I’m super duper lame!

This last weekend was crazy. I was in seattle all weekend. Friday had a filthy sick nasty wedding to attend and then spent all day saturday with the lady because it was her birthday. I had some time with the fam on sunday and then flew back to San Diego real late last night. On the plane trip back I was faced with a difficult decision, write today’s blog or sleep. It was a toss up, but you know I had to pick sleeping. So that means no new post today ::tear::, but tomorrow I’ll be back with some semi inspirational/semi-sarcastic post so check back then. It’s time for me to go back to bed.

Night Night,

Did you know your college degree is worth $1,000,000?

I was flying to Seattle, with my girlfriend, last night to attend one of my best friends weddings. I told her I had no blog posts prepared and was in desperate need for some material. I needed some inspiration, and wouldn’t ya know, boo #2 (boo #1 is my mom) provided. The GF is an elementary school teacher and she told me her school had a college focused assembly for their entire student body. I was a little surprised that they are beating the idea of college in to second graders heads, but I digress. She went on to say her second graders went crazy when they learned that the average college graduate makes over a million dollars more in their lifetime than a non-college graduate.

I like the idea behind that statistic. Go to college, make more money. Don’t go to college, make less money. But then I started to wonder, is the diploma really worth $1,000,000? Even a diploma from an online college? If that’s the case, I’m going to start a college that costs $150,000 a year for tuition. After four years you paid $600K for the degree, but it will make you a million. It’s worth it right? Okay, I know I’m being a little facetious. What I’m really trying to communicate is this: I wish they had told the kids the same statistic in a different way.

I think it’s great to motivate the kids and get them excited about how important college can be to their future, but I don’t particularly agree with the simplicity of the statement. I’m wondering if the kids walked away from the assembly thinking, “Sweet, I go to college, I’m guaranteed a Million.” I probably would have told the kids the same stat, but would have added a caveat: The degree only represents the person that earned it. I’m willing to bet the majority of that extra million is a reflection of that person’s character , not the degree they hold.

It seems like common sense: A high school drop out is probably going to make significantly less than a college graduate. Why? Because the grad had the dedication to persevere 4+ years of college and that will most likely transfer to their professional life. They’re willing to suffer now, to make more later. Is it preposterous to assume the majority of high school dropouts probably lack the work ethic to find themselves in high paying positions? Note: I realize there are some of you that dropped out and have made millions so kudos to you, no need to send me hate mail 🙂

I’m sure I’m not the first person to think the person behind the degree is more valuable than the degree itself, but I think the idea is important enough to reiterate. If I was at that assembly I would have said “College graduates earn, on average, $1MM more in their lifetime than non-graduates, but don’t be lazy  you awkward little 2nd graders and think that extra income is a guarantee.”

*to any of you lovely readers that comment today, I wont be able to respond till saturday…I’ll be too busy gettin’ jiggy with it at my friends wedding*

Uh-oh…I bought something from Wal-Mart.

I try to avoid Wal-Mart whenever possible. I have read to many sketchy things about the way they treat their employees to shop there on a regular basis, not to mention it’s always crowded and I feel like I need to take a cold shower when I leave. Also, I’m a fan of supporting the “little guy” and try to shop at local businesses when possible.

That said, I took the plunge and headed to “The Wal” yesterday to make a purchase. My girlfriend’s birthday is right around the corner, so I wanted to surprise her with a b-day beach cruiser. She is not an avid bike rider, but enjoys the occassional cruise sesh while I longboard (skateboard) next to her. It’s undeniable that Wallies has some incredible deals and there bicycle prices are super reasonable. I walked out the door with a $94 bike…much better than the $350 cruisers at the local shops. I brought the bike home and surprised her with it today- note: I bought the bike knowing I was probably going to pick the wrong color or style and would be returning or exchanging it so I kept the receipt like a good frugal boy.

Sure enough, after surprising her, we agreed the color was probably not the best for her personality (I knew I should have gone with light blue). I told her it was no problem at all and I only bought this bike as a physical representation of the gift I wanted to give her and not necessarily because this bike screamed her name. We went to target today and looked at a couple other beach cruisers and decided we will be returning the one I got her. Well, I came home and read the The Wal’s return policy and all appears good (90 days baby). But then the skeptic in me comes out and thinks “I wonder what others experiences have been returning bikes to Wal-Mart?” The verdict….not so good.

Apparently a bunch of people have been screwed and Wallies has not accepted their bikes. Now I sit here fearful that I’m gonna be stuck with a bike my girlfriend doesn’t particularly like. I am flying to seattle tomorrow so I wont be able to try and return it until next week. I’m sure some of you PFers have made a return to Wal-mart at some point. What were your experiences? Good, bad, ugly? Should I be ready to take it up the…nose? (get your mind out of the gutter). I’ll be sure to let you all know what goes down when I go in for the return. If they don’t take the bike, I’m going to punch the Wal-Mart manager in the face.

