Excusing bad behavior

One of my favorite things about personal finance is hearing all the crazy excuses people use to justify bad decision making. For example my friend pulled the, “My transmission just went out so I HAD to buy a brand new car” Since when did a little car work, justify the need for a new car loan? Maybe it’s a sense of entitlement, or perhaps a lack of responsibility? Maybe I’m crazy, but I think it’s time we slap our peers back to reality and remind them that financing a boob job (wonder how many pervs are gonna click that link) is a terrible idea. Here are some of the most common “crappy excuses” I’ve come across…

Car:

The only thing stupider than financing a new car, when your old one is broke, is financing a new car when there is nothing wrong with your old one. Seriously people, cars are not like shoes. They do not need to match your outfit. I know at least three people who sold there, perfectly fine, cars for some type of hybrid or ‘fuel efficient’ car. Ummm, really? You are going to sell your $8,000 Toyota Camry that gets 25mpg, and go finance a $30,000 Prius that gets 47mpg? Did you know, that prius will only save you about $600 a year in gas? Which means it would take more than 20 years to actually save money. Fuel efficiency is NOT a valid excuse for financial stupidity. (I’m not talking about people who can afford Hyrbids, so all you hyrbid owners can stop foaming at the mouth.)

Tax Deductions:

Similar to the hybrid model above, I can’t believe how many people used the $8,000 tax credit as their excuse for buying a home. Since when did getting $8,000 from the government, warrant spending $300,000 of your own? Seems a bit crazy to me. Again, if you were already looking to buy a home and had adequate liquidity, then you made a smart move by taking advantage of the low market and the tax credit. Something tells me, however, a bunch of people went and bought homes they couldn’t afford, just because they felt like they were suppose to. Do you know anyone that took advantage of this credit or any other credit, that should not have?

Sales:

This is probably the excuse that makes me want to punch a baby the most frustrated. You know exactly what I’m talking about, and sadly, some of you are probably guilty of it. I’m talking about the woman, who after complaining about how broke she is, goes and buys a pair of boots from Nordstrom because they were on sale. Or the unemployed dude who puts rims on his car because he got four rims for the price of three. You know the guy. He loves to say “I saved $300 buying these rims”  when the truth is he SPENT $900 to get them. There is nothing wrong with looking for a good deal, but there is absolutely something wrong with buying crap you don’t need just because “It’s on sale!”

Man oh man, the list goes on and on and on. I can think of at least three more categories I could rant about (balance transfers, student loans, unemployment) but for the sake of not offending everyone, I’ll bite my tongue and call it a day. I’m sure many of you come across excuse makers every day. Care to share any of the ridiculous things these people come up with?

Didn’t yo momma raise you better than that?

Don’t be “that” guy. You know, the guy that no one likes. I was out to lunch with some people yesterday when one of them pulled an unconscionable, but all to familiar, move. Any guesses as to what they did?

I dread dining out with a large group at a restaurant that doesn’t allow bill splitting.  It always makes paying the bill a mess. At the conclusion of yesterday’s lunch, I watched the bill be passed around from person to person. When it got to one particular individual I heard her say to another friend “Mine was $9.50? So $10 should be good, right?” To which the friend said “Yeah, that’s good.”

WTF!? No that’s not good. That’s the opposite of good. IT”S RUDE! Tax here is 8.75%. That mean’s the absolute least amount she should have paid was $10.33. But let’s not forget tip. Basically, homegirl should have contributed about $12 to cover her portion of the bill.I  didn’t have the nerve to tell her she was being a stingy jerk-face, so I just bit the bullet and threw in an extra two bucks on my portion. Didn’t they take bill splitting 101?! I’m left wondering: How can some people can be so stupid inconsiderate?

That’s not the only financially frustrating story I have…

A few years back, I was looking for a place to live and came across an awesome house  with two rooms for rent. My current roommate and I were interested. We met with our future landlord and told him we wanted a month-to-month lease option. Good news. He was totally fine with it. We ended up agreeing to each pay $700/month in rent (which would include all of our basic utilities: water, garbage, and electricity). We moved in a few days later, without ever actually signing a lease.

After about two months of awesomeness the landlord came by and asked me and my roommate to pay the utility bill. I looked at him confused like “Hey, man we already discussed this before we moved in.” He wasn’t having it and claimed he never agreed to cover our utilities. Since their was no lease, I had no way to prove it (yeah I know, I learned my lesson that leases are CRUCIAL in a landlord/tenant relationship). My roomie and I ended up paying the utility bill and moving out a month later. Boo for crappy landlords.

