Did they forget to charge me?

So Girl Ninja came out and visited me in Europe over the last week. We rented a car for personal use and spent the last 10 days playing tourist whenever I didn’t have to work. We spent time in Bruges, Aachen, Maastricht, and Amsterdam.

It was glorious. 

On Friday morning, we dropped our rental car off at the airport in Amsterdam and spent the weekend wandering the city (Girl Ninja didn’t fly out until Sunday).

Side note: In case you were wondering, you don’t even have to be in the Red Light District to happen upon mostly naked women dancing in front of windows, attempting to solicit customers. Definitely made the after-dinner-walk interesting as Girl Ninja kept saying, “Ew, don’t look.” Haha.

Anywhoozle.

Like I said, we dropped the car off on Friday morning, and here I am typing this, Monday Night, and I still haven’t been charged for the rental.

What gives? 

When I picked the car up a pending charge was placed on my card immediately. The agent explained it was customary for them to place a hold for double the cost of the rental until the car is returned.

There is no hold. There is no pending charge. Did the rental car agency forget to charge me? 

I did forget to top the car off before I brought it back to the airport. Instead of returning her with a full tank, she sat at about 3/4. Perhaps they delay the billing until they get around to fueling her? But it shouldn’t take them four days to get around to that, should it?

What if I never get charged? 

Must I tattle on myself and demand they let me give them my money? I mean, I’ve given them my credit card information three times now. Once when I booked the reservation, once when I picked the car up, and again when I dropped it off. What more could I possibly do aside from go to the ATM, take money out, put it in an envelope, and mail it directly to the European rental car agency’s HQ with a note explaining why they are getting $500 mailed to them?

I suspect in the next few days the charge WILL appear on my statement. I still want to know why it’s taken so long. I make thousands upon thousands of transactions each year, but I’ve never had something like this happen before.

Have you?

p.s. Here’s some shots of our trip 🙂

Screen shot 2013-12-09 at Dec 9, 2013, 2.05.21 PM

Screen shot 2013-12-09 at Dec 9, 2013, 2.05.08 PM

p.p.s. Yes Girl Ninja’s name is Lauren, but if you saw us on the Steve Harvey Show, you already knew that 😉

What are my alternatives?

Girl Ninja and I have a significant amount of our net worth sitting as cash in a “high yield” savings account. It’s exciting that we are just a few weeks away from hitting our $100,000 savings goal, but it’s also terribly depressing to know this money has earned a paltry 0.8% over the last couple years. Especially when it could have been earning 20%+ in the stock market. I mean, I would literally have an extra $20,000 to my name if I saved via the stock market, instead of saving via a bank account.

As you know, we are keeping such an excessive amount of cash on hand for a down payment on our first place. We’ve been hunting for about six months now, and the reality is, we are no closer to buying a home today than we were when we first started.

If we decided tomorrow that we never wanted to own a home, I would immediately take $90,000 out of our savings account and start putting it in the market. This would leave us about $10,000 in cash for emergencies. I think having more than $10k in the bank is pretty silly. Especially when we have a healthy discretionary income, stable jobs, no kids, and a Roth IRE.

My question for you today is simple:

Is there anywhere else I should consider putting this $90,000? 

Half of our net worth is failing to keep up with inflation. This concerns me and I feel like something needs to be done about it. Only problem is, I don’t know what reasonable alternatives there are to savings accounts when it comes to having quick access to cash in the event Girl Ninja and I finally find a house worth buying. HELP!!!

Feeling obligated.

You already know Girl Ninja and I spend a few days a week hanging out with high school kids through a non-profit organization Young Life. You also know that we’ve gotten to know these kids pretty well. Whenever our friends ask us when we are going to have kids I always tell them “We already have kids.” About forty high school kids that is.

One of our Student Leader’s is a Senior. She is graduating in a few short weeks and is heading to Grand Canyon University in Arizona in the fall. She got accepted to five different schools, some local here in Seattle, and a few out-of-state schools, but after her visit to GCU she didn’t need to consider her future any further.

 We are excited for her. 

Well, that’s not entirely true. Part of me is excited for her, but a bigger part of me is worried for her. Being the PF nerd/blogger that I am, I feel like I should sit her down and explain to her exactly how student loans will impact her finances upon graduation.

