College habits die hard

You remember the days of top ramen, hot pockets, wearing the same pair of jeans for two weeks in a row, and strategically planning your gas tank to be on empty when mom and dad came to visit? These were typical college experiences for many of us. I did some thinking over the weekend, and realized I still have some old college habits.

Although I like to think of myself as an “okay” cook, there is just something about a mother’s cooking that can’t be matched. I tutor a lot of high school kids and have become pretty good friends with them and their families over the years. One of the perks of knowing so many local families…they frequently invite me over for dinner. I definitely jump at any and all opportunities to score some free grub. In college, I stood outside of a Chiptole for two hours just to get a free burrito….frugal much?

Not only do I keep some of my old frugal food habits, but ya know I am still reppin’ the Target plastic storage bins with pride. You know the one’s, that you would slide underneath your college bunk to store unwanted junk (hehe that rhymed). Well, six years later, I still have those same bins. They have come in handy as sock and underwear drawers. Most people keep undergarments in a dresser, but the plastic bins have treated me fine and I have no intentions to upgrade any time soon.

Oh how about this one…I still order water just about every time I dine out. One of my favorite college maneuvers was the free glass of water at dinner. It easily saved me $3 bucks on my bill each time, as opposed to ordering a drink. I love water, but I realize whenever I go out to eat with my parental units (they pay of course) I almost always order a soda or lemonade. What does this mean? It’s means I’m a cheap bastard and never fork out for a “luxury” drink when I’m out with friends.

Lastly, sometimes I’m too cheap to buy toilet paper so I forgo wiping for a couple days. Just kidding, it’s Monday morning, so I thought I would throw that little curve ball in there just to wake ya’ll back up 🙂

I have some other awkward college habits that I never parted with, but I am far too embarrassed to disclose. Maybe I’ll save them for another day. Now it’s your turn to take a walk down memory lane, and share some of the habits you never let go of after you received your diploma. At what point should we give up the ramen noodles and plastic storage bins? I keep telling myself when I get married I will grow up 🙂

p.s. I promise I really do wipe every time (too much information?)

I might be young, but I’m not dumb

I really have no idea what the average age is of a Punch Debt reader, but I’m gonna take a shot in the dark and assume the majority are 30 or under. It may be my terrible grammar, but I’m pretty sure my writing style appeals to the twenty somethings and not so much the sixty somethings. So I figure it’s time for a little 20 something dialogue (but feel free to contribute even if you are 30+).

Do you ever feel like people treat you like you are less important than them? Or that you are somehow dumber than they are just because you are younger? I’m a 24 year old investigator and I spend 4 to 8 hours a day out in the field interacting with a wide spectrum of the San Diego population. I have had to meet with high school students and fortune 500 CEO’s. I find the older the individual I meet with, the less respect I am given (as noted by my graph below).

Without divulging too much about what I do for a living, a good majority of my day is spent sitting down with people and interviewing them. Sometimes the interviews are planned and cordial, while other times I must be abrupt and confrontational. It’s fun work, but I have found myself becoming more and more frustrated with the 50+ crowd.

I remember one time, while I was interviewing an older gentleman, he interrupted me mid sentence to ask me how old I was. I have been asked this question before, but usually the person has done it in a sweet way so as not to be offensive. But this man was totally asking me as if he did not believe that I was old enough to be interviewing him. I responded with “Old enough to conduct investigations.”

This is not the first, and I’m sure it wont be the last, time that I am treated as though I am less important than someone simply because I’m younger. I have also felt this way when it comes to discussing finances. Have you ever tried to talk to an older individual about investing and they look at you like “Oh isn’t he cute, he thinks he can teach me about my money?” I wonder if older individuals skip past my website after they discover I’m only 24? I’m totally down to learn from anyone that has more experience or knowledge than me in any subject. If I want to learn how to play the tuba, I don’t care if the kid is 8 years old that is giving me the lesson. If he is a baller on the tuba then I’m all ears.

Now I do realize age discrimination probably works both ways and older individuals feel like the younger generations show them no respect, but I can only speak from a 24 year olds point of view. So how bout it bloggers? Have you had to deal with someone speaking to you like you are less intelligent than they are, simply because you are younger? Am I being a total drama queen and making this a way bigger deal than it should be? Do I look fat in this dress? Oh and after reading this drop me a comment with your age cause I’m curious if my readership prediction is accurate.

