Punch My Wife In The Face…repeatedly

OMG! Girl Ninja needs to be sent to jail. I’m thinking life without the possibility of parole is a fitting sentence. What crime has she committed you ask? Well… I logged in to our checking account yesterday to browse through our recent transactions (I do this everyday to make sure our accounts haven’t been compromised). When I came to the “Pending transactions” section I noticed there were two charges. The first to a bakery in San Diego for $9.43. No big deal, Girl Ninja probably got a sandwich with a friend. The second transaction was a $21.75 ATM withdrawal.

Now I don’t know about you, but every ATM I’ve seen only pays out in whole dollars. How did she manage to take out $21.75? You don’t have to be a Special Agent to figure out what went down. Girl Ninja took money out from a non Wells Fargo ATM. That ATM charged us $1.75 for her $20 withdrawal.

Now I know what you’re thinking: “Get over it Ninja it was less than two dollars. Relax.” You can look at it like that, but my TI-83 says that’s an 8.75% fee. EIGHT POINT SEVEN FIVE!!!! Homegirl is lucky I’m 4,000 miles away right now…just sayin’

Fortunately, our bank doesn’t charge us for using another institutions ATM so we avoided what could have easily been another $2 fee. Obviously I’m being a bit of a drama queen right now, but seriously paying 8.75% to get access to your own money is insane. Like Charles Manson to the power of Charlie Sheen insane! I’m seriously starting to reconsider my recent post about the joys of combined banking.

She got lucky though, this atrocity happened on her birthday. If it were any of the other 364 days this year she’d be in the doghouse, but I’ll give her a pass just this once. But remember Girl Ninja, debit/credit cards are like a GPS unit. Every time you swipe I know where you’ve been and what you’re doing… I’M WATCHING YOU!!!!

Oh, and did I mention WellsFargo.com tells me there are over 25 fee-free ATM’s within a 5 mile radius of our place?

End rant.

 

Get back in the kitchen woman!

First and foremost, I admit that I totally titled this blog post “Get back in the kitchen woman” primarily for the controversial draw it might bring. Second, yes that makes me a sellout. Third, a more accurate title would be “Get back in the kitchen…if that is where you want to be.” Fourth, Did I redeem myself…at least a little?

The biggest personal finance decision most couples will face (p.s. sorry if you are over personal finance topics that have to do with relationships) is not what house we buy or where our children will go to college, but whether or not one spouse will leave the work force and become a stay at home parent.

Let’s say you plan to have your spouse stay at home. Let’s also assume your spouse makes $40,000/year. That means every 5 years your spouse stays home, you lose out on $200,000 of income. If you are planning on popping out three or four kiddos, it could be 20+ years before your significant other looks to rejoin the workforce, resulting in an $800,000 loss of income. Holy Cow, did you just poop a little? I did. That’s a scary thought! Even scarier, that $800,000 figure doesn’t account for potential promotions or bonuses either, so we could be talking like a cool million gone baby gone!

Girl Ninja has always wanted to be a homemaker. In fact she has volunteered to quit her job numerous times so she can stay at home, shop, and lay out at the beach all day…isn’t she sweet? No, no she’s not. When it comes time to produce a million baby ninjas, I too would like her to play the role of the CFO (Chief Family Operator).

My excel spreadsheet tells me Girl Ninja and I can have our first kid sometime between June and August of 2013… just kidding, I don’t have a spreadsheet that dictates our lives that much…although I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you do? Okay, focus Ninja. In all seriousness it will probably be another two years before we consider parenthood. That gives us two years to prepare ourselves for a huge loss of income (about 35%).

What’s our plan you ask? Here’s what I got so far.

1) Stay out of debt.

2) Save as much of our income as possible (currently banking about $3,000/month).

3) Budget our expenses based off my income only, that way we wont be devastated when we lose Girl Ninja’s.

4) Explore other jobs. I love my job, but I bet there are other jobs I’d love too that would pay me more. My goal is to find something that would help recuperate the loss of Girl Ninja’s income.

5) Once baby Ninja comes along, reevaluate the stay at home mom gig. Are we happy with it? Does Girl Ninja feel trapped at home? Does she want to explore part time employment? Just because we both want her to stay at home now, doesn’t mean it will necessarily be that way forever. If she wants to work, she can work. If she wants to stay at home, she can stay at home.

