My Debt Story

My get out of debt story…every post from 2007-2012…right here. If you have a few hours and want to read an interesting story about my journey, grab a cup of joe and dig in. It’s all here.


If I spend too much time blogging…I’ll never get out of debt

JANUARY 21, 2007

I love to write. I really do. I also love to sell.

I really should be selling right now.

But, I want to get this blog set up, so that I have a place to vent, and document my frusterations, elations, and all that jazz in between. I have alot of work to do between now, and March 1st 2007. And I mean alot.

I went out to dinner with friends last night, spent $12! Yikes. I can’t do that again. I don’t have $12 to waste at the moment on expensive dinners. I did go to costco yesterday and stocked up (spending $39) on chicken, rice, beans, and some seasoning. Should keep me fed for a few weeks at least.


I have the most debt of anyone on NetworthIQ

JANUARY 21, 2007

Crap. So, I thought that NetworthIQ seemed like a pretty cool little tool I could use to help me track my assest and debts.

I have alot of debt. I realize that. I looked at some of the other really super high debt amounts on NetworthIQ, and everyone with a higher (or lower, however you want to look at it) number had something messed up, like they forgot to count their house equity as an asset. So, I’m gonna go bankrupt, right? Wrong.

Here is how I rank vs. average people on NetworthIQ:

My debt vs. others at NetworthIQ


exhausted, tired, but thankful for no paper cuts.

January 21, 2007

So, It’s Sunday night and I’m at my office trying to sort through everything to prepare for tomorrow when I will begin negotiating with my creditors. I went through about 3 months of mail, opening old statements and bills. Not very fun, actually. I’ve created folders for each of my creditors, and one file for my student loans (which I am not including in the “bad debt” I owe of $344,442).

Some good news
One piece of good news: I found a ‘lender option forbearance application’ for my citiassist private loans. I can defer payments for a year (interest continues to accrue). I will send this in tomorrow, should allow me to postpone these for a year. At this point, I need to conserve as much cash as possible, so I have to do this.

I haven’t decided what to do with my credit cards yet. They are the smallest amount of the debts I owe, but they all have horrid interest rates. Here they are not looking very happy:

What should I do with my cards?

I have a few ideas, some better than other. If anyone has any creative ideas, please comment, and I will make a video of how I destroy/rid/injest/burn these. How about:

  • I make a credit card milkshake. Like a normal milkshake, but I shred up the cards and drink the whole thing in like 60 seconds. Is there any ink or anything that could hurt me if I do this. I want to “eat” my sins.
  • I blow them up.
  • I burn them
  • I shred them (boring!)
  • Video taping the best suggestion I receive from a viewer

I’ll make the decision about the cards in a few days. Time to fill out that forbearance application…

Oh, and I had my chicken on my george foreman tonite. not bad. I’d better get used to it.


since when did cheese become so expensive

January 22, 2007

I’ve never used to pay attention to how much cheese cost. But my gosh, I paid over $7 for a “baby” loaf from tillamook cheese! I felt guilty going to the grocery store, but I can’t eat out…and I have to eat something. I’ve never been one to shop, now I have too. No more eating out.


Goals For Monday, January 22nd 2007

January 22, 2007

Goals for the day

  • Call 7 of 17 creditors to work out payment plan issues, starting with citibank
  • Post record of all debts/amounts owed, ect on the blog here
  • Finish e-mail project at work, get ready to send out by Wed.
  • Sell 4 advertising packages at work
  • Call Sallie Mae and Citibank (studentloan.com) for forbearance programs on my students loans there

how I got forbearance on my student loans

January 22, 2007

Read here: http://www.debtkid.com/how-i-got-forberance-on-my-student-loans


XM radio just offered me 2 month of free service if I would not cancel

January 22, 2007

Cancelling my XM radio was fun. Not.

I called last saturday to cancel and was told to, “call back in one hour because we are having a problem with our system and cannot cancel you at this time”. That sounded like bull, but whatever, I called back today.

After giving all my info to the first rep, I was transferred to the “deactivation department”. After explaining about 10 times why I was cancelling, the guy asked a whole wonderful script of qustions, “what is your favorite XM channel?” “what can we do to keep your business?” (my answer. cancel my account). “what if we offered you 3 months of service at a reduced, $4.99 rate?” (no, not interested). “what if we offer you two free months?” (interesting, but no).

Lesson? If you want 2 months of free XM radio, pretend you are going to cancel. It’s actually a pretty funny experience listening to the script the guy went through. It’s cancelled now. Another $15/month saved.


citi they aren’t shi*y

January 22, 2007

Whew. Just got off the phone after about an hour of calls to creditors. This was my first time ever calling someone and having to say, “I can’t make that payment”. It was tough.

Luckily, the two citicard reps I talked with were EXTREMELY helpful. Let’s review my first call about my 4 citibusiness cards:

CitiBusiness (4 cards, total balance: $26,407)

I have 4 citibusiness cards with balances of $7,747, $9,132, $4,619, and $4,909. My ‘current amount due’ is around $2500 in total. I don’t have that cash available at the moment.

I talked with a guy, explaining my situation, and we started throwing out numbers. He asked how much I could pay a month (on one card), I said, “$150″. He said the best they could do was $346 and drop (yes, drop) the interest rate to 25%. No joy there. That doesn’t work. He said I should look into a credit counciling service that would reduce the rate to 9.99% and I would pay around 1/45 of the balance. I have read so many bad stories of this…I am quite weary. Does anyone have a good story about a service that would deal with citibusiness? Thanks in advance.

The guy did however give me one great hint. I asked, “is there anyway to lower these apr’s, or amounts each month”. He said, “well, as time goes on, new options become available”. I of course asked, “well, in my case, what time will that be?”. “tomorrow” the guy says. Apparently there will be a “cycle” of some sorts, and I will have new (and better according to his unspoken hint) payment options. I hoping for a 0% hardship program like I got with…

Citi Personal MasterCard (balance: $3,598)
Yep. I talked with a very nice lady about their hardship program, after explaining my situation. I asked, “how do you calculate the payment” She said, “Well, we basically have to have a payment amount that allows for positive amortization, and that is how we base the interest rate”. That may sound like greek to alot of people, but I work in the mortgage industry, and to me that means, “the lowest payment amount will be a 0% interest rate. find the lowest amount you can pay, and that will set your interest rate at 0%”. So, I said I could pay $50/month. She said that would then give a 4% interest rate. Not bad.

But, why get 4% when you can get zero right? (I was assuming I could get 0%). So I say, “gosh, you know, I think I can only do $40/month”, she replies, “well, than your interest rate would be 1%”. She totally knows what I am doing at this point and just says, “look, $36/month will get you 0%”. Sweet! So, I signed up for their hardship program for 12 months at 0%. The payment comes directly from my checking account, and if you miss a month, you are booted! But this was a big upper that I needed today. I’m still nowhere near budget, but I have alot more calls to make tomorrow. It’s past 8pm now, and I’m still at the office.

I realize my once great (730+ when I was 22) credit score will now be shot (under 500 I imagine by the time I negotiate everything) for years. That is the price I have to pay, just to stay out of bankruptcy. Sad that it has come to this. I should have never gotten in this far…


this is much more emotionally draining than I was expecting

January 23, 2007

Emotions.

They are a good healthy thing. But sometimes they suck.

I did not realize the emotional impact all this debt was having on me, until I began dealing with it all last week. Having to tell my parents wiped me out for 2 days. Now, after a good 12 hour work day yesterday, I woke up this morning in the same spot…exhausted, even after a good 9 hours of sleep.

I need to go to the gym today, I think that will help me feel a bit better. I’ve been eating OK. It’s just alot to deal with at the moment. I have to:

  1. negotiate all my debt down to at least 6K in payments
  2. Bring my net income up to around 9K to cover those payments and business expenses
  3. Tell my brothers about my issue sometime early next week
  4. Start seeing a counselor as early as next month to deal with all this (parents orders)
  5. continue to run my small business with 5 part-time employees and myself
  6. try to have somewhat of a life

So, It’s just alot at the moment.


chase, citi, and amex, oh my

January 24, 2007

It’s felt like a trifecta of pain today. After a full work day, I began getting on the phones again to deal with the creditors.

American Express (total balances: $2,783)

I have two AMEX cards. Lines of $500 and $2000. The balances are: $772 and $2011 respectively.

When I reached the CSR (customer service rep), I asked first about loweing the APR. “not possible”. Any hardship or forbearance programs available? “No”. “What can you pay?” “$25/month, I say”. She says that is fine. I was taken aback by this. I asked about the consequences of this, and her only answer was “higher finance charges”. She really didn’t seem to understand what I was trying to do, and while nice, not very helpful. So I paid $25 on each card and will have to come back to those in a week or two (both of the “current amount due” amounts were over $50).

Chase (total balance: $10,579)

What a mess. I calll around 6:20pm PST. I know that they close at 7pmPST, so I figure I have lots of time. I wait on hold, and wait, and wait, and wait.

30 minutes go by. I hang up.

I call back….”our offices are now closed (6:57pm), please call back…”

Grrrr. This is an important card for me to take care of. The balance is: $10,579, but I am quite behind and the amount due is nearly 2K. I have to get this payment down to at least $150/month

Citi (total balances: $26,407)

Another dissapointment. I was hoping to get my 4 citibusiness cards resolved today, but apprently my “new options” won’t be available til tomorrow. Bummer.

I spoke with my father for a good amount of time tonite. He is seeming a little more optomistic about my progress, and hasn’t called the lawyer yet…

Yet.


all your money are belong to us

January 24, 2007

All my sins…

all my debts


responding to some comments

January 24, 2007

I figured I’d post a response to some of the insightful comments the past few days…

…Advice: take a really hard look at where you spending money (then stop it), get a part-time job (instead of going to the gym and writing a blog), use the part-time money to help pay off the loans… – amazed in austin

I have cut my spending dramatically, no more eating out, cancelling a few superfluous (ohh, smarty pants word!) programs, ect. As for the gym membership, it really helps me work and feel better to work out, so even it is $30/month, I use it quite regularly (it is only a block from my office), and net-net I think it helps overal more than hurts my present situation.

As for geting a part-time job. Not an option at this moment, unless I figure out a sweet way not to sleep! (then I could get a graveyard shift somewhere). I am already working 11-12 hour days at the office, not counting commute time (another 40 minutes total).

So? have you thought of putting your business on hold for a while and going out an getting a job? You are 23. You have PLENTY of time ahead of you to be self emplyed. – Chris in Boston

Running my business is the best option I have at this point. I also have 5 part-time employees (10-20 hours a week each) that I would have to fire. I have been running my own business since I was 20, and when it is going well, I do pretty well. Example: In March of last year we did over $13,500 in Gross Profit on $18,000 in revenue. Net/Net 9K to me that month if needed. So, if I can ramp up my business again to those levels, I might have a shot at avoiding BK. If someone were to offer my a $150K salary job right now…of course I would take it! But, I don’t see that very likely being 23 with a bachelor’s degree.

My question is how on earth did you get this far into the hole? Did you have a margin call? I mean even a bad trader would see warning signs and perhaps take action sooner than later. – Chris in Boston

I deluded myself into always thinking I could make it all back (classic addiction…right?). So, over a period of 3 years, it all added up and snowballed as I got more credit to cover expenses and such from the loses I was taking. It wasn’t fun, and I didn’t get a “rush” from trading, I did however for a long time think it was the only way I could get back to even. Dumb. I did have numerous margin calls trading stocks, options, and forex (currency). Should have traded with Zecco.

Good question though, I mean really, who does this? I’m still trying to figure out why I let myself get into this sitution. From all outside appearances I have a successful small business, a half-million dollar house, and lots of friends, all at 23. If some people only knew the real sitation I’ve got myself into…

have you tried selling some things? I know it takes time to go through the process but Craigs List and eBay can be great resources for generating a little extra money. – Kim L.

I am working on this front. I have a box of things I need to put up on ebay/craigslist. I think this will be a weekend project at some point, because I do need the extra cash. Thanks for the tip Kim L.

get a part-time job (instead of going to the gym and writing a blog) – Amazed in Austin

Why write a blog about my experiences? Two main reasons:

1. Mostly for myself, writing helps me process things, and also keep progress of my goals, successes, and failures. I think writing is good for the soul.

2. Advice. Already I have gotten some great advice. And I need it. I cannot do this all on my own (to quote my father), and the wisdom of many can come up with better ideas than my little brain can.

Thanks to everyone so far for the helpful comments.

Keep them coming, and please subscribe! (I’m a very goal orientated #’s person…so it feels good to see any numbers in my life going up!)


the good, the bad, and the WellsFargo

January 25, 2007

I had some time this afternoon to work on my payment reduction strategy.

Right now, I’m hating WellsFargo (my own bank of 8+ years), and loving Citibank. Let’s recap

The Ugly (WellsFargo and Chase)

I have 3 lines with Wells. A $500 limit student credit card, which I plan on keeping current, as the payments are low. A 25K personal line, and a 20K business line. I called today to find out if they offer any payment programs on my two lines of credit. Bottom line: nope.

Apprently my personal line needs at least 9 payments before they can consider “re-age”, which, I don’t even know what that means. I did learn no charge off til 120 days, I’m at about 45 at the moment. So I have some room there. My goal is just to stay away from collections at this point. So, I’m going to be doing about a 1/2 payment on the personal line, if I can do it.

The business lady was not helpful at all. She basically said, “in one week, this will go to the legal deparment”. Charge off is at 120 days. I paid a small payment of $285 (seems big now) today. Need to watch this one.

Chase

The Chase lady was no help at all. All her options were, “I would recommend making the min. payment”. Like a broken record that is all she could say. She did tell me that the next “cycle” (billing cycle) would be Feb 16th, and that options might be available then. Humph.

The Bad (WAMU and Citifinancial)

I have a 15K personal line at citifinacial and a 30K SBA line at WAMU. Both are less than 45 days late. Neither have any sort of payment plans available at the moment.

I told citifinancial I would bring $200 to their branch tomorrow and a post-dated check for $300 on Feb 15th. (I’m just trying to buy some breathing room here) So that takes care of them until March 1. It was more than I was hoping ($500), but the best I could get.

My WAMU payment was/is late as of today, so I now behind on it. I have 90 days on this before write off, so this account is getting put very low on the priority list. WAMU didn’t seem too concerned, could be because it is SBA backed and it they have to write it off, they don’t lose much (I think that is how it would work).

The Good (CitiBusiness)

I talked with a wonderfuly nice fellow from Texas in the collections department at citibusiness. We basically did the “how much can you pay on this” dance for a bit…I made a few jokes, we bonded, and he started just telling me what payments would get me down to the 0% level on their repayment program. So I got three of my citibusiness cards down to 0% for 12 months!!! Awesome! This was definetly the highlight of the day. I dropped my monthy minimums by over a thousand dollars by going into their repayment programs. Yes, my credit score is going to suck, but 0% for 12 months is an offer I cannot refuse at the moment! I’ll take it.

Other Creditors

Staples – learned that the rate (APR) is not negotiable until 60 days. I am current on this. No joy here.

Litton Loan (1st Mtg) – I found a good “hardship” phone #, but the dept. was closed by the time I called. That is my big goal for tomorrow, talking to Litton. My payment with them on my 1st Mortgage is around $2500 a month. I need to get that down to $1500 a month for a least a few months. I’m just trying to buy time at the moment without adding more debt to the pile.

So, my monthly payments are now down to $7,469. Still not to my goal of 5-6K. If I can shave off another $1500, that would be a big, big help. I was at around $9,100 to start the week off. So, $1600 in 3 days, not bad. Just gotta get that mortgage down for a few months…

My Business (income side)

Business future is looking good at the moment. We started a new advertising division back in Sept. I testing our concept for a few months, and it worked, so we are selling our services full time now. If I can devote myself to selling for 8 hours a day, I can sell about $300-$400 a day in MONTHLY subscriptions to our services. That is assuming I can keep up our leads coming in as well. As soon as I get all my debt arrangements worked out, I should be posting more and more about my business side of things to get my income up and over 10K a month.

I’m off to a pickup basketball game with my younger brother (he still doesn’t know about any of this…I’m planning on telling him next week). I’m exausted, but a good b-ball game will make everything better!


our ad packages are selling like furby’s in december of 1998

January 25, 2007

No updates today on reducing any of my payments…I didn’t get around to calling Litton, and its too late in the day now.

Business Stuff

I had a great last 24 hours business wise. Our advertising packages are selling like hotcakes due to an article I sent out to a few contacts. I sold 7 packages today, and should have 10 before the day is out. I’ve got about 40 e-mails of interested people to follow up with the next few days, and that is only after contacting 1 of the 5 groups of contacts I have.

My Goal: 10 packages sold (and paid for) a day for the next 4 weeks.

If I can do this it will bring our service revenue up to around 10K a month. And I’ll survive…

But I’m tired. I spent a huge part of the day of the phones following up with leads, and I’m pooped and its only 6:20pm (I’ve been working till 8 at least each night).
I did have to go to CitiFinancial in the middle of the day to drop off the $200 I promised. I’m getting pretty low on cash at the moment, having paid alot out to creditors (in small amounts) this week. I have 2.2K coming in early next week from a old trading account, which will be well needed.

I have a $800 bill due monday for this months rent of my office. And payroll is Tuesday, I’ll need another $900 for that….

So I just need to sell!

Current ad packages sold: 40

Goal: 300 by March 1st


I fracking hate citifinancial and wellsfargo right now

January 27, 2007

So, I worked out a deal with citifinancial to give them $200 (I did this on Thursday this week, with a money order), and a $300 post dated check for Feb 15th, of next month.

The bastards cashed it on Friday, overdrawing my account.

I’m going down to the local cifinancial office on friday to have a chat with the nice lady that I worked out this agreement with. Lord help me if I end up on the news for taking out a whole office with my screams (I’m just kidding of course, but I will give her a piece of my mind for sure)

Wellsfargo is gonna get a piece as well, for a cashing a check clearly dated for Feb 15th, 2007. Anyone know any rules on cashing post dated checks?

Frack this.


On the road again…

February 11, 2007

Whew. It’s been awhile.

Not sure why I haven’t felt like writing lately, but I have a few theories:

  • When I don’t write about what I am dealing with, it makes it seem almost like it doesn’t exist, thus I think about it less.
  • I have been pretty busy (but I could have written)

So, I would probably vote that the first reason is why I have not been writing much lately. Every time I thought about it, it kind of gave me a bad feeling, so I just need to force myself through it.

Since my last post, of the debt side of things:

  • I worked out repayment on my last citibusiness credit card. Payment is going to be around $112 a month.
  • I talked with my 1st mortgage company and can “skip” two payments, Feb. and March. If I can pay January on March 1st. Good news. Then they just roll those two missed payments into future payments over a certain period of time.
  • No deals on the 2nd mortgage side of things…just been kind of avoiding them…
  • My current “bad debt” monthly payment (not all is “bad”, as $4,152 is my mortgage): $7,406
  • My current monthly business expenses: $3,300

Total Cash Needed Monthly: $10,706

Yikes.

Income

Luckily, my advertising packages at work have been selling well. I haven’t been selling as often as I would like, but we are now up to 107 packages. I think the program will max out around 225-250. I will have to spend around 2K a month in expenses on that program once it reaches that point.

Monthy Rental Income: $1,500

Current Monthy Business Revenue: $6,200

Total Current Monthly Income: $7,700

Amount Short: $3,006

Bummer. Once I hit 200 for our advertising program, we will have enough cash to cover basic expenses. Bear in mind though, the above budget does not include my personal expenses for food, clothes, ect. It does cover my insurance, car payment, and some gas though in the business budget.

I’m really probably around 5K short.

I’m spending around 1K a month right now on our advertising program, and that is not anywhere in the above numbers, so business expenses are really about 1K higher.

So, am I going to make it. I keep trying to tell myself I will, but I just don’t know. I know I can get us to 200 packages a month, which will generate 10K a month on the business side. Net of 8K though, add my 1500 and I’m still short or barely brakeven. Also, If I cannot generate enough business for our advertising client’s business…they will cancel their monthy payment, and then I am screwed.

I think that is the biggest thing I need to avoid, once I hit 200. Making sure people stay in the program by giving them great results…I just hope I can do it. I’ve got another month maybe to really get some results before I see mass cancellations…

On my personal side…I’m all over the place. I’ve talked with 1 of my brothers (I have 2) about the situation, and I am due to talk to the other one some time today. It sucked. Takes alot out of me.

It’s also almost valentines day which just makes me think of how I cannot date anyone at the moment, or anytime seriously in the near future…also kinda depressing.


god I love the internal revenue service

February 26, 2007

Who would have thought that the IRS would turn out to be my best creditor?

Crazy, right?

They gave me a 120 day extention on the $990 I owe from 2005 and instructions on how to set up an installment plan for my back 2006 deposits. Sweet.

I’m very relieved right now. Not that I really should be, as I have alot of stuff going down the next few weeks, but just know the IRS won’t be seizing my bank accounts at least until July is a big relief.

Why would that be bad? Let me count thy ways:

  1. If the IRS froze my bank account (not sure if they can do that, but my dad says they can), my growing income from my business might come to a halt
  2. You don’t want to mess with the government
  3. I met a IRS tax attorney this weekend at church….yikes!

So, I have until June 29th, 2007 to pay the $986 I owe from Q4 of 2005. That helps…now I just need to get my 2006 941 stuff figured out. I should have used Paycycle to manage my payroll earlier.

A general update

My father came to visit me this past week to look at my craphole of a situation and give me some fatherly advice (I have not, nor do I intend to ask him for $). It was nice to have his help, but he doesn’t share my optimism on the situation.

He basically thinks I am screwed and need to buy an hour with a bankrupcy lawyer.

I don’t want to go that route.

One thing he did suggest was checking out a DMP (debt management plan) for handling the creditors. I had thought that maybe I could just do everything myself, but I am getting behind on too many things, and this could be a good route. Anyone have thoughts on this? I’m assuming they do not do business debts, is this true?

Even if they only did my personal debt, between my 25K wells line, my 15K citifinancial personal loan, and few misc credit cards we are talking around 50K right there.

And if they could deal with my mortages…that would be awesome.

The House

So, I haven’t made payments on my mortgage for 2 months now….nothing for Jan or Feb on my first or second. In speaking with my first mortgage company they indicated I could “skip” two payments (feb and march), if I can pay january come the beginning of March. We will see…its going to be tight.

All my cash at the moment has been going towards Payroll for the business, my lease for the office, and bare minimum payment to SOME creditors. Only SOME.

The Bussiness – Some Good News

The good news is my business is booming now that I can focus 100% (well, minus the creditor distraction) of my thoughts and time on it. If only I had done this a year ago instead of trade away 150K….live and learn, right? Just hope I can keep living!

So, we are up to over 150 of our advertising packages sold, so this is my current montly income: $9,000/mo

BUT,

Current Expenses (newly calculated to include some advertising costs I’m incurring with the new growth in the business) are at: $12,500/mo

Yikes. So, I’m still short….but the gap is closing….I think I can maybe….just maybe close it this month. But then I have a TON of catch up work to do for my advertising clients who pay a montly fee…

Thoughts

I discussed the idea of doing a short sale on my house. I would have about a 15K prepay on the first, plus say another 10K in closing costs….BUT, my mortage payment right now is totally 4K a month. If there is anyway to get rid of that, I could make it for sure…well, not for sure. But I would have a better shot.

I have also thought about living at my office (we have an extra room that is just basically storage, and I could easily put a small twin mattress in there and sleep quite well), and renting out my entire house. This would be a net $700-$800 difference. I could then get $800 more a month from my house (to $2300/mo). So, that is an option.

I wish I could keep my house…but it is looking more and more like that there is no way. The problem is that my 2nd is at nearly 14% interest and its a 150K 2nd. That is huge. So, I’m paying $1500 a month, and that is all interest. Thought, advice here, anyone?

My Health

As for me….I’m holding up. There have been some rough days as of late. Some days I just want to give up, or not come into the office. But so far, I haven’t and I won’t. I’m often very exausted, more so than I should be, and I think this has to do my mind just never being able to rest.

I have started seeing a counselor. This was not my idea, (my paren’ts insistance) but now that I have gone twice, I think it will be a good thing. It’s going to be hard dealing with some of the issues that caused me to make such poor decisions, but I think I am ready to face them.

Thanks

I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has given me helpful comments the past month or so. I really appreciate it. This is just a place for me to keep track of this giant mess I am in, but if I can get some good advice or support from it, that is great as well. Keep the comments comin’


to short sale or negotiate?

March 1, 2007

Read here: to short sale or negotiate?


CitiFinancial….are they in love with me?

March 3, 2007

Sometimes I think the girls over at CitiFinancial are in love with me. I mean, they call me like 4 times a day, and yesterday they even sent me this overnite package with a single page inside! Wowee…

Then I remember they are calling for money. Sigh, oh well.

Check out this letter:

they love me


a subway special and a batch of payments

March 5, 2007

So, I live for the subway special.

It’s not the cheapest way to have lunch (rice, beans, chicken would be cheaper…but that is usually my dinner), but its pretty close.

$2.99 for a 6″ sub. That and a little free water, and you’ve got yourself a good little lunch meal. And today’s special is turkey and Ham. mmm…

Mon-Savory Turkey Breast and Ham
Tue-Meatball Marinara
Wed-Savory Turkey Breast
Thu-Italian B.M.T.
Fri-Classic Tuna
Sat-Roast Beef
Sun-Oven Roasted Chicken Breast

Payment To Make Today

So, since I am not making mortgage payments (still looking for a short sale expert agent in Seattle), I need to keep up on some of my other debts. So, I’m going to mail checks today to:

WAMU SBA Loan – 1 Payment (I’m 3 behind at least!)

AMEX – 2 $25 payments on each card

Wells Business – 1 Payment (maybe)

Wells LOC – 1 Payment (maybe)

Citifinancial – Feb. Payment (even though I despise these guys….I still owe them money. Just because I don’t like them doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be paid back).

Still trying to get a time to go see a consumer crediting agency to look at my personal debt situation (looking at debtadvice.org) Gotta get that done.

It’s really hard dealing with this stuff at work, because I have 4 part-time employees. They don’t know about this situation, nor do they need to. But, it really restricts my ability to do some things I need to do (like go see the consumer credit place). I pretty much have someone else in my office 24/7. Wed. I have about 3 hours in the afternoon with just me, so I’ll try to get that appt. in there.

OK, time for my ham and turkey.


pulling all nighters and loving ramen…

March 12, 2007

I pulled three all nighters at the office last week. And by that I mean I came home at:

noon (the following day), 6am, and 6:30am wed. thurs. and fri. of last week.

Needless to say I was pretty tired. But I got a ton done.

What did you do?

I moved my company webpage, where we host all our advertising clients to a new server. A zillion pages had to be redirected, and it was just a giant mess, that is just now starting to get back together. The good news is that the new hosting company is ten times faster, and we are already seeing better search results for our clients pages. Whew. I had to hand edit nearly 2000+ 301 redirects….that was a nitemare, but mindless so I caught up on a few TV shows I love but have missed the last few weeks (friday night lights, lost, grey’s).

What about the house?

The bad news with my house is that I haven’t made any payments since December. Yikes. The good news is that I finally found a short sale expert who I am talking with tomorrow, and hopefully he will be able to handle that process for me. I know I need to get rid of the house, and I am pretty OK with that. It kind of sucks, but hey, I’m dealing with it.

creditor news

Not being able to pay the mortgage has left a little extra money (after business expenses which have to be paid, payroll, lease, advertising, ect) to pay some of my debt payments. So I finally sent a payment to WAMU on the 30K SBA loan I have with them. Also, Wellsfargo auto-drafted a payment from my checking account to my line of credit with them. That kinda sucks, but I figured it would happen eventually. I do need to make a payment on my Wells business line sometime soon.

Citifinancial continues to be the bane of my credit existance. Their solution to everything seems to be re-applying for a higher credit line. Yeah, like that is going to work. I sent them their Feb. payment today, and plan on sending the March in shortly so they will stop calling me.

credit counseling

I have an appointment Wed at a credit counseling page (debthelp.org). From what I can tell, these guys are legit. I have to bring all my folders/correspondence in when I see them. I’m hoping to work out a debt management plan with them so that I can pare down the number of bills to worry about.

counseling

I’ve continued to see a personal counselor. And its interesting, I am actually really enjoying the sessions as of late. The first one I was pretty unhappy to go to (this was something my parents insisted I do…but now I am glad they did), but now I think it will be good for me. I have not seen a counseling since I was 18 (23 now), and I had forgotten that its nice to have someone who is completely confidential. Friends and family are wonderful, but there is something about knowing you can tell someone anything without fear of judgment or gossip. One of the goals of this is to figure out why and how I got myself into the situation I did. One of the big things I discovered, just in the past session is that I tend to not ask for help in situations where it will show my failings. Sadly, those are the situations where I usually need help the most.

For example, I could have easily asked my father for help (to stop trading) after I lost my first thousand. And he would have helped me keep myself accountable. I could have asked for help after the first 100 thousand. But I did not. So, in the future, when I am in trouble, I need to realize that often my bad behaviors have a snowball effect that if not stopped early.

It sucks to learn stuff like this about yourself. But encouraging at the same time.

income stuff

My business has slowed down on the sales side of things as I’ve been working so much on our web stuff. We are probably around 160 packages sold. My initial goal was to rush to 200 and then catch up with all the work to be done. Well, its too late for that, and so now I am doing the catch up work, but we are not at 200 yet.

I would say as long as I can keep our clients happy with the amount of business they receive from our ad packages, we should be able to reach 200 by the end of April. And 250 by the end of May.

Also, I’m really close to selling my scooter for about 2K. I need to get it into the shop, but just didn’t seem to have the motivation this weekend.

business taxes

I have to do our business taxes by tomorrow. I was supposed to get this done this weekend! Crap!

Ramen

I got a hot pot for the office (that is how I survived 3 nights here. I realized that one of the major reasons I would go home was just to eat food. So, I brought some snacks, soup, and ramen into the office) and I love it. Thanks to everyone for the lunch tips!

And regarding updates,

I do wish I could post more, it’s just not a priority at the moment. I’m sure if I end up living in the office for a few months (which is looking like a strong possibility), I may post more as I’m bored.


deed in lieu, short sales, and salsa…oh my

March 15, 2007

Thanks for all the positive comments as of late. I appreciate them, its good to hear some reinforcement that what I am trying to do seems to be the right track according to others. Not that I base all my actions on what others think, but you know what I mean.

Meeting with the consumer credit counseling lady

This was good and bad. Good because she gave me some good tips about dealing with the mortgage companies in trying to get a short sale or other arrangement worked out. Bad because I was late, and apparently I set up only a housing appointment, so we didn’t get to set up a debt management plan for my other personal debts. We did a budget (very quickly…I was late), that I will maybe put online somewhere if I have time this weekend. I have another appt. next week to look at setting up the DMP. It doesn’t sound like it would actually reduce my payments, but it would allow me to pay off the debt much, much faster.

This is all assuming I don’t declare bankrupcy (which the counselor brought up…). I still don’t want to go this route, unless I absolutely have too.

Short Sale Agent

I am meeting with a short sale real estate agent specialist tomorrow (well, today now, as I’m up late working) morning. Should be interesting. I’d like to sell/get out of the house by July’ish. Maybe even June if possible. From what we talked about, it seems like getting bank approval will be the most difficult part (in 3-4 months it may be easier, in the pre-foreclosure process, but I am not that far behind yet).

Back to boring, tedious, but important work…

Ohh…the salsa (in the title). I just had some chips and salsa…it should be an interesting night for my dreams!


when life gives you lemons…

March 18, 2007

Make more money.

No, I am just kidding. I don’t believe money equals happiness (although I swear I saw some study about upper-income, but not super rich people being slightly happier…whatever). But in my situation at the moment, I can’t have any fear about trying to make lots and lots of money. In fact…I HAVE to make lots and lots of money. Pressure, huh?

The House

I met with a real estate agent this week who specializes in short sales (99% of what he does is short sales). The guy knows his stuff, and I think this is the route I need to go with my house. So, I’ve made my deicion on that, and he will be dealing with the 1st and 2nd mortages on his end, which will be nice. One less thing for me to worry about.

This means I can now update my budget to completly exclude any mortage payments (not that I could pay any anyway at the moment. I’m going to do a budget online somewhere (I looked at budgetsimple and pearbudget)
The Business

Business stuff is going OK. Expenses are running around 5K a month, and revenue is hovering right about 7K a month at the moment. I have not been selling our advertising packages for a few weeks now and have been soley working on our existing clients and improving their service and return on investment. We’ve had some people drop out, but longer term, I think this new project which I lauched about 6 months will be stable in a few more month (assuming I can keep all the balls in the air until then) and should ramp up to around 10K-12K a month before the market is tapped out for what we are doing. Hopefully I can get us to 12K by June.

I’m doing some exciting stuff at work. Now that I am not trading and staying up 20 a hours a day doing that, my mind has been much more creative and able to focus almost 100% on building the business. Also, my interactions with my employees and even my friends have been much better since I tapped all my money out about 2 months ago.

And for anyone curious, no, I have not traded since I stopped two months ago and really took stock of what I had done. I have no intention of ever doing it again. It has no appeal to me whatsoever anymore. I have many other good things in my life I can focus on. I do not worry about falling back into that bad habit again.

The Life

My life is going OK. I feel I am at a HUGE transistion point. I’ve come to terms with how I had been living the past 3 years (basically a huge lie), and I’ve told all my close family. I’ve still yet to tell any of my friends yet, and I’m not sure that I will. If I end up having to declare bankruptcy or they house vultures show up in another month, some may find out.

My goal is to get myself doing well enough so that I can feel comfortable telling them in like 2 years or something when I have everything paid off (that is my goal….2 years, if I can get through this summer…). But for now, I’ve told my family, and I feel comfortable with that. I’ve made other mistakes in my life, some fairly big, and sometimes you tell people, sometimes you don’t. It’s not that I’m hiding anything, you know, its just not everyone needs to know everything about your past. Maybe I’ll write a book someday and I can air all my mistakes then! That would be the day.

I actually feel pretty good as of late. I’m stressed for sure. I still have to do the 2006 taxes for my business, and I have a zillion other things to do at work, but I’m handling it OK. It’s just such a relief to feel more like an honest person now that I am not trading. My business is honestly doing OK, and so when people ask, its very nice to be able to be upfront and exciting about what I am doing. I haven’t been able to do this for like 2 years, so its very freeing.

The Girl

or lack there of.

I am in no position to be dating…right? The thing is…I haven’t dated anyone for almost 2 years now. And now that I am feeling honest with myself and a little more confidant…I actually feel like I want to date someone.

Worst timing ever, right?

Maybe yes, maybe no. Let’s say I actually do make it through the next few months, and maybe into the fall. Without my house payments…suddenly all my debts + business expenses is under 9K a month. So, say a few hundred for groceries (my insurance, and car and cell phone are all under business expenses), and some social money, and suddenly now I only need 10K (only 10K!) a month to pay all my bills.

I’m at 9K right now! (with my 1500 a month from roomates…and that is only for 2 more months).

So, its looking possible. Granted, I need to add in a payment plan to the IRS that I haven’t set up yet, so maybe more like 11K a month. But that is possible…

So back to dating. My thing here is…yes, I made some huge mistakes. But should I completly put my life on hold and punish myself to death for the next 2 years? I just don’t know if that is the best move life wise.

I just don’t know.

I just don’t know about alot of things these days.


nothing to lose, everything to gain

March 22, 2007

My whole life seems to be turning upside down these days.

  • I will be living in my office (for at least a short time…maybe longer) in 2-3 months, assuming I can get my house sold
  • I am no longer in the business I began 2 years ago, and though in the same market niche, am doing something I never imagined (but I do enjoy)
  • 2 of my close friends are moving out of the state, leaving me looking for new friends (in all my spare time! right…)

I am meeting with the credit counsling place again today. We are going to get a debt management plan set up. This will be a good thing for me longer term. The only problem I have is that a good portion of my debt is under my business (though personally guarenteed by myself and my social security number). The lady was not sure if business debt could go in the DMP. I really doubt it.

The good news is that I already negotiated my 4 Citibusiness cards down to 0% for 12 months. The bad news is that I have 50K in 2 business loans with WAMU and Wells. WellsFargo closed my business account, and I told them I would be calling them this afternoon to figure something out (after I talk with the debt counseling agency).

So, at this point, with nothing to lose (my house is going, my friends leaving town, the girl I was interested in has a boyfriend now…) what am I?

Very dangerous.

Not in a bad way. No, I’m very dangerous in the sense that with no ties, very little commitments (outside my business), and a hell of determination to get out of this mess, I have a freedom I’ve never had before.

Since I stopped trading and came clean with the family (it’s been over two months), ideas have been flowing like water. I’ve had more great business building ideas in the last 2 months than I had all of last year.

And I am actually acting on them, not just dreaming about them. Our advertising program is generating over 7K a month now, and I have a pretty solid plan to stabalize this income, and grow it to around 12K in the next two months.

12K a month? Holy crap. That’s a lot of money. And with my biz expenses running a little over 5K a month, that’s not bad for takehome pay (not that I would take all that home of course).

But that’s just the beginning. I think I can start up two new programs this year (in our same niche) that will generate 20-30K if they go as planned. 40K a month? I could stop writing about all my problems here with 40K a month!

I have alot of work ahead of me. Lots of work.

So, I am excited. I am scared. I have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

Side Note: I’ve noticed that nearly half of the traffic to this blog comes from that crazy Casey Serin kid. I don’t have time to read all his posts, but my gosh, that guy is crazy. I have to give it to him though, he does know how to write compelling content, no matter how nuts he sounds most of the time. I think I should challenge him to a business contest or something (ie, whoever gets to 20K a month first in net profit buys the other dinner or something). Anyway, just a thought.

P.S. Thanks for all the comments, some have been very useful! (that is one of the other reasons I keep writing here…some good encouraging comments) Some people bash, but that is totally understood, and I deserve it. I won’t deny that. But it’s nice to hear encouragement as well.


the times they are a changin’

March 28, 2007

The Housing Situation (good news)

So, I’ve mentioned that I am trying to short-sell my home (with its over 4K a month mortgage payment). It got an offer this week, and now it will be up to the 1st and 2nd Mortgage companies to decide to approve it or not. If it goes through (which, I hope they see is the best option for them…otherwise it will go to foreclosure), it will be a big relief for me, although not really financially, since I haven’t been able to make the payments on the house since Dec. anyway. But still, it will allow me to focus on my business, and the plans I have to work out the rest of the debt hole I’ve gotten myself into.

I’ve told the renters in my house (my roomates) that they have until early summer to get out. So, it looks like I will get maybe 2 more months of rent from them (much needed!). Whew.

(bad news)

The bad news here is that I need to find a new place to live in about 2 months. I’m not worrying to much about it now, as I’m focusing on continuing to build up my business income (which is around 7K at the moment a month). I will likely stay in my office for at least a few weeks, if not the entire summer. I know my friends will think I am crazy (especially since they don’t know what I am dealing with debt wise), but it will save me $500-$600 a month that I would spend to get a small place of my own. So, for at least a month it looks like I’ll be shacking up in the office.

The other bad news, is that before I shock the crap out of myself and really looked at how I was living (and losing money), I accumulated a whole bunch of crap. So, I’ve got all this stuff to get rid off. The upside here is that I can sell alot of the stuff (dvd’s, books, misc electronics, ect). I brought a 8GB MP3 player to one of those “we sell it for you on ebay” stores. I wanted to test how easy it was, before I start bring them carloads of stuff to sell. So far, it seems pretty easy.

Why not sell myself? I just don’t have the time right now to spare. At the moment, time is against me, and I only have so many things I can keep strait in my head. Between fielding creditors, trying to short-sell my house, growing a 4-employee small business, and trying to eat, I think having a drop off place sell my stuff will be good for me (even though they take 35%). Some of the bigger items I have I will put up on craigslist. Good news here is this will also raise some cash, that I desperately need.

The Debt Management Plan

So, I went to the consumer creditor place again and we got a DMP plan all set up. To get it rolling, I just need to send in the $960 that is the first payment. Yikes. We did a budget, and the plan will cover all my personal debts except for my small WellsFargo Credit Card. It does not cover my business debts at all. So, here will be the debt situation in about a week:

My Debt


my current debt

March 28, 2007

I’ll keep this post updated with the most recent screen shot of the basic form of my debt spread sheet

My Debt


$33 of pride

April 3, 2007

The House
This weekend some friends of mine offered to help me clean up around my house and getting ready for sale (although it already has an offer). How nice, right?

In the end, yes. But for a while I was like, “why am I doing yardwork in a home I am short-selling and that already has a good offer?” Plus, I spent $33 on bark, and flowers, and dirt. I was feeling really dumb. My bank account is overdrawn at the moment (I didn’t compute my business cashflow correctly and the last payroll run killed me). And $33 is not something I have to spare on a wasteful event! Let alone the time and energy to weed and clean and crap. Humph.

Then we actually started working. It was a beautiful day out, and spending time with my friends weeding was probably the most relaxing and fullfilling thing I’ve done in some time. I started off so bitter about my pride (why don’t I just tell my friends?), and ended up pretty OK with the situation. Yes, it was a “waste” of $33…but taking a little bit of good pride in my house made me feel not so crappy about this whole giant mess.

Still, keeping my whole debt fiasco under wraps is having more and more concequenses both emotionlly and financially:

  • My friends eat out quite a bit (financial side)
  • I’m having to lie about why I am selling my house (emotional side)

Responding To Some Comments

  • I have not listened to Dave Ramsey’s show. But I have read alot on his site, and understand some of his principles. I know about the “debt snowball” method. I just don’t have ANY extra $ at the moment to pay off anything right now.
  • The DMP rolled all the personal loans/credit cards that I had not negotiated to 0% or that were student loans. I kept a my old wellsfargo student card out of the program and another citcard one that I got for 0% for a year. I want to try and pay those off on my own
  • I will be selling some of the bigger items around my house on craigslist in the next month. Thanks Charles for the tip about amazon for books.
  • The new updated debt sheet does look ALOT better than the old $334,442 in debt one. BUT the only reason for that is the new one assumes I get my house sold. I may and likely will have tax liabilites from the short sale. I’ll update more when more happens
  • Yes, I got 0% for 1 year on many of my credit cards. They only offer this after you haven’t paid them for many months. It’s not a fun route to go. When I went in for my last credit counseling apt they got a copy of my credit report. My score has gone from a 709 (when I bought my house) to now in the 400′s. Yikes.
  • The 120K I owe my mother was not a loan. She put me in charge of investing her money, and I day traded it away. Of all my debts, this is obviously the hardest one on me. It has affected our relationship, but it has not destroyed it.
  • I ran that tracert thing someone mentioned and the “casey” was from West Sacramento. So, there you go. Seems like it was really that guy.
  • It seems some people like reading this blog. Thanks for the comments. I can’t post daily, maybe someday, but right now I have to focus on my business, and selling all my crap.

so this is how banks make money

April 9, 2007

Ouch. This was the cash crisis I had last week. My cash situation has since resolved itself (ie…I’m not negative anymore. I still don’t have alot!).

overdraft

There was another $34 overdraft fee a day later as well for grand total of $204. Tough lesson on watching my cashflow.

Crap.

I’ll write more later tonite. Lots of updates.


paying others money makes me feel good

April 10, 2007

I just made payments.

I feel better.

The last week I’ve been putting off making some payments (internet for the office, office lease, car payment, ect) that are essential. Basically, I didn’t have the cash. I feel alot better now. I paid one payment on the car, paid office rent for April, and $100 to comcast, so hopefully they won’t shut off my interenet at the office (which runs our vonage phone lines).

The House

My real estate agent requested a 6 month Profit and Loss statement for my business. I guess the 2nd mortgage company isn’t just right away approving the short sale. I didn’t think it would be that easy. I hope they realize I’m not trying to screw them. I really have no $. I hope they approve the short sale. My 6 month P/L looked pretty bad. Granted, its improved the last two months…but still nowhere near enough to pay the 4K a month I need for the house.

Crossing my fingers on this whole housing situation. I just don’t want people showing up at my door talking to my roomates about buying the house because its now in pre-foreclosure. (which, I’m sure it is pretty darn close to being in that state. I’m hoping that my realtor talking with the mortgage companies will prevent this). I don’t need another thing to think about at the moment.

Selling Crap

I finally got my motorcycle sold this past week, which gave my a little under 2K is very much needed cash. I put together my first $960 payment for the Debt Management Plan, send $400 to my Mother, and put the rest in the bank.

I can’t for the life of me find my digital camera, and I’ve got a crapload of things to sell in the next 3-4 weeks. I went through my room and house and office this weekend and wrote down what I’m going to put up on craigslist and what I’m going to put on ebay. I think I can get another 2K for all my junk without too much effort.

Business

Business stuff is going OK. The good news is that our advertising program is starting to stabilize and our cancellation rate is dropping. We started selling packages again last week. Some of our sales won’t begin bringing in revenue till next month though. So, this month is gonna be tight (see selling crap above!).

I think I worry that our advertising packages are too highly priced….but then I look at some people who have been in the program since Nov. and they are still with us. They wouldn’t pay monthly for 6 months if it wasn’t working? Right? I have so much more I want to do with the program, but my bare minimum seems to be working at the moment, but that is no way to build a long term business. For now, it’s all I can do though.

Me

I’m doing OK. I get really down on myself when I don’t get enough accomplished at work. I’ve been oversleeping (like till 10/11am) lately, and I just don’t know why I do it. It’s been hard to really get motivated as of late. I know my little niche can generate more than the 7K a month I making in it now.

I had a good talk with my younger brother last week about telling my friends about this whole mess. It really just comes down to my pride and where I find myself worth from. Is it from others? or myself? or a higher power? I like to think its the last two options, but this whole mess is showing me how much I really value what people think of me. It’s easy for people to say, “who cares what others think!” It’s harder for me to think that way when I know most people DO have a very high opinion of me (that is not a boast, I think I just get along well with people).

In any case, I’m going to tell one of my friends after this month is over. There is no way around it come June 1 since I’ll be living in the office and keeping that under wraps would just be silly. I will tell my one friend before then, and perhaps one of my employees that is going to work full time in the summer for me as well. (since I’ll be living in the office then).

Living in the Office

This isn’t going to be horrible. My gym ($30/mo) is two blocks away, and so I’ll have a shower right handy. Plus, it will make me work out more (I’m a pretty fit person) than I already do.

I’m not sure about the legality of it all of course, but of all the things I’ve done, I don’t think doing this will weigh super heavily on my conscience. And I just can’t afford a place, there is no way. After next month I am losing the $1500 a month from my renters, and I just ADDED the $960 payment for the debt management plan debts. Yikes.

Spartan Life

From a readers suggestion I read ‘the millionaire next door’ this weekend. I checked it out from the library. It was good. Interesting. I’m trying and having to readjust my whole thinking on money and wealth because of all my mistakes and the book gave me some good ideas. I really liked the ‘big hat, no cattle’ line. ie…you have lots of stuff (crap), but no wealth/money in the bank (the cattle). So, if I ever get out of this mess and have extra money…I’m buying cattle.


Notice of Default posted…my roomates know

April 12, 2007

Read here: Notice of Default posted…my roomates know”>


the dorm life I never had

April 17, 2007

Today was a crappy day. It really shouldn’t have been though. The only explanation I have is that all this stuff is just catching up with me, and I’m feeling a bit down.

I mean, business stuff is going OK, and really starting to stabilize. We are at 7K a month in revenue from the new advertising program. I just started the thing in November…I mean, 0K to 7K in 6 months…great, right?

Good ole emotions

I still feel blue. I even worked out pretty hard tonite, and that always makes me feel better. Not tonite. I talked with my Mom on the phone (we talk 2-3 times a week…it’s a good relationship), and I felt a little better after that.

I went to Albertsons by my office and spent 26.50 on groceries (I got alot of good stuff! eggs, cheese, milk, bread, bananas, apples, and more), then came home and made 2 nice chicken, beans, and cheese burritos. That was good.

I don’t see my counselor again for another two weeks. I felt like I had been getting along OK until today.

House update

Talked with my real estate agent today. It looks like Greenpoint (the 2nd mortgage), wants to do a walk through/appraisal of the house. So….he told me not to clean. Funny. I guess he doesn’t want them thinking the offer we have on the house is too low. Guess I did that yardwork for nothing! Oh well.

He said we should know in another week or so after the appraisal if they will approve it or not. He said its, “just a matter of being in their guidelines….you can’t afford the house). Yeah, I can’t.

My Roomates

My roomates are having trouble finding a house they seem to like. I think they are realizing how good they’ve had it with me as their landlord. I didn’t have them do any deposit or last months rent or anything. Plus, I think I probably undercharged them each about $25-$50 a month.

I’m hoping I don’t have issues with this. I just don’t want to deal with any crap from them. They haven’t told me when they plan on leaving (I told them they had to be out by June 1. That was about a month ago when I told them that). So, I’m assuming I will be receiving another $1500 come May 1st from them. I swear, if they pull any crap (leaving stuff behind for me to get rid of, clean, ect)…

Granted, I am grateful for how they reacted to the “notice of default” posting…but still. I’ll be honest, I’ll be glad when I am not living with them anymore (even if that is living in my office).

The office

June 1 is likely when I will be moving as well. Hopefully my roommates will be gone by then. It’s going to be interesting. Part of me is just wanting the date to come tomorrow, and be done with this blasted house. Then, of course, another part of me enjoys a private shower…

My office has three separate rooms. And we really only use the largest room for business stuff. The 2nd office is my office I use when I need to be one the phone, for sales stuff. The 3rd office is currently a small “break room”, that no one really uses, but stores some snacks and water and the like. This will likely become my new room. I have a old twin mattress that works fine, and I’ll put that in there to sleep on. During the day I’ll keep the door to that office shut, and with a little luck, anyone looking in from the outside will just assume the room is just for storage.

Dorm life 2.0
I never had a traditional dorm experience. I had a short stint in the military (looong story), then 2 years living at home attending community college, then two more years at a 4 year university, but never living in the dorms. So, I was explaining to my mother (who does not like the idea of me not having a space of my own), that this will be the dorm experience I never had. Just me, my george foreman, a mini-fridge, and some books. My shower will be right down the street at the gym, and my sink down the hallway in the bathroom. Really no different than most dorms!

Some Ads

I may throw up some adsense ads on here. I don’t get much traffic, but as one reader suggested, even if I make a buck or two a day, that’s my lunch for the day! Writing is very therapeutic for me, and I’m excited to keep track of everything here…it keeps me on track!


3 months today

April 19, 2007

It’s been three months since I came clean with my whole family, and stopped trading away money I didn’t have.

Whew.

When I originally spoke with my father, he gave me until April 1st to get things figured out, or start looking for a lawyer. Well, I definitely haven’t gotten things figured out completely, but I have made alot of progress. Still a huge ways to go.

Highlights

  • House situation getting figured out (should find out about short sale approval early next week), buyer ready to go
  • Business revenue will be over 7K next month vs about 2K 3 months ago
  • No desire to trade or use credit at all (of course, I have none to use!)

Lowlights

  • No more fancy house
  • Having to explain situation to roomates
  • Will be living in office (or house sitting as much as possible!) come June
  • 15+ voice messages a day. Kind of draining…
  • Still have to tell a number of close friends…

To Do:

  1. Start selling crap. I need the money to make payroll and my 1K debt management plan payment.
  2. Keep working out. When I’m running, or playing a sport, everything goes away. I’m in darn good shape right now. Should only get better once my gym becomes my only source of a hot shower.
  3. Tell my closer friends. This will help my emotional state. I hate having to continue covering up and lying about my situation. It’s incredibly draining (especially after 3 years of it)
  4. Stay Sane.

Dealing With Creditors

I’ve gotten pretty good dealing with the creditors. I play super nice. I mean, as soon as they pick up, I’m a charmer. I’ll crack jokes, let awkward silences happen, whatever it takes to put the situation in my favor, and keep me sane.

Today I worked out payment arrangements on my two big business lines of credit with WAMU and WellsFargo. The WAMU line is 30K and Wells, 20K. Neither of those are in my debt management plan, and so I have to work them out on my own. I’m making half payment to each next week (need to sell crap!), $220 to Wells (actually already made today) and $295 to WAMU.

I’ve learned that sometimes saying nothing is best when talking with the debt collector types. As long as you are OK with silence, it can really help. Often they (especially if you are being quite nice) will outright tell you the best option for you to stay out of the next level of collections (or lawyers!).

Emotions

I was really down last night. I almost broke down in front of one of my good friends. She doesn’t know anything yet, and I can’t brake down in front of her…at least not yet.

I’m really up and down lately. I’m used to being such an even keel…(and usually very on the positive side). I don’t like feeling down, I have so many good things in my life…

OK, enough downer talk. Back to work….(need to get to 10K a month in revenue!!! I’m so close…)


my savings account at emigrant direct

April 19, 2007

I set up a savings account last year, and put a whole $1 in it last year. When I sold my bike a few weeks ago, I put $300 in. My emergency fund, you could say. I’ve decided to put any adsense $ all into this fund. So, any checks from google will go strait into here. As much as I need cash right now, I need to learn to save at the same time.


emigrant direct account


taking a bit of a break

April 20, 2007

After realizing it’s been 3 months of no trading, and trying to turn my life around, I also realized I’ve pretty much worked 3 months strait without a “relax” day. Sure, on the weekends I’ve not always gone into my office, but I’ve always done some work from home. So, this friday I’m getting some things done that I’ve been putting off.

  1. Get a haircut – I’m starting to look like shaggy dog. A friend gave me my last one (free!) and I’ll see if she willing to do it again for me tonite.
  2. Get out of the office before 5pm – It’s going to happen!
  3. Hang out with my little brother
  4. Change this awful domain name…I even screw up typing in my debt number half the time. So, I have a new domain where I’ll be keeping my journal:

http://www.debtkid.com

With my DMP and my house on the market, I’ll need to recalculate my total debt load. It’s still not going to be pretty. I didn’t even include the 50K in student loans I have as well in that original number. In any case, I feel like I’ve hit somewhat of a turning point:

  • I have a good plan for the house, and decent options for where I will be living in the summer
  • Business revenue will be over 7K next month shooting for 10K by end of June.
  • I’ve found writing here really helpful for organizing my thoughts and goals. Plus the comments I get are often very, very helpful (ie…house siting!), and encouraging. So, thanks : )

So, again, I won’t be posting on this site anymore, but will keep my journal going at www.debtkid.com. I’m going to redirect this site over, as soon as I post this.


both sides of my mouth

April 23, 2007

Everything almost unraveled today.

With my family knowing, and my roommates now knowing my situation, I started to get a little lax with keeping up my facade that I hate so much. I’m reading to be done lying to my friends, but I’m not ready to face the reality of being known as the guy 300K+ in debt.

I have 3 friends here in Seattle that I am close with. I have not told any of them. 2 are leaving for another state in a week. I didn’t want to concern them with my issues, so I don’t plan on telling them for some time. The other…I spend the most time with. I want to tell very badly, but still want to wait until the other two leave.

My cover

My story I’ve been telling for selling the house goes along the lines of, “I’m thinking of moving, and want to be able to have that freedom”…yada yada yada.

The problem

The problem is that all the cover story/facade/lying is exhausting. So exhausting, I think, that its gotten me sick. I woke up this morning with a horrid sore throat, and feeling like poop.

I just want to get this next week over with so I can tell my other close friend and be done with this whole emotional mess of telling people and get back to businesses.

Being an entrepreneur is what I am. Granted it’s not who I am. But it is what I am good at, and truly enjoy. I love watching something that I created grow. The thrill and pride in doing something that no-one else is doing (or doing something that other are doing, but better!) is truly exciting to me. I want to be able to focus 100% on that part of my desires starting in May.

