Friday, November 28, 2014

Was today Black Friday?

Was today black Friday?  I think that as a kid I just used to think of it as the day after Thanksgiving and I knew I didn't have to go to school!

I guess today was black Friday.  I guess I did go out and shop, but not an extremely early hour and not to score some great deal.  I just went to my local Ross to browse the inventory for items to buy and resell.  I also happened to be looking for Christmas presents for the wife.  (This year we have set a $25 spending limit on each other).  I also happened to be out eating lunch with my wife who still had to work today, so it wasn't a trip just to go to Ross:/

I had the day off and really took advantage of the quiet time around the house.  I cleaned, did some laundry, read, and fixed myself some delicious meals of leftovers from yesterdays feasts.

Even though I was out and about, the store that I went to wasn't overly crowded.  Maybe it was because there wasn't a "doorbuster" or maybe all the crazy people had already left:)

At any rate I guess I don't think black Friday is really black Friday anymore because it all starts on Thursday.  I have a deep dark confession to make and I almost feel bad... I went out on Thursday.  I went to Wal-Mart and bought presents there for my mother and father.  (My brother tagged along). 

The items (kept secret just in case momma and poppa are reading this) saved my brother and I about $60 in total.  Nothing huge, but nothing to turn down either.  I think we were in the store a total of 1.5 hours.  While there I didn't witness too many fights, but I did feel slightly guilty for taking part in the consumerist ways on Thanksgiving.

I had already spent some lovely time with the wife's family, and then spent some time with my family so it isn't like I missed out on anything or left any party early.  I still have a dirty feeling in my gut though, because I am what you would call a purist.  I like Thanksgiving to stay on it's own day, and black Friday to stay on Friday.  By supporting the retail giant, I merely encouraged and voted with my dollars to continue having stores open on Thanksgiving.

Hmmmm:/  I'm guessing (because I haven't read every other blog yet) that most blogs are highly discouraging of buying items today, or yesterday.  Boycotting consumerism for two days...I just didn't get on board this year.  Usually I do, I mean I really didn't want to go but the lure of deal ensnared me.  I'll be interested to see what everyone spent on black Thursday/Friday this year and sadly know that I was a small part of it.

Oh well.  Continuing on with my consumerist ways I applied and received my first credit card, a Chase Sapphire Preferred.  I did so based upon Noob Travelers recommendation.  If you haven't been to his site just click on the link above and check it out for some awesome travel tips.

Basically this card also goes against some of my beliefs because it is a credit card.  If you don't know I am a huge Dave Ramsey fan and he hates credit cards (please don't hate me Dave:)  I just couldn't turn down the offer to earn points for travel, and save them up to take my wife on a nice trip to Europe someday, or wherever she would like.

I know, it's been a rough week for some of my core beliefs, but I continue to press on.  I suppose all of this change is just part of life, learning and growing.  Check out this link for a much better written article on growing up and dealing with change.

As I continue to grow and write I hope that some of what I learn and share can be used by the few readers of this blog to enhance their own lives.  If I make a mistake first then perhaps others can avoid it by reading.  If I make a positive change first, the perhaps others can implement it as well.  So I guess what I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving is my ability to write and help others...

That and ham.  I love me some ham.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

THE GREEN EYED MONSTER

As a quick aside, I recently passed 1000 cumulative views on my blog.  WOOHOO!  It may not be much, but I always enjoy tracking my progress, and blog views let me know someone out there is reading or at least looking at my blog:)

S u c c e s s, that's the way we spell success.

                                                              Photo found on yahoo images

What is wrong with Success?
I get the feeling that many people in America tend to only try for a little while.  When they can't hit their goals they fall into a very mundane lifestyle, following the masses to work everyday, spending most of what they make, not planning for the future, and in the end looking up and hating where they are.

Then to make matters worse they talk about it with their co-workers, neighbors, friends, etc...

"I can't get ahead."  "Life always seems to screw me."  "Other people are lucky, maybe I'll catch a break one day."  "Johnny is so lucky, he got a promotion."

After we start to get down on ourselves and can't figure out why we are not making it, something sinister starts to crop up.  JEALOUSY.  ENVY.  THE GREEN EYED MONSTER!

                                                           Photo found on yahoo images

Dang OSC, adding two pics in one blog!  You must be passionate about this!  I am.  Back to the topic at hand...

