I drank the kool-aid

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I’m officially a slave to wordpress! Today is my first full day hosting Punch Debt In The Face as a wordpress blog. Actually, yesterday was, but all of my links were broken, my feed was jacked up, email was down, and the site was in shambles, so I’m pretending yesterday didn’t happen.

My goal was to keep my layout and style very similar to what I had before, so there would be no adjustment necessary on my reader’s behalf. I’m still tweaking, tuning, and doing everything possible to make this blog simple, navigable, and quasi-sexy (side note: Does anyone else feel like a royalty should be paid to J. money every time the word sexy is used?).

I originally started blogging with blogger for one simple reason: it was free and really easy. I made a commitment, to myself, that I would not spend any “out of pocket” money to fund my blog (except for the initial $7.00 domain purchase). Well, two weeks ago, I received my first adsense check. It may have only been $90, but it was enough to purchase one year of hosting. I am finally able to cash-flow my blog! With the hosting paid for, I decided to make the switch (aka “drink the kool aid” or “join the cult”) and transfer my blog to wordpress.

If you notice anything wrong with my layout, buttons, images, etc, please let me know so that I can make the appropriate changes. If you are a fellow wordpress user I would appreciate if you dropped some comments telling me which plug-ins are an absolute must. Thanks for being patient with me as I make the change. If you didn’t have a chance to check out my post yesterday titled Sex, Drugs, and Retirement I encourage you to do so (Barack Obama made a guest appearance).

Feel free to poke, play, and click away.

p.s. special shout outs to PF Firewall and Mrs. Micah for helping me out with the change. They are good people so go check em out!

Sex, Drugs, and Retirement

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Saving for retirement is the new Rock & Roll….sike I actually don’t really know anyone else (my age) that is saving for the days ahead, but I know a lot of people who wear skinny jeans, drink starbucks, and drive toyota priuses (prii?, how the heck do you pluarlize prius!). Not to say these are necessarily bad things, except maybe men in skinny jeans, but they are all trendy.

It’s darn near impossible to convince a young person to put their money away. Delay of gratification is a fleeting concept in my generation. Who wants a million dollars at age 60 if ya have to sacrifice not buying the newest iPod touch today? What is it aboutย saving for retirement that isn’t sexy?

I’m sitting here running through a list of my employed friends and I know of three that contribute to retirement. THREE! That’s craziness. I want to slap some of them and say “Do you know how much that new purse is really costing you” (not that I would ever slap a woman). The “I’ll just wait until I have more money” approach isn’t going to work. Ya gotta buckle down now, commit to saving at least 5%, more like 10-15%, before you spend one dime.

We live in a society where pop-culture tells us how to act, how to dress, and what to do. For this purpose,I have solicited a few celebrity endorsements, in hopes that they can influence my generation to start saving for retirement. Check em out….

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To all you like minded 20-something bloggers, please do me a favor and share this with some of your “less informed” friends. Who knows, if Lauren from The Hills says save for retirement, we just might have a shot. Any freaks out there that everyone they know is thoughtfully saving for the future, or are you like me and one in a million?

p.s.I apologize to any skinny jeans wearers that I offended today ๐Ÿ™‚

What’s your number?

My savings account is with Bank of America. On the main page of the website BoA has a calculator that predicts how much you will have waiting for retirement (after answering a couple quick questions). I pretty much love financial calculators. They help me set up a game plan to reach a goal.

………Awkward Transition………

I wrote about my decision to beef up my savings account, even though I have more than six months of expenses in it? Why? Six months isn’t enough to make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I’ve been fortunate enough to never have to use my savings account for anything….ever. I’m not ignorant, however. I know one day my car will break down, or I’ll lose my job, or maybe get struck by lightning (that would be kind of sweet).

Something unexpected is going to happen to just about each one of. The larger the savings account, the less impact the unanticipated expense will have. There are a couple traditional recommendations for savings accounts.

1) If you have non-mortgage debt you only keep $1,000 in savings until you pay it all off. This is the Dave Ramsey plan. I totally understand the logic behind this, but it’s just not my style. A grand in the bank would make me break out in a cold sweat. I need more on hand to feel secure.

2) Three to six months in the bank. This was the method I subscribed to. I worked hard, spent little, and saved diligently. About four months ago, I accumulated enough to reach six months of expenses in the bank. It was quite an amazing feeling.

