Anything you want to ask a big financial institution?

I’m at USAA headquarters in San Antonio, TX¬†for a few days and will have an opportunity to meet some representatives from various departments. Thought I’d give you all an opportunity to use me as a middle-man for any questions you might have for a LARGE financial institution. You tell me, I’ll ask them, and I’ll report back with answers.

Get as nitty-gritty as you’d like, I’m not shy and wont mind rolling my sleeves up or asking some awkward/tough questions. I’ll be posting their responses throughout the day ūüėČ

If you have no desire to participate here is a picture of Clint Eastwood holding a baby armadillo…

Whale vomit is gold.

Ever wandered across a beach, only to stumble upon vomit from a whale? Oh you haven’t? Too bad for you. If you had, you might be like 8-year-old Charlie Naysmith who is now $63,000 richer because of it. Apparently sperm whales regurgitate a substance known as¬†ambergris. Ambergris, in case you didn’t know, can make the scent of perfume last longer; making it a very valuable commodity.

Charlie will now have more in his savings account than most of us all because he decided to pick up some vomit.

This story makes me think about all the great opportunities I’ve ignored or overlooked. Maybe this $1.99 desk I bought from a thrift store was the desk Thomas Jefferson wrote the¬†constitution¬†on? Or maybe that old Ken Griffey Jr. card I have in my baseball collection is worth more than the $0.50 I paid for the pack of gum it came in? Hey if whale vomit can be worth thousands, why can’t my desk be worth millions?

The best return on investment I’ve ever got was a mini-van I purchased from my Grandma’s estate when she passed away. I paid $1,700 for the van and drove that sucker my entire junior year of college (and if you’re wondering if it had dual automatic sliding doors; the answer is yes!). One year after purchase, I put the thing up on Craigslist and sold it for $5,000 within a week. Buying a mini-van is the best financial decision I’ve made yet…take that personal finance!!!!

You never know when your next cash cow could present itself. One day you’re walking down the beach with your dad. The next you are selling whale vomit to some company for $63,000. Lesson learned.¬†

What’s the best return on investment you’ve ever made?

Humor me.

No, seriously. You humor me today. Ready….go.

Things I want to punch in the face: Single People.

Okay, before you burn me at the stake, let me clarify I don’t want to punch all single people in the face. No, just the annoying desperate single people who remind me everyday on Facebook and twitter that they haven’t yet found the love of their life.¬†I get that you may have been single for a few years now. I also get that you would probably prefer to be swept off your feet by Mr/Ms Right sooner rather than later. But please, for the love of all that is good, stop sharing your lackluster love life with the world.

Here are just two such examples of Facebook posts that have recently polluted my feed:


Or how about the million tweets I’ve seen that go something like “OMG super cute guy just walked by. :::squeals::: Really hope he comes and talks to me.”

No. No. No. You want to how to get that guy to talk to you? Approach him and start a conversation. Weird huh? Tweeting to a bunch of random strangers about some fantasy love affair you are having with a guy that “just walked by” will pretty much ensure you stay single for at least a few more years.

“That girl’s desperation is totally sexy”

РSaid no one ever. 

Now before you go off and accuse me of “not understanding” single life because I am married, let me remind you that from my senior year of high school, all the way until my senior year of college, I was 100% single. Not one girlfriend. Heck, not even one prospect. Not only had I not had a girlfriend for that four-year stint, but I hadn’t kissed anyone during that time either.

College is supposed to be one’s dating prime, right?¬†

I get wanting to be in a relationship, I really do. But if you aren’t¬†comfortable/confident in yourself as a single individual you aren’t ready to be in a¬†relationship. In fact, the only thing more annoying than a status update from a¬†desperate¬†single person, is a status update from a desperate ex-single person who has found themselves in a new relationship. You know those status updates I posted above? Well she’s got a new boyfriend and now I get updates like this on my news feed:

Glad homegirl found happiness, but come on I don’t need a status update every day about how much you love the guy you’ve known for 72 hours. I’m not so convinced she actually likes this guy as much as she just likes not having to be single anymore. Anyone else get that impression?

