No difference between optimism and stupidity?

I love that people use optimism to excuse stupidity. I try to avoid being labeled a pessimist or an optimist. I much rather prefer to associate with the realists. I do consider myself a positive realist, which in my opinion, is significantly different than an optimist.

Wikipedia defines an optimist as one who generally believes that people and events are inherently good. While I would love to be able to assume most people and events are “inherently good”, I’m gonna have to keep it real and disagree. I’m pretty sure there is nothing good about terrorism, Hitler, country music, Detroit, and this guys shorts…

Did you just throw up in your mouth a little after sneaking a peek at that picture? My apologies, but I couldn’t resist.

I get really frustrated when people make stupid decisions because they have “faith” everything will work out in the end. I bet we know plenty of people that live paycheck to paycheck by choice. They spend every dollar they earn on frivolous things like $300 bar tabs, flat screen TV’s, video games, etc because they know their next paycheck can get them through the upcoming month. They use their optimism (believing that their next paycheck is an absolute) as an excuse to do financially stupid things (not establish an emergency fund). Guess what buddy, if that paycheck doesn’t come, YOU ARE SCREWED!

I’ve got news for the overly optimistic: Rainy days lie ahead, bad things are going to happen to you, and…gasp… sometimes life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY and I hate negative people, but I get sick of people that hope for the best, only to find themselves royally screwed when things didn’t work out the way they planned. I believe you should hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Sure I plan on having a job next month, but if for some reason the crap hits the fan, I have a decent E-fund to help me survive unemployment.

While I like the idea of ending poverty, I’m forced to face the REALITY that I will never live to see the day that happens. No matter how much we attempt to level the playing field, there will ALWAYS be people that squander away everything they have, much like there will always be people that are diligent savers. I’m really not trying to open up a political can of worms with this point, but I get so frustrated when I hear someone say “We need to put an end to poverty and spread the wealth around”. It’s hard to tell someone they are stupid for wanting to end poverty, but when their solution is to further tax the rich, they are just that… stupid. Out of fear of receiving a verbal lynching, I shall end my rant here and open the floor for discussion.

Have you had to deal with some stupidly optimistic people? Do you just bite your tongue and watch them make bad decisions or do you attempt to intervene and share some realistic input? It’s tough to tell someone they are being too positive, but sometimes it’s too important not to!

Bigger isn’t always better

I love when people say “Bigger is better.” I mean, we all know the popular Texan slogan “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” We are told we need to make a BIG income, so we can buy a HUGE house, with a LONG driveway, to park our EXPENSIVE cars in. Unfortunately, success is often measured by appearance and not by personal accomplishments. Today, I make my case for a few areas where bigger is not my priority.

Income. Like every other college graduate, I was determined to enter the workforce and bring home a big salary. The grim reality… that didn’t happen. I started my job at a solid $38K/yr (quite a bit less than the $80K/yr I felt like I was worth). But now, after a few years in the work force, and a couple promotions later, I’ve learned BIG income can mean BIG problems. After a few more years, I could begin to explore the option of pursuing supervisory type positions. They make more than I can in my current field, but their increased salary just isn’t worth it.  Sure they make $15k/year more than I will, but they don’t get to work from home, they don’t get a work vehicle, and they are responsible for a whole crap-ton of issues I would never want to deal with. Yes, they make more than me, but in my eyes, the “bigger” income is not worth the increased responsibility.

Home size. Who doesn’t drive by a ridiculously beautiful white mansion with big columns and think “Ah, that must be the good life”? I know I am guilty of “mansion envy” every now and again. But when it comes down to it, I don’t ever plan on living in a house with twice as many bedrooms as people living in it. A larger home means larger everything (i.e. property tax, maintenance costs, utility bills, more furnishings, etc). I live in San Diego in a small 2 bedroom apartment with a roommate. I hate having to dust my tiny living quarters as is, I couldn’t imagine having to dust a 5,000+ sqft home. I’ll take a moderate sized home over a mega mansion any day of the week.

Student Loans. I don’t know what clever marketing scheme the college recruiters conjured up, but they are geniuses. People are graduating from college with six figure student loans for an undergraduate degree in art therapy. WTF do you do with a degree in art therapy?! I went to a ridiculously overpriced private college, and learned my lesson the hard way. Although the school might be cool, it’s not really worth taking on MASSIVE student loans. Instead of getting $5,500/yr tuition at the University of Washington (a rather reputable school), I went to a private college that no one has ever heard of with tuition upwards of $25,000/yr. With the help of scholarships, and the parents, I managed to “only” rack up $28,000 in student loans, compared to the $120,000 loans many of my fellow classmates had. HERE ME NOW ALL PROSPECTIVE COLLEGE STUDENTS: Harvard is nice, but so is your local state school. I promise the college you get your degree from, will not be as important as you think. Bigger student loans, don’t mean a bigger income…sorry.

