It’s spirit week and Girl Ninja’s school is matching!

It’s homecoming week here for the local high school. I don’t know if your school was like mine, but during homecoming week each school day had a theme. One day you’d wear school colors, another a funny hat, or a costume, or my personal favorite….matching day. I’d always dress up to match my best friend….who was black….yeah it was awesome! Even though Girl Ninja is a kindergarten teacher, it seems her school is also joining in on spirit week. That’s right, they’re matching….

…..her 403B contributions that is. HA! How about that for a PF tie in?

For the first time ever, Girl Ninja will be directly contributing to her very own retirement plan (we are also in the process of starting up a Roth for her). She gets paid biweekly and will be socking away 5% of her gross income each pay period – which gets fully matched by her school.

She was so cute when she came home to tell me about it. She sat down, all professional like at the table, with a packet of information about her various investing options. She was talking to me about how her schools financial adviser recommended that she be relatively aggressive in her investments since she is only 24. I couldn’t help but smile. For the first time in our marriage, Girl Ninja was actually excited to talk about retirement! I think I fell in love with her all over again during that conversation ๐Ÿ™‚

Anywhoozle, included in her financial packet was a worksheet designed to help assess how risky (or conservative) she should be with her investments. Check it…..

As you can see. Girl Ninja, on her own volition ended up ranking in the most aggressive category (makes me so proud). Here’s how the form recommends GN invest based on her “aggressive” assessment…

Not sure yet if we will follow their guidance 100%, but we’ll likely end up doing something close to it. I’m so stoked for Girl Ninja to start her 403B. I’m already making a list of all the things I’m going to buy with her retirement income; a boat, skis, new car, and of course… a unicorn ๐Ÿ™‚

Where do you rank according to the first chart? Were you surprised by the results? Would you follow the recommended investing strategy on the second form? Why is saving for retirement such a turn on….meow.

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. ย 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. ย 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?

Remember that time I almost wanted a baby

Our landlord, the one who lives directly below us, has a two month old daughter. He also has a longstanding tradition of going on a date night with his wife every Wednesday. As you can imagine, their last few months have been crazy busy and they haven’t had much time to get away. Girl Ninja and I thought it would be nice if we offered to babysit for them last night, so babysit we did. And let me tell you… I almost walked away from the evening wanting a baby. Keyword there my friends is ALMOST.

This shouldn’t be surprising though. Babies are like puppies in a pet store. Side note: Never go to a pet shop to look at puppies unless you’re prepared to buy one…puppies play jedi mind tricks on you. Sure a puppy looks cute in the store; If they pee on you, you laugh it off. If they slobber on you, you think it’s cute. If they bite at your ankles, you think they want to play. So you figure “Why not?! Let’s buy this cute little fur-ball.” Only to realize a few weeks later that the puppy does nothing but slobber, pee on you, and chew things up. Puppies are a lot of work, and ya know what? Babies are ten times worst. They’re like puppies. On crack…

So yes, last night I will admit I had a little baby fever and thought it would be fun to have one. But I need to remember this isn’t the first time I’ve had feelings like this. In fact, every time I drive a new car, I always think about how fun it would be to go buy a new car. I mean come on, they smell awesome and drive wonderfully. But then my conscience gets the best of me and reminds me that

A) there is nothing wrong with my 2007 Scion tC

B) a new car is only new for about 0.02 seconds, then it becomes used

C) cars are a depreciating asset. I’m tempted to try and convince you babies are also depreciating assets, but it’s probably best I save that for another day.

At the end of the day I think babies are super cute and a lot fun, but until they come with a 30 day return policy I think I’m gonna have to delay my baby gratification. That said, all of my friends/family members are welcome to have as many kids as they want. I don’t mind kids at all…so long as I get to give them back.

Do any of you baby-free folks ever get the premature desire to pop a few kids out? What are things that you want, but know you shouldn’t get (pets, new cars, electronic devices, etc)? What methods do you use to talk some sense in to yourself? I personally would love a dog, but I know Girl Ninja and I are too busy for pets right now ๐Ÿ™

Grad school is overrated

Yes. I said it. Graduate school is overrated. Every once in a while I get asked if I’ve ever thought about going back to school. My response has consistently been “HECK NO.”

Am I the only person that thinks 99% of graduate students are either A) taking classes simply because school is all they’ve ever known and the thought of working scares the bajeezus out of them? Or B) they wanted to work, but graduated college in a depressed economy and thought a little more school would help them stand out from the thousand other applicants just like them?

As I consider looking for a new job this year, I know I’ll be competing against a whole slew of 20-somethings. Many of whom will have some fancy initials after their name (J.D., MBA, etc). Am I scared of them? No way. I could care less how many letters your name comes with. At the end of the day an employer is going to pick the best candidate for the job. Unless your masters is a requirement for the position, you wont have much (if any) of an edge on me. Heck, you might even have a disadvantage since the prospective employer might think you’d request a higher salary than me.

