Ninja Rapping

Oh my gosh!!!! I totally heart rapping. I think if I had to quit being a special agent, I would make the career change to the music industry. I might be the whitest kid in the neighborhood, but don’t let that fool you. I’m a true gangster…a gangster that loves personal finance that is.

As the year comes to a close, I thought it was only appropriate to end on a good note… another PDITF rap. This is now my fourth production. You can find the first one here, the second here, third here, and here is the fourth…

If the music player below doesn’t work click here.

[gplayer href=”http://www.punchdebtintheface.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Ninja-Rapping.mp3″ ] [/gplayer]

Ah yeah,
Welcome to Punch Debt In The Face
I done did it again
Finance Rap Two…

You may know me as Ninja, some call me a Debt Hater
I’m fluent in personal finance, a true money translator
I’m a power hungry dude, a financial dictator
Don’t try to argue with me I’m the master debater.

I’m 24 years young and a pretty ambitious guy
My friends think I’m crazy, I don’t really know why.
Gonna leave a couple million for my kids when I die
Gettin’ rich is simple, you should give it a try

Don’t worry ya’ll, I’m not very smart
I’m probably better known, for my 4th grade level art
Making stick figures is how I got my start
But it’s not about talent, it’s all about my heart πŸ™‚

The Roth IRA is where the party be
It’s got some tax advantages for you and for me
Your contributions grow exponentially
Oh, haha, that growth is tax free

Does your employer hook it up with a 401K
If the answer is yes, start putting money away
Don’t wait another minute, start contributing today
So you’ll live a happy life when you’re wrinkly and gray

Don’t be a douche bag, live with in your means
It’s time to grow up, you’re no longer sixteen.
Buy Levis over Luckies, it’s just a pair of jeans
Class is dismissed, now go make yourself some green

Drop me a line and let me know what you think. I’d love any constructive criticism. Anything in particular you would like me to rap about in future editions? Do you love rap, or does it make you wanna vomit?

Monthly Expenses: November 2009

If I could only use one word to describe November, it would be, bleh. Mediocre at best, at least it felt that way after last months RADICALNESS. I guess I shouldn’t be complaining ’cause I still brought home more than I spent, and when that happens, life is good. Here’s where the money went…

My Income:

Salary: My take home pay from the day job. I should have only brought home about $2,700 last month, but I got paid out for the last of the overtime I worked in October. It’s gonna be depressing to watch my income drop. Oh well, in February I get a $12,000 raise! YAY!!!

Gift: Mom Ninja’s hooking it up with some money to throw at my student loan. Everyone should say nice things about Mom Ninja down in my comment box, haterz not allowed πŸ™‚

My Expenses:

Auto: Looking at my Auto expenses make me want to throw up. My car registration was due, so that was $220 gone. Another $180 came from one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done (car mirror vs fence = fence wins).

Dining/Groceries: Fudge! I broke my grocery/dinging budget for the first time in a REALLY long time. I have a goal to be under $250 total for food each month. Unfortunately I broke that by $26.74. I went out to eat quite a bit last month because I had been on a business trip abroad for six weeks and wanted to go out with my friends πŸ™‚

Interest expense: Good ol’ Sallie Mae. Brought the old hag down another $1,600 last month which ain’t to shabby if ya ask me. Especially considering my minimum obligation is only $230.

Travel/Reimbursement: These were all costs/reimbursements related to my business trip to the Marshal Islands. Nothing to exciting here.

The other categories were too unimportant or self explanatory so that is why I didn’t cover them. The overall total at the bottom is the cash I had leftover after all my expenses. I ended up having $1,670, which I put in to my savings account. I’m foaming at the mouth, waiting for that raise to come so I can have even more options with my cash flow.

Is it bad that I’m not excited with over a $1,000 do-whatever-the-crap-I-want-category? Don’t answer that. Are these monthly expense reports even entertaining for you to read? I’m imagining in my head right now, all of my readers hating these updates. If that’s the case, I’ll stop πŸ™‚ Let me know. THREE MORE DAYS TO CHRISTMAS!

* Are you wondering why I post the previous month’s expenses a couple weeks late? I use quicken to track my spending and I have to wait until the end of the billing cycle before I can download these transactions. I know I could manually add each expense as it comes, but I am entirely too lazy for that. Thanks for checking in and if you got any comments, tips, or advice I’d be more than happy to hear it. *

I’m frugal, I swear.

Screen shot 2009-12-17 at Dec 17, 2009, 11.14.55 PMI got out of my 2007 Toyota Scion TC, walked in to my apartment, made a call on my iPhone, checked my email on my Macbook, opened up the box to my brand new Digital SLR camera, and then thought to myself “Holy crap, am I a hypocrite?” How can I possibly preach frugality, when I own some rather expensive items? I’m sitting here typing this, on my 22″ external monitor, desperately trying to figure out a way to reconcile my possessions with my frugality.

And then it hit me… it’s because I’m frugal that I can own these nice things! We get caught up in the mentality that, to be truly frugal, one must save every dollar they earn and avoid nice things at all cost. Wait, that’s not what frugality is about, at least for me it’s not. For me, frugality is a commitment to manage money wisely, and have fun doing it.

