Protesting a protest…


Saw this picture tagged on Facebook yesterday, thought I’d share it with you all…

To be perfectly honest, I’ve kind of stayed in the dark about the Occupy Wall Street movement. I’ve personally never been a big fan of huge protests…especially when half the people protesting don’t really know exactly what they’re protesting….

Organizer Anthony Bondi said he has what he referred to as a “message team” working on the primary goals of the local protests, which he admitted “was kind of vague.”

“The message team will reveal that tomorrow [Friday] morning,” Bondi said.

“So you guys are in the process of forming the reasons why you are here?” asked CBS13 reporter Tony Lopez.

“Exactly correct,” Bondi said.

Look, I know big businesses suck (did you see my blog post about Bank Of America last week?!). I also know that rich people seem to be getting richer, and the middle/lower classes aren’t necessarily following suit. There is no denying that things are jacked up in America right now.

That said, I think the Occupy Wall Street movement is a big fat waste of time. If people want to show their disgust with a corporation, stop buying products from said corporation. It you aren’t happy with the government, do yourself a favor and actually vote in the next election (only 37% of eligible people do). While the Occupy Wall Street protest has definitely helped stir people’s emotions, it will be a complete and utter failure if it doesn’t result in any actionable/measurable behavioral changes.

You think Bank of America is going to stop charging that $5 debit card fee if you say “I hate you Bank of America” while you’re swiping it at the grocery store? Not a chance. You have to say “I hate you Bank of America” and start banking somewhere else. Empty threats are a waste of oxygen.

Even though I don’t necessarily fully agree with the Facebook picture above, I like it. It communicates a simple and straightforward message: Accept responsibility and take action.  If everyone (literally everyone) started doing that, we’d all be doing just fine.

How do you feel about the Occupy Wall Street movement? Do you think there will be lasting change as a result? How/when do you think it will finally end (we should start like an office pool betting on the date)? Let the debating begin….

Time for a change.

I spent way too much time yesterday messing around with my blog layout. As you can tell, things look pretty different. I had the old design scheme for a little over a year and felt like I was going to vomit if I had to look at it another day. While I still have a lot of tweaking and customizing to do, I’m enjoying the change of pace. Over the coming days, you will probably see some additional changes so you’ll have to bear with me if things look a little funky at some point.

As a result of my pathetic attempt to write CSS and HTML code, I ended up staying up way to late working on the layout. That means you have been unintentionally neglected and won’t be getting a blog post today. Instead, you get two writing prompts from me. I hope you’ll take the time to respond to them 🙂

1) Do you know anyone that is doing everything they can to try and make ends meet, but just can’t seem to get ahead? What’s their story?

2) What have you done to encourage/support that person lately?

Too often PF blogs focus on individual successes and not enough on individual struggles. Take a minute to share, so we can all get a bite of humble pie. Happy Thursday.

p.s. let me know if anything with my blog layout looks funny in your browser. I have a mac and I know things don’t always translate well across systems 🙂

A new way to punch your debt in the face

As much as I like to pretend I know everything there is to know about personal finance, I don’t. Shocker, right? My man Baker over at Man vs Debt, however, has been dominating the PF blogosphere for about two years now. When it comes to debt this man means business. Literally. Today Baker is launching his newest brainchild: You vs Debt.

You’re probably thinking “What the heck is You vs Debt?”. Well, sir or madame, let me tell you. It’s a 6 week video-based course designed to change people’s relationship and emotions surrounding money and debt. This thing is no joke. It’s like college all over again with “classes” Monday through Friday. Each day you’ll watch a video lesson that will be accompanied by daily challenges and a worksheet that ties in to the overall theme of that day’s lesson. The worksheets, along with Saturday accountability surveys, will help keep you focused and on track.

But wait, there’s more (haha, I’ve always wanted to say that). Not only will you have access to video lessons, personal worksheets, surveys and other course content, but the true value of the You vs Debt program is the community that will be involved. There will be at least 100 people (if not more) taking the class with you. That means you’ll have access to hundreds of like-minded and equally motivated people in the online forums. Struggling with credit card debt? There will be a forum for it! Want to know how to get ahead? Share your story with the group and get encouraged!!!! The online community that comes with the You vs Debt package, in my opinion, is by far its strongest selling point.

