I joined a gym.

I’ve always scoffed at the idea of joining a gym. All too often people join their local gym with the best of intentions only to find themselves, six months later, realizing they haven’t been to the gym for six months.

HA!

You wouldn’t pay for cable if you didn’t own a TV would you? So why the crap would you pay for a gym membership that you derive no benefit from? It just doesn’t make sense.

Seeing that my natural body type is long and lanky, I’ve never really been that in to the idea of working out for the sake of working out. I’d much rather go play tennis with a friend, go on a hike, or hit the slopes in the winter. Why pay some company a pretty penny, when mother nature offers plenty of free (or relatively cheap) options?

I’ll tell you why…

  1. I live in Seattle. It’s freakin’ beautiful here and there is no shortage of free outdoor activities. Unfortunately, the rumors about Seattle are true… it really does rain a good nine months of the year. Could I go hike on a drizzly weekend morning? Sure. Will I? No.
  2. I didn’t just join a gym, I joined an “athletic club”. This basically means that in addition to a ton of free weights and machines, members have access to 8 tennis courts, a pickleball court, five racquetball courts, four basketball courts, a pool, a hot tub, a sauna, and about 10 daily classes (yoga, pilates, spin, barre, insanity, etc).
  3. One of my good friends/neighbors joined the same gym. We’ve booked Wednesday and Sunday nights in our calendar as Pickleball or racquetball nights. Having a set schedule and someone to be accountable to, will keep me consistent. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought to myself “I should go for a run”, but never actually did it.
  4. Childcare is dirt cheap. For $3/hr Girl Ninja and I can drop off Baby Ninja at the clubs day-care facility and be baby-free for two hours. THREE DOLLARS AN HOUR!!!! If I had to hire one of our high school friends to come babysit they’d charge me $10/hr minimum. The below market child care virtually covers the cost of the membership. Instead of joining a gym, I like to think I joined an elite babysitting club that just so happens to provide their members plenty of fitness options.
  5. I’m turning 30 in July. Call this a quarter life crisis if you will (yes, that means I plan to live to 120), but I want to be in the best shape of my life when my 30th comes. It’s not that I’m unhappy with myself (remember I’m relatively lean), but more a challenge to myself. How fit can I get? I have no metrics by which I’ll be gauging my success. I don’t care if I gain or lose weight over the next 8 months. I have no goal to bench X amount or do Y number of pushups by July. I simply want to be proactive in being healthy and push my body in a way I never have before.

If you care to know my general plan over the next 8 months it will look kind of like this: 

  • Sunday Night: Play pickleball or racquetball with friend, followed by 10min ab workout
  • Monday: Off (maybe pool or sauna)
  • Tuesday: High Intensity Interval Training. 20 minute workout that is way more efficient than going for a run.
  • Wednesday: Play pickleball or racquetball with friend, followed by 45min arm workout.
  • Thursday: Work out back and shoulders; 1hr.
  • Friday: Another  20min High intensity interval training sesh.
  • Saturday: Do whatever I feel like and my body is up to.

So yeah, although I still kind of hate the idea of paying $50/mo for a gym membership, it’s worth it to me right now.

My goal is to hit cardio hard twice a week with the interval training to lower body fat percentage, and then lift relatively heavy (4-6 reps in a set) to encourage muscle growth and definition. I have no idea what the results will be, but there’s no way I’ll be worse off for trying, right?

And yes, in case you were wondering I took a bunch of “before” photos the other day so that, come July, I can hopefully see some significant progress. I had to put them in a hidden computer folder so no one comes across my awkward body shots. Haha.

Have you ever joined a gym? Did you/do you feel like you are getting your monies worth?

Do your work benefits rock?

With the arrival of Baby Ninja in the rear view mirror, Girl Ninja and I are starting to receive a hefty amount of mail from my insurance company. All the hospital visits, the labor and delivery, the lactation consultations, the pediatric appointments, and medications; are looking for their cut of pie. Every time I check the mail a little part of me dies inside.

I think to myself, “Ah crap, how much is Baby Ninja gonna cost us.”

The answer…

Ten dollars. 

Yup, just ten George Washington’s is all it took to bring Baby Ninja in to this world.

Your income is more than just your income.