Being single is not a disease nor should it be your identity. If your status updates and tweets make it seem like your love life (or lack thereof) is your primary concern I want to challenge you to use a different metric to measure your worth….or at the very least do yourself a favor and delete your Facebook ūüôā

If you had to be selfish.

It’s Friday mother lovers, and you better be prepared to love your mothers well this weekend since it’s all about them. Love ya mom ūüôā Since you all have likely checked out mentally in anticipation of the upcoming weekend, I figured it’s a good time to engage the PDITF audience and promote some community interaction. I pose a simple question:

If you could be selfish with $5,000 what would you do? 

See what I did there? I said you had to be selfish with it. So ¬†don’t think you’re getting off easy, taking the moral high ground, pretending you are going to donate this hypothetical $5k to charity, use it to pay off debt, contribute to retirement, or some other noble/responsible purpose.

No! Today you must be greedy. You have to use that $5,000 on something that only (or PRIMARILY) benefits you. It’s okay to be¬†hypothetically¬†selfish, so don’t feel bad.

If I had $5 g’s to selfishly blow, no questions asked, I would, WITHOUT A DOUBT, go buy myself a¬†motorcycle. I sold my¬†street bike¬†over two years ago now (exchanged¬†it for that tiny little diamond that sits in Girl Ninja’s ring) and would love to get another. Nothing beats the feeling of wind rushing across your face as you ride down the street.

It would be totally selfish of me to buy a motorcycle, not necessarily because of the money spent, but because Girl Ninja DOES NOT want me to have one. Although she herself admits she understands why I enjoy riding a motorcycle so much, to her it just isn’t worth the inherit risks and exponentially increased danger factor. Probably doesn’t help that my dad was in a motorcycle accident a few years back that resulted in the near amputation of his leg. Instead he got off “light” with a muscle transplant, multiple skin grafts, a permanent limp, and one gnarly looking battle wound. Yup, doesn’t look like I’ll ever get the blessing to own a motorcycle again, thanks a lot dad ūüėČ

So reader, I’d buy a bike with my $5,000. What would you do? And what keeps you from doing it?

Are professional athletes overpaid?

I was riding in the car with a friend a while back when they said something along the lines of “Professional athletes are overpaid.” While I don’t necessarily disagree with that statement (Lebron), I have to disagree with the sentiment.

The odds for John Doe going pro are 22,000 to 1. That works out to about a 0.0045% chance. Did you know you literally have a better chance at marrying a millionaire, being murdered, being audited by Uncle Sam, or developing hemorrhoids than you do becoming a professional athlete?

Professional athletes are the creme de la creme. People that are the best in the world at what they do, typically are paid well for those skills, whether it be dentist, lawyer, contractor, or blogger. Should we say actors salaries should be capped? How about scientists, software developers, and real estate agents salaries should be capped too?

People get all pissy when they hear Kobe is making $17 million a year, but no one seemed to care when three 20-something guys created YouTube, to later sell it to Google for $1.65 billion. Does Kobe make a lot of money? Heck yea, he does, but who am I to tell him his earning potential should be limited?

Ya see, professional athletes get paid what they’re worth. If they make a big salary, they are likely drawing in a large fan base. In virtually all private sector positions, the better you are at your job (compared to everyone else) the better chance you have at getting paid more. Instead of being bitter that A-Rod signed a $250 million contract, be BETTER at what you do.

What do you think peeps? Are professional athletes overpaid? Should there be pay-caps on certain industries?

Various things and my face

Today’s post will be a whole variety of things. There’s lots to talk about, but none of it warrants its¬†own blog post. Have fun bouncing from topic to topic.

Up first, Korea. 

