Addiction Whore.

Are you like me? Do you get temporarily obsessed with random things? Maybe I’m bi-polar, maybe I lack commitment, but I sit here reflecting on all of the glorious obsessions I have had over the last couple years. Some persist, but many are short lived.

HGTV: Yes, it is terribly embarrassing to admit, but I was quite addicted to the channel. Any show that involved the home buying process was like a drug to me. I seriously think one day I watched four hours of Property Virgins and My First Place.

Photoshop: Holy crap, do yourself a favor and avoid Photoshop at all costs. There is no way to avoid an instant addiction to it. I mean it’s the best way to make a crappy photo, less crappy. It has so many features that it is easy to spend ten or so hours just learning how to use one tool.

Olympics: Don’t even try talking to me when the Olympics are on TV. I seriously am obsessed with every single Olympic sport. Yes, that includes male gymnastics. The worst part about being hooked, the Olympics typically are on at really awkward hours when they are hosted in different countries.

Personal Finance: Fortunately this is a relatively healthy and continual addiction. I say “relatively”, as I’m sure many of us could admit we may spend a little too much time focusing on our finances. I’m particularly interested in clever ways to make and save money. Mention something like “Credit card arbitrage” and it’s almost a guarantee I’ll research the crap out of it until I decide if it’s for me (arbitrage is not).

The list goes on and on, I’m seriously an addiction whore. If something tickles my fancy, I get super in to it, and about two months later I move on to something new. Maybe it’s a bad thing that I can’t stay committed, but I like to think that this makes me a more “well rounded individual” (at least that’s what I put on my college application). What about you? What are some of your recent addictions? Please tell me I’m not crazy, and there are others out there that suffer from short-term-addictionitis.

P.S. Happy birthday to Brother Ninja today, He turns 21 and is partying it up in Vegas! Put the beer and poker chips down brother 🙂

The PF Diet

Do you get as frustrated as I get when you see an overweight person excuse their obesity by saying “I tried dieting and it doesn’t work for me.” They are convinced that their genetic makeup is completely different from that of the majority of the human population, and that their DNA somehow gains weight even if all they eat is diet lettuce (hey maybe I could sell that?)

Can you believe there are some people that subscribe to a similar belief with respect to their financial life? They “try” saving or budgeting, but after realizing they aren’t millionaires by weeks end, they give up. These people are straight up wacko. It’s like they are trying to run a sprint without knowing they signed up for a marathon. News Flash: Your financial situation wont change overnight.

Personal Finance is about endurance. In reality, it’s a lifelong race, that only ends once you find yourself in a casket. It’s about continually bettering your situation so that, over time, your overall quality of life is improved. When you look at PF with a short term perspective, chances are very little will change. You can’t eat a salad for lunch and expect to weigh 20 pounds less at the end of the day…can you? NO! So don’t can’t expect your budget to make you millions over night.

The big life lesson I have learned because of personal finance: Patience. That’s right mother truckers, PF is all about patience. I want so badly for my student loan to disappear, but I know I have 400 more days before that dream becomes reality. If you aren’t willing to focus your attention on managing your money better, it’s not even worth trying. Quit now, run up your credit card bill, and find a friend to complain to about how difficult your life is.

The Best Vacations Are Free

As you all know, I am currently on a business trip in the Marshal Islands (MI). I’ve been here for three days now, and I have to say, I’m in love. I thought Hawaii was incredible when I was there last week, but it’s got nothing on the MI. I’m looking forward to the next six weeks of my “workation”.

As I approach my third year of work (post college) I am quickly learning the best kind of vacations are the ones I don’t have to pay for. Although I haven’t always traveled to the most desirable places, I’d way rather spend a week in Pittsburgh for free, than a couple thousand to navigate New York. My last “self paid” vacation was spring 2007, when I took a 7 day Mexican Riviera cruise with some of my college roommates. It was an awesome week, but it did leave me $600 poorer.

Just because I haven’t paid for a vacation in over two years, doesn’t mean I haven’t gotten to go to some pretty sweet places. I’ve been to Philly twice, Houston, Honolulu, Arizona, and now the Marshal Islands. All at no cost to me.

I know most people may not have the option to travel for work, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay for your next trip. Both of my trips to Arizona were with a High School youth group to summer camp (free). If you aren’t interested in kickin’ it with some high schoolers maybe you can call up your Great Aunt Norma, that lives in Las Vegas, and see if you can come spend a week with her.

Instead of rambling on about trying to be a cheap a$$ and get a free vacation, I pose a question. What does a vacation mean to you? For me it means going some place other than where I live and just taking it easy. I personally have no desire to backpack Europe, “Do New York”, or hit the Strip in Vegas. All of that requires too much work and stress. I’m much more inclined to go to Idaho and go skiing for a week. So for you, is a vacation about how much you do (museums, clubs, tours) or how little you do (relax, sleep in, get tan)?

I’m a happy camper

What is the deal with sad people? I am thoroughly convinced some people choose to be miserable. Well maybe they don’t wake up and think “I hope today is a terrible day” but they definitely let little things bother them more than the average ninja.

I had to take a three hour, seven hundred question, psychological exam the other day and it made me realize something. I’m a pretty freakin’ content individual. Now I know that I have a lot to be thankful for: steady job, good income, loving family, and blue eyes, but I don’t know why some people prefer negativity.

I got friends that complain about their job, school, love life, finances, etc. I realize some people’s lives are more difficult, but that doesn’t mean they have to choose misery.  After all, as bad as you may think your life is, there’s probably someone out there thats got it worse.