This last one really gets under my skin. I am actively involved in a high school outreach program. Each year we take about 50 high school kids to summer camp so they can have the best week of their life. About half of these kids come from pretty affluent families and the other half come from families on welfare (no joke). Camp is pretty costly and honestly too expensive for the poorer kids to afford.

A few years back, an anonymous donor gave $30,000 to our area so we could take all 50 kids to camp for free. PRETTY FREAKIN’ AWESOME, RIGHT?! A few weeks after camp, I learned all the low income kids went for free, but the kids that came from wealthy families still had to pay their way. Whoa, not cool. I was really frustrated. The money was donated so ALL kids could go to camp for free, but a lot of the “rich” kids had to pay simply because they could afford to do so.

Let’s just say, I had a very serious conversation with the person in charge expressing my disgust for the way the situation was handled. Everyone should have gone to camp for free and I hate knowing some parents had to pay for their kids for no reason other than “they could afford it.” Ahhh, ANGRY FACE!!!!!!!

I can’t be the only one that has run in to things like this. Can you think of some times you’ve dealth with some SERIOUSLY FRUSTRATING money situations? Anyone ever try and screw you out of a buck? Ever thought to yourself “Didn’t yo momma raise you better than that?” Vent with me people!

Federal Employees make me want to puke

Before I get in to the content of today’s post, Let me be clear: I don’t represent or speak on behalf of the US Govt in any capacity.

I get it. You hate the government and you hate me because I work for the government.

My inspiriation for todays rant came from this article over at Fabulously Broke. The article includes a chart showing the relationship between Federal employee’s salaries compared to private sector salaries in a similar position. FB did a good job writing a relatively neutral article, with only slight undertones that Feds have the good life.  Anywho, here is a copy of that chart…

You’ll notice in all but two fields, the federal employee’s average salary is higher than that of their private sector counterpart. This appears to piss off quite a few people. Here are just three (out of 175) comments left on an article at BigGovernment (which also blogged about this chart).

  • Time to start firing federal employees. We in the private sector cannot afford them. We must have a right not to financially support others, don’t we? Are these federal employees our children? I am pissed.
  • This doesn’t elicit tears, but it does make me want to puke.
  • But with those higher salaries we get the cream of the crop. I’m sorry…I meant scum off the top. Most government workers I know would have a damn difficult time getting a job in the private sector.

While I definitely understand where these people are coming from, I do feel as though I need to at least defend myself a little bit.

I wrote a while back about how the government pay structure works. It’s important to remember that with the government, you know exactly how much money you are going to make in your current position. It doesn’t matter how good of an employee you are, your income can’t exceed your job series. This is not true in the private sector. You have the potential to earn whatever income you are worth (either by requesting a raise, working for a different company, or becoming self employed).

Sure the average federal civil engineer salary might be higher than the private sector equivalent, but there aren’t any federal engineers making more than the government has predetermined they can be paid. Not one. The highest paid federal engineers in the country might be making $150K/yr, but the highest paid private sector engineers are making millions. When you work for “The Man” you give up your right to continually grow your income. Personally, I think that is a pretty significant sacrifice.

I also think it’s interesting that this list leaves out some of the more common “white collar” professions. Namely, medical doctor and lawyer. I think I know why they did this however. There is no way in H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks a federal physician’s/lawyer’s salary is going to be higher than their private sector counterparts. Possibly a little bias in the charts? I wonder how many other positions were left out in which this would also be the case?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all trying to say those employed by Uncle Sam have it bad. ‘Cause I don’t think that is true. As is true with all companies, there are pros and cons to working for the fed. It’s not all butterflies, ponies, and happiness…at least I don’t think it is… and if it is I didn’t get the memo. For now, I have thoroughly enjoyed the benefits of working for Uncle Sam, but I personally think the salary structure of the Fed will eventually drive me to the private sector. I want the ability to earn what I’m worth, not what my job series says I’m going to be paid.

So, what do you think? Where did the bitterness towards federal employees salary come from? Is the bitterness really about the salary, or more about frustration with the government as a whole? Would you ever work for “The Man”? Why or why not? Do you hate me (please don’t answer that question if you do… I’m kind of sensitive :))