Mar 15 2012

Why Do Women Always Need New Dresses?

By |March 15th, 2012|Blog, Life|34 Comments|

Last week I was at a wedding where my girlfriend Tag was the maid of honor. She looked absolutely gorgeous with her hair and nails all done up, but most importantly her dress was freaking beautiful.

She looked so incredible, and I found myself already looking forward to seeing her in that dress again. Then it hit me.

I forgot the rules:

Man Logic vs Woman Logic

I will never in my life understand why a woman can look so incredibly beautiful in something and then decide to never wear it again.

Wear it Again! PLEASE!

I try to be very honest with everyone, including my girlfriend (or any other girl for that matter). If a girl asks me how she looks in a certain dress or outfit, I’m going to let her know how she looks.

If I think it’s horrible I won’t use those words (I’m not a huge jerk), but I will let her know that I’d prefer something different. If she just looks okay, I’ll let her know that too.

But when she looks absolutely stunning, I make sure to tell her as much as possible. I do this because I want her to know how beautiful she looks and I want her to wear it again.

Men Don’t Remember Clothing. It’s Always New to Us

For some reason women want a new outfit for every new occasion. I hope they get new outfits to impress their girl friends, because I can guarantee 95% of men aren’t going to realize they’ve seen a woman in a certain dress before.

It doesn’t matter what you wear, it’s going to be new to me. And even if you wear something so often that I start to realize I’ve seen it before, I’ll still love it. I only feel one of three ways about women’s clothing: I love it, I’m indifferent, or I hate it. If I loved it the first time, I’ll love it the 100th time.

And I probably won’t even realize you’ve worn it 99 times before, because my brain is too busy remembering football statistics and hardware specs on new tablets to have room for details like “what my girlfriend wore to a party two years ago”.

New Dresses are Expensive

Now that we’ve firmly established that men (at least the ones who agree with me) don’t care how often you wear the same clothing, let’s talk briefly about the practical side of the issue.

New dresses cost money. And for many women, a new dress can also mean new jewelry, new shoes, new makeup, a new handbag, and Lord knows what else you women buy.

It doesn’t make financial sense to spend hundreds of dollars on a bunch of stuff in the hopes of looking beautiful when you already have 25 things in your closet that are guaranteed to make you look beautiful!

Readers: To the women: please help me understand this “new dress for every occasion” theory. To the men: How often do you wear something before replacing it. I don’t replace my clothing until I’ve worn a hole in it.

Mar 14 2012

10 Reasons You Should Have a Side Business

By |March 14th, 2012|Blog, Personal Finance Tips|12 Comments|

If I could pick one single thing I’ve done in the last four years to improve my life, it would be taking Tag out on our first date. If I could pick a second thing, it would be starting this blog.
I mainly consider this blog a hobby, but it has turned into a side business as well over the last few months. I’ve actually pulled in over $6,000 of revenue in the last eight or nine months, which has been really helpful in paying off student loans and increasing my net worth.

If you don’t have a side business (whether it’s a blog, lawn mowing service, tech support for old people or a lemonade stand) then here are 10 reasons why you need to get started today!

10 Reasons to Start a Side Business

If you don't have a side business, you should really think about getting one to increase your income and help you be more productive in your free time.

10. Cavemen Are Jealous of Free Time – A few thousand years ago people literally spent their entire day lives looking for, gathering and hunting food. Today most of us have cabinets and refrigerators stocked with plenty of food. If the cavemen knew people were using “free time” to sit on a couch, they would be offended.

9. Diversification of Income – If I lost my day job today I’d still be making some income through this website. We diversify investments all the time to mitigate risk; why not diversify income for the same reason?

8. Play Money is Fun to Play With – Extra money means you have the ability to do extra stuff. You could do something responsible like invest it, or you could take your extra “play money” and play with it. Vacations and toys (electronics/tools for men and shoes for women) are a lot more fun when you don’t feel guilty for spending money on them.