Envy creeps into our lives in a rhetoric that sounds like this

"Did you know xyz makes this amount of $$$$...NO WAY!  He/She isn't worth that much, I could do that."  "I can't believe that those people make that much money for singing,playing a sport, endorsing products."

Envy has become a mainstream movement.  Don't believe me?  What was the Wall-Street movement all about?  Turn on your T.V. and listen attentively for a couple of minutes.  If you don't have a T.V. pick up a newspaper.  Usually there is always a story about some greedy businessman who is avoiding taxes or doing something illegal or "morally wrong."

Why I witnessed some main stream envy just the other night...
The other night on ABC news they aired a segment entitled "Who can you trust?"  The segment was not bad, and I enjoyed watching it.  They highlighted a girl who became friends with other young women and then stole their identity, bad nannies, and of course Craig Newmark.

Wait, who is Craig Newmark?
Craig Newmark is the guy who invented Craigslist.  You know, that little site that we in the PF community love so much.  You can buy and sell items locally so you don't have to pay shipping fees. I liken it to an online garage sale that runs year round.

Now regardless of what you think of Craig, which would be opinion and not fact, here are some facts about the man.

1. He is very wealthy, probably worth over 400 million dollars.
2. He has worked hard for a long time, serving at IBM, Charles Schwab, and been a board member on many charitable programs helping veterans, cancer patients, etc... (In other words he has donated a lot of money to a lot of good causes).
3. He provided a program, Craigslist, that has helped millions of Americans buy and sell online.

So what is the problem with Craig you may ask?  He doesn't sound like a bad guy, certainly not a child beater like the nanny, or an identity thief.  Why was he featured in this segment?

People, a lot of them apparently, don't think Craig is a good guy.  They think he is evil because he profits from Craigslist.

They say that Craigslist is at fault for allowing individuals to sell illegal items on its site without regulation.  The particular item that was brought up was a Bumbo baby seat.  This seat was not safe when originally invented, and children could fall out of the seat.  Now I am by no means a genius, but when I look at one of those original bumbo seats I don't think for one second that it looks "safe" and in fact.... I don't think the NEW ones with "improved safety harness" are that safe either!

Regardless, the old bumbo seat was recalled.  Not everyone got the memo.  Bumbo seats can still be sold on Craigslist.

Then ABC really laid on the sob story by allowing a family to come on and tell of how their daughter was tragically injured while in a bumbo.  The dad put her up on top of a kitchen island, turned around or left her unattended(this part of the story wasn't highlighted), and the little child managed to fall off the counter and hit her head on an open dishwasher door.  I feel terrible for this family by the way, and am no means trying to attack them...but at what point do you say this was an accident.  No one is at fault, and if anyone is at fault then ask why do you leave your infant unattended on top of a counter?

Regardless, ABC tried to pin the blame on Craig for not setting up stiffer regulations on his site.  The whole story was garbage!  It smells like a turd ABC.  Craig is not responsible for what people sell on his site.  The PEOPLE are responsible for what they sell and buy on Craigslist.

Never heard about buyer beware?  I understand some reasonable regulation, but come on people.  Take some personable responsibility.  There will always be dishonest people and there will always be someone who finds a loophole to commit a morally questionable act or crime.

ABC even caught some of these people in the act trying to sell some of the bumbo seats....

"We are from ABC news.  Did you know that there was a recall on these seats and that they were potentially dangerous to kids?"

In the persons mind, Awww S(*&^ they got us, gotta get out of this somehow...

"No.  I had NO idea.  A terrible thing could have happened.  I'm glad you informed me of this danger, and I will be sure to throw this item away."

ABC then rolled some footage of them stopping Craig as he was walking, and asked him some very pointed questions.  Questions which really didn't have a good answer.  Craig simply didn't answer them and walked away.  I also find it funny that he asked to talk to the news anchor's boss...lol.

This story makes Craig out to be a villain.  Most of the American public probably thought by the end of the story that Craig is some rich, greedy, big bad businessman who doesn't pay his taxes, makes too much money, and keeps the little man down by profiting from allowing questionable moral activity on his site.

That all may be true.  It is of my personal opinion that is false.  I think Craig is a hard working guy.  He got to where he is today because he provided a service which improved the way we buy and sell online.  How many people who were outraged by the story are still going to use Craigslist, and still complain about how much money he makes?  That doesn't make any freaking sense!

I digress.