While I may never earn a six figure salary in my government job, sometimes I have to remind myself that my total compensation package is MORE than just the salary I receive.

Like having access to great health insurance. While many of my friends have had to shell out thousands of dollars in medical costs for their labor and delivery, Girl Ninja and I have been able to rest easy the last nine months knowing that $10 was all we would have to pay.

Why $10 you ask?

Well, when Girl Ninja found out she was pregnant back in October she scheduled a maternity appointment with her OB/GYN. That first appointment had a $10 co-pay. Every other appointment since then has been 100% covered by my health insurance. No copays or out-of-pockets for anything.

Do you know how awesome it was to see a $4,000 medical bill indicate my financial obligation was $0.00?!

It felt like this..

Today I’m not only thankful for having a sweet job, but benefits that rock my world. 

Do you have any sweet work benefits? I know the tech industry is infamous for crazy perks.

Oh and here are a few more shots of Baby Ninja now that he doesn’t look quite so weird…

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Turn your audio up 😉

Burn baby burn.

You know that famous saying “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”? Well I’m kinda realizing that the Ninja household is kinda guilty of having a few too many “good intentions.”

Exhibit A: Living off my income. 

When Baby Ninja is dropped off at our front door by a Stork, our plan is for Girl Ninja to quit her job and be a full-time stay at home mom. Since we don’t want to be devastated by the loss of her income (which will be about a 30% household pay cut) we’ve decided we should pretend it just doesn’t exist.

We live off my income, and bank hers.

Great plan right?

Too bad we haven’t actually forced ourselves to really practice what we preach. If we wanted to make this experiment realistic we would have her paycheck auto-deposited in to our savings account, since we never access that account. Instead, her paychecks go in to our regular checking account and at sporadic points throughout the month I’ll transfer money over in to our savings account. Most months, this amount exceeds Girl Ninja’s, but some times it doesn’t. It’s time to get our stuff together and get her check deposited directly in to savings. What you can’t see doesn’t exist right?

Exhibit B: Contributing to my Roth IRA. 

I swear I meant to contribute to my Roth at the beginning of the year. But here we are, two months in, and I haven’t contributed a dime. Retirement doesn’t save for itself. If I want to meet my long-term goals, I have to suck up the $5,000 expense/investment and pull some money out of our savings account. Every time I go to do just that, I trick myself in to thinking that it’s not the right time, that we could use the money for something else, blah, blah, blah.

Exhibit C: Not eating until I’m about to throw up. 

I have a serious issue with food intake. I don’t know if my parents starved me as a child, but many meals I eat way more than I probably should. I have this weird complex where I hate throwing food away. This means, even when I’m totally satisfied, I will eat another piece of pizza just so it doesn’t go in the garbage. Fortunately, I am relatively active and my metabolism apparently is too, so I still appear relatively fit. I gotta get over this weird psychological complex that says I must eat even if I’m not necessarily hungry, so that I don’t end up obese and with high blood pressure.

We bloggers typically only talk about the good things we are doing, so it’s refreshing to finally share some of the things I’ve been totally sucking at. What are some of your “good intentions” (financial or otherwise) that you’re not totally executing?

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

You know that famous saying “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”? Well I’m kinda realizing that the Ninja household is kinda guilty of having a few too many “good intentions.”

Exhibit A: Living off my income. 

The plan when the stork drops a few babies off at our front door (that’s how it works right?) is for Girl Ninja to quit her job and be a full-time stay at home mom. Since we don’t want to be devastated by the loss of her income, which would be about a 30% household pay cut, we’ve decided we should pretend it just doesn’t exist. We live off my income, and bank hers. Great plan right?

Too bad we haven’t actually forced ourselves to really practice what we preach. If we wanted to make this experiment realistic we would have her paycheck auto-deposited in to our savings account, since we never access that account. Instead, her paychecks go in to our regular checking account and at sporadic points throughout the month I’ll transfer money over in to our savings account. Most months, this amount exceeds Girl Ninja’s, but some times it doesn’t. It’s time to get our stuff together and get her check deposited directly in to savings. What you can’t see doesn’t exist right?

Exhibit B: Contributing to my Roth IRA. 