Ah, did a few of you cringe when you saw the words “selling point”? Ya didn’t think something this awesome would be free did ya? Baker has basically poured his whole life in to the development of this project…I mean really, he quit his job and has become a full-time PF blogger. He’s been working on this thing for quite some time and deserves to be compensated for all his sweat equity. The course will be $97 even. HOLY CRAP NINETY SEVEN DOLLARS?! Yeah it’s kinda pricey, but it’s also 40 very specific and detailed courses designed to transform the way you think about money. If you want all the juicy details you have to sign up for the course, but I’ve been given permission to share the themes of each week. They are:

Week 1: Free Your Mind

Week 2: Less Excuses, More Action

Week 3: Suck It Up and Budget

Week 4: Stop Buying “Crap”

Week 5: You Should Be Making More Money

Week 6: Making it Stick

Obviously you probably shouldn’t sign up for the You vs Debt program if you A) need to go in to debt to take the class, B) have no debt, C) don’t like being challenged, or D) hate having fun. If you didn’t meet any of those specifications you should probably give the course a looksy.

Lastly, in an effort to be fully transparent, if you click any of the You vs Debt links in this article and sign up for the course through that link, I will be paid a commission. Do you have to use the affiliate link to sign up for the class? Absolutely not, but why the heck wouldn’t you want to hook me up a little!?! Even though I get a commission for each member that signs up through these links, please know that I’m not just posting about the class so I get paid. I’ve been asked many times before to run affiliate links on my blog and every time I’ve declined, primarily because the product offered sucked.

You vs Debt is different though, it’s one of my friends offering an incredible program that will hopefully change a few lives. Girl Ninja and I went through a six-week Financial Planning course during our premarital counseling and it was honestly one of the best things we could have done together. This is definitely not your only way to punch debt in the face, but it sure as heck is a good one. Take a look around You vs Debt and see if it’s right for you, registration ends Thursday.

And now an awkward family photo…

I’ll punch a baby if you don’t vote for me

It’s that time again. Time for the 2011 Plutus Award and this year it looks like I’ve been nominated in the categories of “Most Humorous Personal Finance Blog” and “Best Debt Blog”. Don’t know why some of you people think I’m worthy of either of these awards, but hey, I ain’t complaining. If you aren’t familiar with the Plutus Awards take a look at this Q&A I made up…

What are the Plutus Awards?

They are basically like the People’s Choice Awards for Personal Finance blogs. If I don’t win my categories, that means you didn’t vote for me. And if you don’t vote for me, that means you probably worship satan are lame.

Why Should I vote for you Ninja?

You probably shouldn’t. I mean, J. Money is nominated for like eleventy billion awards so you should probably vote for him. He’s freakin’ killin’ it this year and is worthy of each nomination. But, on the off chance you feel like voting for the underdog, I will gladly be your guy.

Who is responsible for the Plutus Awards?

My man Flexo over at Consumerism Commentary is the the mastermind. He runs the show and puts a lot of time in to it. The least you could do is vote………..for me 🙂

How do I vote?

Head on over here and start clicking away. You don’t have to vote for every category if you don’t want to, but I sure would appreciate some love in the Most Humorous and Best Debt Blog categories. Takes two minutes of your time and makes me one happy camper.

I voted for you Ninja, now what should I do?

You should probably take the rest of the week off work ’cause you are clearly AWESOME!

 

I guess I have to provide some type of financial advice real quick….

Get married. Dual income is the second greatest thing ever. Carrot Top is the first greatest thing…

Okay bye. See you tomorrow 🙂

p.s. I’ll be in San Antonio, TX for the next 48 hours. Never been there, hoping it doesn’t suck.

p.p.s. GO VOTE FOR ME ALREADY!!!!!

I’m baaaaaack…almost.

Have you guys and gals missed me!?!? I’ve sure as heck missed you. That said, it was pretty nice not having to think of a blog post for the last four days. Don’t worry though, I’m back and in action…for good. I still can’t get in to the full swing of things (like stick figure cartoons) since I don’t have access to my computer or laptop right now. I’m hoping to be fully operational tomorrow though.

For the next few days, or weeks, Girl Ninja and I will be living at her parents’ house until we find our next place. Yesterday (our first day in Washington) we looked at three places. They all had some major pros and cons and were completely different from each other. We saw a 2bd/2bth 1,200sqft condo for $1,300/mo. A 1bd/1bth 1,500sqft condo for $1,200/mo. And a 1bd/1bth 750sqft condo for $850/mo. Although the 750sqft condo is waaaaay smaller then everything else we looked at, it is bay far the cleanest/ most modern/ updated unit of the bunch. Oh and did I mention it’s only $850/mo!?!?!

In San Diego we were paying $1,500 for a 610sqft one bedroom. Needless to say I’m pretty darn turned on by the possibility of cutting our rent payments by $500+ dollars a month, especially when we are getting 140sqft of extra living space. Cost of living adjustments for the win!!!!

Since my fingers are getting tired of typing on this little iPad keyboard, I’ll end today’s post with a few questions. How much is your rent or mortgage payment? What is the smallest place you’ve ever lived in (square footage)? How many places did you look at before deciding on your current one?