You’re only getting poorer

Howdy doody debt punchers. Today I pose a question. At what age do you anticipate reaching your peak income? I have read quite a few personal finance books that discuss income trends of individuals over their lifetime. The graphs usually show a persons income peaking by their late 30’s.

I got to thinking “When do I plan to reach my maximum income?” I would like to think I’m always going to be able to make more money, by working harder or changing positions, but statistics show that just isn’t likely. So for the sake of today’s blog post, I’m guessing my income will peak at age 29 or 43. Here’s why….

My first assumption is that I will reach maximum income at age 29. That’s only 5 years from now, pretty depressing huh? The main reason for this prediction is anticipation of having children. Once the first baby ninja is shooting out of momma’s happy place, we will become a single income family. I don’t anticipate ever being able to make enough to recover the lost income from a stay-at-home mom. That first kid better be worth the $50K/yr he is gonna cost me.

My second assumption, age 43, is more accurate to the actual question. Although I anticipate my household income to peak at age 29, I’m pretty confident my income will peak at 43. It’s probably much easier for me to make this prediction than you, because I am a federal employee and I know exactly how much I will make for the rest of my life. I currently have 19 more years until I reach my maximum pay grade.

Deep down inside I want to toss out both of these guesses because I don’t want to ever face a declining or stagnant income. But what about you? If you had to make a crazy a$$ guess, when would you predict your income will peak? Have you already waved goodbye to your highest salary? Or are you like me and plan to always come up with a way to make more money?

IWTYTBR Giveaway

What’s up you filthy sick nasty bloggers? I am out of town all week and won’t be able to respond to emails or comments until I return. I have two great guest posts lined up for Tuesday and Wednesday this week so be sure to check back for those. I’ll also be roundin’ up the PF mad libbing that turned out to be way more popular than I ever intended on Thursday. And Friday’s post is going to require the input of you PF bloggers after I share a secret. Even though I’m out of town, the blogging must go on

I got my hands on a copy of I Will Teach You To Be Rich (IWTYTBR) a couple weeks ago and recently finished it. I really enjoyed the read. My first personal finance read was the Total Money Makeover (TMM). I loved that book, but wasn’t completely sold on all of Dave Ramsey’s plan. IWTYTBR has a lot of the same information as the TMM, but is better catered to my personal preferences. For example, I use credit cards, I am fine with the idea of having 6 months in savings before paying down all debt, and I wouldn’t mind doing a little investing in bonds and other non-stock investment options. I find Dave’s book to lack some of the flexibility that Ramit allows. Ramit focuses on making personal finance PERSONAL and allows the reader the freedom to customize basic financial principles with their goals and desires.

I’m gonna stop the summary here, but know that I enjoyed the book and I would advise you give it a try. For one lucky reader, there won’t be a need to purchase it though, ’cause I’m giving my copy away. A couple of the pages may be folded over (that’s how I mark my place), but the book is in rather excellent condition and even smells like me 🙂 So if you are a frugal bastard and want a chance to get it for frizzle (ebonics for free). All you have to do is drop me a comment telling me the most attractive quality about someone of the opposite sex. Only one comment per person and you have to include your name and or blog as the commenter (no anonymous comments). The winner will be picked on Sunday morning, so you have a good six days to enter. Good luck peeps 🙂

Underwear emergency fund, check!

Just about every personal finance blogger has wrote about the importance of an emergency fund. I lost my E-fund blogging virginity back in April, but I can’t help but revisit the issue…this time, with a twist 🙂

I’ll start with the Ninja definition of what exactly an E-fund is…
Emergency Fund: A dedicated saving plan to cover one’s a$$ when crap hits the fan.
Now that we all know what an E-fund is, let’s talk about the types of E-funds I strongly believe in.

Online Savings Account: I keep about 6 months of cash in my online savings account. I keep it there ’cause it earns better interest than my brick and mortar bank, but more importantly, because my cash is easily accessible. Let’s face it, bad stuff is gonna happen. Your car breaks down, you lose your job, your daughter may get eaten by a kangaroo, don’t worry though, your E-fund will definitely help lessen the blow. Try and keep at least three months of expenses on ya at all time.

Time Off: The inspiration for this post, came from my article yesterday about sick time. Although I still am not the biggest fan of dedicated sick leave, I know that it’s uber important to not expend all of your time off. My goal is to carry about two months of sick leave at all times. That way if I break my leg or have a family emergency, I can take time off without having to worry about the security of my position.