Peace out Korea, this Ninja’s ready to get back to Seattle. I’m embarking on my 20 hour journey back to the states today and am so pumped for a few things; 1) Mexican Food. 2) My desktop computer (this laptop gets annoying). 3) Fruit. 4) My bed. And of course…5) Quality time with Girl Ninja. Unfortunately, she is flying to San Diego this weekend, so im gonna hang out at the airport after I land to eat a quick meal with her before she hops on a plane to SD. Depressing, but still excited to see her. Oh, and random frustration; I rented Moneyball through iTunes to watch on my flight back, only to find out a few hours later Moneyball is one of the movies being shown during my flight. Frick.

shot from my Seoul City Tour this last weekend

MANteresting Update: 

Are you sick of me referencing MANteresting yet? You are? Too bad. We launched one week ago and I made a promise that if we had 1,000 sign ups I would reveal a picture of myself sans black bar. Before we get to that, however, I’m gonna share a few other stats about the site.

I don’t know whether I should be ecstatic or cry, but after only seven days MANteresting has generated more pageviews (44,928) than PDITF has over any 30 day time frame (usually around 40,000). Awesome for MANteresting, depressing for my blog ūüôĀ

The average user visits 4.23 pages and spends 4.5 minutes on our site. Thirteen percent of visitors use Internet Explorer as their browser. Which tells Jesse and I, 13% of our users are stuck in 1995. For the love of bacon, download Chrome or Firefox.

And now the part you’ve all been waiting for, did we reach 1,000 users? Drumroll………awkward pause……burping sounds…….NO.

Haha, how you like them apples? You guys are too¬†optimistic, do you really think I would have set a goal of 1,000 users if I thought it was easily attainable? Heck no techno. Only about 1,000 people visit PDITF each day, and I knew there was no way in heck I’d be converting 100% of them to MANteresting. In fact, bloggers are taught to expect a CTR (click-through rate) of about 1-5% on products they advertise. So realistically we should have expected about 20-100 sign ups first day. We had 280ish. We’ve grown every day since, and at last glance, we have 402 users in the books. So it might sound like we failed miserably since we weren’t even close to the 1,000 user bribe, but in reality 400 people in our first week is pretty encouraging.

I don’t want to leave you all empty-handed though, because you really did help me out so so so much. As an act of appreciation I’ve decided I will provide you a picture of 40% of my body, since we are 40% of the way to 1,000 users. Once we hit 1,000, I’ll give ya the real deal (maybe even a picture of Girl Ninja too). Enjoy 40% of me…

Lastly, time for a little personal finance.

A reader wrote in asking…

You probably get inundated with questions like this, but I’m having such a hard time finding honest info on debt consolidation. My wife and I are on a mission to get rid of our debt. One step we’d like to take is get a loan for all our credit card debt. The biggest reason is interest rate.

Do you have a suggestion for a resource for us to turn to?

My answer: No. I have two opinions on debt consolidation. First, every debt consolidation company is evil. I know that’s not true, but 90% of them probably are so it makes finding that 10% extra tough. But more importantly, debt consolidation companies rarely do anything for you, that you couldn’t already do for yourself. They’ll call your creditors and try to negotiate lower payments for you, but what’s stopping you from picking up the phone and doing it yourself? Read I Will Teach You To Be Rich for some insight on how to best approach this and significantly reduce your obligations.

I’m just one person though, some of you out there probably have used, or know someone who has used, a debt consolidation company that didn’t suck. If so, feel free to share the experience in the comments below and help our dear reader friend out. Definitely want to get those CC interest rates as low as possible, I’m just not convinced debt consolidation is the best way to go about doing it. What say you?

p.s. Unless there is free wifi in the airport in Korea, don’t expect a Friday post from me. I’ll be half way across the pacific during your Friday morning.¬†

p.p.s. My favorite nail from yesterday… Puff Daddy’s never seen a $1 bill before.¬†