Debt Unicorn

I’m convinced whoever decided to draw a horn on a horse, and call it a unicorn, is also responsible for fabricating the idea that debt is a reasonable way of life. Seriously, it takes a very creative mind, or at least a lot of drugs, to make unicorns and debt popular. It boggles my mind.

I think debt is rooted in complacency (whoa that sounded kinda deep). There is nothing wrong with being content, but complacency frustrates me. Credit card debt, flat screen TVs, new cars, an overpriced home, stainless steel appliances, are unfortunately where prestige is sought. Keepin’ up with the Joneses is the American Dream. People with $40K annual incomes are living a six-figure lifestyle.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no beef with nice homes, luxury vehicles, energy efficient appliances. Actually, I think they are all awesome, and one day, I hope to own these things, but guess what…. I don’t. I refuse to conform to the norms of society, when those “norms” are self destructive.

I drool at the sight of a plasma TV, but realize that the benefits of the TV (high definition/sexiness), don’t even come close to outweighing the negatives (decrease in net worth, more TV watching=less productivity, a desire to then increase sound equipment/dvd player/etc). So although the Joneses may have a plasma in every room of their house, I know that my life is actually better without.

Look at this picture of a Unicorn and tell me that’s not one crazy looking animal…

Now look at your credit card statement, and tell me your balance isn’t even more crazy! You can hang out with the Joneses all you’d like, but I think I’m gonna keep kickin’ it with my PF homies and increasing my quality of life.

Why do you think America has become complacent with debt? Where did we go wrong? Has it ALWAYS been this way? Do you think we learned anything from the recent recession?

How many hours are you really working today?

If you are reading this, I’m 95% confident you are probably at work. Do you know what that means? It means you aren’t actually “working”, unless your boss pays you to read my blog (which would probably have to be the coolest job in the world right?).

I’ve been talking with a bunch of friends recently about how productive they are during their work day. Some of them work solid 10 hour days, every day, even though they only get paid for 8, but the LARGE majority of them confessed to only being productive 2-4 hours a day.

I had a job in college as a ‘building manager’. It essentially meant I got paid to sit behind a desk in a large campus building and answer questions that students had. My shifts usually lasted 4 to 6 hours and I maybe put in a solid 30 minutes of work each time. It got really bad when I worked the late shift (6pm to 11pm). No one would go to the building I worked in at night, so after 5pm it was a ghost town. Sometimes, I would just leave a note that said “If you need help please call…”. I’d leave my cell phone number and then go visit friends in the dorms or go back to my place and watch TV. It was either get paid to sit behind a desk in solitude, or get paid to watch TV in my apartment. The choice wasn’t a difficult one.

Was this unethical? Perhaps, but let’s be real, not even YOU work 100% of the hours you are paid for. Heck, I’m sure your bosses frequently fall short of their obligation too. I realize some jobs (physician) really don’t allow slacking off, but for everyone else, a good chunk of time is probably spent surfing the web, reading the news, chatting with coworkers, taking a little longer lunch than allowed, etc.

So I’m asking a huge favor of you all today, Be bold, be honest, be real, and share how many hours you think you will legitimately work today. You already have to deduct the amount of time you’ve spent reading this post 🙂 If you don’t want to “out” yourself, you can always comment anonymously to keep your identity hidden. I’m guessing the majority are gonna fall between 5-7 hours.

Don’t be a douche

I had a friend send me a text message while they were at a frozen yogurt shop last night asking if I wanted anything. Are you freakin’ kidding me? I will never, repeat NEVER, pass up an opportunity to chow down some FroYo. I thought to myself “That is really nice of my friend to front the cost of yogurt.” Of course I will be paying her back, but there is always the possibility I turn flaky and never make that payment.

This brings up the topic of today’s post: you should always pay people back, and you probably shouldn’t borrow money in the first place. I hate debt, but I especially hate owing money to people I know. That is why I refuse to borrow money from friends and family. And more importantly, this is the reason I refuse to loan money to those close to me.

Have ya heard the phrase “Never mix business with pleasure”? Well lending money to friends is a total violation of that rule. If your friends need to borrow money from you, there is probably a reason for that… they are broke. If they had the means to make the payments, they wouldn’t have to borrow in the first place.

If your friend is desperately in need of money, then you have two options…

1) Loan them the money, probably never get paid back, be pissed off, lose a friend.

2) Give them the money as a gift, with no strings attached and no expectation of repayment.

I personally don’t believe in loaning money out to those close to me. Maybe you disagree, and if you do, you’re a dumb head (just kidding). Have you ever been asked to loan money to a friend? Did you do it? Did they pay you back on time and as expected? If you’ve been asked, but didn’t do it, how did you let them down? It’s definitely an awkward situation so I’d be curious to hear your thoughts.

Paying it forward

Wanna know one of my favorite things about the Christmas season? No, it’s not the cheesy Hallmark movies (although they are pretty awesome). I’m totally a sucker for the Christmas spirit. I’m not talking about the decorations, eggnog (vomit), or Christmas trees. I’m talking about nice people, happiness, and unicorns generosity.

For the entire month of December, people tend to be nicer. Why? Shouldn’t we try and be nice more than just one out of 12 months? I sure as heck think so. It’s for that reason I have decided to commit to ‘Pay it forward’ at least one time between now and Jan 31st.