A quick check of the school’s 2013 tuition, housing, and other fees indicate it will cost around $30,000 each year. Or in other words, 4 years at the school is gonna run each student about $120,000. I’m pretty confident she isn’t getting a huge scholarship, and I don’t imagine her single mom can help a ton. Let’s just assume she’ll graduate with $80,000 of debt, after working part-time and qualifying for a few scholarships and/or tuition assistance programs.

Lord knows when I had decided I wanted to go to a small private school in San Diego, no one was going to stop me from getting there. You coulda told me I would have $200,000 in loans and I wouldn’t have cared. Debt is so foreign to most high school kids. They don’t really have incomes and they don’t really have expenses. Why the crap would they know or care how interest impacts student loan repayments?

Normally I wouldn’t feel obligated to have a Personal Finance intervention with someone else, but in this case I feel like I have to. Not because she is going to be $80,000 in debt. But because she is going $80,000 in debt so she can be an elementary school teacher.

Ugh. 

This girl doesn’t know that $80,000 means she’ll be making $850/month payments for 10 years just to get rid of them. What’s more, while I’m sure she knows starting teachers make between $30k and $40k depending on the school, she definitely doesn’t know how health insurance, income tax, rent, groceries, etc can destroy a paycheck.

If she was going to school major in business, chemistry, or engineering then I would just mind my own business since those fields have potential to earn a significantly higher salary. But when she is going to have an $850/month student loan payment on a very predictable $2,200/month budget, I have to at least  break down the numbers for her. I mean she’ll have $1,400/month to cover literally everything else; food, rent, car, phones.

This makes me very sad. Although I feel like I should say something, I probably wont. I feel like if I sat her down and broke all this down for her, I’d only be doing it so I could say Told ya so four years from now when she walks across the stage with a diploma and a fat student loan obligation.

Maybe I should just tell her to check out this really cool blog I know called Punch Debt In the Face 😉

Do you intervene when you see someone putting themselves in a financially stressful situation? Even when they have the best of intentions? Would you have really been able to be talked out of your college of choice after you had already sent in your deposit money?

The best and most expensive idea I’ve ever had.

Jesse and I haven’t gone to bed before 4am this last week. It’s been a long, but good, seven days. Late today MANteresting 2.0 launches. Everything, from our code to our servers and our layout to our design, is completely new. We didn’t just redecorate a few bedrooms in our house. No. We blew the mother lover to smithereens and built our dream home.

I want to talk a little bit about starting a business… something I admit, I know very little about.

Some insight: 

I’ve managed to make a name for myself in a sea of over 1,000 personal finance bloggers. Although I am by no means the most visited PF blog (my traffic is actually pretty terrible), I think I can say with reasonable confidence, I’m one of the most well-known. I guess I have my crappy stick figure drawings to thank for that.

PDITF has had 1.2 million pageviews over it’s three-year life span. MANteresting, which is 6 months old, has had quadruple that. PDITF has around 2,000 active subscribers that read each post, MANteresting has tens of thousands of active users. PDITF costs me about $150 a year to operate (domain and web hosting). MANteresting has gobbled up over $5,000 (of my money) in its short life. So I ask…

How do you keep business, business, and not personal?

MANteresting is my brainchild. It’s near and dear to my heart. I am not in this for the money (although I wouldn’t complain if someone wanted to buy us). I’m much more narcissistic than that. Ego is my driving force. I thought I had a good idea and wanted to see if I was right. It’s really no different from the reason I created this blog. Of the thousands of other blogs out there, I wanted to see if I could author one worth reading . <— If you just read that line, I have accomplished my goal.

That said, I obviously don’t want to just keep pumping cash in to MANteresting just for the heck of it. Money may not be my primary motivation, but it is second on the list. To date, Jesse and I have made exactly zero dollars from the site. Ha! How’s that for honesty.

That might sound bad, but we are in the red on purpose. We knew if we even spent one moment of our time on monetization – and not solely on making the site better – we would lose users, traffic, and interest. I’m a firm believer that if we do this right, people will line up to give us their money (Zynga, Facebook, Instagram).

We have no clue if we will walk away $10,000 poorer or $1,000,000 richer at the end of this journey, but I do no one thing: It’s gonna be one heck of a ride! 

To any of you that have ever started a business, how did you decide how much money you were willing to pour in to it? How do you keep emotions from clouding your judgement?

p.s. it’s 4:08 am as I write these words.

Well this is awkward (a renting dilemma).