6) If plans one through five aren’t working out, I have a backup plan: Sell our baby on E-bay. I’m thinking we could get at least $20,000 for baby ninja…any takers? Or you can “buy it now” for $19,500.

So that’s low down on stay at home parenting (haven’t I done a good job trying to remain gender neutral?). I can’t stress the importance of planning ahead and being aware of the financial costs associated with transitioning to a one income family. It’s a BIG FREAKIN’ DEAL!

Stay at home peeps: How did you and your spouse prepare for it? Was it super hard to adjust? Was there ever a period where you went back to work for a while? What would you have done differently?

Future Stay at home peeps: What are yo doing today to prepare for tomorrow? Are you living off just one persons income? How will you handle the income loss?

Dual Income peeps: How much does full time child care (per kid) every month? What are the pros and cons of keeping both parents in the workforce?

Peeps that don’t want kids: Sorry you had to read this article.

p.s. Girl Ninja turned 24 years old today! Woohooo. I’m real sad that I can’t be with her to celebrate ๐Ÿ™ Take a minute and wish her the best Ninja-free 24th birthday ever! Love you Girl Ninja!

Cash be flowin’

Living 1.300 miles from Girl Ninja is no fun. It’s only been a few days, but I’m already missing her like crazy. We aren’t fans of the long-distance relationship, but we’ll make it work. Although our situation is not ideal for marriage, it comes with one major perk: Some serious positive cash flow.

We’ve always kept a pretty tight ship when it comes to our money. We invest 15%, tithe 10%, spend what we have to, and save the rest. We’ve been doing our best to be good stewards of our income. After all, what kind of personal finance blogger would I be if I was totally getting pwned by our money? Answer: A pretty sucky personal finance blogger.

Over the next four months, Girl Ninja and I will see a decrease in our expenses, and a serious increase in our discretionary income (to the tune of about $1,800/month). I don’t know about you, but having that much extra coin makes me a very happy ninja.

I’m stoked because we have a chance to make some big strides towards our goals. We can start a Roth for Girl Ninja, we could add to our ‘down payment’ fund, or we could even use this as an opportunity to spend a little more frivolously… you know to buy that Justin Bieber cutout I really want.

Honestly, the personal finance nerd in me says “Take it all to the bank”, but the Ninja in me says “Quit being such a frugal fruitcake“. I mean, at some point there has to be a such thing as “over-saving”…right? At some point lifestyle inflation is expected, isn’t it?

Right now, we have no clue what we will do with the extra money. We’ll probably buy Girl Ninja a ticket to Germany so she can come visit me while I’m there. We’ll probably save a good chunk of it. And we’ll probably buy that Justin Bieber cutout I mentioned earlier. Ah decisions, decisions.

Do you believe in over-saving? What’s the different between being frugal and miserly? After saving what percentage of your income, would you finally loosen up and indulge a little?

A typical money fight.

Girl Ninja and I are pretty different. She’s reserved, I’m obnoxious. She’s beautiful, I’m not. She’s a “hope for the best”, I’m a “prepare for the worst.” Typically, our differences compliment each other, but every once in a while, we butt heads. This is especially true when it comes to money.

I love personal finance, I know significantly more about personal finance than Girl Ninja, and I’m a horrible communicator. Those three characteristics create some pretty interesting financial conversations. Here’s an example of what one such conversation might look like….

Girl Ninja: I saw this really cute duvet cover at West Elm that would look great on our bed. I think I’m going to get it.

Me: No you’re not.

And that, my friends, would be the extent of our conversation. Girl Ninja usually stops talking to me, and I usually don’t want to be talked to. She’s pissed because I didn’t even consider her feelings. I’m pissed because she didn’t even consider our pocketbook.

I know I’m the reason we fight about money. I admit fault. I often say things in a way that don’t represent the love and respect I have for her. Instead of saying “No, you can’t buy that duvet cover”, I should have said “Do you think the $70 that duvet costs is worth it?”

You see what I did there? Instead of TELLING Girl Ninja what she can and can’t do (like I even have that authority), I created an opportunity for dialogue. Maybe she’d respond “You know what, you’re right. It does seem like a bit much and I can think of a few other things I’d rather spend that money on” or “Well I really hate the one we have now, and I know that $70 is kind of a lot, but this one is worth it, and we’ll use it for years.”ย  Booya for being open minded. This is what i like to call healthy communication. And In a relationship, communication is king.