I can afford to spend more money in some areas because I minimize costs in other areas. I keep a tight budget on expenses that most people (not you) tend to spend more frivolously on. I don’t drink alcohol, so that automatically saves me $20-$200 a month less than most other people my age. I still wear clothes that I’ve had since college. I try to eat out no more than once a week. I don’t go clubbin (Girl Ninja would not approve). And I only shower once a week to save water….just kidding….kind of.

Sure I may own some Apple products, drive a car with less than 30K miles, and have two computer monitors, but the beauty of frugality is that it’s expressed differently for each person. It’s about living within your means, not avoiding luxuries.

Indications you may not be frugal and you are just a straight up reckless spender…

1) You put “dining out” expenses on a growing credit card balance

2) You buy things you don’t want or need, simply because it was on sale.

3) You own multiple DVDs you have never taken out of their wrapping (I know some of you are guilty of this).

4) Your name starts with a “C” and rhymes with bongress.

We all tend to make assumptions about others based off our observations. Heck, I’m guilty of it, but I hope a few nice possessions wont disqualify me from joining Club Frugal. What kind of frugal dude/dudette are you? Are you the I’m-so-cheap-I-won’t-have-any-fun frugal? The I-like-to-monitor-my-spending frugal? Or the I’m-not-really-frugal-but-I-like-to-pretend-that-I-am person?

Quasi-anonymous blogging.

Screen shot 2009-12-16 at Dec 16, 2009, 11.23.10 PMWhen I first started PDITF, I made the decision to go rogue and write under the alias Ninja. I know you may have actually thought my first name was Debt and my last name was Ninja, but it’s not, sorry to break it to ya. I may be anonymous to you, but for a select few, my true identity has been revealed. Being a quasi-anonymous blogger is the second most awkward thing in the world, platypuses (platypi?) being the first.

Screen shot 2009-12-16 at Dec 16, 2009, 10.55.28 PMSome people know who I am out of sheer stupidity on my part. I frequently email back and forth with various PF bloggers. I use Mac mail on my computer so I receive my personal email and blog email all in the mail client. Every once in a while I will accidentally send a PF related email out to someone from my personal email. Whoops. To the three PF bloggers that know my true identity, a warning: I will hunt you down and call you a doo-doo face if you share my information with others.

My family knows I blog (Hi family!) and a few of my close friends. Outside of those closest to me, I try to keep my nerdy side on the down-low. It doesn’t bother me if strangers/best friends/family know my financial DNA, but I get really uncomfortable when casual acquaintances discover my hidden hobby.

There is something weird to me about friends of friends reading my net worth updates and my spending habits. The other night, I was hanging out at a close friends house (who is aware of my blog) when he referenced an article I wrote to one of his friends (who I have only met once before). The mention in and of it self would not have been that awkward. It got weird when they decided to hop on a nearby laptop and scour my blog in my presence. I mean come on people, I’m standing right here, do you really need to read it now? This situation was uncomforatble for two reasons….

1) Everyone in the room was pretty much obligated to pretend my blog was really cool. None of them would be bold enough to tell me they thought my blog was lame. It would be like if an acquaintance told me they reached the highest level in World of Warcraft. I would say “No way that’s awesome man!”, but in my head I would be thinking “Maybe it’s time to get a girlfriend dude”. Personal finance is not the sexiest of topics, and contrary to what we all may think, blogging is still perceived as “dorky” by many. There were 5 people in the room that all gave me compliments after browsing PDITF, three of which I’m convinced did so just to be nice. Ya hear that casual friends, I know your web of lies!

2) Even more awkward than receiving half-hearted blog compliments, knowing people that don’t know me very well, now suddenly know a lot more about me (was that wording confusing?). I thought having a positive net worth would be the most aweseomest thing in the world, but I’m quickly learning it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, I almost like it less. Now that I am hovering around a NW of $30K, I find myself even more self-conscious than when I had a -$30K worth two years ago. I had no problem sharing my negative net worth with anyone that wanted to know about it, but when it comes to positive territories I clam up because I fear people will think I’m bragging. Sure enough, one of the 5 casual friends that browsed PDITF, saw my NW posted in the top left corner. He then said “You’re net worth is $27K?!” I didn’t really know what to say to that. I think all I managed to get out was “Uh, yeah.” I suddenly felt like that persons perception of me was changed. It probably wasn’t, but it still felt that way.

I made the choice to blog quasi-anonymously and I’m glad I did, but it does have some downfalls. Do any of you readers think blogging anonymously is lame? Do you fellow anonymous bloggers, share your website with any family of friends?

A little extra cash flow never hurts.

I’m stealing this idea from My Pretty Pennies, so I better give her credit. You rock my face off girl!

Screen shot 2009-12-16 at Dec 16, 2009, 12.21.23 AMI’m addicted to making money. There is something about being productive that is rewarding, especially when you get paid for it. When I’m not working, I’m figuring out ways I can do something I enjoy and get paid for it. I’ve been tracking my “extra” income over the course of the last year and thought I would share it with you all.

