For Oh Won Kay.

In the blink of an eye, my overtime income that I blogged about two days ago is gone. Rest in peace, hopefully we will meet again.

Where did it go?

I’m glad you asked.

As soon as I learned the opportunity for overtime was available, I immediately began deciding how to purpose this new found income.

And like a true personal finance nerd, the result was about the most boring thing you could possibly imagine.

My 401k. 

While I’d like to pretend you didn’t see that coming, I imagine you nerds would have been just as nerdy and probably done the same nerdy thing.

Seeing that I have no idea how long this overtime option will be available to me, I want to make sure I take advantage while I can.

For now that means I’ll be throwing $1,600/month in to my 401k instead of the $600/mo I have been doing.

Since my agency matches 5% of my income each month, I have to be careful about how fast I max out my 401k.

If I hit the $18,000 limit by, let’s say August, then I would no longer be allowed to contribute to my 401k for the rest of the year (September to December). Which means, my agency wouldn’t be able to provide me a 5% match (since I’d no longer be contributing).

Or in other words, I’d lose out on about $2,000 of 100% FREE MONEY.

No way in heck I’m going to let that happen, so even though the overtime I’m working should theoretically gross me an additional $2,400/mo. I’ll only be throwing in $1,600 towards my 401k.

Leaving me with about $600ish dollars to tinker around with after tax.

To make sure things don’t get too exciting around these parts, I’ll probably just set up an auto-transfer and have that extra money go straight to my brokerage account.

Sexy by the worlds standards? Hardly.

Sexy by not-being-an-idiot-with-new-found-money standards? Absolutely. 


My field office has been one of the hardest hit field offices in the country in terms of work load. We have fallen way behind because we don’t have enough agents to complete all the work that comes in. We’re generally known as a busy office, but things have gotten so out of hand that we aren’t expecting to be caught up until 2016, possibly even 2017.

We’ve had several agents from different areas come in for three weeks at a time to try and support our team and get things more manageable. While it helps, it’s still not enough.

One of the perks of working for the federal government, or at least my position within the government, is that I never have to work more than 40 hours a week. While some of my friends in different industries might make more money than me in a calendar year, I always remind them that my hourly rate is not far off from theirs since they frequently show up to work early, stay late, and even go in to the office on the weekends.

Sixty hour work weeks have never been a part of my life. 

Thank goodness.

Yesterday, my boss sent out an email, letting me and a few colleagues know that we are authorized to work up to ten hours of overtime per week for the foreseeable future.

It is completely optional, and there is no expectation from management that we must take advantage of this program.

I get paid 1.5 times my hourly rate for overtime.

Assuming this stays an option the rest of the year, I could gross an extra $30,000 this year.

Which virtually replaces the income we forfeited when we decided Girl Ninja should quit teaching and be a stay at home mom.

Let me get this straight. Girl Ninja can quit working the 40+ hours per week she was putting in as a Kindergarten teacher, I can pick up an extra 10 hours per week, and it’s like nothing changed in regards to our income?


While I legitimately enjoy the work life balance my job provides, I’m definitely willing to give up a little more of my free time if it means we can provide a nice financial buffer for us this year.

How many hours a week do you put it in at work? Do you get paid overtime for extra hours? If your supervisor offered you 10 hours of voluntary overtime right now would you take advantage?


The first $100,000 is the hardest.

I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic as of late and have been rummaging through old files on my computer. That’s when I happened upon this gem of me back in my glory days….

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at Feb 11, 2015, 11.09.24 PM

Look at those thunderous calves. Those luscious locks. Those chubby cheeks.

It’s no wonder Girl Ninja desperately wanted to bear my children.

After laughing at my baby pictures for a good 20 minutes, I started clicking through my old Excel spreadsheets.

These old spreadsheets taught me a very valuable lesson. A lesson that will be relevant for any of you who are in the early stages of getting your financial crap together. The lesson is this…

The first $100,000 is the hardest. 

I mean check out my net worth progression over the last seven years.

NW end of 2008: $18,617

NW end of 2009: $28,793

NW end of 2010: $63,714

NW end of 2011: $114,622 (first full year of dual income)

NW end of 2012: $168,878

NW end of 2013: $234,881

NW end of 2014: $288,180

As you can see it took me about four years to build up a net worth of $100,000. But then it only took two years to increase it another $100,000. And if my 2015 projections are close, these last two years will yield another $100,000 increase (which isn’t bad considering we gave up our dual income status).

The power of compounding is no joke. 

I mean think about it. If you have $10,000 invested for retirement and the market goes up 10% on the year, you’ve increased your net worth by $1,000.


But if you have $100,000 invested, you see a $10,000 jump.

Or better yet, once you have a cool million invested, a 10% jump just means you earned yourself $100,000 without doing a darn thing.

The rich really do get richer… Because they let their money make money. And then they let the money, their money made, make money.

How confusing and awesome and wonderful and rad and bodacious is that!!!!

At 29 years old, I’m pumped I’ve gotten a taste of just how sweet building a nest egg can be.

Hopefully my story can motivate a few of you to keep on chugging, even if things seem like they are moving slower than you prefer, don’t give up. Your future you will thank you for it.

