You have to spend $5,000 by the end of today.

It’s Friday mother lovers, which means you all have likely checked out mentally in anticipation of the upcoming weekend. So today I propose a simple question…

If you had be selfish and spend $5,000 by the end of today, what would you buy? 

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 three years ago now (exchanged it for that tiny little diamond that sits in Girl Ninja’s ring) and would love to get another. It just makes getting from point a to point b that much more fun.

That said, 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 😉

So reader, I’d buy a bike with my $5,000. What would you do?

And what keeps you from doing it?

A fun new Thursday tradition

I’m pretty lucky to have the most loyal readers of any personal finance blog (notice I didn’t say “one of the most”). Larry, StackingCash, Mo D, Trina, Ryo, and many others have been reading and commenting on my blog posts for years. Some of you, have lurked for just as long, but never taken the time to actually engage with the community.

Over the last year, I’m sure you’ve noticed a reduction in the number of posts I write each week. This is for a few reasons…

1. MANteresting eats up  a good chunk of my free time

2. After 3+ years of five-days-a-week writing, I run out of things to say

3. I wont write crappy articles just for the sake of getting something up

4. I don’t allow lame “guest posts” or “sponsored” posts like most other PF bloggers do.

5. Girl Ninja comes first. 

So while I might not be writing a thought-provoking article about pedophilia every Thursday, I do plan to start a fun new tradition.

READER POLLS

It’s simple. You click the most appropriate answer to whatever question I’ve asked and elaborate in the comments section if you so choose.

You guys/girls already know a ton about me, so this will give you an opportunity to learn a little more about each other. Plus, it’s one less day you have to deal with my horrible spelling/grammar mistakes and immature unicorn jokes 😉

On with the poll….

[poll id=”2″]

Whoever told you “looks don’t matter” lied.

Yesterday I let Girl Ninja paint each of my nails a different color (don’t worry, I still found time to wrestle a pack of wolves and shave my chest hair with a rusted butter knife in between fingers). Check out the finished product…

That’s right. I’m reppin’ the light blue, sparkly gold, hot pink, dark purple, and glittery blue nail polish combo like a straight gangster. I contemplated leaving the nail polish on for life today, but quickly realized that would be terribly embarrassing.

Segue in to today’s topic….

As much as we may hate admitting it, looks matter. Especially in the work place, but if you read my previous article about the costs of being ugly, you’d already know that. Here are a few tips I’ve put together to help you stay ahead of the curve ….

1) Women: Don’t dress slutty. There, I said it. Unless your job title is stripper, prostitute, or backup dancer in a Kanye West music video, cleavage and short skirts just won’t cut it. Cover up! It will earn you respect amongst your female peers and your male coworkers will actually listen to what you say instead of just stare at your….

2) Men: Go easy on the hair gel. I find few things creepier than a dude with greased back hair. I don’t care how nice or expensive your suit is. If you’re hair looks superglued to your head I wont be able to take you seriously. You + Slicked back hair = Pedophile.

3) Mix it up. Don’t be scared to try something new. I’ve been trying to mix it up in the work place as much as possible. After a few days of wearing a white/gray/black dress shirt, I like to throw on my teal one, my purple one, or my lime green one. I never get compliments when it comes to my ‘earth tone’ dress shirts, but every time I put something a little more bold on I get a compliment or two.

4) Don’t smell. You already know I want to punch smelly people in the face, but I feel like it’s important enough to mention again. For the love of all that is holy, please make sure you deodorize, shower, and brush your teeth before coming to work. Don’t be the awkward guy that smells like hot garbage and tuna. On the flip side, you have to be careful you don’t over do it. If you have scented deodorant, scented lotion, and a few squirts of perfume on, no one will want to be around you. In fact, you give us all headaches. Tone it down por favor.

5) Insert your tip here

Alright, I came up with the first four tips, but you have to come up with the fifth. What do you think is the most important thing about appearance in the work place? What would you add to the list? What’s your companies dress code; professional, business casual, or casual? Which nail polish color do you like most….I’m a fan of the light blue, it really brings out my eyes 🙂

The Mortgage Interest Deduction Farce

house irs mortgage interest

“Buy a house” they said. “You’ll be able to deduct the mortgage interest” they said. Probably one of the greatest lies ever told, and possibly a lie you believed.

This is how many prospective homeowners think about things:

  • Buy a house.
  • Pay mortgage interest.
  • Deduct said mortgage interest from taxes.
  • Convince yourself this is an amazing benefit.
  • Tell people who don’t have mortgage interest they suck at being awesome.

