What do you do with found money?

I have some great news for you all…well, actually… it’s just great news for me and Girl Ninja. We’re expecting!!!! A $3,000 check that is…not a baby. It was money that we’ve been hoping for, for a very long time, but weren’t sure we’d ever see it.

You remember a few months back when I blogged about getting a $40,000 raise? Well apparently, I jumped the gun a little bit, because that raise was delayed nearly two months.

Girl Ninja started a K/1 split classroom at the beginning of the school year as a substitute, but with hints that it could turn in to a contracted position (meaning she’d get a pay bump and all the benefits of a normal teacher). We thought that contract would come, sometime in late September. It didn’t. We were then told to expect to hear no later than Oct 31st. We heard nothing. November came around and other long-term substitutes were being offered temporary contracts. Things weren’t looking good.

But then, last week, GN got an encouraging email that indicated she should be signing a contract sometime in the next couple weeks. If that happens (which it better or I will be slashing some tires…just sayin), she will be compensated back pay for the three months she’s already worked at the school. Basically meaning she’d get a one time, $3,000 check.

I’ve come to notice a recurring theme in our relationship when it comes to unexpected money, we NEVER agree on what to do with it. When we got $2,500 in cash wedding gifts, I thought the Roth IRA was a perfect avenue, Girl Ninja thought a trip to San Francisco. When I found out I was receiving an award at work that came with a little financial bonus, I figured I could add it to our savings, Girl Ninja thought we could use it for things around our house. We never quite agree on what to do with these little windfalls. That’s why she is my jelly.

My assumption is, of the $3,000, at least $200 will go directly back to her classroom for decorative purposes (we haven’t spent any money on the room as we were never guaranteed she’d be able to stay). Another $300 will be given away/donated (stayin’ true to 10% rule). And the other $2,500 is…well…we haven’t figured that out yet.

This leads to today’s question? What do you do with found money? Do you have a rule like 50% savings, 50% spending? If you have debt, does bonus money always go 100% to it? If you got $2,500 today, how would you allocate it?

A shot at redemption

golf fail

Many of you know Girl Ninja and I honeymooned in Aruba. We delighted in 8 days of pure epic awesomeness. As great as the week was, there was one major thing that kept our week abroad from being perfect…. ME. Well, maybe it wasn’t so much me as it was my frugality.

In my defense, we did have a really good time. We went shopping downtown and bought ourselves really nice watches. We went to the high rise district and ate at some fabulous restaurants. And we even took a 3 hour snorkel tour in some of the clearest waters in the world.

Even though we had our share of fun, I definitely let my frugality get the best of us. Girl Ninja made multiple comments about taking a Jeep tour around the island or how fun she thought it would be to rent jet skis. I, however, am a stupid guy and just thought she was throwing ideas out there, not realizing these were things she desperately wanted to do. Marriage communication fail!

How stupid am I for dropping $4,000 on our only honeymoon, but cheapin’ out on a $100 jeep tour? Slap me sideways and call me Susan cause I ain’t pullin’ that crap again. The Ninja household will now live by this mantra when it comes to vacationing…Go big or don’t bother going!

Fortunately, I have a chance to redeem myself. Girl Ninja and I recently bought tickets to San Francisco! We’ve never been before and are excited to play tourist. Our honeymoon was all about relaxing, but San Fransizzle is all about running around until our heads explode.

I have no clue where we are staying (thinking the Hyatt Grand), no clue what we NEED to do, no clue what we SHOULD do, and no clue what we should AVOID doing. We really only know two things…

1) Our dates of travel (MLK weekend in January)

and

2) I’m not going to be such a Stingy McStingysauce this time.

I’m super excited for an opportunity to show Girl Ninja I can let my hair down and have a good time (yeah that sounded super feminine, but I don’t care). Don’t you worry though, I’ll still try and save some coin by browsing the San Fran Groupons and other local deals. I’ll be frugal before the trip, but not while we are there!

