You’re not debt free if you have debt

I was talking with a man yesterday who said, “I was raised with a strong German upbringing so I don’t mess around with debt and am proud to be debt free.” As we continued chatting about his finances he eventually told me he has both a mortgage payment and a car payment. Wait, hold the phone. Hate to break it to ya buddy, but you’re not debt free if you have a mortgage and a car payment. Have these types of loans really become such a standard in our culture that we forget they’re still debts?

I get it. Some people think certain debts are “good” and others are “bad”. This man has obviously decided for himself that mortgages and car loans can be classified as good debt, but last time I checked, my blogs name wasn’t Punch Bad Debt In The Face. No, it’s Punch Debt In The Face, because I believe “good” debt is a term we Americans use to feel better about ourselves and our financial situation (It’s like being called festively plump instead of fat). I don’t discriminate, I punch all debt in the face, regardless of how “good” it might be.

What I think this man, and many others, mean when they refer to things like mortgages and student loans as “good” debt is that these types of loans are not as bad as credit card balances or payday loans. How about we change your perspective though and admit that “good debt” is really just another way of saying “not-as-horrible-but-still-pretty-sucky debt” (has a nice ring to it doesn’t it).

Obviously this gentleman is comfortable maintaining a car payment and a mortgage as part of his personal finances, and to be perfectly honest, I have no authority to tell him to change his ideology (contrary to popular belief one can have debt and still be financially responsible), but I can definitely call him out when he tries to pretend that he is debt free. I am debt free sir, you are not.

Has our culture become so numb to consumerism that we think we can have a car loan and be debt-free at the same time? Do you believe in good debt? Why or why not? Should I have punched this man in the face for being so naive?

Terribly Inefficient

We moved in to our new place one month ago, yet we still haven’t managed to go a single day without stopping at Target, Walmart, or Home Depot. Just when we think we have bought the last thing on our list, we remember a few more things. I don’t know if Girl Ninja would agree, but I think we have been terribly inefficient during this “nesting” process. Full disclosure…. I’M THE ONE TO BLAME!

One example that comes to mind is our epic hunt for a dust pan. Yes, a dust pan. We stopped in at Walmart and they offered a pretty mediocre dustpan/brush combination for $5.99. The dust pan had that stupid piece of rubber across the mouth that always warps and makes it impossible to pick up dirt. Since, I wasn’t comfortable purchasing the Walmart dust pan, I asked Girl Ninja if I could try and find one online for cheaper.

A quick search on Amazon made me realize that I was either going to get an equally crappy dustpan for $5, or I needed to step it up and fork over $9.99 for the Cadillac of dust pans. Last night, I added a $10 OXO dust pan to my Amazon cart, and just before I was about to select “checkout”, I panicked and thought “Do I really need to pay twice as much for something as insignificant as a dust pan?”. I ended up deleting the dustpan from my cart. But now, as I sit here typing this post, I’m thinking “What the heck Ninja, you need a freakin’ dustpan, is $10 really going to break the bank?”

Basically, I make everything about Eleventy-Bajillion times more complicated that necessary. I have a sick obsession with trying to find the best deal possible. It makes shopping trips miserable because we run to three different stores, cyber stalk the internetz, and still end up empty handed.

My psychotic need to get the best value totally sucks. Can any of you relate? Do you often find yourself checking prices on your iPhone while you are in a store, to make sure you can’t find something cheaper online? Do I buy the $5.99 dust pan, or the $10?!!??!?!?! AHHHHH!

p.s. Girl Ninja has a post going up at 9:30am Left Coast time.

The most expensive meal I will ever eat

At 25 years old, I can say with near certainty, I have eaten the most expensive meal I will ever eat in my entire life. EVER. How expensive you ask? One thousand dollars for four people expensive. My family participated in a 9 course, five hour dinner marathon Sunday night at a small restaurant called The Herbfarm. Here are a few pictures of the joint…

And here is an iPhone snapshot of our menu…

There are three things you will notice in the menu. 1. The theme was focused around Salmon. 2. There are a lot of fancy words used to describe each course, most of which I can’t pronounce. 3. There was a glass of wine served with each course…resulting in nine glasses of wine poured…resulting in a lot of drunk old people.

