Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Smoking Crack in Moderation

I'm what most credit card companies would label high risk.  That's why they love to deny me credit even with my stellar payment history.  One of the key risk factors I see is a high revolving (credit card) debt ratio & lots of inquiries on a credit report.  I look like someone desperate for credit and since I'm maxed on on my current cards, I probably don't look like someone they would want to extend credit to. If I were them and I was looking at me judging purely based on my CC report, I would be leery to extend myself additional credit as well.

There's an asian proverb that roughly translates into, "tiny specs of dirt make up the mountain."  It's too easy to overlook several specs here and there, but the small specs add up and it ends up being important.  It's how my parents saved their thousands and how I need to proceed to get out my mess.

In finance, arbitrage is the strategy to take advantage of price differences.  Usually, one would sell a stock at one venue, while simultaneously purchasing that stock elsewhere at a different venue to buy low and sell high.  With the credit cards, it makes sense to migrate as much of the debt as possible to lower interest cards.  Being in the rut that I've been, I gave up on arbitrating to 0-2% interest rate deals as offers dried up.  With a little more wisdom from reddit, I've figured I should still take advantage of the rate differences albeit small.

I've figured that I can take the 25% paid to Kays & OldNavy and move them over to a 20% cards.  It's not that great of a deal, but 5% saved on ~$3200 is $160/yr spent on things other than interest.  The trick is not to incur any balance transfer fees, cash advance fees, etc.

As always, the devil is in the details.  I've opened myself up to a very dangerous game of reopening up old plastic that should not exist.  If straight no-fee balance transfers were possible, it would be a fairly simple proposition, however, BT's are not possible.  Thus what I must do is:
  • Spend regular budget items on the lower interest card instead of cash.
  • Use the extra cash to pay down the higher interest card
So let's say your budget looks like this:
  • $1000 balance @ 20% @ $50/mo ($16/mo interest)
  • $2000 balance @ 10% @ $100/mo ($16/mo interest)
  • $500/mo groceries
On $150 payments, you're spending about $32/mo in interest.

If you could migrate that $1000 balance over to the 10% rate, you'd save $8/mo in interest.  Sure it's not a lot, but it's about $100 bucks.  So without any balance xfer option (try calling the bank first), what do you do?
  • Buy $500 worth of groceries that you would have spent cash on on the %10 card
  • Apply $500 (grocery cash) + $50 (regular monthly payment) to the $1000 balance
  • Make the regular $100/mo payment to the 10% card.
Now you look like this:
  • $450 +interest balance @20% ($7.5/mo interest)
  • 2400 + interest balance @10% ($20/mo interest)
  • 500/mo groceries
So now you've reduced the interest from $32/mo to 27.5/mo.  On the next month, you should be able to pay off the $450 balance with the grocery money and get all the debt into the lower interest rate card.  What's so dangerous about this is that now I've got to start swiping again.  It's like telling myself, a recovering crack addict to smoke new crack in moderation.

In the end it's all about TCO.  For my massive mountain, I'm going to use a hybrid strategy of snowballing debt to free up cash flow, then focus on the highest interest rate items to lower tco.  I suppose it goes against the mantra of keep it simple stupid, but this is simple enough.  Wish me luck.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Getting to Success

Here's some nice advice:  "Action Trumps Everything" from

The things you measure are the things you get good at.  Constant awareness is the way forward.  I'm a bit obsessive at looking at my checking account & budget.  Even though I can't make any payments on whichever bills need to be paid, having that budget constantly in my face a nice reminder to take action in the form of not spending.

Ugh...  I hate having $200 worth of stuff in my Amazon cart.  To buy or not to buy is the question.

$63 12 sheet shredder
$24 Brita 5-pack of filters
$31 Swiffer Wet Mopping 12 Count 6 pack.
$25 Land o Lakes Cocoa
$33 Dog Pee Pads 150 count
$27 33 Gal Trash bags 90 count 1.2mil

Now to figure which items I can justify...  The question to ask is, "What is the impact of not getting it, and is there a work around?"

The Shredder isn't urgent, but is needed one day.  For now, I can continue to bring my shredder headed items to work.

