Sheriff of Nottingham

A few weeks ago Girl Ninja and I partook in an annual trip we do each year to Loon Lake, WA (about 6 hours away) with a bunch of our friends. I believe this was our third year participating.

What is there to do in Loon Lake, WA you ask?

Nothing!

And that’s why we love it. There is no cell phone service. There are no restaurants. There is no internet.

We spend our days playing ice hockey on the frozen lake.

Watching the Seahawks dominate the NFC championships (two years in a row). Go hawks!

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And we play a ton of board games.

I usually come back from the weekend obsessed with a few of the games I was introduced to. This year was no different. I ended up buying three games after this year’s trip which is not good for my budget.

The games I bought were:

Machi Koro: This is a pretty fun and straightforward city building / dice game.

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Splendor: Loved this game. Best with four players. You collect tokens to buy special cards. First to 15 points wins.

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and

Sheriff of Nottingham: Probably my favorite one of the bunch. It’s a game that’s all about bluffing. Each round you try to smuggle goods past the sheriff without getting caught, but even if you do, you can negotiate your way out of some pretty costly penalties.

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I ordered the first two games from Amazon, but Sheriff of Nottingham is in really high demand and was sold out everywhere when I first tried to get it. About a week ago, I noticed the game publisher had updated their inventory and had copies available to purchase through their website.

I ordered a copy and thought nothing of it.

Until yesterday, when I opened the package on my front porch and saw this…

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Ummm, I ordered one copy. Not six.

I hopped online to look at my order summary and make sure I didn’t accidentally order (and pay for) six copies of the game.

I hadn’t.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that my first thought was “I wonder how much I could sell these for on eBay.” But after about 0.2 seconds that Jesus guy I’m kinda close with was like “Don’t do it bro.”

Fudge.

High School Ninja and possibly even Even college Ninja, definitely would have kept all six games, but now that I’m a little older, a little more mature, and a little less selfish; I appreciate other peoples’ hard work.

This game doesn’t come from a big conglomerate like Milton Bradley (not that that should matter) so I’m positive this blunder will hurt their bottom line.

I sent them an email informing them of their mistake, but haven’t heard back yet. Hopefully no one gets fired over the mistake.

 

Have you ever received something shouldn’t have? (I remember a time in high school I gave a cashier at McDonald’s a $5 bill to pay for my food and she gave me back like $16 because she thought I had given her a $20)

Be honest… you ever kept the thing you didn’t deserve? (I think I kept that incorrect McDonald’s change. I’m terrible.)

 

 

How did we make it this far?

 Was at a group meeting a few months back and an older gentleman shared an email he received from a friend. The email read….

How Did We Make It this Far?

Looking back, it’s hard to believe that we have lived as long as we have…

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags. Riding in the back of a pickup truck on a warm day was always a special treat.

Our baby cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based paint.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors, or cabinets, and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets. (Not to mention hitchhiking to town as a young kid!)

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then rode down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into
the bushes a few times we learned to solve the problem.

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day. No cell phones. Unthinkable.

We played dodgeball and sometimes the ball would really hurt. We got cut and broke bones and broke teeth and there were no law suits from these
accidents. They were accidents. No one was to blame but us. Remember accidents?

We had fights and punched each other and got black and blue and learned to get over it.

We ate cupcakes, bread and butter, and drank sugar soda but we were never overweight … we were always outside playing.

We shared one grape soda with four friends, from one bottle and no one died from this.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo 64, X Boxes, video games at all, 99 channels on cable, video tape movies, surround sound, personal cellular phones, Personal Computers, internet chat rooms. Instead we had friends.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s home and knocked on the door, or rung the bell or just walked in and talked to them.

We made up games with sticks and tennis balls and ate worms and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes, nor did
the worms live inside us forever.

We ate penny candy, swallowed bubblegum, and our intestines did not stick together because of it.

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t, had to learn to deal with disappointment.

Some students weren’t as smart as others so they failed a grade and were held back to repeat the same grade. Tests were not adjusted
for any reason.

Our actions were our own. Consequences were expected. No one to hide behind. The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem solvers and inventors, ever. The past 50 years has been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.

Obviously as a twenty something I can’t relate to everything in this letter, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t certain things that stood out to me (I bolded the things I liked).

I mean think about cell phones. Twenty years ago no one had cell phones and people managed to get by just fine. Now, if I reach down to grab my phone and it’s not in front of me, I have a mild panic attack. Funny how priorities change.

What were some of the things in the letter that rubbed ya the wrong way? What were some that resonated with you?

Any other 20-somethings out there willing to admit we are probably the laziest generation to have ever existed? Would love to hear from the 40+ crowd today and get your insights on how you’ve seen things change over the years!

p.s. if Facebook is the biggest “accomplishment” of our generation I’m going to cry.

 

 

When did that happen?

Sometimes I think to myself “I can’t believe I’m a grown up!”. I don’t feel old. I don’t look old, and I sure as h-e-double-hockey-sticks don’t act old. I use to think “old” was an age, but I’m quickly learning it’s a lifestyle.