The reason I love personal finance is because of it’s inherent objective nature. One can’t say they are financially stable if they have significantly more money going out each month than they are bringing in. Subjectivity is limited when it comes to cold, hard numbers. Let’s look at the mortgage interest deduction from an OBJECTIVE stance.

Let’s pretend Girl Ninja and I buy a $350,000 house tomorrow. We put 20% down and get a 3.75% interest rate on our loan. Wanna know how much mortgage interest we pay in the first year? About $10,300. Sure we could deduct that amount from our taxes, but why would we? The standard deduction we get is already $12,200. Oh, and don’t forget as each year passes the amount of mortgage interest you pay DECREASES which means your mortgage deduction benefit DECREASES. What a great deal, right? Hahaha!

So what does all this mean? It means the mortgage interest deduction benefit (if you can call it that) is essentially worthless. The numbers don’t lie. Only 25% of tax filers actually include the Mortgage interest deduction on their annual taxes. Or in other words, most people DON’T realize any benefit from having mortgage interest.

Obviously if you donate 10’s of thousands of dollars each year, or if you buy a million dollar home, you will get a benefit from the deduction, but that is not the case for most people, and probably wont be the case for you.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy a house. Just don’t let stupid people try to convince you that mortgage interest is a “perk” to homeownership.

p.s. Here is a video of me not sticking the landing after skiing off a small rock yesterday. Ninja skiing.

 

Random Question

Meet Johnny…

Johnny makes $100,000 a year. He has decided to put $6,667 in to his 401K each year. This would  mean Johnny saves 6.67% for retirement.

Johnny’s friend, Deborah doesn’t have a 401k plan at her work. Deborah also makes $100,000 a year. Deborah decides she will put money in to a Roth IRA to build up her retirement nest egg. She throws $5,000 in to her Roth. Deborah is saving 5% of her income for retirement.

Now on to the discussion… 

Johnny’s $6,667 pre-tax contribution is the EXACT same as Deborah’s $5,000 post tax contribution (assuming they both are in 25% tax bracket). But would we say Johnny is investing 6.67% and Deborah only 5%?

This is something I never thought about before, but today I woke up and was like “WHOA!!!”. Have you ever considered calculating the PRE TAX percentage of your POST TAX contribution?

Thoughts? 

Would you do it.

Would you take out  a 0% loan for something you were already going to buy? 

If so, why?

If no, why not?

Discuss.

How do you eat?

Girl Ninja and I have come to the cruel realization it costs a lot of money to fill our stomachs. The two of us drop about $600/month on groceries and dining out related expenses. While most PF bloggers would be looking for a way to cut that cost in half, we aren’t.

We like cooking new things, we LOVE going out to eat with friends, and we thoroughly enjoy spoiling our high school kids with snacks when they come over a few times a week. If we wanted to cut our food bill in half, something would have to give.

Frick that.

It will be a cold day in hell before I turn down a dinner with great friends just so I can put an extra $30 in savings account.

Since everyone is different (some of you probably spend more, many of you probably spend less), I thought it would be cool if we all posted what the week ahead looked like for our stomachs. College students I imagine have a lot of Starbucks, Mac n Cheese, and PBJ on the menu (I know I did). Business folks who travel probably have a week of restaurants lined up. We’re all different people, in different stages of life.

Here’s snapshot of the Ninja itinerary:

  • Monday: Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese (we always try to throw one “cheap” meal in a week). Following this with FroYo with friends.
  • Tuesday: Spaghetti (unfortunately this isn’t cheap since we put a ton of fresh vegetables and ground turkey in the sauce).
  • Wednesday: Shoyu chicken. All sorts of weird ingredients we don’t keep on hand (scallions and ginger), but so delicious.
  • Thursday: Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo. Made from scratch. Where it lacks in health, it makes up for in deliciousness.
  • Friday: Autumn Salad. Girl Ninja has a salad for each season. I kind of hate having salad be my main course for dinner because I have to eat like 8 plates before I feel full. This salad is freaking bomb dot com though.
  • Saturday and Sunday: No freaking clue. We always leave our meals open on the weekends so we can dine out with friends if possible. Otherwise we typically do fend for yourself type dinners at home (cereal, PBJ, omelette, etc).

So there ya have it, this weeks “meal plan” brought to you by my lovely wife. What are you eating this week?