What Do You Get For Someone Who Wants Nothing?

funny-birthday-wishesWhat do you do for someone’s birthday when they literally want nothing? Today is my birthday, for any of you out there who care. And I really struggle with the question, “What do you want for your birthday?” Along with that question are “What do you want for Christmas?” and “How many cups of sugar does it take to get to the moon?” I don’t know!

I have a problem. There were really only two things I wanted this year: money to pimp up my blog a little (coming soon) and Monopoly Deal (delicious if you love Monopoly but hate sitting at a table with your loved ones turned enemies for hours at a time). My mom took care of both of those, so when my wife asked me, I couldn’t give her a straight answer.

“Maybe I could get you a pair of jeans,” said she.

“I have a pair of jean,” said I.

“Yeah, you have ONE pair of jeans that you wear every day,” said she.

“Hmmm…nah,” said I.

The thing is, when it comes to my birthday and Christmas, that’s the time where I ask for all the things I’m too cheap frugal to pay for myself. But right now, I really don’t have any needs, and I really suck at wants. Sure, I have some wants, but I doubt my wife would be cool with wiping out our emergency fund for a trip to Germany :)

My wife is awesome

I usually get up at 5:00 a.m. every morning to do my freelancing, so when I went back into our bedroom to give my wife a kiss goodbye before work, there was a grocery bag on my side of the bed full of stuff. I’m notorious for “wrapping” gifts in the wrapping I take those babies home from the store in (aka the bag), so that was the first perfect thing.

When I opened it up, the first thing I saw was a pair of jeans, which I accepted and was happy to see they only cost her $13. There was also a t-shirt, which she likes to get me every once in a while, Skipbo, because we love playing card games with each other mano y mano, and a jar of salsa, which is always a perfect gift because I would marry salsa if I could. She’s also making me dinner tonight and taking me to see Captain America in the dollar theater, which I’m super excited about!

Is it all Necessary?

Which leads me to the question, is it necessary to have the whole hullabaloo surrounding birthdays? Do we really need to spend all this money on each other? I mean, I didn’t do accomplish anything here. Shouldn’t we all give gifts to our moms for being freaking rock stars? I mean, they’re the ones who did all the work (good thing my mom’s birthday is three days after mine).

I was also considering asking for money and just putting it in savings, but then I couldn’t think of any purpose for it. I don’t want to put money into savings just for savings sake. It has to have a purpose, like our next vacation (which won’t happen for years now that we’re having a baby(!!!!!)). I was also thinking about saving up for a road bike, since my mountain bike isn’t really optimized for riding to work, but I was a little too late in communicating that to my wife. Oh well, I can start one of my own.

Anyway, even though boycotting is all the rage these days, I’m not calling for one on birthday gifts. I get that people like to be celebrated once a year, and we all like to get presents now and then. Heck, I love giving my wife presents and generally spend more than she tells me to. But for some reason I just really suck at knowing what I want, so sometimes I think it would be easier to just get rid of the whole thing altogether.

Do you have trouble knowing what you want for your birthday? Do you know how many cups of sugar it takes to get to the moon?

(photo cred)

Share Button

You Might Be a Personal Finance Blogger If…

bloggingLet’s face it. We the personal finance bloggers of the Internets are a completely different breed of human beings. We spend basically all of our waking moments thinking about money and scheming new angles to take on this or that. We range from the commonsensical (that’s totally a word! yay!) to the ridiculous. Here are some fun examples of it:

One of the things you’re most excited about when learning you’re having a baby is the child tax credit.

You then get depressed when you realize the baby won’t come until next year.

You can turn just about anything into a lesson about personal finance. Even dog poop.

Your self-worth is tied directly to your net worth.

You’ve caught yourself being a total jerk wad to a family member or friend because of thejerk-store-300ir “horrible financial decisions”.

You’ve been a total jerk wad to a family member or friend because of their “horrible financial decisions” without realizing it at all.

You bristle whenever you hear someone say they don’t need a budget. Them’s fightin’ words!

Dave Ramsey is your mortal enemy.

Okay, maybe not all of you, but you people fraternizing with the enemy know who you are (I kid, I kid).

You firmly believe that people who pay for premium coffee are doomed to forever live in poverty.

You consider your monthly/weekly/daily/hourly(?) update of your budget a sacred ritual.

99.7215% (yes, you calculated, because that’s how you roll) of the comments on your posts are from other personal finance bloggers.

ryanYou get weird looks when you tell people in real life about your blog.