The Plan

If everything goes according to plan, I will be moving out of the house here near the end of may. I’ve begun putting some of my possessions up for sale on ebay and craiglist, and will continue to do so the rest of this month and into May. I think I can raise 2-3K from all the odds and ends stuff that I’ve accumulated these past three years. It will be well needed, as my budget is short still over 1K.

Updated Budget

Made this with budgetsimple.com

Monthly income is currently around 7K.

budget_expense.JPG

As you can see, I need the extra cash at the moment. Also, the budget above mixes both personal and business expenses, as that is how I have to view my finances at the moment.

Both sides of your mouth

I couldn’t bear to not let my friend know that I was at least planning on staying in the city hear (until this, she had also been hearing my “I may be moving” line). So, I told her, I had no plans to move (except for to my office…I didn’t say that!). I told her I would explain more in a week or two.

This was before we went to church, after the service, while chatting with some people, they asked what I was up too. I gave my standard front, as mentioned above. A lie.

When walking back to my car, my friend says, “you’ve got me really intrigued now…you’re talking out of both sides of your mouth”.

I know.

it sucks.


items to sell

April 23, 2007

Sold the TV ($850…yay!). Now, I’ll use this post to keep track of stuff and add to it as needed

  • 27″ 2003 JVC TV (broken cable imput)
  • Toshiba TV/DVD Combo TV (gift from my mum a few years back)
  • Panasonic Stereo
  • Ikea Couch
  • Ikea Bedframe
  • Costco Memory Foam Mattress (queen)
  • Pressure Washer
  • Ladder
  • Foosball Table
  • BBQ
  • Misc Carpentry Tools
  • DVD’s
  • Books
  • Nice Scanner
  • Big Printer
  • Plasma TV (SOLD!)

short term business and life goals

April 23, 2007

Just got off the phone after a nice chat with my Dad. He always helps me think through everything I am trying to do, and give me some good feedback.

business goals

  • $9,000+ Monthly business revenue. Goal Date: June 1 2007 (current revenue is 7K)
  • Reduce client cancellation rate to no more than 10 per month

personal goals

  • Get house sold via short sale by July 1
  • Burn no bridges with current roommates and have the landlord/tenant relationship end amicably
  • talk openly with my friend about this whole mess starting in May
  • find a creative solution to having a place to sleep, without spending any $
  • save $1000 in my emigrant direct account (currently $300)

my debt management counselor

April 25, 2007

I just got back from a short meeting with my debt counselor at consumer counseling northwest.

I had sent in my first payment about 2 weeks ago, and she wanted to chat about what got accepted and what needed to change.

The Good News

The good news is that it looks like all my interest rates will go dramatically down right away, except for my wells personal line (25K), the biggest debt.

The Bad News

WellsFargo is being lame, and won’t accept me into the plan until a $1000 late balance is taken care of. So, for the next three months, my DMP (debt managment plan) payment will be $1480, and not the $960, as I was hoping.

The Funny News

My conselor, Irena, is just a hoot. She moved to the US (from eastern russia from the sound of her accent) a few years ago, and is really passionate about helping me out. She said some really great lines to me in our past meetings, so I wrote a few down today that made me smile:

“let’s make experiment” (she says this when she pulls up the calculator in windows to run numbers)

“God want you to be safety” (she murmured this one today, I think it sliped because the place is a secular non-profit, not affiliated with any church, but I’m glad she thinks God wants me to be OK)

I just had to write those down because they made me smile.


roomates, friends, or tenants

April 25, 2007

OK, my blood is running a little hot at the moment, though its cooled down a bit. I need to organize my thoughts here, so I can prepare for a meeting with my roommates this Sunday.

I came home late tonite, and found one of my roommates still awake. I had sent out an e-mail last Friday outlining some of the things I wanted taken care of before they move out (June 1). I hadn’t heard back from anyone, so I assumed everything was kosher.

Not exactly.

There are likely to be two potential flashpoints

1. Back Utility Bill

We didn’t get a heating bill all winter (thank you puget sound energy), and then got a big 1K one in Jan. They agreed to set up a 6 month payment plan.

Problem?

This should/needs to be paid off when the house sells.

Their Solutions

Their first solution (I heard this from the roommate I would actually consider a friend) was that they don’t pay rent for May.

Wow. I was floored.

Their second was that they pay me over the six months (leaving me to come up with the now over $1300 that is due….bear in mind, they know about my financial situation)

Wow.

2. Pro-Rated Rent For May

The second potential flashpoint is that they believe if they move out May 15th they should only pay 1/2 month’s rent. (bear in mind, they have given me no notice they are leaving, and I gave them notice 75 days in advance of June 1). I think the chances they will actually move out May 15th are very small, but still, this one really gets me going.

So, those are the two potential issues. Other points to consider:

1. We have no written contract. Everything was “month to month” (as I remember it, and I remember it exact. Apparently one roommate thinks he is getting screwed out of his “12 month lease”)

2. I never made them put down a deposit

3. There are at least a few hundred dollars worth of stains, broken fixtures, wear and tear, etc. (mostly occurring when they or their friends were over at the house wasted). I have told them they don’t need to clean the carpets when they move out, and they just need to have everything out of the house.

So, I don’t think I should waste my valuable time reading up on landlord laws….but maybe I should. At most, I’ll lose $750 if the pro-rated rent happens, and I’ll have to come up with $1300, though only 1/4 of that would be my actual expense.

Wow. Nice guys, huh? (maybe I am completely in the wrong here…but gosh, wow. I’m actually not shocked at this…I was just hoping for maybe a little uptick in decency from them. I guess not)

Sunday will be interesting.


new beginnings

April 30, 2007

Today was a pretty eventful day.

  • I had the sit down with the roommates
  • I had two of my closest friends move out of state
  • I told my last close friend about my whole mess of a situation

The Sitdown

One of the roommates decided to tell me on Friday he was leaving. So, most of his stuff is gone now (the 3-day notice was nice…not). The other two look like will be gone by the end of the week. So the good news is there shouldn’t be much rush or drama with them anymore. Bad news, no rent income for May, or at least very little.

Since they won’t be paying rent or very little in May, it looks like I won’t have to come up with the entirety of the heating bill, as is sounds like they will now pay their portion. So, all things considered, I’m short money, but at least can move on.

Sharing Time

I told my last close friend here about everything. It went well, it was hard, but its good that I don’t have to hide and cover crap up anymore. It’s really quite exhausting, and since I spend a significant amount of social time with this friend, its a big relief. There will still be some issues to work out here (ie…why didn’t you tell me earlier type stuff), but I think it’s going to be OK.

Down to Business

This next month is all about transition and stabilization. I need to transition into a new and still somewhat up in the air living situation (my office and beyond). I also need to continue to stabilize and grow my business this next month. I can’t get too caught up in my living situation and the house and everything and lose sight of the only income stream I’ve got.

I have to get my business revenue up to the 10K range.

Let’s say that again. I have to get to 10K. And soon. 7K just isn’t going to cut it.

Everything must go sale

My brother has offered to help me take pics of all my “stuff”. I’m going to sell it all. Save a few pictures and some books…everything I own is going to be sold this next month. I have to keep my car, computer, and business/office stuff, but everything else is going. I don’t need it….and I can’t afford to not have the cash.

My budget is still short, payroll is tomorrow, and I’m still about $100 short of what I need to cover just that.

I felt sick almost all of last week, and laid low a bit. Fair enough. I had been going non-stop for 3 months. Now it’s time to get my rear back into it. No excuses. I have no room for error in the next 2 months. No excuses.


er solutions settlement offer

April 30, 2007

I have a few random bills that have gone into collections over the past few months. One was from one of those $80/mo data cards for your laptop. The total balance owed cingular was $460.94.

I just got a settlement offer from the debt collector on the account (er solutions, inc. out of renton, WA) for 80% of the original amount, thus, $368.75. It says I have 14 days to accept this offer.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do here. I have 1K I still owe the IRS by July. Of my lump payments (non-reoccurring) that is the most important one. As soon as I sell some more things, that will be the first payment I make. I wonder if these guys will give me a better offer down the line. It may be worth a call to see if they will accept say 50% of the original amount. I may have that in cash in the next few weeks, and if I do, I think I’ll give them a call and see if they will accept 50% right there. Should be fun.


controlling my anger

May 1, 2007

I’m not an angry person. At least not normally. But as of late, even some minor things (and major) have gotten me really steamed.

The Roommates

So, one of my roommates told me friday he was leaving, and all his stuff was gone by Sunday. How convinient…no need to pay rent in May now. Thanks for the 2 day notice! It’s not like I gave you 75 days notice….oh wait, I did.

On our meeting on Sunday I was told by the other two roommates that I would receive about 1/2 may’s rent before they moved out. I came home today (after leaving this morning with no checks to be found anywhere for me. Bear in mind, these were supposed “friends” who know my situation) to find about 70% of their stuff gone, and them nowhere in sight. No phone call, no nothing.

I even gave those two a good recommendation to the lady who called me last week about their tenancy (they were applying for a place they apparently moved into today). I guess I just kind of feel betrayed. Taken advantage of…and I’m angry.

What I’m angry at

I’m angry:

  1. At myself for not controlling the situation better from the beginning
  2. At myself for giving people the benefit of the doubt that someone’s word means something
  3. At my now ex-roommates for knowing my situation and thinking they can just give me 2-day’s notice and that is cool
  4. At allot of things right now

I think I should charge the last two per day until every last piece of their crap is out of the house. That would be a pretty clear cut way of doing it. Then they can turn in their keys and this horrid arrangement will be done with.

I guess you really find out who people are when money is involved.

And yet, it’s still ultimately my fault for getting myself into this position in the first place (but to be honest, I would have asked them to leave this summer even if I could keep the house. It just wasn’t working for me…too many differences. Too much drinking, too much immaturity, too much drama…)


learning to cook

May 3, 2007

So, I decided for dinner last night to try experimenting with the cheapo hot pot that I’ve got. (rhyme!)

I tried boiling eggs first…

018.JPG
That worked well. I overcooked them, but now I know for next time. Then I tried a artichoke…

024.JPG

And that turned out really well actually. So, all in all, dinner for about $1.50. Not the most well rounded meal I’ve had, but at least I got some vegetables. Enough of that…

The House

Got a call from my real estate agent today that is handling the short sale. He told me that greenpoint and litton loan have both said that they short sale “meets their guidlines”. BUT, the investor that owns the loans still has to sign off on it, and that will be 5 business days. Yikes.

My emotions

When I get alot done at work…I feel good about myself and how things are going. When I don’t get alot done (or I feel like I didn’t get much done), I feel like crap. My business is going well, it’s just so complicated budget wise with all my debt. If I didn’t have the debt….I’d be a pretty well-off guy. Oh well, complaining about it doesn’t change anything.

Work Stuff

Like I said, work stuff is going pretty well. I’ve divided the next year or so business plan wise into three stages. I’m about 70% complete on stage one in terms of sales. Then it will take another 2 months or so to stabilize that phase. While that is happening I’m working on Phase II, which is a newer more cool venture in the same industry. If Phase II goes well, I’ll have a shot at making enough $ to pay down the 300K+ I owe. Phase II isn’t going get going till early fall though…so…

I need to stabilize my current business, while working on the second phase, while selling everything I own, while moving into my office, while dealing with the creditors, while trying to stay sane.

I love my life.


sell sell sell

May 7, 2007

My brother and a friend helped me take pictures of pretty much everything I own to get ready to sell the next few weeks. I’m hoping to raise about 2K in cash to get me through the next 2 months while I continue to work on my business income. I’ll be posting some items to craigslist (the bigger stuff) and others to ebay and amazon.

It’s actually very liberating to be getting rid of so much stuff. I never use 3/4 of the items anyway, and I need the money, so this is good. Also, I had a bonfire on Friday in the backyard burning some broker furniture, receipts, old ex-girlfriend love letters….it was nice : )

The House

I talked with my Realtor last week about the house. We are still waiting to get final approval from the loan investor I guess at this point. I’ll be honest, while I want to sell the house, rather than have it go to foreclosure…at this point it almost doesn’t seem to matter to me. My credit is shot, people have found out about all my debt, and if new people found out…I would be OK with it. So, all in all, I just want to be done with the big house I never should have gotten in the first place (granted, it was really just a way for me to pull more money out to trade with)

If the sale goes through, I’ll need to be out by June 1. Shouldn’t be a problem. Then a whole new adventure begins in the office. I need to make sure and differentiate my work time from “me time” when I move into a room in my office. Otherwise I think I’ll go nuts. I love my work, and I love working…but I can also overwork very easily, and then I eventually get myself sick. It’s not a good cycle, so that’s something I’ll have to watch as I move in here fulltime.

I’m obviously hoping my office life as a home will only be a short term solution to my housing problem. I’d like to be able to save up enough to put 6 months down on apartment here in Seattle, which means saving up at least 3K or more. Which means, I need to get my gross business income up in the 11K-12K range. Hopefully by end of summer, that’s where we’ll be.


short sale status update

May 9, 2007

Just got this update from my real estate agent….

I am hoping that Green point will give me the approval by the end of this week. The bank rep. is still insisting that we met all their guidelines and they don’t anticipate the offer being rejected. They had indicated that it would be a minimum of at least one week for the approval from the investor, which was as of last Tuesday. I follow up with them each day. I will keep you posted with any updates.

I’m hoping this will get approved soon. I’ve read some horror stories of banks right now so overwhelmed with everything that homes are going into foreclosure that had good short sale offers on them. My real estate agent has been really good and informative thus far in the process, which has been great and what I was looking for so I could focus on my business and getting all my debt squared away to just survive the last few months.

I also just read an interesting article mentioning that there is a bill in congress right now that would do away with forgiven debt being treated as income (which would be very good for my long term situation).


getting creative about my living situation

May 9, 2007

The more time I spend alone at my house, the more its really beginning to sink in that I won’t have a place to live in a few weeks. I’ve had some ideas (offering free house sitting, for example, couchsurfing.com) of how to have a place to stay without paying anyting, but none have seemed super great. My latest one I’ve decided to roll with though and see if it pans out…

It only took me an hour to think of the idea and write a quick ad, so if it works, and it gets me a room, great. If not, well, I guess I wasted an hour.

Here is the link to the post

or you can see it here…

The Ad
Me: small business search engine marketing expert

You: Small business and home owner with extra room.

To make a long story short, I run a small start-up business in Seattle, and I’m poor. I have a small office where I work, but at the end of this month, no place to live!

More about me: Poor yet talented entrepreneur

I provide you or your business with 15 hours a month of search engine marketing (SEM) and web-promotion consulting. I will help you understand how you can use the web to grow your business in an effective and cost-efficient manner. Many SEM consultants charge in upwards of $100/hr.

I can….

*Install Google analytics on your existing website and show you how to use it to track and analyze your web traffic
*Help you install and setup a free blog on your existing website
*Show you how to get more local visitors to find your service/product on the web
*Help you start a basic webpage with its own domain (www.yourseattlecompany.com)
*Show you the best keywords to target with a PPC (pay per click) campaign within Google/Yahoo/MSN
*Manage a PPC campaign for your small business

In other words, I can help your small business get more business from the web.

More about you: small business owner with an extra room in their Seattle home

Do you have an extra room in your home? Want to host a non-smoking, non-drinking, hard working young entrepreneur? Then lets make a deal! You need more exposure on the web…I need a place to sleep at night. (I have a small office, so during the week I would only be around the room from 8pm-10am).

I’m a very easy going, no drama, Christian young man (23). I’m creative (see this post), flexible, and am OK with pets, old people, young people, any people! E-mail me and let’s chat…I can talk with you about your business and see if this arrangement would work for you and I.

Oh, I’ll even throw in free lawn mowing twice a month! (I used to run a lawn mowing business when I was in grade school. I still enjoy mowing lawns!)

Preferred Neighborhoods:
wallingford
freemont
ballard
queen anne
downtown
magnolia
greenwood


my naked debt

May 14, 2007

It’s interesting being me right now.

Really, it is. Here’s just a small snippet of the craziness of my life right now…

Shower Scene

I get up this morning around 10, after a late night driving home from Portland to see my family for mother’s day weekend. The trip was good, hard at times seeing some family members I haven’t seen since they found out about my mess, but good.

I’m eating some cereal in the kitchen downstairs (only wearing a towel, as I was about to hop in the shower) when I see a car and two people pull into the driveway. Crap, I think. No more naked time for me this morning. Kinda weirded out (my agent told me not to expect anymore people by the house, and I haven’t seen anyone for weeks looking at the place) I head upstairs to hop in the shower, figuring they will just check the place out and leave.

So I’m in the shower, humming my way through some awful rap tune when the door cracks open half way.

I freak out a bit….then a voice yells, “Is anyone here?”

“Um…yes…”, I answer.

“Oh…are you in the shower?” (the water is clearly on and running…I chuckle)

“Yep, still here”

“Oh, my flier said the house was vacant”

“(me still showering) nope, not yet”

“OK, well, thanks”

“Yep”

(I continue my shower)

End Shower Scene

Yeah, welcome to my crazy life.

It’s actually a good thing I saw the couple when I was downstairs eating breakfast. I don’t normally have breakfast, but decided this weekend I need to eat more consistently, so I had some fruit loops (my friends gave me a box when they moved two weeks ago). Had I not seen them, and someone just opened my bathroom door and yelled in while I was showering…I probably would have grabbed some soap and started chucking the bars at the intruder. So, lucky day for him I guess.

Back To Work

I haven’t had access to my e-mail since Friday, so I’ve now got 154 e-mails to catch up on!
Down To The Wire

This week is a big test for me financially. I have $800 for my office lease I’m paying today, and payroll and a $1500 debt management plan payment that are due tomorrow. I have a nice couch I put up on craigslist last week that a lady is looking at tonite for $500-600.

If I sell the couch, I should be able to make everything this week. If not….well, like I said, my life is interesting.

After the shower scene today, it got me thinking…how much do male strippers make a night?

(Just kidding! That was me trying to be funny)


the debt management plan May check

May 15, 2007

I think I’m gonna squeak by this week. I’m going to the post office right now to get the $1480 money order for my next DMP (debt management plan) payment. I have three $1480 payments to make this summer, then it will drop down to around 1K a month.

Any more money coming in this month needs to go to:

Car Payments – I’m way behind with toyota, and if I lose my car, I’ll be up a creek

Comcast – If my internet gets shut down at the office I’ll be screwed

Business Debts

My other big issue at the moment is the two larger (20K and 30K) business loans I have with WellsFargo and WAMU. Both are very behind (but not quite to collections behind) at the moment.

I have been looking at business debt programs. Specifically

http://www.commercialdebtcounseling.com

I have been meaning to call these guys. If they could really settle the 50K in business debt for 20 or 30, it might be worth trying. I could come up with 30K somehow, right?

If they could settle the debt for 25K maybe I could get a prosper loan or another form to cover that settlement.

Other Issues

IRS – Still need to come up with 1K to pay off this bill by mid-June

House Short Sale – Still no approval from the investor to short sell the house at 410K. Foreclosure auction set for mid-August. Hoping to avoid this.

Mail – I’ve gotten some pretty funny (and creative) letters from people offering to buy my house for “a fair market value!” and other such nonsense. It’s amazing what lengths people will go to to take advantage of someone losing their home…


debt plan disaster averted

May 16, 2007

I have alot of outstanding checks at the moment from my business account, and just barely enough cash to cover them all.

Comcast

I called Comcast today and paid $224 toward my $300+ bill that is currently due for my business internet at the office. They had left me a “we may shut you off tomorrow” message yesterday.

After making the payment, I asked the lady, “how close was I to getting disconnected” “oh, you were on our list to disconnect today”

Whew. Now lets just hope some deposits from our credit card receipts go through today!

DMP

So I got my money orders for my $1480 debt management plan payment (that I am doing through ccnw.org) yesterday. I was hoping to drop them off at their office, but couldn’t get away from my office in time. So I called my counselor today and made sure I could still bring them by. The due date was the 10th! I had the 15th written down! Crap.

Luckily I guess they disbursed this month on the 17th, so I could drop the money orders off by 3:30 (I just got back) and they would make it in OK. Whew, just made that.

I’m really going by the skin of my teeth here.

Life

life is OK right now. It’s just a big limbo period right now….I don’t know where I’ll be staying in 2 weeks (my office, or still in my house?). Still no update on the short sale. I can’t date seriously (not that I’ve had any dates in the last year anyway…but still, it’s the principle of the matter). My whole life is all about my debt (and my business to support getting rid of the debt) at the moment. I do play in a competitive football league twice a week….but that’s about it at the moment.

In the next month, I’d like to:

  • Have found a mentor (non-business, preferably middle aged male) at my church
  • Attend some social functions at my church
  • Have a new hobby, preferably something creative (writing screenplays, or making short movies….maybe along those lines), that isn’t work related
  • Play outside at a park

not moving yet

May 17, 2007

Just got an update from my real estate agent about the Short Sale. The good news is that I won’t be moving to the office quite yet! Bad news…still no approval on short sale. Foreclosure auction is in August.

The e-mail:

I spoke to Green point earlier today. The person that is in charge of the file still has not gotten a hold of the investor that makes the final approval. You wouldn’t be able to close the end of this month at all. The earliest you could close is the end of June. That could change if I don’t get the full approval by the end of May. So, to answer your question you can plan on staying with the possibility that this could push over to the end of June. I will let you know if anything changes.


debt killed the internet star

May 22, 2007

So, now that my (ex) roommates have all moved out, life at the house is peaceful, clean, and perfect.

Except they took the internet with them!

What no internet costs me

Having no internet as home has been costly to me in a few ways. 1.) I usually work a split work day, 11am-7pm, and then usually 10-1am. But that second part of my work day is usually at my desk at home. But with no internet, no joy. 2.) I’ve been going to coffee shops with free wifi to work. This costs me gas, extra time, and the (occasional) $2 I’ll spend on hot chocolate. So, I need to figure out a fix for this that is doable. I can always park my car outside a library and get a signal from there (did that this weekend), but the $2 I save not buying a drink doesn’t make up for the lost productivity. I may look into clearwire, a new Seattle wireless provider. We’ll see. It’s not like I have extra cash at the moment, but without internet, my business can’t function.

Roomates (ex)

The drama never ends with these people. All the utility bills are in my name, and the outstanding balance for all bills is over 1K. I was told by all three that these would be paid to me weeks ago. I sent a sweet spreadsheet detailing all the bills 2 weeks ago asking for payment by last friday. I get a message Saturday from one of them, that was just ridiculous. I won’t go into the details, but basically this dumb ass (pardon my language) wants to be “bought out” for a few things all of the roommates bought together (and have since been left behind). It’s maybe $45 total, and I’m not fighting them on it. It really hurts me though on a personal level the selfishness I’ve seen. The absolute lake of respect and outright lies will not be forgotten by me anytime soon. I’m not a vengeful or hard person, but I have no reason to be “friends” with these people ever again.

Plus, I want my damn 1K!

Whew, no more swearing.

The House

Still no new news on the house. I did have someone from “Washington foreclosure assistance” come by the house Saturday and try to barge in. That was cool (as my brothers were in the kitchen cooking). Not.


money in money out

May 24, 2007

As I was talking with my father today I checked my checking account and saw $750 more than when I checked this morning! Sweet! Thank the internet God’s! (It was some business earnings from Google). Now, I previously said I would save all my Adsense earnings. (just to note, only about $75 was from this site. But hey, $75 is $75 right?). I can’t do it. I had to work out a deal with Toyota financial today with regards to my car.

I got a two month extension on payments (so I won’t have another payment til July now). I did this just to get some breathing room. That’s what I need at the moment. Just some breathing room. But it cost me (I should say cost, that isn’t the best way to put it) $787 in back payments I had to make to skip two. Like I said, money in, money out.
I sold some items in my Garage this week and have people coming by tonite to look at more stuff in the house. If I can make a few hundred bucks tonite, that will be great.

At my fathers insisting, we are going to sit down with a Bankruptcy attorney here in Seattle. I am NOT filling a BK. Let me say again, I am NOT filling for bankruptcy. Frack that man, my business has gone from 0K to 7.5K in 6 months. If I had 20K in capital right now I could repeat what I’ve done in this one industry in ten others in 6 months. But, I don’t have 20K and so I can’t. Live and learn I guess.

A friend is bringing pizza over to the house tonite to play some games. Should be fun. It’s amazing how with my honestly with myself and my whole mess my social and personal life has gotten so much better. I’ve got lots of social things going on now, but I need more time to work! Gotta find that balance…

I’m thinking of adding a wiki to the site here, a place to organize all my debt contact information and strategies. Would anyone else contribute/think this is a good idea? I use wiki’s for my business quite a bit, and love em.


debt – the shadow infection

May 27, 2007

Until Jan. of this year, I never considered myself “in debt”. Sure, I was losing $10,000 in a single day. But I wasn’t “in debt”. I didn’t have a “debt” problem. My problem was that I wasn’t having enough winning trades!

How delusional.

Debt is personal. It’s a 24/7 shadow that infects every aspect of your life. social. physical. spiritual.

I’ve never dealt with something like this before. It’s not tangible, yet its effects are.

I can beat it. I have to beat it.

I don’t have a choice to succeed or not. I have to succeed. To have any chance of a “normal” life (wife, kids, ect), my business has to succeed. I’ve promised to pay my mother back (I owe her over 100K). I have to succeed.

Boredom

I’ve felt bored with my life lately, and the pace with which it moves. How can that be? I’m losing a house, working crazy at my business, have a decent social life again…how can I be bored?

Because I’m not trading.

It’s the only explanation. When I’m looking at business options now, my plans look months into the future. My old “business options” (aka, trades) used to be executed and see results within days, hours, minutes even.

And now I have to wait to see if I will succeed or not. I won’t know tomorrow. I won’t even know a month from now.

I’m purely talking about my business success here. I don’t equate my life worth, or self-worth with how much money I make. But at the moment…my life completely hinges on my business income and how I manage my debt. How abhorred a thing.

Debt, the shadow infection.


back on track – time to kill the fracking debt

May 29, 2007

I’m back.

At least I feel like I am. For the last few days I’ve been distracted (granted it was the weekend), and unable to focus.

2am at the office. Heck ya.

Yesterday brought it all back. I had been working on a plan B for my business in case my plan A doesn’t catch (It won’t launch until Sept. anyway, so I need another project to work on, thus, Plan B).

I worked from home a bit yesterday morning, (I have clearwire at home now, pretty fast so far, well worth the cost for the increased productivity of having internet at my house) and then came into the office around 2pm. I left at 2am. That’s what I’m talking about. I finally got in my grove again.

Business is fun

I think I can launch a similar service to what my business is doing now, just in a different industry. Right now my business has 125 clients, and brings in around 7K in revenue each month. But, I think I can replicate the model in different industries very easily. So, I’ve got about 2 dozen industries I think might work, and I’m testing 2 right now. I think I know the first one we will test, and if it looks good, we’ll start selling it in less than two weeks. Best case scenario, it could add 7-10K to our top line.

Feels good to be back.


short sale approved, almost

May 30, 2007

Just got off the phone with my real estate agent.

The bank has approved the short sale! Yay!

But only at a price 15K higher than what I have the buyer in contract for. So, good news on the approval, but now just need to make sure buyer follows through. If not, my agents thinks we can still find a buyer at the higher price.

Getting closer…


rebuilding my life

June 3, 2007

The last few months have been a big change for me. My whole thought processes on money and wealth have been completely transformed. In good ways I believe. I’ve also been actively trying to revive my life outside of work. When I think about the last two years (when I was trading allot), I can’t remember many social situations…some, but not many. And definitely no intimate ones (intimate not in a sexual sense, but in a relational sense). So, I’m trying to work on this part of my life now. Now that I don’t have the time!

Making the effort

The truth is that my journey is just beginning here to pay back all the debt I owe. And I can’t live my life for the next who knows how many years in a bubble of just work. I’ll go nuts. As much as I love my business, it cannot nor should it sustain me as a whole person.

So…I am making more efforts to reach out to others, even when I don’t feel like talking about my situation. I think I can find a good balance of being intimate without going into huge detail about my nasty situation. I miss my friends from a few years ago, and I’m starting to reconnect with some of them, and it feels really good.

Tracking my Debt

I’ve yet to find a really great way (beyond excel spreadsheets, which is what I use at the moment) to track my debt in a nice, neat visual manner. There are just no good wordpress plugins that I’ve found on this. I may look into writing one if I can justify spending a few hours on something that could be a good motivational/tracker tool for me. If anyone has a good plugin or tool for this, let me know. It would have to track debts individually and output some sort of bar chart or nice chart.

The House

Still no updates here….haven’t heard if the buyers have agreed to the higher price that the bank came back with to approve the short sale. Good news is that I still have a place to live for another month before the move to the office.


foreclosure mail – what vultures send when you are losing your home

June 3, 2007

The last few weeks I’ve been bombarded with letters/postcards/fliers all offering to “help” me in my foreclosure situation. The sad part is that alot of people will get taken in by some of these sharks. I’m not saying all these are from scammers, but just reading the ad copy on some of them makes me cringe…

Some are outright hilarious, others so awful you wonder if the sender just might be losing their house next because there is no way anyone would respond. Some are sad, and some sport obvious and outright lies to get you to call them. But enough commentary, I’ll show my favorites in the post here and the rest after the jump (also here)…

Vulture Mail

This one is classic. The first line is the best…”We have selected you as a homeowner in need of financial assistance that we are ready to provide!” Wow.

foreclosurespam022

I love the opening line on this one as well…and the closer, “lets beat the bank together!”

foreclosurespam001


A “former” foreclosure vulture? This is one of THREE of the same letters I’ve received from this guy in the past month…..wow.

foreclosurespam002
The rest…

This one had one side in English, addressed to me, and the other side in Spanish. I was quite confused at first because I open the Spanish side first… Not sure who the Jared guy is…
foreclosurespam023 foreclosurespam024

These ones to the glance look like they are from a governmental agency…yeah, right.
foreclosurespam020 foreclosurespam021
foreclosurespam018 foreclosurespam019
foreclosurespam017

My favorite line here is the “don’t swim with the sharks…”
foreclosurespam015

foreclosurespam014
foreclosurespam013
This one is another that gets me a bit. They try to make it look like the official notice of default that gets posted on your property.

foreclosurespam012

foreclosurespam010

foreclosurespam009

foreclosurespam008

A nice handwritten one!

foreclosurespam007


Am I at my wits end….hmmm. Yes. I’ll call you right away since you said that!

foreclosurespam006

Hmm…I usually chew on food. I may be poor, but I’m not resorting to chewing on paper just quite yet, but thanks for the idea…

foreclosurespam005

Yay! It’s a fourth of july sale!

foreclosurespam004

foreclosurespam003

I am aware now!

foreclosurespam025


10 things to do when you are in debt and can’t sleep

June 4, 2007

Read here: 10 things to do when you are in debt and can’t sleep


how many people does an inspection take?

June 4, 2007

Wow. That was really embarrassing.

Really…..embarrassing. I wasn’t expecting that at all.

I went to sleep for a few hours around 5:30am this morning, hoping to sleep about 4 hours, and then start the week off in the office. Around 8 though I’m awakened by footsteps outside the back of my deck.

I look out, and someone is walking around. Great, I think, and head back to a few more minutes of sleep. Then I see my real estate agent calling on my phone. Crap.

I pickup. “Hey, is the lockbox still outside?”

Me, “No, I took it in a month ago when you told me too”

Agent, “Well, the buyer is there to do an inspection, are you at the house?”

“Yes, give me 2 minutes, I’ll let them in”

I go downstairs….there ARE FOUR CARS IN MY DRIVEWAY! I crap you not, four cars, at least 5 five people waiting outside my house. I through on some close, someone rings the doorbell…

“I’ll be right there!” (I yell…not in a mean way, just a frustrated way)

I gather up my stuff. I’m double blocked in, two people move their cars….this is so not cool.

4 cars. 5 people.

I leave as fast as I can. This was not fun. I guess this is what happens when you do stupid stuff…hope the inspection goes well. Wish I had had a heads up on that happening! (Agent! What’s going on here? A simple e-mail anytime yesterday would have been nice…)

Alright, enough writing. I’m pissed off and I have a priority list of 15 things to get done today….

#1 get un pissed off….


unsecured debt update (not pretty, but tidier)

June 4, 2007

I’ve been updating my debt spreadsheet to prepare for a meeting that my father has insisted (and that I am interested in to some extent, options are good things) with a bankruptcy attorney. I’m trying to get the meeting set up for early next week.

I’ve divided the debt into two categories that help me look at the bigger picture:

revolving debt (monthly payments) and “one-time” debts (chunks large and small that need to be paid)

Revolving Debt

  • Mom – Total: $147,000 – Payment: $400/mo 0%*
  • Debt Management Plan – Total: $54,177 – Payment: $1480/mo 5.5% est
  • WAMU SBA Loan – Total: $29,363 – Payment: $612/mo 12.8%
  • WellsFargo Business – Total: $20,891 – Payment: $347/mo 19%
  • CitiBusiness (4 cards) – Total: $27,069 – Payment: $342/mo 0%**
  • Toyota Financial (car) – Total: $17,333 – Payment: $369/mo 5.8%
  • CitiStudent Card – Total: $3,598 – Payment: $36/mo 0%**
  • WellFargo Student – Total: $473 – Payment: $29/mo 23%
  • Union 76 Gas Card – Total: $220 – Payment: $26/mo 32%

Total Revolving Debt: $300,125

Subtract estimated value of car ($13,000)

Total Unsecured Revolving Debt: $287,125 – Payment: $3,641/mo

* My mother will not charge me interest (bless her soul). But I intend on paying her back with a fair interest rate.

** Citi’s hardship program. Negotiated 0% for 12 months.

One Time Debts

  • IRS (2006) Estimated: $12,000
  • IRS (2007) Estimated: $4,000
  • Outstanding Utility Bills: $1800
  • NCO Financial (Staples Card Charge Off): $1,132
  • IRS (2005): $1,025 – due June 28 2007
  • ER Solutions: $369
  • RMS: $168
  • AllianceOne: $75
  • Fedex: $16.4

Total One Time Payments (estimated): $20,585

Total Unsecured Debt: $307,711

Yikes. At least I’ve consolidated quite a few things here. I did not include any mortgage debt in this even though I am quite upside down in my house. My reasoning for that is that with the short sale of the house, that debt different between the sale price and my current mortgage debts will be forgiven.

That may add tax consequences, but we will deal with that later (I also read that if you are considered “insolvent” you will not have to pay taxes on the forgiven amount. Their definition of insolvent is either you are in bankruptcy or have debts exceeding assets. That’s me for sure)

Mom Debt

One thing about the $147,000 I owe my mother. This was never a loan from my mom to me. I was put in charge of managing her investment accounts and that number is the amount of my losses in her accounts. It doesn’t make it any better, worse actually, but there you go. I traded away not only my own money. Of all the mistakes I’ve made, this one kills the most.

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prioritizing debt and expense payments

June 5, 2007

Since I am still short on my budget, I have to prioritize my cash flow at the moment. This is how I’ve been allocated my cash as of late. I will update this as I have more or less cash on hand…

Expenses and Debt Payments Priority List

Higher Priorities

  1. Payroll (current)
  2. Mom Payment (current)
  3. DMP (Debt Management Plan) Payment (due in 5 days)
  4. 0% Citicard Payments (5 cards) (current)
  5. Comcast Business Internet (behind)
  6. Business Advertising Expenses (due periodically)
  7. Vonage Phone Lines (current)
  8. Office Lease (paid today….barely enough cash to cover)
  9. Food Expenses (current…I’m alive)

Lower Priorities (at this critical time)

  1. WAMU SBA Loan Payments (unable to pay, 2 months behind)
  2. WellFargo Business Line of Credit Payments (unable to pay, 4 months behind)
  3. Utility Bills (somewhat behind, need to collect more $ from ex-roomates)
  4. Payroll Taxes (behind)
  5. Health Insurance (current)
  6. Car Payment (arranged 2 months of no-payments)
  7. Car Insurance (current, $160/month, cheapest plan I could get, dropped older $260/mo business plan)
  8. Savings (just pulled $500 out of a college savings plan…my last ounce of cash)

creaking noises

June 7, 2007

Living in a large house all alone is interesting.

I tend to work late and go to bed around 2am or so. So it’s very dark and quiet when I finally crawl into my twin mattress on the floor (sold my queen memory foam a few weeks ago) that I got for free off of craigslist 2 years ago (hey, it was clean and free).

Anyway, the moral of this short post is that big house + me alone = scary noises.

Now, I’m no wimp. I’ve seen some messed up crap for my young age, and it takes quite a bit to get to me. But these darn noises are really quite freaky at 3am in the morning. I have a camera mono-pod I’ve been keeping by my bed to attack anyone that comes into my room!

beat stick


wamu wants 30K, I have $-379.86

June 7, 2007

I’ve been behind with my 30K wamu loan for some time now. This week I got a very not nice letter (what was I expecting, a nice letter?) from them saying the loan is in default and now the ENTIRE 30K+ is now due.

Umm…yeah. I couldn’t pay the monthly installment….how exactly am I gonna pay the 30K?

june7bank I’m rich!
I have a negative account balance in my checking account right now. I thought a payment to google (adwords advertising) was gonna go through tomorrow, and it went through last night. I have a few transfers coming in tomorrow, so I should be back in the black. Barely.

Bankruptcy Attorney

At my fathers insistence, we are meeting with a bankruptcy attorney for a free consultation next week. Frack that, man. I don’t want to BK. Yes, I have no money. Yes, I have a ton of debt. But I’m not ready to do that yet.

Not yet.


never let debt kill you

June 7, 2007

I saw a upsetting thing as I was checking the analytics account for my business today. It wasn’t what I noticed for my business (stuff there is OK).

It was this journal.

Someone found this site by searching,

“is it time to kill myself? debt”

debtkilltime

If you’re reading this now. Please call someone. Anyone. (go here…http://suicidehotlines.com)
Heck, leave your phone # in a comment on this post and I’ll call you. Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, is ever, ever worth taking your own life over.
I know you may feel overwhelmed (believe me, I understand), and you’ve made some mistakes. But you are loved. You are loved and if you try to kill yourself you will only end up hurting everyone else around you. Killing yourself is a cowardly act that is like taking a gun and shooting everyone around who cares about you.

When I was 18, I made the worst mistake of my life by attempting to kill myself. I felt like I had no other option. I was wrong. Get some help, talk to your family, a friend, or call that hotline. Please.
Debt sucks, yes. But not having you around, whoever you are, would be much worse.


bankruptcy meeting coming up and its cold

June 11, 2007

I’ve got quite a bit going on next week:

  1. consult with a bankruptcy attorney with my father coming to the meeting as well
  2. finishing up sales on my current project at work
  3. need to sell other major ticket items in the house

Bankruptcy Attorney

I’m not really looking forward to this. Yes, it could be a good option for me. But I don’t think so. Here’s why:

  1. A huge portion of my bad debt is under my business (of which I am not a 100% owner), this complicates things greatly (at least as far as I know it does. Perhaps the lawyer will have a simple solution here I can’t see)
  2. I don’t want to file for bankruptcy. Yes, I am young, yes I have my whole life in front of me. I understand that. I also know there are legitimately good reasons to file a BK. I still don’t want to consider it until all my other options are exhausted
  3. I have not exhausted all other options yet.

Alternatives to Bankruptcy

I’ve already consolidated a good chunk of my personal debt into a 3 year debt management plan. I have a handful of smaller credit accounts that have now gone to collections. I can deal with these. My biggest issue right now is the 50K in business loans. If I could somehow settle those, or arrange some sort of concessions (both banks WAMU and Wells have refused to budge on anything) for a period of time, I could make it. If business picks up.

Lots of “ifs” in my life right now.

Here’s the scenario’s I see playing out the next 3-4 months:

Scenario Number 1

My two new business projects are both successes, and I have enough cash to easily make payments and repayments on all my outstanding debts. Business income is over 20K a month.

Scenario Number 2

My two projects flounder, and I continue to skate by on the skin of my teeth. I move into my office once my house situation is resolved. Eventually the IRS wants their due and I am screwed.

Scenario Number 3

I file for business and personal bankruptcy. I don’t know what happens to my business then, but I’m assuming our client base and 7K+ monthly cash flow is worth something here…

Ideal Scenario I’m working my butt off for

Both my new projects are highly successful and produce enough cash flow to both repay my massive debts and continue to expand the business beyond the small shop we currently are. I buy a modest condo after living in the office for a few months, get married and have 3 kids.

OK, I’m joking about the 3 kids and getting married thing. I really want 5 (kids)!
OK, It’s getting late and I’m getting silly.

Basically I just want a break. Maybe I don’t deserve one, and maybe I’m getting my just dues here. But I have all these ideas in my head that I just don’t have the capital to work on right now.
Since I stopped trading my business has done dramatically better. I’m ten times more productive (having a more normal sleep schedule has definitely helped), and feel tons better about the business and myself. I just hope its not too little too late.

Cold

It is cold in my house now. The city shut off my gas last week. I’ve been expecting this, and its summer and I’ve got blankets, so no complaints. I’m not sure what happens now with the bill, but I’m sure I will be hearing from them shortly. We’ll just deal with that when it comes.


chapter 13 bankruptcy – my best option?

June 12, 2007

Read here: chapter 13 bankruptcy – my best option?


why moving into the office won’t be so bad

June 13, 2007


Regardless of what I decide to do with my debt situation (keep trying to skim by and build the business, or file a bankruptcy) the reality is that I will be moving into my office very soon

The House

The short sale on the house is moving froward and it looks like everything may even close by the end of this month (good news!)

Getting Buff

Since my water has been turned off at the house anyway, I am having to shower at my gym. The good part of this is that it forces me to work out more than I already do! I’m trying to put on some weight this summer (hard when you are poor and busy!), and so being at the gym 7 days a week will help. Granted, I will not work out 7 days a week, but I will quite a bit.

The Office

My employees will understand me moving into the office for a short period. If it lasts any longer than a month, they may get a bit suspicious. They know I am spending money into our two new projects (they don’t know that I’m pouring allot of money into debt payments), and being as young as I am, I think it will be OK.

True Entrepreneur

What’s more entrepreneur than living in your office and scraping by on chicken, rice, and beans?
Subscribe! (you know you want too!)


loving what I do now that I’m not gambling

June 13, 2007

It’s amazing how my work performance has changed since I stopped day trading. Not only my work performance, but everything in my life.

Even now, as I just got out of a spit bath shower using a pot of heated on the stove water, I feel so much better about myself. Not everything is hunky dory, no, not even close. But I am working. And I’m working hard. I’m not staying up til the wee dawn hours watching stupid charts bounce back and forth, praying they go the right direction.

Even as I’m contemplating filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy I feel more like a normal person than I have in a very long time. Now, maybe that is strange, considering I have over 300K in debt. But at least I’m no longer adding to that debt!

Even if I file the 13 I will have an incredibly difficult road ahead. I will probably still be paying $1500 or so back to creditors. I will also have to live below my means so that I can send $400 to my mother each month. She would not even be considered in the bankruptcy, but I have to send her that money each month or she cannot survive.

Friendships

In talking with my one close friend who knows about this, I asked if she would still be my friend (I wasn’t being too serious here, it was in a joking manner) if I declared bankruptcy, and was living in my office, and would have to check “ever declared bankruptcy” on those forms for jobs and the like. She replied,

“I’d still be your friend even if you had to check five boxes!”

Aww..I about cried.

(the other boxes are like “ever had a felony?” ect,)

Now that I’m not trading I don’t feel like I know some “secret” that no one else knows about. I can relate better with people, and I feel more like the person I was 4 years ago.


guide to showering when your hot water got turned off

June 14, 2007

 

Step 1

Get a pot. Preferably a big one like this:

001

Step 2

Fill the pot 3/4 full of water. Not hot water, because you don’t have any of that yet. So, cold water will have to suffice. Now for the magic. Put the 3/4 full pot of water on the ELECTRIC stove and heat until piping hot. Not boiling!

001

Step 3

Place the hot pot of water in your shower. Dip a cloth in the hot water and rinse, soak, and enjoy your self-made shower. If your water is too hot, mix with water from the shower.

003

Ahh….it’s almost like a real shower. And look how much water we saved! Captain Planet would be proud…


wamu is cheap

June 14, 2007

So I got a certified letter from WAMU a few days ago. I was not at the office when the letter carrier came by, so they left a notice saying I could pick it up at the post office.

At The Post Office

I go into the post office today, and hand the lady the notice. She goes to the back, and brings back a letter from “risk containment”. I can see the letter in her hand, and it looks just like one I got last week just in the normal mail.

As she is about to hand me the letter, she notices that there is no postage on the letter. WAMU didn’t put any postage on the letter!

“oh…they forgot the postage. I can’t give this to you unless the postage is paid. (the letter is literally 5 inches from my hand at this point)”

“How much is it”

“$5.30″

“oh, frack that (ok, I didn’t say that out loud, but that is what I was thinking). No thank you.”

What a waste of my time standing in line at the post office. I already got a copy of that latest letter at my home address. Silly WAMU. I can’t waste 5 bucks right now just to get a letter you forgot to put postage on.

The House

“Sold” sign went up on the house today! Looks like everything is on track. I’ll be glad to get the house debt out of the way and be able to focus 100% on the rest of it!


my father and this journal

June 17, 2007

I may have some talents in life, but without my dad, I’d probably be living on the streets, or even dead. He has always been a source of guidance and support for me whenever I needed him. I wish I had told him about my trading problems years before I did in the early part of this year. Things would likely be much different in my life if I had. My mistake.

Dad, you are amazing. I only hope one day I can be as good a father as you have been to me. I know we don’t always see things on the same level, but you are always trying to do what is best for me, even when I don’t see it that way.

June

I can’t believe its June already. When I started writing in this online journal/blog here, I honestly thought I might only have a month or two to make it or not. Well, I definitely haven’t “made it” yet, but I’ve made some progress, and continue to learn things about money and debt and life and myself I never knew!
Even If I file Chapter 13, which it’s looking like that is the right choice (for the business, my mother, and myself), I have an incredibly long journey ahead. To have the “normal life” I so crave, I don’t want any debt. None. Zero. Zilch. That means paying off all the Chapter 13 debt plus the $140,000 or so I owe my mother that won’t be included in that filing. Like I said, a long way to go.

bring it on.


thank god for people who don’t wash their hands…

June 18, 2007

Quick funny (or not so funny) story from last night…

I had two friends over after church to hang out. I was a little concerned because one of the friends has no clue about why I am “selling” the house and all this crap. Anyway, I was more concerned about the lack of hot water in the house and if I would have to make up some excuse about why I didn’t have any. I’m not down with the whole half-truth/lying thing anymore, but still find myself having to do it to avoid a lengthy and embarrassing 10 hour story of what’s actually going on in my life. But anyway….
I had a good excuse ready though just in case….(“I thought the house was closing last month so I had the hot water shut off”)

Anyway, long story short. She used the restroom twice and neither time washed her hands!

:)


stressed and feeling sick

June 19, 2007

I’m stressed and I have a awful sore throat. It’s almost summer and I have a bad cold. Sigh.

CPA

I met with a great CPA yesterday to discuss all my financial woes at the moment. The meeting went well. He’s referred me to a bookkeeper he works with to get all my 2006 business and personal books and tax stuff figured out. It’s going to be allot of back and forth, but once we get it all squared away, it will be nice to have the appropriate separation between my business and personal finances.

Stressed

Why am I stressed. I don’t know. Let me count thy ways.

  1. I’ve been trying to sell anything worth over $50 in my house
  2. I’m cleaning/sorting/boxing up my house that I have to be out of in less than two weeks
  3. I’m trying to get myself ready to file chapter 13 bankruptcy
  4. My best employee is on vacation all week and I’m swamped at work
  5. My throat is on fire and I’m exhausted
  6. I’m mad at myself for complaining like this. Mad = more stress
  7. I keep having bad dreams about my last girlfriend (which was like 2 1/2 years ago…)

lame, lame, lame.

OK, enough venting. I need to get back to work…


Top 7 Reasons Money Sucks

June 20, 2007

Top 7 Reasons Money Sucks228303_hands_7_money_burned

#7 Whenever you find a bill in your jeans, it’s always a $1 or if you’re lucky a $5 bill. Why can’t I find a $1,000 bill in my pocket just for once?
#6 Money issues can bring out the worst in people. You thought someone was your friend…then they screw you out of $100. I guess you can put a price on friendship.
#5 Your Dad always has more of it than you.
#4 You lent $5 to a friend 3 years ago, and every time you see him you think of the $5 he owes you, but you can’t bring yourself to ask him for it now.
#3 Some people have lots of it. Others have some of it. Billions have none of it. That’s fair. Not.
#2 Woman are attracted to “stability” in men. What’s another word for “stable”? Oh yeah, rich.

And the #1 reason money sucks?

#1 I don’t have enough of it!


Bankruptcy, Sickness, Short Sale….oh my

June 21, 2007

Everything is crazy right now. Nothing is in order. My brain feels like this:

490029_camera_fun_1

I’m exhausted from whatever flu bug I caught earlier this week, and haven’t been able to work out to clear my head. I showered at the gym yesterday just to shower since I hadn’t had one in…well, too long.

Bankruptcy Update

As I feared, nothing is going smoothly here. Because about 80K of the debt I would like to file in bankruptcy (if I could do it) is under the business, it isn’t that easy. Even though the debts are personally guaranteed by me, it looks like I may have to file a Chapter 11 for the company as well. This is just getting nuts. I have a meeting with a different lawyer (free consultation again) coming up soon to look at this angle of things. If I file a Chapter 13, my “personal” debts (excluding what I owe my mother of course) are only around 60K + Student loans (another 40K). Since my student loans are deferred at the moment (except my federal ones), those aren’t a big deal. The other 60K is in a debt management plan that I set up a few months ago (though I haven’t made this month’s payment yet).

So why file Chapter 13 if all it’s really going to do is by me a few more months? And then I have to start repaying that small amount again. In the meantime…

Business Debts

My biggest issues on the business ends of things are the two business loans at WAMU and Wellsfargo for 30K and 20K. I have another 30K or so in credit cards from citibusiness but those are all in a 0% hardship program at the moment. So the payments are only about $250 a month total for all of those and all that goes toward principle. So, good there.

OK, It’s time to call WAMU and Wells and see if they have anything new to say…

OK, two no anwers at WAMU, here’s what Wells said…

WellsFargo

Since It’s only been 2 months since my last payment (not the total amount due though), I’m in collections, but not “pre-chargeoff” according to the helpful lady at WellsFargo.

I played nice on this call, and it turned out well. Lots of good info. In her department they could offer a 85% settlement. Obviously that ain’t gonna work for me. But I think with two more departments (pre-chargeoff department, then the chargeoff department), that % might get much lower. I think its just a matter of time.

Short Sale Update

Got a call from my real estate agent today with an update on the short sale status. Good news is that we’ll get a final go-ahead from greenpoint (the 2nd mortgage) tomorrow on the amount we will be giving them (they want 15K, we can only offer around 7K). It they accept the 7K everything will be good to go.

Bad news is that I’ll have to come up with all the utility payoffs (around 2K right now…but no hot water usage lately! : ). He’s going to try and include $1200 for utilities in the numbers, we’ll see if that flies. If it does, I’ll have to come up with $800. I could do $800. No way I can do $2000.

We’re just so close on the house!

Moving

I spent Monday and Wed this week organizing all the stuff in my house into piles. Keep pile, Sell on craigslist pile, sell on ebay pile, and give to goodwill pile. I got alot done yesterday with my brothers help even though I felt like death.

I still have a few larger items to sell on craigslist, but once those are gone, all the hard stuff is taken care off. We took a ton of stuff to goodwill and that felt good. I think I’m going to like a much more spartan lifestyle (which I’ve already been living the last few months anyway…).

Assuming the house goes through (crossing fingers still…), I’ll start staying in the office within 2-3 weeks. I may have a week where I can stay at a place my brother is house sitting, so that will be nice.

New Projects

We will be start selling new advertising packages next week. If all goes well, it could add another 10-20 clients to our business within a few weeks. We are at 130 right now, and have been stuck at that number for several months now. Our new project could add 100 clients within a few months which would be awesome. We’ll see how it goes. No, its HAS to go well.

I’m good at selling. I’m good at managing my employees, I CAN get my business up to 250 clients a month..!!!!! (sorry, needed a little self talk there!)

Time to try WAMU again…


Lending Club Review

June 22, 2007

Read here: Lending Club Review


this may be my last weekend in the house

June 23, 2007

So, this looks like my last weekend in the house. No wild parties for me, nope. I still have a ton of clothes to sort out today, as well as a half million other little things to get done before monday.

Priorities

  • Goodwill pickup. Call them to pickup pile in living room
  • Office Run – Make a run of stuff to the office, no one works there on Sat. Shouldn’t arouse too many suspicions
  • Laundry – Finish laundry and sort what I’m keeping and what’s going to goodwill
  • Sell last few big items on craigslist
  • Make sure business is ready for Plan B sales week on Monday

Emotions

It’s been strange clearing out the house this week. Not really allot of emotion actually. I mean, I’ve only been here a year, and the whole house purchase was just an investment anyways. 2 of my 3 ex roommates still owe me money. I even heard that they “are mad at me” for making them move. Frack that. I haven’t talked or seen them in over a month and its been wonderful.

I have a Dr.’s appointment Monday morning before work. This is day 5 of feeling like crap, and I fit many of symptoms of strep throat, so I thought it best to go in. I pay too much for my health insurance right now to not even ever use it (I’m normally a very healthy guy). The co-pay is $15, so not awful.

I’ve noticed that I’ve been secluding myself socially again. Granted I’m working allot and trying to move, and have been sick, but still. I know what it is.

I don’t want to lie anymore.

I hate social situations where I can’t explain what I’m really doing in my life. Will this ever change? It has too, because I can’t keep holed up in my office all day and just hang out with family and my one friend who knows about me. It’s just not a healthy life.


Raise your credit score fast and free

June 23, 2007

Read here: Raise your credit score fast and free


IRS Due Soon

June 24, 2007

My 1K IRS (2005) bill is due by the end of this month. I should have the cash available to make the payment in time. This will be the first “debt” that I will have fully paid off! Yay! 1K down, 299K (or so) to go!


Moving isn’t so bad!

June 26, 2007

This week has been nuts. Absolutely nuts. Sickness, new project at work, moving into my office, bankruptcy paperwork, nuts, nuts, nuts.

I’m too tired to even write today, and probably won’t be able to write for a few days. It looks like I’m signing papers for the short sale tomorrow or thurs.

I still have a good 10 hours of strait work at the house to clean up and organize and move stuff to the office.

How you can help

When I started this journal 5 months ago (wow, time has gone fast) I said I would never ask for money. And I never will. I like to be creative and I found a creative way you can help you me, if you’d be kind enough.

There is a great site for people in debt that hosts a blog contest each month. If I could win the contest this month I would win enough money to put a deposit down on a small studio apartment or basement room here in Seattle. I promise I’ll post pics of the new place (assuming I win. I was 7th place last month). So, I’d really appreciate a vote + comment in
this little widget here. Thanks! (crossing my fingers….)

Click the Yes to vote!

Do you recommend debtkid.com for dtcc Bloghunt?

P.S. Mailed off the IRS 2005 bill today. My first debt completely repaid! ($1025.50)

More on DebtConsolidationCare.com

I found this site a few months ago while searching for a resource on negotiating with creditors. The site has a very, very active forum on all kinds of debt issues. Many in the forum seem plagued with payday loan debt, which is different from my situation, but hey, debt is still debt right?