My frugal do-over would definitely be my honeymoon stinginess. What would yours be? Ever regretted your frugality? Ever passed on a super good deal cause you thought you could find it cheaper, only to end up letting the initial bargain expire? When you vacay do you go BIG?!

p.s. if you’ve been to San Fran (or live there) I’d totally appreciate any recommendations on things to do!

p.p.s. You know my friends that had that Charity Water well fund? Well, many of you stepped up to the plate and donated and guess what… they raised 100% of their target amount! Yay for water!!!! You guys/girls continually rock my face off. Thanks for helping out.

Does the economy have you down?

recession plans

If you’ve turned on the TV, flipped through a magazine, or listened to the radio at any point in the last three years I’m sure you’ve noticed America is falling apart. Unemployment is up. The Stock Market is down. The world is coming to an end. But for the Ninja household, and I’m sure many others, we’ve escaped the doom and gloom unscathed.

In fact, we’ve kicked some major butt during this depressed economy. I managed to pay off $28,000 of student loan debt, put $20,000 in savings, and contribute over $30,000 to my retirement accounts all since I graduated college in May 2007. Yeah, 2007, you know, right when the markets took a turn for the worst.

While I wont argue that the last three years have been extremely difficult for some groups of people (eg auto workers in Detroit), I would like to remind the majority of Americans that they need not participate in (or at least be completely disabled by) the recession.

Yes unemployment is at 9%, one of the highest points in recent history, but guess what. That means there is an EMPLOYMENT rate of 91%. That means 9 out of 10 people that want to work, can. It’s all about perspective.

Click here to see my Stick Figure Blog cartoon that shows what 9% unemployment is really like

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are good/honest/hardworking people out there that can’t seem to catch a break. There’s always two sides to every story. That’s why I’ll end today’s post here and leave you with three simple questions…

How have you fared the last three years?

How have you prospered during this time?

How have you been hurt?


Update: Apparently this post has been perceived as arrogant by a few readers. The intention was not to brag and say I am better than anyone else, cause let’s face it, I’m not. It was simply to show that I have not been affected by the recession. Since I have been fortunate enough to survive the economic crisis, I wanted to see if others had as well. That was the primary purpose of the post; to see how people have fared through the recession.

I’m not dumb. I see the news. I know peopleย  are suffering. Some because they are lazy and use the recession as an excuse to wallow in self pity, and others that are working their tail off to try and find employment, but haven’t had any luck. If me sharing my personal success is considered arrogant, I don’t know why I don’t get the same angry comments on Net Worth updates when I have an increase.

Would you get naked for $500,000?

Naked Ninja

Ah yeah, let’s put away the budgets, hide the Roth IRA’s, and throw out the financial mumbo jumbo. Today, we are going to talk about something more important… Nudity. That’s right, straight up butt-nakedness. Why nudity you ask? Well, yesterday, I read an interesting article over at CNN titled “13 Celebs who said ‘No way’ to Playboy.” Here’s a snippit about one of those 13 celebs…

6. Lohan’s been there, done that
“Playboy” has been trying to get Lindsay Lohan naked for ages, most recently increasing her offer from a rumored $700,000 to $900,000 last year. One of Lindsay’s representatives said that Lindsay would “be happy to do the cover, but no nudity… If there’s nudity, then the answer’s no … She’s not going down the ‘New York Magazine’ road again.” I suppose the naked Marilyn Monroe-inspired shoot did cause a bit of a kerfuffle for Li-Lo

Surprisingly, there are quite a few celebs who gave ‘Heff’ the cold shoulder. This got me thinking, “What would I do if someone offered me $500,000 to drop my drawers”? I decided to make a list of the pros and cons of being in Playboy (or I guess in my case Playgirl).

Pros:

  • I instantly become half a million dollars richer.
  • It would be the easiest money I’ve ever made.
  • I’d be able to do something really neat like pay off a single mom’s mortgage, feed a few thousand homeless people, or sponsor a group of high school kids to summer camp.
  • I could finally buy that unicorn I’ve always wanted…playboy unicorn
  • If invested properly, I’d be able to retire by the time I was 30 or 35.