Ugh, I hate buying marked up filters.  This link shows how to replace the carbon for cheap.  The eBay store on the article looks dead, so I'm going to hunt around for some cheap NSF carbon.  I really just need to bite the bullet and buy a reverse osmosis unit for the ~150-200 it costs.

This is my wife's doing.  These things are way too expensive for my blood, but since she's the one that does the cleaning, I guess I will have to cave on these.  Personally, i'm a fan of just getting a pack of microfiber towels and some water & soap to clean the floors.  Actually, now that I'm thinking of it, a water soap mixture on a microfiber towel should be a perfect replacement for the swiffer mop!  My wife is totally going to object...

Land o Lakes Cocoa
36 packs for $25.  At first I thought this was a huge 500 pack or something.  Only 36 packs, coming in at 70 cents a packet.  Seems a bit steep for my blood.  Now to go hunting for a better hot cocoa deal.

Dog Pee Pads
150 pads for $33.  This is definitely justifiable.  I just got a second companion, and now they are pooping and peeing at 3x the rate of when it was just 1 dog.  I'm flying through pee pads now.  The impact of no pee pads?  Urine EVERYWHERE.

Trash Bags
The kirkland brand had excellent reviews.  90 bags for $27 sounds like a deal.

So looks like the only items I can really justify are the pee pads & trash bags.  I might have to pick up the swiffer & cocoa at my wife's request though.  Wish me luck.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Store Cards are Evil

Even if you shred your store card, your ID is sufficient to look up the number and charge it.  What's worst is that most of the discounts and specials don't apply unless you're using your store card.  I wonder what the statistics look like for interest paid when determining a sale.

Women and their Victoria's Secret.  I'm sure they will be my doom because they are always giving away free panties.

Getting into this mess

So the question invariably comes up, "How did you get yourself into 60k into debt?"  There's another relevant QA.  "How did you go bankrupt? Slowly, then suddenly."

So looking back on some of the balances, it's at least somewhat assuring if you can attach a number to something concrete.  Mostly, these balances are a result of stupid decisions.  In reality, they are the result the statistical rule that says that people spend more with plastic than with cash. Durrrr.

Decision #1 - $16290
My parents had a Chase card with a 2% until paid off offer on a card with a 30k line. Though I would have significantly higher payments, it made sense to move about 25k of ~9% student loan debt into a 2% until paid off offer, even with the 3% up to $200 xfer fee.  In reality, my student loan payment on a ~50k balance is about $500/month, but in reality, I'm paying closer to $850/month as I pay this particular Chase card down.

Stoooooopid Decision #2 - $12806
My parents had a second Chase card with a 3% until paid off offer on a card with another high line.  This essentially was me refinancing a 6% 18k car @ 3%.  This was also a fantastic deal, however, I fudged up several years ago.

  • Took another 12k out on the car @ 5%
  • Paid off 12k worth of debt.
  • Paid down car to around 8k
  • Sold the car for the balance as I had a second car.

This 12k is a stupid me paying off a car I no longer enjoy or own.  *tear*

College Idiot Decision #3 - ~$12k
I graduated in 07 with about 12k in debt.  I figured I'd pay this stuff off once I got a real job and got paid the big bucks.  In reality, the big bucks also coincided with the 2008 crash bringing down my parents support cushion.

Pre-2007 Parental Conversations
"Hey, I need $800 for shits and giggles, food, gas, living, etc."  "Okay son, I'll deposit the $ in your account later today."  I wake up tomorrow morning and my bank account has gone from a $15 balance to over 4 figures.

Post-2007 Parental Conversation
"Hey, I'm hurting on repaying school debt."  "Sorry son, think you could take over the mortgage on the house, since you're the one living there?" "Shhiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit."

Ridiculous Decisions #3 - XXX - ~$12k
For al the other 2-5k balances, thats what you call SPENDING CREEEEEP.  iPads, iPhones, Groceries, Gas, laptops, camera gear, etc etc.  I can account for about 8k.  Everything else was just going out to eat, gas for going out and spending money I didn't have to keep up appearances.

