Payday Loans

Archived Posts from Even More Ramblings

Every worthwhile thing in life — in my opinion — will not be easy to obtain. As Randy Pausch said, the walls and barriers are there for those who are hungry enough and wanting it bad enough.

I truly believe that I want financial independence bad enough to climb those walls and get through those barriers.

But why?

Is it simply about retiring in comfort? Having enough saved up so that in my advance years, I can hum around in style, store my infinite supplies of Cheetos in my fancy pantry — that happened to came with my nice big suburban house?

Are we all spending less than our means, saving diligently, and investing wisely, just so that we can live in the future without worries?

For me, those are a part of the reason. I would be crazy to choose a life of worry and financial difficulties, especially in my later years of life. Plus, why not? Everyone always tout that basic personal finance values are common sense. Spend less than you earn. Build an emergency fund. Invest wisely.

It’s entirely boring. There’s nothing sexy about the system, but the math works.

Even so, why follow common personal finance adage? Why should any of us pursue financial independence, which as it turns out, is a very subjective thing? Some of us are fine with a house well-stocked with food. Some of us want the yacht, private jet, and houses with 10,000 square ft. ballrooms. Nothing wrong with either goals in my opinion.

I often debate the subject of why within my own head, but as I grew older, the reasons started to become much clearer and much more focused.

Everyday, I wake up and see my mom heading off to work. And although I don’t get to see him often enough, I know that my dad is doing the very same thing, getting up at six in the morning to head off to work. Many of you reading this do the same thing everyday.

Although our reasons may be shaped with different words and different ideas, I believe the underlying goals are the same as my own reasons for wanting financial independence: it is for the love we have for our loved-ones; for their well-being, for their happiness, and for their comfort in life.

One of my mom’s financial goals was to earn enough money to buy a nice little house in Fountain Valley, CA, so that my grandfather can live his later years in comfort. As the years went on, my mother got closer and closer to her goal, but things came to an abrupt halt when my grandfather passed away due to cancer.

I still remember that day clearly…

My family and I gathered around my grandfather’s hospital bed, and as he passed away, my aunt and uncles started to cry aloud their father’s name. My grandmother clung onto the hands of the man she’s been with for the past sixty years, and I stood in the back of the room… wishing my family wouldn’t have to go through this experience.

Despite the untimely death, my family and I were truly blessed. Tens of thousands of others pass away each day without the surrounding comfort of their family and the care of a modern medical facility.

At the end, all of us being there that day was the founding reason why I wanted to achieve financial independence — to also be surrounded by family and loved ones during some of my final moments in life.

To feel their warmth, look upon them, and know that they will be taken care of. To be comforted by the thought that they will continue to be happy, be well-supported, and be able to somehow contribute to the improvement of this crazy round ball we all live on.

And of course, to be able to smile and ask them, “Did I ever told you guys about this silly, stupid blog I had on the World Wide Web…?”

Mmm... Cuban...So I just had dinner a few hours ago (mmm… chicken) and was about to just pay for the entire thing on my credit card because it honestly wasn’t too much and these were good people… but one party decided to pay for their part of the meal by cash, which was just peachy by me.

On the way home, I decided to hop by the ATM to get some cash for my el-cheapo $8 haircut when I realized that I just got some cash earlier. A quick count of the amount revealed that sure enough, the party paid for their fair share of the meal, accounting for taxes and tip – nice!

This made me realize that had the amount been off, it would have bothered me… even if it was just a few bucks here and there (probably not a good trait to have).

I’m sure everyone has experienced similar situations where you decided to split the bill but one party or person always come up short on the amount, neglecting tip, taxes, or forgetting that they ordered a drink here and there.

For whatever reason, stuff like this really bugs me (too cheap?). I’d much rather the person not pay at all, or at the very least acknowledge that they don’t have enough on them. This isn’t a big deal when you’re dinning amongst friends, but if you’re in a large party and a few people come up short, the end result isn’t too pretty and someone will get screwed over.

Solutions? Uh… don’t eat out? Make sure you have dinner with non-stingy people? *shrug*

Yesterday, while walking from one class to another, I walked pass a dollar bill on the ground.

A few steps later, the image of the bill on the ground finished processing in my brain.

“Hey wait, that was a dollar!”

So I did a roundabout and came face to face with the crumpled up dollar bill on the ground.

Hmm.

Two seconds went by and I convinced myself that it wasn’t worth picking up.

But, as I began to head toward the classroom again, another part of me thought I was being incredibly stupid.

“What’s this? You’re hesitating about the seconds it’ll take to pick up that dollar? Oh I’m sorry Mr. Millionaire, you’re suddenly too good to bend over for a dollar. I see how it is.”

Besides the conversation I was having with myself, the whole thing was pretty stupid. Had you been at this particular school, on a hot day in Southern California, you would have seen an idiot pacing back and fort between a crumpled up piece of green paper on the ground.

I eventually picked up the dollar, but at this point, after pacing back and forth about three times, I felt incredibly stupid and shady.

And that’s the really interesting part — when I pick up coins off the ground, I would flip it up in the air, catch it and file the event away as a lucky day.