See you all tomorrow. With a stick figure…I promise 🙂

I’m asking…again.

From time to time I like to challenge you creepy blog readers to get a little vulnerable by answering a few questions. These five simple questions say a lot about a persons current financial state. Yeah I know it’s taboo to ask most of these questions in the real world, but this is the virtual world so normal rules don’t apply. Provide as much information as you want (you can comment as “anonymous” if you prefer). Okay, on to the questions…

1. How much do you make?

2. What is your job title, or what industry do you work in, how old are you, and where do you live? This will help provide some context for question one.

3. How much debt do you have? Break it down by type ($10k student loan, $5K CC, etc)

4. How much did you pay for your car?

5. What’s your net worth?

Simple enough? I wanted to keep it pretty straightforward because YOUR responses are what will make today’s post interesting. We shouldn’t use this information as a means to measure our own success, but as a resource to discuss what are often seen as “inappropriate” questions. Obviously, honesty is crucial so please don’t pretend you make $150,000/year if you really don’t. Be sure to check back throughout the day to see a small financial snapshot of your fellow debt punchers!

My responses…

1. $73,420/yr

2. I work in the security sector of the federal government.

3. Fortunately I’ve been debt free for 13 months.

4. I bought my car brand new for $17,500. Last time I’ll do that 🙂

5. Roughly $100k

A bunch of random thoughts

I’ve had a million different things I’ve wanted to discuss on my blog, none of which were worthy of their own individual blog post. Today, I plan to get all of these things out of my mind and on to Punch Debt In The Face. Hopefully you are interested in at least one of the following topics…

Favorite new website:

Living 1,200 miles from Girl Ninja is no fun. I recently purchased a vat of plane tickets from Alaska Airlines for three separate trips I’ll take to visit her. Now I don’t know about you, but every time I go to buy airfare I break out in a cold sweat. I’m terrified that I’m going to get a bad deal. What if I buy and a month later ticket prices drop? What if I don’t buy right now and tomorrow the ticket is $100 more? I literally start having panic attacks (and by literally I mean figuratively).

I recently stumbled upon an article talking about some dude who started a handful of internet companies, one of those companies was Yapta. Have you ever heard of the website? Yeah, I hadn’t either. Yapta is really simple. At its core, Yapta allows users to track flight prices and check for airline refunds. I logged in, created an account, and added the three tickets I recently purchased on Alaska Airlines. I told Yapta how much I paid for the tickets and directed them to notify me of any drops in airfare over $5. Less than 24 hours later I had two emails from Yapta, the first email telling me one of my tickets dropped $30 and the second email saying that same ticket later dropped another $40. I hopped on the phone and gave Alaska Airlines customer service a call. I told them I had recently purchased tickets at a higher price and wanted a refund for the price reduction.

BOOM! Within two minutes I had email confirmation that my credit card was being refunded $70. I am seriously in love with this site. You should check it out and see if your preferred airlines offer refund credits for ticket price fluctuations. And in case you are wondering, No, I was not paid for this review.

There’s always going to be rich and poor people:

Yesterday I read a news story about NFL football players and how some of them are seeking out extremely aggressive short-term loans with high interest rates to get them through the current lockout. Basically football players haven’t been getting paid for about 2 months. As a result, at least 16 teams have had players seek short term loans to help keep them afloat. I could care less about the article (I don’t even like football all that much), but I am fascinated by the socioeconomic inferences. Wealthy football players don’t even have enough in the bank to get them through a couple no-income months. Emergency fund anyone? It kinda reminds me of the documentary I saw about the curse of the lottery. You know, the dozen or so stories about lottery winners who blow all their cash and end up bankrupt a few years later.

Much of today’s political debate is focused on the wealth and inequality in America. While I’m not saying there isn’t a problem, I am saying there isn’t much we (or Washington) can do about it. Congress doesn’t have the ability to mandate fiscal responsibility on an individual level. If we completely leveled the playing field by redistributing wealth and gave everyone in America $1,000,000 do you really think much would change? It wouldn’t be long before some people turned their millions in to billions and others turned their millions in to pop tarts and x-boxes.

Sticking with the topic of wealth:

I’ve never really understood why the phrase “Tax breaks for the rich” exists. To me, that phrase implies rich people are getting a deal that allows them to pay less tax than their middle (or lower class) counterparts. Last time I checked the richest 10% of Americans pay 68% of all federal tax. I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds like the worst “break” ever. I really wish, instead of saying we need to stop giving tax breaks to the rich, politicians just started saying “Look, they’re rich. They can afford to pay more, so we think they should.” At least then they’d be being honest with themselves and with us.

Comments? Insight? Questions?