  • $5k camera gear - At least I had crap to show for some of the balances.  I eventually sold the gear and netted around ~3k to pay for the wedding.
  • $3k life necessities - Probably for the last year or so, I've been spending on average $300/month to cover groceries & gas.
Everything else is well.... unaccounted for.  Much of the electronics were purchased with cash or 0% financing offers that were paid off within the 0% period.  I'm really trying to think whether I could have survived without the credit.  I'm pretty positive that I could have survived.  It would have been slightly embarrassing and I'd have had to have done a ridiculous acrobatic juggle, but I think it could have been done.  Why?  Here's a short story.

My parents are relatively successful immigrants.  Oddly, their siblings that also immigrated to the States are also successful as well. 6 figure annual incomes, business owners, nice house & cars with excellent credit, etc etc.  So I ask my parents one day, "The stat on business is that there's only 1 standing after 10 years or so and all others go away.  How is it that there's 6 businesses that all lasted more than 10 years by our various family members and are still going?"

"We came to America with nothing.  We couldn't be employed since our degrees don't mean anything and we can't speak the language.  It was either get on by or die."

And how apt that advice is.  There's the other story of the general who had his Army burn their ships before battle.  As life has shown, we have tremendous amount of resilience to scrounge together what we can to survive.

My credit cards are shredded.  The only backup I have is any cash that I may be able to save.  I built in a budget buffer, but the emergency fund has to start stat.  I guess I'm a bit impatient and would have rather have paid off debts than save for an emergency fund.  My credit is still good.  There's no derogatory entries, late payments, judgements, etc.  Just a very high credit utilization ratio that needs to come down.  So it sucks to get declined for new credit to try to play the low interest balance transfer game, but it's finally caught up with me.

For those with spouses battling the money game, there was a visible turning point for my wife.  It was when I shred all the cards.  That's when she finally got on board and knew I was talking business.  There was a little bitching here and there about, "See, we don't have a card to put it on and you have no cash." "OMG we can't pay for gas and we're 800 miles from home without GAS MONEY to get BACK!"

Several weeks later the tone changed, "I'm so glad we paid for the trip in cash.  There's no looming CC balance to pay off."

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

November 2012 Debt Update

Congrats to Obama on reelection.  Good thing I voted for him.  Now let's get down to business.

My current revolving & short term (med bills) debt totals have been trending as follows:
  • $63139  2012-06
  • $56709  2012-07
  • $57386  2012-08
  • $58353  2012-09
  • $59132  2012-10
  • $57275  2012-11 <~ Yay!!!
Damn, paying off shit makes me feel good, though part of the payoff isn't quite "real", it's a step in the right direction.  I've been able to pay off $1857 in real debt.  How much did I pay in interest?  I really don't want to look, but It's at least $400-500 down the drain.  So what happened this month?
  • Refinanced house from 5.8% to 4.25% going from a 1200/mo to 1018/mo payment.  Free'd up about $200/mo in cash flow, but I increased my 401k from 1% to 4% to take advantage of my employers matching.  So cashflow remains exactly the same.
  • Received about $3k in cash out from the refinance.
  • Received another $3k bonus ($1800 after taxes) from work.
I had an extra $4800 to play with this month, and why did my total balance only go down $1800?  This is where it went:
  • $1000 catch up on last month's bills. (grrrrrrrrrr, ugh)
  • $2000 added to budget cushion.  My 2x paychecks in November will pay for December's bills.  I used to have it where the prior month's last paycheck & current month's first paycheck paid for the current month.  Now I have a full month's buffer.  In a sense, it's also my kind of my $1k emergency fund without putting aside an emergency fund.
This left $1800 to pay down extra principle and pay down the credit cards.