I could keep on going, but I think I’ve proved my point. In a culture where size matters (that’s what she said), I take a stand and say “F YOU culture.” I’ll take my modest home, slightly used car, average job, and enjoy life just fine.

How the heck as society been so clever and tricked us all in to desiring “more”? What are some other areas you can think of where bigger is definitely NOT better?

p.s .the answers to yesterdays “two truths and a lie” are both A. Good job to those who guessed right, you earn the creepy stalker award.

Two Truths and a Lie

You ever played “Two truths and a lie”? It’s often used as an ice breaking tool at social gatherings and small group meetings. Since we are all a bunch of awkward people that hide behind our blogging personas, let’s break the mother effin ice and engage in some fun.

Here’s what’s going down. I’m about two post up three pieces of information about me. You the reader, have the task to guess which two statements are fact, and which one is fabricated. This ain’t no Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, so no phoning a friend, asking the audience, or stalking me on google. Let’s see how well you, my loyal reader, know me 🙂 …

Which one is false…

A) I was arrested in Mexico for jaywalking.

B) I was on the television show Veronica Mars.

C) I’ve put a dead guy in a body bag.

Can you spot the lie? I realize anyone that doesn’t know me personally has no way of making even the slightest educated guess as to which of these is the outlier. So to make things a little more interesting I’ll post up three more financial “facts” that you can contemplate…

A) I change high-yield savings accounts regularly to ensure my dollar is always earning the highest interest.

B) I still wear jeans and shirts that I got in high school, cause I’m too stubborn to buy new clothes.

C) I only take my car to the dealership to get serviced, even though I know it’s overpriced.

Wow, thinking of three things, was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. I tried to make them as interesting as possible, so I’m excited to see what you all guess.

In the comments below just let me know your guesses and I will post up the “lies” tomorrow (or maybe later today). Also, if you want to join in on the fun, leave your “two truths and a lie” below and we can all take guesses at them too. I bet some of you have done some wacky ‘ish.

p.s. If you have a blog, and liked this idea, feel free to steal it and post one up for your readers. And if you hated this idea, then I think you are a stupid-face.

Hypothetical questions are fun…right?

Forgive me PDITF loyalists, for I have sinned. It is way to late for me to really think of anything worth writing about, so on this glorious Friday morning, I ask a simple, but thought provoking question.

How much money would you have to be given tomorrow to go out and buy a new car?

I asked this question to the roomy and he said if he was given $200,000 tomorrow he would consider going out and buying a $50,000 car. He then turned the question around to me. I think I would have to be given a million bones before I would consider upgrading to a $30K to $40K car. My roommate and I had two very different answers, so I’m wondering how it would work for you.

I think this question is interesting for a few reasons. First, playing the hypothetical game is always fun. Second, good/reliable cars are a necessity for most of us as we spend a good chunk of time behind the wheel. But I think the most interesting piece of this question lies in the fact that cars are a depriciating asset. Wise investing says “D0n’t buy things that depreciate” but the materialist in us says “It would be so nice to have heated seats, gps, a microwave, and a wireless headset in my new car.” Cars are interesting because they are so important, yet counterproductive to our financial well being.

So here’s what I want to know…

1) What kind of car do you currently drive. (Year, Model, Street Value)

2) How much money would you have to win/inherit/steal before you would even consider changing vehicles? (Would you upgrade right away, or have to be given over $100K, $300k, etc?)

3) From that ideal amount, how much would you spend on a car? (i.e. would need to be given $500K in which I would spend $20K on a car, or would need to receive $200K in which $80K would be put towards a car, etc)

Drop your details in the section below. I suspect there will be a huge fluctuation in answers.

Wedding Registry, from a Man’s perspective

Girl Ninja and I have embarked on an epic journey. A journey in to the world of pots, pans, and garbage cans. That’s right my friends, it’s wedding registry time. Registering is no child’s play, this is serious business. It’s my one and only chance to get a lot of nice crap without having to pay a cent for it. Being new to this whole registry game, I thought I would share a few of the things I have learned.