I swear I meant to contribute to my Roth at the beginning of the year. But here I am, over half way through the year, and I haven’t contributed a dime. Retirement doesn’t save for itself. If I want to meet my long-term goals, I have to suck up the $5,000 expense/investment and pull some money out of our savings account. Every time I go to do it, I trick myself in to thinking that it’s not the right time, that we could use the money for something else, blah, blah, blah.

Exhibit C: Not eating until I’m about to throw up. 

I have a serious issue with food intake. I don’t know if my parents starved me as a child, but many meals I eat way more than I probably should. I have this weird complex where I hate throwing food away. This means, even when I’m totally satisfied, I will eat another piece of pizza just so it doesn’t go in the garbage. Fortunately, I am relatively active and my metabolism apparently is too, so I still appear relatively fit. I gotta get over this weird psychological complex that says I must eat even if I’m not necessarily hungry, so that I don’t end up obese and with high blood pressure.

We bloggers typically only talk about the good things we are doing, so it’s refreshing to finally share some of the things I’ve been totally sucking at. What are some of your “good intentions” (financial or otherwise) that you’re not totally executing?

Get less fat…for free :)

Hi personal finance bloggies! It’s ninja’s sister-in-law and I’m so excited to be able to jump into the world of blogging and write my first blog post ever! I don’t really know anything about personal finances, but I am very passionate about health and wellness, and being that I’m a college student, you know I live on a budget. Today I’m going to give you guys some tips on how to be healthy, but not break the bank. You don’t have to have a gym membership to reap the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle!

Take advantage of YouTube

Part of my daily routine is to do 8 minute abs and arms. It’s 100% free and so quick and easy. All you have to do is type in “8 minute abs or arms” into the search engine and 8 minutes later you’ll have a flat stomach and toned arms. (Of course you’ll need to do this more than once to see some results)  Bonus tip: play the video on mute and use your own music for the workout…you WILL be thankful.

 Read healthy living blogs

This past year I have discovered some great healthy living blogs and have learned so much from reading them, everything from different workouts to healthy recipes. You name it, there is a blog that writes about it. My personal favorite is Peanut Butter Fingers, go check her out, she’s funny , totally personal, and has the best workout advice and yummy healthy meals that anyone could whip up in a kitchen.

Take advantage of your environment

I know that we are not all lucky enough to live in beautiful San Diego, where the sun seems to shine everyday, but wherever you live, it is not hard to get outside, lace up a pair of running shoes, and go for a run. If you give it a chance, running can become one of the most rewarding, and free exercises you could ever do. Anyone can become a runner, believe me. Three years ago I loathed running, and now I’m running marathons, once you start, you just fall in love.

 Find free workout classes in your community

There are always deals going on at different gyms, yoga studios, plates classes, ect. Core Power Yoga offers a week of free classes for new students, and gyms are always giving out free week passes for new people to come check out their facilities with the hopes of luring them in to a membership. If you’re willing to hunt around, you could potentially never have to pay to use a gym or take a fitness class.

Obviously there are a million different ways to incorporate healthy choices in to our daily lives. Hopefully you’ve found some of these tips/tricks helpful, but what I’m really hoping is that you share with me some of the ways you make healthy choices on the cheap. How (or where) do you workout? If you have a gym membership are you getting your monies worth? If you read any health blogs please leave them in the comments below so I can start following 🙂

The importance of positive role models

Today’s post comes from my homegirl Sandy. She blog’s at firstgenamerican.com. She loves reading about personal finance and frugal living. Her frugal side comes from her immigrant mom who definitely falls into the camp of the frugal extreme.  She currently goes by Sandy L in my blog comments. Here’s her post….

I have two children now, so I’m often thinking about how not to screw their lives up.  I’m also wondering what they will be missing out on by not having things as tough as I did growing up.

Looking back, I bet my mother was wondering the same thing.  She grew up during WW2 in Poland and was often malnourished, hungry and cold.  She did have a roof over her head but had no electricity, no running water, limited education, and limited heat in the winter.  I often complain to my husband about how our electric bill is 3x what my mom’s is. He quickly retorts: “It’s not fair comparing ourselves to someone who grew up without electricity.”

So, the question is again, what’s more powerful, a positive role model or a negative one, or do you need both?  I see people who have positive role models who turn out a mess and vice versa…so in the end does anything you do really matter or is it all genetics?