But for whatever reason, when I find amounts higher than $1 — I’d feel like I’m stealing or something. As if the money didn’t belong to me (and it doesn’t). So to alleviate that feeling, I’d generally throw the money into whatever charity box I come across.

Had I just applied Madame X’s Rule #3: Found Money without question, this whole stupid moment wouldn’t have occurred. Tsk tsk.

How much money will it take for you to pick up money found on the street? $0.10? $0.25? $1.00? Or maybe you won’t pick up money on the street?

Ever got burglarized? Or worse, robbed?

Over eight years ago, I was walking home from school, feeling pretty good about myself because I was getting my “exercise” for the year. As I opened the front door to my house and got ready to dash up the stairs, I noticed some broken pieces of glass on the floor from the backyard door. My eyes followed upward, and when I saw the hole in the backyard door’s lites, I immediately realized what had transpired.

Suddenly, I heard a door slammed-closed upstairs.

I stood there and froze.

Four very long seconds passed by and I decided to slowly walk out of my house. I wasn’t sure if the wind had slammed shut a door, or if the burglar was still in the house — whatever the case, I wasn’t about to stick around to find out.

I ran to the neighbor’s house, rang the doorbell, and upon not getting a response — knocked on the door as calmly as I could.

“Uh, can I borrow your phone? My house got broken into and I’m sort of not sure if the burglar is still around…” I told my neighbor as I stared back at my house.

After telling the police operator the situation, I realized that there’s not much else I can do so I stood there and waited.

To the my citiy’s police department’s credit, two police cruiser showed up within minutes. The officers came up to me and quickly asked me for further information, and what follow suit were like scenes from a television crime drama.

The group of four officers drew their firearms, and two of them proceed to head to the back of my house, in case whoever might still be in the house tries to make a run for it. As the remaining two officers cautiously head into my house via the front door, I looked at my watch and my heart skipped a beat.

It was four in the afternoon — my sister’s class ended earlier. She might have been home.

Oh shit, I thought to myself.

Oh shit, I hope she wasn’t home when this happened. Please, please don’t let her be home.

I wanted to tell the officers, but by this time they were already in my house, and they gave me strict instruction to stay put outside.

Floods of unthinkable images rushed through my mind, and I swallowed hard.

To make matters seeminly more dramatic, it started to rain.

So there I was, holding my neighbor’s phone in one hand, standing in the middle of the street as I wonder if my sister was laying hurt (or worse) in her room — and it was raining.

Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either.

Thankfully, the drama ended there.

No one was upstairs. It was just the wind. My sister decided to hang out with her friends after class that day. My house got ransacked. Socks used as gloves scattered throughout the second floor. A few hundred dollars was taken from my drawer. A couple of thousands dollars and numerous jewelry was stolen from my mom’s room.

My sister’s room was untouched — her room was extremely messy, and the thief didn’t bother to search through her room. Heh.

The detectives told us that it looked like a standard smash and grab job, and by the patterns of ransack, they most likely didn’t stick around for a long time — especially since they didn’t bother to go through my sister’s room.

I wouldn’t say this was an everyday experience, but the fact that I almost forgot about the event made me realized that it didn’t have that much lasting impact on me. Had it not rained that day, I probably would have forgotten about this whole ordeal.

I’ve heard from others that have felt more violated after a burglary, and some have also felt like their privacy was invaded — but for whatever reason, I never felt like that. Of course, had this been a robbery, I imagine my feelings would be quite different.

True, for a few moments while I was standing there in the rain, I was quite scared. All the possible worse case scenarios were running through my head, but upon hearing the all-clear from the officers, I breathe a sigh of relief.

It bummed me out that I didn’t deposit my money into the bank earlier, and my mom was that her valuables were stolen — but at the end, my family was safe, and we all knew that’s what’s really important.

Have you ever been burglarized or robbed? How did you feel afterwards? Feel free to share.

Related Link:

I was reading some comments for the identity theft story post at the Mint blog, and boy there are some tough situations out there.

We have comments about identity theft from moms and sisters — pretty difficult stuff.

Have you ever been screwed financially by a family member? It doesn’t necessarily have to be an identity theft situation.

I think I’m extremely fortunate that I’ve never been harmed financially by any famiy member (at least, not that I’m aware of).  If it ever happens, I will most likely know how to deal with it practically, but emotionally… eh.

mmm... vulgar words

I used to be a real dumbass.

A really good one.

I remember when I got my first low-interest credit card from Bank of America — because I was an employee at said bank, my interest rate was prime + 0.5% (or some other ridiculously low number). At that time, ~1% seemed almost like free money.

Hah. Free money. Yeah and pigs can code AJAX.

And so I spent. Trip to Paris? No problem. Swipe swipe. Steak dinner? Give me two in different degrees — just in case medium rare doesn’t strike my fancy tonight. Swipe swipe. (Just kidding on the steaks).

Before I knew it, my credit card statement numbers were larger than my checking account statement numbers. Hmm.

Then came the cheap ass era.

Gotta reduce the debt. Gotta get rid of this stress and anxiety.

