What’s your hobby?

I’m always curious to learn about someone’s hobbies. I mean, think about it. People might spend their free time knitting, playing Bunco, crossfitting, flying remote control planes, rapping, collecting stamps, or white water rafting. Some hobbies cost nothing, swimming in the local lake. Others have significant upfront costs, like cycling, but have minimal recurring expenses. While others are a never-ending money suck, skiing/technology/yoga.

I started thinking about what my hobbies are and how much money they cost me and decided I’d rank them from “most expensive” to least expensive.

1. Fixing up our house. There were very virtually no red flags on our home inspection report. But that hasn’t stopped us from dropping thousands of dollars in the first few months on making our house more personal to our tastes. We upgraded functioning appliances, painted all the walls, painted/added hardware to the kitchen cabinets, ripped out the basement carpet, and the list goes on and on. None of these things absolutely needed to be taken care of, so while some might argue it’s not a hobby, I’d argue it sure looks like one. I spend most of my free time on these house projects and enjoy (for the most part) doing them. We’re probably spending $2,000+ each month right now, but by the end of the month we’ll be spending virtually nothing since I’ll be out of the country for almost two months.

2. Young Life. You remember that crazy outfit I showed you in my last blog post? The one where I dressed up as Chatterbox Charlie for a youth group event. We are pretty involved in Young Life and as a result, spend a ton of time (and money) on it. From buying costumes and game supplies, to hosting 30 puberty stricken high school kids for game night, costs can add up quick. Probably spending around $100/month on YL related shenanigans.

3. Internet. I’m not ashamed to admit it, I spend a good chunk of time on the interwebs. Whether that’s writing this here blog (which costs about $100/year to maintain), catching up on Google News, or mindlessly surfing Facebook/Instagram more than I’d ever care to admit, I don’t think I can get by without access to the net. Fortunately, my internet service is covered by my employer so that means this hobby is virtually free…unless you count all the things I buy on Amazon… haha.


I could go on with things like Skiing or dining out,  but the three listed above are probably how I spend the large majority of my free time. What about you? What are some of your primary hobbies, and how much do they cost ya?

Let’s be not boring today :)

I was browsing a friend’s Facebook profile yesterday and they shared this image…

Since I really don’t want to hear about the sex life of the two or three thousand of you that will read this post, let’s put a little spin on it shall we? How about you describe your financial habits with a movie, song, or tv show title instead.

Make sure you follow the title of your choosing with the financial habit it describes. For example…

  • Fast and the Furious or Gone in 60 Seconds: How I spend money when I see a cool pair of shoes.
  • Lord of the Rings: How I felt when I dropped some serious cash on my wife’s engagement ring.
  • UP: My net worth.

You get the point? Okay, good. Let your creative juices flow…

Real or fake.

Remember how I vented about my frustrations with retail stores jumping the gun on Christmas 2011? Costco had decorations up before Halloween. It was craziness and I wanted no part of it. But now, Thanksgiving has past, and it is completely appropriate to go bananas for Christmas time.

Being out-of-town the last two weeks put a severe damper on our Christmas spirit. We weren’t able to get our decorations out of storage until last week, and since we were both gone last weekend, we had no Christmas tree either. That all changed last night.

They say opposites attract, and that couldn’t be more true for the Ninja household. Even when it comes to something as simple as picking a Christmas tree, we weren’t seeing eye-to-eye. Girl Ninja wanted a real tree. I wanted a fake one.

Needless to say Girl Ninja won that battle and we are now the proud owners of a beautiful six-foot Noble fir named Herbert (Girl Ninja thinks it should be named Nina). While I would prefer to not have to deal with the hassle of buying a real Christmas tree; you know, things like: finding a tree lot, deciding which tree to get, buying a stand, hoping the tree fits in the stand you bought, praying the thing doesn’t sit at a 45 degree angle, constantly vacuuming up the needles that fall off, and remembering to water the dang thing, I can’t say no to the wifey.

Man, trees are almost as high maintenance as pets, or kids.

For me it was purely a financial decision. Last year we paid $50 for a real tree, this year we paid $46. When I was in Target the other day I saw a handful of fake trees priced around $100-$200 that looked awesome. One more Xmas from now, we’d have a fake tree paid off and no need to buy another one for a very long time. A fake Christmas tree is a solid investment.

For Girl Ninja, the desire to purchase a real tree was purely emotional. She loves real trees. She likes that they are never cookie-cutter perfect. She likes the fresh Christmas tree scent. But most importantly, she likes that the money we spend on buying a real Christmas tree has benefited charities the last two years. In 2010 the proceeds from our purchase went straight to a local church. This year 100% of the $46 we spent went to a nearby food bank.

So even though I may not have won the “real or fake tree” battle, I’m fine conceding in the name of charity.  You know what they say “Happy wife, happy life.” One of these days though, I’ll actually win one of these little disagreements. Mark my words Girl Ninja, you will be defeated…eventually. Mwahahahaha!

Are you rocking a real, fake, or no Christmas tree this year? Do the holidays bring any silly debates in to your house (like where to celebrate Xmas day, how much to spend on presents, etc)?

p.s. Here’s a picture of Herbert all dressed up. What a beaut….

Let’s make happiness contagious.