What’s more, while you’ve spent the last three years learning about Keynesian economics, I’ve spent it, ya know…working. In this economy experience trumps education. Go look at Monster.com, you’ll notice many positions say a masters degree is onlypreferred but three to five years work experience is “required“. It doesn’t matter if you meet the preferences, if you can’t meet the requirements.

Quite possibly the most frustrating reason people go to grad school is that they think it will help them decide what they want to do for a living. Excuse me, if your four years of college didn’t do that for you, what makes you think another two to three years of school will? Besides, isn’t grad school a pretty expensive way to figure that out? The only way you are gonna know what you want to do for a living is to go out and get some experience in the field. Work with lawyers before you decide to be one.

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. Grad school is overrated… kinda like the Lakers.

If you actually REQUIRED graduate level education (therapists, physicians, teachers, etc) for your career please don’t think this post is directed towards you.

You’re only getting older.

Como estas debt punchers?! I spend a good chunk of my work day driving and there is one particular radio show I listen to where the host ends every show with the tag line “Today is the youngest you are going to be for the rest of your life, act like it.” I get warm fuzzies inside when I hear this phrase because I freakin’ love it. So simple, but so true. We all need to be reminded that tomorrow brings us one day closer to dying. We don’t know when we are gonna keel over, so we better’ make sure we enjoy today, and when tomorrow comes make sure we enjoy that day too.

What this statement means.

The sooner you get a jump-start on your goals and passions the better off you are going to be. Compound interest anyone?! We all know that time is our most valuable asset, and the earlier we contribute to that sweet little Roth IRA, the more money we are gonna have waiting for us when we retire.

It also means get after your goals…like right NOW! If you want to be a financial planner get yourself signed up for graduate school. If you want to be a professional “dancer” order yourself a shiny silver pole for your garage. Whatever your passion is chase it…today! Maybe you can’t afford to go to college for the degree you want, that’s fine, today you can start planning how you are gonna bring in the benjamins to pay for school, or figure out what schools you are going to apply to. There is always something that can be done and the sooner you do it the better off you are going to be.

What this statement doesn’t mean.

You better not use this statement as a lame excuse to make a stupid choice. Don’t head over to Best Buy right now and buy that 94″ plasma TV you have been drooling over, or go get yourself in to more credit card debt because you want to live today like it’s your last. Truth is, it’s probably not, you will most likely wake up tomorrow…hopefully.

Tomorrow you can be one step closer to reaching your goals and fulfilling your dreams. All you have to do is be proactive about today and DO SOMETHING. Once you build momentum, things happen a lot quicker! My goal is to look back 50 years from now and be confident that I did everything I could to make my life the best it possibly could have been. Yours should be too.

Do you suffer from procrastination? Do you know people whose actions don’t reflect their goals? I shared one of my favorite inspirational quotes, what are some of yours?

Being Wealthy Scares Me

I’m doing everything I can to ensure Girl Ninja and I are well taken care of, not just in retirement, but throughout our entire life. I know if I work hard, spend diligently, and save consistently, we can live a comfortable life. Heck, we might even end up being rich.

Funny thing is, being rich scares me…bad. I was reading through an article on CNN the other day titled “Secrets of Extreme Savers“. In the article, eight different families are highlighted for being crazy awesome savers, often banking 50% or more of the their take home pay. Their savings habits have, over the years, made them wealthy. I enjoyed reading each families story. It reminded me hard work pays off.

While I enjoyed the testimonies, I was totally caught off guard by some of the comments people left on the article. Here are a few that stood out…

“Show average Americans saving…not lawyersbusiness owners people making six figures or a couple pulling in 250k a year.”

“Apparently the point of this article is that, if you make well over a 6-figure income and live in a low cost of living area, you can save a lot of money. Glad to see CNN worked hard to find something relevant to the majority of the population.”

“All these people make an excellent living. I found this article completely useless. Except for the one woman who has multiple streams of income. That is a useful idea.”

“I just love it when they post articals about wealthy people that are able to save 1/2 their pay. LOL!! Any idiot can save 50% of his or her income if their banging down 200k a year, UNREAL..”

Let’s play a game shall we. It’s called “I spy.” Ready? I spy with my little eye something bitter, something jealous, and something pathetic. Do you know what it is? If your guess was those four commenters, you’d be 100% right.

While I understand the majority of people don’t make a six figure income, I hardly beljeve that rendered the article useless. People seem to write off the fact that even though these people made a lot of money, they chose to save most of it, instead of spend it. I find that encouraging and motivating.