I’ve put together a short list of things I need to remember next time we talk money…

A) Just because Girl Ninja says she likes/wants something, doesn’t mean she is going to buy it.

B) She has an equal vote in how we spend our money

C) I knew she wasn’t as crazy frugal as I am when I married, how can I expect her to be different now?

D) That she is right.

If I just kept those things in mind (especially option D), we would literally avoid 99% of our money fights.

For the PF nerds out there: Do you find yourself getting caught up in the “I know more than you, so you should just listen to me” mentality? How do you combat your inner PF nazi?

For the free spenders: How do you put up with us PF lovers?

Punch Cupid in The Face

In case you didn’t know, today is Valentine’s Day. Today is also Monday. Which means Valentine’s Day, is not only on a work day, but the worst work day of them all. Seems fitting, because in my opinion Valentine’s Day is the worst holiday of them all. Yeah, I said it. Valentine’s Day kinda sucks. Here’s why….

It’s expensive:

Have you ever tried going out to eat on Valentine’s day? I wouldn’t recommend it. Just about every restaurant decides to do this stupid little thing where they close their doors to the public and only offer a set menu to those who made reservations 8 months earlier. Why the heck can’t I just take my wife to a NORMAL meal at one of our favorite restaurants? Why’s everything got to be marked up a billion percent?

It’s the worst “holiday” ever:

Who decided to call Valentine’s Day a holiday? I don’t know what the actual definition of “holiday” is, but as far as I’m concerned, if I don’t get the day off work…it’s not a holiday. This year I refused to contribute to the hallmark holiday marketing ploy. Instead of paying for a V-day card, I made one. Instead of buying roses, I bought not-roses (I don’t know what kind of flowers they are). Instead of paying an eleventy billion dollar markup at a restaurant, I cook at home.

Not only does Valentine’s Day lack the prerequisites needed to be considered a legitimate holiday, but it’s also the only day (I’m aware of) that makes single people feel horrible about themselves. I think us married folks have an obligation to avoid the traditional Valentine’s Day exclusivity, and instead we should see V-day as an opportunity to hang out with some of our closest single friends….besides, we know they wont have any plans ๐Ÿ™‚

It perverts our idea of love:

Last time I checked, there are 365 days in a year. Why the heck is Valentine’s Day only once a year? Why don’t we have it monthly? Weekly? Or Daily? After all, isn’t it my job to make sure my wife feels treasured/cherished/beautiful/appreciated EVERY SINGLE DAY? Heck yes it is!

Men: Don’t think today is the only day you’re required to make your wife feel like a princess, you should have done that yesterday, and you better do it tomorrow too!

Women: Don’t use today’s festivities as a means to measure your husband’s love for you, instead think about how he treats you the other 364 days.

…end rant

Does anyone else think Valentine’s Day is kinda stupid? What are you doing (or did you already do) for it? Any pro-valentine’s day supporters out there care to state your case?

I’m not as sexist as I sound

The other day I made, what I thought was, a rather harmless quip about the female menstrual cycle. Apparently not everyone appreciated the analogy as a handful of female readers called me sexist and chauvinistic. If you were one of the offended parties, please accept my apology; I meant no harm.

That said, I would like to remind everyone that this blog is not really suppose to be taken seriously. Remember it is called Punch Debt In The Face, not Personal Finance For Really Boring People.

I always try and think about how my jokes will be received. Unfortunately, as PDITF grows it’s harder to predict the outcome. With over 1,300 people reading each article, I’m bound to irritate someone. I don’t do it on purpose. I don’t do it intentionally. It’s just the nature of the beast I suppose.

Take for example this excerpt from my extended warranties blog post… “Unlimited warranties are harder to find than a sober person at ASU.” When I make a joke like that do you really think I believe every person that went to ASU was an alcoholic? Of course I don’t! So why would you think I seriously believe all grumpy women are on their period? Answer: You shouldn’t. It was my lame attempt at humor that registered without about 98% of you, and ticked off 2%.

Transition to today’s post…

Okay, now that we got that out of the way, it’s probably time to anger a few more of you by sharing the most recent development in the Ninja household, Girl Ninja is getting an allowance! (Uh oh, I can smell the burning bras now).

