Gambling (verb) = a quick way to become poor

So I was in Vegas this last weekend for the Rock & Roll Half Marathon. No, I didn’t run, but my brother did. Girl Ninja was in Denver for the weekend visiting a college friend so I joined my Mom, Dad, and Brother in Sin City. Bro Ninja broke his personal record in the half marathon, my dad and I rode Harley’s through the Valley of Fire and over the Hoover dam, we saw a magic show, ate delicious food, and I even smoked my first cigar. Well, not exactly. I smoked two puffs of my dad’s cigar.

I’m such a nerd, I made my dad film me doing it so I could show Girl Ninja. Here’s a screenshot…

I had a lot of firsts over the weekend, but my first gambling experience trumped ’em all. That’s right. I broke one of the Personal Finance cardinal rules and gambled. Any guesses as to how much I cash I was willing to lose?


If you said Twenty big one’s you’d be spot on. Haha, I’m a rebel huh? Even though I only gambled for a total of maybe 23 minutes, I learned a lot about myself during that time. Including, but not limited to:

  • I like my money.
  • I don’t like giving my money to other people.
  • If I’m going to gamble, I’m going to “go big”. No penny slots for me.
  • I will only play slots, because I’m too scared I’ll make an idiot out of myself at an actual table.
  • I get absolutely zero thrill out of winning money.
  • I get really pissed when I lose money.
  • It doesn’t take very long to lose $20.

On Saturday night, while my dad finished the cigar, I took to the slot machines on a mission to strike it rich. I threw a twenty-dollar bill in, had no idea what the heck I was doing, and hit “max bet” over and over, and over. Over the next ten minutes, I’d lose five or ten dollars, and win two or three back. This went on all the way until I was down to my final two dollars. I hit “max bet” again and found myself twenty-five dollars richer. I suddenly had $27 banked. I went straight to the cashier to cash out. I took the seven dollar profit, put it in another slot machine and lost it all in just a few turns. I got about 20 minutes of entertainment, and lost no money. Heh, gambling wasn’t so bad.

Monday morning, as we were waiting in the hotel to catch our airport shuttle, I decided to put that same $20 in another slot machine and see what the gambling gods above had in store. Literally, three minutes later, I was broke.

And that concludes my Las Vegas gambling extravaganza.

Gambling never has, and never will make sense to me. The flashy lights, free drinks, and comfortable seats don’t exactly negate the smell of cigarette smoke, belligerent alcoholics, and the likelihood of ending the night poorer than you started.

But I was definitely the exception in Vegas. Didn’t matter what time of the day it was morning, noon, or night people were loving the casinos.

Are you one of them?

When/if you gamble, do you actually think you will make money? Or do you gamble purely for entertainment? If you were in Vegas this weekend, how much would you put in your gambling fund?

p.s. Here’s a shot of my dad and I halfway through our motorcycle ride…

Definitely didn't photoshop this at all 😉

Frick being normal.

Girl Ninja and I heard a great message at church yesterday; it was titled “Weird: Because normal isn’t working”. It was an awesome message about how being weird is a good thing. I liked the message, so I thought I’d incorporate it into today’s blog post. Let’s take a look at some statistics, observations, and facts.


  • Average credit card debt per household with credit card debt: $15,799
  • Average student loan debt: $25,250
  • Average new car down payment: 5%
  • Average down payment on FHA loan: 3.5%
  • Median income in America: $46,326/year
  • According to the Economic Policy Institute, almost 25 percent of U.S. households now have zero net worth or negative net worth.

Life in General:

  • Half of my friends’ parents are divorced.
  • Men base their worth off how fast their car is, how much they can bench press, or how big their paycheck is.

  • More people DON’T vote than DO vote.
  • 72,000,000 American adults are obese.
  • 99% of households have a TV. In which the TV is on an average of 6.47 hours per day.
  • Children are in school on average 900 hours a year, but watch 1,500 hours of television.
  • More than 70% of men from 18 to 34 visit a pornographic site in a typical month.
  • Average age of first exposure to internet pornography: eleven years old.

I conjured up all of those stats with just a few minutes of research. I don’t even want to know what else I’d find out if I kept digging. Truth is, being normal isn’t working out to well for most people. Why follow what the majority of the people are doing when the majority of people are fat, unhappy, lazy, and broke? I’ll take weird any day of the week.

What other stats/facts/observations can you throw in to the mix? Are you tired of being normal? What are you gonna do (or have you done) about it?

The easiest money I’ve ever made…ever!

I’ve been pretty fortunate to happen across some pretty easy money throughout my life. I started tutoring my Senior year of college at a rate of $20/hour. Within a few short months I was able to charge upwards of $50/hour. Then there was the time I house-sat for one of the families I tutored and they paid me $750 for three days of watching their TV and eating their food. Who pays for that? Being able to make money blogging is also pretty rad, but nothing, NOTHING, comes close to the time I was a television background extra on Veronica Mars.

My mom really loved Veronica Mars and when she found out they did their filming in San Diego, she basically forced me to apply to the company that casts the background extras for the show. To appease my mother I applied. A few months had passed and I heard nothing. Then, one day, my phone rang. It was someone from the production company telling me I was picked to be an extra on Veronica Mars. I was instructed to bring a nice suit and to show up at noon to an old business complex in the area.

Once I got to the set, I was told to suit up as I’d be playing a FBI agent. They took my picture, made me a fake FBI badge, and corralled all us extras in to a big conference room for holding. Every 30 minutes or so a casting director would come in to the holding area and describe the next scene. He would round-up a group of us extras and take us to where they were filming. Once the cameras started rolling we pretended to do “backgroundy” type things. In one scene I was suppose to look like I was flipping through a bunch of paperwork. In another, I had to pretend I was listening to a lecture in an auditorium. In another, I walked out of an elevator. Highly technical stuff, I know. After a few takes of each scene, the extras were sent back to the holding room, until we were needed again for another scene. It was a long day. Exciting at times, and really boring at others. Filming ended just after 2am.

As I was driving back to my college campus, I realized I had no idea how much I would be getting paid for 10 hours of background work. I figured it would be around $10/hour, so I was expecting a $100-ish payday. Boy was I wrong. A few weeks after filming  I got my paycheck in the mail, opened it up, and my jaw dropped when I saw the payment: $1,200. That means I got paid $120/hour to do nothing more than sit in a big holding room, and walk past the camera a few times. This was definitely the easiest money I’ve ever made.

Why don’t you take a minute out of your busy Friday, and leave a comment sharing the easiest money you’ve ever made. The more details the better, maybe we can use these stories as ideas to increase our side income 🙂

p.s. Yes, that is actually me in the pictures above.

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.