What are you worried about?

Screen shot 2009-11-19 at Nov 19, 2009, 8.04.58 PM

I’ve never really understood why asking people about money is off limits. What are people worried about? Why is it offensive to ask someone how much their new car cost, how big their mortgage is, or how much they are contributing to their 401K? Finances are often a “don’t ask, don’t tell” gig.

Now I’m not saying that everyone needs to be comfortable sharing their financial status with anyone that asks. Obviously if a stranger wants to know how much debt you have, you have my blessing to punch them in the face. Similarly, I believe salary should definitely be kept confidential within the work place (causes too much office drama if Pamela makes more than Carmen). Budgets Are Sexy wrote a great article highlighting the times it is NOT appropriate to ask someone about their income.

One of my favorite ways to learn is through conversation with friends and family. How the heck am I suppose to be financially educated if I can’t really talk about money with anyone I associate with? It’s not like the school systems teach the fundamental of finances. What are we scared of? Are our friends going to judge us because we make too much money, or not enough? Why are things like mortgages, student loans, and credit card debt never to be discussed?

I know where most of my friends stand in regards to their political and religious views, but for some strange reason I feel like they would shoot me if I asked “Have ya been saving for retirement?” Sure, there are situations in which discussing one’s financial situation is inappropriate, but I also believe there are times when finances NEED to be discussed, but aren’t, out of fear of the other party becoming offended. Screw that. I’m laying it all out there. My name is Debt Ninja and this is my financial situation…

Annual Income: $50,547
Cash in Savings: $18,755
Total Debt: $16,877
Percent of income contributed to retirement: 18% + (5% match)
Number of Credit Cards: 3
Annual burrito expenses: $600

You don’t have to be scared. My blog is a “safe place”. No one will judge you no matter what your financial situation. Are you feeling bold? Care to share your financial situation? Any thoughts on why finances are so taboo?

p.s. For those that haven’t commented before, today’s post would be a great day to come out of hiding 🙂

Being dumb is a good thing

Screen shot 2009-11-12 at Nov 12, 2009, 11.39.53 PMI never really thought about it before, but being dumb is kinda awesome. I had a conversation with my financial analyst buddy about short term municipal bond funds. Twenty four hours ago I couldn’t have spelled municipal, but now I know a good chunk about them. I’m a tiny bit “less dumb” now because of the conversation I had with my friend.

I won’t bore you with the specifics of what we talked about, but we essentially concluded, investing in short term municipal bond funds is a worthy contender to replace our pathetic online savings accounts. Their average interest rate is near quadruple today’s money market accounts, they grow tax free, and you can sell your bond at any time hassle free (unlike a CD).

Are you bored yet? Enough about bond funds, on to the purpose of this post. Being dumb has its benefits…namely an opportunity to learn. If I didn’t have a financial analyst friend, I wouldn’t be where I was today with my personal finances. He knows more about money than me, so when I have a question I run things by him.

I’m obsessed with surrounding myself with people that know more than I do. Books are great, but personal interaction is even better. When I graduated college I had to learn how to be an adult. I didn’t really know what the “real world” was going to be like, so I decided I should sign up for life coaching. It was freakin’ awesome. For one year, I was mentored by a CEO baller in various aspects of my life (family, health, finances, faith, priorities). I was coached by a guy who went from college student to successful entrepreneur/father. He acheived what I desire, so why wouldn’t I want an opportunity to learn from him?

Take a minute and think about the company you surround yourself with. If you are the smartest person in your circle of friends, you got a problem. You should be interacting with people more knowledgeable than you on a daily basis. Make “being the dumb one” a positive thing. Grow from it, so that one day, you can educate the dumb.

Really all I’m saying is: Stimulating conversation is awesome! I think it would be really fun to hear what each one of your most recent stimulating conversations was about. Was it about relationships? Money? Biology? Mine was about short term municipal bond funds….hopefully yours was more exciting 🙂