The main point of this article is to highlight the obsession American's have with what other people do and how much they make?  When we let Envy creep into our lives it destroys who we are, and any shot of having success leaves us faster than a wicker chair crumpling under a large person.

Take some personal responsibility.
Get up early, leave your job late.
Save more.
Don't wonder why, ask how.
And for the love, stop reading this stupidly long post and go accomplish something!

Schools out.     



    

Monday, November 17, 2014

Building our House (Part 3: The End?)

So here we are, finishing up our house.  The appliances were bought, the drywall was being finished, the windows were framed, and thanks to a painting party our trim and walls were painted.

Having that painting party saved us about $5000, and if you don't know how to paint it isn't that big of a deal to learn.  If you look up some good tutorials on you tube and practice on some discrete areas, you will get the hang of it in no time.  Grab some buddies, order some after painting food, and prepare to save! (I should note that I was busy with other work, so my in-laws, parents, and wife painted most of the house/trim:)


Where did this leave us?

Well at this point we had already spent a significant amount of time and money(10-15k) out of our pocket to make sure our house stayed within the original loan amount.  I was not going to go over budget gosh dangit!

So after all this work we realized we were still going to be over budget in the flooring category.  Not a problem said my fantastic father.  I can help you install the floors.

Carpet?  Noooo.  Heck no.  So we still paid the installers to carpet the 3 bedrooms.

Interlocking engineered hardwood purchased at Lowes.  Yes indeedy.  My father grabbed his trusty jig saw and table saw while I bought a rubber mallet and the flooring.

The flooring came out to about $700.00, which of course we paid for out of pocket.  This saved us about 3k up front on materials.  Then we worked on the floor for a couple of days, each evening after we were both off work.  This saved labor cost, although I'm not really for sure what the labor cost would have been.  Needless to say thank you Pops, you saved me quite a bit and instilled some great knowledge.

We also cut some costs and saved about 2k in our cabinet budget.  We still have really nice cabinets done by a wonderful carpenter who I call the wood doctor.  Seriously the guy is a genius when it comes to kitchen and bathroom layout.  Well worth every penny, we just didn't want a lot of fancy bells and whistles.  We are simple folk.

The mistake

Ah yes.  No house would be complete without the man making some sort of major mistake during the building process.  I decided that would be our master shower.  I thought for some reason that after tackling all of those previous projects I would try my hand at tiling.  Let me just say that Mr. Money Mustache makes it look very easy to do.  I can take an easy task and turn it into a difficult one.  One that ends up costing $6,000.  One that should have cost much much less.  I'm not going to go into great detail, but lets just say that I called in a pro (although much to late) and will not be tiling anytime soon. I am pleased with the work the pro did, and he did it at a reasonable price and on short notice.  Kudos to him, thumbs down to me:( 

The sad part is that if I had just called in a professional in the first place, the shower would have cost about 2k less.  SUCK!

Then there were various misc expenses like the gas line for about 8k, lights and fans for $600, etc and various other projects we did like hang the shades, fans, fixtures, but I digress... we were finished!!!


The End?

So at the end of the day, and house building, we moved in.  Since we had very little in the way of possessions it only cost us a moving pizza party and we didn't have to rent or hire any people/equipment.  Overall we came in on budget.

Down Payment: $11k
Out of Pocket/Cash Flowed: $15-20k
Mortgage: $171,293.00

Total: $ 200,293.00

 Whoa.  Kind of hard to believe that I spent that much money on a house, now that I see the total.  I guess that I could have scrimped on other materials, but ultimatley my wife and I are very happy with the finished product.  Do we have granite counter-tops with vaulted ceilings?  No.  We have a modest 3 bed, 2 bath ranch with plenty of time to make finishing touches.


*Unfinished touches...

So we left a few things unfinished to make it under budget and those include....
- Patio, Sidewalk, and Driveway (Sidewalk done by me this past summer, others still to be done)
- Wood Stove (put in by me recently, just in time for winter!)
- Shutters (put on by me this past summer)
- Gutter guards (yet to be done)
- 2 bedrooms left unpainted, but primed (yet to be done)
- One back wall in kitchen left unpainted (yet to be done)
- Basement unfinished (yet to be done)
- Downspouts buried (done by me this past summer)
- Landscaping/planting grass (done by me this past summer)

Things you learn from building a house and staying on budget...
1. You can do things you never thought possible with a good attitude, a little help, and persistence.
2. If you sacrifice in the early times, you will be under control during the tough ones. 
3. Sometimes you have to know when to throw in the towel and admit you were wrong.
4. Have more saved than you think you need, because you may need more than you thought.
5. YOU CAN COME IN ON BUDGET!!!  Don't let anyone tell you it is not possible, you just have to keep a very close eye on the house, hire the right people, and realize that you may not get everything you want right away. 