3) Do whatever the F you want plan. Maybe you’re allergic to saving money. If that’s the case, then you probably wont have any money in the bank, but you will surely have plenty of credit card debt. The “do-whatever-the-F-you-want” plan works both ways though. There are some people that are addicted to saving money. Every now and again, I’ll watch a little Suze Orman. Sometimes people call in and have like $250,000 in the bank. That’s a boatload of moolah.

So now, as always, I leave with a question to my wonderful bootylicious readers. What’s your number? How much green do you have to have in the bank to feel “secure.” I’ve put in my head that $30K would be a great number  (don’t ask me why, ’cause I have no logic). Let’s make it a two part question, what do you have in your savings and what would you ideally have it be at this point in your life. Don’t be a douche bag and say you want a bagillion dollars. Drop a line and let us all know what “your number” is ๐Ÿ™‚

Freakin’ Frugal Fruitcake

Yo, yo, yo people. Hope your weekend was equally as unproductive as mine ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve got a fever and the only cure is more cowbell money. I’m a freakin frugal fruitcake (take that alliteration)! My first week back from my workcation and I’m stressed. I forgot how expensive it is to have friends, eat food, and drive a car.

Over the last seven days I had an unexpected vehicle incident, which ended up costing me $180. I dropped $224 on renewing my car’s registration. Spent about $50 dining out with friends. Paid my cable bill, blah blah blah….

Basically I made a bunch of insignificant purchases, but still feel overwhelmed. WTF? I have plenty of money in my savings account, most of these expenses were anticipated, and most were unavoidable. Why the heck am I having an internal financial panic attack?

I definitely don’t want to become so frugal I can’t enjoy spending my money, but I’m afraid I might already be there. I embrace frugality, but at some point it just becomes an inappropriate love affair that can ruin happiness.

Fortunately, I’m not quite to that point. I’m using today’s post as a reminder (to myself) that it is okay to spend my hard earned money. Do you other frugal dudes and dudettes suffer from a borderline OVERsavings problem? Ever felt guilty about going out to dinner, even though you deserve to go out and have the finances to do so? Slap some sense in to me and cure me of my disease.

p.s. check out this story about a woman who was so frugal she lived in a small condo even though she had a networth of $35.6MM

Time for a quarter-life crisis

I’m hoping today’s post will be therapeutic, not so much for your benefit, but for mine (I know, I’m selfish). I was on a walk with Girl Ninja the other day and we grabbed some dinner at Subway. All three of the Subway employees appeared to be in their mid 20’s. I walked out slightly depressed that I didn’t work at Subway.

Yeah I know….I’m freakin’ crazy. I have a pretty awesome job, but sometimes I wish my job was kinda lame. Deep down inside I dream of working at Starbucks, McDonalds, or Costco. Why? Because they can all be part time and have flexible shifts. I went from immature college senior to special agent working for the government in just a couple months.

I thought it was an unwritten law: After college you must bum off mom and dad for a couple years, work a part time job, spend your free time hanging out with friends and backpack Europe (twice). After two years in the workforce, I’m feeling like McDonalds wouldn’t be so bad. Not because I hate my job, but I would love the freedom to have a completely fluid work schedule. 

I know, I shouldn’t be whining like a little school girl right now. There are a ton of college graduates out there that would love to do what I do. Heck, I love doing what I do, but sometimes I’m a little envious of the part-time lifestyle. I was blessed to get the job I did, and know it’s going to pay off huge in the long run, but the kid-ninja inside of me just wants to rap to Ludacris and play some video games, maybe even watch a little Spongebob.

Am I the only one suffering from a minor quarter-life crisis? Anyone else experience a little “Holy crap, I’m kind of an adult” moment? Will my passion to be part-time slowly fade? Or am I doomed to envy those that live on their parents couch forever?

I aint need no Kollege

After two years in the work force, I’m learning a lot about the way the world works. Particularly in reference to my college degree. It really is funny how much emphasis has been placed on the value of a bachelors. Don’t get me wrong, I think they’re important, but to be perfectly honest…I don’t really need it for the job I’m doing.

I honestly didn’t take one class that is even remotely related to my career. I know, I know college is not necessarily about the degree you receive, but the work ethic necessary to reach graduation day. But why is a degree an ABSOLUTE requirement for most professional positions?