Here's the current state of my revolving debt.
  • 16290 Chase @ 2% till payoff
  • 12806 Chase @ 3% till payoff
  • 1660   Discover @ 0% till 10/2012 (not sure after)
  • 7214   BoA @ 20%
  • 4376   Cap1 @ 17.9%
  • 2455   OldNavy @ 25%
  • 2380   Citi Diamond @ 6.24%
  • 1960   Chase Amazon @ 20.24%
  • 1518   Citi Plat @ 12.24%
  • 1547   Advanta @ 8%
  • 1573   Barclays @ 18%
  • 1200   Cap1 @17.9%
  • 766     Kay @ 25%
  • 542     GE Amazon @ 0% till 06/2013
  • 450     Hospital @ 0%
  • 200     Cap1 @ 11.9%
The following were paid off providing $195/mo in extra cashflow.  The conventional Dave Ramsey wisdom says to take that $195/mo and snowball it into an entry above, but since my budget is upside down, the debt snowball begins now.  In my budget, I've committed $1400/mo in the pay down debt column. says that I should be paid off in December of 2015 sometime.  I'm hoping that it's sooner.  Come March, I should be able to kill at least 10k worth of these pesky things if I don't get fired.
  • 422 Chase @ 30% ($25/mo)
  • 325 Home Depot @ 0% (50/mo)
  • 280 Macys @ 25% (25/mo)
  • 65 Macys @25% (25/mo)
  • 150 Hospital @ 0% (30/mo)
  • 120 Hospital @ 0% (40/mo)
Now to stay strong and not spend $ on bullshit stuff!  My wife did just call asking me to pick up some mint choc chip icecream.  There goes $5 =P

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What's in a budget

I intended my last post to be about building a budget.  My mind went off into a tangent about winning the lottery and now I need to get back on track.  The point of waxing on and on about how 20 million dollars is worthless, when I don't even have positive net worth is back to the mantra, "It's not how much you make, it's how much you save."

Since you get good at the things that you measure, you need a way to measure how much you save.  This seems relatively easy.  

Step 1 - Login to your bank account & check balance.  w00t!  $5 dollars!
Step 2 - Login to your bank account & check balance.  w00t! $10 dollars!
Step 3 - Login to your bank account & check balance.  w00t! $15 dollars!
Step 4 - Login to your bank account & check balance.  w00t! $16 dollars!
Step 5 - Login to your bank account & check balance.  errr...  $5 dollars.  wtf?!

When it comes to measuring your ability to save, you need the proper ruler.  The balance on your account is NOT the proper ruler.  The proper ruler is your personal cash-flow statement.

Eh?  Cashflow?  Cash wtf?  Flo?  

It's very simply, 3 things:
  • A list of $ going out.
  • A list of $ going in.
  • Totals of the $ in & out.
There's 2 things that are really friggin hard.
  • Remembering every place you owe $ to.
  • Being honest about who you owe $ to.
It's hard to remember, because we don't like to remember that we owe people or institutions money.  When it's pay day, the best part of it is relishing in all the things you can buy.  it's no fun to take the money and relish in all people you need to pay back.

It's even harder to admit over one's pride who is owed money.  "I don't have to list the property taxes,  due in 3 months, it's in 3 months and I'll deal with it then.  I don't have to list the quarterly trash bill.  I'll deal with it later.  I don't have to list the $50 I owe my sister.  She'll forget about it."

List it ALL.  

Anyway, examples speak louder than words.  Here's my budget.

$5850 / month after taxes

  • 800 apartment rent
  • 1020 house mortgage
  • 30 prescriptions
  • 350 groceries
  • 180 car gas
  • 125 auto insurnace
  • 112 house gas
  • 51 house insurance
  • 80 apartment electric
  • 185 house electric
  • 30 apartment gas
  • 70 lawncare chemicals
  • 80 cell phone
  • 60 house internet
  • 60 apartment internet
  • 25 random fun
  • 512 school loans
  • 540 car payment
  • 140 various medical bills
  • 1570 credit card minimums
  • 590 non-monthly bills (trash, water, sewage, hoa, taxes, car maint, car reg)
$6610 Total Out

I'm not even saving money or going out for entertainment, and I'm short $760 every month.  I'm not quite bankrupt yet, but I definitely must change some stuff.  So what kind of acrobatics am I juggling in order to keep my ship semi afloat?

