Ask a Ninja

A business man got on an elevator in a building. When he entered the elevator, there was a blonde already inside and she greeted him by saying, “T-G-I-F” (letters only).

He smiled at her and replied, “S-H-I-T” (letters only).”

She looked at him, puzzled, and said, “T-G-I-F” again.

He acknowledged her remark again by answering, “S-H-I-T.”

The blond was trying to be friendly, so she smiled her biggest smile and said as sweetly as possibly “T-G-I-F” another time.

The man smiled back to her and once again replied with a quizzical expression, “S-H-I-T.”

The blond finally decided to explain things, and this time she said, “T-G-I-F, Thank Goodness It’s Friday, get it?”

The man answered, “Sorry, Honey, It’s Thursday.”

Ha!! Lucky for us, it really is Friday. I love Fridays. And in honor of wrapping up another work week, it only seems appropriate to also take a break from the typical personal finance mumbo jumbo. I blog anonymously, but that doesn’t mean that I’m scared of getting personal. I figured we might try something new today. I’m gonna give you all an opportunity to ask me anything you’d like, and assuming it’s not a sketchy question, I’ll comment back with my response. Here are a few to help get the ball rolling…

Question: Why’d you name your blog “Punch Debt In The Face?”

Answer: Umm, because it’s questionably one of the most glorious PF blog names of all time. I can’t take credit for the inspiration, however, this idea came from a much higher power…. a unicorn. Okay, not really. The name just popped in my head one day.

Question: What’s your favorite piece of financial wisdom

Answer: I loved learning that you don’t have to make a ton of money to end up rich. Discipline, drive, and luck go a long way.

Question: Did you watch Captain Planet growing up?

Answer: No. The Parental Ninjas didn’t like the political undertones in the show. I also wasn’t allowed to watch Ren & Stimpy because it was too crude. I was a deprived child.

Question: What do you and Girl Ninja look like?

Answer: This… (minus the awkward black bars running across our faces)

Question: Any siblings?

Answer: Yes. An older sister who is a freakin’ genius (no joke, she skipped 3 yrs of school and graduated college at 19 with a B.S. in computer science), and a younger brother who is 6’7. No really, he’s Six Foot Seven. Wait, does that make me the little brother?

Question: What mutual funds do you own?

Answer: Three different Vanguard funds. VTSMX, VGTSX, and NAESX

Question: Why did you start blogging?

Answer: Honestly, ’cause I wanted to see if I could make a name for myself in the PF blogososphere. Oh and make  money doing it. I’m shallow, I know.

Alright, you get the point. You ask. I answer. Pretty simple huh? Ask away…

p.s. If you all have no interest in me or my life, you can watch this beatboxing flutist instead…

Punch Puppies In The Face

I know I can’t be the only one around here that hates negativity. In fact, a while back I wrote a blog about how much I want to punch Debbie in the face. Maybe I’m a freak of nature, but I tend to see the “good” in what might appear to be a bad situation. I’m rarely one to sulk, beg for pity, or blab someones ear off about “how difficult my life is”.

Whenever I feel even an ounce of cynicism come over me, I make a conscious effort to remind myself how good I have it. Fortunately, the majority of my friends and family are all pretty happy people. Unfortunately, I have a few acquaintances that don’t quite share in my enthusiasm for life.

I have developed a strategy for dealing with negative people. It’s extremely simple and rather effective. All ya have to do with Negative Nancy is agree with her when she is complaining about something. After all, If you try and offer a word of encouragement, it’s not like she’s not going to listen…right? So, why don’t you spare yourself some frustration and concede to Nancy’s point.

For example: Nancy gets upset with you because you don’t call her as much as she thinks you should. Instead of trying to argue with her, tell her “You’re right Nancy. I sucked at calling you. I’m a terrible friend.” This leaves Nancy with nothing else to say. Heck, she might even end up admitting you really aren’t a bad friend. Booya for playing Jedi-mind tricks on Nancy.

I’d like to leave you with a funny little story…

An avid duck hunter was in the market for a new bird dog. His search ended when he found a dog that could actually walk on water to retrieve a duck. Shocked by his find, he was sure none of his friends would ever believe him.

He decided to try to break the news to a friend of his, a pessimist by nature, and invited him to hunt with him and his new dog.

As they waited by the shore, a flock of ducks flew by. they fired, and a duck fell. The dog responded and jumped into the water. The dog, however, did not sink but instead walked across the water to retrieve the bird, never getting more than his paws wet. This continued all day long; each time a duck fell, the dog walked across the surface of the water to retrieve it.

The pessimist watched carefully, saw everything, but did not say a single word.

On the drive home the hunter asked his friend, “Did you notice anything unusual about my new dog?”

“I sure did,” responded the pessimist. “Your dog can’t swim”

How do you deal with negative people? Any special tactics or tricks? Any people particularly close to you that always try and bring you down? A lot of women frequently battle with a poor self-image… What’s the best way for us men to snap you out of it?

p.s. Click here to watch an awesome video about a couple that found good in a “bad” situation.
Warning: It’s a tear jerker.