Take for example family physicians. They have to take all kinds of science and math classes as prerequisites for medical school. I’m sorry, but I don’t really remember the last time my doctor needed to know the formula for the inelastic collision of two objects. I’m pretty sure he just needs to know what my body temperature should be, how fast my heart should be beating, and other random stuff about my body. Why are physics and calculus a requirement for ALL doctors? I don’t care if my doc knows how to do integrals, I want to know if he can cure my gonnohrea cold. Best way to cure someone of their sickness is to be exposed to a million other people with that sickness, not take earth science.

Think about how different life would be without mechanics. We would all be screwed and have no way to get our cars fixed. I’m taking a shot in the dark, but I’m willing to bet most mechanics didn’t go to college. Instead, they shadow and work with mechanics day in and day out for years, and eventually (if they know their ‘ish) will get to work on cars without supervision. Why doesn’t that philosophy apply to more positions. A degree is required for my position, but I can tell you right now, I don’t think anything I do is beyond the intellectual capacity of an 18 year old, although it is above the maturity of most kids that age.

Some of you may be getting a little offended thinking I’m saying your degree is useless. Sorry, but it’s probably true. The primary reason a degree is valuable is because society says so. Be honest, is your degree absolutely essential to your position. Not meaning is it a requirement to get the job, but would you be a total waste of space at work without it? All I’m saying is I think “on the job” training is really what helps us be great employees, not a bland degree in business administration.

p.s. if you are a physician, thanks for suffering through o-chem and microbiology, my body appreciates it ๐Ÿ™‚

Bring it on haterz

I still stand by my statement the other day “Personal finance bloggers are a pretty tolerant bunch.” That said, after Dr. Faith shared with me the comments on this Give Me Back My Five Bucks article, I’m learning that personal finance readers, may not be. Krystal bought a new car for $30k and received a verbal beating from several readers. Well, after today, it might be my turn. I welcome the abuse ๐Ÿ™‚

I finally have enough money to pay off my student loan…but I have no plans to do so at this point. If you follow my Net Worth updates, you will have noticed I have $5,182 in my checking account and $14,735 in my savings account. Together I have essentially $20,000 liquid. My student loan balance is at $17,867. I could pay off my loan today, and never make another payment to Sallie Mae again. I could, but I wont.

I have had quite the history with Ms. Mae. I started out making double minumum payments, then after some insight from my readers decided to up the ante to at least $1,000 a month. Then just a couple months ago, I got real crazy and decided to throw all of my discretionary income, paying between $1,000 to $2,000, on it each month. It seems that my plans may be changing yet again.

I’m probably going to be decreasing my monthly payment to about $500 each month for the foreseeable future. There are a few reasons I’ve decided to decrease my debt repayments and increase my savings rate.

1) I’m still going through the application process for my dream job and a “final offer” is hopefully not too far away. If I do get the job, then I will be entitled to receive “full” relocation benefits. One of the benefits that comes with this relocation package is aid in purchasing a home (down payment or closing costs). That could be anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 in free money. The catch is, you only have two years to claim your benefits. That means I could potentially be purchasing a house within three years. I want to build a large cash savings, to give me more flexibility and options, when looking at what house is right for me.

2) I don’t anticipate being single much longer. While there is nothing set in stone with Girl Ninja, I don’t plan to date her for another 4 years. I want to bring a healthy savings account in to the relationship for peace of mind. Having $30K in the bank would make me feel much more at ease.

3) I can always pay off my loan in full with the money I’ve saved. If a year from now I’m not any closer to getting hitched or landing my dream job, I can always pay off my student loan at that time. Sure, I would be paying 7% interest on the $17K over the next year, which would be like throwing away a grand, but I save a crap load of money by, having a roommate, cooking most of my meals, rarely driving, no alcohol, etc. So consider this one of my PERSONAL expenses. You may think I’m crazy for throwing away $80 a month on interest, but people drop far more than that at the bar each month.

4) Most important reason: It’s what I feel like doing right now. I know it may not be the smartest financial decision, but oh well, it’s my choice.

I still plan to pay $500 a month on my student loan, which is more than doubling the minimum payments. Plus, my financial lifestyle is very fluid, so a month from now I could very well be back to hating my loan and paying the sucker off ASAP. I welcome any and all opinions. Am I being a complete moron? What would you do? Although I’m defying Dave Ramsey logic, can you see where I’m coming from? Let me know what you think, good or bad, I have some thick skin ๐Ÿ™‚