I can work in my underwear…you can’t.

I guess the title of this post is not completely accurate as we all work in our underwear (except for those of you that prefer going commando), but I literally can work in just my tighty whities. The biggest perk of my job is the ability to wake up and be in my office. I got to thinkin’ and made a short list of the pros and cons of my Jay Oh Bee (job)…


1) Working at home is great. I don’t have to fight traffic and I’m never late to the office. The downside to working at home… I don’t have coworkers. Now some might see this as a pro, but I am a people person and wish I had fun coworkers that I got to see everyday. It’s like going to school, even though I wasn’t excited about going to classes, I enjoyed getting to see my friends in class.

2) The coolest thing about my job is I can work 50% of the time in my spongebob squarepants underwear. The only bummer is that my position requires me to be out in the field the other 50% of the time and when I’m out in town I have to wear a suit. I hate dressing up and dread putting that tie around my neck everyday.

3) Making my own hours is quite possibly the greatest thing ever. It allows me the flexibility to make adjustments to my work day. It’s always nice to know I can end work a half hour early if needed. The major downside to making my own schedule is fighting procrastination. It’s difficult fighting the urge to put things off. Another major downside to working at home is… work is always at home. I don’t get to leave my ‘ish at the office like others. It’s on me at all times and I’m always thinking in the back of my mind “Oh I need to get this done.” It’s similar to having a big test coming up, even if you’re not studying for it you cant help but think you should be.

4) I can watch TV from home. Do you get to watch tv while you work? While I thought this would be super cool, I have come to realize that’s not always the case. Most of the time the only thing that is on is Judge Judy and Days Of Our Lives. Neither of which I am particularly fond of…although Judge Judy is kind of hot…haha.

So there ya have it. These are just a few things that I thought were cool and not so cool about my experiences working from home. It should be noted that I am not self employed and, therefore,  do not have complete freedom over my schedule and workload. My experiences are probably vastly different from those self employed individuals. As with most things in life, there is always an upside and a downside. Overall, I’m stoked that I have the opportunity to work from home, but I definitely find myself wishing I had an office to go to every now and again.

Boxers or briefs,

Worried about retirement? I’m not.

Is the world as we know it coming to an end? Instead of investing in the stock market, should I begin purchasing adult diapers and a pacemaker? Is retirement going to be hell on earth no matter what I do ? I read an article on Bloomberg (yes contrary to popular belief, I do know how to read) discussing the confidence individuals have when thinking about their retirement. The full article can be found here , but this is the gist of it….

The survey of 1,257 individuals in the U.S. found that 13 percent feel very confident about having enough money to live comfortably in retirement, the lowest level since the Washington-based Employee Benefit Research Institute started asking the question in 1993. Retirees who feel very confident about continuing to be financially secure in retirement also decreased to a new low of 20 percent from 29 percent a year earlier..

Add me to that 13% of “very confident” individuals that believe they will have enough money come retirement days. I have no reason to believe, that over time, long term investing in mutual index funds is a bad choice. We hear some say “Get out of the market while you still can.” While others preach “The stocket market is on sale…buy, buy, buy.” Although I do believe the stock market is at an artificial and very temporary low, I do not plan to drastically change my investment strategies . I am not an emotional investor and I’m in it for the long haul. Like everyone else, I have seen my portofolio cut in half, but I refuse to allow the emotionality of the market affect my long term goals.

I know my opinions mean nothing, in fact I would likely have a different stance if I was 53 instead of 23. Call me an optimist, but I like to think of myself as a realist. I would hope after 40 years of consistent/solid investing, I would have a large enough nest egg to live comfortably. If that strategy doesn’t work, I have no clue what will. There are few strategies that rival the consistency of the S&P 500 over the long term. I guess I could do what the commercials have been telling me to do and liquidate everything so I can buy gold!?…not!

Roth IRA baby,

Successful blogging…Back to the Future style.

Thats right, I’m going all Michael J Fox up in this place and gonna take a step in to the future. “Why?” you ask. Well, I read an excellent post by Bob over at Christian PF and it got me thinking, “Maybe I should write an article about how to become a successful blogger.” Only problem is… I’m not a successful blogger. Wait a minute! Who said you need to be a great blogger to write an article about how to become a great blogger? Anyone ever watch golf? Why does Tiger Woods ask his caddy for advice… it’s not like that guy is a better golfer than him. If Tiger Woods’ caddy can tell Tiger how to golf, I can tell novice bloggers how to become successful. This is my advice to the unsuccessful blogger that’s looking to boost their numbers…

So you just started your own blog and now you want to know how you can go about getting people to read it. Well I got 7 simple rules that, if followed, should get ya well on your way.

