A Fun Approach to Being Broke

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“So this blog serves the purpose of creating what I feel is valuable entertainment, but it’s also a coping mechanism for me of sorts. After all, if I really stop to think about the fact that I have  OVER ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS in credit card debt, I’ll probably just pass out. However if I think about having that same amount of debt, but then see a cute little drawing of a guy with a shovel… It can’t be that bad right?”

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First things first! As you can see, I’ve removed the stat tracker from the top of this post showing how much credit card debt I have remaining, and I have instead moved it over to the fancy new graphic on the side bar to the right over there.

I felt like it was cluttering up my posts to have that sucker at the top of each post, and since the numbers really don’t move from day to day, it was often just a stagnant piece of information that felt better served to the right.

As I was making the little graphic of the dude with the shovel on that chart, I got to thinking about whether or not my approach to debt is the right one. I don’t mean in terms of what I’m paying and where, but more in terms of the fact that I’ve created a semi-sweet, light and fluffy blog about effectively being broke.

I pepper the tops of posts like this one with fun little illustrations, and then spend several hundred words talking about just how close I came to losing my home and putting myself and my family in a really ugly situation. It can be quite the contrast!

Humor has always been a defense mechanism for me. When I get nervous, or when I am put in tense situations, I tend to crack a lot of jokes… usually of a self-deprecating nature. It’s something I’ve done since was a kid, and continue to do often as an adult. So if you ever happen to be in a situation with me where I am obviously desperate in my attempts to make the group I’m with laugh, chances are it’s because I feel WAY outside of my comfort zone.

I was up in the mountains once and had a guy pull a revolver on me and two of my friends. True story. We were driving up to a keg party in the mountains, and as we crested up over a hill in my pickup, there he was on horseback, pistol drawn, pointing it directly at my face. He then told us that his son had put his pickup in a ditch about a mile up the road and needed to be pulled out. The gun was just a “motivator” as he called it. To make a long story short, I was so scared and cracked so many jokes as a result that by the end of the night both the son and the father were standing at a campfire with us drinking beers and laughing.

Again… defense mechanism.

So as you can imagine, when it comes to writing a blog chronicling the really dumb situation I put myself in, I try to find to add some levity.Read More »

Tuesday Tip Jar: How to Save Money When You Suck at Saving Money

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One of the problems is that the money is so damn accessible now. I’m old enough to remember pre-internet life where if you wanted to put money into savings you had to physically drive your car to a bank and deposit it with a paper deposit slip. Usually while someone stood next to you smoking a cigarette and talking about the latest episode of Magnum PI. If you wanted to withdraw from your savings, you got back into your Trans-Am, popped in an REO Speedwagon cassette, and drove back to the same bank where you filled out a withdrawal slip and took your money out.

Starting Credit Card Debt (01.01.19): $126,310.77
Current Credit Card Debt: $109,570.87
Total Paid Off: $16,739.90
Income Going to Savings: 2%

[06.27.19 Update] – Just got an email from Marcus saying my new APY is 2.15% and not the 2.25% called out when I wrote the post below. Make sure you check their site for the latest rates before signing up.

I suck at saving money. Growing up I lived in a household where if we made $15 bucks that month, we spent $15 bucks that month. If we made $1500 bucks that month, rather than just spending the $15 that we managed to get by on the month before, we instead spent all $1500. My family didn’t really save money, and for the past 25 years, I haven’t really saved money either.

One thing I want to be clear about is that I do have some money in a 401k account. On this blog I often talk about having zero money in savings, but when I say that I’m referring to my standard savings account.

Part of the problem for me was always ease of access to my savings. I’d put $500 in savings and tell myself I was NEVER going to touch that money unless it was due to some unforeseen emergency. Two weeks later AC/DC would announce a world tour and I’d think, “Well I need to see them. They are getting pretty old, and this will probably be their last tour. This really is basically an emergency.”

Once at the show, I’d buy a t-shirt, food, pay for parking, and of course buy a pair of those light up plastic devil horns to wear. Can’t be the only one in the crowd without plastic devil horns on after all.

So I’d pull that $500 bucks right back out, and have it all spent in a matter of two weeks. The next month I’d start all over again, each time finding some kind of “emergency” to spend things on.

One of the problems is that the money is so damn accessible now. I’m old enough to remember pre-internet life where if you wanted to put money into savings you had to physically drive your car to a bank and deposit it with a paper deposit slip. Usually while someone stood next to you smoking a cigarette and talking about the latest episode of Magnum PI. If you wanted to withdraw from your savings, you got back into your Trans-Am, popped in an REO Speedwagon cassette, and drove back to the same bank where you filled out a withdrawal slip and took your money out.

In other words, it took a fair amount of work to get your money in and out of savings, and thus once it was in, it tended to stay there.Read More »

“Shut the Damn Lights Off!”: My Rapid Decent Into Becoming My Father

My Dad would often say, “You guys don’t need all of these lights on. I get up every night and walk through the house in total darkness!” What he didn’t ever fully explain is how he got all of the bruises on his shins from running into coffee tables, foot rests, and dining room chairs.

Starting Credit Card Debt (01.01.19): $126,310.77
Current Credit Card Debt: $109,570.87
Total Paid Off: $16,739.90
Income Going to Savings: 2%

My Dad is a smoker. Growing up he would smoke at least a pack a day, and he would often get nicotine cravings in the middle of the night. So he’d roll out of bed and wander into our living room to have himself a late night puff.

As a young child I had no idea that this was his nightly ritual because I usually slept right through the night. However once I hit my teenage years I began staying up into the wee hours of the mornings, usually playing videogames. Around 1:00am I’d get hungry (after a particularly stressful bought of something like Mike Tyson’s Punchout), and I’d wander out to the kitchen to see what leftovers I could consume. I played a lot of high school sports, and I was a big kid, so I could eat like nobody’s business. When the cravings hit, I ate anything that even partially resembled food.

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Tangent: I think there is probably next to zero chance that I have any high school aged kids reading this blog, but if there happens to be, please take my advice when it comes to eating anything you can get your hands on as a teenager: There will come a day when you stop playing sports and if you continue to eat as though you still do, you will pack on the same 100lbs that I did. I’ve since lost it all again, but it was not fun.

I have hope though. I was raised in the 80s and we didn’t give a flying rip about things like preservatives or what exactly went into getting that Big Mac into our hands. However a couple of months back I was at an out-of-town lacrosse tournament with my family, and we had ordered a few pizzas to split with some friends. After eating our fill, we were still left with a couple of pizzas. Not wanting them to go to waste, my wife approached some of the members of one of the high school teams and offered them free pizza. The response she got?Read More »