Cheers to your first (or next) $100,000!

You wish you could be like me.

At the end of each calendar year I review our financials, update my Excel spreadsheet, and calculate just how much Girl Ninja and I were able to increase our net worth (NW) by.

We started 2014 with a NW of $234,000, and ended with a NW of $288,000.

In other words, we improved our financial position by $54,000 last year, an average of $4,500 per month.

You wish you could be like me.


I mean, we managed to increase our NW by more than the 2014 national median household income ($53,000). That means half of the households in the United States couldn’t save as much as we did, even if they paid no taxes and saved 100% of their GROSS income.

Like the title of this post says; You Wish You Could Be Like Me

…or do you? 

I hope for your sake, you were nothing like me in 2014.

While increasing our net worth by $50,000 in a single year might be impressive, it becomes significantly less so when you consider we made about $110,000 in 2014.

Girl Ninja and I were fortunate to have a healthy income, so it only makes sense that were are able to save and invest more than many other American families could.

An increasing net worth on a $110,000 per year household income shouldn’t be something to brag about.

It should be expected. 

You see, our big financial gains in 2014 are only really half of the story.

…The better half.

…The prettier half.

…The half that I like blogging about.

But there is another side to this personal finance tale and it is ugly.

How ugly you ask?

Try $45,000 ugly. 

That amount represents exactly how much money Girl Ninja and I spent on our credit card last year.

We use our credit card for virtually everything we can and pay the balance in full at the end of each month.

I’m used to seeing a couple thousand dollar balance each month, but I had never taken the time to figure out just how much we were charging over the course of a full calendar year.

$45,000 makes me sick to my stomach. Especially when you consider that doesn’t count any of the money that came out of our checking account, which would be another $30,000 or so for mortgage payments, utilities, and the occasional check or ATM withdrawal.

Sure, Girl Ninja and I improved our financial situation by $50,000 last year, but we spent nearly $75,000 along the way.

I’m disgusted. 

I write about the “Joneses” as though they are some family that Girl Ninja and I are nothing like, but numbers don’t lie.

When you spend $75,000 per year, you are a Jones.

At the time I was justifying purchases with thoughts like…

…”We’ve worked hard, it’s time to upgrade to a more sophisticated couch” ($1,700 in July)

…”Our kitchen isn’t how we want it, we have the money, let’s improve it” ($4,000 in August)

…”Baby Ninja’s upstairs is the worst part of our house, let’s demo it” ($5,000 March)

…”We deserve a vacation. Let’s go somewhere.” ($4,500 in April)

While I believe an occasional splurge is appropriate every now and again, Girl Ninja and I could hardly argue that our splurges were limited or appropriate.

To put it bluntly I’m embarrassed by my failed leadership. 

I have a responsibility to ensure Girl Ninja and I are being good stewards of the finances we have been granted. Somehow, I lost sight of that.

And that really makes me sad. 

Why buy a transmission when you can buy a new car?

I was creepin’ on Facebook the other day, when I saw a sparkly new car show up in one of my friends’ posts. After clicking around, I discovered my friend purchased a brand spankin’ new Jeep Cherokee.

I thought it was a little odd that she purchased a new car being that the last time I spoke with her she told me she was looking to quit her part time job at a local photography studio.

I can’t imagine a part-time photography assistant makes mad scrilla, but perhaps I’m wrong?

On Friday night, I attended a fundraiser for a youth group I am part of, YoungLife. While at the banquet, in walked Ms. Jeep Cherokee. We started chatting and I mentioned I noticed she had got a new car.

I asked her a little about the circumstances leading up to the purchase.

Because I’m nosy.

She told me that her former car’s transmission went out and it was going to cost $2,000 dollars to fix. With excitement, she further explained that her former car was only worth $900 dollars so it made no financial sense to fix it.

And that’s when she said, “So I went and bought the Jeep.”

It took every ounce of self-control to not do something like this…




I wanted, so badly, to know everything about her situation.

…I wanted to know how much the car cost.

…How much she put down.

…And what the heck she was thinking.


Instead, I smiled politely and said something like “Well that’s exciting.”


Since when did a $2,000 expense become a justification for a $20,000 loan?

I couldn’t imagine she put more than 10% down, which means she is not only the proud new owner of a Jeep Cherokee, but also a couple hundred dollar per month car payment.

I think what upsets me the most is that she is completely oblivious to the gravity of taking on such a big loan. I desperately want to sit down with her and ask why she thinks $20,000 is better than $2,000. Or at the very least, why she didn’t buy a $5,000 used car?

I know most of us PFers have encountered similar situations. You know, where someone says something that makes the PF nerd inside of you want to curl up in the fetal position and start sucking your thumb.

 What did you do?

Do you smile and politely pretend like your excited for them? Do you slap them across the face and tell them their dumb? Where is the line between expressing legitimate concern and sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong?

Moral of the story: depreciating assets suck.

How much will I have when I retire?

One of the perks of working for the federal government is access to a pension once I reach my minimum retirement age. Since I was born after 1970, I’ll be eligible to retire on my 57th birthday. Assuming I spend my entire working career with Uncle Sam (I’ve been on board since I was 22), this will give me 35 years of credible service.