7. Watching TV is BORING – Seriously. Your brain is sick of consuming visual and audio content. It wants to create something. A business, a website, a painting, something! Bonus: if you create something awesome, you can make money off it.

6. Additional Skills Make You More Valuable – No matter what side business you start, you’re going to learn something. Whatever skills you learn could very well help you get a raise, promotion, or even your next full-time job.

5. MONEY!!! – I’ve already touched on this briefly, but seriously. More money = more awesome.

4. You Always Have an Excuse – A friend wants you to help him move. The girlfriend wants you to watch Twilight. Your dad wants to talk about his bowel movements. Your response: “Sorry, I have to get to work on my side business!

3. Business Expenses Rock! – I’m flying to Denver to hang out with all of my blogging buddies for four days in September at FINCON. My plane ticket, hotel, food and drinks, and everything else on the trip are business expenses and reduce my taxable income. Sweet!

2. Impress the Ladies – Your chatting up a pretty lady at the bar. What sounds more interesting: Entry Level Business Analyst or Entrepreneur? Just make sure you have a business card or something that proves you are legit. Otherwise, girls will hear “entrepreneur” and think “unemployed”.

1. Your Side Business Might Become Your Main Business – Wouldn’t it be nice to stop working for “the man” and start working for yourself? A side business might start as a hobby but could turn into a full fledged career where you set your own hours, choose who you want to work with, and answer to no one but yourself.

Special thanks to Jeff from Sustainable Life Blog for the idea. Make sure to check out Jeff’s blog if you get a chance!

Readers: If you have a side business, add another reason to the list why it’s so awesome. If you don’t have a side business, what’s stopping you?

photo credit: minnesota_social_marketing

Mar 13 2012

Watch March Madness Free on the Internet and Smartphones

By |March 13th, 2012|Blog, Personal Finance Tips|12 Comments|

Today is the first day of play-in games for March Madness, and if you aren’t in front of your TV then you might miss some of the action.

You can watch all the games online or on a smartphone or tablet, but the NCAA is charging $3.99 for that service this year (which has been free in years past). If only your favorite personal finance blogger knew of a way to get the streaming service without paying the 4 bucks…

Free March Madness Online and Smartphone Streaming

If you’re cheap like me (which I assume you are), you probably don’t want to pay $4 to watch the games. Here’s how to avoid the fee.

kim englishGet out your cell phone and start composing a text to 2653. The text should read “0MISSOURI” without the quotes. You can pick a different school if you want (just make sure to put the zero in front of it), but I don’t think the school matters and I can confirm that using MISSOURI works.

You will get a text back that gives you a code. All you have to do is go to NCAA.com/cokezero and input your code, and you’re in for the whole tournament.

There are 67 March Madness games, and you can get every single one of them on the internet and/or on your smartphone/tablet with this service. One code gets you access for all supported devices.

Not All Smartphones/Tablets are Compatible

If you use Apple products then you’re all set. If you use Android products, you might be alright. If you use any other smartphone or tablet, you’re out of luck.

I have a T-Mobile G2 smartphone, and the app works great on that. I also have an ASUS Transformer Prime tablet, and the app is not supported on this platform. If you follow this link and login to your Google account, you should get able to see if your device is compatible with the app.

It Only Works For Mizzou Fans

If you don’t cheer for the Missouri Tigers, this service might not work. If you cheer against the Missouri Tigers, this service definitely won’t work. If you cheer for the Kansas Jayhawks, this app costs $3,900. None of this is true, but I wish it was.

Readers: Who are you rooting for in the NCAA tournament this year?

photo credit: RealClearSports

Mar 12 2012

My Windshield Wipers are Driving Me Insane!

By |March 12th, 2012|Blog, Personal Finance Tips|9 Comments|

I spent all of last weekend preparing for and then attending a wedding. Unfortunately we didn’t see the sun the entire weekend because it was either cloudy or just plain miserable weather. It probably rained 90% of the time Tag and I were in College Station.

And it helped me realize something very important: old windshield wipers can send a person to the looney bin.