For years, I had little empathy with the people in the hood who would cry their sob stories about how bad their lives are and how they’ll never get ahead, etc, etc.  It just sounded like my dad..and I knew he had opportunities.  He just chose not to pursue them. I also knew there were 8 million scholarships out there for poor people because I got lots of them.   I always thought: I was poor and I got out.  It’s your own fault that you are still destitute.

My perspective all changed when I did grand jury.  They ushered in a young teenage boy for drug dealing.  I soon learned that his entire family had a record.  Everyone he lived with was a convicted drug dealer. His parents, uncle, cousins, siblings, grandfather.  No one in his family ever worked a real job. How the heck are you supposed to know there is something else in life that is meant for you when you have no perspective?  How do you make a future for yourself when you have a record before you even get out of high school?  How do you get off welfare when that’s how everyone else you know gets by?

That’s really when I realized that all people need a lifeline, a ray of hope, a success story to cling onto.   For me, the main one was my mom. For all intensive purposes she was the breadwinner of the family. We lived in an almost condemned apartment building that my parents paid for in cash and fixed up as they got money.  They sent me to private school, I went to college, I always had a roof over my head, I was never hungry. When my mom got laid off about 15 years ago, her gross income was ~$15K/year.  She maintained a lush garden, sewed a lot of my clothes, worked 40-60 hours a week, cooked, cleaned, and did laundry. My mom was very sleep deprived.   I knew that hard work and creativity could at least get me fed and housed.   By most American standards we were poor, but to her, we lived in a house with running water and electricity. It was a giant step up from where she had come from.

I remember when I graduated from college and my job included relo. The woman who lived downstairs from my mom saw the guys packing my stuff and told me I was “so lucky.”   LUCK??  I call it 5 years of sleep deprivation by going to engineering school and working 30 hrs/week. For her, it was easier to look past the hard work and zero straight to the result.

So what did I get from positive role models?  I got a lot of hope and a little bit of an instruction manual.

  • Hard Work, not Luck is what makes you get ahead.
  • Don’t look to others to make your life better, look inward to yourself
  • If you see someone’s success, don’t forget about the steps it took for someone to get there.
  • Always keep Goals
  • Save part of your paycheck
  • Don’t buy anything you can’t pay for with cash.
  • Sacrifice is required to make big gains in any situation.
  • There are no get rich quick schemes. Most wealthy people I knew spent a lifetime to get to where they are today.  (Now perhaps I would think differently if I knew many young entrepreneurs).

I’m curious to hear who your positive role models have been. Do tell!

Operation Sexy Body

Every so often I like to stray from the typical financial mumbo jumbo and write about some stuff I’m sure none of you really care about. As the title alludes, I am currently on a mission of utmost importance… getting sexified for my wedding.

The wedding is tenatively scheduled for August 8th, which leaves me with approximately 8 months to get totally ripped. Just like I got my financial life in order (or at least am trying to) I need to set up a game plan for Operation Sexy Body.

Fortunately my roommate is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach/Personal Trainer so if I need any help or resources he can whip my butt in to shape. I originally planned on joining a gym to help get in shape, but I’m just too darn frugal to pay for the membership (How many of you actually use your gym memberships consistently?). Plus my roomie has a bunch of workout supplies like free weights, pull up bars, bands, and a big giant rubber ball thingy.

Here’s what I think I will be looking to accomplish…

1) Run three to five miles three times per week

2) Be able to do 20 pullups

3) Work on a 6-pack, currently have a 2.5-pack 😉

4) Run 2 miles in under 14 minutes

5) Reach goal of 50 consecutive push ups

6) Not look like this guy…

You’ll notice I did not include a weight loss goal in my list. I’m 6’1 and weigh 175lbs so I am not overweight, so I don’t really need to drop weight as much as I just want to make sure I am lookin hot as H-E-double-hockey sticks come wedding day.

It’s one thing to have a stated goal to get in shape, it’s a whole other thing to actually do it. So mark my words bloggers, I WILL BE SEXIFIED BY AUGUST 8TH. Are you a sporadic worker-outer like myself? How frequently do you break a sweat? Do you practice what you preach when it comes to your health?