  • Gave up iPhone and cancelled plan. I use my free work phone and my wife keeps her iPhone. Went from 150/mo to 80/mo.
  • Not saving the non-monthly expenditures because I can't.  I'm using my 3 paycheck months & overtime to cover extras that come up occassionally.
  • Refinanced to a lower rate on the house to go from 1200/mo to 1020/mo.
  • Shredded every credit card.  Now there's absolutely no fallback.
Nothing here is quite radical.  Really, the phone portion was the bulk of the pride that I had to get over. Most months, there's enough over time to get me an extra couple hundred bucks or my wife will chip in a couple of bucks here and there with her new job.  Up until a couple of months ago, I was floating the 200-300/month that I was short on credit cards.  Unfortunately, I would end up spending way more than just the 200-300/month I was short.  i was spending closer to 500-1000/month on miscellaneous junk that would just accumulate at 20-30% interest.  What ridiculousness those credit cards led to.  With them shredded, now my wife and I have no choice but minimize the outgoing and strictly follow the line items.  There's no more, "yea, I guess we can spring for that extra $20 for that widget that we really need/want."

I have some credit cards on their way to getting paid off, which should free up some significant monthly cashflow, then I can do the waterfall method to start working on paying off those cards.

Going broke on 20 million dollars

One piece of critical advice given when starting a startup is the advice to measure.  Invariably, the follow up question is, "what should I measure?"  With life, there's a million things to measure and a million ways to do it along with another million opinions on what makes a good measurement.

Why is measuring important?  It's because you get good at the things you measure.  So if you want to get good at the right things, you must measure the right things.  When it comes to money, the saying goes, "it's not what you make, but what you save."  There's a lot of wisdom there.  The media is finally shedding some light on that thought with their exposes on the rich gone poor.  Football players blowing their tens and hundreds of millions and lotto winners going bankrupt shortly after taking their millions.

Everyone gets asked this question sooner or later, "if you won the lottery, would you take it as a lump sum or as an annuity?"

When I was smarter than everyone else, I would have taken the winnings as a lump sum.  I would have quit my job, travelled the world, invested it and been on my merry way to retirement.  The problem with having a lot of zeros in the bank is that it feels limitless.  What's 200k on a Ferrari on winning 20M?  Like way under 1%.  Another 1M on a *cough cough* modest house, 1M furnishing the house, 1M on a failed startup venture, 1M getting scammed (you gotta learn sometime, right?), 1M on paying off the mortgages of some dear family members, 100k here and there to pay for niece, nephew, cousin, coworker college educations, 50k-100k here and there to buy some cars.  How much did that sentence just cost me of my 20M?  About, everything.  Yep, all 20M is gone.  I only got 5M because, that's all I get after taxes & a lump sum payment.  Within a short breath, I've gone broke and I haven't even taken my wife to Chima.

Of course everyone else is thinking, 'no way would I let 5M go to waste like that.'  So do yourself an exercise and take a hypothetical 20M and spend it on paper.  Unglamorous as it is, that 5M after lump sum payment & taxes will be gone in a heartbeat without some modicum of self-control.

So you've decided to be smart and take the annuity on 20M and now have to tell friends and family about it because sooner or later the news comes out.  Here's a piece of advice.  When someone asks, "Why didn't you take the lump sum?"

Don't even hesitate.  Your default response should be, "Fuck you."

The only reason to ask why one didn't take the lump sum is because they want your money.  Of course there's the financial-illiterate and genuinely curious folk, but even the innocent looking 10 year old is having a wet-dream about going to middle-school in a limo and building the biggest slip 'n slide known to man so he can host the most epic birthday pool part ever.  There's so much wasteful desire hidden in the words, lump-sum.

Everyone who talks about starting a business or investing it is full of shit.  Ask them when they got their Series 7 if they are investors.  No matter what they think, unless they actually have a track record for returns, their words have no ability for a return, no matter how good it seems.  Is some random joe selling you some amazing secret-investment going to do better than 7-figure earning hedge-fund Ivy league grad?  Probably not.  Sure, there's good investment advice, but signing over money on a guaranteed XXX% return is 99.99999% never the right decision ever.