What’s your housing allowance?

So, I was browsing Craigslist last night and came to the realization that I hate California. Okay, that might not be in entirely true, but I sure do hate how much a one bedroom apartment costs.

I have been researching “nicer” apartment complexes and it appears that one bedrooms go for no cheaper than $1,300, but usually hover more around the $1,500-$1,700 mark. Girl Ninja and I want to have some luxuries in our first place and don’t mind paying a little extra for some tennis courts, a workout room, or a pool, but I’m just not sure these benefits are inside of our price range.

I currently live in a two bedroom apartment in a very small 8 complex building. It is in the ghettoest part of a nice area and runs $1,200/month (split between me and the roomie). I wouldn’t feel good about Girl Ninja being in this complex if I had to go on a business trip. It’s a little too shady for someone as smoking hot as she is 🙂

I was keeping my fingers crossed that we could get a one bedroom in a large complex for $1,200. Sadly that’s not gonna happen. Girl Ninja and I are going to have to make one of the following sacrifices….

1) We sacrifice a larger apartment complex with amenities/security.

2) We sacrifice our paychecks

Seriously there is no happy medium. We either pay $1,200 for a quasi-ghetto place or fork over $1,500 for a place we would love.

Here’s two pictures of a $1,200 San Diego apartment on craigslist…

and here is what a $1,500 apartment looks like…

Quite a bit of difference in my opinion. I bring home $3,600/month after tax. If we find something for $1,200 that is 33% of my take home pay going to housing. If we pay $1,500/month that puts us up at 41%. I never thought I would even consider putting more than 35% of my pay in to housing…especially when it’s rent.

If you are wondering why Girl Ninja’s income isn’t accounted for, it’s because we decided to pretend like she makes NO money. Primarily because she doesn’t plan to work forever so we don’t want to get use to having her income and then take a huge financial hit when she quits. And secondly, she is substitute teaching and has made anywhere from $0/month (in the summer months) to $2,000/month (if she is able to get a job every single day). Her income varies greatly and I’d feel more comfortable pretending like any money she makes is just a bonus.

So now I query you..

What percentage of your income do you put towards your housing? (To figure it out, take your monthly mortgage or rent obligation and divide it by your monthly take home pay).

What is the maximum you would allow towards housing?

What’s more important to you, quality or price?

p.s. My share of the rent is currently 16% of my net income. This marriage thing is going to be expensive 🙂

This aint no competition

debt pwned

Achieving financial freedom should not, I repeat SHOULD NOT, be a competition. Unfortunately, I often find myself making it one. Sure, financial stability/freedom/security is important, but shame on me if I lose sight of my journey and become distracted by jealousy, envy, or excuses.

Have you ever thought something like “If only I had a larger income I’d be financially happy” or “Bob is putting 5% in to his 401K, so I should too”? There is nothing wrong with earning a larger income or contributing to retirement, but if you are only doing it for bragging rights or to “keep up with the Joneses” then you are…how shall I put this nicely… an IDIOT!

You shouldn’t be comparing your financial situation to mine, or anyone elses for that matter. Yes, I post all of my financial stats (income, expenses, net worth) on this blog, but let me be clear. I do not do this so you can compare yourself to me. I do it for one reason and one reason only: To share my journey. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. Usually I talk finance, sometimes I talk wedding, and occasionally I just talk life.

PDITF is not a pulpit from which I preach great wisdom. I’m probably stupider (err more stupid?) than you anyway. Please don’t let my blog (or any other PF blog) become a crutch for you. Maybe my monthly expenses are lower or income higher than yours, but don’t you dare begin saying “If only I had Ninja’s income, life would be so much easier.” You have to make due with what you got and play the cards you were dealt.

It took me about two years to go from the red to the black. FB at FabulouslyBroke fought her way out of $50k of debt in one year. Maybe you won’t be able to get out of debt for another 5 or even 10 years. Guess what? That’s okay! It’s not a race. There is no prize if you pay off your debt before me (at least I don’t think there is).

Don’t be confused, I’m not saying you shouldn’t attack your debt and get rid of it quickly. I want you to get out of debt, but I want you to do it at your own pace. Much like I want you to save for retirement, but only when you think you are ready and at whatever rate you want.

While I want to be an example of how a little financial insight can drastically change one’s life, I NEVER want this blog to become something you use as a metric to measure your financial success. I’m not really interested in how fast (or slow) you can turn your financial life around. All I care is that you turn it around. I’m pretty frustrated right now because I have so much I want to say, but for some reason can not communicate my thoughts. Instead of rambling on, let’s get some dialouge going.

Did this post make any sense to you? Have you found yourself focusing on “the competition” only to lose sight of “the journey”? At what point does comparing your situation to your peers go from healthy to crazy? Have you ever felt like someone else was competing with you (i.e. rubbing their xmas bonus in your face, etc)? And most importantly, Did you have a good weekend?