For the sake of keeping things simple, let’s also assume I never get a promotion or apply for a higher paying position within the government.

Since the federal government pay system is very structured I know exactly what my salary will be for the remainder of my professional life (except for inflationary adjustments over the years).

While I wish I had more control over my earning potential, instead of being forced to accept what congress mandates, a predictable income does come with one benefit.

It allows me the ability to make relatively accurate predictions as to what my retirement income might look like 28 years from now.

I used this Federal Ballpark Estimator provided by the government to figure out exactly how much I will have waiting for me come retirement.

Look out a lot of numbers are coming your way (skip past this section if you just want to see what this all means).


Here are my Baseline Stats/Assumptions:

Current Age: 29 y.o.

Retirement Age: 57 y.o.

Estimated age of death (creepy to guess this): 87 y.o.


Income and Current Retirement Assets:

Maximum wage possible in current job: $97,370

Current 401K Balance: $87,000

Current IRA balance(s): $98,000

Investment/Inflation Assumptions:

Percent of income put in 401k: 10%

Percent Matched by Govt: 5%

401k and IRA annuity rate: 3.5%

After tax income invested annually: $10,000 ($5,500 for Roth, $4,500+ for taxable)

Inflation Rate: 3%

Inflationary Wage Raises: 2.75%

Rate of Return BEFORE Retirement: 6%

Rate of Return IN Retirement: 4%

Percent of current income needed in retirement: 75%


Alright enough with the boring numbers that need to be put in to the calculator. Let’s see how this all translates when it comes time for 57-year-old Ninja to retire, shall we?

Pension Benefit in today’s dollars: $31,301 annually / $2,608 monthly

401K Balance in today’s dollars:  $771,870 total balance / $2,615 monthly

IRA Balances in today’s dollars: $612,719 total balance / $2,076 monthly

So with my relatively conservative estimations I should be bringing in about $7,299 per month($87,588 annually) in today’s dollars if I quit on my 57th birthday and never work another day.

When I turn 62, Social Security would theoretically kick in, and if it does, I’ll have an additional $1,782 in monthly income available to me. For a grand total monthly income of $9,081 ($108,000 annually).


It means retired Ninja will be making more money per month than working Ninja ever will. I find a lot of comfort and freedom in that information. Especially considering my draw down rate should about match my funds performances and therefore my retirement portfolio will never decrease in value.

I’ll get to live comfortably in retirement with virtually no financial worries and either make a few big splurges late in life, or leave a $1,000,000 dollars (in today’s dollars) for my kids when I die.

In the words of Paris Hilton…

paris hilton

Sheriff of Nottingham

A few weeks ago Girl Ninja and I partook in an annual trip we do each year to Loon Lake, WA (about 6 hours away) with a bunch of our friends. I believe this was our third year participating.

What is there to do in Loon Lake, WA you ask?


And that’s why we love it. There is no cell phone service. There are no restaurants. There is no internet.

We spend our days playing ice hockey on the frozen lake.

Watching the Seahawks dominate the NFC championships (two years in a row). Go hawks!


And we play a ton of board games.

I usually come back from the weekend obsessed with a few of the games I was introduced to. This year was no different. I ended up buying three games after this year’s trip which is not good for my budget.

The games I bought were:

Machi Koro: This is a pretty fun and straightforward city building / dice game.


Splendor: Loved this game. Best with four players. You collect tokens to buy special cards. First to 15 points wins.



Sheriff of Nottingham: Probably my favorite one of the bunch. It’s a game that’s all about bluffing. Each round you try to smuggle goods past the sheriff without getting caught, but even if you do, you can negotiate your way out of some pretty costly penalties.


I ordered the first two games from Amazon, but Sheriff of Nottingham is in really high demand and was sold out everywhere when I first tried to get it. About a week ago, I noticed the game publisher had updated their inventory and had copies available to purchase through their website.

I ordered a copy and thought nothing of it.

Until yesterday, when I opened the package on my front porch and saw this…

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at Jan 29, 2015, 9.53.42 PM

Ummm, I ordered one copy. Not six.

I hopped online to look at my order summary and make sure I didn’t accidentally order (and pay for) six copies of the game.

I hadn’t.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that my first thought was “I wonder how much I could sell these for on eBay.” But after about 0.2 seconds that Jesus guy I’m kinda close with was like “Don’t do it bro.”


High School Ninja and possibly even Even college Ninja, definitely would have kept all six games, but now that I’m a little older, a little more mature, and a little less selfish; I appreciate other peoples’ hard work.

This game doesn’t come from a big conglomerate like Milton Bradley (not that that should matter) so I’m positive this blunder will hurt their bottom line.

I sent them an email informing them of their mistake, but haven’t heard back yet. Hopefully no one gets fired over the mistake.


Have you ever received something shouldn’t have? (I remember a time in high school I gave a cashier at McDonald’s a $5 bill to pay for my food and she gave me back like $16 because she thought I had given her a $20)

Be honest… you ever kept the thing you didn’t deserve? (I think I kept that incorrect McDonald’s change. I’m terrible.)