    

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Fantasy Football by the Numbers

What can I say, I love football.  I really enjoy watching the games on Sunday and have been involved with fantasy football since 2006.  Well that is great you might think, but what the heck does fantasy football have to do with personal finance.  Not a whole lot...

at least when you think like a rational human being.  But I am not normal.  Far from it.  So without further ado lets break down my line up in financial terms...

Quarter Back: Andrew Luck
This position in my league is really the breadwinner.  Delivering constant points you might say Luck is my big cap stock or my index fund.  QBs in my league need to always be putting up points, but they are rarely drafted until later rounds (unless it is a brees, manning, or rodgers). 

I got my hands on Luck at pick number 77 in the 7th round.  At that late he was a steal!

Wide Receivers: Demaryius Thomis, Calvin Johnson, T.Y. Hilton
In my league we don't play PPR we play standard scoring format.  In other words your wide outs do not get points per reception, they only get points based on yards and touch downs.  I went with the zero back strategy this year and drafter D.T., Keenan Allen, and T.Y. Hilton.

How did I end up with Calvin "Megatron" Johnson.  I bought low.  When Megatron was hurt his owner was shopping him low and approached me with a few trade options.  I decided that I should probably part with Frank Gore (even though Gore was coming off of some really nice games).  I hope that Megatron is fully recovered and plays well through out the rest of the season.

Keenan Allen was shipped away in a meaningless trade because he became as useful as a poopy flavored lollipop.  He was a bad stock, and fortune smiled upon me when I was able to rid myself of him.  We all make bad picks once in a while.  The key is to not let that bad pick stick around to long, or it will start to smell up the rest of the team or portfolio. 

D.T. and T.Y. are actually proving pretty useful and putting up some nice points.  They were essentially small cap funds when I drafted them and have had some very nice returns, but they often fluctuate in points per game.  One week can be boom and the next week can be bust.  So far it has been mostly boom for one and bust for the other so they work well together.

Running Backs: Frank Gore, Bernard Pierce, and Knowshon Moreno
Well this category was not my strong suit, or even close.  I waited until round six to snag Gore.  He gave me some useful weeks and then I traded him for what hopefully will become a productive Megatron.  Gore was kind of like the hot stock that Kiplingers always touts.  By the time you read about buying, you should probably be thinking about selling.

Pierce was a bust and I dropped him from team, traded for him later, and dropped him again.  I made a mistake twice with him.  He became kind of like our financial mistakes that we can't quite seem to get over.  I liken this to buying a lottery ticket.  Even though you don't win, you look around at others occasional fortune, convince yourself that you can do it to, and repeat your stupidity.  Congrats.

Moreno would have been a great snag at pick number 125.  He was going to be Miami's feature back and scored 19pts right away.  Then he injured himself.  So he sat on my bench for weeks until he came back.  Then he injured himself again because he came back to early (ala What is going to happen to Romo this week?).

You might be wondering why I am still writing and not pounding my head on the table due to a horrible RB core...

I didn't give up.  I dropped, traded, and scoured the waiver wire.  I picked up Ahmad Bradshaw and Fred Jackson.  These two backs were not drafted and have become substantial pieces of my team.  They provide a good lesson in that where others see no value, there often is.  Nothing risked, nothing gained.  Now hurry back from injury F-Jax and lets get back to domination!

T.E. Julius Thomas
My tight end was actually my second pick of the draft.  He has turned in some bad weeks, but I am confident that he will regain his dominance.  He has a ways to go maturity wise, but I am confident in Peyton to develop him as a tight end. 

Defense: Seahawks
One would think that this would have been a safe pick.  At pick number four however I made a big mistake and probably left points on the board.  I figured Seattle would put up at least 15pts a week for me.  NOPE!  This is like the stock you buy, and then it instantly tanks.  So you hold and hold and hold.  Then you hold some more.  I don't even know why I am still holding, but I just can't bear to release them until they contribute something. 