1) Don’t suck. Seriously, this is the most important part of becoming a good blogger. People don’t like things that suck, so you’re blog probably shouldn’t suck either. Whatever your niche, personal finance, religion, politics, or your life, do something that is going to set you apart from the other 200,000 bloggers just like you. Before you start your blog think about who you want your audience to be. Is it college students? Old People? Midgets named Helga? Whatever your targeted audience, try to format your website in a way that is going to be aesthetically appealing to them (your writing should also cater to that same group). When I browse PF (personal finance) blogs the layout is absolutely critical to how long I’ll be sticking around. If I can’t navigate their webpages or find what I’m looking for easily, I’m out the door in the blink of an eye. If you think your website looks ugly, it probably is so you need to change it. Blogs are like people, the best looking ones seem to get the most attention.

2) Reread step one

3) Make your blog personal. I’m not telling you to share all your deep dark secrets, but don’t be afraid to be a little vulnerable and make your blogging personal. Although I read a ton of PF blogs, I always find myself checking up on the ones where the author has focused on sharing their personal story. I would be bored out of my mind if PF was only about stocks, bonds, and wall street. I know it’s a little weird to think about sharing your personal life with people you have never met, but don’t think about them as strangers, think about them as strange friends!

4) Find a blogging BFF. I have been emailing back and forth with a couple different PF bloggers and the wealth of information they have provided to me has been invaluable. Don’t get caught up in the mentality “What can that blogger do for me?” Instead think, “What can I do for that blogger? ” A random act of kindness on your part can go a long way. Do not go to every blog in your genre and say “Hey will you add me to your blogroll” or, my personal favorite, leave a comment that says “Great post, you should check out my site at www.isuckbad.com” Instead shoot your favorite bloggers an email that says “Thanks for all your great posts. They have totally motivated me to join the blogging community!” Comments like that are far more likely to spark a friendship and maybe even a blogging romance.

5) Be prepared to see the number 0. When I first started blogging I had a habit of compulsively checking my sitemeter statistics, adsense account balance, and blog emails. Most of the time I did that, the number zero was waiting to welcome me. Some days I had no visitors, most days I made $0 from adsense, and my computer wasn’t saying “You’ve got mail.” It’s easy to get discouraged by a low visit count or when no one is commenting on your posts, but ya got to push through and keep on truckin’. You have to give it an honest attempt for at least six months before you can expect any kind of growth in your web traffic. Patience, patience, patience.

6) Respond to your readers. Once you finally start generating traffic you will probably get some people stopping by to give their two cents. Think of these people as your VIP customers. You need to win these people over. If someone comments on your post be sure to comment back on theirs. This principal is closely related to step four, building blogging friendships. Not only will your commentors feel appreciated, but it may cause them to comment back again or for someone else to jump in on the conversation. If you don’t respond to your readers they wont respond to you.

7) Blog because you want to. This is the last and most important point. I started blogging  because I wanted to make money . I lasted about two and a half months before I totally burned myself out. Before you start your blog, think about what your reasons for doing so are. Is it to keep yourself accountable? Is it to share information with friends and family? How ’bout to become super famous and rich? If it’s the last one I recommend you spare yourself and quit now. If you’re not passionate about the material your covering, you’re not gonna last.

So there ya have it. These are my seven tips that will hopefully lead you to a prosperous blogging life. I can’t gurantee they are going to work, primarily because I am so new to the blogging world that I have not been able to adeqautely test them. These are the principals I am going to live by and hopefully two years from now I can look back and say “Told ya so!”

Thanks (for nothing) Upromise!

Looks like this debt puncher is going back to college. That’s right, I’m gonna get me a PhDizzle and I owe it all to Upromise. I signed up with them after I graduated college, about two years ago. I have my account linked to my credit card, which I use for EVERY purchase I make (I would pay my rent on my credit card if I could). I got an email from Mr. Upromise today with my current statement. Here it is….

Thats right suckas, I’m rich! I got a whopping $0.84 to use towards further education if I so choose. I broke it down and crunched some numbers. If I went to my alma mater and got my masters degree, this 84¢ would pay for exactly 0.003% of that degree. It’s pretty close to a full ride. Seriously Upromise? You can keep your 84 cents if you promise to stop emailing me!

* p.s. if you look at the date of my last visit to Upromise, you can tell I check my balance religiously  🙂 *