I received an e-mail from a guy over at debtconsolidationcare indicated that the race this month for the top blog is very close, but it sounds like I have a shot.

The DebtCC community was started by a guy named Denny, who has a very interesting story of getting into and out of debt as well. He ran a tech company that went bust back in the bubble, ending up living in churches, and on the street. I may have to give this guy a call sometime. I’ll be living in my office by the end of the week, so maybe we can share some tips. He racked up 20K in debt, anyway, enough of me rambling, you can see his story here.


Fixed comments, please vote

June 27, 2007

Thanks to Ian, I got the comments fixed here. I’m up late tonite…we started my ‘Plan C’ (Plan B starts next month…its not quite ready yet…) project at work today. No sales so far, but its looking promising, just might take longer to sell than I thought, but that’s usually the case…

Thanks to everyone who’s voting for me in the blog contest below. If you haven’t yet, please do! I really appreciate it, thanks!


The Turning Point – I Am Not Facing Foreclosure!

June 28, 2007

Wow.

I can’t even begin to describe the sheer awesomeness of the past two days. Yesterday was a turning point, I can feel it. It was the day I’ve been working so hard to achieve, and I hope it can be my turning point. I still have an incredibly long and difficult road ahead, but days like yesterday make me think I have a shot.
Here’s What Happened

  • I Made my biggest sale ever to kick off our new Plan “B” project at my office. The Sale was 4 times bigger than any one I’ve ever had. The client I signed is also the perfect client to help launch this new division at my office.
  • I found out the buyer agreed to cover more costs in the short sale of my house. I signed the short sale papers today. A big chunk of my original $334K in unsecured debt is now gone.
  • It looks like I have a decent shot @ winning the Bloghunt Contest at DebtCC
  • I got offered a part-time contract writing gig @ Lending Club, this could provide the income I need to live outside my office.
  • I rewarded myself with a frosty/large fry combo from Wendy’s (It’s an amazing hot/cold + sweet/salty combo. Try it sometime)

Like I said, It was a very good day yesterday.

What Now?

I’m spending some time today at the office, and then back to the house to finish last minute goodwill runs and cleanup. I think possession of the house will transfer tomorrow, so tonight will be my last in the home. I have my layout all setup to move into the office, and to anyone looking in, nothing will look different at all due to the layout of my office.
What’s Ahead?

Short Term – Move into office. Prepare all paperwork for bankruptcy filing. Continue new projects at my office.

Medium Term – Find a permanent place to live (not in the office), Grow my business to 20K in monthly revenue (currently just over 7K), finish any and all bankruptcy issues

Longer Term – Pay down the aprox 307K in debt I still have left, including the 147K that I owe my mother.
Why do I want to be debt free so bad?

Women.

I’m serious. I haven’t had a girlfriend in years, and it’s very difficult to be open and honest and meet new women when you are 24, living in your office, and 300K in debt. So all this whole debt mess needs to get taken care of ASAP.
Plus, debt sucks. It makes you do stuff like lie to your friends.

But I really do want to get married someday!


14 Pairs of Socks

June 29, 2007

I think I am becoming more anal.

When sorting my laundry today (after my first night sleeping in the office), I decided I’m only keeping 14 pairs of white socks (that still seems like a ton!)

  • 3 calf-length
  • 6 mid-ankle
  • 3 ankle
  • 1 thorlo

003

I even thought about numbering each pair, but don’t seem to have a good marker any more.

You might be thinking, DebtKid, you’re crazy! There are only thirteen pairs of white socks in that picture!

Yes, that is correct. But I still have 14 pairs of white socks.
It will come to you.


4 days into office life

July 2, 2007

After day 4 of living in the office, I’ve come to a few conclusions:

  1. Even a free crappy twin mattress from craigslist beats a camping pad and blankets for padding
  2. Getting a real shower at the gym beats a spit-shower at home anyday
  3. I feel like I’m camping

So far so good. I’ve got a few days of house sitting lined up this week, so that will keep me out of the office a few days.

Business Stuff

Running my business right now is so frusterating. Things are going very, very well, but very, very slow mostly due to lack of capital. I’m on such a razor thin budget at the moment that launching two new projects is very tough. I got our first client in my “Plan B” project last week. That was great, but now I need to nail down all our processes before we scale to add new clients. Some of this requires cash, cash that I don’t have the moment.

frusteration.

My “Plan A” project is coming along nicely. It will be ready for a beta test in about a month. This is really the potential bread and butter for my company. Depending on how its received it will either be a huge flop, or an enourmous success. Obviously I’m hoping for the latter.

Our current business continues to hover at around 7K a month. Although I’m now putting one of my employees (who is working full time this summer) in charge of ramping that number up to 10K in the next two months before the “Plan A” project launches.

Best Case Scenario Ever

Current business ramps up to 10K/mo in revenue (by Sept 1)
Plan A launches in the next few months, generates 15K/mo within 3 months in revenue (by Dec 1)
Plan B rolls out in the next few months, slowing reaching 10-20K in monthly revenue, aprox 50% margins. (by Dec 1)
Dang, that all looks great. Now I just need to execute! Some parts of my plan are out of my control, but most I can influence, so I need to focus on those parts.


finding the good in myself

July 6, 2007

I have a self-esteem problem.

That’s difficult for me to admit, but I know that it is true. All the mistakes that I made the last three years have taken a toll on how I value myself. The worst part is that 99% of people when they meet me, or talk to me, have no clue about my crap, and so they don’t see it.

And they think I’ve got it all going on. I run my own business, I’m athletic, I get along well with people, I love my family, yada, yada, yada.

To me those things all get overshadowed by debt. I’ve convinced myself that I have nothing good about myself, and won’t until I have at least a break-even financial net worth.

Even as I write this, I know what I’m saying is absurd. I’m saying that I equate how I feel about myself with money. Which is just silly. But its definitely how I am feeling.

Example

Example. I had met this girl a few months ago, and she really took me aback. Smart, caring, beautiful. Wow. I met her again this 4th of July, and the only thing I could think about the entire time was how I had absolutely no chance with this girl because of my debt and my mistakes.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this.

Basically, I need to either

A.) Get rid of all my debt ASAP, and so this won’t be an issue or

B.) Figure out some way to deal with this better. I can handle it fine by myself, but when I’m interacting with other “normal” (ie, not hundreds of thousands in debt) people, I feel awful and envious.

Wow. What a depressing entry.

Good thing I have this picture to make me smile!

http://flickr.com/photos/sepultura/666133293/

Honestly, I think I’ll pull that out whenever I’m feeling down. It’s just great.


What the crap was I thinking

July 6, 2007

I’ve been getting my 2006 taxes (business and personal) all figured out. I came by this again…a 1099-b from one of my 2006 forex accounts.

$116,736.90 in losses. I was 23 years old…


What the crap was I thinking?

I can’t believe I was doing this. It seems like so long ago now.

losses2006


The cops just showed up at my office

July 8, 2007

Oh my gosh. I thought I was done for…

It’s about 11pm now and two cops just showed up at my office. I saw the cop cars outside as I was going in my office building about 5 minutes ago. I even walked around with my briefcase for awhile, waiting to see if they would go away. Two laps later…still there.

I decided it would be more suspicious if I just kept walking around late at night, so I decided to go in the front door to my building, rather than the back alley way that I usually go in (that’s where the two cop cars were!).

So I go into my office, open all the doors, and figure I will just play the “up late working on a sunday night crazy young entrepreneur route”.

And it worked. Whew. The cops just left after chatting with me for a few (very stressful) minutes.
Apparently someone left the back alley door ajar, and an alarm was tripped, and that’s why the two cops were there!

I just chatted with them for a bit, one even stepped into my office and took a look around. Good thing it looks like an office and not my living space! (thank god I got rid of so much crap and can hide everything I own into the small closet behind my desk).

Whew. My heart is still racing. I told them I would be here a few more hours (true) and that I would keep my eyes and ears open for anything suspicious.

I thought I was done for sure and that some old lady had noticed me coming into the building late and night and the cops setup a sting operation on me!

OK, I’m going to get some work done now that I am wide awake!

Gotta love the Seattle PD.


Bankruptcy paperwork and business update

July 10, 2007

Eventually I’m going to tell everyone I know about this whole mess. Eventually.

The next 2-3 months are going to be crucial for me. My Plan A project at work will be ready to launch in less than two months, and should begin generating revenue within 3 months. Plan B project has started and I’m just working the kinks out of it before we add more clients to our starter client we have now. But getting the kinks worked out is going to take at least another 3 weeks.

Sometimes I feel like I’m always waiting. Waiting for next week for this to be done, waiting for that to be done. Yet, I’m ALWAYS working, and I feel productive. I’m just doing a ton of groundwork laying at the moment, none of which generates any new sales at the current moment. But it’s work that has to be done for Plan B and A projects to be successful down the line. I just don’t feel like I’m being productive unless I’m making sales. I suppose it’s the whole “patience” thing I’m trying to learn.

My brother is letting me borrow a bike from him while I’m “homeless” at the moment. I’ve never been much of a bike rider, but I went out for a bit last night and it was really nice. I’m used to moving so fast (drive here, fast, eat this, fast, call this person, fast, get the sale, fast) it was nice to go for a leisurely bike ride.

I’m definitely moving slower than back in Jan/Feb. People must have thought I was strung out on something because I was a mess! At least now I’ve realized I don’t have to move a million miles an hour to get stuff done, and that I’ve made it 6 months now, chances are I’m gonna be here tomorrow.

The Bankruptcy – Chapter 7?

I’m going to be filling bankruptcy (personal) in the coming weeks. This is another project to work on. It doesn’t even seem to be a big deal to me at the moment. Maybe it will later on but, looking at how I screwed up, and the mistakes I’ve made, filling bankruptcy probably barely cracks the top 10 list of embarrassing things in my life. So, it’s a lot of paperwork to get together, and it’s only going to get rid of about 70K of my debt load, but at least its another chunk gone.

I was hoping to be able to avoid going the BK route, but it just makes the most sense for my business, myself and it’s the only fair option for my mother as well. I owe it to her to put my pride aside and do what is best for me to bring in the most money. So, that’s that.

If I can file Chapter 7, which according to the lawyer it looks like I can (I’m still getting books done for my business for last year), it would wipe a good chunk out of the 300K or so I still am facing.

What debt would be left?

Even after a personal bankruptcy, my overall unsecured debt, including what I owe my mother is still going to be well over 200K.

Well, one step at a time, right!


Casey Serin vs. DebtKid Challenge – 20K a month or bust

July 10, 2007

I’m always looking for more motivation for myself, and a bit of fun as well. This thought came to me at lunch, we’ll see if Mr. Serin is interested in accepting my challenge.

The Casey vs. DebtKid Challenge:

The first one of us to reach $20,000 in monthly revenue wins. To even things out a bit, I will not count the current 7K a month my business currently generates since I started that before I even started writing about my story here.

I’ll give you a bit of a head start Casey. You CAN count your already existing blog revenue. I get to count any income that starts coming in from the projects I have coming out the next 2-3 months. Sound good?

Each month we’ll compare revenue numbers.

First one to 20K in a month buys lunch for the loser. (since he’ll still be poor).

Why Should Casey Participate?

Competition is good. I’m a very competitive person, and anything that will motivate me more than I am already to succeed should be good.

You need to be making 20K a month to get out of your situation. I also need to be in that range to really start making dents in my debt. So, let’s go!

Let’s do it Casey. No hate, no drama, no contracts, just a fun competition between two people who are trying to turn things around in their lives.

What do you think?

Will Casey accept my challenge? Will either of us ever get to 20K in monthly revenue? Who do you think is going to win, me or Casey? Who has more of the advantage? Let’s hear what you think.


Living in the Office: Day 12 Thoughts

July 11, 2007

Let’s get one thing strait.

Yes, I’m poor, and yes, I’m living in my office. But I am not starving, I have a place to stay (albeit not the best situation, but better than most of the world), I am lucky to have these things. Yes, lucky.

With that disclaimer out of the way I do have some gripes and glees about office life. It hasn’t been very long, but I’m already in a pretty good routine. Pro’s and Con’s if you will.

The Pros of office living life

  1. Having to get up, pack up my camping style sleeping pad and blankets, go the the gym, work out, shower, and get back to the office before my employees show up is awesome. I love the schedule and structure this is giving me, although I’m not getting quite the amount of sleep I would like. But that’s my own fault for staying up to late writing stuff here and for LendingClub (more on that later).
  2. Freedom. All of my possessions fit behind a small closet in my office, plus 3 moving boxes I keep out in the open.
  3. Getting lots of work done. I’m spending around 20-21 hours a day now at my office. You think I get things done? Yeppers, I do.
  4. I have a microwave at the office, which I did not have at my house the last two months I was staying there while it was awaiting short sale approval.
  5. My office is in one of the nicest parts of Seattle. I will likely never be able to “live” in this area of town again.
  6. I feel more frugal.
  7. Air Condition at no extra cost. Great on days like today.

The Cons (yeah, these kinda bite)

  1. I’m living in my office.
  2. No refrigerator yet. I’ve looked at a few cheap ½ size ones on craigslist, and someday will pick one up. I just can’t justify the $50-100 right now to get a decent sized working one. No fridge = no milk or butter….or cheese. Mmm…cheese…
  3. No naps. I’ve not been a big napper for a few years now. I went through a phase in college where I took a nap almost every day. That was great. But, it’s pretty much impossible now. Like I said, I haven’t taken regular naps for a while. But not that I can’t take any…I’m strangely missing them.
  4. I’m still a little paranoid about what I’m doing. Especially when the cops show up.
  5. My office has no windows. Sometimes that is a good thing (we can’t look outside and see how beautiful it is).

So, that’s what I’ve got so far. Quite a bit more happened today, but I need to get some sleep. I’ve got a wells fargo checking account issue to deal with tomorrow, a decision to make about paperwork for my chapter 7 bankruptcy filling, and deciding weather or not to accept any help financial from my father (I have not asked for help yet in this situation. I don’t want to, but he has made a tempting offer…I’m leaning towards rejecting it).

Since I’ve gotten some great feedback from people that actually read this mess that I write, I’ll occasionally add a new “What do you think” section at the end. I’ll ask some questions, I encourage you to respond. I’m open to all suggestions. So..

What do you think?

How long should I plan on continuing to live at the office? What do you think the odds are that I get caught by my landlord (with whom I am fairly close, as I’ve leased 2+ years now in this building)? Will my current routine lead to burnout?


Scary Sounds

July 12, 2007

The cleaners are here…it’s 1:30am. Vaccums, loud noises…..so tired. so loud…

Oh the lessons I’m learning…


Dealing with generosity

July 12, 2007

I got an e-mail from a reader, and I want to share it here, because it will help me figure out my policy on the issue of accepting financial help.

“Hi there – I have been reading your blog and I really admire how you are taking responsibility and making it go right. It doesn’t look like you have a tip jar or anything like that on your site; I would love to donate the money so you can buy a little fridge.

Let me know where I can send it!”

Bless this reader’s heart. I almost started crying (but not quite, I only shed tears at respectable manly moments like the end of Saving Private Ryan, or It’s A Wonderful Life, or Where The Red Fern Grows).

Here’s my deal…

I feel like I’m finally growing into who I’m supposed to be with this whole mess that I’m in. It sucks, and it’s hard, and I hate my social situation at the moment…

But I also often feel more authentic and real and alive than I ever have now that I’m facing my problems.

How does this relate to accepting $ for a fridge from a very generous reader?

I don’t think I should do it (accept financial help from anyone). It boils down to the same reasons I’m going to tell my father that I won’t be accepting financial help from him (he offered to cover a bookkeeper and CPA to catch my business books/taxes up).

Why turn down cash help?

It just doesn’t feel right to me. I want to be a man, not a kid (when I picked this domain name, I picked it well…I’m still a “kid”). This process of facing what I’ve done and trying to fix the situation is slowly helping me to become the man I want to be. That sounds really cheesy, but it’s the truth.

And that doesn’t mean I don’t need help! Far from it! My father helps me in all kinds of ways. The little band of commenter’s on this site help me in all kinds of ways. I’m all for help and mentors and partnerships and networking and advice and all that good stuff.

But when it comes to accepting money donations, I’m just not going to do it. It doesn’t mean I won’t change my mind in a week (I’m a fluid person. Sometimes I’m just plain wrong about what’s best for me. IE, when I refused to even consider a personal bankruptcy as an option for some of my debt). But I’m pretty sure this policy will stick.

You want to give me cash?

Here’s what I would love. If you really want to help me out, stick around the site, tell your friends, link to me, yada yada yada.

If you’re insistent on a financial donation, consider this organization instead. I guarantee you’ll make me happier doing this than giving me money.

And thank you to the reader who offered to buy me a fridge. You made my day.

What do you think?

Am I nuts to turn down cash? What would you do if you were in my situation? What types of “help” should I accept if offered?


3 Important Actions I Need To Do Now

July 13, 2007

3 Important Actions To Get Done Now.

  1. Forward my Mail to my PO Box

The poor family that bought my house is probably overwhelmed with all my junk mail. Now that I have a PO Box I need to turn in a forwarding mail card at the post office. It will take about as long as I just spent writing this, so I just need to get it done. It’s not vital, but it’s important.

  1. Setup new Checking Account at BOA, Close WellsFargo Account.

I made a dumb error and thought that my wireless bill was linked to my business checking account. Since I hadn’t made a payment for awhile, it was a big bill. I had the money in my business account to cover it, but not in my personal account where the bill got charged. Frack me. I’d been using my debit card to track my spending and now the Wells Account is severely overdrawn. So much so that it’s worth canceling, setting up a payment plan (which they said they can do in situations like this), and starting anew.

I’ve been wanting to having my personal checking at a separate bank than my business checking for some time now. Guess now is the time! Update: I’ve applied for an account at Bank of America, just waiting to hear if it gets approved. My credit is crap, so I’m crossing my fingers.

  1. Finish Chapter 7 BK Paperwork

I’ve got a pile of paperwork to due to file bankruptcy for my personal debts (only about 70K of my 300K total). I just need to get this out of the way. Yes, it sucks I’m having to do a bankruptcy, but at this point it’s my best option on these debts.

Misc. Things:

  • Find my digital camera. I had a cheapo (but newer, so it took decent pictures) camera that got lost in the shuffle when I was moving into the office. It’s not a big deal, but now that I have a very limited amount of “things” they are all very important to me.
  • Relax. Sleep. It’s been a long week and I need to be productive this weekend (especially on the BK paperwork), but also take it easy. I can’t afford to get sick again.
  • E-mail my Real Estate agent. I owe him some consulting work for his work on my short sale.
  • Find a place to cash a check until my new checking account is opened. I think I saw a sign at Albertson’s about them doing this. (I got a check from the eBay store where I sold some of my stuff weeks ago).
  • I put up free house-sitting fliers this week. No calls yet. I think I may need to work my flier a bit. I think it comes off as desperate and not professional. If no calls by Sunday I’ll rework it.

I love my 34 cent banana

July 16, 2007

I hate not having money in my business checking account. It worries more than almost anything else. Today is one of those days where I’m praying that deposits go though fast, and cashed checks take a few extra days to process. Yeah, right.

On the edge

I’m really pushing my finances right now in terms of business investment. I’m putting (and have already put) nearly two thousand dollars into my new client in my Plan B project. If it pays off, it could be great, leading quickly to 5-10K in new revenue, and 3-4K in profit. If it doesn’t pan out…then I took a risk and lost.

At least when I “take a risk” now with my money I have some amount of control over it. It is somewhat based on my talents, abilities, skills, ect. Not just some sheer stupid trading god. I bought a banana today (I made tuna sandwiches for lunch). It cost 34 cents. 34 cents! I once lost 20 thousand dollars in one night trading forex. And I had to scrounge to find that 34 cents because I still don’t have a personal checking account up and going yet (I’m waiting for my ATM card in the mail).

Sleeping is good

I’ve been sleeping much better the past few nights. I found a more comfortable pillow positioning. Plus, I’m no longer really paranoid and am much more relaxed sleeping in the office. My goal will be to have some sort of a place by Sept 1. I can do another 6 weeks in the office.

I love writing here

I never thought I would be much of a writer. It was always one of my worst subjects in school. Not that I’m a good writer now…but I enjoy it. It really helps me process what I am thinking and feeling.

What do you think?

Am I overconfident in my new Plan B business venture? Or am I justified in taking some risk because I have to find new ways to make more money? Should I be looking for a place to stay by the end of July, or is another month a good idea?


God Wants Me To Get A Payday Loan

July 16, 2007

*I was thinking of going to a payday loan store to cash my ebay check (since my bank account is in limbo at the moment). I discovered that God wants me to take a vacation with my payday loan!* (an article over at Get Rich Slowly had me thinking about God and money….)

My search begins

I’m searching for a check cashing place…ohh look, an interesting Google ad:

Christian Payday Loans

Christian Faith Financial….that sounds great! I’m a Christian!

Oh, all I need to do is overcome evil with good! (payday loans are good!?). Look, they want to help me “the Christian way”. I’m touched. Let’s dig deeper.

OK, just filled that all out. Oh wait, what is this…

This is NOT a credit application? What did I just fill out? But, that’s OK, they want to help me in “the Christian way”. I’m sure everything is going to be fine.

Wait….are all your sponsors, partners, and advertising Christians too? Wow. That’s impressive. I’m so glad I decided to go with you guys. Wait, hang on a sec, I’m getting a SMS on my phone. Oh gosh, now I’ve got 3 SMS’s….Man, I must really be loved. I’m getting like 5 text messages a minute…wait a minute…

Christian Faith Financial. You’re official dead to me. You’re the first one on my dead to me board. I started it just for you. You make me sick.


6 Month Update – I’m Still Here

July 17, 2007

Six months ago I finally came clean with my father regarding the enormous amount of debt I had accumulated due to my trading addiction. The past six months have flown by, but I’m still here. I’m not yet the (debt free) man I want to be, but I’m working on it.

A quick 6 month recap:

  1. My first post: I didn’t realize how much emotion plays into debt. It really creeps into almost every part of your daily life when you don’t have it under control. I learned this very quickly once I manned up, and I imagine it will continue to be a struggle going forward.
  2. My first debt spreadsheet. Not very organized yet, but it was a start.
  3. I dealt with the IRS for a 2005 bill. This was recently paid off. My first debt down!
  4. In March I really started bearing down on my business. I also learned I could eat pretty cheap and survive!
  5. I got through my ex-roommates finding out about my debt and the foreclosure coming on the house.
  6. May was consumed with dealing with getting my house sold via a short sale.
  7. In June I had my first really great day in a long time. It seemed like a turning point of sorts. It’s not clear yet if this will turn out to be true, but it was a pretty darn good day and I got the house short sold!
  8. Now I’m focusing on growing my business and preparing for a new product launch next month (that I’ve been working on about 4 months now). And of course, I’m living in my office full time. It’s not a bad setup. I’m also preparing to file chapter 7 bankruptcy for my personal debts this month as well.

So, that’s it. 6 months. Wow. I’ve got a few announcements coming out the next few weeks, some contests/side jobs I’ve been working on late at night. I’m tired, but I’m still here!!! The next few weeks and month are going to be crazy business/personal/debt wise. But I like a little craziness. Keeps you on your toes.


Debt Radio – My First Ever Interview

July 18, 2007

So, I took a long (45 mins….gasp!) lunch yesterday and chatted with Bob Brooks, who hosts Prudent Money, on 91.7 FM in Dallas/Fort Worth, TX.

I was so nervous! I was a little hesitant about going on a radio show like this, but it ended up being kinda fun. Actually verbalizing my whole story again reminded me of why I should probably tell some more people in my life about my situation.

Anyway, I’ve embedded the show here if you want to take a listen. My notes to myself before the show were:

  1. Don’t talk to much. You don’t run the show.
  2. Just be yourself.

Download:


Muggle Money Mistakes: 3 Unforgivable Blunders We Make

July 19, 2007

*This was a post I wrote for Lending Club (I’m a guest blogger for them now!). I don’t think it was quite what they are going for, so I figured I’d post it here rather than let it waste*

Making mistakes with your money is pretty easy to do. A department store credit card here, a financed 60” plasma TV there, and next thing you know you’re thousands in debt with not a spare knut or sickle to your name..

In honor of Harry Potter (just in case he dies) I’ve decided to go with Potter themed analogies to help lighten up these 3 unforgivable money curses, um, er, I mean mistakes.

Muggle Money Mistakes

#1. Buying a Firebolt, when you really just need a Cleansweep

When I was 23 I bought a nearly half-million dollar home because I could. A year later I was short selling the home to avoid foreclosure. Sometimes, just because you can do something financially, does not mean that you should.

Think you need a new car because your best friend just got one? Think again! Buy used, save the difference and see who’s doing better in 5 years. You’ll be pilling up the galleons (loads of cash) while your friend is slaving away in the kitchen cleaning treacle fudge out of the dishes to pay down his now 5 year old car loan.

Remember, if you want to pass your O.W.L’s in finance, you need to think about the long term effects of your financial decisions, not just the short term.

#2. Not depositing your Galleons at Gringots regularly

For many of us muggles, saving money isn’t easy. We often (especially the younger ones) think that we’ll save later, and just live for the moment now. It’s a bad habit, and if you aren’t saving now, START!

Many online savings account earn over 5%, and if you want to open a mutual fund, most will auto-draft your checking account as often as you’d like to save. No winding, death-defying trips down to your vault at Gringots! If you have trouble saving, sign up for a savings program or investment product that automatically drafts your account.

Hermione would do it, so you should too!

#1 Thinking your money problems will go away magically

If you are having financial or debt problems, one of the worst things you can do is ignore the problem and go looking for your invisibility cloak. Not dealing with a creditor or not planning for the future will just make things worse. Drinking another glass of pumpkin juice will also not remedy your situation.

Even Harry Potter has to study, and one of the best ways to help deal with money problems is to learn what resources are out there. See how to build a balanced financial plan, and write 2 scrolls on what you learn!

Harry has also had some great mentors and advisors in his life, as well as supportive friends. If you have made some of the 3 Muggle Money Blunders, don’t worry, you’re not going to Azkaban. You can change your habits! Find a wise old Dumbledore in your life to be a financial mentor and keep you accountable.

Make a plan, avoid the 3 big mistakes, and you’ll be on your way to Muggle financial freedom faster than you can say, “Expecto Patronum!”


All tuckered out

July 20, 2007

It’s been a really long week.

I have yet to get over 8 hours of sleep a single night this week. I know that’s not a big deal for most people but no sleep turns me into a cranky monster. Worse, my motivation level goes down the tube and I can’t get much done at work.

So, I’m going to try and take a nap today. I took a little one on Wed, and it was wonderful, and I came back to work refreshed and ready to go. Even if it was in the back of my car! I found a pretty comfy (relative) position with my seats laid down and a sleeping bag. And since it’s been cooler here in Seattle lately, I don’t burn up. So, yeah…..ahh, that sounds nice. I have a meeting in an hour, then I can come back and sleep a bit.

Business Update

Business stuff is crazy right now. Crazy. I’m getting ready to launch my main Plan A (for getting out of this mess) project in the next few weeks. My office has been working on this project for the last 6 months almost, and I have a ton riding on it. It needs to go well!

Debt Update

I plan on getting my bankruptcy filed by the end of the month. I have a friend coming into town this weekend (I couldn’t get him not to come visit…), so I’m going to have to not work for a few days. Maybe it will be good for me…but I really don’t have time. I’ll not work all the time someday, just not now!!!

Also, once I get the BK filed, I should have a nice updated debt spreadsheet. Then it’s on to attacking my business debt, assuming everything goes smooth (unlikely) with the (hopefully) chapter 7.

Other Stuff

  • Still No BOA checking account ATM card yet. I have an account, but no way to access it yet.
  • If the 4th of July girl would even go out with me….when would I have the time. : ( I don’t need money for great dates…but I would need time….

Taking a $35 Risk

July 26, 2007

I checked out two potential places to live this week. Both would be large enough to run my business comfortably (and both were OK when I explained what we do), and live simply.

One sucked, and one was amazing. The problem is that the amazing one is an actual apartment (not a sublet) and I had to fill out an application.

Can you beat this?

I’ve been working on getting all my Bankruptcy documentation together and everything is looking pretty good on that front. I purchased a cheap credit report (I had already used my free ones this year) to double check everything for the BK petition. Apparenty, my credit is “bad”. See, they even told me so:

This is no shock to me at all. I just loved the very blatent “you suck” of the picture. Oh well, I’m an all cash guy for a long time anyway. Sigh.

Life at the office

It’s now day 25 of living in my office, and it’s starting to wear me down a bit. I knew this would happen, but I figured I had a few months before it would really start effecting me (bear in mind, I have no mattress, just a camping pad and blankets). My productivity has been way down this week, mostly due to just being exhausted and stir crazy.

I’ve discovered a few things:

  • I don’t love milk as much as I thought
  • Who needs butter anyway?
  • The thing I really miss is cheese.

Living where I work to working where I live

I decided to go with my gut and apply for the apartment place. It’s 2 bd, and the guy was cool with my running my business from the location. The problem is the application. It’s going to a tenant screening company and I’m sure I’m screwed. I wrote a great cover letter on why I would be a great tenant, but I imagine to hear a rejection from them tomorrow. But it was worth a shot.

If I can find a place for both my business and bed (not that I have one yet) that only runs 300-400 more than my current office I will consider that a success. Housing in Seattle is insane, especially studios/1 bedrooms. If I get denied on this app, I will be looking exclusively at sublets.

Biz Update

Business revenue continues to be pretty stable around 7K a month. My newest project is going really well, and even though we still only have one client, that is by choice. I’ve been really trying to refine our system for our one client, and if we do well (we already are), it could lead to referrals galore. This is my Plan B project.

My Plan A (my plans for getting out of all this debt!) project is about ready to launch soon as well. I’m very excited about the potential of this project, but it won’t generate any real revenue til Nov. at the earliest. Thus, the forey into a different niche with Plan B project!


Make or Break Trip To California

July 28, 2007

I can’t sit around waiting to get new clients for my new project (Plan B project). After two weeks our first client is very, very happy with the results. So, its time to go get some new ones.

Going on a road trip

I do well cold calling. But our new service is pretty expensive and so I really need to meet potential clients face to face to close the deal. Thus, the sales trip next week. I’ll be going from Seattle down to California and back. 5 days, 7 cities, 70 leads, and a sales goal of 7 new clients.

I’m obviously not able to spend much on the trip. I’ve got two cheap hotels lined up that I need to book tonite, but I may just spend the nights in my car. I’ve done it before, and have a decent setup that’s worked. We’ll see.

This is a big trip for me. If I can even pick up 4 new clients using this new sales process the trip will be a big success, and I have 7 other mini-trips lined up around the country I could take. I haven’t sold in person for a while, so we’ll see if I’m rusty or not. I feel very confidant in our service though, and know if the client just gives us a shot they will be very pleased. The potential of this new project is much greater than I originally thought. I’ve got 1 client. I need 100.

Bad Press

I noticed some not so flattering reviews of this site as of late. Some had fair points, others had no clue what they were talking about. Regardless, I have no intention of this place turning into some casey serin fiasco. I saw what happened when I wrongly thought about challenging him. To me, this journal is a way to keep me on track and organize my thoughts. Anyway, I may make the journal private going into the future. I’m not sure how to do that quite yet (and still maybe let registered readers continue to read), I’ll look into when I get back.

Goal = 7 New Clients!


Slept on a real mattress! Ahhh…

July 31, 2007

Got a great nights sleep last night on a real mattress for the first time in a while. Selling went very well yesterday, should get a sale in that area by Thurs. I’m around P-town today, then driving down to California tonite. Gonna be a long day. I’m excited.

If you get a chance

I really hate asking for a vote like this, it’s kind of like asking for money indirectly, which I am definitely NOT about. But, I am pretty close to winning this contest, I just need a good 20 or so more Yes! votes.

Do you recommend debtkid.com for dtcc Bloghunt?

It’s a grand if I win.

What should I do with 1K?

What should I do with the $1000 if I win the contest? (please vote!) Should I use it to find a place to live? Pay down some of my debt? Use to pay the lawyer for my Ch. 7 case? Pay 1K to my Mom?


Frisco to Sac town, I do it the Cali way…

August 2, 2007

Whew. Finally a minute to breath.

Inhale. Exhale.

Inhale the good. Exhale the stress….

Trip is going well. 1 sale already and I have a decent chance at closing 2 more tomorrow. I’m in San Francisco now after working Sacramento yesterday.

I got pretty much the cheapest non-hostel hotel in San Francisco and it still seems outrageous. I had a budget of $600 for this whole trip (lodging/food/gas/donuts). I’m gonna go $100 over it looks like.

I haven’t heard anything official about winning the $1K bloghunt contest (UPDATE: I did win!), so we’ll wait and see. I think getting my Chapter 7 wrapped up and using the 1K for that is the best move. Getting the bankruptcy filed is my next big step on the debt side of things.

I got stuck on the big bridge getting into the city. Didn’t know it cost $4! (I had no cash on me) Some nice soul behind me got fed up with waiting for me digging around my car for $4 (I came up with about $2 in change) and paid the rest of my toll. So, thank you nice lady! I felt so stupid though. It’s my first time here!

San Fran is big

The city is huge! It has a similar feel to Seattle, though not as clean. I wish I had time to walk around a bit and take some pictures, but I just don’t. I need to move my car by 7am and then work San Jose and Oakland tomorrow. I’ll finish with San Fran on Friday and then start driving back home.

Fun, fun, fun. Sometimes.

Actually, this is hard. I drove 10 hours strait from Portland to Sac-town. I bought a frozen dinner for tonight and I have no microwave. I do have a really nice bed though, so I’m excited about that. I knew I had little chance on the apartment, but its still no good. Even if I could afford another place, I had no chance of passing anytime of screening. That limits my options to sublets that won’t do a credit check, or coming up with 6 months cash or something and asking for no tenant check. If this sales trip gets me 5 or more sales though….I’ll probably be traveling every other week anyway. So, guess I’ll just keep staying at the office and get hotel rooms every other week. That’s not too bad!

While I think this project has some legs, I’m still worried about a lot of things. The bankruptcy, the business debt that still needs to be worked on, my mom….etc. I know I’m going to be OK one way or the other, but I worry a bit what I will look like it 2 years… (not physically look like). OK, I’m ranting now, I just need to finish my carrots and go to bed.

On my weight note:

Speaking of my weight, I’m down to 169 (I was 176 before I got sick). I feel good though, but I don’t want to lose anymore weight.


I bought an Iphone, now I’m in iDebt

August 6, 2007

OK, no I did not really buy an iPhone. Are you serious?

I did make this video real quick for a contest. Finally found a good reason to shred all my credit cards!


Who stole my bed…

August 8, 2007

While I’ve gotten into a good routine living @ my office, it’s still obviously not the best situation. I’m hoping to save up $4K in cash this month to put down on a place and consolidate my office into a home office.

business update

I’m essentially running two new start-up companies now. Plan A and Plan B!

And managing my current business as well.

If I only were focusing on one of these I would be fine. There are all exciting, but I have never ending lists of work items to get done. Plan A business should start producing income in Oct. and I will be splitting my work time 50/50 with that project and my Plan B business through the end of the year.

biz goals:

current business: 7K/monthly revenue GOAL: 10K by EOY

Plan A business: $0 current GOAL: 15K/mo by EOY

Plan B business: $1000/mo current GOAL: 5K/mo by EOM (yep, end of month I need to get 4 more clients. I have two almost for sure sales from my Cali trip that I should lock up by the end of the week). EOY Goal: 30K/mo

Are these lofty goals? Yes. Are they achievable? Yes. Am I going to work my butt off through the end of the year trying to get to them? Yes. My chances of hitting all those goals? I’d probably say 10% or less. But that’s why they are goals!


My legs may just fall off

August 9, 2007

I went for a pretty intense hike with my brother today. It felt good to get out of the office early (4pm’ish. started the day at 6:30 on the phone with a client back east), especially after a very productive day. Worked out in the morning as well.

I got a call from one of the stops I made down in San Jose. Very out of the blue. I didn’t feel like I had many good meeting in San Jose, but apparently I was wrong. Now I have a lunch appointment set up for next week. Cool. Also, locked down 2 sales in the Plan B project. 3 down, 97 more to go (100 is my goal for this project). These are very difficult sales as our charge is significant, so the sales process is much longer.

Plan A is looking good. We have 2 good sized companies interested in what we’ve been building and if we can get either one of them to partner with us, we’ll be in good shape.

Cash Update

I’m trying to save $ at the moment. As soon as I get the 1K check from the bloghunt I won, I’ll be using that for the Chapter 7 filing. I’m hoping to have that filed by the end of the month. It’s taking longer than I would have liked, but there is a significant amount of important paperwork involved that I don’t want to miss anything.

This just in: I’m still broke

Money is insanely tight and trying to launch essentially two new companies on basically no budget is not easy. It’s caused me to be creative though in our marketing and I’ve been coming up with some good ideas I probably wouldn’t have even considered if I had a larger marketing budget.

Challenge Update

I’ve got an e-mail in to J.D over at getrichslowly. I’m hoping to do some sort of contest with him. Some friendly competition is always a good thing.

E-mails

I’ve got some interesting e-mails from readers as of late. I’ll have to post some of them later. But as a rule of thumb:

  1. Thank you for e-mailing me. I appreciate it…but
  2. I can’t give you business advice, I mean I can, but what do I know, right? No seriously, look around online, there are some great business blogs and resourcing online.
  3. I’m crazy busy so it may take time for me to respond.
  4. If you send me some business opportunity or scam/scheme I won’t even read anything else you wrote. Seriously people.
  5. Please don’t send me forex/trading type groups or other scams. I have no desire to trade again, and I don’t want to be tempted.

Longer Term Plans

Once I get my personally bankruptcy filled, my next focus will be tackling the large business debt I’ve got. We’re talking around 80K in LOC and credit cards. I’ve made arrangements on much this debt, but it’s about time to check in with everyone again. The last thing I need right now is something to disrupt the business I’m trying to build up right now.

If and when I get my business debt figured out, my next big debt issue is the $ that I owe my mother. Due to tax issues and the like, I can only repay 12K of this a year to her. Not a problem at the moment, since I am sending a measly $350 a month at the moment. My goal here will be to save up a large enough cash chuck to generate 12K or more a year. I will figure out that exact goal number at some point in the future. If I make it that far!

Off to bed now…


A place to sleep?

August 11, 2007

I’m heading out to go look at a place that might just be what I’m looking for in terms of a place to live and work. It’s privately owned, so crossing my fingers that they won’t do a full credit check. The place is under $1K/month. My current office is $800/month. So, it would be only a $200+utilities for a mattress and shower and bathroom (that doesn’t need a key to open!).

I’m not gonna hold my breath, but I am hoping this works out…


I can’t do this on my own

August 12, 2007

I went to a movie last night. (cheap theater, $3). If you think that was a waste of money….I don’t care. I had a good day, and $3 in my pocket and I needed to get out of the office on a Sat. night.

I went alone.

How loner’ish is that? It this what I’m becoming? A guy who works too much, has too much debt, and no friends? It was fricking Saturday night for God’s sakes! I’m 24! Shouldn’t I be out clubbing or necking or something?

For the first time (in my life)…I feel lonely.

I have my brother. And he is awesome. A friend for life for sure.

But beyond that…I have no guy friends anymore (here in Seattle). I have 3 good guy friends, but they all now live out of state.

And my one close friend that knows about my situation….seems not so close lately. I don’t know if its because I don’t have a place anymore, or what. But lately I feel like I don’t matter much to her.

I know that sounds emotional and petty and small. But if the one peer you could talk with didn’t seem to care anymore…you’d be pissed and feeling lonely too.

And this Blog.

I mean, WTF man? Why do I even write here? So a few people on the Internets can scrutinize my mistakes? I don’t even have any ads up here, I should at least make some lunch money, right?

Is it all about the debt?

I’ve distanced myself from people. I realize this. Sometimes intentionally. But, you know, I’ve tried to get 3 different girls to notice me, and….nothing. It’s like I don’t exist.

My business is fun, and growing, and I’m exited about that. But if I have no life. What’s the point? I mean really, why work my ass off to be single and lonely?

And then I remember.

I owe my mom over 100K. I’m going to start getting sued if I don’t file my BK. The IRS could freeze my bank accounts.

Awesome. Just awesome.

I’m pissed and off to church.


Can $2000 Get An Apartment in Seattle?

August 13, 2007

I guess we’ll find out in about an hour. I’m talking to the landlord about the situation in about an hour. I should know by the end of the day if I’m getting the place or not. I have almost $2000 in cash (well, near cash, its in checks that I have to cash (1K from the bloghunt showed up today! yay!)).

So, can 2K get an apartment in Seattle? No credit check? Guess I’ll find out.


An Open Letter To Seattle’s Landlords

August 13, 2007

An Open Letter To Seattle’s Landlords

I am a small business owner in Seattle. I am well educated, well-mannered, rarely drink and don’t smoke. I often work 12-hour days locked away in my office. I have a few close friends, but throwing a party would be difficult. I have $2000 saved up for an first apartment.

I sound like a perfect tenant, right? And yet…you won’t rent me a decent apartment in Seattle to save my life.

You seem to focus solely on one thing: My past.

Oh that and my 3 digit credit score that starts with a 4.

Not A Huge Risk Anymore

It’s really too bad. I’ve had an office lease for 2+ years. My business is booming, and my personal debt will be gone (read: bankruptcy filing) very soon. And yet you still can’t look at me as a whole person.

All you see is my past. Foreclosure. Bankruptcy. Late Payments.

None of those words explain me now, or where I am headed, but that is how you define me.

Happy To See Me

You seem so happy to see me when I meet you to look at a place. I’m well-manicured, fit, friendly…the perfect tenant. You even get excited when I say, “Sure, I’d love to take the place”. But then you rely on the 3rd party company to make your decision. It’s as if meeting me didn’t matter at all.

The report comes back on me, and my past. And it’s not good. You call me disappointed with the results, reading them to me as a parent would a bad-report card to a child (I only got two B’s in High School, by the way).

Office Life

And so I live in my office. I’m going on two months now of sleeping on a camping pad, spit-showering in the bathroom, and wondering to myself how long before a tub of margarine goes bad at room temp. I am always up and out of the office before my employees arrive.

New Friends

About a month ago I began volunteering at a homeless outreach program downtown. It’s now the highlight of my week. I have more real conversations with the homeless in Seattle than I do my own friends. They think I am helping them, but its really the other way around.

I am lucky. I am blessed. I have a stable source of income. I am young and healthy. I have great family and friends and even health insurance. I have $2000 in my bank account right now saved up for an apartment. My homeless friends are lucky to have $2 saved up for a bus pass.

Look Beyond Our Past

All I’m asking is that you look beyond someone’s past. Look beyond that 3 digit number every once in a while. Maybe you don’t realize the power that you have. The ability to grant someone a place to call “home” is not something to take lightly.

So you won’t rent to me. That’s fine, I’ll survive. But if you won’t rent to me, a business-owning middle class white male, because of my past…What chance do the poor and the undeserved in our city with equally as checkered pasts have?

The answer? None.


That was a good hour!

August 16, 2007

Wow. I was feeling totally down today, then the last hour happened:

  • I passed my background check for the 1 bd place I’m hoping to get (not that I was worried…but still)
  • All my Plan B clients received very valuable leads from our services today (great since some are on free trials!)

Now, it’s bad that my mood is so tied to my business. But right now my business is my only chance at getting out of this mess in a timely, like before I’m 50, fashion.

Darn Harry Potter

I finished the 7th Harry Potter book last night (lent from a brother). It was great, but it made me very sad. See when I was having a pretty rough time in life (more rough than my time right now even) I discovered the Harry Potter books. They were a huge comfort to me. I know it sounds silly, being a 18 male and finding comfort in a children’s book, but when your life sucks any healthy escape is like a water to someone dying of thirst. When I was super depressed, the 1st movie was just coming out. I bought tickets a month ahead of time and I crap you not, just looking forward to that movie kept me going during that time in my life. I’ll always have a tender spot in my life for those silly books because of the power they had to wisk me away when I was so down.

So anyway, finishing the last one last night was odd. It made me feel vulnerable and lonely and sad….like I felt at 18.

I think I snapped out of it now after the above great things happening, but I still feel odd. The power of the written word….amazing!


7 Creative Ways To Deal With Debt (and stay sane!)

August 20, 2007

{I wrote this last week when I was in the dumps…}

Most everyone would agree that being in debt just plain sucks. You feel guilt you’ve never experienced before, anxiety that you just can’t shake, and shame that your debt is affecting your lifestyle.

Here are 7 ways I’ve found to deal with the Debt Monster:

  1. Get a Debt Buddy

You need at least one person in your life outside your family that you can talk with about your financial situation without shame or judgment. This could be a friend, a counselor, anyone. It’s probably best to find someone in the same income range as yourself so that they can relate to your spending habits even if they can’t relate to your debt. Get a Debt Buddy.

  1. Reward Yourself Richly

When you have a good day at work, or tear through your to-do list, reward yourself richly. Yes, richly. Does richly mean expensive? No! Find a low-cost activity or food item (my rich reward is a frosty and large fry from Wendy’s) that is special to you and you can enjoy without guilt. Make sure to only give yourself this reward when you achieve a goal.

  1. Shower at the Gym

Get up before work and drag yourself to the gym. Bring your clean clothes and shower at the gym after you work out. It’s a great way to start the day, and showering at the gym forces you to go or smell terrible all day! Also, if you can discipline yourself to exercise, then you can discipline yourself to budget and save.

  1. Take an evening nap

After Dinner, take a short 20-40 minute nap. Your brain will love you.

  1. Keep a journal about your debt journey

Writing down your goals, thoughts, and even fears can be very therapeutic. You can keep a paper journal, or easily start an online blog at wordpress or blogger. Writing about my overwhelming debt has helped me tremendously in dealing with it, and realizing that I’m not alone (although being 300K in debt and 24, I may be a bit unique).

  1. Watch a comedy show

My favorite two shows to make me laugh about my life and debt are: Arrested Development (rich dysfunctional family) and The Office (if only my office were like this show!). Being able to forget your life for 23 minutes and laugh at another’s expense is invaluable in emotionally dealing with your debt.

  1. Get Organized and Get Movin’

While most of the above tips are emotional ways to deal with your debt, you don’t want to be doing these steps forever. Make a debt reduction action plan and stick to it. You’ll have to make sacrifices, but the reward of not have the Debt Monster on your back will pay dividends for the rest of your debt free life.

How do you deal with debt?

Are you an exerciser? Do you spend time with your family when your debt is bumming you out? Watch a funny movie? Go shopping? What do you do? If you had debt in the past, but are debt free now, how did you get there?


Greenpoint Mortgage Says Goodbye

August 20, 2007

From what I heard from my short sale agent, Greenpoint (the 2nd mortgage on my old house), was a pain in the rear to deal with. Looks like they are the next mortgage company to shutter their doors.

I don’t know what to feel here. 1900 people losing their jobs is not cool. Obviously my one little short sale didn’t make the whole company go under, but I’m sure it didn’t help. It’s a crazy market out there right now…almost makes me glad I can’t afford a place anytime soon.

Almost.


Wave of Home Short Sales Starting?

August 21, 2007

In the last month or two I’ve noticed a dramatic increase in traffic to this site from people searching “short sale” and or “foreclosure” related terms. Looking at the search cloud image to the right shows this very dramatically.

Short Sale Traffic Surge…

I did a good amount of research before I decided to go forward with my short sale and from the traffic I’m seeing to the blog here, it seems like an increasing number of homeowners are beginning to research as well.

It’s a good and bad thing. Bad that people are upside in their homes (as I was). Good that they are looking to avoid foreclosure by doing a short sale of their home. Good also for the mortgage companies that typically stand to lose much more in a foreclosure then they will by doing a short sale.

When I closed the short sale of my home almost 2 months ago, it was a minor success for me. I avoided foreclosure, and sold a house that I had no way of affording anymore.

So, is a short sale wave coming? I think it is. I think the short sale is and will continue to become a much more common real estate transaction. The combination of bad loans and a declining real estate market has left too many homeowners in a lurch. Hopefully they can afford to downsize from their home, and short selling their home will give them a much better chance of getting an apartment than a foreclosure would. Neither is going to look great, but a short sale at least shows some proactive work on the borrowers side to remedy their situation.


Foreclosure to Short Sale to Homeless to Renter

August 22, 2007

I can’t ever complain that I have a boring life. Sure, I’m lonely at times, but that is 99% self inflicted. I’m working crazy hours, and have pushed many friends away because I just didn’t want to have to hide what was really going on in my life.

I should be able to change some of that starting next week.

First off, It looks like I’m getting a place to live. Like a real place to sleep, not just a camping pad in my office. Everything is lined up and approved, I just have to have my deposit and cashola ready by this weekend. How tight is it? It’s down to dollars. It may have been wise in terms of cash-flow issues to do another month in the office, but:

  1. I’m starting to notice some health issues both emotionally and physically
  2. I’ve spent a good deal of time looking at potential places, and the combo of being able to work form the place I’m getting is too good to pass on.
  3. Living in your office officially blows.

So I am excited. I’ll be able to relax once I’ve got all my money together to get the place. But I’m still starting to get excited. It’s almost been two months now living in my office.

I’ve managed to lay low the last two months. A good number of people know I’ve been living in my office (I played it off well…), but my employees thankfully never noticed. I’ve never overslept (they come in around 9), and have not seemed to arouse any suspetions of any other tenants in the office. I could probably go another 10 months and no one would no the difference. Of course I would be withering mass of a man, going crazy from white walls and no windows 24 hours a day…but I’m just saying it could probably be done.

Debt Update

I need to do an updated spreadsheet with my current debt levels. I have been paying down a number of my business credit cards, as well as continuing to pay my mother monthly. My personal debts I have not been paying, nor could I with the dismal salary I can afford myself at the moment. Nor should I be if I still plan to file my chapter 7 bk as soon as I have the money for the fee (I do still plan to file, unless my income level changes dramatically in the next 30 days. Which is possible. But not likely)


What would you do with $10,000?

August 22, 2007

stocks in the toiletI was sitting on the toilet today at the office, and a random thought came into my mind,

“If I suddenly had $10,000 in cash, what would I do with it?”

As my mind starting whirring the possibilities seemed endless…

With 10K I could:

  • Implement the marketing plan I put together for one of my businesses. 10K could sustain it for 4 months, and could result in huge gains in revenue, clients, and reoccurring profits
  • Avoid my personal bankruptcy filling. Spend 5K negotiating and paying down some personal debt and spending 5K on the business.
  • Put it in my savings account@ emigrant direct
  • Go on a fancy vacation to Tahiti.

OK, so the last one never really crossed my mind. When my mind had stopped whirring, I realized something that didn’t even cross my mind: depositing the 10K into a trading account. A year ago that’s the only way I would have thought of using a 10K windfall. I would have visualized that 10K turning into 60K (which, I did once in a month in 2006), and then that 60K into 250K and so on and so on. You see how screwed up my thinking was?

Of the options I listed above, with a 10K windfall I would likely choose the 2nd option of splitting it between investing it in my business and using it to avoid the BK.

So, what would you do with $10K?


My last night sleeping in my office…or not?

August 24, 2007

So, I’m supposed to be getting a place tomorrow. But I’m also supposed to be bringing nearly $3,000 as well.

I don’t have it quite yet, and I’m really starting to stress. As usual, the mistake is totally my fault, but here’s what happened:

1. A $600 advertising charge came through this week that I wasn’t expecting until next week

2. A $1.1K check that I was expecting earlier this week won’t be in until next week at the earliest.

In other words, I relied on money that was outside my control. Not smart. I need to come up with about 1K in cash today, or I won’t have enough to cover payment tomorrow. I put up the last few valuable things I had on craigslist. Some electronics that I used to use in the business. I’ve had one e-mail inquiry so far. At bare minimum I could maybe, maybe squeeze by with just $500 depending on how Wells Fargo handles deposits on Saturdays.

I’ve gotten myself into another hard spot and I’m mad at myself. I was so pissed yesterday I started cursing around my office so loud that I’m sure people on the first floor heard me. I hate this. I hate that I’m a risk taker sometimes, I hate that I just can’t have patience. Even when it comes to my business I see my old habits of pushing the envelope (day trading) and taking risks (investments in the business) when I should be more careful.


Why I just turned down a 20/20 interview…

August 24, 2007

A producer from ABC News’ 20/20 e-mailed me earlier today and wanted to chat about a story they were working on of people in unique living situations (office living?) because of the mortgage slowdown. We chatted for about 7-8 minutes, and then she asked if I’d want to come on camera.

I turned her down.

I told her when I pay down my debt, or sell my business for like a few million, I’d be more than happy to come on the show. She may use my comments for the story, and that’s fine, but I don’t want to be that screw-up that on tv for being a screw up. I already feel bad enough about my situation as it is.

Was this a good move? I mean, sure it would have drove a ton of traffic to this blog, but I need to stay focused on my business right now that is actually making good money. And I don’t make any money from this, maybe I should put some adsense ads back up…I don’t know. I’m stressed. And apparently quite whinny as well. Hmmph.


The Richest Man In Seattle

August 27, 2007

I feel spoiled right now. I have a fridge, a stove, and a bathroom. I am content.

Now its time to bring the business to the next level…


Filled to capacity…my life is crazy

August 29, 2007

The past few days have been a whirlwind. I’ve moved into my apartment and got a cheap used twin mattress on craigslist to sleep on. It’s wonderful, really it is. It still doesn’t feel like a “home” yet, but I think that will take some time and other people visiting to make that happen.

Like a hotel

It actually feels like a hotel. Really. When I went on my trip down to California I stayed in 2 cheap hotels, and that is what my place feels like now. Only not a cheap hotel, maybe like a decent midrange hotel.

I think this was a good move. I’ll have to double pay for office space for a month, but in the long run working from my apartment will be a good move for my business and for my sanity as well. My traditional office had no windows, nothing but white walls. 2+ years of that, and I think I’m starting to go a bit cooky.

Better work environment

I’ve setup a little space in my living room for my business computers and its a much better work environment. Plus, I’ll be able to save more money by making lunches here. We’ll see how it all pans out, but so far I’m feeling pretty good about getting this place. Money is of course insanely tight, and I had to sell the last of any value possessions I had, but hey, I’d rather have a place to sleep than some electronic equipment! So, that’s that.

Business Update

With a few good nights sleep, and not sleeping on the ground, my productivity is back way up again! I didn’t realize how much my situation in the office was really affecting me (in all areas of my life) until I was out of it. My brain is moving much smoother now, and my business performance is up as well.

My total business revenue will be up near the 10K/month for this month. My new Plan B project is starting to make some decent revenue. The problem is that revenue ain’t profit! We still have some significant costs in my Plan B business. I can scale it up pretty quickly as we add clients, but our gross profit margins are in the 20-30% range. I think this project potential is around 30K monthly. That is revenue though, GP of 9-10K would be awesome though. I could avoid the BK and start really moving on my business debts.

There just isn’t enough time in the day!!

My Plan A business is coming along nicely, but won’t produce any revenue for at least another 6-8 weeks. It could generate in the 10-15K/month range with much higher profit margins (70-80%). I think its either going to be a big hit, or just kind of languish. We’ll see. I’ve been working on this project for almost 8 months now, so I’m excited to see it coming to fruition.

“Plan C” Project?

I might be crazy by trying to launch another project right now (I am). But, I have a decent idea that could potentially generate some profits within the next month or so…which is what I really need. The problem is that I’m not sure its actually a good idea, and I don’t want to waste my valuable time on something that isn’t gonna fly.