The next reason to take an annuity is because if you decide to screw up, you can only screw up in 1 year intervals.  So you decide to go all extravagant with the 500k after taxes and buy a 200k ferrari and pay off the 300k house.  Now you can't buy gas for your ferrari and must choose between eating beans and rice so that you can afford your 5 mpg car.  Next year, hopefully you spend your money more wisely and have sold the Ferrari and upgraded to a Hyundai.

The final reason to take an annuity is that you can't let your heart screw you over.  By design, no matter how much you want to pay for little Johnny's college, start a business with your bestest-bestest-best-best friend, you can not.  If you're serious about starting a business, you now have 1-3 years of saving up those annuity payments while researching and becoming a domain expert in your chosen field, while also having the opportunity to retake Accounting 101 at the local community college so you don't look like an idiot that can't tell the difference between an asset and a liability.  At least burn away the money on an MBA instead of bling.

20 million dollars and a lot more ways than dollars to go broke.  Take the annuity and live the nice simple life.  Sleep-in, exercise and take on some inconsequentially small, cheap hobby.  Live a nice long life and have lots of monogamous bareback sex, because a billion dollars and herpes...

Friday, October 26, 2012

You're not Batman - June to October 2012

Debt gets classified in a lot of ways by a lot of people.  Don't get trapped into thinking about debt as the wrong person.  And definitely don't kid yourself that you're an X, when you really aren't. Just because you've watched Batman kick ass and lived his life vicariously through the portrayal of stunning computer graphics, brilliantly talented artists and surreal technical models, it does not make you Batman.

Yes, humble your fucking self.
  • Yes, humble yourself even though you parents make millions.  You don't make millions.
  • Yes, humble yourself even though you're uncle loves you and is leaving you a 10-figure trust fund.  You will accidentally or intentionally be a little shit and that trust fund is going to your uncle's other favorite niece who hates your guts from when you pushed her in the pool  at the tender age of 5.
  • Yes, humble yourself even though you're a genius in the top .01 percentile of the nation at a top Ivy League with a 6-figure job offer & 7-figure bonus straight out of school. 2008 happened.
  • Man up and be humble.  You're not that special.  You are definitely not Batman, nor will you ever be.  You will only ever be yourself.  Get to start loving it.  It's only the show you will have to put on for the rest of your life.

Investors see debt as income generating.
Businesses see debt as opportunity cost & capitalization.
Rich people see debt as a vehicle for obtaining tax-free income even though they have the cash.

You are not an investor.
You are not a business.
You are not rich.

You are likely to be someone that's delusional, but in realty thinking of debt as one of the following:
College kids see it as party money.
Pushover fluffer guys see debt as the key to that girls heart.
Assholes see debt as their entitlement to the world.
Materialistic show-sheep see their debt as fodder for the praise of other sheep.

Generally, secured debt is the safest debt for a lender.  Cars & Mortgages make sense to lend out because there's something to take back.  Credit cards are just pure access to cash.  how many of you know someone who cant even pay back 10 bucks in a respectable amount of time?  This is why unsecured debt is so damn expensive and choosing to use it for something longterm is ludicrous. Credit cards are to be shortterm debt rather than long term debt.

So all this talk about debt, let me see how I've been progressing in my debt journey since Jun 2012. More specifically, what has my credit card balances looked like at the end of each months' bill paying frenzy?
  • June 2012 - $63139
  • July 2012 - $56709
  • August 2012 - $57386
  • September 2012 - $58353
  • October 2012 - $59132
Don't say "congrats!" for the overall ~4k drop since 6/2012.
  • Julys drop is attributed to a 8000 loan from mom.
  • August went up so that I could go camping and socialize.
  • September had an 800 mile road-trip to a friends wedding.
  • October had an emergency 800 mile trip home due to family.
So what have I done so far to dig myself out?
  • I shredded the credit cards. There's no way to get those cards back except with a phone call and a week lead time from the CC company.  I've tried sock drawering them, freezing them in a glass jar.  But when it comes down to it and I really "want" the money, it only takes one weak moment to grab those cards, or dethaw them in hot water to gain access in under 15 minutes.
  • I gave up my iPhone plan, but I did steal my wife's iPad and coupled it with Google Voice.  I get my phone calls over my work provided phone and my iPad.
  • Rigorously attempting to pay things off and reduce my monthly cash flow.
This kind of debt isn't a big deal if one is making millions of dollars a year.  I am not.  My monthly after-tax/insurance/401k income lands in around $5600/month, which puts me somewhere in the upper-percentiles for household income.  It doesn't feel like much, but there are people that have to choose between food and rent, so I do have it pretty good.  It's just that I know it can and should be a lot better.