I’ve had my current car for over two years now and haven’t changed the windshield wipers yet.

It’s time.

Old Windshield Wipers are Dangerous

When it’s raining cats and dogs outside, the last thing you need is a set of windshield wipers that doesn’t work.

The only thing more dangerous than driving in the rain with crappy windshield wipers would be driving while sleeping, drinking, and texting at the same time. If they aren’t doing their job, they need to be replaced.

Old Windshield Wipers are Loud

windshield wiper

photo credit: flickr.com/90859240@N00

Your wipers might be moving water, but if they are making a terrible sound every time they move, you might want to think about replacing them. I can’t listen to Taylor Swift when I get 1 second of her beautiful voice followed by another 2 seconds of “BJEKRJFAKSLHVMASM” coming from my windshield.

I hate the sound of old windshield wipers so much that I’ll actually stop using them until there’s so much water on my windshield that I can’t even see, just to reduce the amount of times I turn them on (and thus, the amount of noise they make).

It’s not safe if you’re like me and would rather be blind than hear that terrible noise.

New Windshield Wipers are Cheap

If you go to Amazon Automotive you can find the wiper blades that fit your car and see how much they will cost. A new set of wiper blades to fit my 2010 Toyota Camry would cost between $20 and $35, depending on how nice of a set I want to purchase.

Let’s see… I can spend about $35 to make my car 100% safer and 7,283% less annoying to drive in the rain, or I can save my money and potentially send myself to an insane asylum or the ER.

I think I’ll go with the wiper blades.

And you should too if yours are making noise or not wiping properly. This is one of those times where spending money is good.

Readers: Do you have any other cheap car tips that will help people save money on their car or have a more pleasant driving experience. Anyone who knows how to stop random rattling noises gets a cookie.

Carnival Links

Carnival of Money Pros at Passive Income to Retire
Yakezie Carnival at Miss Wallstreet
Carnival of Financial Camaraderie at Canadian Finance Blog
Totally Money at The Frugal Toad
Canadian Finance Carnival at Canadian Finance Blog
Carnival of Financial Planning at Cult of Money
Financial Carnival for Young Adults at 20’s Finances

Mar 8 2012

Michigan Gives Food Stamps to Lottery Winner

By |March 8th, 2012|Blog, Economics / Politics|18 Comments|

Have you heard about Amanda Clayton? She’s the $1 million lottery winner who is using food stamps to buy groceries. A lot of people are furious that she would have the audacity to continue receiving benefits after winning so much money.

Look at some of the comments on the original article:

Yahoo Comments

Those are some pretty hash words.

Before we go any further we need to clarify something: she is legally entitled to food stamps. There is no law in Michigan that says you can’t be on food stamps if you win the lottery (although they are trying to pass a law now that would do exactly that).

Amanda Clayton is a Law Abiding Citizen

I’m not angry at Amanda Clayton. She’s obeying the law and taking the benefits she is legally entitled to receive. You might think certain tax laws are stupid, but that doesn’t mean people have an obligation to willingly reject benefits or give the government extra money (see: Warren Buffett).

I made over $60,000 last year, but I legally lowered my tax burden via 401k contributions, HSA contributions, charitable donations, student loan interest deductions and investment losses. I didn’t “need” to reduce my taxable income to keep a roof over my head and food on the table; I did it because I had a legal right to do so. Does that make me a bad person? Hardly.

The Government is Too Dumb to Get Charity Right

This situation is a great example of why the government is so terrible at “charity”. They can’t even write the rules well enough to prevent people with a net worth of hundreds of thousands of dollars from receiving the benefits.

Let’s not forget that people can legally use food stamps for unhealthy foods like soft drinks, candy, cookies, snack crackers, and ice cream. They can also use food stamps for luxury foods like steak, seafood, and bakery cakes. What a great use of our tax dollars!

Why don’t we reduce taxes and let charities and communities be responsible for feeding our neighbors?