I feel weird asking this, but is there anyone out there that would be willing to critique my idea and possibly give some pointers on it? You don’t have to sign up for anything, just e-mail me: admin @ debtkid.com and maybe give me your first name. I don’t want to publicly have people scrutinize the thought (in case it actually is a good thought!). Anyway, e-mail if you are interested, I won’t spam you or try to sell you knives you don’t need or anything, I’d just like your honest feedback. Thanks!


Success: Why am I afraid?

September 3, 2007

This week is a big business week for me. My plan A project has a conference call with a major company to potentially adopt/partner on our project. If it goes well, the success of the venture will be all but guaranteed and revenue (probably in the 10-15K/monthly range) will begin coming in as early as mid-November.

My Plan B project is also at a critical point this week. If I can close what I think I’m gonna close….well, it will be huge as well.

So, it’s a big week for me.

And really, both things should go well. But for some reason I have the toughest time imagining myself doing anything but working 70 hours a week just to get by. The prospect of actually being successful, I mean, really successful, seems to be an impossibility to me. Like I don’t deserve it, no matter how hard I work.

It’s something I need to get over.

And fast.


Heartrate Down…Cash Still No Where To Be Found

September 5, 2007

I’m getting a little settled into my new apartment. It’s starting to feel at least a little like a home now. I still get a sickening feeling everyonce in awhile like someone is going to knock on the door and say, “Hey! What are you doing here! You can’t have a place to sleep!”

I know it sounds crazy. It’s just how I feel.

I love what I’m doing with my business right now. My two projects are both coming along nicely, just neither is producing any real extra cash at the moment. They will eventually, but eventually is NOT RIGHT NOW. Darn it.

My creditors are going to start getting more aggressive now. If I don’t have the ability to start making payments within the next month I am sure to start seeing some lawsuits. Maybe not in a month, I may have more time, but from what I have researched and in talking to some of them, I think that is about my time frame.


The Bachelor Party Where I Made $10,975 – Crazy Story #1

September 5, 2007

This event happened last summer.

After a day of shenanigans around Seattle including blow up woman dolls and sheep (don’t ask), our bachelor party settled down at my house for some good old fashioned Texas hold ‘em poker.

$10 buy in. Big stakes right? Yeah, right.

$10,000 To Start

Earlier in the week I had deposited $10,000 into my very highly leveraged forex trading account. I was feeling good about this 10K, and right off the bat I was up to around 20K within the first few days of the week. The party started on a Thursday, and I had opened some positions in the Euro vs. Dollar (EUR/USD) before the party.

Mad Cell Phone Quote Checking

I remained in the positions during the day, frantically checking quotes on my cell phone while trying not to arouse too much suspicion. The guys probably thought I was waiting for a text from a hot lady or something (that would have been better!).

Back to the poker game…

Like a dumbass (I was) I kept my computer next to me during the poker game so I could watch my trades. Talk about a good friend, right? Anyway, while the poker game was heating up, so was the currency market. All my trades were going the right way during the game.

After the poker game finally concluded, I was able to close out my now very profitable positions.

I had made $10,975 during my friends bachelor party.

Oh, and I got second in the poker game. $40 in cash.

The worst part about all of this (or maybe not), is that during the poker game I was genuinely more worried about losing my $10 in that game than I was about the 10K I had in play in a wild currency market.

I can’t believe I did that. I had to login to my trading account to check those numbers last night. While the flashing quote lights were tempting, I had no desire to trade forex again. I hurt too many people and myself with my white collar gambling.

On a side note, I traded that 30K up to over 50K within the next week, only to lose all my gains and end up back where I started with 10K. Lesson? Don’t trade Forex when you are 23 years old and stupid.

forex profits

If you are interested in learning how to trade forex, this site has some good tutorials


Breaking Point – What Will I End Up Like?

September 10, 2007

This is the lowest I’ve felt in a very long time. Last week was terrible and the weekend, while fun with some friends in town, was very stressful.

I thought I over drafted my business account into oblivion (ie, beyond being able to bring back), but thanks to some deposits posting it looks like I’m going to be OK there.

What’s not OK right now is me. I hate myself right now. I’m distracted all the time, constantly on edge, never rested, never at ease. The whole mess of living in my office for two months, keeping of the charade of being “OK” to the outside world has seriously affected my personality and thought processes.

Worst of all, my obsession with my situation and ways out of it has turned me into someone I never wanted to be: someone who can’t listen to others. My friendships have dwindled to a short few, of which only one knows what’s really going on in my life. It’s incredibly difficult for me to make new friendships because a.) I don’t get out much, though I’m trying more and b.) I have to be creative in every answer I give someone.

The truth is that I’m OK, and I’m not. I’m generally happy but I’m lonely. I’m ambitious but short sighted. I’m content with being poor, but yet I have to pursue profit. Because of what I’ve done I’m forced to make decisions and determine priorities not based I what I desire (love, relationships, faith, service), but on what is best for my financial situation.

God, no wonder I hate myself right now.

When I first came clean with my family and myself, I thought this process would make me a better person, stronger, more empathetic, more creative. Instead, I feel weaker, more selfish, more jaded.

If I can’t genuinely love other people because I’m so preoccupied without my own well-being and self preservation, what the crap am I doing with my life? I always thought (and had been told) that one of my greatest strengths was my ability to relate and be some sort of comfort to a wide range of people. I’ve lost that. I’ve lost my ability to care outside my own ‘effed up world, and it’s killing me.


I love running. Yeah.

September 12, 2007

A good run always clears the mind and soul. I ran the crap out of myself yesterday and today went 10X better.

Some pretty interesting comments on my last post. Its funny, when I really just write without thinking (ie, you get my thoughts unedited) comments are always plentiful and interesting. Thanks everyone, even the negative ones, keeps me thinking and evaluating my situation.


When I would throw in the towel

September 13, 2007

A ton is going on right now for me business wise. (sadly, not a ton of cash going on though!).

My plan A project will be launching very soon, and I’ll have a good idea within 6 weeks if its going to fly or not. I will be shifting some of my time to working on it in the coming months. It’s one of those things that’s either going to be a hit and huge (and generate 20K a month…think *software*ish), or not get adopted and just languish.We’ll see….

Thowing In The Towel

I’m giving myself through the end of this year to really hit a new level in my businesses. I’ve been stuck at this point of just scraping by (not to mention only being able to pay 1/4 of my current debt load) and I can’t take it much longer. If I had no debt at all, I’d have a comfortable lifestyle. But that isn’t the case and I’ve been working like a madman since January and it’s wearing me down. I think I can keep this pace up through Decemeber, but if significant cash isn’t coming in by Dec 31st 2007:

  1. I’ll for sure finish my personal bankruptcy
  2. I’ll bankrupt my business or sell it if possible
  3. Get A W-2 Sales Job somewhere…

I’m obviously hoping I can pull of this miracle turnaround. I don’t know…we’ll see. I haven’t gotten sued……yet. I’m still here…..for now.

To me my biggest issue remains the money that I owe to my mother. I could legitimately BK both myself and my business. It would be shameful, and a black mark and my investors would be pissed, but I’d be OK. But the 160K I owe Mom…well, that’s never going away.

But, if I had to get a normal job (with some sort of commission involved…),heck 40 hours a week sounds like cake. It might take me alot longer to pay back Mom, but I gotta do what I gotta do.

So, here’s to 2007. Praying I finish strong…

DebtKid


Money and my mood

September 17, 2007

It’s become more and more apparent to me this week how tied my mood is to my bank account balance. If its low and I’m not sure how I’m going to make payroll, everything in the world is crappy and my head feels like its going to explode.

When I have over $500 in the ole’ bank account, and no bills in the short term (read: next 5 days), I feel on top of the world.

This is not a healthy relationship!

I’ve had this problem before and still do to some extent with the success of my business. In the past, when my business had a bad month, I felt terrible. When it had a good month, I felt on top of the world.

I need to find a way to at least buffer myself emotionally a little from the roller coaster ride that my bank account takes from week to week. I still always feel like I’m on the edge of a knife.

Sleeping is good

My apartment is great. It’s such a blessing to have, and I think if I didn’t have this place I’d really be in trouble right now. I never thought I would be so happy to have a toilet that I didn’t have to use a key to access!

P.S. To those few readers who seem to think I am “gambling” with my business. You are wrong. Sorry, no gambling there. Just good business. My Plan A project has been in production almost all year, and it’s mostly being worked on by two of my employees, not me. Sure its a “risk”, but what isn’t in business?


Mint.com Review

September 18, 2007

I was lucky to get to be a beta-tester of the new online finance application mint.com. I wouldn’t usually write reviews like this, but I even shared this site with some of my family members because I thought it was so cool.

This is what I’ve been waiting for in a finance application

This has been the application I’ve been waiting for. The interface is slick, and the auto-updates of your accounts seamless. I easily added my wells fargo checking accounts as well as a few of my personal credit card accounts. Once I get my financial situation a bit more stable (if that ever happens), I will definitely be using mint to manage, monitor, and analyze my spending.

Main Interface

mintThe main overview of your accounts gives a great snapshot of your latest transactions, alerts and more. Obviously my financial health is bad (and I haven’t even imported all my accounts. Mint.com can’t handle collection accounts)

Analyze Spending…easily

Mint.com makes analyzing and tagging transactions really, really easy. Sadly, it recognizes (truthfully…grrr) that my “most frequented merchant” is “overdraft fee”. Darn!

Favorite Feature

Probably my favorite feature is the ability to receive text messages when an account reaches a certain threshold. For example, lets say you want to receive a text when your checking account falls below $100.

Bugs and gripes

The one feature of mint that seemed to annoy me (that I probably just need to tweak a bit in my settings) was the e-mails I would receive of “large deposits” in my bank account. That’s great and all, but I got an e-mail this morning of a large deposit, that was dated August 28th. Not exactly current.

More Screenshots

Main Tabs

mint I need to update some of my “tags”


How Long A Journey?

September 19, 2007

Beginning next month I’ll be running a start-up again in addition to my current business that is pretty stable. This is my Plan A to get out of the mess I’ve got myself in. I’ve been working on it for the better part of the year now.
This month financially has been OK. I made my last payment on my office, and we will be moving into my apartment at the end of the month. This is a good move. In fact, when I explained what we were doing to my employees, one asked, “I also wondered why we didn’t do this sooner!”. So, it will be a good move financially. Plus, I have some just bad memories of living here full time…it will be good to move on. My apartment has a very “positive” feel to it vs. the negative one I feel at my current office.

I Love Writing

I know I’m not the best writer in the world, but the more I’ve been doing it the more I really enjoy it. It really helps me in my thought process, as well as it just being a good business skill. I’m going to start writing more for LendingClub (they gave me a per-post raise!), and bring in some more cash from that gig. So expect to see more posts from me there as well as more informational posts on this site that I don’t fit in LC’s schema.

Big Hurdles Ahead

I have some major obstacles ahead. Bankruptcy or not? Business Bankruptcy or not? I still don’t have the cash (nor will I in the near term future) to pay down any of my debt, or even make minimum payments. I’m still very much living on the knife edge of this debt mess.

But I’m going to make it. (or so my Dad tells me!)

Somehow It’s going to work out. It just may take a long time.

The Journey

I’ll keep blogging here about what’s going on in my life in terms of this mess. I appreciate people’s feedback and I do read comments! I won’t always agree with what you say, but hey, that’s America!

I don’t know how long its going to take me to get back to even. 1 year. 3 years. 5 years. I don’t know!

Want to follow along? Please subscribe. I don’t make any money from this blog (though it did lead to my gig at Lending Club, so that was cool), but I really love numbers and right now I have 200 subscribers. I’d love to have a 1000!

I really hope I can help some people along the way in this journey. I’ll try to be as open and honest as I can. Dealing with debt sucks, but you’ve got to face it and you’ve got to be educated and make a plan. That’s what I’m trying to do.


5 Finance Blogs Actually Worth Reading

September 19, 2007

I don’t have a whole ton of spare time at the moment as most readers know, but there are a few finance blogs out there that I find myself reading from time to time because, well, they are good! These are my top 5 and the only ones I read religiously (using google reader of course. You are using google reader, right? : )

In no particular order…

My top 5

1. Clever Dude – Two reasons I like Clever Dude. 1. He’s Clever and 2. Like me he’s foundwriting has helped him deal with his debt.

blogging away debt

2. BloggingAwayDebt – Tricia over at Blogging Away Debt always has great down dirty real life tips and experiences about dealing with debt. She is almost down to 20K in debt, from starting at over 37K.

get rich slowly

3. Get Rich Slowly – JD’s stuff is always great. We were talking awhile back about doing some sort of business contest, but it never got off the ground. No worries though, I’m doing OK and GRS continues to be a great finance blog. His latest post about budgeting with an irregular income I think was written just for me!

dumb little man

4. Dumb Little Man – This blog should really be Smart Little Man….maybe that was taken. In any case while posts here aren’t always finance related…many are, and the content kicks butt. His business posts, like this one on referrals is the stuff I really love.

ncn blog

5. NCN Blog – No Credit Needed? That’s what I want! No credit would mean no debt! NCN has a very practical blog about all things finance related. Plus, if you’ve ever listened to his podcast, you just know he might be the next Dave Ramsey.

What say you!?

What 5 finance/debt related blogs SHOULD I be reading?


Countrywide Short Sales – What You Need To Know

September 20, 2007

Read here: Countrywide Short Sales – What You Need To Know


What Would A Girl Think Of All This Debt?

September 20, 2007

OK, so there is this girl that I’m interested in. My big concern is that I can’t be myself completely without letting her know whats been happening and what is continuing to happen in my life right now. And if I can’t be myself…we’ll I’m not very attractive then!

If a girl were to read what I’ve written here…would they be repulsed? Impressed? Feel sorry for me? Think I was crazy?

What do you think? How much do I *share* about what is going on with me? I don’t want to just be like “blah!!!!” and spill my life story. But I also want to be genuine.

Grr….life man.

It ain’t always easy (especially with women involved! no offense meant…I’m just frustrated (mostly at myself of course…)


The Walking Zombie

September 27, 2007

I’ve been in a daze for pretty much a week now. Working til Midnite pretty much every night. I got a nasty cold/sore throat last week and am still trying to shake it. Not terrible…but thus the walking zombie title.

My father is coming up this weekend to help with some organizational stuff and getting a next 6 months plan figured out.

Tired.

Oh, and the girl doesn’t even know I exist. No worries though. More time to focus on this mess I’m in (or at least focus on getting out of it) I’m happy and I ordered a life from amazon this week, with shipping and potential delays…it should be here by January. : )


Who said slow and steady wins?

October 4, 2007

I haven’t felt like writing much lately. Too tired, too many other things to do…though I know I should because it makes me feel better. Truth is, this is my last quarter to have any shot at paying back what I owe without BK’ing both the business and myself and just packing up shop.

Business revenue will probably be around 7K this month. Gross profit in the 5K number. After rent, salaries, and other expenses…nothing left over.

I had a nice chat with Toyota this week….got them to stay the repo on the car. I’m so upside downin the car at the moment, if I could get out of it I would, but I can’t.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. This quarter does have some big potential. We finished work on my Plan A project, and it may start bringing in some real revenue in less than a month. We’ll see. Plan B project is picking up, and could hit $3500 in revenue this month, maybe more. It’s all just going so slow…I work all day…and then the next, and the next, and the next….it’s just so slow…

Also, the collection calls are getting worse and worse. The truth is that I need to file my personal BK sooner vs. later. It seems unavoidable at this point, and while I have no judgments yet…I can feel them coming.


Getting Back On Track

October 9, 2007

Whew. Finally…I’m ahead.

OK, I’m not really ahead, but for once I’m positive that my business and personal accounts are not going to overdraft this month. Hurray for me right? Yeah, I wish. It’s a small victory, but the truth is I’m still not paying anywhere near all my bills.

Getting Organized

Now that I have my business and personal checking accounts at two different banks it’s been alot easier to finally seperate my business expenses and income from my personal stuff. I spent most of this evening updating all my personal debt spreadsheet and all that jazz to get ready to file the bankruptcy. At this point avoiding the BK is impossible, and I just need to get the paperwork done now. I’ve been saying that for a few months now, but I finally got organized the last few weeks and am almost ready to file.

Getting Accountable

One of the biggest helps has been my Dad. Shocker, he’s amazing. My problem is that while I’m pretty good at running my business, I don’t do alot of the little daily tasks to keep things in order. So, my Dad and I are now meeting weekly (virtually) to go over personal and business goals and action items for the week. It’s great, and it’s already greatly improved my business performance as well getting my personal stuff organized. Yay for Dad.

Getting A Life

Still working on this one…but it’s slowly starting to come back together. I’m not quite ready to really put myself out there again, I think by the end of the year though I should be. I think I wrote earlier how I ordered a life on Amazon…it’s expected to show up sometime in early 2008. OK, that really isn’t that funny…but hey, I’m not that funny a guy! (more goofy really)

Getting Sane

Having a place to sleep each night that isn’t the floor is amazing. I’m truly thankful for each night I have in my new place and I hope its something I never take for granted ever again in my life.

Getting ready for the long haul

I took me over 3 years to get myself into the massive debt whole that I’m in. But, it may very well take much longer than that to get out. I’ve accepted that now, and if it takes 5 years, 10 years….well, that’s just what its gonna take. One one or the other I’ll survive. Debt doesn’t define me…although I do go by DebtKid. Hmm…maybe sometime I can change the blog name to NoDebtKid or something like that. That’d be cool.


Finance Widget? Do You Know?

October 14, 2007

Does anyone know of a handy widget (something I could install on the blog here) that I could track my debt with? Something that’s easy to use and update?


Mistakes (and learning from them) change everything

October 17, 2007

A year ago I would have been up for another 3-4 hours praying that some European official would say something positive (or negative depending on my position) about the Euro. I might have $10,000 on the line that could double or vanish based on the comments…

Flash forward to this evening:

I walked to fred meyer and spent 10 minutes deciding between the 6 pack or 9 pack of ankle socks that were on sale. (I went with the nine pack. Back when I was living in my office, I got rid of a bunch of my older socks and left myself with only 14 pairs. It hasn’t been enough.)

So, I’m learning to redo everything. I feel like a college freshman that just got dropped off by his parents into “the real world”. Relearning how to shop, how to stay organized, how to save, how to spend, how to talk (to women), how to worship. Everything seems new right now, and to be honest…it’s all incredibly scary.

If someone were to take a snapshot of my life, they’d probably think everything was fine. I have an apartment, a car, I work from home and have a few employees. Impressive actually for a 24 year old, right? Hah!

The funny thing is is it’s not the collection agencies that scare me. Oh no, I can deal with them just fine. What scares me is everything else. Life. Love. The absence of love. Grocery shopping. Heating bills. It’s all freaking me out lately.

Here’s the deal. Within the next month I will:

A.) have finished my personal bankruptcy filing

B.) start seeing revenue from my Plan A project. This could be anywhere from $1500-$20,000 a month. Really, I know we will hit the low end ($1500), but the high end depends on some meetings later this month. It could go either way.

C.) have not have gone on a date in nearly 2 years.

Looking at those three items, can you guess which one takes up a large amount of my brain cycles each day?

Yep. C. Strange, isn’t it? Maybe it’s just that all my friends are married now or on their way. And it’s not that I don’t think about the other items. I mean really, item B takes up most of my work life 10 hours a day.

The thing is…I’m quite happy single, and in no way am I anywhere near the ability to have a serious relationship. But come on, 2 years without a date.

It’s mostly my fault though. This year has been all about me facing everything. And the last year was all about my secret additions. So…not much time or desire for meeting new people and real intimate relationships (scary!).

December Goals: 1 date, $20,000+ in business revenue (we should do about 7K this month)

Side note: I love fall.


Disaster avoided I go for a walk

October 17, 2007

So, my car died over the weekend. Or so I thought it died. I thought it was a dead alternator…turns out it was just a dead battery. Having some extra time I decided to get the oil changed since my good fortune left me with a bit of extra budget (I was expecting a few hundred dollars in repairs). While waiting for the oil change I took some pics on a beautiful stormy day in Seattle.

Here’s some standing water. Not exciting, but I liked the reflection of the sky in the water.

A car nearly splashes me!

Weird metal running

I think this is my favorite from the walk (in the Olympic sculpture park)

the crane and the needle


I want a time machine. Darn It!

October 19, 2007

Or at least something to speed up time.

Sometimes I feel like I’m just waiting….waiting for tomorrow. Waiting for next week. Always working, yet always waiting.

Today was not the best day. A potential partner fell through on my Plan A project. It’s not a huge deal, it was just disappointing. I think the problem is that I take any failure (even a small one) or setback and make it into a huge thing in my mind. I think I fail to look at the big picture sometimes and I get frusterated when things are crappy right now in the present.

Sometimes I just want to get absolutely plastered and forget everything, you know? And yet I don’t. I probably should….but I don’t. Never been much of a drinker…too many alcoholics in my family tree. But seriously…I really thought about it today. I know I won’t….but it was ever so slightly tempting. (bear in mind…me having 2 drinks would equal the most I’ve ever drank in my life. Yes. I know. I was sheltered)

I actually have a good chunk of money in the bank right now for the business. But, it’s all budgeted out for later expenses this month….and yet it sits there….almost mocking me. Mocking me while I have to finish my bankruptcy paperwork tomorrow.

I’m bored. I’m bored with my life. I’m bored with writing for seemingly no purpose. I’m bored with the TV shows I watch just to get by in the evenings. And now I’m rambling. It’s time for bed.

I know I have a lot of really wonderful people who seem to read my ramblings here and give me encouragement….but sometimes I think I just need a good kick in the arse.


One more thing…

October 19, 2007

Oh, and I’m cranky because my stupid bed set that I got for cheap on craigslist is twin sized. Not twin-extra long….just twin.

I’m frickin 72″ long and so is my bed. It’s just not working out. (and yet I’m still very thankful to not be living in my office anymore. amen to that. but my bed still sucks.)


The Tilt AT&T Phone – What Motivates Me

October 22, 2007

So, I’ve decided I need to motivate myself a little more. While one would think just getting out of debt would be enough motivation, it isn’t. It’s a big chunk of motivation, but lets face it, I need more. So, I’m going to profile some stuff I want, and the goals I have to hit before I can reward myself with it.

One thing I’ve noticed is that spending money has become a very awful experience for me. So much so that I dread shopping and the anxiety it causes me. Even when I know I need to get certain things (shaving blades…groceries…etc). So, I need to get over that a little bit. Not that I’m going to spend like mad (I don’t have the money), but if I ever do and I hit my goals I want to reward myself a bit.

If my plan A business hits $15,000/mo I want to reward myself with a new phone, specifically the new At&t Tilt Phone!

Goal: $15,000/mo in new business

Hopeful Goal Date: Jan 1 2008:

Reward: New At&t Tilt Phone!


Bankruptcy Fees: Expensive!

October 23, 2007


I finally got all my bankruptcy paperwork finished last week and mailed off to the lawyer I’ve been working with. I could have swore I remembered the fee being $1,000 when we had a meeting a few months ago.

It’s $1500 + $299 Filing Fee.

Yikes. I have a family member who has offered to cover 1K of the fee (to be paid back someday in the future. Not my favorite option, but I can’t afford $1800 right now and I can’t afford to put off the BK any longer either. So, crap).

The lawyer is very experienced, and I had quite a bit of trouble with all the paperwork that they requested. Mostly due to me stupidly not keeping good books last year and earlier this year for my business.

I know there are cheaper Ch. 7 lawyers in Seattle, but unless the fee agreement (which I haven’t signed yet. It should show up tomorrow) is crazy, I think I’ll just take the family money, pony up some of my own and just get this over with.

This whole crazy mess is really messing with my business confidence at the moment. It’s fine that it messes with me personally, that’s to be expected. But it’s starting to spill over into my business, which is not cool.

You should try to avoid Bankruptcy at all costs!


What This Bankruptcy Means To Me

October 24, 2007

Sometimes I feel like the most screwed up 24 year old on the planet. I finished my bankrupcty paperwork last week, and I honestly haven’t thought about it since then.

A Bankruptcy is supposed to be like somewhere in the top 5 most traumatic life events right? I swear I read that somewhere, maybe I’m nuts. Anyway…

I’ve screwed up so royally in the past 3 years that this just feels like another step. Not a turning point, but just another step. Stopping my trading addiction was a step, avoiding the foreclosure on the house (with a short sale) was a step, getting an apartment so I wasn’t sleeping on the floor of my office was a step, this BK is another step.

Steps, steps, steps. Those 4 I listed above all happened within the last 8 months. And I see at least another 4 pretty big steps that are going to happen in the next 8 months.

Stepping is tiring. But I will keep doing it! I have too!


Drinking Again

October 25, 2007

Yesterday I discovered something very wrong with my body…

I was completely dehydrated. Yep. No water to be found. Well, I’m sure I had some water in me, but you know what I mean.

So, while I was grocery shopping I found these giant 1 gallon refreshe water jugs that were a buck a piece. I bought two, so now I have two great water containers to reuse once I go through the “pure” water.

note: I’ve been anti-buying water since it somehow became trendy back in the 9th grade. I mean….it’s water! It comes free out of my faucet. Maybe I’m crazy, but paying for water has always seemed like the craziest thing in the world. Anyway, I have two great water jugs now, and I felt great today and even got out in the rain (more water!) for a quick run.


Why I (still) Want To Be Rich Someday

October 30, 2007

A few years ago I wanted to be rich now. Now as in yesterday now. That led to some really destructive behaviors and the resulting 300K+ of debt I find myself in now.

But I still want to be rich.

Is this a bad thing? I don’t think so. I was talking with my friend who knows about my situation about this earlier in the week and here’s what I had for my reasons of why I want to be wealthy:

  1. Freedom - I hate the fact that I just can’t go visit my family on a whim because I don’t have the money. I want to be able to fly and see my family without having to worry about the costs.2.
  2. Philanthropy – I’m giving a pittance to charity each month. And it bugs the crap out of me. I have allot of things I am passionate about and would like to be able to help out financially with, but obviously cannot!
  3. Mental Health – This isn’t the healthiest association in the world I know…but I feel better when I have a larger amount of money in the bank. I feel more relaxed, more confident, and way less stressed.
  4. Family – Besides the fact that I owe my mother a crap load of money, I’d like to be able to take care of her and other members of my extended family more. Yes, I’m just 24….but darn it so is that facebook dude.

So, those are just a few reasons why I still want to be rich. You notice what isn’t there though that probably would have been a few years ago? Well, no fancy car, or big house for one.

Learning to be frugal with my money has taught me the value of so many other things in my life. I used to buy crap I totally didn’t need just because it was cool. Now, I still want some cool gadgets, but I’ll only reward them to myself if I hit certain goals and they would actually be useful in my life.

Anyone else have these reasons as well for wanting to be wealthy? Are there any good reasons I’m missing?


Love Finance Blogs? Check out this list!

October 30, 2007

I’ve been doing some part-time writing for Lending Club (kinda a side-job thing! helps pay for my place to sleep!) and spent a good amount of time putting together a list of the Top 30 Most Popular Finance Bloggers.

So…did I make the list?

No, I don’t consider this a finance blog. Plus, I wouldn’t have made the top 30 anyway. Maybe the honorable mention section. Sure, I rant about money and the like, but I rant about women as well. Anyway, make sure and go check out the list, these blogs are all top-notch!


Having Faith In Myself

October 31, 2007

A little voice keeps telling me over and over, “what you’re doing isn’t worth anything” and “your ideas are just common” or “no one will ever pay for that…”

I have to break this chain of thinking. I got so much done today it was awesome! I also didn’t ever go to sleep last night! My project A plan is really coming on full steam and there is lots to do at the moment (I did take a 90 minute nap in the afternoon finally). And you know what, the project has turned out really well. It’s honestly 3x cooler and sophisticated than our competition and just as easy to use.

I don’t know if It’s going to fly the way I need it to…

but I do know one thing: I need to start believing and having faith in myself that I can create things of value.

At church on Sunday I realized how high of expectations I have for myself, much higher than anyone else (family, friends, God). Sometimes I need to not lower my expectations, but just be proud of what I’ve done.

For example:

  • Since I vowed to quit trading I have not gotten even seriously close to funding any trading account. I have no intention of doing so until all my debts are paid off and I know how to invest, and not trade. If I had an addiction, it is no longer an issue at all.
  • I short sold my house and avoided foreclosure
  • I have kept my business going and somewhat stabilized it even amiss living in my office and sometimes not having a dime
  • I have never missed payroll
  • I have created some side-opportunities for myself that are challenging and pay well

Now, I’m not saying everything is great. It’s not, but I need to work on having a little more faith in myself.

: ) and I met a girl last week that I think might be kinda interested in me! (yes, I’m a bit giddy…)


A First Time For Everything

November 7, 2007

I did something for the first time today (well, yesterday technically now)…

I voted.

I am growing up…


Catching Up

November 7, 2007

I haven’t felt like writing much lately. Probably for two reasons:

  1. I’ve been swamped with work
  2. My life is boring and sucky right now

OK, so it’s not the worst life, and in all reality I don’t have a day of boringness….ever. The longevity of my situation is getting me down lately. I feel more recluse then ever, and I spent some money unwisely (went to a movie, bought popcorn…etc,) and so I feel bad about that.

Business Update

This is shaping up to be a decent month business wise. We’re on track to do over 9K in revenue maybe even top 10K for the first time this year. All good stuff….but nothing is going as quickly as I would like.

And when things don’t go as quickly as I would like…I start thinking about the rest of my life. The non-business part of my life. And then I realize…I don’t have a non-business part of my life. Except for rare church events and the once or twice a week hangout with my one close friend…my life is all business.

I walk to the store…I carry a notepad to write down business thoughts. I try and watch some TV…I have to check my e-mail or write down a good idea. I think about calling one of the 3-4 people I owe calls…and all I can think about is, “I have absolutely nothing to talk about except my debt (not gonna happen yet) or the business”.

Even the girl that I thought maybe something was gonna happen with….well, I haven’t heard from her since last week. Our seemingly active communication has come to a halt. All the more time to work, right?

Except I’m not always getting the things done I need to get done. I know what I need to do, but here it is 9pm and I’ve been working all day, and I look at my to-do list and half of it still isn’t done. And at this point I’m exhausted, and can’t do half the work anyway.

The thing is….even if I was at zero right now with my debt…I don’t know if I’d be feeling any different right now. That’s the scary part. Even if i had no debt right now, nothing in my day-today life would be that much different. That’s scary.

Car Payments

I finally got my car payments caught up on today. I was about 55 days behind, and last month the darn thing almost got taken away.


Making A Debt Attack Plan

November 13, 2007

With my bankruptcy filing coming along, I’m starting to think of how I’m going to attack the debt that is underneath my business. It’s not a small amount by any means. Most of the original creditors are gone, replaced and or hired by collection agencies. The exception being the 0% credit cards at citibank that I negotiated earlier in the year. I have been continuing to pay those monthly amounts and it’s nice to know that the payments going out are going 100% to the principle.

My Strategy

I’m already beginning to get settlement offers from most of the debts I owe on the business side of things. They are mostly in the 70-80% range, and all but a few are still well outside what I can afford at the time being.

My biggest concern is the IRS. In my estimates I have about 6K in back taxes from 2006 to them, and another 5-6K thus far this year. The good thing about the IRS that I’ve discovered thus far is a.) they are very slow and b.) they are very willing to work with you when you call them. I already settled 2005 with them and found them shockingly easy to negotiate with. So, working out a payment plan with them will be my first step on reducing the business side of my debt fiasco. I hope to start discussions with them at the beginning of next year, once I have a better handle on what my business income is looking like.

The other debts I think I’m going to attack via the famous “snowball” method. Since they are nearly all in collections, and with the limited amount of funds (currently none) that I have to offer as a settlement, this seems like the best strategy. I know it will make me feel good to start settling some of these, with the smallest debt being just under $200, I think I should start there.

The Speed of The Attack

The speed at which I attack the business debts is going to vary depending on how the business is doing. If my Project A really shoots up and starts making some cash, I’ll be able to settle some of the smaller amounts right away. If things stay at the level the business is at right now…I can probably only save maybe $500-$1000 a month toward a settlement fund. But, it’s a start.


Killing Time

November 19, 2007

I’ve been noticing lately that I need what I’m going to call “time fillers”. Ie, activities or mindless movies/tv to occupy me (and some times distract me) when I am not working. I’m still up in the air if these are good distractions, or if I’m just avoiding things sometimes.

While I’ve been getting more involved at my church and meeting some new friends (which is awesome, it’s great to finally recognize people and have people to talk too), it’s still quite limited. My one close friend can’t hang out all the time, and I can’t work all the time, so basically I need some new hobbies and or friends or something.

I obviously don’t have much extra money at the moment, but there are a few things I’ve thought about that aren’t too spendy that I could use to fill up some of my down time when I’m too tired or exausted to work, or just need a change of pace.

Some ideas to kill time…

1. TV Shows – I get the major channels free (attenae! on my computer), I don’t have cable, don’t plan on getting it. But I’ve been renting a few times this month TV shows from Blockbuster (I should use a blockbuster promo code). I’ve gotten hooked on a few, and I don’t want to keep spending money here, but these are a great time filler and a way for me to relax. (my thought: maybe a cheap netflix account)

2. The Gym – After living in my office and having to shower at the gym for 2 months straight…I canceled my gym membership (when i got a place to live). I’m not missing the gym showers, but I am missing working out at a gym. It’s something that when I have it (the gym membership), I’m pretty darn consistent at about 3 visits a week. Right now I just run and do push-ups and some free weights I kept. Going to the gym always made me feel better about myself and I enjoyed it…it’s just a matter if I can justify $30/month right now for this…

3. Relationships – One thing I could do is start being a little more proactive with some of the newer acquaintances in my life. Going to coffee, or doing some event (community sports or something with people) would fill time as well. This doesn’t have to cost much, but going to coffee 2 times a week adds up (It’s rare that I get coffee now…maybe once a month at most). I suppose it doesn’t have to be a spending event, but most social things involve food or drink of some sorts, you know how it is.

So, that’s what I have for now. I’m not sure which of the three above (or all three….or a combo of the three) I’m going to do. We’ll see. But I need to find something. I feel lame just working and then waiting all week for the weekend just to have some social interaction. I actually really enjoy my alone time, but I can only take so much of it. And I’m getting much better in social situations as of late. I’m actually kind of proud of myself in that regard, I have been pretty proactive about getting out more, and it’s paying off. I’m feeling more comfortable in social settings, and feeling more like my younger more sociable self.


Thankfully Stuffed

November 23, 2007

Well, it’s the day after Thanksgiving and I’m officially at least 5 pounds heavier. It feels good.

Good Week

This week has been good. Really good actually. A few of the higher points:

1. I got a date (yep!)
2. I got a date…

and oh yeah, I have a date!

Also, business stuff went well this week and my Project A plan is coming along nicely. It’s only going to be producing another 1K in extra profit this month, but depending on how the next few weeks go that number could go up significantly.

But back to the date…

It’s a big deal for me because I haven’t been on a date in almost exactly two years. My whole secret trading life kinda screwed me up in terms of meeting new people and my emotions, and then my whole transition this year into owning up to everything….well, nothing there is very conducive to dating.

But, alas I’ve been meeting new people and this girl and I had a sort of “connection” when we first met and now I’m excited about the date. She was really easy to talk with, so I’m not too nervous about the date because it should just be fun getting to know her better.

Bankruptcy Update

I’ve been going back and forth with my lawyer this week getting the last few details of the BK filing lined up. One of the issues at the moment is the money that I send to my mother each month. I knew this was going to be an issue, but I’m not sure how to resolve it.

Apparently any payments over $600 in a year can be taken back by the trustee. Well, sorry, but no way in hell that is happening (pardon my language). My mother depends on the $350-$400 I send each month, and there is no way she can pay this back, it’s been spent on just living. So, I don’t know what’s going to happen here. Maybe I have to come up with 2-3K to cover that…I don’t know.

Life Update

One thing that continues to be apparent to me is that I am bored with my life at the moment. Not all the time. But you would think with my current situation (facing hundreds of thousands of $ in debt, bankruptcy, business growth, a date, etc) I would be more excited about life. And while I’m not depressed (trust me, I’ve been depressed before, I am not currently), I am bored a lot.

I think the biggest contributer is that I’m not trading. When I think about last year’s holiday season, my family events were punctuated by me checking my cell phone every five minutes to get forex updates. I was trading tens of thousands of dollars daily. That was pretty exhilarating. And while I have no desire to trade again (even if I had the money), I do need to find something so I don’t feel so bored all the time.

Working helps. That keeps me busy most of the time, but like right now, I’m supposed to be on vacation and I’m utterly bored. I have some things planned with friends this evening, but I don’t know. Maybe I need to take up some extreme sport or something. Problem is I’m broke. Well, when I’m rich someday I’m totally taking up a dozen extreme sports. I’m athletic, and I like risk, so seems like a good fit.

Business Update

The business is doing OK this month. In fact, for the first time this year, I’m actually not worried about paying the bills this or next month. In another few weeks, if I can get my Project A plan really going I may be able to start implementing the debt attack plan. Right now it’s just nice to have a little cushion, no matter how small.

I have an incredibly long way to go.


Signals Crossed – Back To Bed

November 28, 2007

Had a scheduled conference call with a Client this morning on the East coast, 6am PST. No problem, right?

Well, looks like we had some signals cross and the meeting is actually Noon eastern. Oh well, I can get a few extra Z’s now.

Wednesday’s are also meeting day’s with my Father. We try and check in once a week to go over business stuff as well as debt issues/plans. We’ve been doing it for about 2 months now and it’s been pretty helpful. I know I have to have some good updates for him.

I’ve been thinking of maybe taking up cross country skiiing this winter. I think I could get gear really cheap or free, and it’s way cheaper than most other winter sports and sound kind of fun. I’ve never done it before but I think it would be up my alley.


Waves Of Short Sales Here

November 28, 2007

I’m not usually prone to commentating about the economy, or the sub-prime meltdown, or any of that stuff. But recently I’ve seen a very significant increase in short sale related traffic/e-mails to my little blog here. This is not good news. I wrote about this a few months ago, wondering if the surge of short sales was coming….It’s definitly here.

As more and more homeowners face foreclosure, many will hear about short selling their house, like I did. So will 2008 be the year of the short sale or the year of the foreclosure? I’m hoping for homeowners sake it will be the year of the short sale. Successfully completing the short sale on my house, and avoiding foreclosure was one of the highlights of my financial journey this year.

I wrote a “short sale advice” type post if you’re looking for advice and tips about short selling your home.


love, debt, and my biggest critic

December 3, 2007

online personal loanI’ve been thinking a lot about love lately. Maybe because I just had my first date in two years. Yeah, that’s probably it.

Love is scary. It’s exciting and absolutely terrifyingly fantastic.

And I’m definitely not in love.

And that’s the problem. Well, sort of. I’m not usually one to go on a first date and fall completely head over heels for a girl, but I won’t say it’s never happened. Anyway, the problem is that I don’t know if I can love.

Anxiety is back. Why?

I haven’t had any sort of anxiety issues for about 6 years now. Yet this weekend, after my date…it was so bad I considered not even meeting the girl again just because I could barely breath. The date was a blast, but I kept having to force myself to feel. To go beyond just “uh-huh”…to actually caring.

So, I’m worried I can’t love. I’m probably just over-reacting, or maybe I just didn’t go out with the right girl, I don’t know. But I was really freaked out about it this weekend. My good friend came over Sunday evening and calmed me down…and I’m doing better today.

Underlying Reasons

When I was chatting with my friend, I think I discovered some reason to my anxiety. I have a few things in my life right now I cannot control. And that drives me nuts. A few I didn’t even realize until she pointed them out.

1. Bankruptcy Pending

The BK is going now and while I really hadn’t given it much thought lately, I think somewhere inside me it’s causing some stress. I just want to get it over with and move on, but until it gets discharged completely…some anxiety.

2. Potentially Large Contract Pending

My Project A is nearing a partnerships that I’ve been working on since summertime. Right now my Project A added about 1K in profit to my business last month. If I get this partnership finalized, that number will just to at least a minimum of $7500. Maybe much higher. In other words: It would change everything.

But, it will be at least another 2 or so weeks before this is buttoned down. Result? Some more anxiety

3. A Girl….unrequited?

So this girl and I had a great date. Will there be a 2nd? I’m not sure. I asked her, but I don’t know if it’s going to happen. I know she had a good time with me…but I don’t know how good. Granted, I’m still not completely sure I would like her romantically, but I definitely would like to go on another date to find out. Not sure if I’ll get the chance though. So….some uncertainty.

My realization. You’re Darn Right.

The good news on this front is that I’ve come to a realization. And I can say this finally without feeling guilty: I’m a catch.

I’ve been told this all my life but have never really believed or felt comfortable believing it until recently. Yeah, I’ve made some huge mistakes. But you know what, I’ve got a lot going for me as well. Anyway, that realization has made me a little more confidante as of late. I think it’s a good thing.

My toughest critic is…

The truth is that no one will ever be as hard a critic on me as me. I promise. But I’m feeling better about myself lately. I’ve really transformed and grown up a lot this year, and while I still have a long way to go…I’m a little proud of me. And if I’m a little proud of me…I must be doing some things right.


New Site Design…What Do You Think?

December 5, 2007

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Debt Update After Bankrupcty: $303,832.98

December 5, 2007

Nothing with my pending bankruptcy is discharged yet. I still have to go to court. The following assumes all my personal debts that can get discharged do. As you can see…I still have a long way to go.

Debt Chart Update – December 2007

[TABLE=2]

Wow. I actually can’t believe how much I’ve paid off. I feel like I haven’t been able to pay anyone (I haven’t really). But, the payments to my mother each month have added up, as well as the payments on the 0% cards.


Lending Club $25 Sign-Up Bonus – Help A (Debt)Kid Out

December 10, 2007

$25 Bonus – Lending Club

Update 1/16 – $400 earned so far! Sign up now and get your $25 bonus!
Update 1/26 – $600 earned so far! Almost there!

Lending Club has announced a very generous new bonus program. You’ll receive a $25 credit in your lending account when you signup through my little link here.

I’ve been writing and doing some consulting work for Lending Club since the summer now. It’s been a great experience. Without this side job I’d probably still be living in my office. Take a look at my most recent article about cheap date ideas (it even made the digg homepage! wohoo!).

When you signup using this link, not only will you receive a $25 bonus, but I will too!

Emergency Fund Savings

I’m trying to save up $1000 for a personal emergency fund by the end of January. I’ll pledge to put every $25 referral I earn from this into that fund. Any amounts over $1000 I’ll be putting towards my most pressing debt (IRS at the moment). Please sign-up and I’ll keep a running tab of my referrals/fund amount in the comments section below.

Current Emergency Fund Balance: $250.05


How I Deal With Debt All The Time

December 11, 2007

This was a guest post I had written for a finance blog that never got picked up.

For most of my short adult life, I was obsessed with financial success. I wanted the big house, the nice car, the fat bank account. Everything. In 2006 I had all that…and the $300,000+ in debt from day trading my way to that “success” I desired so much.

It wasn’t until I started taking accountability for what I had done to get into debt, and changing the habits that I could, that I finally started separating my self-worth from my financial situation.

Debt – The Silent Burden

Debt tends to be a silent burden for many of us. It’s not always the easiest issue to share or talk about, sometimes even with our family. And I think that is OK. You don’t need to broadcast to all your friends how much debt you have. What you do need to do is not let your debt control your self-talk and your self-worth.

First Step: Control What You Can

Your first step to feeling better about your debt is controlling what you can. Can you negotiate a better interest rate on some of your credit cards? Do it. Can you create a budget and stick to it? Do it. Can you take a 2nd job? Do it.

Once you’ve begun to control the factors you can, you need to start changing how you interact and think of your debt.

Change Your Thinking

1. Telling yourself each day that you are not defined by your debt – Literally say this to yourself in the mirror each morning. I’m not joking. It helps.
2. Begin thinking of your debt as reverse savings goals -For example, “I’m going to save $200 this month” (by paying down my credit card).
3. Tell A Friend – You need to have at least one person who you can share your debt reduction journey with. You don’t need to tell the whole world, but you need at least one person outside your family. I can’t stress this enough. It may be difficult sharing this at first, but a true friend will understand, recognize the efforts you’ve been making, and love you even if you really screwed up.

I’m able to function so much better today, even with a mountain of debt, because I am controlling what I can in terms of my debt.

Got Tips?

Do you have any tips that have helped you deal with your debt?


Ditching My Ride – Can I Survive Without A Car?

December 11, 2007

I have a Scion Xb that is about 2 and 1/2 years old. The car has about 43,000 miles on it.I want to get rid of it.

Helpful DK readers like Jim from mydebtblog.com have been telling me for ages on this blog to ditch the car, and I’ve resisted. But I’m thinking of doing it now, here’s why.

Reasons I Could Survive Without The Car

  1. I now work from home. I have no office commute.
  2. My two grocery shopping locations are within easy walking distance
  3. I still have very little social life
  4. My dating life didn’t pan out (long story, don’t want to go into it. It didn’t have to do with my debt issues)
  5. My church is only a 15 minute very nice walk
  6. I’ve noticed I’ve only been using it about 1-2 times a week
  7. I’m behind again on the payments
  8. Between insurance, the car payment, gas, oil changes, etc. I estimate I can save nearly $500 a month going without a car.

Now the problems I see are:

  1. I owe at least $3,000 more than I can sell the car for
  2. The car needs about $300 worth of work before I could sell it
  3. I listed that I was going to keep the car on my bankruptcy petition
  4. I drive to Portland at least once a quarter
  5. It’s nice having a car

Bottom Line

I need to get rid of the car. I’d like to have this done by Jan 15th. That is the action date for this specific goal. I’m going to start doing some goal setting here and tracking my goals.

My first goal is saving $1000 in an emergency fund. Selling the car is the next goal going on the list.

Coming Goals

  • Negotiate and begin payment plan with IRS for back payroll taxes from 2006 and 2007
  • Reach $10,000+ in revenue from my Plan A project
  • Tell 1 more friend about my situation

What do you think?

How can I sell the car when I owe about 3K more than it’s worth. Bear in mind I have a FICO score that is awful, and I’d rather not (and cannot) take on any more debt. Could I voluntarily surrender the car? Do I just need to save up the 3K difference and eat it as a learning expense?


Thanks For Kicking My Butt and Inspiring Me

December 12, 2007

As the end of this crazy year draws closer, I can’t express how much help alot of finance/personal development bloggers have been to me. I subscribe to an insane number of feeds, but I wanted to say a special thanks to a few blogs that I read often:

My Thank You List

I’m now finally learning what it means to save, budget, plan, and spend wisely. So, thank you all! I’ve still got a long trip ahead of me and I’m sure your advice will continue to inspire and guide me along the way.

Regards,

DebtKid


$176 Parking Ticket…and I am a moron

December 18, 2007

Today was not a good day financially.It also wasn’t the best day for my cold feet.

The $176 Ticket Story

Once a week I volunteer for a few hours in downtown Seattle. I’ve been doing it since the summer, and I really enjoy giving a little back. Most of my day is spent stewing over my own little world and my problems. It’s terribly selfish. If I could volunteer full time I totally would. Maybe some day. Helping others always puts my own little problems (well, big problems. everything is relative you know) in perspective.

I usually take the bus, but was up late last night and wanted a few extra zzz’s so I drove. Not usually a problem, just that I have to pay extra for parking. Well, today I forgot my wallet at home. And my cell phone. So, I risk parking without paying. It’s usually about a 50/50 shot of getting a ticket, but with no wallet and me running late, I really had no choice. So, I park.

4 hours later, I come back to my car expecting to see a possible ticket.

Nothing.

No ticket. No car.

No car. “oh bleep!”

My Car is gone…

So, I’m now stuck downtown with no wallet, no cash, no car, and no cell phone. Anyway, to make a long story a bit shorter: I got home eventually. I found a Bank of America branch that didn’t ask for my ID (just my social security number) to access my account (even though I didn’t even know my account number!). So, I got $20 out and took the bus home. Later in the evening I took the bus downtown (which I should have done in the morning!) to pick up my car from the impound.

Result: $176 impound charge.

Who’s Fault?

100% completely mine. I had 4 unpaid tickets from earlier in the summer…and that’s why I got towed. I should have taken care of them, but they got moved to the bottom of my priority list in terms of payments. I have to get rid of this car…it’s just not worth it. Plus, I’m really enjoying my “bus-time”. I’ve been coming up with great ideas and thoughts while riding the bus. I need “creative-time” and don’t seem to be getting enough of it lately. I may just start riding the bus for an hour or two at a time to “think”.


working late feels good

December 19, 2007

It’s 2:23am and I’m still working. Sweet.

It feels good when I’m getting lots done!

Pride

One thing I’ve been noticing lately is that doing little “life things” keeps me going. Just basic stuff like:

  • my laundry
  • vacuuming my apartment
  • cleaning the bathroom so it could pass a white-glove inspection
  • grocery shopping

I kid you not, I never used to do those things. All a part of growing up I guess.

I’m never gonna be normal

Also, I’ve decided (granted I’ve known this for some time): I’m never going to be “normal”. And I’m totally OK with that. I would be so discontent if my life is not exciting. Now I just need to make sure I do exciting things that are healthy!

Like go to bed. now. (ok, so that’s not really exciting. but it’s late)


Feeling good about what you do

December 20, 2007

Every Wednesday my father and I have a morning meeting to catch up. It’s mostly a business meeting, but there are no set rules on that.

One thing that came out in our discussion is that I sometimes have difficulty working on certain projects within my business. And I was trying to figure out why. My Plan A project is something I’ve been working on almost since I started this blog. It’s not producing a ton of money yet (only about an extra $1,000/mo), but it’s growing. And it definitly has the most potential for real revenue. So, why am I not on the phones and selling that project more?

Because it’s mine. It’s my baby.

I’m scared that:

  1. It isn’t good enough (even though customer feedback has been enormously positive)
  2. No one will pay for it (even though some already have)
  3. It will ultimately fail (like my day trading “business”).

Some of my other “Plans” (essentially my different business revenue generating streams) I throw myself into completely. I’m pretty confident in them, but I think that is because they are services I perform for other businesses….not my own. If I fail, it’s likely because of the product, or the company, not the work that I do.

While my business makes about half our revenue each month doing services for other businesses….It will never be enough to get out of this mess I’m in. I could come up with a new business model around my “Plan B” project, but that would be stupid when I have “Plan A” with still so much more potential and scalability.

Now I’m just rambling. Bottom line is that I think I’m struggling with the classic “you have to believe in what you are selling”. I believe in the product, and I know it’s good…I’m just not so sure about the creator (me!).


what I did 2007-12-22

December 22, 2007

  • coming down from a rockstar sugar high #
  • Reading up on twitter #
  • Contemplating how art in all forms influences our lives. How does it move me? Is good business art? #
  • Thinking its way too early to be getting up for a saturday! #

7 Things I’m Thankful For

December 23, 2007

I’m exhausted from my social schedule this Christmas season. Whenever I visit my family, it’s always fun, but never a real vacation by any means. I’ve gotten through 2 social events, but still have 7 more before Thursday. At least I can’t complain about being lonely!

7 Things I’m Thankful For:

  1. My brother – One of my closest friends, and a always steady supporter of me…even this year
  2. This computer – I’d never survive without you my faithful partner. If only your battery lasted longer than 5 minutes. I forgive you though.
  3. My friends – Most of you have no clue what this year has been like for me. And it really doesn’t matter if I tell you or not…you would still love me. So, thanks.
  4. Lending Club – Without the extra $ I make writing for you, I’d still be living in my office. And that’s seriously not an overstatement.
  5. My Dad – When I freak out about the business, you keep me on track. When I’m stupid you still love me. Want to come be the COO next year?
  6. My Faith – I don’t write about this much…but it’s a huge part of my life.

and #7….

You!

Seriously, I would in a much worse position than I am right now if it wasn’t for this blog and it’s readers like you! You keep me accountable, you keep me on track, sometimes you keep me sane. Sometimes you also make me mad, but hey, that’s just tough love, right? Anyway, thanks for reading, I plan to keep this up into 2008. I’m hoping ’08 will be my turnaround year after so much growth this year.

So thanks for reading, and don’t forget to subscribe!

DK

Also, I’ve started twittering. You can follow me on twitter here…


Waiting for life to begin

December 28, 2007

The past few months, heck even the past few years, I’ve been waiting for my life to begin. When I was trading, life was going to begin when I had made enough money to quit. When I stopped trading (and manned up to my mistakes), my life was going to begin once my business was making 20K a month.

I feel like I keep waiting for my life to begin….and it’s passing me by. I find myself not engaging in relationships as deeply. I find myself anxious, always waiting for that big day to happen when suddenly I’ll have lots of money….I’ll pay off my debts. And then life will begin.

What a load of crap.

Seriously.

I have a bed. What else do I need?

I’ve somewhat stabilized my life. I have shelter, I have food, I have friends. If I keep waiting until I’m out of debt to have a life…It could be years. That’s not cool.

I’m already pretty messed up socially (at least I think I am…others don’t seem to notice at all) from all this.

One of my new years resolutions (so cornball, I know…but bear with me) is going to be to stop saying, “I’ll start living once I hit X milestone”

What do you think?

Anyone else struggle with this?


Going out on a high note (so long 2007)

December 31, 2007

If you’re looking for some wrap-up-the-year post with links to what happened this year, sorry, I find those kind of boring. That’s what archives are for.

I will say this:

It’s been a crazy year

good news

The good news is that I’m still here, and still fighting. My business had a pretty good December, I haven’t run all the numbers yet, but it looks like we might even have a decent net income of around $1,000. I’m hoping to start paying down some of the business debts in January. My business prospects are also looking up heading into the new year, so that is a positive as well.

bad news

The bad news is that I’m still terribly in debt. I still owe my mother a crap load of money. I have the IRS to deal with soon, and my bankruptcy proceedings are still going on.

All in all, I say, bring on 2008. 2007 didn’t KO me, so I’m ready for round 2.


Too many fun projects, not enough DebtKid

January 3, 2008

I’m overwhelmed with business stuff right now. It’s a good overwhelmed, and it’s completely my fault, but still I feel a bit stretched thin. I have a new side-project I’m working on that will be somewhat related to this blog that I’m excited about (more details later…it’s nothing fancy, but could do well). It will be nice to be able to be more open about a project since it will be hosted here.

I really love business. I really do. It completely and 100% excites me. Not in the way my old trading addiction did though, it’s different. I like thinking of my projects as “investments”, some of them could even be considered assets as I continue to grow them. We’ll see.

It’s late. I need sleep.


Breathing, Dreams, and Drugs

January 6, 2008

This week pretty much sucked.

Business wise, I got a few things done, but not much. I’m feeling anxious all the time now, and it just doesn’t make much sense. I’m in a much more stable point right now than say 6 months ago. Yet, I’m feeling more anxious than I have in years.

Doing the right things

I’m running, eating OK, sleeping enough (but not well lately, which is also new. It’s sometimes taking me an hour to get to sleep. Normal is about 15 minutes). I don’t have any girl issues at the moment. I did have a friend of a friend staying with me all week, I know that didn’t help, but I think it only aggravated the anxiety, not caused it.

My only thought is that it has to be business related. I’ve given myself 1 more year to finish out the business I started after college. I think it has the potential to get bought out, but that is still a long way off.

I took some Advil my friend gave me last night, and I slept like a rock from 1am-11:40am. But it still took me forever to get to sleep.

Where do I fit?

I feel like I don’t fit in anywhere. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a normal job like everyone else I know. I had a sort of coffee date with this girl recently, perfectly nice girl, and I totally had no clue what I was doing. I probably looked like I hadn’t been in public in months. I tried to just relax and be myself, but I was so nervous I’m sure she noticed. The thing with dating is that while I’m feeling anxious lately…I’m not depressed, in general I’m a very happy person, so…

I don’t know.

