month is comforting. So I guess, I should add another requirement of my To Be Determined business; it must take up a small enough amount of time that I can maintain full time regular employment.

I feel like this is a particularly good time in my life to explore alternative business ventures for a few reasons…

  1.  I don’t have kids and I have enough “free” time that I could put my energy in to something that makes us money.
  2.  I really like the idea of going from DINKs to TRINKS.
  3. We have a bunch of cash sitting in the bank earning a measly 1% interest, time to do something with it.
  4. I like taking calculated/thought through risks.
  5. I’m a freakin’ Ninja and I do what I want (if I get permission from my wife first…haha).

I wish I had more to say, but until I can get a better handle on exactly what avenue I want to take, I’ll just keep twiddling my thumbs, envying those of you who make a ton of money via successful business ventures. Okay, time to go punch jealousy in the face.

Anyone want to start a business with me (50/50)? Have you ever thought about starting your own business? What keeps you from doing it? Any wildly successful business owners have any tips/tricks/insights?

Is my blog a resume builder?

Two and a half years ago Punch Debt In The Face came in to existence. At first I considered this site an embarrassing hobby (how lame does blogging about money in your free time sound? SUPER LAME!!!!), but now it is a part of who I am. I’ve literally spent thousands of hours writing, reading, editing, coding, graphic designing, stick-figuring, and monetizing my blog in hopes that it continues to grow. Essentially PDITF has become a second job for me (albeit, one I enjoy).

If you’ve been following me for a while (if not you can subscribe here and follow me on twitter here….gotta love shameless self promotion in the middle of posts), you’ll recall I wrote an article about my intentions to begin applying for jobs in the private sector. Two or three times a year, I like to go through my résumé and make sure it’s updated with my latest work achievements, awards, and accomplishments.

Yesterday, I was doing just that when I thought to myself “Should I put my blog on my resume?”. I decided to list out some of the reasons why this blog should be on my resume, and some of the reasons I might want to leave it off. Let’s start with the benefits first….

  • I took an idea in my head and turned it in to a profitable business.
  • I can make my job title be CEO, President of Making Things Really Awesome, or whatever else I want.
  • My work has been featured on The New York Times, MSN Money, TIME and other popular websites.
  • I’ve grown my audience from a couple hundred visits a month to twenty-five thousand.
  • I could also use my blog as an example of all those stereotypical HR terms like “self-starter, engaging, big-picture-thinker, etc”.

There are probably additional reasons why putting my blog on my resume would give a prospective employer a better understanding of who I am and why they should hire me, but I’m too lazy to think of them now. So instead, let’s get on to the reasons why I’ve decided to leave PDITF off…

  • While some of my posts may have been featured on a few pretty cool sites, I typically have pretty bad grammar and spelling issues.
  • If I included my blog, my prospective employers would have access to a lot of my personal data (net worth, current income, religious views, etc).
  • My blogs name is Punch Debt In The Face. Let’s be honest. That doesn’t necessarily scream maturity.

For now I plan to keep on sending my resume out PDITF free, but who knows I might feel a little risky down the road and start experimenting with including it. What are your thoughts on the situation? Would you put your blog on your resume? Why or why not? What’s something you’ve wanted to include on your resume, but didn’t?