1) It’s okay to register for really nice things. I was having issues adding All-Clad pans to the registry. Those things are freaking expensive and I felt terrible asking for them. We are talking upwards of $200 bucks for a pot. For a rather crappy chef, like myself, I doubt I’ll notice the difference between a $20 pot and a $200 pot… after all, they’ll both boil water the same wont they? I wrote a few weeks back about my internal battle with accepting generous gifts. In an attempt to combat my awkward frugality, we have registered for quite a few “luxury” items. I realize that just because we want the $200 skillet, doesn’t mean someone HAS to buy us the $200 skillet. I was treating every item we registered for as a “is-this-really-necessary” item instead of a “how-sweet-would-it-be-if-someone-got-us-this” item. In the world of wedding registry, quality is what’s important.

2) Register at places with AWESOME return policies. Girl Ninja and I have registered at Crate and Barrel and Macy’s. These two stores both have amazing, and I mean amazing, return policies. Since Girl Ninja and I both live in San Diego, are getting married in Seattle, and have no clue where we will be living after we get married, there is a good chance we will need to return 99% of the gifts people get for us. It’s kind of a bummer and will probably be a headache, but there isn’t much we can do about it except register at places with good return policies. Crate and Barrel, for example, will give you straight up CASH for all items purchased through your registry. How epic is that, most stores will give you gift cards or store credit, but C&B would hook me up with Benjamins. That gives GN and I a ton of flexibility in our shopping. While Macy’s only provides store credit, they still allow up to a year to make the return and have some pretty sweet perks if you register through them. The coolest perk is that Girl Ninja and I will get a 5% store credit bonus on every dollar someone else spends on our registry. If people buy $2,000 worth of Macy’s product, Girl Ninja and I walk away with a $100 gift card. Boo to the Ya for free money.

3) There is a lot of crap to be bought. I’m a guy. We don’t need a lot. Give me one bowl, one plate, a spork, and maybe some toilet paper, and I will consider myself adequately provided for. Apparently Girl Ninja has different plans. We registered for cupcake tins, cupcake trees, cupcake carrying cases, and a whole slew of other things I never knew existed (mostly baking goods). I’m overwhelmed by the shear quantity of items we have registered for, especially knowing that we are only about 50% through the registering process. There is some crazy stuff out there, for example, I have no idea what the heck this kitchen thingy majigger is…There ya have it, three things that stood out to me as I embark on this wedding registry process. I can tell ya right now, it’s totally a chick thing as I haven’t met too many guys that get excited about picking out what color hand towels they want.

And now, as always, I leave with some questions…primarily for the femALIENS out there. What are some things you wished you would have registered for, but didn’t? I have heard it’s always better to ask for too much than not enough (i.e. dinnerware for 12 instead of 10). Is it against proper etiquette to register for things like tools and a BBQ? If you could do one thing over again with your wedding registry what would it be? ANY AND ALL ADVICE IS HIGHLY APPRECIATED! I definitely want to take advantage of as much “free” crap stuff as I can

p.s. if you didn’t get a chance to see all the comments people posted up yesterday about their financial secrets, I highly encourage you to do so…there are some interesting one’s in the bunch!!!!

Share your secret

Today’s blog post has the potential to be my most favorite blog idea yet!!! Have you heard of the wesbite PostSecret? It’s a blog, that posts secrets…go figure. The premise is simple. Take a secret you have (that no one else know), write it on a post card, decorate said post card, and mail it to PostSecret for them to put on the blog for the whole world to see. Pretty interesting huh! Here are a few of the secrets that caught my eye…

You get the point right? It’s an outlet for people to anonymously share secrets, that they would normally not share. Well mi amigos, let’s engage in a little Post Secret (Finance Edition) shall we? I’m keeping this post short, ’cause today, it’s really about you. You are what will make today’s post interesting.

The rules are simple. Drop a comment in the section below with one secret related to finances/money/family/life/etc that you haven’t shared with anyone. I recommend you comment anonymously or under an alias, but it’s really up to you how you want to be identified.

Here are a few examples to hopefully put you on the right track…

“I never told my parents I filed bankruptcy because I thought they would judge me”

“I love my husband’s income more than I love my husband.”

“I frequently leave an anonymous envelope of money in my neighbors mailbox because I know she can’t afford her groceries”

Get it? Got it? Good! Now that you understand what’s going on, PLEASE PARTICIPATE in this social experiment. How cool would it be to read 20, 50, or 100 secrets people have kept related to money? So, (insert your name here), WHAT’S YOUR SECRET?