I have free time in the evenings, I’ve gotten better at doing things on my own and finding cheap non-work things to do. But I’m still looking for that intimacy relationally, you know? While my one friend is great, there is only so much I can share because we aren’t a couple and it just wouldn’t be appropriate.

Now I’m just rambling about women.

Looking at the title I put on this post I see dreams. I just had some crazy dreams involving paramedics and being in the army. It was weird but slightly exhilarating.

OK, I’m done. Go Seahawks.


My budget gives me freedom. It’s amazing.

January 8, 2008

Shopping is now fun.

OK, well, it’s still not that fun for me, but it’s at least not as stressful. Why?

I have a budget.

If you had asked me 16 months ago about people who make budgets…I probably would have made some snide comment. Now, today, I don’t know how I would shop without it. It’s so incredibly freeing. My business income is still very volatile, but at least for the next 2 months, I know exactly how much I can pay myself. It’s almost like I have a normal job!

So, I did a real basic expenses (this is all just on my personal side) spreadsheet in excel. And I’ve also been using a new web-startup called Geezeo. I tried using Mint, but to be honest, after my initial review, I don’t think I’ve signed on since. Geezeo has been a little different. You can text message your account to get balances, or even balances left on your budget. I did an interview with them over Christmastime, which they have now posted on their blog. It ended up being a good kathartic piece for me to write. The questions they asked really made me think and reflect on this past year.

Also, I have a post up today over at lendingclub about basic finance tips for lazy tech’s.

My employees are back from Winter break….and I couldn’t be more thankful. I always forget how much of a positive influence they are on me, and it’s nice to have the help back again.


Calling All Short Sale Agents

January 10, 2008

I keep getting e-mails from visitors to this blog asking for help with the short sale of their home. Here’s one from yesterday that illustrates the 3-4 e-mails I get a week:

Hi Debt kid,
I have a question for you do i have to pay for the commission out of my pocket or they just take it out from the sell when i do a short sell? And when you at it please send me some short sell agents for Some Random City, Florida.
thanks.
READER.

It’s not that I don’t want to help this person. I do. I just don’t have the time at the moment to ferret out an experienced agent in a random city in Florida.

Short Sale Real Estate Agents

If you are a real estate agent that has short sale experience, please leave a comment below (use a real e-mail). I am working on a more automated way to connect these people with experienced short sale agents and would love to have you in the database.

Thanks!


7 Financial Lessons I Wish My Parents Had Taught Me Before College

January 10, 2008

karate.jpg

In Arrested Development (one of the greatest shows ever!), the father of the Bluth family would use a one-armed man to teach his children valuable life lessons. Lessons about leaving a note, and not teaching lessons. Classic.

Growing up, my parents taught me all kinds of valuable lessons. Like, “don’t play with fire!” (I love the 4th of July), and “eat your vegetables”. Sadly, my parents never taught me about financial matters. It was a very taboo topic. Now after getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans, day-trading for 3 years, and almost losing everything (including my sanity), I’ve come up with 7 lessons I wish my parents had taught me before I went and screwed my finances up so badly.

7 Financial Lessons I Wish My Parents Had Taught Me Before College

Have you talked with your kids yet?

1. Know your FICO

Getting your free once a year credit report is great. But you really need to spend the extra cash and get your real FICO score. It doesn’t hurt your score to check it yourself. I’d recommend Myfico, you can get legit fico scores here from all three bureaus.

Your FICO score influences more than just rates on loans. It can influence your car insurance rates, even your ability to rent an apartment

2. It’s OK To Talk About It

In my family money was a taboo subject. As a result, I got my first credit card completely on my own. From there is was a sad spiral down the bad-credit chain. First one credit card, then 2, then 5.

My parents never talked about paying bills in front of me. They never talked about saving or investing. Money doesn’t have to be a taboo topic if you approach it correctly.

3. It’s OK to borrow

I remember when my parents refinanced our house. What they didn’t do is include me in the process. I was in Jr. High at the time and think of what a great lesson I would have learned if my parents had sat me down and explained the value of a 15-year fixed mortgage? Priceless.

It’s OK to borrow money when it makes financial sense. For example, lets say you have 10K in credit card debt at an average of 19% interest. You have a decent credit score….you should borrow to payoff that credit card debt. So long as you have the income to support it, you should refinance that debt at a lower rate (try a peer loan like from Lending Club). You’ll save in the long run, and you’ll be out of debt in no time.

4. It’s OK to lend

I wouldn’t recommend lending to family members, but a number of new web applications make it easy and even fulfilling to be a lender. Kiva allows you to lend money to microfinance projects in 3rd world countries. Lending Club allows you to lend to borrowers all over the US. It’s a win-win. You get higher returns, and the borrower get a lower rate because of the lack of a middle man.

5. It’s OK to take risks

It’s OK to take a certain level of risk with your investments. My problem is that I never learned how much risk was too much. I had no problem on forex investments that I could make 400% in a week on….that is a problem! Don’t go overboard with Risk, but look at your financial situation and your goals, and take risk appropriately. (learn how to trade forex here) If you’re 25 and all your investments are in a savings account, something is wrong.

6. Don’t Follow Stocks Day To Day

Following individual stocks that you’ve invested in is like watching a pot boil. You’ll go crazy and start thinking you can time the market.

My father worked at a company pre-IPO and so I was spoiled with my first real stock trade turning $100 into $2000 over a few years. Once the stock was public though, we would pretty much track it day to day. For a long term investment, you don’t need to know the daily closing price.

7. Ask for help if you need it!

Do you have trouble asking for help? When it comes to your finances, if you don’t know what you’re doing…you need some help. Talk to your close friends and see if you can get a referral for a financial adviser. If you’re totally clueless when it comes to investing, get some help! Just make sure to do your background research on hiring a financial adviser.

Had I known these 7 lessons I might have avoided some of the mistakes I made in my early 20′s. Don’t forget to subscribe! It makes me Happy : )


Section 341 Bankruptcy Meeting: Wow, That Was Awkward

January 10, 2008

Read here: Section 341 Bankruptcy Meeting: Wow, That Was Awkward


What You Need To Know About Short Sale Tax Issues

January 14, 2008

Read here: What You Need To Know About Short Sale Tax Issues


Short Sale Negotiating Service

January 15, 2008

A short sale negotiating service will work with your lender(s) or mortgage servicer to get approval to sell your home short.

If you are facing foreclosure, in default, and looking at a short sale, you’re probably getting lots and lots of junk mail. Having almost lost my home last year, I know it’s an emotionally draining process.

Having someone on your side, negotiating and working on your behalf can be lifesaving. For me, I had a short sale agent who handled 99% of the entire process. That left me sane, and able to focus on getting my finances back together.

Two Options When Hiring A Negotiating Service

There are two paths to go when you want to short sell your home.

1. Hire a real estate agent with short sale experience

This is what I did. I was able to find a real estate agent that had closed a number of short sales. He was able to negotiate on my behalf and made the process of doing a short sale as easy as possible on me.

You can read my post on how to find a short sale agent here

2. Hire a negotiating service

Don’t do this. Just stick with #1. Go here.

It’s going to be OK

No matter what happens, it’s going to be OK. You’re taking action, and the sooner you get someone on your side, the better you will feel!

Good Luck!


Casey Serin on Dr. Phil Today…..Yikes

January 16, 2008

So, I hear Casey Serin is going on Dr. Phil today. That should be interesting. I don’t watch much TV (I don’t have cable…but I can pickup the major networks on my computer), but I plan on taping this.

For his own sake I hope that Casey doesn’t return to blogging. For some people I think writing about intimate financial and personal details can be healthy (aka, myself), for others its just another addiction.


Short Sale vs. Deed-in-Lieu: What’s Your Best Choice?

January 16, 2008

Read here: Short Sale vs. Deed-in-Lieu: What’s Your Best Choice?


Finding Inspiration When You’re In Debt

January 16, 2008

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It’s been a crappy week. I had a rockstar and some chinese food about an hour ago…so I’m feeling better now, but it’s still been a crappy week.

I slept for 12 hours last night. I was exhausted at 8pm last night, with the intention of just sleeping for an hour maybe 2. Next thing I know it’s morning. I’ve been exhausted all the time lately. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I haven’t been running as much lately, I’ve just been too tired. I’m sure that is part of it.

Life Sucks. Debt Sucks. Blah

Life kinda sucks right now. I need to find some way to seperate my business from my emotions. Everything is just so tied together right now, one bad thing in one area of my life affects everything. Finishing up with my personal bankruptcy has been nice. I can now try to start saving (and maybe even investing) without fear of losing that money to any business creditors (I listed all my business debts in the bankruptcy as well, so I should be protected personally there).

My Plan A project is moving….just slowly. We have a very large client that is interested in the service, but just moves so darn slow in adopting it. I have a meeting with them next week. I have alot riding on this one client, which makes me very nervous. I’ve been working on other clients as well, so that it’s not all or nothing…but not much luck so far. I ultimately hope this client could buy this project out, but that is a long time out. In the meantime…the whole project stresses me out. It’s bringing an extra 1K a month, but still no where near it’s potential. Grr…

Risks in Business – Invest or Save?

Here’s my dilemma with my business….do I save extra cash right now, maybe try to pay off some off some of the smaller creditors, or do I put it back into growing the business? Two parts of me are fighting each other on this right now. One very strong part, that is new in this last year says, “Save! DO NOT SPEND ONE EXTRA PENNY!”. The other part says, “Saving 1K a month won’t do any good on 300K of debt. Invest the 1K back and try and grow the business”. I really want to listen to the second part, it’s just so hard to spend money now that I’m so used to barely scraping by the last few months.

Dealing with IRS

And then there is the IRS. I have back issues with them to the tune of around 20K from 2006 and 2007. Can I afford to setup a payment plan with them? Yes, but could I delay another few months? Probably. Sigh. I don’t know. Part of me just wants to bankrupt the business, move to Montana and join the Army (this is honestly how I’m feeling….not joking here).

Casey Serin and Dr. Phil

Anyway, I watched Casey Serin today on the Dr. Phil show…that was entertaining and made me feel a little better about myself. I may have screwed up pretty bad, but at least I made my mistakes before they impacted a wife.

odds and ends

  • I have some short sale info posts coming out. I’m testing to see how much short sale related traffic I can drive here…just a test project for the moment.
  • I got a netflix account. Looking at my movie spending for the last two months, I’ve been spending more than $20 each month. I could also use a blockbuster promo code if I wanted to go that route. So it seems crazy not to do this. No more blockbuster or redbox. I don’t spend much else in entertainment, so I figure this is a good use of $17.
  • I’m up to $400 in my Lending Club account from referrals. Thanks everyone that’s signed up. I think at the next update I’ll be over $500 and more than halfway to my goal of having a $1,000 for an emergency fund.

Short Sale vs. Foreclosure: Which is the Better Option?

January 17, 2008

Read here: Short Sale vs. Foreclosure: Which is the Better Option?


How Will A Short Sale Affect My Credit?

January 18, 2008

Read here: How Will A Short Sale Affect My Credit?


What does one do on a Saturday?

January 19, 2008

I slept til noon today.

Why?

I dunno, nothing else to do. Really, that was the reason. I went to bed around 1:30, so I didn’t need to sleep til noon to get my 8-10 hours. I just had no real reason to get up. And now, I have business stuff I could do, but nothing pressing. So, I’m bored. No football til tomorrow, my friend I usually hang out with is busy all day…

What can I do on a Saturday in Seattle?

A few ideas I may act on (writing them here should help me get my butt moving)

  • Finish my laundry
  • Shave
  • Get a cheap haircut that is overdue
  • Go to walmart and walk around
  • and that’s all I got

I’m really not a fan of “down time”. Down time to me right now just equals time when I have nothing good to do. One can only have so much alone time you know? I’d go crazy if I didn’t have time to myself, but lately it’s like, “come on man, really? another 48 hours without seeing another human?”.

It’s not that I don’t have people I could call. I do….somewhat. And there are lots of fun things to do in Seattle, even when it’s raining….but most of them you’d do in a group, you know? I don’t mind doing stuff alone, I do it all the time.

Oh pish, posh. I’m just being whiny now. Sorry you have to listen to this crap. I need food.

It’s something else

And no, I’m not depressed. I’m just bored. I’m bored with my life right now. I feel stuck, and I’m bored. I never had a time in my life where I had absolutely no options other than continuing to do what I’m doing. And that’s where I’m at right now. I have to keep doing what I’ve been doing. Keep working, keep trying to build something I can sell, keep trying to pay the bills….

Frack, I’m 24 and I feel like I’m 40.


Going to watch the markets tomorrow

January 22, 2008

It’s been ages (well, maybe 16 months or so) since I’ve really closely watched a day of trading over in New York. Tomorrow is looking interesting though for the markets.

I’m not trading anymore, but I still have a strong fascination with stocks, the economy, finance, etc.

Anyway, should be a heck of ride on Wall Street tomorrow.


After Foreclosure Guide To Housing: It Ain’t Easy

January 22, 2008

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After short selling my home last year, I faced a pretty big problem:

Where the crap am I gonna sleep?

While I avoided the house going to auction, I lost my place to stay. I was lucky enough to still have an office floor to sleep on, and a car that I stayed in a few times as well.

What about the people?

I keep reading about these billions of dollars getting written off by financial companies. What I don’t hear about so much is what’s happening to all the people involved in these loans gone bad. With thousands of family losing their homes…where are they ending up? (not to mention their pets?)

I had a heck of time finding a place to live after my two month “GAP” in housing. I was really quite frustrated with the process. So, here are a few lessons I learned about creative living situations and finding an apartment after a short sale or foreclosure.

Temporary Housing Solutions

1. Live at your office

If you work in a smaller office building that you have 24 hour access, you can get away with living there for some time. I lived, ate, cooked, for 2 months in an office building. It wasn’t easy, but it can be done.

Tips:

- Join a gym close to the office. You need to be able to shower, shave, and wash up. Join a gym close to the office. It may cost $30 a month, but you must have a place to keep yourself clean. If you have a fear of public showers…well, now is the time to get over it.
- Wake up before anyone arrives at your office. Head to the gym, work out if you’re in the mood, or just shower and get ready for the day. Time this so that you arrive ready to work back at the office. To any outsider it just looks like you arrived after working out at the gym (which is the truth)
- Assuming you are storing your personal items in your car, be sure you have a small camping pad, and blankets or a sleeping bag that you can easily tote from your car to the office without arousing too much suspicion.
- If someone ever comes into the office after hours, make sure you have a computer up and running so that you have a cover story (ie, project deadline tomorrow, working overtime)

Here are some of my posts from when I was living in my office:


2. House Sitting

House Sitting is a great way to have a bed or couch to sleep on without mooching on a friend or family. Plus, you’ll even earn some extra cash while you have a place to stay. I did this for a week after my house sold, and it was a good transition to living simply, and then living in my office.

Tips:

-Post fliers at local colleges, supermarkets, or online at craigslist.
-Have a single page resume with references prepared to send to any potential clients.
-Be a pet-friendly house sitter

3. CouchSurfing.com

This site is not meant for long-term stays, but you could easily go from place to place in a pinch. Just make sure and do the dishes! You’ll want to keep a positive rating to keep utilizing the kind souls here allowing you to crash for free.

4. Stay with friends or family

If you have family you can stay with, this is an obvious first choice. Just be careful about overstaying your welcome. The whole point of these tips is to get you to permanent housing eventually. If you’re staying with a friend or family member, you should be saving money and trying make a plan to deal with your housing situation.

Tips:

-Have a defined move out date. This will motivate you and reassure the person you are staying with.

5. Live in your car

There were a few nights when I was just so beat from a full day that I ended up curling up in a sleeping bag in the backseat of my car. It isn’t the most comfortable solution, but in a pinch, or for a short term solution it works.

Tips:

- When you stay overnight in your car, be sure to do it in different locations each night
- try quiet neighborhoods that are in nicer areas of town.
- make sure to move your car at least once a day so that suspicions aren’t raised.

Finding A Place

Save, Save, Save

While living in my office was a good move financially, after about the 6th week, I started getting a little stircrazy. You need to be saving money for a deposit and first/last on a place to live. A housing gap can be overlooked by a landlord, but you’re going to have to have a deposit plus first and last to counter that gap and your likely low credit score.

Tips:

- If you haven’t sold stuff already, now is the time. You don’t have the money for storage, and if you can’t fit your possessions in your car, you need to simplify.

Once you have enough cash saved up, getting a place can still be incredibly challenging after you’ve lost a home. Why? Because your credit is now in the tank. If you’ve lost your home, or even short sold it, it’s likely, like me, your credit score tanked. One of the biggest items landlords look at is that credit score.

The foreclosure or short sale of your home isn’t exactly the best indicator to a landlord either.

1. Craigslist

With a crappy credit score, but a decent chunk of change, your best bet to find housing is craigslist. Look for individuals (not real estate companies) listing places to rent.

Craiglist also has loads of sub-let ads. If you just need a room to yourself, you can save hundreds of bucks each month by subletting a room in a house, or condo. Individuals on craigslist in the sub-let category are your best bet to avoid a credit check. If you’ve got a job, and cash for a deposit, you should have no problem getting a room.

Another option is looking for cheap condo’s that are up for rent. These are often going to be a private landlord, and with the glut of condos built in the last few years I’d bet you can find some with rents similar to traditional apartments.

Tips:

- If a landlord wants a credit check, explain honestly that your credit is not good, but that you are trying to rebuild it and that you are trying to avoid hard pulls on your credit.

2. Your Church

Most churches have bulletin boards (offline and online ones) where people are always looking for roommates or posting homes/apartments for rent.

Closing The Deal

When you’re looking at places, make sure you’re dressed nicely and cleaned up. Be prepared to talk about your work. If the landlord doesn’t ask where you’ve lived the past month or weeks, don’t feel the need to bring it up. Avoid lying, but you don’t need to spill your life story, or how you’ve been living in your car the past month.

Good luck, I hope you find a place soon! Remember…a place to sleep is important. A bed is nice, but be thankful that you’re alive, and for the people in your life that care about you. Just because you screwed up in the past doesn’t mean you’re a screw-up, it just means your human.

Got a tip?

If you have a creative housing tip or suggestion, feel free to add it in the comments section. I mostly drew from my own experiences here, so I’m sure I missed some good resources.


Big Business Meeting Today =Time to pray?

January 23, 2008

I have a pretty big business meeting today. My Plan “A” project has attracted the interest of a pretty large company. They’ve been testing the technology for months now, and finally are going to start paying a little each month to test more. It’s just a small step, but my hope is that I could actually sell the project (to them) at some point this year. This meeting today should give me some answers on what they are thinking.

Time to pray now.


Debt Got You Down? 12 Painless Ways To Cope

January 24, 2008

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Are you down because of your debt?

Join the club. Being in debt blows. The past 12 months I’ve been learning to cope and deal with the on-going pressure that debt brings into your day to day life. So far I’ve found a few things that seem to lighten the burden. These are actually techniques I’ve been using that are cheap and effective in handling the stress and emotion of being in debt.

12 Ways I Deal With Debt (all 300K+ of it)

  1. Burn Stuff – I’m not talking about burning down your bank. That would get you jail, not relief (well, it might give you some satisfaction). Try a 3-hour firelog, or real firewood. Add in a movie and you’ve got a nice relaxing few hours. There is just something soothing about flames. Also, for bonus points, burn all those credit card offers you still get (just don’t burn the plastic. it’s not safe).
  2. Give away your sweat – Do you have a charity or cause that you wish you could give money too, but you just can’t spare a penny? Why not volunteer there? Give them a call and see if you can work a few hours each week. You may not be able to contribute with your pocketbook right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help out. Volunteering can also put your life and blessings into perspective.
  3. Walk it out - Go for a walk. It clears the mind, and gets you some fresh air
  4. Read a fiction book from way back – Find an old favorite fiction book from your childhood and re-read it. My favorites? The Mossflower series, Harry Potter, and The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles (a fantastic escape book).
  5. Pray – Just don’t pray for money. Pray for strength and guidance. Praying for money isn’t cool.
  6. Pay Someone – Got a bill lying around. Got some money? Pay the bill. You’ll feel better. Trust me
  7. Watch a funny movie – Rent a comedy and totally let yourself get sucked into the movie. Some movies lately I’ve gotten hearty chuckles from: Hot Fuzz, About A Boy, Little Miss Sunshine, Lars and the Real Girl (not out on DVD yet…)
  8. Talk to someone – You need to have at least one person outside your immediate family that you can talk with about your financial issues. Maybe it’s a co-worker, or a good friend. Share with them your situation, it might be hard at first, but it’s worth it to have that someone. If they are a true friend, it won’t matter how much debt you have, they will still love you.
  9. Work at a coffee shop for a day – I don’t mean go get a job at starbucks. But if you work from home like many people, you need a change of scenery. Spend a day working at a coffee shop. Order a drink or two, pack a lunch, and get a change of scenery.
  10. Blog about it - Got debt? Why not blog about your progress? Deciding to blog about my debt journey has been one of the most therapeutic and best deicions I’ve made in the past 12 months. You can setup a blog in no time at wordpress.com or blogger.com. If you stick to it, you’ll find that writing (and having readers) will keep you accountable, motivate you, and maybe you’ll be the next Trent at Simple Dollar or JD at Get Rich Slowly.
  11. Meet other peeps in debt – There are a number of good forums out there where you can lurk for tips or meet other people dealing with debt issues. DCC (payday loan issues dominate here), the new WiseBread forums, and the Get Rich Slowly forums are all great resources to meet people in debt just like you and me!
  12. Treat yourself – Don’t go overboard here, but find something under $10 that is a treat for you when you hit a goal, or even when you’re feeling overwhelmed. I’m a fan of a large frosty and large fry at Wendy’s, but that’s just me. Find your own treat and don’t feel guilty about treating yourself now and again.

Lastly, remember that your debt doesn’t have to define your life!

How do you cope with your debt?

I’m always looking for more ways to deal with my debt load. Please share a tip or two about how you deal with debt (or other stressors)


How Much Does It Cost To File Bankruptcy?

January 25, 2008

Read here: How Much Does It Cost To File Bankruptcy?


Friday Night: Blow Some Cash

January 25, 2008

OK, I’m not really go to blow some cash tonite. In fact, thanks to this handy $25 gift card I got for Christmas, I likely won’t be spending any cash.

giftcard2.jpg

But I am gonna blow this gift card tonite. I’ll probably go catch a movie downtown, and grab a bite to eat…

Still bored,

DebtKid


What I think about 24/7

January 29, 2008

The good news about me writing here is that it keeps me accountable, and I feel like I’ve learned a ton about personal finance in the past year. The bad news is that, well, actually there isn’t really any bad news about writing here.

The bad news is how much priority I’ve given to money in my life. For the past 12 months pretty much 24/7 my brain is always thinking about two things:

1. How can I make more money

and

2. How can I spend less money

While those are both very healthy financial thoughts to be having….I’ve been having them all the time for 12 months straight. It really started to wear on me. It’s still wearing on me. I need to change some of my thoughts about where I spend my time. Lately it seems like I run every activity I do through a filter that only includes the above two issues.

That’s not life! And it’s not me either.

In church on Sunday, the whole service I was only half there. Half my brain was planning activities and work stuff for this week. Not cool. I forced myself to socialize a bit, and even though I’m sure to the whole world I looked fine, I felt awkward. I’m not used to feeling awkward around people.

It’s good for me to be motivated to pay off my debts, and be excited about saving and investing. It’s not good for me to be consumed by it.

When I was growing up, I never thought about money. I had a job, and had some minor bills….but crap, I wanted to be a military officer for the rest of my life (a large part of me still does). Money was never a big factor in my life, and now it consumes me. Lame, lame, lame.

So here’s what I’m planning to do:

1. Slow Down – I’m always going a hundred miles an hour. My business is slow right now (which is OK, revenue is still steady), I don’t need to rush around like a chicken without it’s head

2. Play Solitaire More – I know it sounds silly, but this relates to #1 above. Not on the computer either….I’m talking real cards solitaire.

3. Exercise More – I’ve made more room for this, and have a plan. I start to get pretty anxious if I don’t exercise for a few days

4. Church more – I really would love to get in a Men’s small group at my church. Also, a mentor (with whom I could share all this crap with) would be nice as well. Working on this…

5. Love more – Sounds cliche, but I feel so emotionally dead sometimes, I worry I can’t love. This has actually gotten better the last 2 months or so. For awhile I felt like a complete zombie. Lately I’ve been able to feel compassion and care about others more which means I’m still human, yay.


Unique Budgeting Idea: The Giftcard Budget

January 29, 2008

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I spend way to much money on food. Here’s is my idea to control my spending and stick to my food budget:

Gift Cards

Yep, gift cards.

I’ve heard of the envelope method of budgeting before, but it never seemed very practical. Who carries envelopes full of cash around with them? Yeah, no one.

So here’s what I’m thinking:

Replace the envelopes of cash, with small, portable gift cards.

Not only will this force me to spend where I should be spending, it should prevent me from spending where I ought not.

I have a set food budget each month of $250. It’s my most lenient budget item, but frankly, I’m a terrible cook and always in a rush. It’s something I need to work on. Already in Jan. I’m nearly $100 over budget. Mostly $5-7 purchases here and there for lunches/dinners. Not acceptable.

My New Gift Card Food Budget

(just food for now…)

For February

$150 – Safeway
$25 – Subway
$15 – Taco Bell
$15 – Starbucks
$50 – General Food Expense/Entertainment (will use debit card here)

$255 Total.

My grocery spending so far this month has been around $120. I hope that next month I will spend more wisely with regards to my food, and quit eating so much crap!

OK, I’m out the door to go to the post office and buy those gift cards!


Credit Score Tips – 3 Free Steps You Can Take Right Now

January 31, 2008

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I would consider myself somewhat of a credit score expert. What I did with my credit score (getting over 100K in credit at age 23) unfortunately didn’t turn out very well for me. That doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from my mistakes though! Here are 3 free, fast, and easy steps you can take to increase your credit score.

Increase your credit limits

The first simple and fast tip to raising your credit score is by increasing your credit card limits. If your balance is $4900 on your $5000 limit card, your balance to credit ratio is nearly 100%. By raising your limit to say $8000, your score will jump because you now don’t look as stretched on your report. You have free credit available. For better or worse, the more available credit you have, the higher your score is going to be.

So, how do you increase your credit line? Simple. Call up your credit card company and ask. If you have been making your payments on time, your request will likely get approved. One item to note: make sure and ask the customer service rep if they will do a credit check (inquiry) to approve the increase in your credit limit. An inquiry can temporarily lower your credit score, the last thing you want! Press the issue with the rep to do the increase without an inquiry. If an inquiry cannot be avoided, make sure you are getting a significant increase in credit to justify the hit by the inquiry.

When talking with the credit card customer service rep, don’t be afraid to tell them you will take your business elsewhere. They don’t want to lose a customer. If you have a higher credit limit with another credit card, ask them to match or exceed that limit.

Apply for new credit

Initially applying for new credit will ding your score. But by adding available credit, you will lower your balance to credit limit ratio (the most important factor in your credit score). Make sure and apply for all your credit the same day.

—–>Here are my recommended credit cards to get high credit limits

This way you’ll be more likely to be approved for all your cards as the inquiries will not show up right away on your report.

Once you get your new credit cards, make sure to charge at least one item right away. That will get the cards reporting on your credit report, along with their available balances. Now, make sure not to rack up the debt on your new cards, otherwise your efforts to increase your score will go down the drain!

Reduce your outstanding balances

The fastest way to raise your credit score is by reducing your balance to credit ratio. For example, if you have a $5000 limit credit card, but owe $4900, that will kill your score. Reducing that balance down to 0 or even $1000, would likely cause a jump of 40+ points or more in your score.

So, how do you reduce your outstanding credit?

There are a few options. The first is pay down what you can. Debt sucks (I know). If you want a quick fix your best best is to refinance your outstanding credit card debt into an installment loan. The installment loan won’t count against you in terms of the dollar amount nearly as much as having that balance on a credit card.

Also, an installment loan will have a set period to pay off the loan, thus reducing your overall debt over time.

Knowing is half the battle

Without knowing where your current 3 credit scores are you’ll be negotiating in the dark. (you don’t have ONE credit score, you actually have 3. One from each of the major companies, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You should know all 3) Make sure and get your current credit score from a reputable source, not those “free credit report” scam sites. The place I get all my scores from is MyFico, they have the best rates, and an easy to use website to access all three of your scores. Go to my MyFico Promotional Code page for codes to use when you check out for a discount.

What about an installment loan?

Tip #3 involves refinancing your current credit card debt into an installment loan. This is more difficult than it sounds. Going into a bank and asking for a personal loan to pay off your credit card debt isn’t always easy (unless you have equity in your home and want to go that route).

I’d try a peer-to-peer loan from a site like Lending Club. You’ll get a much lower interest rate than from a traditional bank. Not a bad way to start. Lending Club only accepts borrowers with a 660 FICO (credit score) or higher. So make sure and get your scores first before you apply.

Delete bad entries from your credit report (legally!)

If you’re credit has some issues, and you want results a little faster, you might check out a credit repair service like Lexington Law. It’s not going to be free, but I’ve seen results that are pretty amazing.


How Bankruptcy Affects Your Credit

February 3, 2008

Read here: How Bankruptcy Affects Your Credit


Changing My Thinking

February 5, 2008

I expect to fail. wait, stop.

more like, I expect not to succeed.

I expected to fail in my trading (deep down at least), and yet I continued to trade.

Now, my business is at a crossroads. A number of things are going right, and yet I’m still stuck in my thinking that I will likely not achieve big success. Sure, I think I can make payroll, and maybe squeeze by….but a big success? Nope. Not me.

I’ve always been good at most things. Good at many things in fact. The problem? I’ve never been GREAT at something. I’ve always been a solid athlete. Good at pretty much any sport I play….but great? Nope. Always 2nd team all-league, never first. Always team captain, but never the best. I think it’s just a hump I don’t think I can get over.

I need to get over it.


Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: Process & Timeline

February 5, 2008

Read here: Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: Process & Timeline


My new career as a male model (if only I could turn left)

February 5, 2008

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I’m thinking of a career move into male modeling. My only problem?

I can’t turn left. I’m not an ambiturner.

The good news is that modeling the shirts I got from Lending Club didn’t require any runway moves (or left turns).

Lending Club
was kind enough to give me a bunch of shirts to give away, and boy did I have fun with the camera. Don’t worry I only modeled one shirt. So unless you really want a t-shirt worn by me, the ones I’m giving out here will be untouched!

This is my first “give-away” and I’m pretty excited about it.

Get your free T-Shirt + 25 bucks in 2 steps

1. Sign up as a lender at Lending Club

It only takes a few minutes and if you use the banner below, you’ll receive a $25 bonus to get you started.

lending club review

2. Leave a comment on this post

Don’t just leave a lame, “pick me” comment. Let’s be more creative here. Lending Club is looking for more T-shirt slogans, beyond their current “Dude, get a loan” and “we are all bankers”.

So….leave a comment with a slogan! The top two slogans (judged by yours truly) will win a shirt of their choice. Then I’ll use a random number generator to pick 6 winners at random!

Thanks for helping me out

Please sign up before leaving a comment, that way I’ll earn some cash to cover shipping costs and the like. I’m up to $625 in my Lending Club account from referrals. I’m hoping that I’ll be over $1000 after this T-shirt giveaway. Then I’ll have the first good chunk of an emergency account.

The shirts are pretty sweet (and from American Apparel). Check out my modeling pictures below.

What do you think? Have I found a new career?

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At one time in my life a group of pre-teen Japanese exchange students mistook me for Leonardo (this was right around “Titanic”). No Joke.

Both T-shirts have the same Lending Club logo on the front. On the back there is a California specific shirt…(“Dude, get a loan”)

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The second shirt has the slogan (which I like better), “We are all bankers”

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I have a bunch more….but I’ll spare you.

Now, sign up as a lender (and get your $25 bonus), leave a comment, and you can win a shirt!


Making it through the next few months

February 7, 2008

The next few months are going to be critical.

My business is stable, but still not producing enough profit to either A.) invest in new projects B.) payoff any existing creditors or C.) pay myself a higher wage

The Past

It’s so frustrating to think of how I wasted capital a few years ago. Not only on trading, but just on stupid business expenses. I was a fresh out of college kid with a decent chunk of change (50K+) in the bank, and I didn’t even have a clue as to how to budget.

I had no concept of savings, or earning interest, or predicting future cash flows. Blah.

My businesses did a total of $7500 in revenue in January. I set my salary at 35K a year to start in January. Much higher than I had been paying myself, but I thought maybe I could stretch it. Also, I actually want to be paying myself as much as possible in the event (unlikely, but could still happen) I have to BK the business. @ 35K I can pay my mother, my rent, my student loans, food, all expenses, and even save $400 a month.

Well, this month I think I may have to drop my salary down.

My Project “A” plan is moving along nicely. Very nicely in fact. The problem is….it’s not really generating the levels of cash I was hoping yet. We have a new customer this month finally paying, but that will bring revenue to around $1500 net for Feb. up from $1000 in Jan. A nice boost, but $500 ain’t paying down 300K anytime soon.

I talked with another decent size company interested (very much so) in my Project “A” business as well. I forgot how well I do with people on the phone. I really enjoy people, and am good with them, I just forget that strength of mine ALL THE TIME LATELY.

My situation is so out of whack for anyone my age. I know all the right answers on how to save money, how to invest, how to be frugal etc….and I’m for the most part following them very well. (more on investing again maybe next week)

Here’s my real issues:

#1. I can resign to the fact that I will be in debt for 10+ years and try and pay back my mother and all other creditors over a long period of time. I will have to learn to deal with my debt as a long-term issue in my life.

or

#2. I can continue to work and build my business in the hopes that it might get bought out for a significant amount, or at least start generating 10K+ in profit a month.

Now, I’m already somewhat used to living with this huge amount of debt. But I don’t like it. Just because I’ve learned how to deal with it, doesn’t mean I don’t want it gone with all of my heart. Do you know what it’s like to send a measly $400 to your mother each month on the $145K you still owe her? No? Well, it blows.

It sucks and it makes me feel so small. It really does. I’ve pretty much come to terms with the fact that I cannot date until I’ve got more of this situation worked out. Now, I know I’ve had some good comments about being open, and that my debt shouldn’t matter to a woman….and those are all good points. But the reality is that I can barely look at a girl right now without feeling like a fraud. And until I can either get over that, or be not such a fraud….well, no dates for me. No dates, no love, no whatever. And that’s OK, it really is (ok, maybe it’s not….but I’m trying to be positive here). I really have gotten very used to being single.

I’ve gotten very much hurt in my last few relationships. Partially my own fault, but not completely.

Now I’m just rambling.

Let’s bring it back.

Short Term To-Do’s

- File Business Tax Return for 2007
- File Personal Taxes for 2007
- Make Specific Business Goals for End of Quarter (March 31)


Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Process & Timeline

February 8, 2008

Read here: Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Process & Timeline


Free Entertainment: DebtKid visits Hillary, McCain

February 8, 2008

I’m a huge news junkie. One year in college, for Lent, I gave up online news sites (cnn.com, msnbc.com, etc) because I would spend at least an hour a day reading stories.

So, with the three major presidential candidates in town…how could I not go see them?

Hillary Clinton

I waited outside in the cold forever to go see Hillary last night. All in all a fun experience, very female dominated crowd, pretty rowdy. She showed up like an hour late, so some people had been waiting 2-3 hours to see her. I eventually got into the hanger where she was speaking.

After she was done speaking I was able to get a little closer. She’s much shorter than I had imagined, but other than that….just looked like a normal lady.

There were some protesters outside, that eventually made it in, but here’s what happened when they tried to show a Anti-Hillary (reading: Not Another Clinton) sign. I was lucky enough to be pretty close to the slight altercation. My favorite line:

“If I see you again, I will arrest you”

Barack Obama

While I had the time to see Barack today….apparently so did 17,000 other people at Key Arena in Seattle. I heard that they were turning people away, so I did not get to see Obama. Kind of a bummer. It’s not often that national candidates visit the Northwest, so this was a big treat for a political junkie like me. Plus, all the events were free and open to the public.

John McCain

Had I been able to vote in 2000 (I was only 17 at the time), this man would have had my vote. This year I am still undecided, but I did get a chance to hear Senator McCain speak downtown tonite! Also, he signed my book! I’ve read his book, “Faith of My Father’s” a half dozen times since getting from my Grandpa back in high school.

Anyway, after McCain was done speaking, I worked my way through the crowd, and had my book ready. He saw the book, looked me strait in the eye, grabbed the book, and signed it! It was really cool.

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It’s caucus day tomorrow here in Washington, and it will be my first caucus, so I am excited. I truly love this country, and I’m glad to see more people my age excited about Politics this election.

Yay for free rallys!


Reaffirmation Agreement in Bankruptcy. What Is It?

February 10, 2008

Read here: Reaffirmation Agreement in Bankruptcy. What Is It?


Financial Update: January was bad

February 11, 2008

It’s been awhile since I did a post about my financial situation….so here goes.

I’ve already said this month is going to be tight. It is. Partly my fault because I overspent on business expenses in January, as well as on my personal budget as well. I’m trying to pay myself a 35K/year wage, which is just perfect enough for me to cover my bills, pay my mother, and still eat each month.

January Personal Expenses

Net Income (take home): 2408.54

Expenses

Mom StudentLoans Rent Savings Groceries Take-Out Utilities

400 340.5 450 329.92 188.8 155.04 271.5

Home Entertainment Transportation Church Fees

112.16 307.1 312.24 70 20

Total Expenses: 2957.26

I had a number of anomalies in personal expenses for January. I paid a large electric bill, which was my heat for about 3 months. My Entertainment expense was way high due to a wedding gift. Neither of those categories will be as large this month. Transportation included a plane ticket, also not in the budget. I was able to save over $300, but that doesn’t hit my goal of $400 a month, and I still would have been over my income. Not a good month, but I did what I had to do to stay sane.

Business Update

After net profits in Nov. and Dec. my business had a net loss in January. I made extra car payments (more on this later) that were behind, as well as invested money into a few ongoing projects. Revenue was around $7500, expenses just over 9K. February should be pretty even.

Bankruptcy Update

As far as I know, everything is moving along with the Bankruptcy. I’m hoping to see a discharge letter soon. At least my personal side (besides my mother) will be a little clean.

Car Update

I talked with Toyota about the car. If I decided to voluntarily give back the car (which I could have done in the bankruptcy), they would have made me pay the difference between the loan and the value of the car. That number is likely around 3-4K. So, I’m still 3-4 upside down in the car. Seeing that the loan on the car is at a low interest rate (under 5), it doesn’t make much sense to give it up at the moment. I’ll keep paying the loan down until it reaches it’s crossover point, at which I’ll try to sell it and get something cheaper. No real good options until then. (I can’t get a loan to cover that 3-4K so please don’t tell me I need to get rid of the car. If I could I would, this makes the most sense right now. Believe me, I’ve looked at all the options)

Other Stuff

Tricia at Blogging Away Debt tagged me on a book meme. Never done one of these before but what the heck.

The rules?

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

The closest book to me is “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. I’ve been reading this last week, and it’s already cut my stress levels dramatically. I should finish it this week. Here’s page 123…

“That item may be more attractive to your psyche because you know right away what to do with it-and you don’t feel like thinking about what’s in your hand. This is dangerous territory. What’s in your hand is likely to land on a “hmpppphhh” stack on the side of your desk because you become distracted by something easier, more important, or more interesting below it.”

OK, so I’m going to tag:

  1. Plonkee
  2. Pinyo
  3. CFO
  4. Clever Dude
  5. krninco

Why do you wait so long to cash my checks?

February 12, 2008

Dear Landlord,

I really appreciate you letting me rent this place. I’ve been taking good care of it, and it’s great to have a place to sleep that isn’t my office.

Now, I just have one complaint…

Would you cash my checks already? It’s almost the middle of the month and my rent check has yet to clear. I know it really shouldn’t matter, but it’s just a pet-peeve of mine. In November you waited nearly 3 weeks to cash my check! Obviously you have a lot more cash around than I do…

I know I could send you money orders…but those are a hassle to go to the post office to get, and plus they cost me extra as well.

That’s all. Please cash faster.

Regards,

Your Tenant ~ debtkid

Anyone else have this issue with people?

Am I the only one that gets bugged by this?


What is a judgement?

February 12, 2008


A judgment is simply the official decision of a court at the completion of a lawsuit. It merely indicates that the court has resolved the issues brought before it in a lawsuit in favor of either the plaintiff or the defendant. It generally stipulates a monetary award to the winner. Where very-large awards are concerned, a judgment is frequently placed ‘on hold’ pending the outcome of an appeal to a higher court.

In civil lawsuits, enforcement of a judgment is not handled by the court that handed down the decision. Instead, enforcement is left in the hands of the parties in the lawsuit. While most people comply with the court’s order, there are exceptions that require the winning party to take further action to collect the funds that were awarded. In addition to resolving the issues themselves, a judgment in civil cases almost always pays both damages and court costs to the party that prevails.

Perfecting a Judgment

Once a court of law hands-down a judgment, the next step is for the winning party to ‘perfect’ it. While specifics for doing this vary somewhat from state-to-state, perfecting the judgment is always the initial step. To accomplish this, it is important to make certain that the court’s written decision of judgment has been signed by the judge and actually filed by the clerk of the court. Generally, the court will retain the original and supply what is called ‘a conformed copy’ to the judgment creditor (winner).

In many states, Notice of Entry of the judgment must be given to the judgment debtor (loser). The date that the order is issued often determines the time period which the debtor has if he wishes to file any appeal.

Escape Through Bankruptcy

It is possible to discharge the amounts owed under many judgments by filing bankruptcy. However, there are exceptions, including judgments for the payment of child support and delinquent income taxes. Judgments also show on your credit report as they are a matter of public record and are usually discovered by the three main credit bureaus. They are not necessarily considered any more heavily than any other debt you owe and will be added-in to calculate your total indebtedness.

Appealing a Judgment

While a judgment is a lawful order from a recognized court of law, it may be appealed to a higher court if there is sufficient reason to believe that the issuing court erred. Ordinarily, this is a decision that requires a skilled attorney who is thoroughly familiar with both your case and the rules of the appellate courts. In some instances, new evidence may be grounds for appeal and if the appeal is granted, the original court is usually ordered to re-hear the matter. In most cases, appeals are filed only where larger sums are involved because of the additional court fees and attorney’s fees involved in a further legal proceeding.

Collecting on a Judgment

Obtaining a legal judgment does not necessarily ensure that you will ever collect the amounts awarded to you by the court. It merely gives you the right to take any lawful steps available to do so. You can get paperwork for pretty cheap using a Legal Zoom Promo Code for any legal transaction, could give you a heads up on this. This may include seizing property or other assets, forcing a Sheriff’s sale or even garnishing monies due to the debtor. Many civil lawsuits are never even filed because an investigation fails to turn-up enough assets to make the additional costs worthwhile.


Netflix pick ‘o the week: The Heart of The Game

February 13, 2008

Since discovering I was paying waaay to much to redbox and blockbuster, I signed up for Netflix as a source of cheap per hour entertainment. I love the service already after just a few weeks. I’m totally a movie/tv series junkie, so Netflix is great. If you want to try blockbuster’s service for free, check out my blockbuster promo code page. Anyway, I figured I’d start a weekly DebtKid pick ‘o the week from my recent Netflix picks. I tend to enjoy smaller, lesser known films and tv-series, so hopefully you’ll discover something new.

The Heart of The Game

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This inspiring, very well done documentary follows the Roosevelt RoughRiders, a Seattle High School, through 5 seasons. Their crazy coach (literally, I think he’s nuts) has an unconventional approach to the sport including having no offense, and always yelling at his team to “look in their eyes!” (so they can kill their prey).

I’ll admit, I teared up a bit at the end of this movie. I’ve never been much of a girl’s basketball fan, but this movie is much more about the team, the coach, and life’s obstacles than basketball.

How Many Pennies?

DebtKid Pennies: 3 1/2 pennies out of 5

(why pennies? ’cause I’m broke).

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

Instant pick ‘o the week

“The Bridge on the River Kwai” – British officer can’t “see the forest through the trees”. Classic.

Netflix has thousands of instantly available movies (ie, streaming view, DVD quality though!). Lots of oldies, but goodies, as well as some great TV series.


It’s Crunch Time: Make or Break

February 13, 2008

I talked with Citibusiness Cards today. They called me in the early morning on my cell phone. Apparently my $48 charge didn’t go through my business bank account last month. It was an address issue.

I also found out the date that my 0% grace period with them is ending: April 28th, 2008

I have 4 CitiBusiness Cards that are on a 0% hardship program that I negotiated about 9 months ago. I have been paying on those cards for the last 9 months.

In April, my 0% period is going to be over.

Current Balances

My current balances on the 4 cards is just over $26,000 total. The 0% monthly payments amounts to just over $200 each month. I can handle that number.

What I can’t handle is what will happen when my 0% hardship time runs out and the interest rates on these jump back up to the 20%+ range.

My Options

My options? I don’t know. I can’t afford a $1,000 interest payment right now. No way. My business needs every single penny right now to have a shot a hitting a large revenue number. Every day I’m getting closer to hitting a big gain here…but it’s still a slow process.

My other business debts are all in collections. No lawsuits yet, but at some point, I expect those to come as well. I can’t image banks just writing off a 30K loan (but, I would love it if they did….). Granted, I haven’t heard anything from one of my bank LOC’s for months now. No letters, no calls, nothing….it’s eerily scary.

Bottom line: I gotta keep working my Project “A” (which will be bringing a net of just under 2K this month). It has the most potentially to scale up to a 30K/mo business. Just gotta keep working it…


When I’m rich, this is what I’ll splurge on…

February 14, 2008

If I ever get out the mess that I’m in I know exactly what I will splurge on.

Newspapers.

Yep, I love real, crisp, newspapers.

I’m a huge news junkie, and while reading online content is great…there is just something about having that physical paper in your hand. Plus, it’s great for starting fire’s as well.

I already know which 10 newspapers I want…

my dream list:

  1. Wall Street Journal
  2. Washington Post
  3. New York Times
  4. Seattle Times
  5. Seattle PI
  6. USA Today (for the pictures)
  7. The Oregonian (go blazers!)
  8. Investors Business Daily
  9. Guardian (UK)
  10. Financial Times(UK)

I don’t know how much that would cost each month, but I would be in heaven!


Noticing a difference…

February 18, 2008

I went to Portland, OR this weekend to visit with my family and get away for a few days. I get lots of free food and so the trip usually makes up for itself it terms of my gas expense. Plus, it was just nice to see my family.

I got more than one comment from family members on how I had “more of a sparkle back in my eye”….that was nice. I felt more confident speaking, and hanging out with friends down there as well. I also had a long discussion with my mother about her future plans and where I fit into that.

My lease on my current place runs through Aug. of this year. At that point, I want to have the freedom financially to choose to move to Portland. Moving to Portland I could save significant amounts of money in rent (by renting from my mother), and general cost of living is cheaper as well. It’s a decision though that I want to be able to choose, not have to do….you know?

In an ideal world, I would be able to send my mother $1000/mo. That would help her significantly and I would feel much better about the situation as well.

I really just need to turn the corner with my Project “A” business. It’s going to do just over 2K this month in revenue (at about 80% margins as well), I really need to get that number up to 10K. That’s the only way I’ll start making significant progress against any of my debts.

Anyway, I’m glad that my family members have noticed a difference in me. I’ve felt much more confident and OK with my general life situation the past week or two. I’ve also been getting alot done, which always make me feel better..


The IRS says ‘Hello’

February 21, 2008

I knew it would happen eventually. I received notice from the IRS this week about not filing payroll taxes for 2007 (I wasn’t using Paycycle then). Nothing crazy yet, but I need to get on the ball with finishing my business taxes for 2007 so I can at least know where I stand here. It will be at least a month or two before they start sending an estimated bill, so I have some time.

I’ve been sleeping terribly lately. I don’t know if it’s my crappy $30 used craiglist mattress, or the noises outside my door, or what. I just can’t seem to get a decent night’s sleep lately. All my life, I’ve never had trouble sleeping until all this mess. Maybe it just is the mattress…I don’t know.

I saw the full lunar eclipse tonite, that was pretty sweet. I’m a bit of a nerd for that kind of stuff (thanks Dad). It was nice to look up into the sky and realize…holy crap. That’s the freaking earth’s shadow! It made me and my problems feel very, very small. And it was exactly what I needed.

I’m going to make it through this mess I’ve made. It may take ages, but I’m going to make it.


I hate Sunday Mornings

February 24, 2008

And no, it’s not because that’s when I go to church. I usually go in the evenings.

I hate Sunday mornings because it’s easily the most difficult day of the week for me to get going. Especially today. I have a ton of work to get done today, but enough motivation (willpower?) to start on Sunday morning? No.

I’m not at all feeling like my normal self today. I’m not sure what it is. Maybe I slept too much. Maybe I’m anxious about next week. I don’t know.

My Project “A” plan is having a big test by a client next week. It’s been delayed for awhile, but next week should be big. Everything just moves so slow for me. It moves slow and then I sit around wondering, “what the crap am I doing with myself?”.

I want to have more friends, I really do. I just can’t seem to bring myself to be social at all. Even in group settings, I maybe say a few words, deliberately avoiding any kind of meaningful conversation. I immediately redirect any question to myself unto the asker. It’s quite easy really, I’m a little surprised at how good I’ve gotten at it.

Making new friends is hard enough as it is, and I think for me it’s really hard because I’m so used to being unfiltered. Just myself. Just saying whatever comes to my mind. Now, if someone asks me, “how was your week?”

I have to stop. Pause. Reflect….and come up with an acceptable answer.

Because the truth is….unless it’s a close friend (of which I do have one I can talk with) no one wants to hear this:

“Well, I received about 20 collection calls, the IRS sent me a notice, my big project got delayed, my mother is still an invalid, and I still haven’t done my taxes” (but I did save 10% on my car insurance last month! end sarcasm)

I want to be more open….I really do. It’s just hard for me. It’s just really, really hard to do.


Should I care about my credit score?

February 26, 2008

With some old high school buddies coming to the age where they start purchasing homes, the topic of credit scores recently came up.

You know you’re getting older when you start talking about mortgage rates and credit scores!

It was actually a pretty fun conversation for me. I didn’t input anything (I got 200K+ in credit from age 21-23…I think I know a little about credit scores!), but just listening was amazing.

Hardly anyone my age has any clue what their credit score does, how it’s calculated, or what it affects. I was amazed. My friends are all college graduates, some with master degrees. Yet, very few even know, let alone understand their credit score.

Now, I won’t even get into Business credit scores, because that’s a whole other ball game (that most small businesses don’t know about either). But personal credit scores….come on guys. Let’s play a game….the friend with the lowest score wins…

I win!

Seriously though. Should I even bother caring about my score at this point? The last time I checked it, it was 471. And that’s before I had filed for bankruptcy. I wonder how much more it can drop…

For the normal post-college grad my age, it’s 3 digits that really matter. For me right now…I think it’s one of the last things I need to worry about. Someday, maybe someday I’ll want to look at my score again, but for now I think I’m OK being a credit score expert…with a terribly low score.

To get your credit score, use a promotional code for myfico.


How I manage collection letters in two easy steps

February 27, 2008

I get alot of mail. Between collection letters, post-bankruptcy spam letters, and actual mail, my mailbox is never empty.

How To Manage Collection Letters & Bills

I may not be able to pay all my bills, but gosh darn it if I’m not organized with them.

Step 1 – Label Your Folders

You’ll need three (two if you only have personal and no business debts) folders. Legal size is my preference, but use what works for you.

Label the folders “Current Collections – Personal”, “Current Collections – Business”, and “Reference Collections”.

Step 2 – File your collections letters

Once you have setup your folders, the system is easy. Keep your most current collection letters (offers of settlements, etc) in the appropriate folder. When I am sorting my mail, I like to open each collection letter, and use a paperclip to keep the return envelope attached to the letter.

When you receive an update statement or offer from a collection company (or, the collection company changes!), move the older letter into the “Reference Collection” file folder.

This system allows me to easily find my most recent statements when I need them. It also manages the massive amount of paper that you receive very simply.

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working by fire light

February 29, 2008

It’s Friday night, and I just had my second cup of coffee (homemade). Coffee is a new thing for me, but I think it’s something I could get used too. Pretty cheap too. And probably better for me than my typical Rockstar jumpstart. I treated myself to a firelog, for some reason I find the flames incredibly soothing and makes sitting at the computer much easier on a Friday night.

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It’s been an up and down week. Sunday and Monday I felt like I was gonna beat the living snot out of anyone looking at me the wrong way. Tuesday something clicked, I went for a run, and the week started looking up. I’ve found the biggest determinate of my mood is how much I get done. It’s not healthy, but it is what it is. The more I get done, the better I feel.

Financially it’s been a much better month than January. I haven’t run my final budget numbers yet, but I cooked a heck of a lot more and kept the eating out to a minimum. Business-wise, it’s still touch and go. We’ll end up with a pretty solid month, profitable, but that doesn’t include any debt payments save the 0% on the 3 citicards. And that deal is running out in a few months.

I got every tax issue calculated this week. It’s not pretty. It’s not terrible, but it’s not going to be easy. But heck, what is easy at this point? I ‘effed up, and now I’m paying for it. The IRS is owed just under 20K for 2006 and 2007. This is my first priority in terms of payments. In past dealings, I actually found the IRS very easy to deal with. But that was for a much smaller dollar amount. We will see this time. My calculated number also does not include penalties, so the number will balloon. If I can work out a 24-36 payment plan, I could fit that in the budget right now. It wouldn’t be pretty, but it would work.

Red or Blue pill?

I can only go on in this limbo mode for so long. At some point one of two things is gonna break:

1. A creditor is really going to come after me (IRS, bank loan, etc) or

2. My project “A” plan blows up, or something else to get my business up in the mid teens-20K range. Not this 7-8K every month.

So, which is going to come first? Lord knows I’m working my rear off for #2. But there is only so much I can do. I force a client too much, and they get pissed off. I guess the #3 option could be that I slowly start to chip away at things, even if it’s $500 a month at a time. Depending on if #1 happens or not, that is a possibility as well I suppose. That possibly is also kind of lame.

Field Trip Friday

I got out of the house today and over to Bellevue. I had wanted more info on Sharebuilder and so I met with a PR rep for a little while in the afternoon. I have a review of the meeting that I’ll post next week, but here was the really interesting part:

For the first time I met with someone as “DebtKid”….not just myself. I’ve interacted with lots of readers and bloggers and Lending Club who know me as DebtKid, but that’s always been over e-mail, or the phone. This was actually in person.

My blog and my situation came up in the meeting, and it was strangely easy for me to talk about. I did not feel ashamed, or embarrassed like I thought I might. But this was someone who never knew me before, so maybe it was different. I don’t know.

Someday I’ll…

I do know that I’m much more comfortable talking about money (with my family, friends, etc) than I ever have been. I think this is a good thing. I especially think that my generation (20′s) needs more than ever to be talking about our finances. I feel like I could talk for hours on the mistakes I’ve made, and how to avoid them. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll be able help others facing some of the obstacles I’ve faced and am facing. I hope that’s the case.


February Budget Update: Much Better

March 1, 2008

As far as my personal finances went, February was a significant improvement over January.

My student loans are funky right now, because while my bankruptcy is still pending they are on hold. I can pay them if I want but their rates go to 0% (or so I was told by the SallieMae rep). So, I made no student loan payments, but I hope to get those going on a normal schedule in March.