Do you know how sweet it would be to knock out saving for retirement that quickly?! Pretty freaking awesome if you ask me, but with every pro, there is a con…

Cons:

  • I’d let down, or at the least, horribly embarrass my entire family.
  • Girl Ninja would never go for it, so I’d have to violate her request to stay clothed.
  • I’d effectively be selling my soul, since I don’t support pornography (not even ‘tasteful’ porn).
  • I’d definitely end up regretting my decision if I did do it. Kinda the same reason I’ll never get a tattoo. There’s no going back.
  • The world would come to an end… Literally. I’m pretty sure any woman that sees a naked picture of me, would spontaneously combust. Therefore, eliminating the female species as we know it. No females = No more Babies, and No More Babies = End of the world!!!

As much as I would love to have $500,000 in the bank, I’ve got to be honest and admit I am too big of a prude. I could never “bare all” for some quick cash. So I join the ranks of Lohan, Alba, Justin Beiber’s mother, Lady Gaga and say “No thank you” to Heff and the gang. I’ll be keeping my clothes on for the time being (throw in a case of Dr. Pepper though, and you might have yourself a deal, Dr. Pepper makes me do silly things).

How much would it take for you to consider making a deal with Playboy? $100,000? $500,000? $1,000,000? What would you do with the money? What would keep you from making a deal (family, embarrassment, etc)?

p.s. I want to hear from all of you (yes, even you, creepy-person-that-has-never-commented-on-my-blog-before), I’m really curious as to how many people would consider making a deal if the price was right!

p.p.s. Am I the only one that thought it was crazy someone wanted to pay Lindsay Lohan nearly $1MM to take her clothes off? Heck I’ll pay her to keep them on.

p.p.p.s. My old college dorm had a six person shower room with no stalls or privacy screens. We learned to get comfortable being naked around each other real quick. By the end of the school year, my dorms motto was “Unity through Nudity.”

Domestic Ninja

chef ninja

My 8th most commented on blog post of all time is titled “I think I’m sexist.” That post includes a scanned questionnaire I filled out (during premarital counseling) in regards to who should perform what household duties. Here’s that questionnaire in case you didn’t catch it the first time…

Most of you thought my responses were pretty sexist (and rightfully so). I tend to have a much more “leave it to beaver” view of how I’d like my household to be run, than the typical person. Fortunately, Girl Ninja was likeminded (for the most part) so there was no real drama when we went over these tasks.

So how did it turn out for us? Is Girl Ninja making the bed and doing all the grocery shopping as I desired? HECK NO! The reality is, I’m doing far more chores than I could have ever imagined. There is one primary factor that is throwing off my leave it to beaver dream; Girl Ninja works a helluva lot harder than I do. And I’m not scared to admit it!

Most of you know, I have the incredible luxury of working in my underwear, errr, I mean working from home. Girl Ninja however, works at a zoo, with 24 wild animals, aka kindergarteners. She typically leaves the house around seven each morning and gets home between five and six.

Since I work from home, and my job is eleventy-billion times less stressful, it’s only right that I take on more household responsibilities. Yes, I’m turning in my man card, and learning how to be more domestic. Making the bed, doing the dishes, and even ::gasp:: doing the laundry are some of the newest additions to my resume.

While it was a tough pill to swallow at first, it’s time to man up and serve my wife by minimizing the amount of crap she has to do when she comes home. How big of a tool (see image below) would I have to be expect Girl Ninja bust her a$$ at work all day, only to come home to a sink full of dishes and a disheveled bed?

stick toolThere are still a few things, however, I try and avoid. Specifically, anything invovling food. I hate grocery shopping, I’m not the greatest cook, and I couldn’t bake a cake to save my life, so when it comes to food preparation, Girl Ninja is in charge. The only thing I’m good for, when it comes to food is eating it, Yeah…I’m real good at that!

Once Girl Ninja transitions from teacher to stay at home mom, we can re-evaluate who does what around the house. But as long as she is working 50+hours a week, I’m going to shut my mouth, wash as many dishes as necessary, and like every second of it.

Who typically does what in your house? Are there any chore role reversals in your house (i.e. man does all baking, or woman mows the lawn)? Anything you wish your partner did that you always find yourself doing?