Kicker and IDP: I simply stream the kicker every week and look for high individual tackles with my individual defensive player.  Not a whole lot to say about these two positions.  They are not exciting.  They can win games for you however or lose them.  Kind of like how your insurance policies aren't exciting.  You don't really pay attention to them until you need them.  Then they can really save your bacon.  So make sure they are in place!

Bench:
In my league we are allowed to have 5 bench spots.  Currently this is the breakdown...

QB: Phillip Rivers and Ryan Tannehill(picked up Ryan for bye week 10-he will go if he doesn't perform)
WR: Doug Baldwin and Mike Evans
RB: Bobby Rainey
T.E.: Dwayne Allen

I know that is 6 players and I only have room for 5 but since we are on week 10 (colts/chargers) some of these jokers are playing:)

My bench is kind of like an emergency fund.  You need to make sure you have it set up, not to earn great returns(pts), but to be there in case of emergency (bye weeks).

So that is my fantasy football team, currently 6-3 and second out of twelve.  I have put up the most points so far though!

7 Financial Takewaways
1. Invest in a variety of ways (Index, Small Cap, Mutual Funds, etc...)  Diversify!
2. Make sure you have a breadwinnner or minimize risk as best as possible.
3. Take some risk, and cut the crap when your gut tells you to.
4. Don't buy just because the experts are touting the merits of an investment or assest.  In fact that may be a good time to sell.
5. Sometimes you have to make the same mistake twice (or more) before you learn from it.  Better late than never.
6. Check to make sure your insurance policies are covering your butt!
7. Make sure that emergency fund is in place and accessible, you never know when you may need it.

That's all for now football freaks, see you on the waiver wires!


Friday, November 7, 2014

Old Schools Net Worth Update: October Edition

Hello there boys and girls, gents and ladies, ghouls and whatever the female version of a ghoul is.  It is time for another Old School Net Worth update.  To be honest I am a little afraid to look, because I know I have been slacking lately in the finance area.  I don't know why but for some reason October was kind of a "I'm not feeling very frugal, and I want to go out to eat" type of month.  So without further ado let us take a look...

Mint says my net worth is now...

$ -130,540.78

That is a difference from last month of

+ $1716.55

Well that isn't exactly a great big step in the right direction, but it is not a step backwards either.  I'm going to go ahead and tell you what I've been up to lately, why I haven't written, and other boring stuff you probably won't read:)

I have been extremely busy lately.  Who hasn't?  I have been working on getting into a masters program, taking care of some last minute outdoor projects, and working on coaching a tennis team.

My wife had an unexpected medical bill that we sort of cash flowed to the tune of $1300.  This bill however, was not entirely her fault.  The office manager did a poor job explaining what was being done, did not give her a guesstimate of expenses, and proceeded to send a test out of network.  What normally would have been a $20.00 test turned into a $1800 bill that she negotiated down to $1300.  These people are just fortunate that my wife handled the situation, because if I had gotten the phone I would have let them know exactly where to stick that bill.  On a side note, no matter how sick or bad you are feeling at the office, always make sure you know what they are doing to you, and always ask where they are sending your tests.  Make sure it is in network!  /Rant over.

On to happier pastures.  With the recent freezing my wife is feeling a lot better.  Nothing alive means no pollen which means no allergies for her.

GOALS:

1. Savings: Kind of went backwards on this goal as we went down to $5400.  Had to pay for that medical bill somehow, and we simply don't make enough money to cash flow the entire bill and continue with our other goals.  So the goal of $7000 still stands and we will hit it!

2. I did complete my goal with my 403b and met with the companies advisor.  Seems I have saved about 5k in my 403b.  Currently it is in a target date fund so that is fine for now.  I know target date funds are not great, but right now since I am young it is set up fine the way it is.  Since I now have access to it online I can adjust it or mess with it as I see fit, which was the goal in the first place.

3. I took J. Moneys Craigslist challenge and posted a few things online.  I did not do a great job posting them, but got the hang of it quickly.  I sold a pair of old turtle beach headphones the other day for $25.00...sweet!  I then turned that $25 into house supplies that we needed so I offset my housing budget by $25 this month, all for a pair headphones I never used any more!

*4. Just remembered....I am going to fill out some paperwork on a Flex spending account, so YAY for lowering my taxable income!

Anyway that is all I have for now, but I'll be finishing up my House building series soon, and maybe talk about my obsession with fantasy football, or other musings I come up later.  I also am in the process of writing a short mystery novel for kindle because you can never have too many hustles at once...right?

Hustle on.