Two days ago our Landlord cashed our rent check for this month, which is actually quite surprising. We’ve rented this place for just over a year now, and he typically takes two to four weeks to deposit our rent. For someone like myself, who obsessively checks his bank account balances every day, this delayed depositing can get quite stressful. When I write a check, I want that money to be taken from me immediately… definitely within the week.

Anyways, as I was going through all our accounts I noticed something didn’t quite seem right. Our checking account balance seemed like it was higher than it should be. A quick investigation revealed a very interesting fact: Our landlord has cashed our rent checks for July and September rent, but never for August. This has never happened to me in all my renting years.

I know we wrote him a check in August. I mean the guy lives directly below us. If he never received that check he would have called, texted, or walked the 30-feet to our front door to let me know. In fact, his wife came over the other day just to visit, and in our 30 minute conversation not a word was spoken of late or missing rent payments.

I mean, we paid the guy. I held up my end of the bargain. I wrote him the check he is entitled to. Is it also my responsibility to walk him to the bank and make him deposit it? If he had lost it, wouldn’t he have said something to me? Maybe he does have the check, but just hasn’t gotten around to cashing it?

Obviously, part of me wants to keep that $1,175 in our account as long as possible (possibly indefinitely if he’s forgotten about it). But the other part of me thinks I need to follow-up with him and see why he cashed July and September’s rent, but not August’s?

This whole situation is just really awkward.

What would you do if your landlord/mortgage holder didn’t cash a housing payment? Would you follow-up and let them know, or does your responsibility end once the check has passed hands?

p.s. I guess this is one of those times I wished I wasn’t so in-tune with our finances. If I never noticed he hadn’t cashed our check I wouldn’t be having this dilemma. Ignorance truly is bliss, eh?

Update: I sent my landlord a text letting him know.

If we didn’t want a house.

I was doing some driving today, and like I often do, I started thinking about our finances. Today, I was contemplating our savings goals. If you aren’t already aware, Girl Ninja and I kind of want to buy a house one day in the future. So to prepare for said house, we have spent the past two years being diligent little savers.

But what if we have a change of heart and decide we don’t want to buy a house anytime soon (meaning in the next five or so years)? This isn’t a rhetorical question. Seriously, what the frick would we do?

Or another way of phrasing the question (and probably a much more realistic hypothetical situation) is this: What do we do if we reach our $100,000 goal, but aren’t ready to buy yet? We’d still have discretionary income coming in, but do we really need $120,000 or $150,000 in the bank? At what point would our savings just become awkwardly excessive?

I mean, I don’t want to be the cat lady that dies with millions in the bank. So if we reach our $100,000 goal before we even want to buy a house, I guess the only solution is to spend more of our money. Maybe we’d take a few big vacations each year. Perhaps we’d buy a new couch. We’d give more money to charity. I’d up our retirement contribution to 30% (yawn). Girl Ninja would overhaul her wardrobe and I could buy myself some expensive gadgets I don’t really need. But even then, we’d eventually run out of things we want. Where does your money go, when you have no where to put it?

I’m extremely grateful we are in a position where we can save the majority of our income, but for the last two years I’ve put my focus and energy on reaching this $100,000 goal. Which in turn means I’ve put absolutely no focus or thought in to what we’d do once we reach that goal. Help.

Help me not get west Nile virus

I am literally curled up under a blanket right now in the back of my SUV with Girl Ninja (we are camping). It’s 5:33 am and for some reason I’ve been up for 45min. Part of me thinks my lack of sleep is inversely correlated to the excessive amount of mosquito bites I have on my body…seriously uncomfortable.

While Girl Ninja and the rest of our friends are sleeping soundly, I’m on my iPhone tryin to find the nearest store and reading reviews on Amazon about bug repellent. We bought OFF mosquito repellant, but based on the number of mosquito bites on my right thigh alone, I’m just gonna say it doesn’t do the greatest job.

These little freakin bugs just don’t quit, and what’s more, they are out ALL DAY LONG!!!!! I’ve heard the bug repellent candles work well, and one of our fellow camping homies said the battery powered OFF clip work wonders. I have no experience with either, but what I do know is that I don’t want West Nile virus and something needs to happen NOW!!!!

I’m to the point where I would pay $20+ for something that worked. Do you all have suggestions? What’s the last thing you wanted/needed/craved that you would have been willing to pay a BIG mark up to get (candy, concert tickets, wine)?