The restaurant seated about 70 people and was completely full. Reservations are required months in advance, and each attendant must pay a $50 security deposit to make a reservation. We made our reservations months ago. Basically, this five diamond restaurant means serious business. The only reason the Ninja clan found themselves seated amongst a bunch of disgustingly rich old people was because of  Groupon. That’s right, Groupon. Apparently, they ran a promotion a few months back and my mom took advantage (she’s kind of a Groupon whore).

I have no idea what else to say about the experience besides it was over the top, weird, but a great adventure. Thanks mom for taking me out to the most expensive meal I will ever have in my entire life. You da bomb dot com.

What’s the most expensive meal you have ever eaten? Would you ever drop $250 on dinner?

p.s. let’s have a moment of silence for all the George Washington’s that sacrificed themselves for the sake of the Ninja families appetite. You will be missed 🙂

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?

San Francisc-oh yeah!!

I’m super pumped right now. Girl Ninja, and I are playing grown ups and traveling to San Francisco this weekend (I don’t know why, but I still feel too young to vacation without a chaperon). We get in early Saturday morning and will have through Monday night to take in all the city has to offer.

I think I’m especially excited because I fought my urge to be Planny Mcplannerson. Shoot, I don’t even have a budget set for our weekend. How ya like them apples financial responsibility!?

My guess is we’ll spend most of our time seeing awesome places and eating at awesome restaurants. Girl Ninja will probably want to participate in some awesome shopping, and I will probably want to sleep-in until awesomely late. I could care less what we do, as long as we have an awesome time. Get it? Got it? Good!

Awkward Transition…

On another note. I passed the final physical fitness test for my dream job and will be receiving my final offer any day now. In case you are wondering, I threw up three separate times during the test, one of which consisted of crazy gross projectile vomiting. But hey, good things never come easy right?

Girl Ninja and I have done much discussing about which path we will take (dream job or dream location) and although we still aren’t sure, we’ve committed to making the decision by Monday. Ultimately we have been praying that the Lord (as in God, not the flying spaghetti monster) will give us like-mindedness and peace about our future. We literally have no clue what we are going to do, but I know that God does, and that my friends gives me hope 🙂

Although this process has been stressful, we’ve been able to learn so much more about ourselves and our relationship. This is a VERY SIGNIFICANT weekend for us. Expect an update next week.

A second awkward transition…

I just wanted to give a special shout out to my Canadian commenters. Booya for Canada….the junior varsity version of  the U.S…. just kidding… kind of.

I’d like to pretend that I’m going to respond to more comments, but the fact of the matter is I probably wont. For two reasons….

1) I’m kind of lazy.

and

2) Sometimes I get way more comments than I know what to do with. While this is a great problem to have. I’d be totally lying if I said I would be responding to all of them. Heck, I got 70-something comments on my article about cell phones this week. It would take me like three hours to lay out a detailed response to each comment made.

That said, please don’t stop commenting! It’s the only metric I have to gauge your interest in what I write about. Although I don’t always respond, I SWEAR I READ EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM.

Random fact about me….

I had a mole underneath my left nipple, that I thought looked like a third nipple. I was so embarrased by it, I asked my parents to let me have it surgically removed when I was a kid. Thankfully they obliged, I am proud to say, I’ve been third nipple free for 12+ years now 🙂

What’s a random fact about you?

Humble Pie

Humble Pie

A few weeks ago Girl Ninja and I joined a young couple’s Bible study. We’ve really grown to appreciate each of the couples in the group. The meetings typically wrap up with a time for prayer requests. Last night, as each person/couple was making their needs known, I noticed a common theme. Many 20 something couples face some  serious struggles.

While I am worrying about what savings account will give me the best interest rate, there are people wondering if they’ll still have a job tomorrow or if they’ll have enough in their checking account to pay rent. This is when I was force fed some humble pie.

Girl Ninja and I have no debt. Our income is far higher than I ever would have anticipated. We have a decent chunk in savings. And we are adequately preparing for the future.