Food stamps didn’t even exist until 1932. Think about yourself, your neighbors, local charities and churches. Do you think all of those people would allow your neighbors to starve or be malnourished? Of course not. Do you think those people would do better than the government in ensuring hungry people get healthy food and don’t abuse their services? I think so.

Don’t Blame Amanda Clayton

Amanda Clayton won a $1 million lottery. She took the lump sum payment which reduced it to $700,000. She paid federal and state taxes which reduced it to $490,000. Then she bought two houses and a car, which probably leaves her with $200,000 at most.

She’s 24 years old and doesn’t have a job.

She’s smart enough to realize that her lottery winnings aren’t going to last her a lifetime, and she’s legally accepting $200 of monthly benefits from the state (to which she just gave $30,000 in taxes). If you don’t think she deserves the benefits, then don’t get mad at Amanda Clayton; get mad at the state of Michigan and the government’s horrible mismanagement of providing food assistance.

Mar 7 2012

A Tax Refund is an Interest Free Loan to Uncle Sam

By |March 7th, 2012|Blog, Personal Finance Tips|30 Comments|

Some people love their tax returns. They feel like they are getting a bunch of free money from the government. Unfortunately it’s not free money; it’s your money! And if you’re getting a big tax return, that means you’ve been missing out on your money for as much as 16 months.

This is especially harmful for people who are living paycheck to paycheck. I’ve known people who have been slammed with huge late fees and interest payments because they didn’t have enough money, and then they get a $3,000 refund check the next year.

If you’re getting a $3,000 refund, that means you could have had about $250 of extra income every month last year. Instead you let Uncle Sam hold onto it.

Your goal should be to get the smallest refund possible. That way you get to spend your money as soon as you make it instead of letting the government hold onto it.

Uncle Same with your money

Full Disclosure: I got a $1,000 refund this year, which was poor planning on my part. Last year I got an $84 refund; that was pretty awesome!

Here are the rest of the topics I’ll be covering today for Whatever Wednesday. If you want to be a part of next week’s post, make sure to follow me on twitter or facebook and tell me what to do.

Whatever Wednesday

Personal Finance Anagrams

I found a lot of personal finance anagrams, but none better than my buddy at Punch Debt in the Face.

Punch Debt in the Face = Enhanced Pubic Theft, Abduct Chief Pee Ninth, Cheapened Butt Finch, Debutante Chef Pinch

Other good anagrams of great personal finance sites include:

Thousandaire = Dinosaur Hate, Radiant House, Handout Raise
So Over Debt = Verbose Dot, Bored Votes, Sober Voted
Budgets Are Sexy = Grade Busty Exes, Bad Geyser Tuxes, Breasted Sex Guy
Wealth Informatics = A Rematch Foils Twin, A Flamenco Hit Wrist, Chairwoman Leftist, Reattach Wolf Minis
Money Reasons = Nosey Oarsmen, Erase My Noons, Moaners Yes No

College Basketball Predictions

Jeff asked me to talk about a mid major basketball program that is going to do well in the NCAA tournament. I don’t follow much college basketball aside from the Missouri Tigers, but I do have a prediction. The biggest mid-major win in the conference this year is going to be some mid-major team upsetting the Kansas Jayhawks. It happens almost every year.

2011: KU loses to Virginia Commonwealth
2010: KU loses to Northern Iowa
2006: KU loses to Bradley
2005: KU loses to Bucknell

As soon as the brackets are set, look for a mid-major team that will play KU in the 2nd or 3rd round and pick ‘em. Oh, and pick Mizzou to win the national championship.

Spring Training

Joe wanted me to write about how the Detroit Tigers are going to win the World Series. I reminded him about the last time Detroit was in the World Series and how the St. Louis Cardinals beat the crapola out of them in 2006.

Speaking of World Series championships, I seem to remember St. Louis winning the World Series last year as well. I believe that gives them 11 World Series titles; the most in the National League and second most in the history of Major League Baseball. If you’re going to Vegas and want to place a bet on a team to win the World Series, I recommend St. Louis. Just remember that I’m a blind homer and really don’t know much about baseball.