What are you worried about?

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I’ve never really understood why asking people about money is off limits. What are people worried about? Why is it offensive to ask someone how much their new car cost, how big their mortgage is, or how much they are contributing to their 401K? Finances are often a “don’t ask, don’t tell” gig.

Now I’m not saying that everyone needs to be comfortable sharing their financial status with anyone that asks. Obviously if a stranger wants to know how much debt you have, you have my blessing to punch them in the face. Similarly, I believe salary should definitely be kept confidential within the work place (causes too much office drama if Pamela makes more than Carmen). Budgets Are Sexy wrote a great article highlighting the times it is NOT appropriate to ask someone about their income.

One of my favorite ways to learn is through conversation with friends and family. How the heck am I suppose to be financially educated if I can’t really talk about money with anyone I associate with? It’s not like the school systems teach the fundamental of finances. What are we scared of? Are our friends going to judge us because we make too much money, or not enough? Why are things like mortgages, student loans, and credit card debt never to be discussed?

I know where most of my friends stand in regards to their political and religious views, but for some strange reason I feel like they would shoot me if I asked “Have ya been saving for retirement?” Sure, there are situations in which discussing one’s financial situation is inappropriate, but I also believe there are times when finances NEED to be discussed, but aren’t, out of fear of the other party becoming offended. Screw that. I’m laying it all out there. My name is Debt Ninja and this is my financial situation…

Annual Income: $50,547
Cash in Savings: $18,755
Total Debt: $16,877
Percent of income contributed to retirement: 18% + (5% match)
Number of Credit Cards: 3
Annual burrito expenses: $600

You don’t have to be scared. My blog is a “safe place”. No one will judge you no matter what your financial situation. Are you feeling bold? Care to share your financial situation? Any thoughts on why finances are so taboo?

p.s. For those that haven’t commented before, today’s post would be a great day to come out of hiding πŸ™‚

“Good debt” is for dumb people

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I was facebook chatting yesterday with one of my loyal readers. She was discussing her car loan, when I mentioned my student loan. She said “At least your student loan is ‘good debt’.” She put good debt in quotes because she knows (and I know) there ain’t no such thing as good debt (did you know ain’t IS a word?).

Typically student loans and mortgages are considered good debt. Why? The thought is, with student loans you obtain a degree, and with a degree you get a higher paying job. For mortgage, you take on a loan, buy a house, and sell the house for a profit. Nice idea right?

Have you read my blog’s title? Is it Punch Bad Debt In The Face? I don’t think so suckers. There is no such thing as good debt. Debt is debt…period. A degree doesn’t guarantee higher income, no more than your home guarantees increasing in value. So don’t fall for the trap and think you should keep Sallie Mae around for the 20 year visit she is planning to take.

It’s time to change the classification of debt. There is bad debt (which we all know as credit cards, payday loans, etc) and not-as-sucky-but-still-pretty-crappy debt (student loans, mortgage). Whoever decided to call some debt “good” was a genius. Heck, I wonder how much money that label has made the banks. Probably at least ten dollars πŸ™‚

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not opposed to utilizing debt to get an education or buy a home. In fact, I’m 99.9% sure I will take out a mortgage. But don’t trick yourself in to thinking that your mortgage is good. It should still be seen as a money hungry beast that won’t go away until you MAKE IT go away. Were you like me and once thoughtΒ  “good debt” existed? If I could go back in time, I probably would have gone to a public college, saved a ton of money, and graduated debt free. Oh to be young, naive, and easily influenced.

p.s. Anyone that thinks student loans are “good debt” is more than welcome to have mine πŸ™‚

Wife = asset or liability?

Screen shot 2009-11-17 at Nov 17, 2009, 8.15.38 PMSo I have this great plan in my head: Get married and get rich. They go hand in hand right? Okay, I know it may not be all gravy, but I still can’t wait for the days of being a DINK (Dual Income No Kids). I’ve got a gameplan in my head, but I wanted to run it by all you married folks to see if it was reasonable.

The plan is simple: Live off my income, put wife’s income in the bank. Let’s pretend I get married in a year. At that point, I’ll be making $62,000 annually. That is easily enough money for both me and the Mrs. to survive on. Let’s not forget she will be working as well. I’ll assume she will be making roughly $40K/yr. Whatever is left after taxes are taken out of her paycheck, will go straight to Roth IRA’s and savings (probably about $25K/year).