You don’t understand why everyone doesn’t have a side hustle. I mean, come on, people!

You find something meaningful you’d love to write about, but can’t tie it to personal finance. “Eh, it wasn’t that meaningful.”

You talk about your emergency fund as you would one of your children.

Your favorite Saturday morning activity is hitting up yard sales.

You eat out only when you have a coupon or a gift card.

If you like credit cards, boy do you LOVE credit cards!

The thought of driving a 17-year old beater with no A/C warms your soul.

You secretly love spending money on certain things, but you certainly won’t tell anyone about it.

Why end there? Do my other personal finance blogger friends have anything to add to the list? :)

(photo cred here, here and here)

Share Button

Amazon: A Great Example of How Not to Live Your Life

Amazon-Logo-frownI’m not sure how many of you out there follow the stock market, but since I do a lot of my freelance writing based on it, I’m always following how things are going. Yesterday, Amazon released its second quarter earnings report for the year, and let’s just say it was no bueno. The company’s stock price dropped around 10% in after-hours trading and it hasn’t done much to gain any of that ground since.

But Amazon is great, right? I mean, the Fire phone is lame, but who can imagine life without Amazon? Everything they’ve done has revolutionized the way we think about shopping. It’s usually my first thought when I want to purchase something online, and they’ve got Amazon Smile, which is pretty cool. So I would never say anything mean about Amazon unless I felt it was necessary.

But here’s the dealio. You want to know why investors aren’t too keen on Amazon right now? Well, the company’s revenue for the quarter was $19.34 billion, which is good. Pretty dang good, actually. It was 23% higher than this time last year. And that’s the good part. People liked that. But when all that revenue went through the operating costs of the business, taxes, and all that other fun stuff (obviously I’m being overly simplistic here), they ended up with a net income loss of $126 million.

Kind of a big problem, right? But it gets even worse. This isn’t their first net income loss. In fact, they post one just about every quarter. So why is the stock worth over $300 a share? Because Founder/CEO has somehow sold investors on the idea that his company is investing in its future and they should too. Which is cool and all, if only that were a short-term thing. The thing is, he’s been saying it for years. In fact, the company estimates they’ll lose another $410 to $810 million over the next quarter, which is monstrous compared to the $25 million they lost last year at that time.

What if Amazon Were a Person?

Would you invest in someone who makes that much money but still can’t seem to run a surplus? Heck no like techno. Obviously, the company’s costs aren’t as simple as your typical household monthly budget, but there are definitely issues.

For example, the company actually sell the Kindle at a loss, meaning it costs more for them to make than what you pay for it. Why would any company do that, you ask? Because they want to be in your business. They want you to buy apps and books and music and games and all that stuff. They know the Kindle isn’t as good as the iPad, but if they can sell it cheap enough, people buy it. To them, it’s an investment.

Their logistics costs are through the roof AKA free Prime shipping. Again, why would they do that? Because they want to get you to pay for Amazon Prime. They’re also spending tons of money to compete with the likes of Netflix. In fact, they invest in every little thing that pops into Jeff Bezos’ head. Same-day delivery? Got it. Drone deliver? Working on it. Cloud computing? What? Didn’t they used to be just an online bookstore?

Lessons Learned

Anyway, the point of all this is that Amazon is giving each of us the perfect example of how not to live your life. It isn’t all about how much money you make, but how much you keep. And if you’re putting your money into so many different things, don’t expect to be able to hold on to any of it.

Also, don’t throw your money away. I expect that now that Amazon has finally received some sort of backlash for their uber spending, they’ll probably cut back on all the extraneous spending and go back to focusing on more of their core products. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself now and then with a little fun or a little project. But don’t let things get out of control. The goal is obviously to be successful in the future, and going crazy with spending now can cripple you for a long time.

Finally, be reasonable. Just because you have money doesn’t mean you need to spend it. The main goal of any company should be to maximize its profits, and for all intents and purposes, that should also be the goal of any individual. The reasons are different, of course. I try to cut my costs to save for retirement, donate to worthy causes and go on vacations. But if you’re spending so much money on this and that now, you may never have enough to do the things that you really want to do. And forget about reaching that final destination of retirement.

Remember, wealth is not about how much money you earn, but how much you keep. Now I’m going to go surf Amazon to see if there’s anything worth buying.

(photo cred)

Share Button