I’ll just be honest. I don’t really like being around negative people at all. Now I’m assuming most of us probably prefer to avoid Negative Nancy, but how do you deal with them if you are around them frequently? I have tried talking with them, but they seem to just bring me down. They don’t want advice ’cause they say things like “You don’t understand.” Do you cut them out of your life? Do you remain patient and try and preach happiness? Do you slap them across the face and say “Quit your whining sucker!” If I see Nancy again, I’m gonna kick her in the elbow. 

Debt Douchisms

*This was an article I wrote last week that appeared on AskMrCreditCard.com. He is a totally sweet dude and I’m honored he asked me to write for his website. Seeing as though it’s pretty late, and I’m super tired, I figured I would post the article up here in case you didn’t catch it on his blog*

What is a debt douchism you may be asking yourself? Well it’s a term I just invented to describe situations in which using debt is a douche bag move. For today’s post, let’s take a look at three doushisms…

Case Study One: Rolling one car loan into a new car.

I don’t know what your opinions are on buying a new car, but I am a firm believer in the 100% cash plan. I do acknowledge, however, that there are quite a few PFers that have no problem taking out a loan on a new set of wheels. Financing a car in and of itself is not a douche bag move. The super douche moment comes when an individual owes $30K on his 2007 BMW X5 and is trading that car in, and rolling over his loan in to the new 2009 BMW X5 because it now has a built in DVD player. Car debt is not necessarily a bad thing, but when you ALWAYS have car debt and are constantly rolling old debt into new debt, then you sir are a douche.

Case Study Two: Paying minimum payments on your Credit Card.

Let me clarify. You might be a douche bag if… you are paying minimum payments on your credit card, when your income allows you to pay much more. Don’t get me wrong, I love my freakin’ credit card. I use it for just about every purchase I make and it comes with some pretty sweet perks. If I had to choose between my girlfriend or my Visa….well, let’s not go there 🙂 Credit cards are wicked awesome when used responsibly, but wicked retarded when used carelessly. If ya have $10K in credit card debt, and are only sending monthly payments of $20, it’s time to rethink your priorities and get your act together.

Case Study Three: Spending more than you make.

If you spend more than you make, I’m just gonna be honest…you are a douche. That is, unless you are in some type of emergency situation and have no other way to support yourself. The mega-douches, though, don’t give a poop how much they spend on random, useless stuff. Ya can’t live a Louie Vuitton lifestyle on a Kentucky Fried Chicken income. I once was a mega douche, living outside of my means, but I heard the financial gospel and my life has been changed. Life is better when you’re not drowning in debt.

So there ya have it bloggers. Three debt douchisms. Hopefully I didn’t offend too many of you and Hopefully you don’t fall in to any of these three categories. Enjoy your thirsty thursday 🙂

Growing up six figures

I have this ridiculous mentality that wont let me feel successful (professionally) until I have achieved a six figure income. I know that’s a crazy way to determine whether or not I am successful, but I honestly have a sick obsession with breaking the $100K threshold. I think I know where this came from. I was raised in a family that pretty much made six figures or close to it as far back as I can remember.

Just because my parents may have had a six figure income doesn’t mean we lived a six figure lifestyle. They bought moderately used vehicles, bought a home in a starter neighborhood, put the kids in public school, and lived a pretty simple life. Over the last two to three years, their income has really increased. Without giving away too much info, let’s just say Obama’s proposed tax hikes would definitely affect my parents. Now that the children are grown they have began to take advantage of their income. They both bought new cars, are remodeling the same starter home they have lived in for 16yrs, and they take more vacations together. They have a pretty sweet life right now and I’m happy for them.

The purpose of this post though is not to talk about how awesome my parents are (even though they are pretty freakin’ awesome). Instead I’m writing about their income because it totally motivates me to get out there and bring home the bacon. I got to do some pretty epic things as a kid that I wouldn’t have gotten to do if money was an issue. I am excited to take on the responsibility to provide a great life for my future wife and future baby ninjas.

Well I definitely don’t think a six figure income is necessary to achieve financial security, I’m totally motivated to join the club. Here is the part where I’d like to get all mushy and give a shout out to my parents. Thanks for working hard, providing a great life for us kids, but not spoiling the crap out of us and making us ungrateful jerkfaces. You two are pretty awesome parents and I probably definitely wouldn’t trade ya for anything.

I’m a hypocrite

Yes it’s true. Full disclosure, I’m a big freakin’ hypocrite. I preach the wonders of living on a budget, when in reality, I pretty much don’t. Maybe this makes me a terrible person to go to for financial insight, but I think it just makes me normal. Let’s face it, we all compromise a little bit on financially sound principles every now and then. Even the Dave Ramsey “rice and beans” fanatics dine out occasionally, when that money could have been put towards paying down debt. See, I’m not so bad after all.

Just because I don’t live by a budget, doesn’t mean that I am a reckless spender. Actually it’s quite the opposite, I’m a frugal mother lover. I think my frugality fills in as my quasi-budget. If you have been tracking my expenses, you know that I have a dining out/grocery goal of being under $250 each month. If you really pay attention you will notice I’m almost always under that amount.

My budget may say that I have allocated $250 in spending this month, but I rarely restrict myself from doing something I want because “It’s not in my budget.” I guess what I’m trying to communicate is: A budget (to me) is a lifestyle and not necessarily a set of defined parameters. If I live in a way that reflects my ultimate goal of being debt free and owning a home, I don’t have to count pennies. All I have to do is make as many smart spending choices as possible and do my best to minimize any stupid ones.

So now I’m curious. To those who have a budget: Does it determine all of your decisions? How often do you track your spending to make sure you are within your limits? Am I a crappy financial blogger for saying that I don’t really use my budget that often? I guess this is just another area where I resist the financial norm, and make things personal.