What am I worrying for!? Does it really matter if my savings account earns 1.3% interest instead of 1.7%? Do I really need to stress over a home purchase that is three (or more) years away? Heck no  I don’t, but sadly, I do.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that one shouldn’t look to the future, make plans, etc. We all need to be doing that. But what we don’t need to be doing is worrying about worrying about having to worry.

Girl Ninja and I have set up contingency plans for one reason: So we DON’T have to worry. But guess what? I still do!

I stressed about not  having a fully funded E-fund so I focused on that, once that was knocked out I began worrying that we weren’t saving enough for a down payment, so I increased our savings percentage. Only to become stressed that I NOW feel like I’m  over saving and not doing a good enough job enjoying life.

This weeks Bible study served as a much needed reminder that Girl Ninja and I are in a very different place than the typical newlywed young couple. We need to remember the small things, be responsible with what we have, and be generous with our excess.

This was my “welcome back to reality” pimp slap across the face this week. Have you had one recently? Do you get so caught up in yourself that you forget to have compassion for others? Do you know any good/honest/hardworking people that are doing their best, but are struggling to make ends meet?

p.s. J Money at Budgets Are Sexy obviously has had similar convictions as he recently announced his newest project Love Drop. It’s pretty awesome!

Worst. Service. Ever.

Cow Testicles

Imagine this. You are 18 years old. You want a tattoo. And after much thought and deliberation, you’ve decided your finally going to do it. You’re going to get a freakin’ tattoo. “Where should I get this tattoo placed?” you think to yourself. That’s when it hits you. The perfect spot. Your face. But why stop at one tat, when you can get three? This is going to be great, you think to yourself.

A few hours later, you arrive at your local tattoo parlor. As the tattoo artist begins his work, you find the sting of the needle soothing. You fall asleep. An hour later you wake up to take a look at the finished product. As you look in the mirror, you realize there has been a terrible mistake. There are not three tattoos on your face as requested, but 56. Yes, 56 star tattoos. Sounds pretty crazy right? Well, it’s a true story, and here is an excerpt from the original article….

…Kimberley Vlaminck, 18, claimed that she asked for only three stars to be tattooed near her left eye […] “When he started to tattoo me, I did not feel pain and I fell asleep. I awoke as he tattooed me on the nose and I saw what he had done. I counted 56 stars,” she said. “I cannot go out on to the street, I am so embarrassed. I just look ugly, a freak, mutilated….”

Now if you read the whole article, there is a “he said, she said” argument. The tattoo guy says she wanted the tats, she said she didn’t. Turns out, the woman’s story was in fact bogus. But had the story been true, this would have been the Worst. Service. Ever. Have you ever had crappy customer service? Here are two examples from my past….

Dairy Queen:

It was my senior year of high school. I was feeling a little hungry and had a few bucks on me. I decided to make a pit stop at the local Dairy Queen to pick up two cheeseburgers (I know, super healthy right?). I devoured first one down in about 36 seconds and was ready to go round two. As I took my first bite of the second burger, I noticed something didn’t feel quite right. Was there a hair in my burger? There definitely has to be a hair in my burger! It turns out there wasn’t just ONE hair, but a whole freakin’ glob. I immediately began projectile vomiting all over an innocent bystander (as shown in the dramatization below). Needless to say, I haven’t been back to Dairy Queen since.

vomit ninja

Every Voice Prompted Customer Service Menu :

Oh my gosh, nothing makes me want to punch a baby turtle more than having to deal with those frustrating voice command customer service menus. You know what I’m talking about. You call your cable company and the voice recording says “For English, say English”. So you respond, “English.” It all goes to hell from there. Next thing you know, you’re getting chirped at by some robot machine voice in what sounds like a foreign language, all because when you said “English” the  voice command thought you said “Russian.” I hate voice prompt menus. For the love of god, bring us back to the good ol days of pressing one for English.

Dealing with crappy service is one thing, but dealing with crappy service that you didn’t ask for (like getting 53 extra tattoos) is a whole different ballgame.  I’d love to know what is the single worst customer service experience you’ve had?

Side Note: Since today’s article had nothing to do with Personal Finance, so I figure might as well include some right here… Money, money, cash, savings, money, booya. That is all 🙂