My utility bill is only every other month, so no bill this month.

Total Income (net): $1854.32

Mom: $400 Rent: $450 Savings: $400 Groceries: $183.53 Take-Out: 108.34 Home: $54.48 Entertainment: 50.70 Transportation: 116.81 Church: $40 Fees: $60

Total Expenses: $1803.86

The “fees” category included two co-pays for doctors visits I had in Feb. My knee had been acting up, and not being able to run just doesn’t work for me. So, do the doc I went. It’s feeling better as of late.

I cooked quite a bit more this last month, and ate better as a whole. My take-out (ie, subway, other meals out) was down about $47 dollars.

All in all, I felt pretty good about the month, including being able to save $400.


Share your dumbest purchase ever, Win my DS Lite

March 4, 2008

Back in November of last year, I was having some really rough days. One of those evenings, I did a really stupid thing:

I bought a Nintendo DS Lite + Games at Walmart at 1am in the morning.

nitendods.jpg

Why did I do this? I was depressed, I had the money in the bank, and I still hadn’t learned my lesson on budgeting cash flow. Since I had been “working so hard”, I decided to reward myself with this little gift. Nevermind the fact that I couldn’t really afford it, or that I had to use my company bank account to purchase it.

It was a dumb purchase. Since getting the little device, I’ve maybe played it a half dozen times. It’s been sitting on a shelf now for 2 months untouched.

It’s not that it’s not fun. It’s just:

a.) I resent the item and thus subconsciously avoid playing with it

b.) I feel guilty that I bought it

c.) I’d rather play sports in real life than on the DS

d.) I’ve never been a big handheld gamer (consoles and PC gaming is another story)

So here’s the deal. I fessed up about my dumbest purchase of late. And if you want to win my handy DS Lite, you gotta fess up too.

The Rules

This is gonna be kind of like going to confession if you’re catholic. There are two ways to enter this giveaway.

  1. Have a blog? Write about your dumbest purchase ever. Link back to here. Earn 25 entries.
  2. Leave a comment, share your dumbest purchase ever, earn 1 entry

You can leave one comment, and do one trackback. Don’t leave more than one, it will get deleted. Don’t leave multiple comments with different e-mails, I will delete them all. It’s really easy to detect. In two weeks, March 18, I’ll close the comments and trackbacks, assign them all numbers and use a random number generator to pick the winner.

Open to US residents only, 18 years or older.

Why This Contest

I’m sick of my perfectly good DS going unused….and I’m really hoping some of the bigger bloggers will join this confession train! (give ‘em a nudge, will ya?)

Don’t Forget

Don’t forget to subscribe to DebtKid…you don’t wanna miss a thing (cue song from “Armageddon”)

update March 19. The giveaway is now closed. Winner to be announced shortly…


How long will this debt journey take?

March 5, 2008

I took some time to update my “about me” page yesterday. You can see the updated version here.

It’s a good overview of my now 1 year old journey of getting out of debt. I can’t believe it’s been over a year now….wow. While I’m still a few hundred thousand away from zero, I feel like I’ve made a ton of progress.

Thank you kind readers

I can’t thank my readers enough…..and I know bloggers say that all the time…but I truly mean it from the bottom of my heart. It’s your comments and insights and even harsh words that making writing here so enjoyable for me. And I feel like I have alot to say. I’m just getting warmed up…

On writing more

Speaking of getting warmed up…I’ve recently decided I want to become a better writer. Really. Right now I pretty much just write whatever is on my mind, and hit “publish”. While that works sometimes…other times it doesn’t. My businesses could benefit from improved writing from me, so I’m going to work on it here. I’ll try to mix in some useful posts with my personal posts from time to time.

Yes, I have an ego

Lastly, please subscribe to DebtKid! All bloggers (I consider this “online journal” of mine a blog now) are at least slightly driven by ego. I am no different. It makes me feel good when those subscriber numbers go up! Subscribe here.

Oh, and if you’ve got a blog, please share your dumbest purchase and win my Nintendo DS Lite (+2 games). It’s just waiting for you!

~ DK out…


Holy Smokes! DebtKid heads to ShareBuilder HQ

March 6, 2008

sharebuilder

(I recently visited Sharebuilder’s corporate office in Bellevue. This is the story of my field trip. Sometimes I just need to get out of the house…)

Wanting to know more about Sharebuilder. I discovered that they were just across the pond (no, not London) over in Bellevue, not 20 minutes from where I live and work. So, I e-mailed and requested a visit to checkout Sharebuilder headquarters in person.

Meet and greet

I arranged to meet with Ashley, a friendly company PR spokesperson, to show me around their large warehouse office in Bellevue.

Their building was in the middle of remodeling or “Oranging” (they were purchased by ING in Dec. for 220 million) the building, transitioning from their dominant green logo to their new “orange” powered one.

The Lobby….nice

The office had a very friendly receptionist, and front desk and a little coffee room with a flat screen TV playing CNBC (of course). The walls were adorned with some print media ads that Sharebuilder had run over the years.
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After taking a few pictures of the lobby area, I got to see the main open office area (but no pictures were allowed, sorry!) which was very impressive. It reminded me of that huge trading floor that UBS has in a giant hanger…only much smaller. Lots of room to breathe though. Probably a 60 foot ceiling at least.

After seeing the main office area, I sat down with Ashley in a conference room and went through some questions I had about Sharebuilder.

The Highlights

• Sharebuilder has a very high level of female customers. 40% compared to 20% with most brokerages
• The typical Sharebuilder customer is much, much younger than traditional brokerages
• Sharebuilder has partnerships with Walmart, Costco and others. The goal being to introduce investing to the non-traditional wall street client

Sharebuilder vs. Zecco

When I asked about why someone would choose Sharebuilder over Zecco, the response I received was essential that “we are serving different markets”. Fair enough. I was hoping for some juicy gossip, but alas, my reporting/interrogating skills were not quite sharp enough.

No blog?

I asked about a company blog (they do not have one) and if that’s something they might launch at some point. It doesn’t sound like it. Sharebuilder wants to “let customers research on their own”. They offer easy to use tools for their clients, but if you’re looking for specific investment advice, you need to look elsewhere.

“Not wall-street”

Sharebuilder is very non-“wall-street” and that is intentional. Their headquarters is in a warehouse near Seattle. They cater to new investors, even if they can only invest $100 a month (or less!). The company was venture funded, and a “Seattle startup”, but they “don’t see themselves as a start-up anymore”.

When I decided to start investing (albeit a very small amount) again last month, I knew I needed to be careful. I had lost too much money, and made too many mistakes in the past with stocks/forex (learn how to trade forex).

Deciding to “invest” and not “trade” was a big step for me. I am 100% committed to long-term investing. I decided to go ahead and open an account with ShareBuilder. If you are interested in signing up for sharebuilder make sure you visit my sharebuilder promotion page for more details (to which I’ll be adding too based on my trip today).

Note: the links here do earn me a small commission if you decide to sign up for Sharebuilder (like this one: Buy Stocks for $4 ). Just so you know you’re supporting my field trips (which keep me sane!). So thanks!

P.S. – If you’re a company in the financial services industry and would like me to visit and review your service or product, I’ll do it! I’m looking for more field trip Friday opportunities. Big Disclaimer: If you’re outside Seattle…you gotta pay my way : ) Sorry, but I’m kinda broke.


3 financial lessons from Grandma

March 10, 2008

I surprised my mother this weekend for her birthday. I brought some flowers, called her, then walked in her house (as she thought she was talking to me 180 miles away). It was great. She was surprised, tears were had all around.

I also had a chance to sit down with my grandparents. They are probably the coolest old people I know. When I was in college, between classes, once a week I would spend lunchtime and a few hours over at their place. It was something I would suggest every college student to do, if at all possible. When my grandparents do pass, I know I won’t have any regrets. I got to hear all their stories and pearls of wisdom because I spent just one day a week for a year with them.

Plus…

You get a great meal (all grandma’s cook amazing…right?), and grandparents love it when they share with all their friends how their college grandson comes and shares a meal with them every week….

Anyway, onto my story from this weekend…

So, I had dinner with my grandparents. They know my whole massive debt situation, and although we don’t talk about it directly, the issue of finances now comes up quite often. And since I’m super chatty about this topic now, a very enlightening conversation was had.

3 Financial Lessons I learned from Grandma

1. Stay Married (happy wife…happy life, right?)

While this doesn’t apply to me yet (still looking…), my grandparents have been married 65 years. It’s amazing, they still get in lover’s tiffs even after 65 years, it’s cute and inspiring.

Those 65 years have allowed them to invest together, budget, and spend together. If (when, hopefully) I get married, I know their example of how they have managed their money together is what I will measure my marriage against.

2. Invest in Relationships, not stuff

My grandma is a social butterfly. She’s a fantastic conversationalist, and won all kinds of toastmasters awards (note: I should do toastmasters someday) back in the day. She still writes her friends letters, and picks up the phone. Everyone loves being her friend…why? She genuinely cares about her friends. Some people have friends just to have friends…not my grandma.

My grandparents shop at 2nd hand stores. Not necessarily because they need too…but because they find great stuff there. My grandma telling me about a skirt she got for $1 led to us talking about the insane amount of peer/marketing pressure these days to accumulate more stuff…

I shared about how freeing it was to get rid of a bunch of “stuff” when I lived in my office. So, takeaway #2…it’s about people…not stuff.

3. Invest and Budget for the long term

I don’t know if my grandparents both knew they would be ticking strong at 84…but they planned their finances to take care of them just in case.

With my generation likely living even longer than humans ever before, the long, long term needs to define how I think about my finances today.

Personal Update

All in all, it was a fantastically exhausting weekend. I was very social, and I felt the best I’ve felt in a long time in social settings. It’s nice for me to be able to “feel” again…for a long time I was like such a robot. It meant nothing was impacting me…but it also made it extremely difficult to relate to others and care about them. I think that has passed, and I feel much better about myself lately….

Up for tomorrow (debt wise): IRS Negotiation….yikes. I’m hoping this goes OK….


Dealing with the IRS: How screwed am I?

March 13, 2008

I connected up with my IRS Revenue agent on the phone yesterday. So, how screwed am I?

Not too bad actually.

I was really upfront with the agent, explained my business, explained my personal bankruptcy, etc. I have all my paperwork ready to file, I just need to get it in now to him before the end of the month.

He did say a few interesting quotes like, “We are the last creditor that you want to deal with” and “we can do things other creditors cannot”. Which is all very, very true. The thing I’ve found though, in my few dealings now with the IRS, is that if you are nice, and honest (I have nothing to hide, I know I owe them money) they aren’t like other collection agencies at all. This could be of course that they are under high scrutiny (being the government and all).

The good news is that after explaining my current revenue and expenses Mr. IRS man hinted that a payment plan could be an option. Yay! ‘Cause I don’t exactly have 18 G’s sitting around at the moment. If I did, I would totally hand them over.

Speaking with my Dad later in the day, he suggested something that I think I’m going to do. After I file the paperwork, I think I’m going to go down and meet with Mr. IRS agent man. Body language is such an important part of communication, I want to make sure he sees that I am genuinely serious about turning my business around and could make payments if they weren’t too high. Anyway, we’ll see how it goes.

It was a big relief to get this first conversation going.


Leaning on others, and being a follower

March 15, 2008

All of my life, I’ve been a leader.

A leader at school, a leader at church, a leader in various sports teams.

After school, the “leader” of my business.

I had a realization yesterday….I can’t be a leader right now and I need to accept that and accept the fact that I can be helped by others. Not an easy thing for me to do. For example, I’ve been complaining to my close friend for months now that I wished I had more guy friends, and was in a small group at church. And I’ve been told time and time again, “why not just start one?”

Me? Lead, now? No, no, no. In a year, perhaps. But now….no way. What I need right now is support. I need to be OK with the fact that now is not a good time for me to lead. Now is a time for me to recover, keep my head down, and “just keep swimming” (finding nemo). But it goes against every year of my life. And asking for help? Wow….talk about not an easy thing for me to do.

I want to be more OK with where I am right now. Yes, the situation is not good. But it’s been not good for years now, and at some point I need to accept the fact that I’m not where I want to be, and that is an OK thing. I’m getting there. It’s getting easier and easier for me to see that what I once was (a hidden, secretive gambling addict), I am not now.

I’m still struggling 80% of the day with a heavy (but not crippling) burden of anxiety. And often with no real, good reason. I have a place to sleep now. I can pay my critical bills at the moment. And yet, I still keep thinking, “Well, this anxiety will go away once I’m making X dollars a day” (usually I say $1,000). Maybe that’s true, maybe it is just a money issue. And if that’s the case, I need to figure out a better way to deal with it.

And that starts with accepting help or support, and not beating myself up because I can’t be the leader I want to be at the moment.

I know this was kind of a rambling of thoughts, but I needed to get them jotted down. Everyone knows me as a “stable” guy. I rarely lose my temper, and back in the day, many people came to me for advice, or just a listening ear. I really liked that…the ability to help people. I think I have gifts there….but I just can’t do it at the moment. I need to get myself right first.


Want more debt drama?

March 17, 2008

I’m not always able to blog my thoughts right away, so more and more often I’ve been using Twitter to post what I’m up too.

If you want a more intimate lens on what I’m going through, why not follow me on Twitter? If you’re already on Twitter, let me know!


How To Find Peace In The Midst of Financial Turmoil

March 18, 2008

The dollar is falling. Banks are failing. Foreclosures are rising. Jobs are scarce. Is that a piece of the sky I just saw?

How does one find peace in the midst of financial difficulty?

I don’t have all the answers, but having been through my share of financial turmoil in the last year, here are my best suggestions…

Focus on your family

When everything goes to crap, your family will likely still be with you. Family can support and comfort you even in the midst of a foreclosure, or bankruptcy, or job loss.

Control what you can

You will never be able to control every aspect of your life. You can’t control the housing market, or the federal reserve, so stop worrying about things outside your control!

You CAN however control your spending. You can control a budget. You can control how much you save each month. Control what you can, let everything else go…

“God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
courage to change the things we can,
and wisdom to know the difference.”

It’s not just for addicts : )

Talk about it

Find a family member, or friend you can share your economic thoughts, worries, and war stories with. I can’t stress enough the value of words in financial difficulty. If you’re struggling with your job, your mortgage, credit card bills, whatever. Find someone to talk with.

Many of us were brought up being taught that money was a “dirty” topic for discussion. Bragging about how much money you make isn’t what I’m saying here. I’m talking about sharing budgets, frugal purchases, investment thoughts. These are all very positive, healthy topics that we shouldn’t shy away from. Always be tactful, but don’t be afraid to “talk money”.

Punch stuff (not people)

Financial unrest can make you angry. I like to throw towels when I get angry. I know it’s strange, but it works. Find some inanimate object (pillow, punching bag, etc) to take your wrath out on. You’ll feel better, and it beats taking your rage out on the road.

Learn to find non-circumstantial Peace

Want true Peace? You have to be able to feel peace irregardless of your financial situation. This could come from your faith, or another avenue that is a stable force in your life. Find peace is something that cannot be go into turmoil (like the financial markets) and you’ll be able to weather any financial storm.

This is what I’m working on right now in my life. The ability to have emotional stability irregardless of my financial situation. It isn’t easy, and I have a long way to go, but I’m trying to get there.


What would you do with $10,000?

March 18, 2008

I asked the question, what would you do with $10,000? for a post over at LendingClub today. They are giving out $100 bonuses for commenting on the post (about what you would do with an extra $10K). Go over and comment for your chance to win $100, and if you don’t have a Lending Club account yet, use this link to get a $25 bonus when you sign up.


Sticks in the fire

March 19, 2008

I have so many projects going on right now it’s just nuts. My main business has changed so much in the last 2 years, when people ask me what I do, I spin a little roulette wheel in my head and pick one of the three businesses I’m running.

My Project “A” plan is still my best bet for a big payout. It’s producing around 2K a month in profit right now, but it still has the best potential. It’s not a whole ton of work though for me at the moment, so I’ve been working on other projects that pay more of the day to day bills.

My biggest problem right now isn’t lack of potential projects, or ideas. It’s lack of capitol. The past few days I’ve been doing a business budget for the next too months, and including IRS back payments I expect to start next month….I have some $ available for new business, but not a whole lot. Just around a $1000 or so. Problem is, $1000 over two months doesn’t do much.

I also have to deal with the fact that I still owe creditors a crapload of money. Besides the IRS, I’ve got a half dozen other outstanding defaulted accounts with collection agencies. Why not pay them? Well, if I pay them some of that extra $1K, I’ll be paying that for the next 20 years. No way. My best chance to settle all this is to keep putting at least some money back into my business. Smart, low-risk reinvestment. Nothing fancy or lavish, but I can get a good ROI now. Smart, low-risk. Get rich slowly….right?


First Goal: Acheived. Next Stop…Costco?

March 20, 2008

My first goal of saving up $1000 has been achevied. Thanks to a bunch of LC referrals and savings, I’ve been able to sock away $900 in long-term investments and $500 in my emigrant direct account in the past few months. I plan on continuing to try and save/invest around $400 a month. (this is all on the personal side of my finances, the biz side is a whole different ballgame)

New Goal: A Mattress Worth Sleeping On

I’ve had my place to live over 6 months now. Wow. I’m so lucky. Seriously, although I spent sometimes all day here (work + live), I’ll never complain.

I do however have gripe with the mattress I’ve been sleeping on the past 6 months. I got it for $30-odd bucks on craigslist, and well, I think I got what I paid for. The biggest issue is that it’s only a twin. (not a twin-extra long). Twin’s are 6 feet in length…and well, I’m just a hair over 6′ tall. So…I haven’t been able to fully stretch out and sleep in a while. I’ve been sleeping a little better lately, but no thanks to my mattress. So mattress, it’s time for you to go.

New Goal: Foam Mattress + Frame

I used to have a wonderful foam mattress from Costco. I had to sell it when I moved into my office. It’s really one of the few items (of many) that I sold that I actually miss. I don’t know how much to budget for this goal, but I’d love a queen (so I get the 80″ length). Anyway, I’ll refine the specifics of this goal later. I’m hoping by Summer I’ll hit this one!


TaxCut Premium Online + DS Lite Winner

March 23, 2008

Congrats to Randall from CreditWithdrawl for winning my dumbest purchase ever (a Nintendo DS Lite). I hope you get more use out of it than I did. It will go out in the mail tomorrow. It feels good to get that off my chest.

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TaxCut Premium Online + efile

A friendly marketing rep offered my 2 copies of TaxCut Premium Online + efile on behalf of H&R Block. It seemed like a good offer, so what the heck. I realize they are getting more out of this situation than I am, but I’m a sucker for free stuff. I’m taking one, ’cause I’m cheap and still need to do my personal taxes this year, but the other one I can give away to a reader here ($29.95 value looks like from their website). Just leave a comment on this post and I’ll use random.org to pick a winner at the end of the week.

This Week Craziness…

This next week is going to be pretty big/crazy for me. My Alpha Business (aka new name for “project a”) is getting a work out from a big client, and I have a friend coming into town to visit that doesn’t know my current situation. He’s a close friend, but I don’t feel the need right now to concern him with my past and current troubles. Maybe someday, but not now. Regardless, it’s going to be a bit of a eventful week. I’ll also be chatting with the IRS (wish I had used PayCycle earlier!). I got all the paperwork they requested in last week, and now I want to follow up, make sure they got it, and go for a face to face meeting probably in about a week.


Socially Exhausted

March 27, 2008

luckyoliver-415248-blog-no-fuel.jpgI just need to be alone.

I had a friend in town this week, staying with me for 4 days. I started to get completly brain stir crazy in the evening of Day 2. The fact that I couldn’t work as much as I normally do, combined with the fact that I was always around someone…it drove me nuts. I have an employee working til 5 today….and then I am free! Oh, freedom.

I can’t function without alone time. I’ve gotten so acclimated to spending the majority of my time alone (and not talking to anyone), this week was a complete overload. It will be at least a few days before I’m back up to speed.

And to top it off….it’s been a crazy week outside of my social life:

  • I got my paperwork into the IRS (meeting next week)
  • my Alpha business is having a huge week and another big call with a client tomorrow and
  • I may be accepting a half-time W-2 position.

Welcome GRS Fans…I’m in debt. Gulp.

March 28, 2008

If you’re visiting here from JD’s fantastic site, you’ll need a quick catch-up on my story:

but first, don’t forget to subscribe silly.

  1. I thought I was the next Warren Buffet and traded away over $250K mostly using credit.
  2. I hit rock bottom and started this journal to document my journey back to zero
  3. I short sold my house after it went into foreclosure. I have some pride issues sometimes.
  4. I work alot. But I have too if I’m ever going to get out of debt. For the most part I really enjoy working.
  5. I lived in my office for about 2 months after selling my house. Good times were had. I became a little anal.
  6. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with everything, but then I get nice comments like this from readers (see Shel)
  7. I sometimes like to rant about women (and my lack/difficulty in dating)

Well, that should at least get you started. My most current update? My Ch. 7 Bankruptcy went through, and my personal finances are actually looking pretty good now. I’m meeting with an IRS agent next week to map out the 18K that I owe them. Should be fun! Thanks for visiting…

and don’t forget to subscribe….

Link: story on coping with financial mistakes @ GRS


In it for the long haul

March 28, 2008

This past week something changed in me. Maybe it was me sporting Gen-X goatee, maybe not. Something changed though. For the past year I’ve been on edge constantly, never really feeling stable. Some stability finally showed up this week.

My debt is going to be with me for a long time. I’ve come to accept that this past week. There is no quick solution. There is no easy way out. If it takes me 5 years, then that’s just the way it has to be. If it takes me 10 years, then so be it. I can live with that.

A few months ago there is no way I would admit to being able to live like this for 10 years. Always paying someone back, always censoring what I do and don’t say. Well frack that, I’m in debt, but gosh darn it I’m really trying to get out.

How much have I paid back since I started writing here? I’ve paid back around 10K (off the top of my head, I’m too exhausted to compile stats right now), between my mother, principle payments on my business credit cards, car and student loan debt. 10K. That sounds like a lot of money. That IS a lot of money.

The good news is that between short selling my house and the personal bankruptcy, things are better now. When I first calculated my total unsecured debt, it was $334,442. That included a guesstimate on negative equity in my house. My total unsecured debt now (including of course the huge number to my mother) is probably around $260,000. It’s still a rough estimate because I don’t know what my IRS penalties are going to look like yet. I have another $44,000 in student loans, but those are deferred for 2008 because of the bankruptcy.

All in all, I do have a plan to get out of this mess. It may take longer than I like, but I’m just going to keep working hard, stay frugal, save when I can, and take the long road.

What can I do better?

  • I plan to sell my car once it’s not upside-down, probably another 6-12 months of payments before that happens
  • I have to send at least $40/mo to my Mother. My goal is $1000/mo
  • I’m trying to save/invest $400/mo
  • I have a business savings account setup to build up as a settlement account (most of my debts are in collections)
  • I’m eating out less, cooking more. My budget is pretty bare bones in terms of entertainment/clothes/etc.

My best bet seems to keep working on the income side of things? Am I wrong?


I want my story to go like this

March 30, 2008

I love movies. Especially when you can so perfectly relate to a character. This weekend I watched “Elizabethtown” a hilarious, fluffy romantic comedy from Cameron Crowe.

The main character is a young shoe designer who just cost his company nearly 1 billion dollars.

OK, so I didn’t quite lose 1 billion, but I really want my story to follow this movie…

My story should go like this…

  1. Guy gets girl - When he finally tells the girl (Kristen Dundst) about his 1 billion dollar mistake, her response is: “That’s your big secret? That’s it?”

I only hope whenever I meet someone and have to explain my quarter million dollar mistake that she responds the same way. Hopefully she’s as cute as Kriten DundstKirsten Dunst as well….he he.

2. Guy puts life in perspective – It takes a trip to Kentucky for the funeral of his father, but guy learns what’s really important (family, love, intimacy, laughter, etc).

I feel I’ve got this lesson down pretty well. I wouldn’t be here without my family and their support. Not just through this mistake but earlier ones in my life as well.

I’m still a little weak in the “love” area. And I don’t just mean mushy, romantic love. Lately I’ve been able to “feel” much more….but I’m still not emotionally where I’d like to be. Maybe it’s strange to have emotional goals, but I’d always been an emotional person until the past few years. 2007 was like year of the Robot for me. Stone cold Debtkid….yikes.

Coming this week

  • Q1 Financial Reports – Revenue should be in the 20K range for the first quarter
  • IRS Meeting – I’ll be chatting with my IRS agent, try to setup a face-to-face meeting
  • Possibly completely restructuring how I pay myself from my business (due to a potential w-2 half-time job)
  • I will try and talk to a girl I’ve wanted to ask out for ages…
  • I will likely fail on the last point
  • But gosh darn it I should try…right?

Simple Time Tracking For Freelancers

April 1, 2008

paymo.JPGI do a bit of freelance work and I finally found a time tracking software that I’ve been able to stick too. Not only does it track my hours, I’ve found myself much more productive because of the tracker. It’s web based, but what I’ve found most useful is the small program you can download to your desktop.

Anyway, I don’t know if any of my readers here are the freelancer type, but you might find Paymo useful.


Wedding Gifts: be cheap without being cheap

April 1, 2008

I just wrote a post for Lending Club about giving frugal wedding gifts.

The post was inspired by the fact that I have like 4 weddings this summer, and not much of a budget (ie, none) to give a decent gift. Anyway, if you have any suggestions please leave ideas/thoughts on the post over on the LC blog. It’s not easy being broke, but I love weddings…


Talking to the IRS Agent: Scary? Heck yes

April 3, 2008

After getting the requested paperwork to my assigned IRS agent last week, I was able to get him on the phone today for a little chat. The good news is that I must have done all my paperwork right, because that didn’t come up at all. The bad news is that I may have to go in for an official “interview”, but I was going to volunteer to go in and chat anyway, so I guess it’s not too bad.

We discussed the current business financial situation, and he gave me a rough estimate on the total due (with penalties and interest).

The number? $22,000. Pretty much exactly what I had estimated myself. I pressed about about payment plan lengths, and it sounds like I could maybe max out a plan for 24 months. That would be around $916 a month. I think I could do that. Depending on how a few things go business wise this month, it could work.

All in all, if you have to talk to the IRS…my best tip? Use your agents name alot (he seemed to be very personable when I acted personable), and be 100% honest. I’m not trying to hide anything, in fact, I’m being incredibly clear that I don’t have $22,000 just lying around, but I do have the ability to repay that if given some flexibility. So, be honest and be nice! Seems to be working for me so far…

I was pretty nervous for the call today, but once we got chatting it faded away very quickly.

In other “talking news”….I talked to the girl that I have been wanting to casually pursue…probably wouldn’t have done it without my readers, umm, not-so-subtle hints that I was being a wimp. So, thanks. : ) I don’t know if anything will come of this (or that I even want anything too), but it was a good confidence booster. If you care about little tidbits like that, follow my twitter feed.


P2P Loans and Baseball

April 3, 2008

I participated in my very first “blog carnival” this week. Yay for me. Let’s have a party…

But seriously, I feel like I’ve been getting to know a lot of personal finance bloggers lately, and by the most part, it’s a fantastic group. I really feel that meeting them, and my readers here are a big help to my whole motivation and direction to get out of this mess I’m in.

So I had a general overview piece about p2p lending that can be found over at Moolanomy. Pinyo is a top notch guy and if you haven’t checked out his site I’d recommend doing so.

Baseball, yes! So, my bother got tickets for an upcoming Seattle mariner’s game! I’m pretty excited, I’m not a huge baseball fan, but actually going to games live is a blast at Safeco. We got a steal of a deal on the tickets (friend of a friend had them, sold them to us cheap), which is good, because apparently baseball has become quite expensive these days.

Off to do some late-night business strategy work….I’ve got a zillion ideas going right now and trying to figure out if any of them can fit into my business budget. Most likely not….which is too bad ’cause they are darn good!


Q1 2008 Business/Life/Blog Update

April 5, 2008

The first quarter of this year went by super fast. It seems like just last week I was watching fireworks shoot off the Space Needle.

Alas, it’s now April, it’s stopped snowing, and time to look back at the past few months, as well as what the future holds.

First Quarter Numbers

Q1 Revenue: $23,144.25

Q1 Expenses: $25,673.63

Net Loss: -$2,529.38

March Numbers

March Revenue: $8,447.80

March Expenses: $8,504.40

Net Loss: -$56.60

What’s good, What’s bad

The good news is that after Jan, Feb and March were pretty much break even. The bad news is that the business still lost money.

It could have been a profitable quarter. Some of the expenses made were investments into various parts of my business that didn’t absolutely have to be made, but needed to be made. Does that make sense? Sure it does. Sometimes you have to spend money now, to make more later. Some of the money I spent this last quarter is already starting to payoff. April should be the biggest month my business had had in a long time, and with some recent successes in my Alpha project that revenue stream should continue to grow into the future.

Personal Update

My personal finances are actually in better shape than my business right now. I’m able to pay my bills, and send as much money as possible to my mother each month. I want to build up a 2K fund in savings. No more investing, but once I have that 2K savings account, all extra money (up to 1K/month) will go towards repaying my Mom debt.

Blog Update

So, I finally spent some time monetizing my little journal here. I’m pretty good at this type of stuff (monetization), and on an accrual basis, the blog brought in just over $1,000 in March. That money will for the most part show up this month, and just in time for the IRS as well as a few future business investments I need to make before the summertime. I don’t write much that’s worthy of stumbleupon or reddit or digg, but if you ever see something that is, I’d appreciate any stumbles or diggs you could throw the posts way. I really wouldn’t even be in the position I am now without this little blog ‘o mine….(single tear….)

Future Debt Attack Strategy

I should be getting onto a payment plan with the IRS in the next week or so. My other business debts I hope to settle with at some point. My mom debt I’ve been paying $400 a month on. I hope to up that to $1,000 a month as soon as possible.

I may be accepting a half-time job offer in the next week or so. This would change my business’ financial situation greatly. I would likely not have to take a salary from the business at all, as I could likely live off of the half-time job. Nothing is finalized yet, but taking no salary from my business would really allow me to cover IRS payments as well as start settling some of the smaller debts. We’ll see.


Being confident without being cocky

April 8, 2008

How exactly does one be confident without being cocky?

It’s one of the biggest struggles I deal with. I was brought up never to brag, and to some extent, resent those who do. Now, that last sentence felt a little braggy on my part. Thus, you see my struggle. I want to be humble, yet not a doormat.

I went to a tournament party last night and was surrounded by lots of new people and many acquaintances. It was pretty bad. Right when I thought I was maybe doing better in social situations. I just felt like a jerk most of the night. A girl would ask me a perfectly open ended question (where did you grow up?) and I would turn the question back to her in a matter of a sentence or two. I don’t like talking about myself to people I don’t know right now.

It’s risky talking to new people. I have to constantly filter what I’m saying. Now, you might think, “everyone does that! that’s just America” Well, it’s never really been me. In most situations, I don’t have a filter, and I’ve always liked it that way. Now….now, everything is filtered.

Anyway, getting back to the being too cocky part. Being my age (24) and a small business owner, everyone is impressed. God knows I wish they weren’t. But, on the other hand, if it weren’t for my past transgressions (losing a quarter million), it would be impressive. And, I’ll be honest, I am impressed with myself and how I’ve handled my turnaround thus far. I still have a huge ways to go, but I’ve never given up, and don’t intend too. BUT, I can’t even share that with a new person….so you see my conundrum. What I’m really proud of is what I’ve talked about here on the blog the past year. My business is just an outward expression of this which I can’t talk about.

So, any suggestions on how I can be more confident without sounding like a greedy, cocky, businessman? (bear in mind, many of my social situations of late are church related) I’m at a loss…


7 Business lessons from the Legend of Zelda

April 8, 2008

Read here: http://www.debtkid.com/7-business-lessons-from-the-legend-of-zelda


Risk management: What I’m learning about my entrepreneurial self

April 9, 2008

I’ve know this for a while….but I’m a risk taker.

In fact, in many situations, I have little to no avoidance to risk. What I think I’m finally starting to learn is how to channel that attraction to risk in a healthy manner.

I used to “trade” FOREX….lots of (unhealthy) risk there. But that was more of an addiction than an actual business venture. In my business, I take risks by launching new products or initiatives. Sometime they work, most of the time they don’t.

I think I have to be an entrepreneur. I think I would go nuts if I didn’t have the ability/time to work on businesses I think could grow. My problem right now, is I am kind of going nuts sometimes because I lack the capital to grow my current businesses as fast as I would like. But, at the same time, it’s a good lesson on patience and planning.

Even if someone offered to loan or invest money in me (why anyone would do this based on my past is beyond me), I would decline. I need to focus on paying down my debt, and growing my business.

But back to risk.

I like it. I like knowing that something I create or build has the potential to change my situation faster than just doing the basic good personal finance/frugal steps I’m also doing.

Now….off to (free) dinner with my brother.


Financing A Startup – Not always a good idea

April 10, 2008

I wrote a piece for Lending Club this week with some tips on alternative ways to finance a start up company. It got me thinking about my exit strategy for my current business and if I have one. I do…but it’s still at minimum a year or more away, and that’s assuming everything goes perfect. It also assumes I have the cash to keep going the next few months. And also that the IRS doesn’t crush me.

Awhile back I think I was going to give myself til the first quarter of this year to decide to just get a W-2 job, or keep going with my business. I’m hoping to do a hybrid. Get a half-time W-2 Job, and keep my business running, and hopefully going strong the rest of the year. We’ll see.

Back to financing a start-up. I traded equity in my company a few years back for start-up cash. It’s a decision I regret now. It’s a big reason I didn’t just bankrupt the business last year. I have investors that expect a return, and I have to provide that for them. It’s actually one of the biggest drivers of my motivation right now. They gave me money, I screwed around not doing business activities (ie, the day trading), and I don’t want them screwed just because I was an idiot.

I wish I had never raised any money, but I did. I can’t change the past, and I need to focus on the future….and that means making more money. Lots more…


PSD – Poor, Smart, And A Desire To Get Rich

April 11, 2008

I read an article by a venture capitalist yesterday about the whole Bear Stearns deal and how the worst part was the loss of PSD’s. Employees that were (or at least started) poor, smart, and with a burning desire to get rich.

I was like, woah….that’s totally me! I’m poor. I think I’m pretty smart. And I do have a burning desire to achieve financial success. The only difference is that I would consider “financial success” just getting back to a zero networth.


My take on Lending Club’s SEC Registration

April 12, 2008

my two cents on lending club

I started writing on the Lending Club blog last summer. As my home was in foreclosure and I was preparing to live in my office it was the break I was looking for. It started out just as a writing gig, but the extra money was desperately needed. In fact the day I found out I got the gig, I wrote this post about it being part of a turning point in my whole story.

And this week, with the announcement of Lending Club’s SEC registration, and suspension of new lenders, I was astonished by the lack of basic research that was done by many p2p lending and personal finance blogs.

Many blogs that I highly respect for their tips on saving, investing, frugality, seemed to completely miss the mark on Lending Club’s registration.

I am not a Lending Club employee and what follows is purely my own speculation of what Lending Club is doing based on my personal analysis (keep in mind I was a business finance major in college, and I used to read annual reports for fun).

Lending Club is not going bankrupt

That’s just an absurd notion. Why would they continue to fund loans during this quiet period if they were low on cash? They list 22 employees on their website. They just raised 10.26 million not 8 months ago. From my observations they are not spending outlandishly. Even if they were at a 400K/month (high estimate) burn rate, that still leaves plenty in the bank.

The abrupt stop in allowing new lenders was necessary

Sure, it sucks to wake up to an e-mail that says “no more referral program, no more lenders”. I made $325 just in March from the referral program. But as far as I understand you can’t give advance warnings on this type of stuff. So, yes it was abrupt, but to assure their registration gets approved, the abruptness was essential.

Lending Club will stay a P2P Lender

I would be shocked if they had any intention of moving away from their current model of matching lenders and borrowers. Look at their growth numbers below – why would they stop now?

Referral program will be back

Right before the announcement I was working on a project for Lending Club that involved the referral program. The implementation of this project has been pushed back, but I am still working on it and I would know if the project was canceled. I imagine the referral program will be coming back as soon as the quiet period is over.

Secondary marketplace? Heck yes.

This is the exciting part of this process that many lenders have been hoping for. The establishment of a secondary market within the peer lending community. It is clear that a registration of the p2p loans as securities would allow Lending Club to establish a secondary marketplace. So, if after a year you no longer wanted to hold onto loans in your portfolio, you could resell them to other lenders in the community. It would add liquidity to the marketplace.

Prosper’s S1 Filing is dead

If Prosper’s S1 filing had been successful, to create a secondary marketplace, we would have heard about it by now. I have an e-mail into Prosper following up on their filing, but unless they have some startling news, I think their offering is dead (probably because they didn’t take the steps LC is taking now).

Lending Club is growing

During this quiet period their growth will understandably stall. But if you look at their numbers, they are growing like a weed:

lending club growth

OK, that’s I think about everything I wanted to get off my chest. I hope my insight helps clear a few thing up. They are a good client for me, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know the team over the last 9 months. I’m positive they will be back strong with some exciting stuff once this period is over.


State Taxes Paid Up. Onto the IRS

April 16, 2008

I finally got all my past state payroll taxes cleared up today. The monetary amounts weren’t that high (under $100) but the paperwork was just nuts. Sometimes I think about moving just to find a state with less paperwork (kidding, sort of).

With that out of the way, on the tax side of things I just have setting up a payment plan with the IRS to handle. No update there, but I did mail my Q1 reports to my Tax man, so I’m sure I’ll be hearing something soon.

My work life lately has been interesting. My main business is doing OK, and my Alpha project is moving along nicely. In fact, I don’t have really much work that I have to do on either of these revenue streams. My employees pretty much handle everything there, which is really nice. That business isn’t all that exciting to me, so it’s nice to delegate when I can. It’s left me free to delve into researching a few other potential projects.

I’ve been trying to teach myself some news skills lately that I could turn into viable businesses. Mostly programming….I really wish I had learned to program back in college or high school. I can do basic HTML, and some very basic PHP. I’ve been working more on higher level understanding of applications, so hopefully I can at least direct a programmer well. Photoshop skills would be nice as well. It’s just never gonna happen. The best I can do right now is learn enough to know how to manage an employee or contractor well. Maybe that’s OK, but allot of things would be cheaper if I could do them myself.

I’m going to do a big debt spreadsheet update either tonight or tomorrow, so I should get that up by the end of the week. It’s time to take stock of where I’m at and how far I still have to go.

On the social front….things have been better. I’m still having considerable trouble feeling comfortable talking (about me), but it’s not terrible. Plus, I’m not a huge social butterfly anyway, but I could use a few more friends. (maybe even the lady kind? : )

It would be nice if I had a larger place to actually have people over….it’s just not really possible where I’m at right now. Between all my business stuff and one crappy couch, it’s not much of a place to entertain in.


Debt and loneliness…not a healthy combination

April 21, 2008

The past few weeks, I’ve experienced true, actual loneliness.

I know I’ve written about this before, but it was always at a pretty manageable level, until this week. My one close friend has been dealing with her own issues of late, and I was starting to think that our relationship wasn’t that important to her anymore. My employees worked this week, but one even made a comment about how I could “always buy friends”….it kind of stung. He immediately apologized, and he really didn’t mean anything by it, but it still hurt.

So after a few days of feeling sorry for myself, I decided to take some action. I organized a pizza party game night this weekend with my close friend and two others that I’ve been getting to know lately. It’s probably the first just random thing I’ve organized in ages. I’ve always been blessed with friends who did the organizing…not so anymore.

The today, I setup a coffee date to just talk about things with my close friend. A few hours later, and now I’m feeling much better about the whole situation. It’s still not great, but it’s at least bearable now and I hope a few of the concerns I brought up will show up in some different actions going forward.

Being in debt can be a really lonely place. Especially if you have no one to talk with.

Being a small business owner can be a really lonely place to be, especially when none of your peers can relate to how different it is working for yourself. I’ve also discovered that while I enjoy working from home, it’s a negative factor in both of the above issues.

The good news is that I think I’ve hit the low here and I can see things getting better, especially with summer around the corner. I also think I’m getting closer to a point where I may let on a little more of my situation to a few of the new people I’ve met lately. I still wish I could tell my story in hindsight, but I don’t know when that day is going to come, so I can’t keep living my life hoping it will be sooner vs. later.

On that note….I also talked to the girl that I’m kind of interested in again! It went pretty well…she at least knows I exist. And it’s getting easier to approach her each time…we’ll see : )

So my tips (and guide for myself) on dealing with debt and loneliness:

  • Commit to being proactive – Call up people. Organize things. The worst they can say is their busy, it doesn’t mean they don’t like you
  • Work out – I don’t think I’d be sane today if I wasn’t able to work out. It keep me sane, and I know it helps me feel better about everything
  • Joke about it – While my situation isn’t anything to laugh about…you know what. Sometimes it is. I’ve been able to laugh at myself a few times with my brother recently, and I think once you can genuinely laugh about a mistake you’ve made, it has less power over you.
  • change the scenery – for me this means working once or twice a week at a coffee shop. It may cost a few bucks, but the increase in productivity and just social stimulus is more than worth it

Anyone else with tips on dealing with loneliness? I know it’s not the most talked about topic…but I think it often goes hand in hand with debt issues. And it’s something very new for me…


7 Reasons To Love Being a Blogger

April 22, 2008

1. A blog gets you into the coolest clique ever: other bloggers

I’ve met a wonderful group of people within the personal finance blogging community. I would say as a whole, most bloggers (especially finance bloggers) are genuinely caring and fascinating people. I hope to one day meet more bloggers offline, that I have come to know and respect online.

2. A blog is like a (Harry Potter nerd alert!) Pensieve

My memory isn’t the best and no one can remember everything….but a blog can! I can look back a year ago and be shocked at events that I had forgotten about. How cool is that? A blog keeps pictures, comments, thoughts, tips, and more for all of eternity (assuming you backup regularly of course!). Very cool

3. The “made my day” comments

I can’t tell the you the number of times that someone has left a comment here that just totally made my day. While occasionally I’ll get comments that just piss me off, for the most part, my readers are very helpful and supportive, and I love them for it!

4. Blogging opens up new doors

I would have never landing a writing gig at Lending Club if it wasn’t for my blog. I also never would have won $1,000 at DebtCC if it wasn’t for this little blog of mine. Every reader you have is a wealth of knowledge and potential friend or business partner.

5. Blogging keeps you sane

While some might argue that blogging makes you a little more insane, I would content the opposite. Blogging allows you to write down what sometimes are jumbled thoughts. I often don’t know exactly what I am thinking until I type out the thought on my blog. Writing is good for the soul, keeps your mind sharp, and a blog provides somewhat instant feedback.

6. Blogging makes you $

OK, well, not a ton of money. But if you have decent traffic numbers you can actually earn a nice little extra income blogging. For me it’s much more about #5 (keeping sane), and the accountability I have here, but a little extra dough is a nice reward for creating interesting content.

7. Blogging gets you ladies

OK, so that one is a complete lie. But I can dream, right?


Can a mattress really be an “investment”?

April 23, 2008

After living in my office for two months last year, sleeping on a camping pad, I was pretty stoked about getting a real bed in a real apartment late last summer. I picked up a cheap used mattress off craigslist for $30. It was like heaven….except for the fact it’s just a twin (72″ long) and I’m a hair over 72″ tall. Not exactly the best combo, but hey, I’m broke and it was better than the office floor.

Well, It’s been 8 months now, and I don’t think I’ve had more than a night or two of good sleep on that piece of junk mattress!

My beef with the $30 mattress

The main issue is that it’s just too small. I have to curl up slightly unnaturally, or prop my pillows awkwardly against the wall so that my feet don’t hang over (I can’t sleep without my feet supported. Maybe it’s just me).

The secondary issue is that it’s just a really crappy mattress. I never feel refreshed, even when I get a good 10 hours!

Mattress An “Investment”? phhhhpt….

So, this begs the question. Should I look for another mattress? Can a mattress really be considered an “investment”? I had a friend that “invested in” a tempurpedic mattress. I almost wet my pants when he said invested.

Sure you can “invest” in lots of things: relationships, non-profits, your dog. etc etc.

But a mattress? Really? I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I like “investments” that throw off cash. You know, money in the bank stuff.

Dad says go for it

I talked to my Dad about this actually and he seemed to learn towards me getting one. Bear in mind, this would all be my personal money. It would require me not to save any money this month, and maybe next month. I would still of course be sending my payments to my mother.

I can totally keep gutting it out with my current mattress. I’ve done it for 8 months, I can go a little longer. I’m just curious if “investing” (oh my gosh, I’m such a hypocrite) in a better mattress might be a good idea.

This would easily be the largest purchase I will have made (personally) since moving out of my office. I’m not taking it lightly. I looked at a SEALY $349 Full Extra Long (yes, they do apparently make full extra longs). What I’d really love to have though is this Queen Foam Mattress from Costco:

That one is on sale for $549. I actually used to have this mattress in my old house. I absolutely LOVED it. I had to sell it on craigslist for less than half that. : ( It’s actually one thing I sold that I actually miss.

What do you all think? Go for it? Can a mattress be an investment? Will I be 100% more productive? I’m so confused!


When life takes away your home….go camping

April 25, 2008

I got tagged by BeingFrugal with the MEME about “when life gives you lemons….”

Well, you know the rest.

I’ll share a little about what it was like losing my house, and what I did to try and make the best of living in my office for two months:

My Lemonade Story (oh, I loved that Lemonade Stand game as a kid!)

I’m an optimist. Sometimes that’s a bad thing, like when I was *optimistic* that I could turn $50,000 into $1 million day trading currencies. That was some bad optimism. But sometimes it’s a good thing.

When my house sold (I did a short sale during the foreclosure process), I didn’t have a place to live. I didn’t have any money. What I did still have was a small office where I had been running my business the previous few years.

Choose your own adventure!

I decided the first night there that this was going to be an adventure (it was), and not a pity party. I slept on a camping pad, on the floor, and really tried to pretend I was in summer camp.

It worked.

I wasn’t miserable. I got a little buffer because I had to go to the gym each morning to shower. I tried to think of it as the dorm experience I never had in college. I had a little shower bag and I would walk to the gym before my employees showed up. I really made the situation into a game. I got caught once (an employee came in early), and I almost thought I was getting arrested once (the SPD is everywhere), but overall I tried to make the best of it.

I slept in my car some nights when I was too tired to make up my bed. And yeah, that wasn’t the most fun, but at least I had somewhere, you know? Many people don’t have an office, or even a car to sleep in each night. Plus, the whole living in my office thing is a pretty darn good entrepreneur story. It will just be allot funnier when I’m actually out of this mess!

I’ll tag: No Debt Plan

Debt is a four letter word

My Debt Blog

LIFE GAVE ME SOME LEMONS – IT’S OK, I MADE DELICIOUS LEMONADE – MEME Rules: * Copy and paste these rules to your blog post. * Link back to person who tagged you. * Write about an incident in your life you first thought was really bad, but ended up being a blessing. * Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs. * Let each person you tagged know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog. (* And if you want to – link back to this original Lemonade Meme post too.)

end official rules stuff


Gonna Earn My Mattress Darn It

April 26, 2008

While I actually have the money right now for the mattress I want, I’m going to hold off. I need to earn this, you know? First, I want to save up at least for a few more weeks. And I also won’t purchase the mattress until my business hits some sales goals.

So, in the next few weeks, I need at least 20 new sales before I will purchase the mattress and frame.

So far I’m at 3 of the 20 I want before May 15th.


What should I do with my economic stimulus rebate check?

April 29, 2008

So, I should be receiving, like most American’s a $600 “Economic Stimulus” check in my bank account shortly.

This poses the question that many are asking:

What the heck should I do with my stimulus check?

Hey, that rhymed.

The main divisions for most people are going to be:

1. Spend it (on what?)

2. Save it (invest it or pay down debt)

3. Give it away (to whom?)

In my case I have an option for each of the above. I could easily spend the check. I could put it towards getting a new mattress, or some pots and pans I’ve been looking at, or do something totally non-practical like get the new ASUS that’s coming out mid-may (although work wise, it could be practical!)

I could also save the check. I could put it in my Emigrant Direct savings account, or invest it in stocks in my Sharebuilder account.

But, since I owe my mother a crapload of money, my check is likely going to pay her back. One (smart) reader once pointed out that I have my whole life to invest, but my mother does not. So, any “investing” I do should be paying down the $140K or so that I owe her. I like this option, and unless she refuses it or some super fantastic too good to pass up alternative pops up, it’s likely what I’ll be doing with the extra $600.


Dealing With The IRS – In Person

April 30, 2008

I just got back from my meeting with the IRS downtown.

I survived, and it wasn’t too harrowing of an experience.

The good news

The good news is that while a lien will be placed against my business (I knew this was coming), I should avoid one against me personally since the business plans to pay the amount owed.

The best news is that the payment plan will likely be around $600 a month. It’s a little higher than I was hoping, but I think I can swing it, I just have to super careful when it comes to cashflow and no extraneous business expenses.

The bad news

The bad news is that the final number is about $6000 higher than I was anticipating. I’ll have the exact number in a few weeks, but it looks like around $28,000 vs. the $22,000 I was expecting.

Overall

All in all, it wasn’t too bad meeting my IRS agent in person. It was a very businesslike meeting, but it didn’t feel like an inquisition by any means. I had to fill out a few forms, but nothing I didn’t feel comfortable with. Speaking of forms, don’t pay full price at Legal Zoom, use a LegalZoom Promo Code to save money when buying legal documents.

I’ll probably start making my first payments mid to late May. I received a number of comments/suggestions that I needed a lawyer to handle all of this. To be honest, so far I’m glad I haven’t got one. I’m not trying to hide anything. I don’t have a million bucks stashed somewhere (that would be nice!). I’m trying to pay it back through the business. A laywer at the meeting today would have been incredibly awkward. Maybe I’m naive, but so far the IRS has been the easiest creditor for me to work with.


Student Loans Status Update

May 2, 2008

I created a page to track my student loans. Now that my bankruptcy has been discharged, these are starting back on a regular payment schedule.

Even before my bankruptcy I had been deferring my student loans (hardship deferment) while I was trying to get back on my feet. I made over $600 in payments this week on them, and it felt really good!

Maybe it’s just me, but I really love paying bills. To me, it’s incredibly satisfying when I actually have the money to pay what I owe. I know that’s probably a normal thing for most people, but for the past year that hasn’t been the case for me. It feels really good.

Here’s my student loan charts (with a 0 balance being the eventual goal!)



Not feeling so hot, but at least there is some money in the bank

May 5, 2008

Sleep.

It’s really important, right?

The last few nights I’ve finally gotten enough of it, and now I can’t seem to get my fill. I hadn’t had a good nights sleep in over a week, and I think it finally hit me this week. I’m absolutely exhausted, with no concrete reason I see yet. I don’t feel great, but I don’t have any specific sicky symptoms either. I’m hoping I’ll feel better tomorrow.

Cash Situation

My business’ cash situation is better than it’s been in a long time. I made some good decisions in April, and May is likely going to be the most profitable month ever. I’ll start payments with the IRS this month, so it’s just in time.

But it begs a new question, one that I’ll be thinking about the next few weeks for sure. What do I do with any extra business cash? In my view, it really comes down to either investing or debt repayment. Both have trade-offs. And when I say investing here, I’m talking about investing into my current business, not stock type investing.

I may be the world’s worst stock investor, but when it comes to business investment, I’ve done well the last year or so. Some of my ideas are starting to finally pay off, and should continue too into the future.

I know I’m going to get a zillion comments saying, “pay down the debt!!!”. And yes, I will continue to do that, but that’s a very short-sighted and knee jerk answer to this question. Sure, I could pay more to the IRS, but that could limit my ability to potentially pay off the IRS much, much quicker. Same thing with my other debts, I could pay small amounts off….for 20 years, or I can continue to re-invest in my business and maybe pay everything off much quicker.

As I write this, it’s becoming more clear to me what my thoughts on this are: I need to reinvest (wisely) into my business. While not doing so might be at the short term level less risky, over the long term I believe my only chance of paying this all down quickly is by making significantly more in my business.

I have lots of ideas that I write down all the time on business expansion, it will just be a matter of picking one and executing it well. Or, reinvesting into my current projects and trying to maximize their value. We’ll see.

Oh, if anyone’s interested in my mattress quest, here is my goal chart (getting close!):

 


Congrats Lending Club

May 6, 2008

Just a quick shout out to Lending Club! They won the Banking/Bill Paying Category of the Webby’s (which is like the Oscars for online companies)! I write about once a week for the Lending Club blog. It’s great to see them recognized, and hopefully they’ll be coming out of their quiet period soon! I have $50 invested in loans at Lending Club.

Anyway, congrats to LC!


The Tony Stark (Iron Man) Guide To Success in 7 Simple Steps

May 6, 2008

After seeing Iron Man this weekend with my brother (It was great escapism entertainment) I came up with some simple steps to succeed like Tony Stark:

1. Get Super Educated

2. Inherit Billion Dollar Company

3. Get Lots of Women

4. Get Captured By Terrorists

5. Build Iron Man Suit

6. Rethink World view

6. Blow Bad Guys Up

7. Get the right woman

Success! It’s so simple : )


What I’d Tell My 18-Year Old Self

May 7, 2008

I was in the shower yesterday, I try to shower everyday. All my good ideas either come in the shower, or at like 2am at night while I’m laying in bed.

Maybe that’s the only time my brain slows down enough to really be creative…I don’t know. But all my businesses successes have come from either shower or 2am ideas…but I digress.

I was thinking, oh crap, I’m almost 25 now. I started making stupid financial moves at 18. What if I could go back and give my 18-year old self advice? What would I tell the 18-year old me?

Here’s what I’d tell the 18-year old me (circa 2001):

Don’t lose that ability to feel

You have an amazing capacity to feel emotion. Don’t lose it. Sometimes it will hurt you, but overall it’s one of your greatest strengths. Learn how to channel it into healthy relationships.

Get 1 credit card. Yep, just one

One credit card is all you need to start establishing a credit history. Heck, one credit card is all you’ll ever need. Get one from your bank, and commit to keeping the balance low. Oh, and don’t buy that fancy digital camera, you won’t use it much. Do buy that T68i cell phone, that thing kicks butt for years.

Talk to Mom and Dad

I know you love your parents, but have you told them that lately? Oh, and take some extra pictures this Christmas, it will be the last time before Mom and Dad split.

Don’t read that day trading online book

Yes you, don’t read that book about day trading online and how much fun it is to scalp stocks. Be content with your crappy job. You interact with fun people, it beats watching Level II quotes at 5:30 in the morning in the long run…trust me.

Enjoy the summer

Don’t work so much in the summer! Yes, I know you want to be self-sufficient and make money but holding down two jobs and 15 credits is a bit overkill. Go for more runs, quit the more stressful job and go golfing more with your brothers. You have the rest of your post-college life to have summers be just another season.

Ask that girl out

I know you’re still hurting from your last relationship, but it’s been awhile now and you shouldn’t keep holding on to something that isn’t there. You meet plenty of nice girls…see if they want to go sometime. Go for a ride in Dad’s convertible. He’ll let you take it out, but only if you’ve got a girl to go with you (trust me on this one).

Don’t join that MLM Scam

If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Run it by Dad first, he sold Amway back in the day, he’ll understand how you’re intrigued by this. You’ll learn some great copy writing skills, but you could do that for free.

Write down your thoughts

I know you keep a written journal now and again, but starting writing more just for fun. Keep your journal online somewhere (livejournal!), it will help you process what you’re dealing with right now.

