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12 ways I don't set an example

We bought a home in the blink of an eye -- the month the housing bubble burst.

By Karen Datko Jul 30, 2010 11:19AM

This guest post comes from J. Money at Budgets are Sexy.


I was at a loss for topics to write about the other day, so I decided to go through some of my old drafts piling up and see if anything sparked my interest. And what do you know -- I found a link I'd saved more than a year and a half ago that was just waiting to come out.


What I liked about this post is that it shows just how NOT perfect we personal-finance bloggers really are. We do stupid stuff and blow our money too, just like you -- even when we very well know it's not financially smart to do so. In fact, if you look around you'll notice that many bloggers are blogging BECAUSE they're in debt. They have awesome war stories, unlike myself. (Although some of mine below are pretty close.)


While the wife and I have gone from $0 net worth to $150,000 in a little more than three years, I am not a perfect angel. This one's for you, Kristy from Master Your Card!


Why I can suck at personal finance:

  • I eat out Monday through Friday. Every single workday. I used to make PB&Js four times a week but I seem to have forgotten this trick 1.2 years ago.
  • I'll buy milk at 7-Eleven. I know I can save 75 cents if I drive another half mile, but then you have to find parking, walk to the very end of the grocery store, walk all the way back, and then wait in line for seven minutes to pay. I consider this 75 cents a "convenience fee."
  • I spent $1,600 at last year. $1,600! I went back to see what, exactly, I bought, and, besides the necessary items like hosting for Budgets are Sexy and other sites of mine, it was all domain names. I'm afraid to tell you how many I have.
  • We spend $185 on cable every month. Internet and home phone service are included, but still. We could surely work on this.
  • If I forget my 20%-off coupon, I'll still buy something at Bed Bath & Beyond. You know how you sometimes realize you totally forgot to bring one from that stack in your kitchen drawer? I do that all the time. Every now and then I'll come back later, but usually I'm just too lazy.
  • I'll spend three hours looking for the cheapest flight, but then blow $50 checking in a bag ($25 each way). Being a guy I could probably fit everything into a carry-on, but I like having room and not playing Tetris to make all my stuff fit properly. Plus, you can't bring a giant bottle of hairspray on the plane with you (I have a 'hawk, remember?)
  • I'll leave a balance on my credit card, even though I have the cash. Granted, I do this purposefully to make me work harder to pay it off -- like when we plopped $2,000 on it for Eurotrip -- but it's still wasting $20 to $30. (Carrying a balance on my card makes me work hard to find the money to pay it off quicker through future paychecks or side jobs. I could easily take it out of my emergency fund, but I try not to touch it or else I'll be tempted all the time and have more chances to cave in.) 
  • I went looking for apartments and ended up buying a house. We went searching for an apartment one day, got lost, found a lake, saw a house on the lake, and made an offer the very next day. Three days later it was accepted, and we went from renting a one-bedroom apartment to owning a three-level townhouse in the blink of an eye.
  • We negotiated only $5,000 off said house. Looking back this was pretty stupid. Especially since it was the month the housing bubble burst.
  • We bought a house the month the housing bubble burst!  
  • I have no problem spending $4 on coffee or movie candy. If I'm hungry/thirsty, and something tasty is in front of me, I will buy it.
  • I'll be buying a $30,000 Benz soon! It may not be today, or even next month, but you can bet your sweet buns I'll be riding around in one of these sooner than later. And of course I'll buy it used; I'm not *that* crazy.

See, your boy J. Money isn't all roses and pockets of sunshine. He does stupid stuff with his money too. And the older he gets, the more stubborn he is becoming -- believe you me. It's a good thing I figured out this whole savings and retirement stuff when I did.


I might be wasting hundreds and hundreds of dollars over the years, but as long as I'm saving thousands and thousands of dollars I'm OK with that. Who wants to be perfect, anyway? Perfect is boring.


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