Welcome to my home

Welcome to my home. Back in June, I wrote an article about how badly Wife Ninja wanted to feather the nest for our first place. After a heck-of-a-lotta apartment hunting and even getting the cold shoulder from one place we really liked, we finally settled in to a great little (600sqft little) 1 bedroom condo with a view of downtown. Before we got hitched, The Wife and I decided $2,500 should adequately furnish our first place. Well, now that we are 95% settled, we can take a look at how we did. Consider this your official tour of the Casa De Ninja…

Our sleeping situation:

Ninja Bed

As much as I love Wife Ninja, I sure don’t like that she crowds me on our small full-sized bed. I’d rant about it, but I already did that in this marriage post. So why keep the pint sized sleep arrangements? One reason, the bed was free. Wife Ninja has used this bed for the last three years, so we decided to keep it until we know where we will be living long term. The bedding, pillows, sheets, etc were all Wife Ninja’s from before, so although the bed isn’t the most comfortable, you can’t beat FREE-ninety-nine.

The Clothing Situation:

dresser ninja

We went with Ikea for our dresser, but bought one of their more expensive models, the Hemnes. It set us back $299, but is a sturdy build and wont blow over like other Ikea stuff. We looked at quite a few consignment shops and furniture stores and couldn’t find anything we liked more than this for a similar price. If you count, there are 8 drawers in the dresser. Mine is the top left, the other seven are Wife Ninjas ๐Ÿ™‚

The Office situation:

Office Ninja
Wife Ninja wanted a black desk. One of my friends had a light birch desk sitting in his guest room that he wanted to get rid of. It was the perfect size, but definitely not what WN was looking for. Three coats of black latex paint and a big mess later, I had the desk painted. It isn’t the highest quality (read crappy Ikea furniture) but it does fine for now. When it comes time to move we’ll sell this on Craigslist, give it away for free, pay someone to take it, or throw it away…whichever comes first.

The Overall Bedroom Situation:

With the exception of a few decorating pieces (rug, candles, lamp shades, etc) we didn’t really spend money on the bedroom aside from the dresser. Probably about $400 for the whole room. I’d show you a picture of our closet organization system, but am too freaked out some of you internet pervs will try and look for my underwear or something. Creepers not welcome.

The Kitchen Situation:

I love the kitchen for three reasons. 1) It’s pretty freakin nice. 2) It has enough cabinet space for all our stuff. 3) Almost everything in it was a wedding gift. Do you remember when I blogged about the wedding registry process from a man’s perspective? Well, registering was TOTALLY awesome because we got a lot of the really expensive kitchen gadget thingys that I was really dreading having to pay for (i.e mixer, espresso machine, knife block). We’ve only put about $150 in to the kitchen, which makes me a very happy camper.

The Fancy Stuff (that I’m Not Allowed To Touch) Situation:

Yet another Ikea purchase. We paid $150 for this display hutch, which I would say is medium grade quality. It made Wife Ninja really happy because it can display our fancy china, ballerific crystal, and sweet orange license plate we bought on our honeymoon that says “Aruba. One Happy Island.” We paid for the hutch, but everything inside of it is wedding gifts.

Dining Area Situation:

That dining room table is the purchase we are most excited about. It was listed on Craigslist for $300 from someone liquidating their mother in laws estate. I was able to negotiate them down to $250. The table is solid wood, came with four, yes FOUR, leaf inserts, six white chairs, and can seat up to 12 people when fully extended. When I was wiping down one of the chairs, I noticed it still had the original price sticker on it, $79. That means the chairs alone originally cost $480. It get’s even better. After a little more research, I found out the table is from Crate & Barrel and cost over $800 originally. We found the white bench on craigslist for $55 and thought it was too perfect to not add to the dining set. We will either keep this table in our family for a very long time, or sell it for twice (or three times) what we paid for it. Total cost of the dining room area ~ $450.