Never give up

No matter how hard things get. And they will get hard, and even if you follow my advice to the letter, life finds a way (thanks Jurrassic Park). But never give up. When you feel like giving up, go talk to Dad.


Mapping Personal Finance Bloggers

May 8, 2008

I’m all about technology that brings online connections into the real world. In fact, I think that is the best use of technology. Prime Time Money created a useful map of US personal finance bloggers. I love the personal finance community. I learn something new everyday from many of the bloggers listed on the map.


My $600 Economic Stimulus Check Goes too…

May 13, 2008

My Mother!

Not too long ago I was debating on what do do with my economic stimulus check should I get one. Well, just in time, $600 showed up in my bank account on Friday.

When I gave a $600 check to my Mom on Sunday she said it was “the best mother’s day present I could have given her (besides spending time with her”.

Anyway, thanks to everyone for your input, but this was definitely the right thing to do with the extra $600. My mother plans on putting it in her savings account.

It was actually perfect timing because she’s been more stressed about money lately and whenever she is stressed, I get more stressed. Since It’s partially my fault she doesn’t have as much money as she needs (there are other factors as well), I feel terrible whenever it’s upsetting her. So giving her the extra $600 was the right move!

What has anyone else done with their stimulus rebate checks? (one interesting note: in my bank account the $600 shows up as a “TAX REFUND US TREASUR”. I thought it was a rebate)


Last Chance – $25 In Two Minutes

May 14, 2008

So, unless you live under a rock. Oh, that sounds mean. Let’s say, unless the only finance related blog you read is mine (that’s OK!), you’ve probably heard of Revolution Money Exchange. They are attempting to become a paypal competitor by offering a very generous $25 bonus for setting up an account.

Get your free $25 now

I had been holding off posting this because I hadn’t gotten my own account setup, but now that I have I can say it actually looks like a nifty service. If they can get a critical mass of users (this $25 bonus I’m sure is helping) they may have be able to take a run at Paypal.

You do need to give your social security number, but I actually think this is a good move in the long run. They should be able to vett and verify users better than Paypal with this information. I guess only time will tell. Anyway, the sign up is pretty breezy, and the $25 should show up in your account shortly about 10 minutes after you complete sign-up.

Bonus expires Tomorrow May 15th

The $25 bonus expires tomorrow, so make sure and sign-up tonite. I get a $10 bonus, so thanks to anyone that signs up with the link. DebtKid’s gotta eat, you know? (and pay the IRS!).

Use this button to get your bonus


Toyota Financial Services: Why You Make It So Hard To Pay You?

May 16, 2008

First off, the customer service people that I’ve dealt with at Toyota Financial have been great. Some of their policies however, are just plain silly.

My current vehicle is a Scion Xb that I purchased new about 2 1/2 years ago. Yes, it was a dumb purchase, I of course realize that now.

When I purchased the vehicle I signed the loan under my name and my company as well.

During my bankruptcy I decided to reaffirm the car, and continue making payments on it, but Toyota is sure making it difficult.

My grips:

1. No statements – Toyota refuses to send me monthly statements because apparently they cannot contact me because of the bankruptcy

2. No autopay – Auto payment cannot be setup because of the bankruptcy apparently as well.

3. No online pay – I cannot login to my account online at TFS, it got disabled during the bankruptcy and cannot be turned back on.

So, I asked (jokingly a little) “So, I can’t get a statement on this loan. I can’t setup an auto-payment, is the loan even still active?”

Well, it is. But I tried. It’s just kinda crazy, I’m trying to make payments to Toyota, and they are just making it difficult. It’s not a huge deal to mail a payment each month, but without a statement, it’s just an annoyance. Maybe I’ll look into bill-pay again at my bank.

It just seems that a customer like myself that goes through a bankruptcy and then wants to keep their car (at least until it’s no longer upside down)…you’d think they’d make it easier to pay each month. Weird.

Here’s my current balance:


If you never experience pain…

May 20, 2008

How can you truly know joy?

It’s been a very emotional past few days for me. I totally crashed on Saturday night and realized some major issues I needed to address. I wrote a nice long post about it, but I’m keeping it private. Even for an anonymous blog, some things are just too personal, you know? So that one’s just for me.

One thing I know for certain right now is that my own perception of myself is not matching up with the feedback I’m receiving from others. It’s something that happened to me 7 years ago when I went through a period of severe depression. I’m no where near that point now, but this weekend I saw some acute warning signs (not keeping up on day to day life stuff, laundry, cleaning, not sleeping well, etc) that made me concerned. So, I’m going to go back to the counselor I saw last year. I’ve had a crazy last 12 months, and while I process things internally, I think my internal processing is a bit skewed right now. Anyway, so that’s that.

IRS Update

I’m waiting for the official confirmation now from the IRS of a payment plan for the 28K or so that I owe there. I pushed for a $600/month payment. It’s possible within my business budget, assuming I continue to have months like this month. May will easily be the most profitable month my business has ever had. Even after my salary, It looks like I’m going to be able to sock away about $3000 extra this month in an ING business account I setup a few months back. I made the transfer request today, and if I did my cashflow analysis right I shouldn’t run into any low balance issues through the end of the month.

I can’t tell you how good it feels to be even slightly ahead. Of course, I’m really, really behind….but you know what I mean. Short term ahead. I figure if I can continue to sock away a few thousand each month on the business side of things, I will at some point be able to start offering settlement amounts on the larger business lines still outstanding. That’s the plan at least.

I’m being very conservative with money right now. Last summer I was wildly throwing money (in my business) into a number of different projects to get something to stick. Now, I’ve got some stability and I’m hoping to build the business savings a bit like I mentioned above. It doesn’t mean I won’t be investing back into the business. Not by any means, but I will not be doing it with the wild abandon I was not too long ago.

Pain

Pain is a really interesting human experience. In my short young life, I feel I’ve had a decent share of it. Sometimes because of my own choices, but sometimes just because of life. When I was really upset on Saturday my friend came over and calmed me down a bit and reminded me that, “someday you’ll be able to look back at this time and see how much you grew”

In my past experiences with suffering, loss….I’ve grown. I’m hoping this time will be no different.


Will you be my friend?

May 21, 2008

On facebook of course?

I finally got a facebook account setup for my little blog here. If you’re into that sort of thing, we should be friends. Click the badge below to connect up!

D.K. Kidd's Facebook profile


Financial Advice From Wal-Mart? No Thanks.

May 22, 2008

Looks like Wal-Mart launched a new personal finance blog called “Make Your Dollar Stretch” hmmm, I think I’ll stick to the good finance blogs I know.

I had a pretty fun article get published over at lending club’s blog today, “Jedi Master Yoda’s Guide to Surviving A Recession”. I had fun writing it, you should check it out and leave your best Yoda inspired tip for surviving a recession.

Feeling Risk-Averse

I’ve been feeling very risk-averse lately. I have business money that I need to start deploying into projects, but I just can’t seem to pull the trigger. I think I want to wait until I have official word from the IRS that my payment plan offer gets accepted by them.

My business will be down to just myself and one other employee starting in a few weeks. It’s really been just two other employees part time for a while now, but now we’ll officially be down to just myself and one other person. This is good. I’ve been contracting out more and more work, and it works allot better. Plus, I still don’t trust myself enough to want to take on new employees at this point. My one other kid will be working full time this summer, which I think will be good for me. We get along well, and he is a fantastic worker.

Women Update

I had someone write on my facebook wall yesterday asking me for a update on my dating (or lack there of) life. I definitely haven’t been on any dates lately, but I do have my eye on a few girls I’ve been hanging out with lately. I don’t see anything happening anytime soon, but hey, it’s getting nicer out here in Seattle, it’s springtime, love is definitely in the air. Maybe I’ll catch a whiff…


Summer of Growth

May 27, 2008

This summer I really want to focus on improving myself. Emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically, and of course financially.

Last summer was me just trying to survive. This summer needs to be about me beginning to thrive. All the pieces are in place now. I’ve met more friends lately and feel I actually have some semblance of a social network now. My business still has a long way to go, but at least this month has been fantastic.

So this summer I really want to be present here and now. The last year I’ve always been looking to the future when I might be out of debt. It’s caused me to really miss out on being present and enjoying the here and now. So, this summer will also be about the here and now.

The reality is that I’m likely going to be in debt for a long time. If it takes me 5 years, then so be it, but I don’t want to waste 5 years or more of my life just because I think I can’t live until I’m out of debt. That’s just lame. And really not healthy.

So how do I live with everything? Well, sometimes when I forget about everything, it’s wonderful. When I’m hanging out with friends, I shouldn’t be thinking about my financial issues, I should just be having fun (frugal fun of course!).

I’ve constantly beat myself up for my mistakes. It’s time for me to forgive myself (easier said than done when you lose 150K of your mother’s money!). My past mistakes will continue to have very real consequences in my life, but if I get down on myself every time I’m having fun and not working, or every time I spend money, I will just be miserable.


DebtKid Goes To Texas. Kind of…

May 28, 2008

Last year when I was living in my office I did a radio interview with Bob Brooks, who has a fantastic daily Christian finance radio show in Dallas/Fort Worth. He asked me to come back on the show again, which I gladly accepted. We did the show today, and you can listen to the whole segment below.

Download:

Bob has been following my story and I imagine that we will continue to stay into touch going forward. If I ever become super rich, he’d definitely be someone I would trust managing some of my billions : )

I talk a bit about my faith in the interview. It is a big part of my life, but I don’t blog much about it here. If you’re looking for some top-notch Christian finance blogs, check out Gather Little By Little, Being Frugal, and Bible Money Matters.


What does the future hold?

June 2, 2008

I spent the weekend down in Portland attending a friend’s wedding. It was wonderful. I really love weddings. Some single people get all depressed at weddings. Not me, I think they are great.

Business Future

My business had it’s most profitable month ever in May. I haven’t done the books yet for the month, but it should be around a 3-4K net profit. It’s possible to repeat this in June, but it’s going to be more difficult. If I could just repeat a 4K profit every month, I’d soon have a pretty sweet little cash stash to start trying to settle some of my larger business debts.

Blog Future

I’m contemplating adding a content writer for my little blog here. I have lots of post ideas and content I wish to add here, but it’s not an efficient use of my time. My reallygoodpostideas usually go to Lending Club anyway.

This site pulled in over 1K again in May, and so it’s crazy for me not to spend a little time focusing on providing more content here. So, if you see posts by another author start to show up later this week….have no fear, it’s part of a short test. : )

Personal Future

I’m really trying to stay focused on the present right now. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in making future plans that I often don’t just enjoy and really live in the present.

That being said. My lease on my current place is up at the end of August. It may be time for me to consider a move to a cheaper location, or perhaps something crazier (living in both cities?). We’ll see. When I mentioned perhaps moving back to Portland this weekend, my mother immediately offered a free room to me. I of course, completely declined. But to her, having someone else around would be huge (see has health issues, and is often quite lonely). So, we’ll see.

Other Future Ventures

Doing a follow up interview with Bob Brooks last week confirmed a feeling I’ve been having for a while. I really love talking about financial topics. Even if it means using my own stupid mistakes as examples. What could this mean from a business standpoint?

I’m not sure yet, but I may consider starting a second blog/online media company focused on smart financial info for the younger population. I realize I have a real passion for this kind of stuff. So we will see. I have actually quite a bit of free time work wise at the moment, so I need to start thinking of how best to utilize my talents/skills going forward.

Debt Future

All of my future plans are dependent on paying off my debt. I should be receiving a payment plan offer from the IRS this week. On the business side the IRS debt, plus around 80K in unsecured loans is what I owe there. All the unsecured debt is in, and has been in collections for some time now. I hope to be able to settle those debts at some point.

On the personal side, my largest creditor is my mother. I’m currently sending her $450 a month, but my eventual goal is to repay her at a 1K/month level.

photo by: aussiegall


I’m not the only one with debt issues

June 4, 2008

Every so often (and increasing more often) I get e-mails from people. Sometimes they are losing their home, sometimes they just want to say thanks to me for sharing. I wanted to share this one, because I’m apparently not the only stupid kid out there….and the reader gives some good advice….

Reader E-mail

Dear debtkid,

Fellow nerd, idiot trader, and ‘business owner’, just read through your archives for about :30 and I find it very eerie how similar your story is to my own.

I too have problems opening up to other people, sharing my mistakes, admitting what I’ve done, so I thought I’d write you as a way to break that shell a bit, and maybe give you a little solace so you don’t feel alone in your mistakes.

I started a business (IT consulting, software development) and took on investment from some friends. That made me not want to close the business when I lost money the first 2 years. I felt I owed something to them. Desperate for return on investment, I turned to day trading….ruinous. I fell in to depression of sorts. My employees then proceeded to ransack the rest of the company…they stole my A/R and sold off company equipment. I’m letting my house go into foreclosure in the next few months (doesn’t make sense to setup a short sale, my credit’s trashed
anyway), and I’ve filed for ch. 7.

Of course, I might end up having to pay some debts back anyway. It’s going to be years of work. But you’re right, the only path is steady gains. I’m 21. I owned 4 xB’s in my business. I too have problems talking to girls.

Reading over your current challenges, I have a few thoughts:

- If you haven’t already, you have to get over the girl thing. I think one of the reasons I took so many wild risks was to be ‘successful’ so that I’d have some kind of credibility with women, so I wouldn’t have to feel inadequate. I realize now that I always had credibility, I just lacked confidence. I’m doing a lot better in this area. I’d be glad to listen if you want to talk.

- Do you still have employees? I’d caution you about working from home and leaving employees to manage themselves. Bad things happen…

- Obviously I know nothing of your business, but if it’s losing money (still?) it might be time to consider some hard cost cutting (employees, selling assets, buying used equipment, etc). I let my business lose money for a long time because I kept telling myself that the projects I was working on would soon make it profitable. Possibly you should liquidate and pay off the IRS and anything else thats not dischargable? Then close the business and add all business debts you’re personally liable for to your personal bankruptcy (only costs $26 to make an addition). If you don’t do it now, it’ll be 6yrs before you can. You can always take your ideas and startup another business to pay your living exp, your mom and your student loans, right? Or get a job? I have to tell you, closing my business has (overall) left me feeling much better. I was completely burned out and very sick. Now I’m just going to do a regular job for a year or so, might pursue some business ideas after that. Positive side, it’s a lot easier to date when you just work a regular 9-5, and you can still write and freelance.

- Sounds like you need to get out there and sell your projects/services. Consider eliminating/scaling back on any businesses that are distractions from your real growth opportunities. It might be tough to do this while you’re still saddled with worries about these business credit cards and such. My plan was to save my business with some online applications. I failed to meet my agressive sales goals because I spent too much time worrying about and dealing with debts and the problems my employees left me with.

I hope you’ll write back, we seem to have quite a lot in common. I learned a few good lessons from reading your posts: I’m going to make an effort, however embarrassing it might be, to talk about my personal failings with my dad. I’m also going to try to make more friends (I basically worked non-stop for 2 yrs, living at my office for about 6mos, and now only have 1 friend, who usually doesn’t call me back).

Anyway,

Best of luck

Reader

Interesting, huh?


Sometimes I Just Want To Be Alone

June 7, 2008

The last two weeks have been crazy social for me.

And now I’m starting to go nuts.

I know I used to often complain about NOT having enough social time, but the past few weeks have just been too much for me. If It was with my close friend, and some others I’ve been hanging out with, that would be fine. But lately it’s been old high school friends, old college buddies, extended family, etc.

And the majority of those people really have little clue what’s been going on in my life the past year. So, it just makes it a little more difficult and tiring for me. I’m really not complaining, I’m just a big fan of having NOTHING on my calendar social wise. That way I’m free for whatever comes up, or anything I want to plan.

Next week will be back to normal for the most part. One of my employees is working full time this summer, so that will be a little bit of a change, but I think it will be good.

IRS Where’s Are You

I still haven’t received any official notification from the IRS on acceptance of the payment plan I proposed with them. I thought I would have heard something by now. If I don’t get something by early next week, I need to check in with them again. I want to start paying them (I owe around 28K, and have proposed a $600/month payment plan), but they sure are taking their time getting it setup. I should be grateful though, thus far, the IRS has been firm, yet fair to deal with.

Shrink this!

I had my first appointment with my counselor this week. It went well. It’s amazing how when I hear someone’s else’s view of what I think it can provide so much clarity as to what is really going on. Even with a reduced rate though, this isn’t going to be cheap. When I went last summer, my father paid for the sessions (he also pretty much forced me to go. Which was a good thing). This time I’m paying for it, and it totally changes how I approach the hour. I really want to get alot out of this, especially at $75 a pop. Even that is a reduced “you’re broke” sliding scale rate.

I think the extra $$$ it’s going to cost me each month will be worth it. I already felt much better about a few issues right off the bat. Friends and family are wonderful, but sometimes it’s very refreshing to have a professional to process with. It’s just not cheap!


Shockingly Great Advice From John Travolta

June 9, 2008

I stumbled upon a great nugget of wisdom this weekend.

From John Travolta actually. Weird, yes, I know. Anyway, it’s from a graduation address given by Jerry Zucker…I bolded the advice that seemed to scream, “this is for you debtkid!” I’m sure others can take something away from this…

If you’re going to fail, fail big. If you don’t, you’re never going to make a difference. Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. Ask yourself one question: If I didn’t have to do it perfectly, what would I try? For many of you, the biggest obstacle to getting there will be a fear that you have carried with your since childhood — the fear of humiliation, of embarrassment, of ridicule. That is SO stupid! Oh … sorry. But really, you have to stop caring about that, which brings me to Travolta’s law.

My brother David and Jim Abrahams and I were having pie at Rumpelmeyer’s Coffee Shop in New York on the day after our third movie, “Top Secret,” opened. The reviews were terrible and it was bombing at the box office. We were really getting into some serious moping and self-flagellation when John Travolta walked in. We knew him from the Paramount lot and he could see right away that we were in a funk. We immediately poured out our heart to him, explaining the pain of our humiliating misfortune.

I’m not sure what we were expecting, but John just smiled and said, “Guys, the thing you have to remember is (that) nobody else is paying as much attention to your failures as you are. You’re the only ones who are obsessed with the importance of your own life. To everyone else, it’s just a blip on the radar screen, so just move on.”

Great stuff, huh?

Girl Update

I promised a few dedicated readers that I would give any girl updates. Well, I finally have one : ). It’s nothing huge, but I definitely got approached by a woman at my church this weekend. We ended up chatting for awhile, and she’s very intriguing. She was also totally checking me out previous to this : ) (and I’m usually oblivious to this type of stuff!). Anyway, I won’t lie, it definitely made me smile, and I’ve been feeling pretty down lately. I don’t know if it will go anywhere, but I do hope to get to know her more in the future.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/morrissey/


Financial Emergency – Wells Fargo Wipes Out My Business Account

June 10, 2008

Today was a bad day.

No, today was a very, very bad day.

I got complacent in my cash paranoia, and it came back to hit me hard today. One of the items on my to-do list was get a new business checking account setup outside Wells Fargo (because I have an outstanding business line of credit with them). Well, that’s going to be very difficult now.

I logged onto my Wells Fargo business checking account today to see if a check I had deposited had cleared. What do I see?

A zero balance.

And a transfer of over $3,000 that just read “tele-transfer”. Now, I’m not usually one to cuss….but if you could have only heard the words running through my head.

My first thought was, “Ohh crap, the IRS man cometh”. But that didn’t seem to make much sense, I have developed what I thought was a good relationship with my IRS account manager. He wouldn’t do this, would he?

I was right, it wasn’t the IRS. My payment plan with them is hopefully set to be approve this week. (not that I have the payment at the moment!)

It was the Wells Fargo Legal Dept. I had a line of credit with WellsFargo from a ways back (2006). I haven’t heard from them (at least via mail) in probably a year. I knew the 20K line of credit wasn’t going away, but I had hoped to settle the account (along with a few other business accounts) at some point.

Now I’m really quite screwed until I can talk to my account lady at Wells Fargo tomorrow.

Note: I completely understand what happened on WellsFargo’s end. They saw a checking account with a good chunk of change in it, and they took it. And I’m sure that when I got the loan I authorized them to do this, should I ever default on the loan. I also understand that I have an obligation to pay this money back. End my disclaimer

The only good news is that thank God I took out 3K a few weeks ago. I had intended to actually put another 1K in today, before seeing what happened. I will on the horn tomorrow at 7am to talk with Wells Fargo. If they can’t reverse at least some of that huge debit, my business could be in so much of a pickle that I seriously start looking at bankrupting the business. It’s current form doesn’t even remotely resemble the business I had when I got these loans.

Crap. Crap. Crap.

I know this is all my fault, and I know I probably deserve all of this. It just really, really, sucks right now. I have payroll in 5 days, and I cannot operate my business if everything I deposit gets sucked away by Wells Fargo collections. They will drive my business into bankruptcy, and I truly won’t have any options then. I really wished they could have given me some notice here, even though I realize they didn’t have too. It truly would have been in their best interest…

Off to try and get some sleep (yeah, right)

Side note: if anyone has a recommendation of a business checking account that would approve me (my credit is terrible), please let me know. I have a plan to combat this huge setback, but I don’t know….I’ll know more tomorrow.


Bank of America Business Checking…Approved! Disaster (hopefully) Avoided

June 11, 2008

OK, it’s been a whirlwind of the last 24 hours.

approved at bank of america!

The good news is that I got approved for a business checking account at Bank of America. I don’t know how I got approved, but I did. I applied online last night, and received the approval via e-mail this morning. I brought in the required documents to a branch location, funded it with $50 from my personal account, and boom! It’s up and running. I can’t thank BOA enough right now for giving me this shot, the process was so easy, and I’m still in shock I was approved.

wells fargo, please pick up

I still have yet to connect up with my person at wells fargo to discuss what they did yesterday. I’ve now called my person at 4 different times today….no answer. To their (very small) credit, she did call me back once, and I missed her call. I did deposit $550 into my business checking account late last night just to cover a few smaller charges that could come through while I try to get this mess worked out.

thank you!

Thank you everyone who has helped me out the last 24 hours. I’m still incredibly on edge, and I still have an interesting conversation with Well Fargo to do, but at least I have some backup now with the BOA account. So thank you all you who gave me advice yesterday! (you know who you are)

I ordered checks for the new account, and with a little luck they might just arrive before payroll next week. Also, by then I should be able to transfer in my business savings to my new account so I can continue to pay the bills this month. Whew. Whew. Whew.

Not out of the woods yet…


Greatest Webby Acceptance Speech Ever. 5 Quiet Words…

June 13, 2008

Congrats to the Peer to Peer Lending company Lending Club on their winning the “BANKING/BILL PAYING” Category at the Webby’s.

You are given 5 words to accept the award.

They used none…pretty clever guys. Nicely done.

Lending Club is currently in a “quiet period” while they register with the SEC. I’m a paid writer for their blog, where I post about once a week. Here were my thoughts on the lending club quiet period a few months back.


Total Debt Updated: $312,479.08

June 14, 2008

OK, I did an updated spreadsheet, included all business and personal unsecured debt. I did not include the car loan (which is under the business). Most of the business debt is all in collections. I have not heard from WAMU in over 9 months. Same on Wells until this week.

[TABLE=3]

As far as me staying “current” on all of this….it’s still not possible. Yes, I had a good month last month, but that was one month, and with Wells taking out the $3,300 they did this week, I’m back to no extra budget on the business side of things. I also plan on beginning payments with the IRS this month @ $600/month.

That being said, my business income has stabilized, and I don’t see any reason why I can’t continue to pay myself a $35K/year salary (which is what I’ve been doing all this year).

The total owed to my mother is now accurate. I finally got access to her old account records and calculated all losses. It was pretty shocking to see how much money I used to play around with.

I was talking with my Dad this week about how it felt when I suddenly had $3,300 less overnite in my account. It totally felt like I used to feel when I had a HUGE loss day trading (ie, 20K or more). It’s amazing how my perception of money has changed. It’s a good change for sure.

Back in the day I wouldn’t have thought twice about a 3K loss at all.

Now every penny is gold.


Just The Facts!

June 17, 2008

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smiffy7/

I’m reading a little Dickens right now. Hard Times. It’s one of his shorter novels, and although I’m taking my time (a few pages a night), I’m about half way through it.

I’ve already read the novel before, but it’s been a few years.

It’s funny because all day I’ve been thinking about facts, and figures (the main family patriarch character is all about facts! Imagination is a sin to him).

I love facts. I love quantifiable things. I love knowing that if I make 10 sales calls, we will get 1 sale. It’s not exact, but a big enough sample size can really help predict the future.

How does this relate to finance? I think it comes down to tracking. Now that I track every single penny I spend both personally and on my business, I also want to track the results I get from that penny spent. It’s quite fun really. It’s exactly what I didn’t do when I was day trading.

Back when I was trading heavily, I tried to keep a logbook of trades and winning/losing trades etc. It always lasted about a day. Perhaps if I had the same passion for facts and data that I do now back then things may have turned out differently. Probably not, but I know I would have felt the pain a little more if I could pull up a sweet graph in excel showing my losses per minute.

Focus on the facts in my own life has helped me turn around my thinking a bit this week. I’m still reeling a bit from the whole business bank change and sudden $3,300 payment I made (unwillingly) to Wells Fargo. But, I’m starting to calm down again, and realize that I’m going to be fine.

I know people think I’m an emotional roller coaster, and I bet if I was just someone random reading my posts, I would think that as well. But keep in mind that when I post, its usually a high or low event for me. In other words, you usually get my most extreme moments. Who wants to read that I spent 10 hours in front of a computer and then went for a run? Heck, I don’t even want to write that. This isn’t a “here’s what I did today” journal for the most part. I do occasionally write like that (and this post is a slight example of this).

Anyway, I’m in a pretty good mood (hence the post!). I talked to a girl I’ve been pining over for some time tonite, and that is making me feel pretty light. And I did it with confidence that wasn’t fake at all, which was encouraging. Plus, I have two really good articles coming out tomorrow and Thurs. on Lending Club’s blog, so I’m excited to see how those do!


IRS Payment Plan Update

June 18, 2008

I talked with my agent at the IRS today, because I still had not received anything in the mail from them confirming the payment plan I proposed.

Good news is that everything is on track, he just has to finish the paperwork, and then send it to his supervisor to get approved. If for some reason it gets denied, it will come back to him and then he said, “we can figure out what to do to make it work”.

Very reassuring. I’m still hesitant of all this IRS-niceness. But, that being said, I should have a answer back by the end of the month on my proposed $600/mo payment plan. We shall see.

In some bad news, my blog here got hacked over the weekend, I think I’ve got it fixed now, but crap I lost like half my search traffic. It’s starting to slowly come back, but a number of posts are completely gone from Google. I’ll look into how (if possible) I can recitfy this over the weekend. Big thanks to Ian from technorati though for pointing this out to me. You guys rock.


Lending Club Definitely Not Dead – S-1 Filing Goes Public

June 20, 2008

I got an e-mail from Lending Club earlier, with an update on their SEC filing. Here’s the e-mail:

We filed with the SEC earlier today. You can read the registration statement on the SEC Website at www.sec.gov. This is an important step in the process that we announced on April 7. Until the registration process is complete, we continue to be in a quiet period and are not at liberty to disclose more details on the process and timing. Please find below the text of our press release.

Kind Regards,

Patrick Gannon

Lending Club Files Registration Statement with the SEC

SUNNYVALE, CA – June 20, 2008 – Lending Club announced today that it has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission under the Securities Act of 1933 relating to its social lending platform.

The registration statement seeks to register the offer and sale of up to $600,000,000 in Member Payment Dependent Notes to be issued by Lending Club in a continuous offering following the effective date of the registration statement. The Notes will be issued in series with each series of Notes corresponding to a single consumer loan to a borrower member. Lender members will direct Lending Club to apply the proceeds Lending Club receives from the sale of each series of Notes to fund a particular consumer loan selected by the lender member originated through the Lending Club platform.

A series of Notes will be issued only if and when the corresponding member loan closes and is funded. Lending Club will have an obligation to make payments of principal and interest on the Notes only to the extent that Lending Club receives payments on the corresponding member loan. The terms of the Notes, including interest rate and initial maturity, will correspond to the terms of the corresponding member loans but will reflect a four business day lag on payment dates and maturity to allow the platform to confirm payments received on the corresponding member loan.

Lending Club will offer the Notes only through its website directly to lender members.

A registration statement relating to these securities has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission but it has not yet become effective. Copies of the Lending Club registration statement can be accessed on the SEC website: http://www.sec.gov/. These securities may not be sold nor may offers to buy be accepted prior to the time the registration statement becomes effective. This press release shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy, nor shall there be any sale of these securities in any state or other jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities law of any such state.

I found the SEC S-1 Filing: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1409970/000089161808000318/f41480orsv1.htm

It’s got some interesting stuff in there for sure. Still combing through it, but so far a few highlights…

Lending Club S-1 Highlights

  • 5.6 million in cash (see the balance sheet towards the end of the filing) – definitely not dead there.
  • Registering $600 million in member notes (Prosper’s dead S-1 was for $500 million)
  • Talk of working on resale (secondary) market as already in progress.

The SEC now has 30 days to respond to the filing. Assuming no hiccups there, Lending Club should be back taking lenders soon. Which would make me happy since I was making a decent little chunk of change each month from their referral program.


Money Doesn’t Motivate Me…Guess What Does

June 23, 2008

Money Hand Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/neubie/

Now don’t get me wrong, I need money just like anyone else.

In fact, I sadly need more money than most people my age (25 now BTW).

But, money really doesn’t motivate me. It doesn’t motivate me to work harder, or to be more frugal, or to save more.

I realized this the past two weeks. I was feeling pretty good about myself a few weeks ago. My business had its most profitable month ever, I was able to put away about $3,000, and I was feeling good. A little comfortable even.

And that’s what is dangerous for me. Motivation wise at least. I really don’t need much to meet my “basic needs”. Heck, as long as I’ve got some food, and a safe place to sleep, I’m a pretty happy camper.

What Does Motivate Me

Now, enter my debt. When it’s not 24/7 in my face, I sometimes lapse into thinking I’m doing pretty good income wise. I think, “hey, I paid my bills this month….do I really need to work late tonite? No one else I know is up at 2am each weeknight working on work stuff….why should I be?”

Why should I be?

Because I want to get frickin’ married someday.

Yep, as crazy as it sounds, I’m ten times more motivated by the fact that I know when I’m out of debt I’ll be ten times more confident in myself and my ability to be a in a solid relationship.

Jump? How High?

Now, don’t get me wrong, the IRS motivates me as well. Wells Fargo taking a $3.3K payment unexpectedly motivates me.

Just not as much as the thought of being debt free (so that I can date without this huge burden over my head).

Remember, I’m a 25-year old male. Single male. Single male who has been on 1 and 1/2 dates in the last 3 years. (1/2 date because the girl said, “this wasn’t really a date, right” when I dropped her off. ouch).

Money Does Motivate Sort Of

But anyway, back to money not motivating me. It’s not entirely true, because the thought of making 20K/month DOES motivate me….but not because I’d be making 20K/month, but because I’d be that much closer to a burden free date.

“It’s Not You, It’s Me”

I’ve had a number of comment that say, “A girl will like you regardless of your debt situation” or something along those lines. And I get that. I really do. It’s more about me, and how I feel about my situation. It causes me to be reserved and hold back. I don’t like it and I want it gone.

That’s why it’s 10:30pm and I still have a few more hours of work tonite…


I got served! Now what?

June 27, 2008

While I haven’t seen the movie, “You got served” I’m pretty sure it’s different from the legal “serve” that I received today.

This actually wasn’t completely unexpected. About a week ago I received a call from a process server (I was at a BBQ) when she was at my apartment. A week later (Friday’s must be the ideal serving time), she showed up.

The bad news: She served me right in front of my employee.

The good news: She basically just handed me some papers and it totally looked like a courier deal. My employee didn’t even ask anything of it as I quickly jumped back to what we were discussing.

All in all, this actually went down very well. When I missed the “serve” last week I was really freaked out. Looking at the paperwork today though, I’m not too worried.

The lawsuit is Citibank filing a personal judgment against me for one of my business credit cards I had with them. The thing is, I listed all my business debts on my personal bankruptcy filing and so I’m 99% sure that they cannot go after me personally for this debt. I was expecting the “serve” to be at my business, but nope, it’s 100% just at me personally.

Oh, and they listed me as a “married man”. Ha! I wish…

Anyway, I have an e-mail into my bankruptcy attorney to double check that we listed this account, but even if it wasn’t listed I’m pretty sure I can contest the judgment against me (at least personally).

Anyway, it made for a pretty eventful day. I also completely rearranged my home office and I now look out a window and can enjoy some beautiful Seattle sun.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/babygirlvans/


Keeping it in perspective. I’m really quite rich

June 29, 2008

It amazes me the things people get upset over. And when I say people, I’m including myself.

“work is hard”, “my boss is mean”, “sally doesn’t like me”, “my boyfriend/girlfriend is being dumb”.

Really? Really? Are we going to make a big deal about this?

Perspective is something that especially in the past year I’ve always tried to keep. Perspective keeps my very real problems from overwhelming me.

The truth is that I am incredibly rich. I sleep in a bed (albeit a $30 too small craigslist one). I have food. I have family and friends.

I am rich.

I may owe 300K, and I am getting sued, but I’m still rich.

When 3 Billion people on the planet live on less than $2 a day….Yes, I am very wealthy indeed.

So some girl I think I’m perfect for barely knows I exist. At least I have a place to sleep tonite, a computer to write on, family and friends to love, and food to eat. What else do I need? (besides an extra 300K of course : )


Up: Business. Down: Girls

July 3, 2008

Every day I get a text message from Newsweek containing their “Conventional Wisdom” for the previous day.

It’s usually around 8:30am, and if I’m sleeping it it will often wake me up. Anyone know how to stop those? (actually, I do enjoy them, and incoming texts are free for me, so no worries)

But I digress. The whole intro there was to get to this:

Up: My Business

Business stuff is going well. Pulled out a pretty decent June, especially considering the Wells Fargo fiasco. I got everything switched over to Bank of America now, and so far so good.

Down: The Ladies

Yikes, I think I’m done having crushes for a while. I just keep getting disappointed. I haven’t actually asked any girl out since last fall, but the one I had my eye on is clearly not interested. Sigh, oh well. At least citibank thinks I’m married (did I mention they listed me as married on their judgement against me? Which I discovered that I did file in my personal BK. So, I sent them a letter to dispute and I shouldn’t have any judgement from them coming).

Oh yeah, ladies.

I think I’m just going to put those on a pseudo permanent hold for the time being. Seattle is actually a great place to date cheaply, heck even freely, but doing I have the time? Not really. Any time I spend not working, or running, or sleeping, or keeping myself sane, is precious time. I have alot of my plate right now. So in terms of brain cycles, women are going on the back burner for a while.

The Future

I can see where my business is going the next 6 months, and I need to consolidate a bit. I’m a little spread thin on a number of different projects. All have potential, some are making good money, and others I need to wrap up or get sold off some how. If I could get out completely of two of my projects by the end of the year (software development), that would be fantastic.


Does More Time Equal More Money?

July 6, 2008

Recently my best friend (and only person outside my family who knows my debt situation) got a boyfriend.

While I’m happy for my friend, myself being a male, I’m seeing understandably alot less of her. More like once a week now vs. 3-4 times a week the past 12-18 months.

What has this meant for me and my whole mess? Well, mostly it’s meant more time to work on some side projects outside of “normal business hours”. In other words, prime time social time has turned into prime time work time.

I’ve made some other friends the last few months, and I feel like I “know” alot of people (names, basic facts, etc). But I don’t feel truly close to anyone here in Seattle besides my friend I mentioned above.

So, her getting a boyfriend has really opening up a whole lot of free time for me.

It’s both good and bad. It’s good that I’m getting lots done. It’s bad that I’m working on too many things at the moment (but time is allowing this for now). It’s good that I’m making money.

It’s bad (is it?) that I’m trying to make money on BOTH friday and saturday night this past week.

So far I’m up and down with the whole newfound freedom of time. At times, it’s very handy because I’m pretty motivated right now to work. But, like saturday morning….those big chunks of “free time” are actually a little scary.

Keeping myself motivated work-wise is priority number #1 right now. But in a close second is keeping myself motivated to take care of myself (keeping my apartment clean, doing laundry, running, hitting the weights). When I tend to slack on the second priority it really starts to affect my work motivation.

I guess it boils down to the fact that I work alot better when I feel better about myself.

So, does more time equal more money?

Right now, so far in my little experiment, it does. I’m not rushing to judgement just yet though. If this keeps up the next few months I’ll have a better idea of how this newfound extra time is affecting my bottom line both financially and emotionally.


DebtKid’s wallet pictures. What’s in your wallet?

July 8, 2008

Inspired by a post over at the Lending Club blog on cleaning out your wallet, I thought I’d have a little fun with my clean out.

Wallet Before Clean Out

Pretty thick. Here’s what’s inside:

My Wallet Contents

  • 2 Checking Cards (Business and Personal)
  • Old Safeway Gift Card
  • Subway Card
  • Health Insurance Card
  • Blockbuster Card
  • Seattle Library Card (need to pay them the $70 I owe!)
  • Expired Costco Card (but I still keep just to get in if I want to browse around and grab a cheap hot dog)
  • OR and WA Driver’s License
  • 2 Random Gift Cards
  • 1 $5 bill and 1 $1 Bill (I’m rich!)
  • A mess load of random receipts and business cards
  • a book of stamps (in the mess at the top)

What I Decided To Keep

  • All the random receipts and business cards got ditched. I did however, keep a fortune cookie message that I got about a month ago, “You are only starting on your path to success”
  • 2 Checking Cards
  • Subway, Blockbuster, and Costco Cards
  • Health Insurance Card
  • Seattle Library Card
  • WA Driver’s License
  • $6 in cash!

It had been awhile since I cleaned out my wallet, and I had a bunch of crap in there that was not needed. I kept the stamps, because I like having those on me. Also, I kept my costco card, even though my membership is expired. Sometimes I like to just go there and look around at all the cool stuff and grap a cheap hot dog. It’s a cheap solo date.

“Share your wallet pics” MEME

OK, so I’ve never started a TAG thing before, but I think it would be fun to see what’s in some other PF bloggers wallets! I know this has been done before, but I’ve never done it, and if you haven’t, nows the time! Plus, I’m amped up on like 2 huge cups of coffee and feeling adventurous!

Rules:

  • Post a picture of what’s in your wallet
  • Share what you cleaned out from your wallet, and what you kept and why
  • leave a comment on the 5 tips post here along with a link back to your wallet post
  • Tag some other peeps (3 min!)
  • link back here to the rules or just repost them on your post

I will tag…

I’d love to see these’s peeps wallets:

So, Do you have anything crazy in your wallet? Am I missing anything in mine? (besides more cash!)


I Need Your Help (No, Don’t Send Money)

July 10, 2008

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in the past year and a half is that it’s OK to ask for help.

Most of the major mistakes I’ve made in my life came from me thinking I could do everything on my own.

Every once in a while I have projects where I either need feedback or a comment or a vote. And the great thing about the internet is there are tons of people that are WAY smarter than me that have knowledge and a desire to help.

So this is me asking for your help : )

If you’d be willing to help me out once a week or so, I’d really appreciate it. Sometimes it will be just asking for feedback, sometimes it might be a new idea I want to run by people (but not one that I want to share publicly on the blog here).

I promise I won’t send you an e-mail more than once, maybe twice a week at most. I hate lame, pointless e-mails as much as anyone.

Join the DebtKid Helper Army!

Name:
E-mail:

Thanks to everyone that joins my little Army. I really appreciate it, and it will be fun to share a few more private things with you all that I don’t want to share here!

~ DebtKid


Taking A Vaction. From My Problems!

July 16, 2008

Not sure if anyone has ever seen “What About Bob?”….great movie.

Anyway, I’m taking a few days away from work this week. I haven’t had a true “vacation” for nearly 2 years, and I really need it. So, I’m down in Portland for a few days and will be back and up to speed next week. My “problems” are still with me, I can’t really escape them. And I’m not trying too, I just needed a few days away.

It was hard to justify spending a little cash to get away….but I think my brain needed a break. I’ve been all work 24/7 (brain wise) for the last 12 months, and I felt some of my creativity starting to falter. Ideas just didn’t seem to be flowing as well.

I had a few guest posts I thought lined up for the week, but haven’t’ seem them in my inbox yet. I should have quite a few updates next week and more thoughts on debt, this economy, “staycations” and the IRS.


Back in the saddle. Now, can I cut any expenses?

July 21, 2008

It feels good to be back.

My week-long vacation is over, and although I did work a bit last week, I mostly stayed away from my computer and away from my work. I’m back in Seattle now and feeling refreshed and energized to take on my ongoing battle vs. my 300K debt.

You’re going down debt. Your butt is mine!

Can I cut any major expenses?

My biggest financial choice I need to make in the coming weeks is in regards to my living/work situation. My lease on my current place is up at the end of August, and I need to let my landlord know by the end of this month (July) what I intend to do. My current rent is a $975/month. Bear in mind, I also have a “home office” that my employees work in here as well. It’s still steep though. Considering I used to pay $4,000 a month (house payment + office lease) for my home and business, it’s not terrible. But that was also really dumb.

The options:

1. Renew my lease for 1 year
2. Try to get a 3-month or 6-month lease
3. Go month to month on my lease (which would likely increase the monthly payment)
4. Move to Portland (live with parents or find cheaper rent)
5. Live in my car (really cheap!) and store some stuff. Have employees and self work in a coffee shop.
6. Find a cheaper apartment in Seattle (would be very difficult. I couldn’t pass a credit check anywhere)

What I’m thinking

My gut says to stay put for the short term, although longer term (6+ months out) I want something different. My business is in fairly big transition right now, and I still may be talking a half-time W-2 job soon, and so I’m not sure moving is the best thing right now in terms of keeping turbulence down.


How I Avoided Bankruptcy

July 22, 2008

Read here: How I Avoided Bankruptcy


Countrywide To Speed Up Short Sale Approval Process. It’s About Time

July 23, 2008

Having gone through a short sale of my home, I know how long and frustrating the process can be.

For homeowners with Countrywide loans, the process has been terrible.

It sounds like things are finally starting to change. I’m not sure if this has to do with the Bank of America takeover (likely), but according to two separate real estate sources I’ve talked to on the phone, Countrywide has beefed up their staffing for loss mitigation/short sales.

I’ve seen rumblings on my own posts from readers about short selling with countrywide about them finally stepping up and speeding up the approval process. Up to this point many people have been waiting sometimes 6 months to get approval from countrywide to short sell their home.

Madness, I say.

Glad to see things picking up. Short selling your home is a much better alternative for all parties involved than a foreclosure. I think people who short sell their home will have a much better time trying to buy again in the future vs. those who just walk away from the home. Obviously keeping current on payments is the hope but for many homeowners under water, a short sale is the best option.

If anyone else has news on Countrywide’s policy regarding short sales, please comment.

You Need An Experienced Short Sale Agent!

From my blog here I’ve developed an extensive network of real estate agents that have short sale experience. If you’d like a referral, fill out the form below and I’ll have someone available in your area to help with your short sale ASAP.


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Prizes

* more prizes are possible. These are the only confirmed ones so far!

1st Place – $300 Lending Club Account
2nd Place – $200 Account
3rd Place – $100 Account
4-6th Place – Lending Club T-Shirts

Tournament Starts Next Week

I will publish a final bracket next week and then the first round will start.

Each match up will be head to head, best of one game. Depending on the eventual size of the bracket, it will probably be single elimination, with a third place game. Each round must be completed within 2 days to keep the tournament moving along.

PF Bloggers In The Tournament

I will post links to each blogger’s facebook profile so that we have one spot to “friend” everyone to challenge each other. Make sure to friend all the other bloggers so we can all see each others results as the tournament moves along! So far we have…

  1. DebtKid (facebook profile)
  2. Pinyo from Moolanomy (facebook profile)
  3. Mrs. Micah (facebook profile)
  4. Prime Time – (facebook profile)
  5. No Debt Plan – (facebook profile)
  6. Gather Little By Little – (facebook profile)
  7. My Dollar Plan – (facebook profile)
  8. Wisdom Journal – (facebook profile)
  9. Being Frugal – (facebook profile)
  10. Bridging The Gap – (facebook profile)
  11. Lazy Man And Money – (facebook profile)
  12. Rocket Finance – (facebook profile)
  13. How I Save Money – (facebook profile)
  14. GenXFinance – (facebook profile)
  15. Step3Prophet – (facebook profile)
  16. CashMoneyLife – (facebook profile)

If you have finance related Blog and would like to participate, please e-mail me (admin at debtkid.com) or leave a comment below. You must have a facebook account to participate.


I can make money. Now, how do I make LOTS of money

July 29, 2008

My biggest problem right now is not making money.

My biggest problem is how to best make the most money, and manage my time knowledge and skills.

Looking at my business deposits this month, I’ve pulled in around $8500 this month. And my margins keep getting better as my new projects have less overhead than ever.

Lots of Potential

I know I can make more money. Of the 4 different projects I’m currently working on, 3 are profitable and 1 will be very soon. All 4 could bring in much more if I only was able to clone myself and work 24 hours a day.

Anyone seen multiplicity? I love that movie.

Business Manager?

Sometimes I wish I had a “business manager”. Someone who could keep me on track, analyze my different projects, and help manage employees and vendors that I use. Kinda like what many Dentist offices have. Most productive dental offices have a business manager to keep the business moving so that the Dentist can focus on what he/she is really good at: teeth.

I’m pretty talented at coming up with new plans and the initial implementation of them. I can even handle getting them to their initial push. Keeping them growing, maintenance, and pulling myself out of them is where I tend to flounder.

W-2 Update

I did get an official offer for the part time position I’ve discussed before. I’m going to mull it over this week and make sure it fits my goals longer term. It would allow me to not draw a salary from my current business and use my company then as a complete debt destruction machine.

I like the sound of that. Debt destruction machine. Eh, cool.

IRS Update

Still waiting for final approval from the IRS on my $600/month payment plan. I got some last minute paperwork to them last week, so I hope they get their act together and make a decision soon. I have $600 just waiting for them, if they would just wasting money on certified letters and accept my money…

Girl Update

Ahh…the bane of my existence! No, just kidding.

No real updates here. I do still have my eyes on a girl at my church, and to be honest, she is a big influence on me staying in Seattle. If nothing pans out with her by the end of the year, it might be time for me to pack it in and try a new location. We’ll see. If anything super exciting happens, don’t worry, you all will be at least the 3rd or 4th to know (I do have some good friends outside the city who I would have to call first!)


PF Challenge Tournament Begins: Round 1

July 30, 2008

The PF Challenge Tournament is a double elimination tournament involving 16 personal finance bloggers.

phchallenge lendingclub

phchallenge lendingclub

Round 1 Begins today!

Please complete Round 1 by Friday, August 1st.

If you have not done so, befriend the other contestants on facebook. Their profiles are all listed here. Each matchup will consist of one complete game. Each game has a total of 5 rounds. When you have completed your game, please post the results on this post (include the $$$ amounts won as well).

Have Fun!

Round 1 Matchups

1. Rocket vs. Wisdom Journal
2. HowISaveMoney vs Jeremy (genxfinance)
3. NoDebtPlan vs. LazyManAndMoney
4. MyDollarPlan vs. BridgingTheGap
5. CashMoneyLife vs. PrimeTime
6. MrsMicah vs. GatherLittleByLittle
7. BeingFrugal vs. Moolanomy
8. DebtKid vs. Site3Prophet

Good Luck. Complete Your Matchups By Friday!


The Virtue of Thrift – Will Frugal Stay Hip When The Boom Is Back?

July 30, 2008

thrift

image by Ryan

I’ve been slowly working my way through, “Your Money or Your Life”.

The current chapter that I am in discusses the “virtue of thrift” that Americans have traditionally held as gospel. The prosperity of the ’90′s and of course the real estate boom didn’t help the “hip” factor of frugality.

For young adults (like myself) in our 20′s, the current economic crises is the first that has directly impacted our lives. We were in grade school during the first Gulf war and recession in the early 90′s. We were in high school or early college during the dot-com bust.

Now, with our entry level jobs we are getting killed at the pump with rising gas prices. Even with home prices down dramatically, most of us rent.

Which bring me back to thrift.

Right now, it’s cool to be frugal. It’s hip to say, “I’m cutting back on such and such”

Never before have I had so many of my friends discuss money so openly.

It’s great. In fact, of all the negatives of a crappy economy, at least my generation is talking more about our financial habits.

But will it last?

How long will frugal be hip? Is it just a fad? If the good times return, will frugal still be in?


PF Challenge Round 2

August 3, 2008

After some great match-ups in Round 1 of the PF Challenge Tournament, Round 2 Commences hence!

If you lost your first match up, it’s do or die time now for those bloggers in the losers bracket! It is now win or go home!

Please report your rounds back here by Tues night. Thanks!

PF Challenge Round 2

Winners Bracket

Rocket vs. Gen X Finance
Lazy Man vs My Dollar Plan
Cash Money Life vs. Mrs.Micah/Gibble
Moolanomy vs Step3Prophet

Losers Bracket

Wisdom Journal vs. How I Save Money
No Debt Plan vs Bridging The Gap
PT Money vs. Gibble/Mrs Micah Loser
Being Frugal vs. Debt Kid


Looking for Mrs. DebtKid…

August 5, 2008

OK, so that title is a bit misleading.

I’m not looking for a wife. Well, I mean, at least not actively.

I am however thinking its about time I had a girlfriend again. Obviously this isn’t something that is completely in my control, but I do have the ability to to at least attempt to get a date here.

So, that’s what I’m going to do.

Confidence Up

I’ve been making quite a bit of progress I feel in the last few weeks. My general emotional health and confidence in myself is way up. A vacation helped. Business going pretty well helps. Seeing my counselor again I think has been a big help. Heck, just the sun being out more has been a help.

More and more lately I’ve been less paranoid about my friends finding out about my past mistakes and current situation.

I think it’s because I know I’m doing what I can, and heck if I haven’t sacrificed a crap-load to be where I am now.

Mr. Boss Man

I’ve been performing much better as an employer lately as well. I seem to finally have found my managerial confidence! It helps that I have lots of work for my employee to do at the moment, and he is doing a good job. In fact, a new/old project that he is focusing on may bring in an extra 2K this month! We shall see.

Filling my evenings

I couldn’t seem to stay focused at work later in the day yesterday and found myself with a number of hours with nothing to do. I ended up doing some grocery shopping, going for a walk, but nothing important.

There is a new girl that I’m planning on talking to this week. I don’t know if it will go anywhere, but I always thought we connected well in the past.


PF Challenge Round 3

August 6, 2008

The tournament is moving along and in Round 2 we had our first elimination….me! I just play too fast! I get so excited…

Note: A number of losers bracket games have yet to be played. Please finish these rounds ASAP. I need to keep the tournament moving along. Report your scores here as a comment.

You can find all participants’ facebook links here.

Round 3

Winners Bracket

GenXFinance vs. My Dollar Plan
CashMoneyLife vs. Step3Prophet

Losers Bracket

Moolanomy vs. Wisdom Journal/How I Save Money Winner
Gibble vs. No Debt Plan/Bridging The Gap Winner
Prime Time Money/Mrs. Micah Winner vs. Lazy Man And Money
Being Frugal vs. Rocket Finance

I’ll let everyone finish this round through the weekend. Please report your scores by Saturday, Aug. 9th!


Staying Patient When You’re In Debt. It’s Not Easy

August 11, 2008

Anyone else struggle with a lack of patience?

I know I do.

It’s not as bad as it used to be. In fact, my lack of patience is what turned me from scalp trading to swing trading to day trading to options trading to forex trading. Each one a step faster, more risky, and (for me) more dangerous.

I’ve been back to seeing the counselor that I saw last year again.

I’m really getting alot out of it this time. Last time it felt like more of just crisis management. I was losing my home, dealing with telling my family everything, living in my office, etc. Also, my father was covering the cost last time.

This time around I’m paying for each session. And I honestly feel I’m getting a fantastic return on my money (ROI). Maybe it’s not kosher to think of a counseling session in terms of an ROI….but it’s my money, and it’s how I think at the moment.

But back to patience.

It’s hard.

It’s hard because I have trouble opening up to people I’ve known for a year now.

It’s hard because I want so badly to not have my Mom worrying about money.

It’s hard because I hate that I have to keep my phone on silent all day long.

Being patient while in debt sucks. It affects so many parts of your life (financial, relational, emotional, spiritual), that all I want to do is try something new to be done with that.

But that is the path to more mistakes. When I rush to do something, it’s usually a mistake.

I’m learning to plan better. I’m not spending wildly on any new projects at the moment for my business. I am trying new things, but everything is done in moderation.

I finally feel like I am building up a new life for myself post “awakening” (“awakening” happening around the time I started this blog over a year ago now). I am (slowly) making new friends, finding new hobbies, and getting used to perhaps being in one place for an extended period of time.

I still wish all my debt could go away, poof! But it’s just isn’t going to happen. I’m making progress, and hopefully I’ll be up to around a 1.5K (mom + IRS) debt payment each month by the end of the summer.

photo by preciouskhyatt


PF Challenge Catch Up Round

August 12, 2008

The Winner’s bracket of my PF Challenge Tournament is moving along nicely.

I can’t say that much for the Loser’s bracket. So, this is catch-up day for the Loser’s Bracket.

The Winner’s bracket is down to:

Step3Prophet and My Dollar Plan

Losers Bracket Catch Up

Moolanomy vs. Wisdom Journey

Lazy Man and Money vs. Being Frugal

Please have the winner report the result on this post as a comment below. Thanks!

Update: Moolanomy defeats Wisdom Journey. Now faces BTG (bridging the gap).


What Am I?

August 13, 2008

OK, so I noticed somewhere that someone blogged that the writing here on my blog is, “OK”.

I know I’m not the best writer in the world. Especially not here.

This blog is strange. Because of it, I get to interact and hang out online with a lot of great personal finance bloggers.

Am I a “personal finance” blogger?

I dunno.

Sort of. Sort of not.

The reality is that my really great post ideas go to Lending Club. I get paid more for them there than I would make here. If those posts were over here, I am sure I would have more reader, more traffic, and be more of a real “pf blogger”.

Someday (hopefully soon) I’d like to launch a new blog/website focused on finance/investing for younger folks. I really have quite a bit of first hand knowledge, especially in the “here’s what to avoid” category.

I think a new site would be needed for the above project though. My blog here is really about my personal journey to get out of debt. With the occasional girl update thrown in now and again : )


Asset Management – Why I’d Rather Build Than Consult.

August 14, 2008

I had coffee a few weeks back with a business mentor of mine.

We discussed what I had been working on the past few months. And what I was going to do in the future.

I had been doing some lucrative consulting, but wasn’t completely happy with the long term value in what I was doing. Working as a freelancer for other people is cool and all, but it’s doesn’t build value in anything I own.

And I need to own assets.

Now that my emergency cash flow issues seem to be past (hopefully!). I want to focus more on building more business assets, than consulting on other people’s assets.

I think it’s also a short-term vs. long-term view. Short term, I can definitely make more money working on client’s projects. But will that get me out of this huge debt whole I am in? Eventually yes, but I think it would take a heck of a lot longer.

Patience

I’m discovering a new found wealth of patience. I can’t take most of the credit. My counselor has been helping me tremendously in this area. Patience that I WILL pay off my debts. Patience that I can grow my business. Patience that I will someday meet the right girl, etc.

Speaking of girls, I think I said I would update here if anything happened. Well, if you don’t follow me on twitter, the update is that I asked out two girls this week.

And definitely got turned down by both.

Oh well.

Patience, right?