For those that don’t know, paying it forward basically means you do something really nice for someone else, without expecting anything in return. The idea is that if you do something nice for someone, hopefully they will do something nice for someone else, etc, etc, etc. One action can snowball in to a world of generosity.

It’s time for this Ninja to do a good deed and I’m starting to explore my options. Perhaps I will help an old lady cross the street, rescue a baby from a burning building, or donate my body to science. The possibilities are truly endless.

Seriously though, I am on a mission to Pay it forward and complete a Random Act of Kindness, so if any of you have any suggestions, or things you have done in the past, please share so I can completely weigh all options. Perhaps you will even consider joining me on this excursion? I’m convinced PF bloggers are some of the coolest people in the world so I’m excited to hear what ya’ll got for me 🙂

p.s. I’m looking for an Act of Kindness that is substantial, I would hope we all do nice things on a regular basis, but I’m thinking I want to do something out of the norm.

2010. Year of the “Non-budget” budget

I pinky promise I wont turn PDITF in to a wedding/marriage/love blog, but you are gonna have to bear with me, for a bit longer as this engagement thing is uncharted territories for me. Getting married is going to completely change the way I have been managing my money. Apparently wives don’t just cook and clean (dear feminists, that was a joke), but they also do things like make money and spend money.

In years past, I have made my budget on January 1st and made assumptions of what the next 12 months is going to look like. It has been pretty easy for me to do, seeing that all I had to account for was myself. I knew what my income would be, I knew how much food I bought each month, and I knew how frequently I was putting gas in my car. It was really easy to make a budget once every 12 months, because few things in my life varied.

Well Girl Ninja, I hate to break it to ya, but you’re throwin’ a little wrench in my tires. I think I’m going to be forced in to budgeting twice this year. One for now through wedding day, and again wedding day through the rest of the year. That means I have to do twice as much work, ugh.

Even more unfortunate… I have no idea how to budget for our life post wedding. I have no clue how much women cost. To further complicate things, Girl Ninja is a substitute teacher so her income can range from $200-$2,000 monthly (depending on how many days she works). My guess is our wedding will take place in August, which leaves me with four months of assumptions (Aug through Dec).

It really seems pointless to make a budget for the last half of the year at this point, since I really have no clue what things will be looking like. We could be spending $900 to $1,500 on rent, $300-$500 on grocery/dining, $100-$400 on gas, blah, blah, blah. Nearly every category has a couple hundred dollar variance. It kind of defeats the purpose of budgeting, when you have no clue what you will be spending on virtually all aspects of your life.

Right now my game plan is to establish my budget from January to August and call it good. Once married life begins, I will closely monitor our spending habits and be totally prepared to make my 2011 budget on January 1st next year. I guess it’s not a huge deal though, because I treat my budget like a spending guideline. Do any of you all recall how much your overall expenses increased post marriage? Do you make a budget each month, once a quarter, or like me, once a year?

p.s. a few of you bloggers (mostly women) have mentioned you would like to hear a little more about my thoughts on weddings/marriage/love, so I plan to begin touching on those topics at least once a month. consider me your official Love Ninja 🙂

Net Worth: January 2010

Screen shot 2009-12-01 at Dec 1, 2009, 5.32.56 PM

I popped a cap in 2009’s a$$. It was an incredible year, increasing my net worth over $30K. December, however, was a not so exciting. Oh wait, YES IT WAS. I got engaged, but with engagement comes expenses, and with expenses come a less than ridiculous net worth growth. Let’s take a look…

Checking Account(s): $4,361, +$1,301. Got the checking account slightly stacked as my $2,500 credit card bill is coming due. I’m being a good Ninja, and paying that bill in full. I try to keep $1,000 in this account, but have come to realize that is almost never the case as I am constantly moving money around. Also, I now have two checking accounts, after opening up my online savings with ING, I decided to open a checking account with them also.

Savings Account: $17,725, -$1,800. Ahh the savings account decrease…tear. It’s for a good reason though. I finished off my last bit of contribution to my Roth IRA. You’ll see the increase in the next section…

Roth IRA: $13,755 +$1,868. I almost didn’t max out my Roth IRA for 2009, but after much thought I decided to go for it. I’m glad I did…I think 🙂

401K: $11,641, +$869. Eight percent of each paycheck makes its way in to this account. I invest in very similar funds in both my Roth IRA and 401K. I get 5% of my paycheck fully matched, so you know I’m not about to pass up free money.

Student Loan: -$16,193, +$108. Whoops. Got a little side tracked with purchasing an engagement setting and contributing to my Roth IRA. I promise to get back to paying this biotch down in 2010. Pink promise!!!

I’m rocking a solid $28,793 net worth. I’m up $1,404 from last month. Not quite as cool as the $5,000 I went up last month, but I guess I’ll be okay. If I had to choose between getting engaged, or having a larger Net Worth growth, I would pick…. well don’t make me answer that 🙂

Anyone care to make any PDITF 2010 predictions. Think I’ll be President by the end of the year? Maybe I will fizzle out and give blogging up? Think I’ll have a kid (I sure hope not). Humor me with some new year predictions.

If you have wondered why the blue bar (debt) in the graph sometimes increases, it’s because my credit card balance gets taken in to account each month. Even though I pay the balance in full it still appears as a “liability” in Quicken. I just deduct this from my checking account balance to give myself an accurate net worth reading. I choose not to include my car in my NW calculations, which would probably increase my worth by about $8K.