Articles like these scare me. They make me think twice about amassing a small fortune. Will people appreciate the fact that I worked hard, and saved/invested a ton to get rich? Or will they say I’m not relatable and a poor example of financial responsibility since I have so much more money than them?

I’d ask why there is such a resentment towards the wealthy, but I don’t feel like opening up that political can of worms. All I’m saying is this, If someone works hard (aka goes to law school or starts their own business) and ends up making a generous salary, we should be excited for that person and excited that we to have the potential to do something similar. No bitterness or envy necessary.

What do you think? Do you side with the commenters? Did you find those stories motivating or annyoing? Why is it a bad thing to be wealthy?

 

Are extended warranties worth it?

I’m writing this blog post on my three and a half year old laptop, listening to music on my two and a half year year old phone. Both devices are Apple products. Both devices had a warranty. Warranties that cost me a pretty penny ($160 for my laptop and $99 for the phone). I can’t help but feel like I got tricked out of $259. And thus begs the question: Are warranties really worth it?

I’m willing to bet all the money in my wallet ($7 at the moment) that the answer is, more often than not, HECK NO! Perhaps I should clarify, Standard Warranties = Good. “Extended” Warranties = Satan + Hitler – Brittany Spears. I can’t think of one time I’ve been able to collect on an extended warranty, not one. Here’s why…

Quality Matters:

Forums, customer review websites, Facebook, Google, etc have all helped give the consumer more power. Companies know if their product sucks, people will A) report them to the Better Business Bureau, B) create a Facebook fan page called “XYZ Company kills babies”, and C) buy something similar from a competitor. In fact, most companies are so confident in their product they often offer free warranties for a specified period of time. Most electronic devices are covered for 3-12 months. Cars anywhere from 30,000-100,000 miles. REI products are covered for life. All at no extra cost to you the consumer.

If it hasn’t broke, it probably wont:

Think about the last television you bought. It probably came with a standard warranty (something like 90 days), but you probably also had the option to buy an extended warranty (maybe 2 years). I’m guessing that the majority of TVs that survive 90 days, likely make it to the 2 year mark with no issue as well. Things typically don’t spontaneously combust. When you buy a warranty you’re betting the product will break. The company offering the warranty, however, is betting it wont.

Extended warranties generally don’t cover stupidity:

I’d be way more inclined to purchase an extended warranty if they covered things like stupidity. Unfortunately, most warranties don’t. Here’s what I mean. I paid $800 for my Macbook plus another $160 for Apple Care (meaning instead of only being covered for one year, my laptop was covered for three). My laptop made it through the first year just fine. Eighteen months in, however, clumsiness kicked in and my laptop fell off my bed, resulting in a small dent in the casing.

In the one second it took my laptop to go from bed to floor, I lost all $160 I invested in the extended warranty. Why? Because dropping my computer voided my warranty. Apple Care doesn’t cover stupidity. I started having hard drive issues a few months ago (over a year after I dropped it, so the Hard Drive issue wasn’t related to the drop) but Apple said that they would not replace my laptop as the dented frame voided the warranty. Bummer dude.

Insuring your phone, car, or laptop is all fine and dandy, until you do something that accidentally voids the warranty you already paid for. Don’t drop that phone. Don’t knock that computer against a counter. Don’t let someone drive their car in to yours. If you do, you’re likely up a creek without a paddle.

Companies aren’t stupid:

If the three previous points don’t have you convinced that extended warranties are the worst thing since Bristol Palin was on Dancing With The Stars, then this question will surely sway you… Do you really think businesses would offer a product that hurt them financially? Do you think Apple would sell AppleCare if they weren’t making ridiculous profits off it? Do you really think car dealerships would sell you extended warranties if they lost money on them? HECK NO TECHNO! Businesses are about making money, not losing it. They generally offer extended warranties for two reasons.

A) the amount they charge for a warranty, compared to the number of people eligible to claim benefits under the warranty, is in favor of offering the warranty. They probably sell hundreds, or thousands, of warranties for every one person that actually collects on it.

B) The warranty probably has a bunch of small typing that you didn’t bother to read. You might buy a warranty on your first house and be shocked to find out that things like the roof, water heater, electrical outlets, and air conditioning unit are not covered. Moral of the story kids, read that fine print before you sign anything! Unlimited warranties are harder to find than a sober person at ASU.

I’ve decided I’m done paying for any type of warranty in the future. Instead I’ll have so much freakin’ money in the bank, I’ll just self-insure. It will be psychologically difficult (since the warranties do provide a peace of mind), but I just have to remember the scoreboard; Warranties: 5, Ninja: 0.

How many things do you own right now that you paid for a warranty on? Have you collected on said warranty? Am I the only person that thinks warranties are, more often than not, a big fat waste of money?