Let’s play the hypothetical game….

Screen shot 2009-11-17 at Nov 17, 2009, 12.08.28 AM

So I was driving home last night and the host of the radio show I was listening to proposed a question to all of his listeners. I thought it was kind of an awkward question. This is what he asked: If you could get paid to do something you already do on a regular basis, what would pick? Some callers chimed in and said things like “Get paid to go to the bathroom every morning” or “Get paid to clean my apartment.”

I thought the question kind of sucked, becuase I still wouldn’t want to clean my apartment, even if I got paid for it. I would have asked a different question. “If you could outsource one of your common tasks, what would you outsource?” This my friends is a better question because it’s much more realistic. No one is ever going to pay me to clean my apartment, but I could hire someone else to do so.

Then I got to thinking, when I’m stupendously rich what would I legimimately consider outsourcing? Here are a few things I would definitely have someone else do for me…

1) Grocery shop. I hate it. It stresses me out. To many items on the shelf. Not to mention the variation in prices. One applesauce will cost $2 and the one right next to if $5. I then start trying to figure why is the other one over twice as much? Is the $2 one that gross? Should I risk buying the $5 one? Oh no, my heads about to explode, I can’t make a decision.

2) Drive me places. If you haven’t noticed, I’m not the best driver as demonstrated in this accident and this stupid move. I kind of have a tendency to run in to other things. If I had someone else drive me around I would totally save money simply because I wouldn’t be able to run my car in to things anymore.

3) Do my dishes. For the last six years I have lived the dishwasher-free life, and I have to say, I hate it. Not many one/two bedroom apartments come with dishwashers which means manual labor for this dish washing ninja. You know when you eat a super big and super good meal. All you want to do is lay down and watch TV afterwards right? Well I can’t because the dishes are taunting me from the kitchen. I would outsource my dishwashing duties in a minute if I had the income to do so.

Ah, a boy can dream right? What are some mundain tasks you have to do frequently that you would love to pay someone else to do? Mow the lawn? Wash your car? Clip your toenails? What would you outsource? Drop me a line and let me know.

Help Gertrude out!

Screen shot 2009-11-15 at Nov 15, 2009, 6.48.38 PM

One of my favorite parts about having a blog is getting reader mail. I love when people ask questions. Not because I think I can provide some incredibly insightful advise, but it affirms that people value my opinion. Instead of me directly responding to the following email, I figured I’d post it up here and we can all help her out. After all, 20 opinions are better than one….right? Here’s the email…

I graduated in 2005 with a BA in psychology and realized I did not want to go into working in counseling. Now I am unsure what to do as I have spent the last 4 years in a couple of dead end jobs: customer service, travel industry, waitress and bartender. I have no idea where to even begin. It is too late for me to take internships and I have no way of knowing if I sign up for graduate school if I will like the job in the end. I am thinking of HR management or international relations, as I would like to one day work for the foreign service, however knowing how hard it is to get in, I would be happy in HR in a government position. It is just so frustrating to find oneself with a college degree and no qualifications to do anything but wait tables or be a customer service rep. Any advice is appreciated.

-Gertrude

Well thanks Gertrude for a delicious piece of humble pie. Last week I wrote an article about my quarter-life crisis, but after reading Gerdies E-mail, realized I need to be darn thankful for the position I have. Anyways, on to my thoughts…

Gertrude, I think it’s important to not limit yourself because of your degree. I too received a degree in Psychology, but don’t really use it in my position. Don’t limit your career choices because of the degree you received. Upwards of 50% of college grads work in a field unrelated to their course of study. If you want to work in HR, pursue HR. If you want to be a trapeze artists, join a circus. You can’t change your degree, but you can certainly change your career.

Turn what could be seen as a negative situation and make it positive. Maybe you haven’t held steady employment over the last couple years, but explain to your potential employers what you DID learn and how you grew from your part-time employment. Make yourself stand out, be positive, and be confident.

I wouldn’t recommend graduate school for you, primarily because you’re not 100% sure that’s what you want to do. Grad school is a HUGE decision and can cost a pretty penny. Remember, holding a degree, masters, or PhD doesn’t guarantee income….ever. The worst thing you could do for yourself is get a masters in a field you end up hating, be $50K in debt, and another 2-3 years behind on work experience. Hold off on the grad school for now, until you get a better idea of exactly what you want to be doing.

If you want to work for the government in an HR capacity go to USAJobs.gov and start applying. That is where 99% of all federal positions are listed. Lastly, apply for EVERY job you want, even if you think you’re under-qualified. The wost thing the company could do is tell you “No.” which is not that bad in my opinion. If you are applying to positions you truly want,  it only takes one offer to change your life.

That’s my $0.02 for Gertrude (by the way that is a fake name I made up for her). Now it’s your turn to throw down some comment love and help a girl out. What do you do if you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, but you’re already an adult?

*feel free to shoot me an email if you got a question*