I remember being bored to death when my parents would watch political news. It didn’t make any sense to me. Why was watching some old guy talk about two other old guys interesting? If it wasn’t on MTV, I didn’t watch it. (Still love me some 16 and pregnant…I know…embarrassing).

Same goes for finances. Although I have always enjoyed numbers (self proclaimed math nerd), I hated dealing with money. Did you know I didn’t learn how to write my own checks until I was 21 years old. Twenty-freakin-one. Pathetic right? I also didn’t know how to log in to my checking and savings accounts until after I graduated college. I had to have Mom Ninja sit me down and show me how online banking worked.

As much as I don’t want to accept it, I guess I’ve kind of become a legitimate grown up. I’m married, I manage my own money, and heck, I even cook my own dinner sometimes! I find myself becoming more and more interested in “old guy” stuff like politics and finances. I can’t help but laugh when I reflect on how much I hated the shows my parents watched when I was a kid, to now find myself watching the same darn things.

I sit here wondering “What other things will become interesting to me as I age?” Maybe I will take up quilting, lawn bowling, or listening to AM radio.

Wait, what am I saying… in an attempt to enjoy my young spirit, I think I’m going to go buy a pair of Jnco jeans (please tell me someone remembers these), a hacky sack, a set of pogs, and I’m gonna go watch Boy Meets World and Full House (TGIF for the win!!!!).

Have you found yourself enjoying things you once hated (art, coffee, reading for pleasure, history channel, etc)? What “childish” things do you still enjoy (cartoons, video games, Macaroni and Cheese)? At what age does one go from young to old?

 

Have you heard?

I love learning random things. If I had to describe my intelligence I would use the phrase “an inch deep and a mile wide,” meaning I know a little bit, about a lot of stuff. I’m obviously not the smartest PF blogger out there, but as long as I know enough, hopefully I can trick you people in to coming back (and maybe even subscribing too).

I thought I’d mix things up a bit today and post up a handful of random “Did you know facts” that relate to personal finance (along with some that don’t). Most of you probably already know these things, but hopefully at least one of these facts will be new to you…

Did you know… That you can withdraw your contributions to your Roth IRA at any point, tax/penalty free. If you want to take out any gains, you can also do so tax/penalty free if the money is used for education or your first home (some limitations apply).

Did you know… As of 2010 it costs the U.S. Mint 1.79 cents to make a penny. Time to get rid of the penny?

Did you know… I have a fear of falling asleep in public.

Did you know… That if you take out a 401K loan and are fired or laid-off you HAVE to pay the loan back really quick (usually in less than 60 days), otherwise you will suffer some major tax and penalty issues. Think twice before borrowing that money for a new kitchen.

Did you know… The stock market has always given the best return on investment over a long time horizon.

Did you know… I’m still not convinced dinosaurs ever existed. Conspiracy theory?

Did you know… Every time you use your debit or credit card, the merchant has to pay a fee (usually 1% to 3%) to Visa, MasterCard, etc. If you donate on your credit card that means the charity is in effect getting 3% less than what you intended to give (this adds up over time).

Did you know… That the national personal savings rate hovers between 0 and 5 percent each year. That’s pathetic.

Did you know… If you make minimum payments on a $5,000 credit card bill (at 19% interest) it will take you over 30 years to pay the card off, and cost you more than $14,000 in interest.

Did you know… I use to have a pet iguana I named Ziggy after a character in my favorite show, Quantum Leap.

Did you know… If you make over $20,000/year you are in the top 12% of income earners in the world. Perspective?

Did you know… That on top of your down payment you need to be prepared to pay up to another 3% of the home’s value on closing costs. If you put 20% down on a $300,000 and have to pay closing costs, you need $69,000 in the bank.

Did you know… That I played in a flag football tournament this weekend and our team-name was “The Frolicking Flamingos.” And in case you are wondering, we won!

Alright, that’s where I’ll end my “Did you know facts” but hopefully you will add a few more to the list. What are some of your favorite “financial facts”? Was there anything on the list you didn’t know about?

That lady needed a dollar

I was out and about in Seattle yesterday when lunch time came. I decided to treat myself to Dick’s Drive In (the Seattle equivalent of In-N-Out). In true mom-and-pop fashion, Dick’s is a cash only joint.

As I was waiting in line to order my standard Deluxe cheeseburger, fry, and strawberry shake, I overheard the old lady in front of me ask the cashier if she was able purchase two Deluxe burgers for $6.

The cashier gave her devastating news and informed her that the after-tax the total would be $6.60.

Gramma was about to be denied double deluxes. 

This made me very sad for her.

I mean how cute that a 70-year-old woman was out for lunch by herself and wanted to indulge in two of the best burgers in town. How depressing that $0.60 was keeping her from living her Monday afternoon dream.

Ninja to the rescue. 

As she was looking at the menu trying to contemplate a new order, I intervened and gave her a light tap on the shoulder and said,

“Ma’am, I would love help you along on your burger journey by giving you this dollar.” 

Homegirl must have really wanted those two burgers ’cause she didn’t even bat an eye as she gladly accepted my donation. She gave me the $0.40 change that was tendered, thanked me, and went on her merry little way.