I’m not naive though, I’ve listened to my fair share of Dave Ramsey and it is not uncommon to hear a caller indicate his wife is responsible for accumulating a significant amount of debt without his knowledge (Don’t label me a sexist, I know this works both ways). The power of a larger income can lead to a tendency to live a more frivolous lifestyle. New cars, lavish vacations, and dining out become the norm. High income often causes increased spending.

The main reason I want to be able to survive off my income, and save hers, is I don’t think my wife will work forever. Once baby ninjas enter the picture I want her to have the option to stay at home. If we allow ourselves to become accustom to surviving off both of our incomes, it would be super difficult to take a $40K hit in income for her to stay home. I feel like a lot of people purchased huge homes based on their dual income, and now find themselves struggling as one lost employment or decided to stay home with the kids. I would like to avoid that situation at all costs.

If I play my cards right and buckle down on the budget, future Mrs. Ninja and I should be able to comfortably live on my salary and take hers to the bank. Hopefully accumulate $100K in savings come time to make a home purchase, and then she can quit and stay home with the kids. Am I living in a dream world? Is there something to the DINK formula I’m overlooking? For current Dinks, is it totally awesome? Have you become dependent on both incomes? Has the dual income caused any issues? I need all the info I can get so I can plan accordingly.

Let’s play the hypothetical game….

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So I was driving home last night and the host of the radio show I was listening to proposed a question to all of his listeners. I thought it was kind of an awkward question. This is what he asked: If you could get paid to do something you already do on a regular basis, what would pick? Some callers chimed in and said things like “Get paid to go to the bathroom every morning” or “Get paid to clean my apartment.”

I thought the question kind of sucked, becuase I still wouldn’t want to clean my apartment, even if I got paid for it. I would have asked a different question. “If you could outsource one of your common tasks, what would you outsource?” This my friends is a better question because it’s much more realistic. No one is ever going to pay me to clean my apartment, but I could hire someone else to do so.

Then I got to thinking, when I’m stupendously rich what would I legimimately consider outsourcing? Here are a few things I would definitely have someone else do for me…

1) Grocery shop. I hate it. It stresses me out. To many items on the shelf. Not to mention the variation in prices. One applesauce will cost $2 and the one right next to if $5. I then start trying to figure why is the other one over twice as much? Is the $2 one that gross? Should I risk buying the $5 one? Oh no, my heads about to explode, I can’t make a decision.

2) Drive me places. If you haven’t noticed, I’m not the best driver as demonstrated in this accident and this stupid move. I kind of have a tendency to run in to other things. If I had someone else drive me around I would totally save money simply because I wouldn’t be able to run my car in to things anymore.

3) Do my dishes. For the last six years I have lived the dishwasher-free life, and I have to say, I hate it. Not many one/two bedroom apartments come with dishwashers which means manual labor for this dish washing ninja. You know when you eat a super big and super good meal. All you want to do is lay down and watch TV afterwards right? Well I can’t because the dishes are taunting me from the kitchen. I would outsource my dishwashing duties in a minute if I had the income to do so.

Ah, a boy can dream right? What are some mundain tasks you have to do frequently that you would love to pay someone else to do? Mow the lawn? Wash your car? Clip your toenails? What would you outsource? Drop me a line and let me know.

I’m on Facebook!

I’m on Facebook as of this weekend. It’s a lonely world in FB land right now. I NEED MORE FRIENDS! I’m totally resulting to whoring myself out and begging for your friend requests. Click the image below to go straight to my FB page. I even threw in some pictures of myself (for the ladies) πŸ™‚

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Help Gertrude out!

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One of my favorite parts about having a blog is getting reader mail. I love when people ask questions. Not because I think I can provide some incredibly insightful advise, but it affirms that people value my opinion. Instead of me directly responding to the following email, I figured I’d post it up here and we can all help her out. After all, 20 opinions are better than one….right? Here’s the email…

I graduated in 2005 with a BA in psychology and realized I did not want to go into working in counseling. Now I am unsure what to do as I have spent the last 4 years in a couple of dead end jobs: customer service, travel industry, waitress and bartender. I have no idea where to even begin. It is too late for me to take internships and I have no way of knowing if I sign up for graduate school if I will like the job in the end. I am thinking of HR management or international relations, as I would like to one day work for the foreign service, however knowing how hard it is to get in, I would be happy in HR in a government position. It is just so frustrating to find oneself with a college degree and no qualifications to do anything but wait tables or be a customer service rep. Any advice is appreciated.