I have a couple different sources of extra income…

1) Yes, this is still embarrassing, but sometimes Momma Ninja hooks her baby boy up with some cash so he can pay down his student loan. I guess this can’t really be counted as income, since I didn’t do anything to earn it, so we will call this “gift” money instead. This article explains why I am comfortable accepting donations from the bank of Mom and Dad (no people this is not an actual bank). Wanna know how much Mom Ninja has thrown my way? $2,000!!! Holy guacamole. I don’t think I realized I got this much help. I’m totally taking Mom Ninja out for ice cream when I visit over Xmas time. That’s right mom, anything you’d like….as long as it’s less than $5 πŸ™‚

2) Interest income. Year to date, I have banked $78 from my online savings account. I pretty much forget this money exists cause it just get’s totaled in with my savings balance. I really wish I was getting a 5% APY, like a couple years ago.

3) Blogging. Boo to the Ya. I wasn’t really planning on monetizing my blog, or at least I wasn’t actively pursuing making blog money. In the 8 months I’ve been around, I’ve managed to bring in $800. That averages out to $100/month. That means you all are totally paying for my gas/water/electricity each month. I need you to keep stopping by so I don’t have to take cold showers and sit in the dark. That would not be fun.

4) Tutoring. I took a huge hit in tutoring income this year. Most of my ‘my kids’ have reached their senior year of high school and are no longer required to take a math class. In 2008, I was tutoring about 8-10 hours a week. I brought home $11,000 in extra income from tutoring last year. 2009 was not so bueno. I definitely can’t complain though because any money is good, and I’m definitely not worth the $40 an hour I charge for Algebra and Geometry. This year I made $5,000 tutoring. It’s the easiest and most fun way to make a quick buck.

All totaled, I supplemented my base salary with about $6,000 of earned income and $2,000 in gift money. 2009 has been good to me and I’m hoping 2010 will be even better. As my tutoring kids get older, I’m beginning to think of new ways to make money. What are some means you all have used to bring home some extra bacon? Do you know how much supplemental income you made in 2009? What’s the easiest way to make some moolah (that doesn’t involve anything illegal)?

Popularity has a price.

Screen shot 2009-12-15 at Dec 15, 2009, 12.08.13 AMYesterday, unbeknownst to me, I was given an invitation to sit at the “cool table” (or at least the personal finance equivalent of a cool table) with all the popular kids. I woke up yesterday morning, and as usual, checked my blog’s stats first thing. Usually I have about 50 or so visitors by 7am my time. Yesterday was a different story though, I had an incredible 1,300 visitors by early morning. I knew my post on counterintuitive frugality was not the cause of this giant boost in traffic. Checking referral sites revealed The Consumerist posted a blog about my recent 401K article. Here’s a link to their article and here’s a link to mine.

Being featured on the #1 Personal Finance blog makes me smile. It resulted in more visits in one day than I usually see in an entire month, futhermore, it also increased my adsense revenue from the typical $0.12 per day to a whopping $7.04. I’m freaking rich suckers and I owe it all to Phil Villarreal. Thanks dude for referencing my post, feel free to do so whenever you’d like πŸ™‚

I learned something yesterday though, popularity has it’s price. While I would say the majority of the comments in response to my article were positive, there were definitely some that were not-so-positive. Here were two of my favorites….

GuidedByLemons:
“I have been so focused on retirement, I completely forgot to establish a game plan for my 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s.”
Um, how about you, like, draw a paycheck during those years? By working?

You totally took my quote out of context dude. Of course I plan to draw a paycheck, but where is the harm in trying to provide extra income from short term investments? Instead of being income dependent, I’d rather have other streams of money to provide additional financial security. I’m pretty sure I never indicated a desire to lose my job and stop earning income.

Unknown:
your post is so riddled with errors, logic and factual, thats its not worth responding to.

I deleted that comment because it provided no constructive criticism and I don’t think it qualifies as English, but it did make me laugh a little bit. Some people are jerks.

I’m all for constructive criticism, in fact there were quite a few opposing views brought to my attention, but sometimes people need to take a deep breath and relax. My life is different than yours, and so are my investment strategies. I didn’t tell anyone else to reduce their 401K contributions, I simply wrote about what MY strategy was. If you don’t agree with it, that’s A-okay by me.

I think some of the consfusion comes from a misleading opening paragraph in that article. The article states I make an argument against funding your 401K up to the employer match, which isn’t true. Just to be clear…EVERYONE SHOULD CONTINUE TO FUND THEIR 401K TO GET THE EMPLOYER MATCH. I’m sure that was an unintended mistake and really not a big deal as most caught the error, but I did want to take a second to clarify.

Getting to bask in the awesomeness of being highlighted on The Consumerist was definitely the best part of my day, even though some people made their best attempts to bring me down. In the words of Miley Cyrus…

There’s always going to be another mountain
I’m always going to want to make it move
Always going to be an uphill battle,
Sometimes I’m going to have to punch someone in the face lose.

Playing with the popular kids for a day sure was nice, but part of me is definitely relieved to be dealing with my normal PF commenters and readers again. I love you all in a totally non-erotic way πŸ™‚