I like to think that I am responsible for two things in this situation…

1) A random act of kindness.

2) Helping raise her cholesterol level to dangerous amounts.

 Moral of the story: You don’t have to be wealthy to lend a helping hand. All it took in this situation was a $0.60 to help brighten someone’s day.

Have you brightened someone’s day lately, or had your day brightened by someone?

Time to fess up

A few years ago, I decided to make a blog post that mimicked a very popular website, PostSecret.com. If you aren’t familiar, PostSecret is website in which random people like you, mail in post cards containing deeply personal confessions. My first post like this, “Share your secret”, remains one of my most popular articles. Since it’s been a while since we’ve done this, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to run this little social experiment again as my readership is always changing.

Here are some PostSecret confessions that caught my eye…

You can’t help but be interested right? There is something about being vulnerable that just feels good. So, I’m hoping you will, once again, participate in Post Secret PDITF style.

The rules are simple. Drop a comment in the section below with one secret related to finances, money, family, life, etc that you haven’t shared with anyone. I recommend you comment anonymously or under an alias, but it’s really up to you how you want to be identified.

Here are some of the secrets shared by my readers last time I did this…

  • I’m contemplating losing one of my part-time jobs so I can be eligible for welfare
  • I think people who complain about money are too lazy and stupid to make more.
  • I resent my mom because she abused my child support money and doesn’t pay for any of my expenses now, leaving it all up to my dad.
  • I never told my parents that I was so in over my head during my first few years of college I donated plasma just to eat. I had too much pride to accept help from anyone, so I sold plasma to put a few bucks of gas in the car for a weekend trip home and used the rest to eat out of vending machines for a week. Until the next week, when I’d do it all over again.
  • I secretly loath stay-at-home moms. Nothing about being cooped up in a house all day with kids sounds appealing to me. Problem: my husband expects me to do that when we have kids.

This really is a great opportunity to not only share your secrets, but to understand that you are not alone. Who’s willing to get a little vulnerable and answer the question…

What’s your secret?

(you can comment anonymously if you prefer)

First time on a red carpet.

Spent the weekend with Girl Ninja and my family at the Veronica Mars movie premier in Austin, Texas this weekend. It was a quick trip, 36 hours in total, and a ton of fun. Here’s a pic of Girl Ninja and I on the red carpet….

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Three years ago I wrote a post titled “The easiest money I’ve ever made” in which I shared about my 15 minutes of fame. Okay, who am I kidding, it wasn’t 15 minutes, more like 1.5 seconds of fame.

Literally.

As you may already know, Girl Ninja and I used to live in San Diego, which just so happened to be the same city the TV show Veronica Mars filmed in. My mom, and sister, were die-hard fans of Veronica Mars and begged me to try to get on as a background extra. Thus immortalizing me forever when the show went to DVD.

So I applied to the background casting company and after a few months of silence, I got my first gig as a background extra (FBI agent) for the Veronica Mars season four pilot.

This was my chance at becoming famous.

I mean, check out my big break (I’m the dude that walks out of the elevator at 7:08, haha).

I nailed that elevator walk out didn’t I!? (I’ll be signing autographs later).

It was awesome. I made $1,200 for about 12 hours of work. Which was especially cool considering “work” meant walking across a set, pretending to look at paperwork, and listening to a fake lecture in an auditorium.

Another interesting thing happened that night, however. Kristen Bell and I became friends. 

There is a ton of down time between each take, and since we had that scene above together, we were pretty much forced to talk to avoid that awkward elevator silence we all know so well. We ended up hanging out a few different times together in San Diego and L.A and, according to my photo archives, we apparently enjoyed taking really stupid pictures of ourselves.

Here we are between takes on filming day (this was the pic I texted to my mom when she didn’t believe that I had met KB)

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Here we are taking “shaky face” pictures (look at that extension on my lips!)

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And here she is throwing up the deuces behind a dude we found fast asleep inside of a Ross.

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All of that happened seven years ago, when I still lived in San Diego. I hadn’t seen KB since.

She, of course, was at the premier of her movie on Saturday night and when we crossed paths she remembered who I was. She then punched me (I still don’t know why), met Girl Ninja, met our future son too (if you count rubbing Girl Ninja’s tummy as a meeting), and gave us some solid parenting advice. We snapped a quick pic and then she went on her merry little way getting bombarded by hundreds of fans.

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 The premier was a ton of fun and, although Girl Ninja and I are totally exhausted from the quick travel turn around, feel like there wasn’t a more fun way we could have spent the weekend. Especially considering Baby Ninja is making HIS PREMIERE mid June, which will obviously hinder our future travel flexibility.

If there is a financial lesson to be learned in all of this, it is two-fold.

1. Go be an extra on TV shows. Minimal work for potentially epic pay.

2. Let Kristen be an example, that even if you are an uber-famous celebrity/multi-millionaire, you can still appreciate a solid Ross Dress For Less shopping trip, but more importantly not let all your perceived importance go to your head.

If you watched Veronica Mars when it was on TV all I can say is go watch the movie, you wont be disappointed.