Hold on just a minute, it’s not what you think. We’re not talking a “take out the trash and I’ll give you $5” kind of allowance, but more a “Girl Ninja can spend $75/month on whatever the heck she wants and I can’t stop her” kind of thing.

At first, we thought we could just spend freely without worry. Turns out I am way too much of a micromanager for that system to work. Every time GN would return home from the store, I’d immediately ask her how much she spent. Not because I didn’t trust her to spend wisely, but because I ALWAYS wanted to know exactly how much money was coming and going.ย  Needless to say, Girl Ninja totally felt uncomfortable and hated each time I asked “How much did that cost?”.

It didn’t take long for us to realize the “free spending” system wasn’t working out. After some much needed dialogue, we decided she should just get $100/month to spend on whatever the heck she wants. No questions asked.

Before, if Girl Ninja wanted a pair of Hunter rain boots (which she does), I would have screamed, kicked, and begged her not to get them. But now that she takes $75 out of our checking account each month, she can use it to buy anything her little heart desires, Hunter rain boots included. What she doesn’t spend, she gets to keep and add to next months allowance. She likes the system way more, and I do to!

And now the double standard…. I DON’T have an allowance.

Not because I get to operate outside of the household rules, but because I am so freakin’ frugal I literally spend less than $20/month on myself. When the time comes that I feel like droppin’ some major coin, I’ll definitely have to clear it with the wifey first. There’s no inequality here! Just two different people making our finances work the best we can ๐Ÿ™‚ Booya for teamwork!

Reader Questions:

By a show of hands (or in this case comments), how many of you have I seriously offended? Do any of you actually get my humor? Am I the awkward guy that thinks I’m funny, but really I’m just being booed off stage?

On another note, How does “frivolous” spending work in your household? Anyone else use an allowance system like we do?

Life just got awkward

Girl Ninja and I are super stoked about our move to Seattle. Unfortunately, we wont be moving at the same time. The transfer required I start work up there in April. Girl Ninja is a teacher and has a commitment to her school through late June. That means, for two and a half months, I’ll be living in Seattle, while she stays down here in San Diego. Wanna know what’s more awkward than living two states away from my spouse? Moving back in with my parents!!!

Yeah, that’s right, I’ll be moving back in with Mom and Dad Ninja (never thought I’d be saying those words again). The only other alternative I had was to rent my own place, but that does not appeal to me for two reasons: 1) I don’t want to live alone. 2) Renting my own place is exponentially more expensive than mooching off my parents for a few months.

Fortunately, my parents are pretty cool people, so it shouldn’t be too bad. That is, unless they decide to give me a bedtime or curfew again.

Not only will I be living rent free during that time, but we managed to find Girl Ninja a place to stay down here (neither of us were too fond of her living alone, in our current place, for 2.5 months). The couple who lead us through premarital counseling has been gracious enough to open their home to her. We haven’t really hashed out all the details yet, but I imagine they will let her live with them for free. I, being a stubborn male, will refuse their generosity and demand we pay at least a couple hundred bucks a month.

Queue personal finance tie in….

Since I will be living rent free, and Girl Ninja will be living almost rent free, we have an AWESOME opportunity to bank some serious cash. We’re talking an instant $1,500/month savings. Plus, you know I’m gonna be raiding my parents fridge/pantry every night after they fall asleep. Oh and did I mention, no more paying for laundry! All in all, I think we’ll be able to pocket an extra $5,000 over those three-ish months.

Obligatory disclaimer so Girl Ninja doesn’t punch me in the face…

As excited as I am about saving some mad coin (I’m talking like jumping out of my seat excited), I would much rather live with Girl Ninja, than away from her. As a joke, I suggested when she move home she should live with her parents and I with my parents so we could save for a down payment. Let’s just say she didn’t think that joke was very funny. Probably because it was about 10% not a joke ๐Ÿ˜‰

Even though life is going to get a little awkward, we are excited about our future in the pacific northwest. We like to think of it as a short term sacrifice for a long term gain. When’s the last time you lived with your parents? If you were in my situation, would you live on your own or at home? What’s the longest you’ve been away from your significant other (military peeps feel free to tell me to quit whining)? Anyone’s living arrangements going to be more awkward than mine?