I'm not Bruce Wayne and can burn cash for shits and giggles.  I'm just a guy that wants 2-3 million for retirement.  At the moment, I'm about negative 300k on that journey.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mattering & Legacy

What are the things that matter?

Actually, what matters at all?  As I grow older, old wisdom finds vindication in quietly reminding me, "told you so."  Bastards.  At the end of the day, I have no one to blame but myself.  Here's to hoping that others will fuck up just like me, and millions do, but just won't mess up quite as epically and let sense rather than pride become their mistress.

I'm what I call a lucky bastard for show.  Beautiful, loving wife, nice car, relatively expensive toys, nice house in the burbs, condo in another city, prestigious job that sucks and a second apartment in the city with a 10 minute walk to work.  Shit, life for a 29 year old can't get much better can it?  Truth is that I'm teetering on the edge of financial irresponsibility and when the house falls, I'm not going to have anything to show for it and life is going to get ridiculously rough.  So it's time to buckle down and fix my mess.

So what's my problem?
I'm financially obese and about to die of a financial coronary any day now.  My cholesterol is sky high and I know it, but I haven't had my stroke yet.  If I keep it up, the stroke will hit me ridiculously hard.  I said I was a lucky bastard, right?  I'm lucky mostly because my parents were hardcore and bestowed many advantages on me rather than any hardcoreness of my own.  5 years ago, I think I earned hardcore as a birthright and my Asian heritage.  Hardly so.  Though I struggle, Kids and adults everywhere are coming out of the woodwork scared shitless about $3000, $5000, even $10000 in credit card debt as well.  Others have $100k in student loans and are barely scraping by on a monthly 4-figure income. Some are working through their problem, taking cues from the hardcore, and living like sardines in the ghetto or free-balling it with a makeshift bed in their van wondering when the next time Fruit-of-the-loom is going on sale, or wondering if their next promiscuous date out would notice that their current pair is the only clean pair not reeking of goodwill.

Me?  I'm kind of chugging through it.  As of October 2012, the following is my yolk to bear:
  • $206500 30/yr mortgage @ 4.25%
  • $30000 6/yr underwater 2013 model car @ 6.8%
  • $59132 in credit cards ranging from 2% to 30%
  • $53616 in student loans @ 3.25 & 5.5%
  • $750 in medical bills
  • No savings
  • Living month-to-month
Most of the items in the aforementioned list are fairly normal and decent.  But most will ask, WTF is up with the car and the credit card debt?  Feel free to judge me all you want.  I need the criticism on doing stupid shit so I swallow my pride and get myself out of this hole of debt that consumes my every waking moment.

Daily, I think, 'can I afford $5 to eat lunch from a cart?' 'Nah, I'm overdrawn and am getting paid in a week.  Just gotta hang tight...'

So if this looks bad (or semi-palatable), the last several months have been rife with grief as it's property tax season and I had to scrounge up $5k for taxes on a budget that doesn't put anything aside.

In this rat race of life, I'm probably at least in the top 80th percentile for materialistic show, but what really matters?  Nothing really.  All that I will die with will be non-material.  Not because I can attain them for some reason, but because they don't mean anything tomorrow.  Who cares about the iPhone 3GS now that the 5 is out?  My house, my car, all these things will be nothing.  The only thing I will get to die with is possibly in the love of those around me, if I don't bitch slap them away like my father did.  Here's to hoping that when my time comes I will pass on in mutual, deep, real, fiery love.

Love you babe.