Well thanks Gertrude for a delicious piece of humble pie. Last week I wrote an article about my quarter-life crisis, but after reading Gerdies E-mail, realized I need to be darn thankful for the position I have. Anyways, on to my thoughts…

Gertrude, I think it’s important to not limit yourself because of your degree. I too received a degree in Psychology, but don’t really use it in my position. Don’t limit your career choices because of the degree you received. Upwards of 50% of college grads work in a field unrelated to their course of study. If you want to work in HR, pursue HR. If you want to be a trapeze artists, join a circus. You can’t change your degree, but you can certainly change your career.

Turn what could be seen as a negative situation and make it positive. Maybe you haven’t held steady employment over the last couple years, but explain to your potential employers what you DID learn and how you grew from your part-time employment. Make yourself stand out, be positive, and be confident.

I wouldn’t recommend graduate school for you, primarily because you’re not 100% sure that’s what you want to do. Grad school is a HUGE decision and can cost a pretty penny. Remember, holding a degree, masters, or PhD doesn’t guarantee income….ever. The worst thing you could do for yourself is get a masters in a field you end up hating, be $50K in debt, and another 2-3 years behind on work experience. Hold off on the grad school for now, until you get a better idea of exactly what you want to be doing.

If you want to work for the government in an HR capacity go to USAJobs.gov and start applying. That is where 99% of all federal positions are listed. Lastly, apply for EVERY job you want, even if you think you’re under-qualified. The wost thing the company could do is tell you “No.” which is not that bad in my opinion. If you are applying to positions you truly want,Β  it only takes one offer to change your life.

That’s my $0.02 for Gertrude (by the way that is a fake name I made up for her). Now it’s your turn to throw down some comment love and help a girl out. What do you do if you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, but you’re already an adult?

*feel free to shoot me an email if you got a question*

Being dumb is a good thing

Screen shot 2009-11-12 at Nov 12, 2009, 11.39.53 PMI never really thought about it before, but being dumb is kinda awesome. I had a conversation with my financial analyst buddy about short term municipal bond funds. Twenty four hours ago I couldn’t have spelled municipal, but now I know a good chunk about them. I’m a tiny bit “less dumb” now because of the conversation I had with my friend.

I won’t bore you with the specifics of what we talked about, but we essentially concluded, investing in short term municipal bond funds is a worthy contender to replace our pathetic online savings accounts. Their average interest rate is near quadruple today’s money market accounts, they grow tax free, and you can sell your bond at any time hassle free (unlike a CD).

Are you bored yet? Enough about bond funds, on to the purpose of this post. Being dumb has its benefits…namely an opportunity to learn. If I didn’t have a financial analyst friend, I wouldn’t be where I was today with my personal finances. He knows more about money than me, so when I have a question I run things by him.

I’m obsessed with surrounding myself with people that know more than I do. Books are great, but personal interaction is even better. When I graduated college I had to learn how to be an adult. I didn’t really know what the “real world” was going to be like, so I decided I should sign up for life coaching. It was freakin’ awesome. For one year, I was mentored by a CEO baller in various aspects of my life (family, health, finances, faith, priorities). I was coached by a guy who went from college student to successful entrepreneur/father. He acheived what I desire, so why wouldn’t I want an opportunity to learn from him?

Take a minute and think about the company you surround yourself with. If you are the smartest person in your circle of friends, you got a problem. You should be interacting with people more knowledgeable than you on a daily basis. Make “being the dumb one” a positive thing. Grow from it, so that one day, you can educate the dumb.

Really all I’m saying is: Stimulating conversation is awesome! I think it would be really fun to hear what each one of your most recent stimulating conversations was about. Was it about relationships? Money? Biology? Mine was about short term municipal bond funds….hopefully yours was more exciting πŸ™‚