Wrong Path?

This post I decided to dedicate to the topic of people in my life making poor financial decisions.

Situation 1

One of my friends recently moved from out of state to the DFW area. She has been looking for work for the past few months. Thanks to her connections, she will likely be getting a well paying job within the next few months. The couple took out a 401(k) loan that they plan to pay back over the next few months. Without the 401(k) money as a resource they would be on seriously shaky financial ground. Flash forward to today, they just moved into a luxury apartment for the rent is $1300 dollars per month (my apt is a comparable size, in a slightly less desirable location but still 5 minutes away and $773). Eventually they plan on purchasing a house, but today she doesn’t have a job and for all intents and purposes he doesn’t have a job.

A few years ago they owned a home in another state that went through a short sale because of the downturn in the real estate market. For as long as I’ve known them the husband has not had a full-time job to help support his wife, instead he chose to pursue his passion for theology which doesn’t really pay well and he earns nothing from. I think most people would have a come to Jesus moment where they would work a job that is not ideal but helps their family hit their financial goals. This has not been the case.

The wife is also providing financial assistance to her parents and brother. My guess is this has amounted to over $100k over the past decade. It’s very noble that she’s cares so much about her family, but I don’t think she is concerned enough about herself.

It’s not my place to cast judgment on my friends, but I wish I was able to impart wisdom on them. They haven’t realized it now but I think they’re setting themselves up for financial failure in the long run. looking at the power of compounding, the importance of having a sizable nest egg and not living beyond your means, They’re failing on multiple counts. On the bright side I think she will be back on target in the next 2-3 years. I have tried to help the husband with finding a job but haven’t been so successful at that. He doesn’t seem very motivated and I can’t force someone to be driven. Sure I believe in the power of faith but also that god allows us to help ourselves.

Situation 2

One of my other friends recently confided in me she has over $120,000 dollars in student loan debt. At what interest rates you might ask? Between 5-9%. Currently she is on the income-based repayment plan, commonly referred to as IBR. She quit her stressful corporate job and instead works as a babysitter. Although she’s well paid for what she does, she’s making minimum payments on her loans while interest accrues. Combined she and her husband grossed over $100k last year. Gross vs net though, two very different things.

Let’s look at a compounding. Starting out with a $120k balance and paying $300/mo. I don’t know exactly how much she pays but it’s probably less than that. I used this calculator so no idea how accurate the numbers really are.
Year 1 : $127,505
Year 2 : $135,713
Year 3 : $144,692
Year 4 : $154,512
Year 5 : $165,254
Year 6 : $177,004
Year 7 : $189,856
Year 8 : $203,914
Year 9 : $219,290
Year 10 : $236,109

Luckily in her case she is set to inherit 2 houses in the US and another in another country. Down to road she could sell those and be student free. Not everyone has this luxury and what does that leave her with? An underfunded retirement plan, no real estate and probably some hefty tax bills. She’s given up hope and is just paying what she can for now.

My father died with serious debt. Over $50k as I recall, mostly from medical expenses. I wasn’t blessed with a silver spoon in my mouth. I’m not perfect. I love my friends and family and wish the best for them. Seeing my father poor from the age of 2 up until I was 20 left a lasting impression on me. He didn’t have any much control over his situation, due to his renal failure. As long as I am able to I’m gonna fight damn hard to learn from all of this. To do otherwise would just be plain ignorant Life is more than money, but a few poor decisions can haunt us for a lifetime.

Month 24 Update – $32,140.58

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So here we are…April 5, 2014. Listening to some Fantasia and Aretha Franklin tunes on my Audio-Technica headphones while bf watches Scrubs and our siamese cat sits curled up a foot away completely unphased by both the noise of my typing and the television. I feel beat down by an irregular sleeping schedule, where I passed out around 10:30PM and woke up at 4:45AM. I was going to go the ambitious route and go to the gym / catch up on some reading. Instead I wormed around in bed for an hour before falling asleep again. Then I see the sun rise, check my phone and it’s 7:22. Oh crap, I’m late for work. So I go through the usual shower / iron routine, telling my bf to walk the dog and delaying breakfast until I get to the work cafeteria.

I hit an important milestone, on Month 24 of making straight payments to Sallie Mae. This shit is neither fun nor easy. I certainly see how some people can go for ten years of payments and still not have their loans paid off. Life can certainly get in the way of your plans to become debt-free. I have had some increased anxiety as of late with them. Going to Florida next month for a wedding. Bf reimbursed me most of the none I put down for that trip. $600 and change with airfare / hotel factored in. Then today he’s like you should really go visit your parents. Sure that would be nice but with what money, I have about $350 to my name right now. I currently have I hold myself to higher standards that I can get this paid off as quickly as possible while still enjoying life. Debt to me is slavery. I can’t turn back the hands of time but I can focus on my abilities in the pleasant to create a better life.