Unfortunately we live in a world where depressing news is the standard, pessimism is trendy, and fear of the unknown can become paralyzing. Since it is Monday– the most depressing day of the work week– I thought we could spread a little happiness around. Ya know, like an STD or something, but in this case I case I guess it would be a HTD (Happiness transmitted disease).

I’m going to make it simple. I’ll rattle off a few things I find great joy in, followed by why said thing gives me joy. Then you will hopefully do the same. Easy enough? Okay, here goes…

Our 700 square foot apartment. Although it’s tiny, it is really a great space. I’m not just talking about the finishings. We have an amazing landlord, a view of the Puget Sound, significantly cheaper rent (than San Diego), and an easy commute to work/family/friends. For the two of us, we couldn’t ask for a better place. We loved our condo in San Diego and we love our pad in Washington. Seven hundred square feet of absolute awesomeness.

No kids or pets. We are both enjoying the “early” years of marriage. Although we get asked when we are going to have kids every few hours, no one is really pressuring us too much. This is a great season of life. We both enjoy working. Traveling. And doing what we want, when we want. I guess you could say we like being selfish with our time. While we are both excited to be parents in the next few years, we aren’t quite ready to give up our current lifestyle. Besides, we’ve basically adopted 20-ish high school freshmen anyways. That’s plenty of “parenting” for the time being. Here’s a shot of them in our cramped living room…

My job. I don’t know how common this is, but I legitimately enjoy my job. It forces me to think outside the box and has taught me a lot about myself. I also have some pretty great perks, working from home obviously being one of them. But most importantly, I truly believe my agency ACTUALLY makes America safer. Having even a small hand in that mission keeps me motivated. Although I don’t think I’ll be doing this for the rest of my life, I couldn’t ask for a better set-up right now.

I should stop here since I will probably do a “Things I’m thankful for” post closer to Thanksgiving. For all the stupid stuff that I let get under my skin and affect my attitude, I’ve got to admit, we have things pretty good. It’s all about perspective.

Alright marshmallow peeps (haha get it?), it’s your turn to start spreading some Happiness (like a fierce outbreak of Gonorrhea). What things are going on in your life that you find joy in? Parenting? Cooking classes? Friends? A book?




I’ll punch a baby if you don’t vote for me

It’s that time again. Time for the 2011 Plutus Award and this year it looks like I’ve been nominated in the categories of “Most Humorous Personal Finance Blog” and “Best Debt Blog”. Don’t know why some of you people think I’m worthy of either of these awards, but hey, I ain’t complaining. If you aren’t familiar with the Plutus Awards take a look at this Q&A I made up…

What are the Plutus Awards?

They are basically like the People’s Choice Awards for Personal Finance blogs. If I don’t win my categories, that means you didn’t vote for me. And if you don’t vote for me, that means you probably worship satan are lame.

Why Should I vote for you Ninja?

You probably shouldn’t. I mean, J. Money is nominated for like eleventy billion awards so you should probably vote for him. He’s freakin’ killin’ it this year and is worthy of each nomination. But, on the off chance you feel like voting for the underdog, I will gladly be your guy.

Who is responsible for the Plutus Awards?

My man Flexo over at Consumerism Commentary is the the mastermind. He runs the show and puts a lot of time in to it. The least you could do is vote………..for me 🙂

How do I vote?

Head on over here and start clicking away. You don’t have to vote for every category if you don’t want to, but I sure would appreciate some love in the Most Humorous and Best Debt Blog categories. Takes two minutes of your time and makes me one happy camper.

I voted for you Ninja, now what should I do?

You should probably take the rest of the week off work ’cause you are clearly AWESOME!


I guess I have to provide some type of financial advice real quick….

Get married. Dual income is the second greatest thing ever. Carrot Top is the first greatest thing…

Okay bye. See you tomorrow 🙂

p.s. I’ll be in San Antonio, TX for the next 48 hours. Never been there, hoping it doesn’t suck.


$100 or less for happiness

Today’s short post was inspired by a Reddit article I saw last night. A Reddit user asked the general public “What items, for less than $100, can you buy that will greatly increase your quality of life?” I liked the question a lot and came up with my own list….

1. A great pair of sandals. I put my first pair of Rainbows 9 years ago and have never looked back. Totally worth the $60ish bucks.

2. Foam topper. If you keep your eyes peeled, you can find some screaming deals on memory foam mattress toppers. Girl Ninja and I took advantage of one such Costco bargain and have never slept better. Even the worst mattresses feel like heaven when a three inch memory foam pad is on top.

3. A good stapler. Before my Germany trip, this would have never made the list. But while I was there for six weeks, I only had access to a super crappy stapler. It could literally only punch through three pieces of paper at most. I threw the freakin’ thing away and had to resort to paperclips. PAPERCLIPS! Who uses those anymore?!

4. Nice pens. Yeah, I’m sticking with the office supply theme. I’m a G2 Pilot kind of guy. It has the perfect amount of bleed and gel. It rolls across the paper ever so gently and improves the readibility of my chicken scratch a million fold. Nice pens for the win.

5. Curved shower curtain bar. I totally stole this one from the reddit post, but it couldn’t be more true. Nothing is grosser than having the wet shower curtain lining graze against my body as I try and clean the dirt between my toes. I’m not suppose to feel dirtier by showering, but a standard shower bar makes me feel just that.

Alright, enough about me, it’s time for you to answer the question: What items, for less than $100, can you buy that will greatly increase your quality of life?