Gifts: If you’re a douche bag like me, you are gonna end up forgetting something significant. In my case, it was my three year anniversary with the girlfriend. It’s not a bad idea to pick up a couple extra “happy birthday” “thank you” or “I love you” cards next time you’re at the grocery store. Gift cards also serve as good universal presents. Now when you forget Uncle Bill’s 78th birthday, you can hook him up with a Bed Bath and Beyond gift card.

Socks/Underwear: I have this freakish obsession with stock piling boxer briefs and puma socks. I probably have enough underwear and socks to clothe a small country, like China 😉 I don’t want to find myself in a situation where I gotta wear my “fruit of the looms” for a second day because I’m fresh out of clean skibbies. Few things are more satisfying than putting on a clean pair of underwear!

There are a ton of other categories that I think could use an E-fund: food, toothpaste, make-up (women), beer (J. Money). What are some other areas of your life that you tend to stock up on? I bet ya’ll save up some pretty interesting things. Drop me a line if you got some fun little stories.

I’m obsessed with Obsessed!

I have to follow up yesterday’s post with more musings on another A&E show. I discovered Obsessed last night. I had never heard of the show, but I’m in love. It focuses on a few individuals that struggle with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). It’s not just the “I don’t like germs” OCD, but like crazy intense “I put on the clothes that my father died in every night” type OCD. People on this show have some crazy obsessions and it’s interesting to see how it effects their lives, but even more interesting is their determination to overcome their cumpulsions. Definitely inspring.

Now let’s take the premise of this show and tie it in to personal finance shall we? I bet a fair share of us PFers are obsessed with our finances. I know J. Money has blogged about his obesessive compulsive checking of his site stats (We are probably all guilty of this). I have blogged before about my obsession with learning about finances and how it all started. Mr. PrimeTime also has a similar article. I bet we all have things we do that we would never want our friends to know about because they would think we were cuckoo. For example, I probably check my Roth IRA balance 20 times a day. This goes against the typical financial advice, to put your retirement accounts out of mind for the next 40 something years. Or how about the fact that I hate driving my car because I know every mile I put on it depreciates it just a little more (I only put 4K on my car last year).

I would love to see the show focus on a few of us PFers who chase interest rates, buy and sell stocks like nobodies business, and know all the latest financial news before it even hits the press. A healthy amount of PF obsession can be a wonderful thing, but going overboard can cause unnecessary difficulties in your life. If you are a PF OCD victim like me, let this post serve as a reminder to put ourselves in check and think “Do I really need to transfer my credit card balance for a 0.01% better ineterest rate?”

What are your OCD behaviors? Even if they are not PF related I still wanted to hear ’em. Everytime I drive through a yellow light, I have to kiss my hand and then touch the cieling of my car. I have even tried to force myself to not do it, but I get super anxious and always end up completing the ritual. I’m a freak.

I love Intervention

Have you seen the show Intervention? I’m sitting here right now watching it, and it’s about a sex addict and a morbidly obese person. The show focuses on someone with an addiction and shows how it is ruining their life. By the end of the episode the main characters loved ones hold an intervention and usually say “We love you, but we refuse to be around you while your addicted to…”. The family essentially says they aren’t willing to put up with his/her addiction anymore and they will cut them off if he/she doesn’t get help. I’d say about 50% of the time the person decides to go get treatment, with 50% of those that sought treatment actually completing and getting better. It’s an extremely interesting show and I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t already.

Watching this show got my brain juices flowing and made me think “What would a financial intervention look like?” I bet most of us are close to someone that has poor financial habits. There is a difference though between someone with bad spending habits and someone whose financial decisions affect not only their lives, but also those that are close to them. It’s the dad that spends his money at the bar after work instead of paying the mortgage to provide shelter for his family. The teenage girl that steals her parents credit card and goes on a shopping spree. It’s the person that borrows money from their friends knowing they will never pay them back. These are the people that need financial interventions.

So, what would a financial intervention look like? It might involve conversing with others that are affected. Cutting off all financial support to that person. And even confronting them with your concern for not just their financial well being, but their overall quality of life.

Do you know someone that needs a financial intervention? Could you intervene if necessary? At what point do we have an obligation to voice our concerns? These are questions that I don’t know the answer to, but should be considered if we know someone that has serious financial issues. I wish I could provide some great advice or solution, but I’m left just thinking, “What would I do?”