Another friend bought us tickets to the NCAA Championship games in Dallas next week. I don’t know any of the teams really, but it should be exciting. Never went to a basketball game before. Don’t lecture me, just because I lived an hour from Madison  Square Garden doesn’t mean I went. Same with the Statue of Liberty… or the World Trade Center back in the day.

I was thinking today maybe sell the car and drive around in an absolute piece of crap car until I am debt-free. Of course maintenance is an issue there and I’d always wondered how many years I could get out of a perfectly reliably running car of which I have full knowledge of all its maintenance records and overall treatment. Then I think about the $3k I put in the audio system that would not be appreciated by a 2nd owner or by the dealer / used car sales guy making me an offer. Last but not least I thought about how people get royally screwed over when trading in a car. Do I really want to put myself through all that again for a shiny piece of equipment that gets me from point A to point B. Even if it’s a hybrid or an electric car that will cut my fuel costs by half or a 3/4. I don’t want to be on the treadmill forever. I want to lose the weight and keep it off. My freedom, my sanity is worth more than material objects.

Also listened through the whole Millionaire Next Door Audiobook and stared going through Secrets of A Millionaire Mind. My goal is to shift my mindset to thinking more in terms of opportunities that exist instead of limiting thoughts in my head to generate wealth. Over the the years I’ve encountered systems of get rich schemes that sound good on the surface but upon closer inspection have either large inconsistencies or have so many negative things written about them why would I want to go down that path. MLM comes to mind, if people are going to buy something from me I want to believe 100% in the product / service and it must genuinely fill some kind of need or want in their lives.

I don’t think I’m a greedy person. I just know where I have fallen short in the past and want to see more of a payoff for my hard work and efforts.  Right now that hasn’t happened yet and it can be frustrating. I see myself farther along than I currently am. I feel beat down, tore down but I can and will get back up and do some amazing things with my life. A positive net worth would be a good first step. Last but not least along with getting more omega-3s, I find keeping a busy schedule is a sure-fire way not to get depressed. Simply put, ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat.

Was about to hit post, then I looked at Haha Money’s How Rich Are You article. Plugged my number in to a calculator and combined we are in the richest 0.4% of the world’s population and our income is 42 times that of the average person. For just me it’s in the richest 6.1% of the world’s population and income more than 14x the typical person. Kinda boggles the mind how I could be richer than so many people in the world yet feel so financially broke.

If anyone is reading this in their 20s, I have one bit of advice. Well two really. Start planning early and don’t let the time pass you by. I’m not old, but the years have taken a toll on me. Losing my dad and grandmother so young, watching them struggle with health issues for years, a decade of being unable to get traction professionally, racking up student loan debt. The most recent one was a former friend going clinically crazy last month & being checked into a mental health institution for self-destructive behaviors. He is out, but after some of the threats and obsessive behavior I no longer choose to associate with him.

Getting to Senior

Interesting to see what people with my title but the word senior earn at my company.  The high end is about 15% more than my current earnings. Raises are given based on performance and not length of time.  Is it bad that I’m looking at my earnings potential less than a month in?  I don’t think so.  It’s not just about the money, it’s about the overall experience.  I’m happy right now and really don’t have any complaints.  When I started focusing on what other successful people were doing instead of myself, I started becoming overly critical and questioning my choices in life (not in a good way).  Now I focus more on what I do have control over and just enjoying each day regardless of what happens.  The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.  A friend of mine worked in sales and would still be doing work at 10pm.  Not my idea of a super life.

I quit working at a supermarket I was at for 5 years in 2006.  It closed for good just last month.  This picture explains it all.  Those who can’t compete go out of business.  You can be the best worker at the supermarket and still not get ahead in life.  Unions won’t always save you and often hold back top talent or artificially deflate their wages.

After I left, I was in banking for another 5 years, with essentially one promotion.  Part-time to full-time and then again to a supervisor.  I tried a couple times to advance, but was overlooked for someone else each time, even people hired after me with less education.  Those experiences made me realize a little cockiness, confidence, OCD and impatience is necessary to get ahead.  Playing it safe all the time can really hold a person back over the long-term.  I’m not where I want to be yet at 28, but I’m a step closer than I was a month ago.  This blog and the accountability it creates will help me stay on the mark.