What? Milk for $2.89 at this supermarket? You’re kidding me. Let’s drive to the next supermarket and save $0.15.

You want an ice cream at the theme park? What am I, made of money? I’ll buy you a jug later for the same price at Safeway.

When I really think about it now, the cheap ass era included a bit of the dumbass characteristic, plus a little bit of an asshole tendency. But you can probably already guessed that.

These days, I drift between being a cheap ass and being a dumbass.

As a reader, Gayle, said:

Sometimes it’s just hard to turn off that internal calculator! The important thing is to be able to laugh about it.

And it’s true. It’s tough to turn off that internal calculator. A side effect from spending myself into debt? Probably.

The interesting thing is, I see this a lot among my peers (18 to 25). It’s not that they are total dumbass or cheap ass; it’s just that for many young pepole, it seems that they’re either on top of their finances or they’re totally not.

I have friends that are totally against debt. They work hard, save diligently, do all the basic stuff right and handle the complicated stuff as they come along — I believe they’re set (or will be set) financially. And then I have friends that are a bit worrisome. I see my old self in them. They spend more than they make, over extend themselves financially, and carry a large credit card debt along with an even larger student loan.

Anyway, figuring out the source of this discrepancy is a topic for another post (hint: parental education on personal responsibility).

The real question to ask yourself is: Are you a cheap ass, a dumbass, or neither?

As with many things in life, being in the extreme of any category is never healthy (or sensible). I’m not saying that saving diligently is being a cheap ass, but there is definitely a point where you’ll be saving more than necessary (or being unreasonable in your quest for financial independence).

The same goes for being a dumbass. If you ever spend yourself into bankruptcy (or near bankruptcy), you’re most likely in the dumbass category. A bit harsh, but that’s my opinion.

How then, do you find the perfect balance? After all, No one wants to be a cheap or dumb ass. It a demeaning classification, especially when it’s from a smart ass blogger.

Unfortunately, there’s no real solution from me.

As I’ve mentioned, I still drift between two camp these days. Sometimes I spend recklessly and sometimes I get super cheap. It’s lame, but thats how I like to roll (until I get it smacked out of me by my sister).

I think there’s an important thing to remember though. In the long term, you’ll find that I’m usually a very sensible spender/saver. Generally, I make careful financial decisions, and I come away with a higher net worth.

And that’s probably the key. It’s just like poker. You can lose a hand once in awhile, but if you’re a long-term winner — if you can overall come away with a winning stack in the long-term, you’re probably going to be just fine.

 Note: I’m done using the A word for the rest of the year.

I’ve been looking at my partial closet and I realized that I have very little clothes.

Most are the same crap: t-shirts of various colors, and jeans in different shades of blue. I will probably have to get a new wardrobe one of these days.

Thinking about it now… I can’t recall the last time I went shopping for clothes; the most recent purchase was probably some $15 jeans at Ross, and that was over a year ago.

It wasn’t until recently that I remember how expensive clothes can be, and how much I use to spend on clothes half a decade ago. Which is rather funny, because back then… a $40 jean from a brand name store = cheap. When I look at $40 jeans now, I freak out.

Perspective can sure change after a few experiences (namely being broke).

How often do you shop for new clothes? Where at? Budget?

The original title for the post was “Meeting a Personal Finance Blogger is Fun.”

So just a few days ago at around 10 PM, I said good bye to fellow PF Blogger, Jonathan of MyMoneyBlog.com (as it was getting too late for us old farts).

Jonathan was in the Bay Area and he decided to contact me and Noah for some three-way male bonding. We chatted, had sandwiches, played ping pong, and gave Jonathan a quick demo of Mint.

As Jonathan and Noah got heated up in a ping pong match, I suddenly had one of those “life is weird” moment. I realized that, indirectly, I was here, interning in Mountain View because of the two guys in front of me.

You see, I started Stop Buying Crap back in April of 2005 due to a Google search result that landed me at My Money Blog, and in turn, I met Noah through my blog. It really is a new world, when strangers from the internet can somehow influence your life, whether directly or indirectly.

One thing I noticed right away when talking to Jonathan is how much similar some of our values in personal finance was. Although I was never too involve with the entire personal finance blogging community (too large to keep up), I always have an impression that the community contained a group of super-nice people (some of us in the east coast are even throwing a happy hour get together). Meeting Jonathan reaffirmed that belief, and made me realized that I certainly wouldn’t mind labeling myself as a personal finance blogger.

It’s a big change in my mind, I think. Back in the days, I would never label myself as a blogger , even though I post more frequently than I do today.

I was always imaging the potential response. “You’re a blogger? WTF is that?”

But today, it’s a part of something I do. It certainly isn’t my only label, but for now, I am definitely a personal finance blogger (even if I’m crappy, sporadic one).

And so, although I don’t post as regularly as before (for a long time now), and I’m hardly a regular contributor in community discussions, I still consider myself a part of the community (and the community includes the readers too). And why not? It’s a great community.

It’s a community of people with different ages, different locations, different ethnic backgrounds, different net worth; but we all share the same common goal, to reach financial independence so that we can take care of our loved ones.

Pretty damn cool, I think.

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