The Man Cave of Crazy Manliness Situation:

Do you see that 46″ television of pure epic glory? It was my favorite wedding gift, from the one and only, Mom Ninja. We spent $300 on the entertainment stand, $35 on the super sweet coffee table/mission style chest thing-a-majigger, $30 on the lamp, $35 on the fake plant, and a bit more on the other “minor” decorating expenses. The couch, which you will see in the next picture, was actually given to us by a friend and is super sweet and saved us some serious coin. All said and done we are looking at about $500 on the living room.

The Great Room Situation:

There isn’t much else to say about the place, but I wanted to include the above picture so you got an idea of how everything was situated, and because I think Wife Ninja did an incredible job decorating. Her goal was to make it look like the inside of a magazine, and I think she did just that. Even sexier than the way our place looks, is the cost to bring it all together. Remember that $2,500 we had allocated for furnishings? Well, only about $1,600 of it got spent. We picked certain items to spend a bit more $$$ on (dining table, dresser, entertainment center) as we plan to keep them for many years to come, but we also went cheap on things that we probably wont move with us to our next place (barstools, bedding, desk, couch).

The only thing I love more than coming home to our wonderful Ninja abode, is that I get to come home to a wonderful Ninja abode that has two plates full of pumpkin cookies waiting to be devoured…

Oh how I love being married ๐Ÿ™‚

What are some of the furnishing you spent some serious change on and where did you decide to go cheap? Did you have a “furniture” budget set up when you moved in to your current place? If you’re feeling extra nice, you’ll drop a comment telling Wife Ninja how great of a job she did decorating, I’d love to show her all the positive remarks!

Time to pop a baby out?

Life is funny. Actually, scratch that. People are funny. And by funny, I mean annoying. I swear if I hear another person say “When will you have kids” I’m gonna punch this puppy in the face….

Seriously people, I’ve been married less than two months. Give me some room to breath. Can I enjoy the married life without feeling obligated to pop out a few baby ninjas? No, I can’t? Fine, I’ll play your silly game and answer your questions.

When do you plan to have kids?

Wife Ninja and I had this discussion during premarital counseling and arbitrarily decided two years sounded like a decent waiting period before we reevaluate our situation. This should give us time to enjoy all the benefits that come with being a DINK (dual income no kids) like having totally flexible schedules.

Seeing that we are new to this whole marriage gig, our primary concern is learning how to love one another better. We have friends that got pregnant three months in to marriage, and others that waited four years. They are both convinced they did what was best for their relationship, and right now Wife Ninja and I have decided two years is what sounds best to us.

How many baby ninjas are we talking here?

That, my friends, depends on who you ask. If you’re asking me the answer is 0.5. No, that’s not a typo. I want half a kid. You know, I’d take him when he was being all cute and cuddly like this baby…

but I could also give him to someone else when he was crying or pooping himself. Wait, what? That’s not how parenting works? Okay fine, give me the whole kid I guess.

Honestly though, I’d be perfectly content with two kids. Wife Ninja, however, has her eyes set on four. Her mom is one of four, she is one of four, so why not keep the trend going. Four babies it is.

Do you think you’ll be ready?

My girl Janell said it best “you will never be ‘financially ready’ for any life-changing event.” Amen, to that. I could always save a little more, or work a little harder, but at some point I’ll realize the sacrifice is worth it. The cost of raising a kid may be incredibly expensive, but I’m convinced there is a reason I have an innate desire to be a dad. And that reason my friends is this: I can make my kids take out the trash ๐Ÿ™‚

What are your plans until kids enter the picture?

Carpe Diem baby. Seize the day. The wife and I plan to take full advantage of two incomes and no child related expenses. We have a crazy goal to save a $100,000 for a house. We want to take at least one big vacation each year. We want to continue being involved in our community (volunterring, tutoring, bible studies, being with friends). But most importantly we just want to enjoy being newlyweds.

From now on, when anyone asks me “When are you gonna have kids”, I’m going to punch them in the elbow and then refer them to this post.

Parents: How did you know it was time to have a kid? How did you decide how many kids to have? Would you do anything differently (i.e. waited longer or had them earlier)? Are they worth it?

Non-parents: How long do you think you’ll wait to have kids? How many kids do you want and what lead to that decision? Do any other young married peeps get bombarded by people expecting babies one month after your wedding?