PF Challenge Round 5

August 18, 2008

It’s getting down to the wire in my PF Challenge Tournament. After playing a little catchup, the loser’s bracket (which may still contain the ultimate winner!) has come back strong.

Winner’s Bracket

My Dollar Plan vs. Step3 Prophet – Winner: Step 3

Step 3 has run the table on the winner’s bracket and will now play the winner of the loser’s bracket!

Loser’s Bracket

GenXFinance vs. Moolanomy
CashMoneyLife vs. LazyManandMoney

If you’re curious to see the entire bracket. I’ve embedded it below with the latest results as of today.


pf challenge tournament – Get more Creative Writing

Please report your results back here by Wed. August 20th. Thanks!


Don’t Talk On The Phone And…

August 20, 2008

use an ATM.

I think I’m a good listener. In fact, it’s one of the traits I pride myself on.

So, when I was one the phone with my friend earlier this week, she had my whole attention.

But, I thought I’d try to multi-task (bad idea) and walk to my bank and deposit a few business checks I had received.

Bad idea.

Absentmindedly I definitely deposited about $5,000 in BUSINESS checks into my personal Bank of America checking account.

Whoops.

The good news is that I have enough cushion right now that the money being tied up for a few days isn’t a big deal. Still annoying though.

So my lesson: don’t talk and atm at the same time.


IRS Payment Plan Accepted. Finally

August 25, 2008

Today was definitely tax day.

I had a meeting with the WA State Dept. of Revenue (to setup a payment plan for ’06/’07).

And I finally got my acceptance letter for a payment plan from the IRS on the aprox 20K that I owe. I have to put 1K down and then begin making $600 a month payments next month.

Cool beans. I’m glad they approved this. I should be able to handle the payment assuming everything goes according to plan business wise the next few months.

offer in compromise

I looked into an “offer in compromise” which is basically a way to settle IRS debts for less than the amount owed. I doubt I would qualify though, and I think I can make the payment plan payments barring any big upheaval (which could still happen). If for some reason I get to a point where my business goes under completely (god I hope not!), being on a payment plan doesn’t disqualify me from trying an offer in compromise in the futre

Mom Debt

I gave my Mom $800 in cash for my Sept. payment. $350 more than normal.

She cried.

It made me feel good. I wish I could send that much each month, and while my goal is to send her 1K a month, its not possible quite yet.


HP Support Cons My Mom Into $100/yr “Support”

August 26, 2008

Grrr…I’m angry DebtKid right now.

I found out that my Mother. My disabled, can’t really work, very suggestible mother was conned into purchasing a $100/year “tech support” plan for her 3 year old HP laptop I gave her a few years back.

The problem?

The Ethernet cable wasn’t plugged into the wireless router at her house.

The good news is that I just talked with my younger brother and he was able to get the charge reversed and the “support plan” canceled. Apparently the tech who helped my mother, “skipped a few steps” according to who he talked with.

Yeah, no kidding. Skipped strait to, “what is your credit card number?”

Shame on you HP Support.

Sadly, this probably happens all the time.


Being Content With The Mundane

August 27, 2008

One of the biggest things I’m dealing with right now…

is the silence. the routine of “normal” life.

I just can’t seem to get into it. Even though I want to get up at the same time each day, I don’t. Even though I want to cook more for myself, get out more, call friends more, I don’t.

Being content with normalcy

An outsider looking in on my life would probably say, “wow. you’re really busy, doing some really neat work. how exciting!”

And it’s true. I am busy. I am working on cool stuff. I also work from home, which most of the time is 100% awesome.

I cannot deny that I am incredibly blessed.

And while I am excited for the future, the present feels a little boring. I think a part of me still longs for the “rush” that I used to get staying up ’til all hours of the night trading. I do miss that excitement. I have no desire to trade like that again, don’t worry! But I do wonder if I could fine a healthy way to come close to that rush again.

Until I do, or if that never happens, I need to be more “content with the mundane” as I say in the title. Content with being a grown up and accepting that it may take me more than a year (!!) to fix this mess that I am in.

Casey Serin is back. Oh dear

So, I noticed Mr. Infamous himself Casey Serin started following my twitter feed. He is back to blogging again at truecasey.com.

Casey contacted me a few months back about some short sale stuff. I just don’t understand him. His story is so fascinating to watch, you can’t help but wonder what mistake he will make next. Still, part of me wants him to succeed and realize the potential he has. I dunno, I feel bad that he lost his wife over his mistakes, but that’s life. When you do stupid things, there are consequences.

His story does make me glad that I am single. I already hurt my Mom with my past misdeeds, I am glad that I didn’t hurt a wife as well.

Speaking of ladies and the mundane

I am back to square zero with any lady friends. The two women I had my eye on both politely turned down my outing (date) ideas. Their loss…right? (or so my mother tells me)

It’s not a bad place to be really, it allows me to focus on work stuff. But I really wouldn’t mind a date or two someday…

More on my mistakes

I poured myself into what turned out to be a pretty nice post over at Lending Club about my 7 biggest business mistakes. I’ll probably write a follow up on the 7 things I’ve done right, next week. Come to think of it, if you like the article, I’d appreciate a thumbs up on stumbleupon for it!


Making New Friends When You Are In Super Debt

August 31, 2008

It’s funny, since my best friend got a boyfriend a few months ago, my business has had it’s most profitable months ever.

Coincidence?

Yes, and no.

I’ve definitely had more free time lately. Almost too much at times. Even though I always have work I could do, and as much as I enjoy my work, you just can’t possibly work 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. At a certain point, you just become incredibly unproductive.

But, I spent a number of friday and saturday nights working the past few months, and I can see direct results (in the bottom line) from those efforts.

However, even in a crazy situation such as mine, I need a social life.

Making Friends When You Are In Debt

I’ve slowly been developing a number of new friendships now that I rarely see my close friend anymore. It’s actually been pretty tough personally. My proactive approach seems to be working now. It’s taken a little bit of time, and it’s been stretching for me, but I’ve been invited to a number of social gatherings lately and even have been hosting a few of my own. Sweet.

It’s funny meeting new people and explaining to them how I work from home, and have been an entrepreneur for awhile now. Luckily my new group seems to like cheap entertainment! (that’s my kind of group!)

Will my debt issues come up?

Not likely. At least not in a bigger setting. In a smaller, perhaps 1:1 setting it might. If I was still living in my office, these new friendships would be nearly impossible to pull off without a larger explanation, so I’m feeling very blessed right now.

The Battle In Your Head

The biggest issue I think I’ve faced is really just in my own head. Being in so much debt really plays terrible tricks with your mind. No matter how many things are going well for you at the moment, it still hangs over your head. There is a constant battle to tell myself, “hey! You’re not a terrible person, people like hanging out with you!”

It’s really quite the mind battle.

Part of dealing with debt is also how easy it is to just hide away. When I’m feeling down, it’s very tempting to just hide away in my own little world, but that just makes things worse.

How Much To Share

As good as I was at covering up my trading addiction for years, face to face, I’m actually a pretty terrible liar. If someone were to ask me point blank about any debt issue, I would have trouble not sharing my situation.

Someday I hope to share more of my story publicly (besides my little blog here). I’m just not quite there yet. However in the next few months with a few of these newer relationships I see myself at least sharing part of what I deal with on a day to day basis. I can’t really develop deeper relationships if my friends don’t know what’s on my mind and troubling me. Good friends will pry, and eventually I’ll end up sharing more. And when that day comes, because of how hard I’ve been working, I think I’ll feel OK with myself and sharing a bit more of my story to people in “real life”.


Gold Medal Match Up – My Dollar Plan vs. Step 3 Prophet

September 2, 2008

It’s time for the final round of the 2008 PF Challenge tournament that I am hosting! 14 Bloggers have been eliminated, and now it’s just down to the final two.

My Dollar Plan vs. Step 3 Prophet

Who do you think is going to win? Step 3 is undefeated, and My Dollar Plan’s only loss was to Step 3 Prophet. Also, My Dollar Plan will have to beat Step 3 TWICE to win (since it’s a double-elimination tournament). The odds are definitely in Step 3′s favor…but you never know!


My Real Credit (FICO) Score – Shockingly High

September 3, 2008

So, I took a look at a free service offered by CreditKarma this week. Since I used to be quite the credit and credit score aficionado, this stuff is still very interesting to me.

CreditKarma gives a you a “score” that’s pulled from Transunion data. It’s not a real FICO score, but what would be known as a “fako score” among credit score snobs.

CreditKarma gave me a 633 FICO score!

Holy smokes, that was WAY higher than I was expecting. I mean, WAY higher.

The last time I checked my score (probably about a year ago, and before my bankruptcy), It was a 471 from experian. Ouch.

My Real Credit (FICO) Score

Curious, I decided to pull my score from MyFico and actually get a real, legit score (that I had to pay for, but did use a coupon).

The verdict?

610

Can you believe that? Dang.

What’s hurting my credit score

Here’s what is hurting my score according to my report:

  • You have a public record or collection, as well as a serious delinquency on your credit report.
  • You have multiple accounts showing missed payments or derogatory descriptions.
  • The remaining balance on your non-mortgage installment loans is too high.
  • You have a short credit history.

These all make sense based on what’s happened the last year. The bankruptcy shows up on the public record side of things.

Short Sale…Not Much Credit Score Hit

I think this shows some real evidence that doing a short sale won’t completely kill your credit score. I’d have to hear from others who have done one, but a 610 after a bankruptcy, tons of late payments, and a short sale…I’m really surprised at this.

In the notes on my 2nd mortgage it says,

Account legally paid in full for less than the full balance

And on the first mortgage it says,

Paid account, foreclosure was started

I’m almost tempted to purchase my other two scores now to see if they are in line with this Experian score.

Late Payments…Yeah, I’ve got em

50 lates on my report. Ouch.

Props to MyFico

Props to MyFico (and creditkarma was pretty close actually!). I haven’t used their service for a long time, but I used to be quite the frequent customer. They’ve redesigned their whole layout of the score and report and it’s very easy to navigate. If you want to check your real score, make sure and use a MyFico Promotional Code.


Clothes Shopping. Pretty Much My Least Favorite Activity Ever

September 6, 2008

I cannot believe this. I have a social outing tonite, and so I decided to do some laundry.

Seeing my three pairs of jeans dirty, I decide to throw them in the wash with a few of my favorite shirts.

Ding. OK, dryer time.

Uh, oh.

What’s this. I seriously did not just see this:

shirt ink spill!

shirt ink spill!

I love having pens on me. Apparently I didn’t notice the huge ink pen that made it into the dryer. I just lost pretty much all my favorite clothes.

Granted most my clothes are years old, I’m still pretty peeved. I hate clothes shopping, but now I have no jeans, which are my staple here in Seattle. I’m heading to Ross now, and probably stop by goodwill on the way home. Lame. Lame. Lame.

I’m one of those people that would totally be OK if everyone just wore the same uniform all the time. Maybe different colors….maybe.


This is my journey

September 8, 2008

Right now I’m glad my friends don’t know what I’ve been through the past 3+ years.

Even the one friend who knows most all of my story, doesn’t know everything. She would if she read my blog here, but I’ve told her not too (even though she knows where it’s at), and to date I don’t think she has.

Why is this a good thing? Because I think this journey, this very long process that I’m in….it’s something that I need to do as much as possible by myself. And before you jump in and say, “DebtKid! What are you talking about!? What about your readers, what about your family, your blog friends that know what’s up?” Yes, yes. That’s exactly why I’ve been able to get by without sharing my issues with more of my friends.

If I had shared more

Let’s say I had told a few more of my friends say a year ago. You know what would have happened. They would have worried about me. They would have offered to help me.

And they would have been a crutch. A distraction even.

I needed to hit rock bottom. I needed to be completely broken down. I needed to say, “It’s time to man up and do this on my own as much as I possibly can without being stupid”

Asking for help

I got into trouble in the past because I didn’t know when to reach out and ask for help. I’ve learned how to do that now.

But this my journey. It’s not my mom’s, it’s not my dad’s, it’s not my friends. I will let them help me when appropriate, but ultimately this debt, this burden is mine and mine alone. I created it, I hid it, I lied about it, and it’s my job to fix it.


Do you hold your breath when things are going well?

September 10, 2008

Whew. Exhale.

The last few weeks have been good. I wouldn’t say great, but definitely good. I’m always hesitant to write about when things are going well because I think it will jinx it or something.

I am feeling more relaxed and confident than I have felt in years. Literally, years. It’s hard for me to remember when I felt this calm and reassured about the future. The seemingly endless tightness in my lungs is gone as of late.

Maybe it’s just all the beautiful weather here in Seattle. But I don’t think it is.

Having A Plan

For awhile in my life I was scared to death of long term planning. I had been burned late in my teens by over planning. I had more whole life planned out at 18. When things didn’t go how I had hoped I pretty much avoided longer terms plans after that.

Until now. I can actually see myself and what I’ll probably be doing a year from now. And it’s not living in a car, or sleeping in an office, it actually looks OK. I won’t be out of debt, but I think I’ll have made some significant progress.

So, I have a loose plan. It’s nothing radical or super-risky. It’s mostly just executing on what I’ve been doing the last year. Working on projects that utilize my skills and trying to bring in more money, while keeping my spending at the bare minimum.

Does anyone else hesitate to get excited when things are going well?


And The Winner Is…

September 12, 2008

The winner of my 16-blogger PF Challenge Tournament is…

Madison from MyDollarPlan.com

Congratulations Madison. You came back to beat Step3Prophet in back-to-back matchups to take the top spot! Not an easy thing to do. Needless to say, if I have a financial question and need a quick answer, I know who to ask.

The Runner’s Up

In 2nd place: Step3Prophet Prize: $200 Lending Club Account

In 3rd place: Patrick from CashMoneyLife.com Prize: $100 Lending Club Account

Thanks To All The Participants

pfchallengeThanks to all the rest of the participants for making this a really fun and successful tournament:

Rocket Finance

I’m trying to get some consolation prizes lined up for you all as well. I’ll let you know in the next few weeks what I can get for you all. Thanks again for playing.

Think You’re Money?

If you think you’re money, try to get atop the new leaderboard. Jeremy from GenxFinance is in the #2 spot. The CEO of Lending Club is #5. Don’t ask where I’m at : )


Building A “Debt Destruction” Fund

September 12, 2008

I’m sure many of you know what it feels like to have a decent chunk of change in a savings account.

I’ve never had this feeling until now. Wow. It’s incredible. For the last 3+ years I’ve never had a savings account with actual money in it. Sure, I had brokerage accounts that sometimes had 50K+ in them….but they were for trading…not comfort/safety.

So, here’s what I’m doing. I have just over $3,000 in a personal savings account. That is my “emergency fund”. I don’t plan on touching that anytime soon.

Debt Destruction Fund

With the exception of what I owe my Mum, all my debt is on my business side. So, I’m going to use my business as a debt destruction vehicle.

This is really exciting for me because I’ve been waiting to start this process for a long time: knocking off my debts one by one.

I need to continue to add money to the fund, as much as I can each month so that I can continue to settle/pay down my debts. Currently I have been able to put away now $6,000 into business savings account at ING Direct. This month is going very well business wise, and I hope to be able to stash away another $4,000 into the fund by the end of the month.

 

Payment Priorities

Since I have established a payment plan with the IRS, that is priority number 1. But that payment doesn’t start until later in Oct. So, my first priority right now is past WA state taxes. After that, depending on how things are looking cash flow wise, I’ll look into knocking off some of the smaller collections accounts that I have, and keep going from there.

 

I have already paid $500 earlier this month on my state taxes, but still owe just over 3K there.


Why I Don’t Miss Day-Trading

September 17, 2008

nyse

A reader left a comment a few days back that I figured I’d respond and flesh out a bit more:

I have a question for you, but it might be kind of insensitive or painful; if so, please ignore this. I was wondering if you have any kind of emotional response when markets get really wild (I’m thinking of some of the current financial market events). Does it make you miss trading? Or does it make you relieved because that part of your life is over?

I do have a emotional response when the markets are crazy like they have been this week.

It’s relief.

Relief that I’m not up at 5am watching futures markets. Or up til 1am trading the pound during the london forex session.

I’ll admit I have been reading alot of the financial news lately…but I do that now just to be informed. I was a finance major in college. I’ve always been fascinated by Wall Street, and I probably always will be. I just choose to sit on the sidelines now rather than get in “the game”

It’s just not for me anymore. In fact, my view lately is that I doubt I’ll ever invest in stocks again. The risk/return just isn’t as good as investing in my own business, or more importantly right now, trying to pay off my debts.

So, I don’t miss day trading.

But I do sometimes miss that excitement. But not nearly as much as I did say, a year ago.

Maybe I’m growing up, getting wiser, or maybe I’m just getting boring.

But if boring keeps me fed and making money, than boring I will be.

photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ralphunden/


My Passion

September 18, 2008

cnbc I have such a passion for anything financially related.

Seriously, I am like a kid in a candy store when I’m on cnbc or reddit business or just reading some of my fellow pf bloggers good posts.

Books and Real Life

I think I may have mentioned this before, but I was a finance major in college (yes, while I was day trading). I was book learnin’ while I was real life learning.

I love looking at how people use money. I love seeing how people talk about money. It has such a profound impact in our life (both good and bad!), it’s truly amazing.

My Writing Future

So what does this mean for debtkid.com? Well, it means I want to expand myself a little bit here. Up until this point I’ve pretty much been writing more own personal journey with my debt issues. I will continue to do that, but I really can’t write every day about that…it would get really repetitive.

What I can do is share my thoughts/advice/warning on everything else finance related. I will continue of course to track my own debt journey, and any (albeit) unlikely dates that may happen in my life.

I love writing blogging

I’ve discovered that I truly love writing. I’m not a fantastic writer, but I know I’m getting better. And I want to continue to improve. I’d like to grow the blog beyond just my loyal readers following my personal story.

New opportunities

I’ve applied to be a writer at Wisebread. I’m hoping that I will get accepted there soon. I applied last week, but haven’t heard back yet. I would earn some extra cash from my writing there, so that would be helpful as well.

I’ve also thought about contributing some articles to seekingalpha. They are a very popular multi-author investing site and I think I could writer some killer posts about day-trading mistakes from my own experiences.

What do you think?

What do you guys think? Can my past mistakes and lessons I’ve learned be helpful to others? I’m going to try writing more often, but if it’s not in my best interest (and my mothers), or just a waste of time, I won’t bother.


Yes Zecco, Sex Still Sells

September 18, 2008

zeccozirens2 OK Zecco, you got my attention. I’ll bite.

This past week Zecco, the online broker who offers no-fee trade commissions (if you have over $2500 in your account, max 10 per month), released a few new “educational” videos on their site.

Zecco Zirens

Hosted by the um, attractive, Zecco Zirens, these aren’t your typical investment videos. They are in the “educational” section of Zecco.com

Good For New Investors

But are they educational?

Sure, if you’re new to investing, you’ll learn something. Personally I didn’t learn anything new, but for the newbie investor they could learn some investing basics. Assuming they don’t get too distracted that is…

What do you think?

What do you think? Is this shameless exploitation, or just savvy advertising? Or is this just your standard marketing using sex to sell?

If you don’t have a Zecco account and want to setup one for free, I do earn a small referral fee if you sign up using this link, so thanks if you do!

More Zecco Zirens Pics

zeccozirens1zeccozirens3


By The End Of Today, What Do You Wish Would Happen?

September 19, 2008

If you have 8 minutes of your day to watch this, I think you’ll appreciate the beauty and simplicity of this short video. Shot in New Orleans, the filmmakers asked as many people as they could just one question.

I love the variety of answers. Some are so trivial and fake, others so genuine you can feel their emotion in the pit of your own soul.

I think beyond just the interesting concept of this short video, what I also appreciate is how brilliantly it is shot and edited.

I know exactly my answer to this question. And, trust me, it’s not financial, but pretty personal. If enough people comment and share, I’ll share my answer. Bonus points if someone can pick my favorite answer…

So, What’s your answer?

Feel free to share in the comments.


Bounced My Employees Check. Ouch.

September 23, 2008

I got a letter from Bank of America today telling me that they returned a check from last week. Which check?

My one employee’s check.

Crap. Crap. Crap.

The irony (?) of this is that in the last 12 months I’ve never had more cash than I do right now….it just wasn’t in my account at the right time.

I had moved some into savings, and a large check that I deposited weeks ago took forever to clear…and thus the bounced check to my employee. I wrote him a long email last nite and we worked it out today, with me giving him a few hundred dollar bonus to cover my error.

Its just kinda funny almost. All those months I was barely making payroll and I never bounced a check. Now, when business is going better than ever, I bounce one. Well, it shouldn’t ever happen again.


I am hosting the carnival of personal finance next week!

September 25, 2008

carnival So, I was looking for things to do this weekend, and this totally just fell in my lap!

I will be hosting the carnival of personal finance next week. Fun!

Submit Your Best Article

If you have a quality post you’d like considered for the carnival, please submit it here.

I have a few theme ideas running around my head, hopefully I’ll come up with a good one. Just looking at some of the submissions, there are some great posts to choose from.

Thanks Mrs. Micah and Flexo from Consumerism Commentary for this opportunity to host!

Photo credit


Sad Day For Seattle, WAMU

September 26, 2008

It’s a strange feeling in Seattle today.

WAMU is no more.wamu building

It seems like just yesterday they moved into a beautiful new building downtown. It’s probably my second favorite building downtown.

Two of the smartest kids from my college days took jobs at WAMU right after graduation. At the time it seemed like a great move. It was 2005, and WAMU was hot.

I wonder how many in Seattle will be jobless in a few weeks/days/months because of this.

I’ve always had a found place in my heart though for JP Morgan. In fact, I was reading one of my old journals from about 4 years ago and remembered that JPM was one of my favorite stocks to trade back then. I actually don’t think I ever had a losing trade with JPM.

Good news is that it sounds like there won’t be any issues for WAMU customers. I walked by a major branch today and saw one person in line. No mad rush at all.

Still glad I bank at BOA though, and keep my savings in an high yield account.


Carnival of Personal Finance #172 – Meltdown Edition

September 29, 2008

I’m pleased to present….oh wait…we have a special report coming in…No wonder we are in a mess!

“The sky is falling!” “Banks are failing!”

If Homeland Security had a “threat level” for the financial markets, last week would have been BRIGHT RED. (update: And today! Dow has biggest point job ever)

With all the scare in the air about a meltdown, the good news is that you can still improve your own financial health, without the help of the federal government.

I’m learning to do it as I climb out of 300,000+ of debt, so you can too!

Here are 56 posts to help improve your personal finance situation…thanks to all who submitted. Enjoy!   ~ DebtKid

Threat Level, SEVERE – (DebtKid’s Editor Picks)

Nothing causes more financial meltdowns than medical bills. Squakfox shares not only why you should start an emergency fund, but shares how it saved her a$$. Going against the normal pf blogger grain, PaidTwice shows you how to realistically and thoughtfully increase a budget item. Yes, increase!

Work at a bank or mortgage company right now? You’re probably getting some grief. Money Beagle gets a really interesting insider look at the credit crisis.

Lastly, Trent from The Simple dollar goes into depth about the 12 biggest personal finance mistakes people make over and over again (plus their solutions!).

Money Management

Frugality

Saving

Finance

Investing

Economy

Career

Credit and Debt

Taxes

Real Estate

Reviews

Misc.

Bloggers! Don’t forget to submit your best stuff this week for next week’s carnival.

And subscribe to DebtKid. I love watching numbers actually go up in my life!


Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

October 1, 2008

This week has been all over the map.

Seriously, if my life were a map. I would have gone from Seattle to Rome to Hong Kong to the South Pole and back. Up and down. I feel like a ship riding out a storm. Up and down.

Sunday was down. I was feeling so unknown, so lonely, it was no fun. In the last 4 months, while business-wise things have gone better, I’ve lost quite a bit.

My younger brother moved away. Besides my one close friend, he was the only one up here that knew my whole situation. Then my close friend got a boyfriend, and that has dramatically changed our relationship. It’s good change for her, and really for me, but it’s hard change.

Craziness Last Night

Then yesterday I found out that my month to month lease is over. My landlord is moving back in, and I’m out.

Whew.

Deep breathes. Tap the keyboard. Tap. Tap. Tap.

Ahhh.

I looked at a new place today, and assuming I get approved (I told them my credit is terrible), hopefully I’ll have my residence worked out in a week or two.

Someday I’m going to own a house. Without a mortgage. I will pay frickin’ cash for it and I’ll not have to worry about this kind of stuff again. Someday.

I hate having to “omit” information. I’m in such a better place now, than 13 months ago when I was trying to get a place after living in my office, but it’s still not fun. Look at this post from a year ago. My fears there didn’t happen. In fact, this whole fiasco has made me a stronger, better, (most of the time) more genuine person.

I almost spilled the beans

I almost blew it today too. My heart about leaped out of my chest. Here’s what happened;

“So, we found your blog. We’re Christians too, and so we think that what you’re doing is great”

Me: (thinking: What the crap!!! I seriously don’t have that many readers….how did they figure this out) “Really. Wow. (as I sit down). How did you find it, I mean, it’s anonymous”

Them: “Oh, we just googled your name”

Me: (lightbulb goes off. I have another blog I rarely write in under my real name. This is the one they found. OMG) “Oh, yeah, you know I didn’t even know people read that one” (seriously in a panic still, but face is 100% calm)

Thoughts

I’m in such a strange place right now. My business is doing better than ever. Yet, I continue to live and will continue to live like I’m completely broke. Or at least frugal. Maybe not broke.

I almost cried grocery shopping last week. If you never think about the cost of food when you shop, you won’t understand this.

For me to feel rich….all I need is a decent food budget. That’s it. Game over. Nothing else. Well, and a place to live. Those two things, and I’m content. I don’t need gadgets, or fancy drinks, or nice clothes.

Just food.

Man, I’m so different than I use to be. My whole world view and concept of money is so dramatically different than it was just 18 months ago.

I forced myself to buy a pair of khaki’s yesterday. It was painful, it really was. I just don’t like spending money right now. I just want to hoard it all away.

It’s a good thing I have been putting money away. I’ll need to put down money for my new place before I get my deposit back from my current place.

Anyway, I’m in a whirl right now. And still very busy with work stuff. And don’t even get me started on girl stuff….that’s a rant for another day.

Now, I’m off to eat.


Finding A New Apartment Update

October 7, 2008

I really hate moving.

Anyway, if you don’t follow my twitter account, you probably missed that I’m moving. Yep, I found out last week that I have to be out of my current place in 30 days (my month-to-month lease for flexibility came back to bite me. I don’t want to leave, but owner wants back in!). The good news is that good ‘ole craigslist came through for me again and I found a new place (in my same building no less) very quickly. I signed a 6-month lease, and have the keys to the new place, while I will be out of my current place in about a week.

I really just needed the least amount of stress, I was really freaking out last Tuesday. My new place isn’t ideal price wise, but the move will be pretty easy, and luckily I have very little “stuff”. And right now, keeping my focus as much as possible on work stuff is where I need to be.

Disclosing My Bankruptcy

I did have to disclose my bankruptcy on the application the landlord had me fill out. I was very upfront with them, and after the stellar report that they got from my current landlord, they seemed very OK with me taking the place. It didn’t bother me much at all. I think I’ve said this before, but having to declare bankruptcy is way down my list of embarrassing things I’ve done. Being a screw up can be a good thing sometimes…

I may post some pics or videos of the new place. Things are super crazy right now, and hopefully I’ll have a few fun announcements in another two or three weeks. We’ll see. Crossing my fingers and working like mad. Like I said, crazy right now.

No Credit Check Last Time

This move will be significantly easier than my last. Ha, It’s so amazing to think that my last move was from my office where I had been living for two months. I had to convince my current place not to pull my credit, and come up with $1000 absolutely last minute. Ahhh….this has been much easier. Granted, I did have to raid my personal emergency fund to come up with the first/last and deposit. That’s OK though, right now, I just need to focus on my work, and I’ll re-fund that fund when I get my deposit back.

Mattress Update

I went mattress shopping this weekend. Or rather, mattress looking.

I think “shopping” constitutes actually purchasing something. I did not. And I think I’m going to hold off. I was having a really hard time sleeping a few weeks back, but the past week hasn’t been too bad. I did get a foam mattress topper about a month ago. The issue on my current $30 craigslist mattress is that it is only a twin, and my legs stick over the edge if I stretch out. I just still can’t justify a new mattress….well, at least the one I really want.

Soon though. Hopefully soon.


Capitulation: Buzz Word Of The Week

October 9, 2008

Capitulation.

It’s a scary thing. Yet, all the wall streeter’s seem to want it to happen.

Here’s a good definition from Investopedia:

In the stock market, capitulation is associated with “giving up” any previous gains in stock price as investors sell equities in an effort to get out of the market and into less risky investments. True capitulation involves extremely high volume and sharp declines. It usually is indicated by panic selling.

After capitulation selling, it is thought that there are great bargains to be had. The belief is that everyone who wants to get out of a stock, for any reason (including forced selling due to margin calls), has sold. The price should then, theoretically, reverse or bounce off the lows. In other words, some investors believe that true capitulation is the sign of a bottom.

It’s actually a military term, originally. It refers to surrendering, or giving up.

My Own Capitulation

My own capitulation happened in January of 2007, not long before I started blogging here.

I had ran out of money, completely. finally. And I was ready to give up. Except, for me, giving up meant going back to my Mother to ask for more money (I had told her about my losses at this point, but not yet my Father).

It was one of the lowest, most shameful things I’ve ever done. I even threatened to skip town (I had been looking into fake id’s and everything).

I was, quite frankly, an ass.

That night, after my mother refused to give me any money (thankfully), I drove 3 hours down I-5 to Portland to confess to my father. It was the beginning of my complete transformation of how I related to money. It was also the start of my turnaround that I’m in the middle of right now.

It was my private capitulation.

I don’t think I’ve shared that story before. It’s not one I am proud of. But I remember that day like it was yesterday. And while things didn’t get easier, and there have been some rocky time, it was my bottom.

And when you’re at the bottom, the only way to go is up.


The last thing I need right now is a girlfriend

October 13, 2008

Grrr……is it so wrong to be OK with being single?

My gosh. I swear everyone and their mother is relationship crazy lately.

I’m 25. Not 35. Yes, I’ve been single for awhile now. And gosh darn, there are some pretty good reasons behind that.

I had a friend visiting me this weekend that like most of my friends has no clue about my debt issues. He’s a very loyal friend, but always wanting to help with any issues. Well….since I didn’t want to bring up my major (um, financial) ones, I basically over-emphasized my issues with women. Bad idea….

There are a few girls that I’ve kind of had my eye on for some time. But none of them seem remotely interested in me. And that’s fine!

Do you know the kind of struggle I would have spending time/money on a girlfriend right now? I have enough of a struggle just justifying purchasing a mattress….

At some point I will want to meet someone. She’ll understand and appreciate my story, my mistakes, my flaws, and my strengths.

I just don’t think that time is now.


Why finance is still “hot” a look at spendster and tip’d

October 14, 2008

I remember reading towards the end of 2007 how financial blogs were a bit on the way out.

Health blogs were going to be the new personal finance blogs.

Well, that proved a bit of a bust. Health and fitness blogs did grow in 2008, but personal finance is still where it’s at. Hands down. Just look at the growth of being frugal, get rich slowly, moolanomy, or any other quality finance blog.

Just to reinforce the point, I’ve gotten a number of emails from new startups in the financial arena. Being a sucker for new web things (especially in the finance arena), here’s a few to check out:

Spendster.org

Run by the National Endowment for Financial Education, spendster.org is place to share videos, and stories about the stupid purchases we’ve all made.

Hmmm….I really should make a video with that furby I still have somewhere…

Here’s an example of users showing the “stuff” they never should have bought.

Add Spendster to your page

Tipd.com

Launching today is a financially focused news site, tipd.com. It reminds me a ton of Pinyo’s pfbuzz.com. I like pfbuzz, and always find interesting stories there. I’ll keep my eye on tipd.com and knowing one of the founders, I expect to see a number of posts from other bloggers regarding tipd.com the rest of the week.


I Want A Kid

October 15, 2008

Well, not my own kid, but I do want to sponsor a kid from World Vision. Today is Blog Action Day, as I’m sure you’ve noticed across the “blogosphere” (nerd alert!). This year the focus in on poverty.

If you don’t already, consider sponsoring a child at World Vision.

Back in the day, and by that I mean last year, I had a number of readers want to donate to help me buy a fridge or a mattress. While I truly appreciate the gesture, there are so many children who are in much worse situations than I have ever, or likely ever will be in.

So, make a difference, get cool letters from your kid….sponsor.


What Is A Good Credit Score?

October 16, 2008

what is a good credit score? Your credit score can impact your life in several ways. If you maintain a high credit score, you can enjoy lower interest rates, access to increased levels of credit, and easy approval for apartments, mortgages, and other loans. By contrast, a low score can have the opposite effect. Interest rates that are offered to you will be higher. You may find it more difficult to gain access to personal credit. And getting approved for an apartment, mortgage, or a loan can prove challenging.

So, what is defined as a “good” credit score? The answer isn’t as simple as you may imagine (or hope). In this article, we’ll describe how scores are derived, defined, and perceived by lenders, landlords, and other business entities.

How Is A Credit Score Determined?

The most commonly used credit scores are FICO scores. They are calculated based upon 5 criteria. Your history of payments, the amount you currently owe, the age of your credit history, new credit accounts, and other factors all have an affect. Some factors (such as your payment history) are weighted more heavily than others (i.e. how much new credit you have). In the end, your score will be between 300 and 850.

It is important to note that your score fluctuates whenever the above factors change. If you max out your credit cards, your credit score will decline. If you significantly lower your credit card balances, your score will rise (other factors remaining the same).

Do You Have A Good Credit Score?

Most consumers’ FICO credit scores are between 600 and 750. These numbers require some explanation. First, most lenders consider any score above 700 to reflect good financial management. Credit scores below 600 suggest that a person has had trouble paying their bills or managing their credit in the past. The higher your score is, the less risk the lender perceives in offering you a loan.

If your credit score is above 700, you will enjoy lower rates, more credit, and greater availability of financial opportunities. Below 700, the picture becomes less clear because some lenders will be more forgiving than others. For example, assume that your credit score is 660. It’s far from perfect, but it’s certainly not catastrophic. You might have high balances on a number of credit cards, and may have even missed a payment. A mortgage lender may be wary of offering you a competitive rate for a 30-year prime loan. But, your bank may be more forgiving if you want to purchase a car.

Improving Your Credit Score Over Time

You won’t be able to hide your credit score from lenders, landlords, and banks. The good news is that you can raise it over time. Remember, your FICO score moves up and down, reflecting changes in the factors I’ve described above. If you establish a history of timely bill payments while reducing the amount of consumer credit you’re carrying, your score will gradually creep up. With diligence, it can climb past the vaunted 700 mark.

Credit scores are not complicated. But, unless your score is approaching 800, relying on a number to reflect your creditworthiness can oversimplify the picture. The important thing is that your score is largely within your control.


I probably need some cheese with all this whine…

October 19, 2008

This past week I’ve seriously just wanted to whine. So much so, if I we listening to myself I’d probably say,

“Hey, you want some cheese with that whine?”

Yeah, that’s how I joke. I know. It’s no wonder I have trouble with the ladies.

I’m just a little frustrated right now because I feel like I keep just talking about nothing with most of my newer friends lately. It’s starting to get old. It’s starting to get lonely. And I think I’m getting close to being done with it.

I rarely see my closest friend anymore, and she was my pretty much only person to vent to about all this crap. And now, with some really good things happening lately….I don’t have anyone here to tell that too.

Save my counselor guy of course. He is awesome, but I missed last week because it was just such a crazy week work wise and I needed to be in the office all week. I didn’t volunteer last week either.

Maybe that’s why I’m feeling out of sorts this weekend. I moved last week (ie, stress!). My old business is changing (more on that later in the week), I’m probably starting a sort of new half-time job next week (more on that later), and darn it, my old landlord still hasn’t gotten my deposit and 1/2 of last months rent back to me so I can finally buy a gosh-darn mattress where my frickin’ feet don’t hang over the edge.

Hmppmh.

OK, enough whining.

I have a business deal that if it closes next week (should…crossing fingers), I’m going to tell my one employee what’s really been going on with me for the past 2 years. He’s worked for me for over two years, and still (I think), has no clue that I was living in my office, lost my house, owe a 1/4 million dollars, etc, etc.

I think it will be a good thing. I have a new project I want to bring him in on, and it only will make sense if I explain my blog here. So, whew. This is going to be a big deal for me. Up to this point I’ve only told one friend about my whole mess. I would consider my employee a friend (in a business type manner), so this will be interesting.

I’m glad I’m reaching a place where I feel this to finally be the right move. I’m making alot of progress in my personal life, business life, professional life, debt life….and I almost feel comfortable saying, “hey, here’s what I’ve been up to the past few years. I mean REALLY up too…”

So, no more whining.

But thanks for listening blog : )


First IRS Payment Sent

October 23, 2008

So I sent off my first IRS payment today for $1000.

Yikes.

It feels good to finally start on the payment plan that I worked out with them a few months back. Plus, the $1000 was only for the first payment, going forward each month I only have to pay $600.

Only $600. Jeez.


Chuck Norris, hedge fund manager

October 24, 2008

I saw these on cnbc this morning and couldn’t help but share.

chucknorris I love Chuck Norris quotes, and with all the turmoil in the markets right now, I hope people get a chuckle out of them. If you’ve never traded or studied finance you might not get them all (I got probably 95%), but oh man, if you have, it’s great stuff. Photo Credit.

Some of my favorites:

Chuck Norris thinks 2 & 20 is soft.

Chuck Norris will sub-underwrite Iceland.

Chuck Norris rubs the VIX into his chest.

Chuck Norris will trade with any counter-party.

Chuck Norris takes Iron Ore as a vitamin supplement.

Chuck Norris thinks Credit Crunch is a breakfast cereal.

Chuck Norris’s subprime CDO is par bid.

Only Chuck Norris can rollover commercial paper.

Chuck Norris can borrow at the discount window.

Chuck Norris can sell $300 bln in high yield loans before lunch.

Chuck Norris’s curves are never inverted.

Chuck Norris doesn’t hedge. He waits.

Chuck Norris doesn’t mark to market. The market marks to Chuck Norris.

Hilarious!


Big Announcement: I Got A New Job

October 27, 2008

announcement

My readers who get my nearly never email alerts got a heads up on this, but for the blog, here’s the announcement I sent out earlier this morning…

I wanted to let you know early about a pretty big development for me. Sort of a thanks for letting me email you once in a while thing.

** New Job **

Tomorrow I start on staff, half-time, with the new leader in the social lending arena, Lending Club.

I’ve been writing for them and doing some general consulting for some time now, but as of tomorrow I’ll be officially on staff.

This is not a decision I came to easily, but I believe it to be a good one. I really enjoy the people I’ve met at Lending Club (they even flew me down about a month ago!).

I have not had a “w-2″ in many years. But I think it will be good for me. I will work remotely here in Seattle, but hopefully fly down to the valley from time to time.

**New Writer at Debtkid.com**

I’ve added a second writer to my blog. Why? Because I want visitors who come to my site (many of whom are in debt or trouble themselves) to have more quality posts on saving money, living frugally, and getting out of debt.

I don’t always have the time to write these types of posts and my best post ideas will continue to go to Lending Club’s blog. So Amy will be writing 2-3 times a week to help out with that type of content.

**Thank You**

I’m going to have a post about this sometime soon…but seriously thank you for reading and/or responding to my blog. It’s honestly been one of the best decisions I ever made (to write about my debt experiences). I never would have gotten this job at Lending Club (which, by the way, my salary just half-time is more than I pay myself currently).

So, thank you.

** The coming journey **

I feel I am at an important junction once again in my journey. Not a turning point, I think that happened earlier this year, but another important milestone.

My focus will now be doing my job as best as I can at Lending Club, as well as expanding my current business as prudently as possible.

I will also begin looking at which debts I can start to knock off from my master list.

My goal is to be debt free in 3 years or less. 100% debt free. No business debt. No mom debt. No student loans. Nothing.

I still have a very long way to go, but the journey is getting more exciting, and less terrifying.

Thanks for listening,

DebtKid
http://www.debtkid.com

So there you go. I’m super excited to be on board half-time with Lending Club (they did offer full-time, it was my choice to go 50%).

Lending Club just released their 10-day results since reopening, and the numbers are huge, especially considering that most states are not yet open (but should be soon!). Very cool.

My First Ever Trip To Silicon Valley

I got to meet the staff at Lending Club about 6 weeks ago (they flew me down, but I couldn’t write about it! It was difficult, let me tell you). I was very impressed, and a few things solidified my decision that this was a good move for me:

  1. Their office is frugal. They share space with other start-ups, and their snack area was a small fold-up table. Awesome. They really believe in smart finance.
  2. The CEO, Renaud is a darn good table tennis player. Being a former table tennis captain in high school, I was impressed.
  3. Renaud has invested $435,650 of his own personal money into peer to peer loans on the Lending Club platform. This was not pointed out to me, but something I discovered on my own when reading their S-1 filing (page 91). I’m surprised some of the larger tech bloggers didn’t see this. That’s no pocket change, and I think it shows his dedication and belief in the company.

Lastly, in regards to my blog here, you should know that this is my own personal (sometimes very personal!) space. My thoughts and words here are my own and not

Get The Inside Scoop

So, I don’t mail to my mailing list here much, but I probably will more going forward. So, if you want the occasional random thought from me, or heads up on any exciting news, you should sign up. I won’t mail more than once a week, if that. I think this last email was the first one in over a month.

I think I was calling it the “DebtKid Helper Army”, but I’m gonna change the name to the “Inside Scoop”.

Anyway, sign up below for the “DebtKid Inside Scoop”, 90% of the time, it won’t suck.

Name:
E-mail:

Getting Debt Free Today: Not Gonna Happen

October 29, 2008

I wish there was some magic wand I could waive and instantly be out of debt today.

Not gonna happen.

Things have stabilized quite a bit for me, and I think in another few weeks I’ll have a very good and pretty stable budget figured out both on the personal side (income from my new job), and with my business (of which I don’t have to pay myself out of any more).

But it’s still going to take time. Lots of time.

And that means I can’t continue to put my life on hold. I’ve really done that the last few years in terms of relationships. Not just romantically, but even friendships, I’ve very much pulled back. I’ve been trying to change that the last few months.

It’s going well. I’ve established a number of new guy friendships, and even had a few times with the ladies that could perhaps turn into something more. We’ll see. I’m at least open to it now.

I think the coolest thing about where I am at right now is that I can start really knocking down some of the debts. My IRS Debt is going to be a constant payment each month, $600. I sent the first $1000 check last week to begin the payment plan.

I currently have just over 6K in my debt destruction fund and I want to start utilizing that now that I feel a little more comfortable with my business cash flow.

How long do you think it will take me to get back to zero? Keep in mind, there is no option of “settling” any of the about 142K I owe my mum. Plus 30K or so in student loans (which are current now, been paying for a few months now). The other business debts are all way in collections, and that could be an option there. Plus investors I need to buy out of the business…oh dear (need about 70K for that….but doesn’t necessarily need to be done any time soon). That paragraph is depressing. Dear.

I’m still shooting for three years…


October 2008 Balance Sheet – Progress!

October 30, 2008

OK, a big thanks to Flexo. I took his income statement excel file and modified it a bit to work for me. This is a much better way to track my progress than what I had been using.

Wow, I didn’t realize how much stronger position I am in now than a year ago. I’m actually slightly impressed with myself. And that takes a lot. I’m definitely my biggest critic. So for a few moments here….yay me : ).

Commentary

  • My cash position is not nearly as strong as it looks, though it is improved. I have lots of bills (mom payment, salary on the 30th, rent payment, contractor expenses) due in the next 4-5 days. That number will drop dramatically.
  • My personal savings was down this month as I had a big negative cash flow expense when moving into my new place where I had to put down first, last + deposit.
  • The Xb asset value was calculated with a tool from edmonds. With the mileage on the car (55K), that looks about right. Still upside down on it…at least it gets great gas mileage.
  • The collections liability is an estimate, but a very darn close estimate. I haven’t received updated statements on some of the balances so exact figures were difficult. It’s very close though.
  • I added the shareholder equity. Why? Because at some point I need to buy out the investors in my old business. So, it’s a debt. Not a traditional debt. But it needs to be there for me to feel this is a complete picture of everything.
  • The Scion balance is not exact, but close to when I got a payoff amount from Toyota last month.

oct08balancesheet

If you see an error in the numbers or a miscalculation, please let me know. I know there are some formatting errors, but I’m not too concerned about those, I think it turned out pretty well.


Lose your home without losing your mind

November 3, 2008

Read here: Lose your home without losing your mind


Feeling Feisty Feeling Confident

November 7, 2008

wrote this wed. night, forgot to post…

Although I started this week with a nasty head cold, I’m starting to feel a bit better tonite. I had some twitter suggestions on getting over a cold ranging from tea to whisky. In the end I tried going for a late night run last night and that seemed to kick the cold out pretty well. My nose is still more of a faucet, but I’m feeling better overall.

I’m also feeling more confident than I have in a long time. It feels good.

Especially going into the holidays, its nice to be a stable. To have a little cusion. My family doesn’t spend much money wise for Christmas anymore. Which is nice. We made a conscious decision a few years ago to make the holidays just about spending time with one another vs. spending money on one another. It make the holidays way more fun, and virtually stress free. Which I appreciate.

I’m liking my new position at Lending Club. It’s a bit of a change having a boss, but so far so good. I still have half the week to focus on my own business stuff, and so far it’s working out well. Plus, I don’t have to pay for my own health insurance now, which is great. So, yay.


My New Mattress!

November 11, 2008

100_0418

Slept on it last night. It was amazing. It’s a Sealy Latex, Twin XL.

Thank God for the Twin XL. My feet don’t stick over now! I finally bit the bullet and got a decent mattress. I’ve think I’ve figured out why I have such a difficult time spending money on certain things, but more on that later.

I had been sleeping on a twin mattress (on the floor) that I got off craigslist last year for $30. This one was a bit more expensive (around $450), but I think its a good investment in me.

I feel blessed. A place to sleep and food. What more does a (debt) kid need? : ) : )

Well, about a quarter mil would do.


Confidence

November 17, 2008

I’ve had a number of situations lately where I’ve been meeting a lot of new people. This is both a good and bad thing for me. It’s good because it’s pushing me outside my comfort zone and it’s bad because it’s outside my comfort zone.

I’ve identified a few times when my confidence seems to absolutely shrink up, even though I know it really shouldn’t.

1. Talking about work – I often feel when people talk about work, they really just want to know what you do so they can figure out where you “rank” socially, and how much money you make. Both those are contentious issues for me.

I run a small business, I have a few part time employees. I made like 14K last month. None of those things are normal for a 25 year old. I realize that.

Now, combine that with the fact that I had a 300K debt hole. Do you see why work is exactly the last thing I want to talk about with people? Especially girls. My work implies that maybe I’m quite “successful” which, is sorta true I guess. Bottom line, with new people especially I don’t want to talk about anything job related because it gives people the wrong idea that I’m quite financially stable, when in reality, I am not. Whew, that got long.

2. talking to pretty girls – This definitely happened this weekend. I really think I go out of my way to sound as least impressive as possible when talking to a girl I find attractive that is new. This one I’m not quite as sure why I do.

My theory is that if I actually don’t downplay my strengths the girl might be interested in me. And since I could be interested in her, this creates the awkward tension of her believing I’m something I’m not. At some point maybe I will get over this, but at least this last weekend, it wasn’t happening yet. I also think part of it is that I just need more opportunities in situations like this : )


Time to buy a shack in the woods?

November 20, 2008

Wow, the dearth of bad news continues. The S&P 500 hit it’s lowest point in 11 and a half years.

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

Good news for homeowner’s facing foreclosure though, Fannie and Freddie are suspending evictions until after the holidays.

This is such a weird, almost twilight zone episode like time for me. I won’t lie, I stil keep on eye on the FOREX markets, and some of the moves lately….I’ve never seen before. Just incredible.


Routines

November 25, 2008

Life is full of patterns.

I start feeling anxious after about a week of not going for a run. I run for a few days, feel better than take a week off. I feel anxious again, so I run. Rinse and repeat.

I have a lot of trouble with some routines though. Particularly establishing healthy morning and evenings routines. As I write this at nearly 3am, I’m reinforcing my negative evening routine….working late on a computer with bright pixels that make it hard to fall asleep.

I’m not sure why mundane things are difficult for me. It’s been a problem for a few years now. I can come up with a great new business idea that adds a grand to my revenue each month, but for the life of me it takes me weeks to just think about doing my laundry. Or finish unpacking. Or organize things.

I’m just not good with dreary routines. Doing the dishes. Doing the laundry. Going to bed on time.

I’ve been working alot lately, and that is normal. But I’ve also found myself surprisingly bored the last few weeks. The truth is that right now…I have little drama. And little drama means little excitement. And that means little adrenaline.

I think I may be a bit of an adrenaline addict. It’s something that came up last week with my counselor. Learning to be ok with the slower parts of life…it’s difficult for me. I also want to be go, go, going. And slowing down is hard. I’m getting better at it, but I still have a ways to go.

And I’m still torn on weather I should slow down, or just go with how I feel….and that’s that I want to go, go, go. Maybe it’s just how I was born, why fight it?


Lessons on Money and Loss. Guest Post at Consumerism Commentary

November 26, 2008

I have a guest post up today over at Consumerism Commentary. Check out a pretty personal post about some of the lessons I’ve learned about money, investing, and loss.

Have a great thanksgiving all.

And stay home Friday. Enjoy time with the family. Spend your time….not your money!


November 2008 Balance Sheet – More Progress

December 2, 2008

Quite a bit happened for me in November. Pretty much all of it good. One of the main things I’m working on right now is reducing my business down to just a few core projects. I’m winding down one project that hasn’t really panned out, and I sold off my alpha project that was producing decent cashflow, but was really wearing on me.

Commentary

  • IRS balance is up even after my 2nd payment. I thought my payment plan included 940 taxes. Nope. Got a new notice on this and added the 2006 balance for those to the IRS row.
  • I emailed the large investor in my old business about buying him out of his stake in the company. I originally guessed 65K, but it will take 63K to do this. Hopefully I’ll be in a position to do this early next year. Investor seems OK with this. This would be a huge burden off my back. Like, super huge.
  • I invested a bit of money into my sharebuilderaccount. Apparently I’m a much better stock picker now that I’m a buy and holder ’cause my account was actually up a bit from earlier in November. I was very hesitant to make this move, but feel confident I will not return to any old bad, day-trading habits.
  • I’m now in a position to start making some settlement offers on that 86K number of old business debt. Over the next month or so I hope to severely knock that big number down.
  • I’ve dropped my salary to myself down to less than 20K a year. Now that I’m on staff at the peer to peer lending leader, Lending Club, I don’t need to draw as large a salary from my business at least right now.
  • I still have a long freakin’ way to go….

dec1balancesheet


Rebuilding My Credit Score Should Be Interesting

December 8, 2008

For quite awhile, especially right after my bankruptcy filing, I figured my credit score would be shot for life. I just kind of gave it up as something out of my control for the next few years.

Well, I’m changing my mind. I want to try and rebuild my credit score up to where it used to be. Somehow, even with my bankruptcy and the foreclosure (and short sale), my credit score has creeped back up quite a bit this year. I checked my score at the end of November:

myficoscore

As you can see, my Equifax score isn’t actually terrible at all. It’s not stellar, but it’s not terrible. My Experian is pretty bad, but all in all, I’m way up from the scores I saw last year (I pulled one time and was in the 400 level). I think all my late payments are now well behind me in my file. Also, I have no personal debt, so my credit ratio is good there. I think my score would continue to creep upwards if I just continued to do nothing.

But, looking at some personal goals for myself in the next year or two, I would like to try and purchase a house again at some point. I don’t believe that can happen for at least two years after bankruptcy, but that is only a year away at this point.

First Credit Cards After Bankruptcy

After I checked my above score, I did some research on rebuilder type credit cards. Just a personal note on me getting credit cards again. I don’t worry about this at all. I will only be using these for credit score purchases. I will not be buying stuff I don’t need, or putting money into a day trading account like I used to years ago. I’ve learned my lessons there.

Anyway, I applied for about 6 cards all at once. I didn’t receive instant decisions, but none declined me right away either.

I received my first two cards in the mail today. The first, a tribute gold mastercard. The second from HSBC Household bank. Both with whopping $300 credit limits! Whopee! Both have annual fees (lamo), but that seems standard for these credit rebuilding type cards.

Anyway, I’ll try and come back once a month and update this thread with a new score or two as well as any other actions I’ve taken to rebuild my score!


Why am I on edge?

December 8, 2008

I’ve been on edge again as of late. At least I now can recognize pretty easily what has me in a tizzy:

  1. No schedule – I hosted friends for 3 days this weekend. No alone time + watching every word I say = stress.
  2. No cash buffer – This one is a stretch, because I have a lot of cash in my debt destruction fund. But my business checking is very low right now (lots of account receivables at the moment!). I know money is coming, it’s just not there yet. And I get stressed when I see only 1,XXX in my account.
  3. No exercise – I just took care of this. But I hadn’t worked out in 6 days. No good. If I worked out every day like I should, that would help a ton.
  4. Slow business month – Business is slow so far this month. That stresses me out, even though I know it’s because it’s December, and it’s just a slow month.

In other words, I have explanations for everything that is stressing me out. But I still can’t seem to get over it all.

I’m sure I’ll feel better tomorrow.


Why I declined a 401K Plan

December 14, 2008

So, I’ve been reading a really fantastic personal finance book lately. I don’t usually read personal finance books, because, I don’t know, I feel like I get enough finance every day with the literally 100′s of blogs I subscribe too.

Anyway, I got this book from a publisher for free. I’m not sure if it’s been released yet, so I won’t reveal it yet, but it really spoke to me. Especially the entrepreneur part of me. Which is a big part of me, even though I have a half time job now.

It basically disses (that’s a word, right?) 401K’s the most of any financial instrument. And for me at least, I completely agree.

Why would I put money into the hands of someone else? So I can someday “retire” and THEN start enjoying life? Forget that.

I don’t get a match or anything in the 401K offered, and so I declined. Good move I think.


A perfectly frugal evening

December 16, 2008

Awhile back I found this thread on fatwallet about getting free movie passes to movie screenings. Being a sucker, I found a company that does screenings in Seattle and signed up for their newsletter. Turns out free movie screenings really are free and quite legit. You just gotta arrive a bit early to make sure you get in! (I was about 35 mins. early and got great seats).

Well, tonite I took my good friend to a free screening of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”. I actually had 4 tickets, but it was nice just the two of us anyway.

After the movie we stopped for Jr. Frosty’s at Wendy’s. I had a coupon book that I got around Halloween for a buck (with like 8 frosty coupons inside). So, I guess that was .25 there.

Total cost for the evening for two: $4.25  (parking was $4 downtown)

What a nice evening. Now I’m back at my computer and have some work to finish up, but it was a really nice frugal night. Goes to show that it’s not really the amount of money you spend, it’s what you do, and who you spend it with that matters!


Winter Wonderland

December 19, 2008

I love snow.

I know it’s a pain for alot of people, but I absolutely love it. It just makes everything so serene, so quiet, so beautiful.

seattlesnow

Here’s Pike St. in Seattle. Closed. (photo from flickr by moohaha)

I’ve lived in Seattle for about 5 winters now, and I think we’ve had real snow (a few inches or more vs. just a dusting) for 3 of those. Cool beans.

It’s been a really good week. I’m excited for Christmas. I’ll be heading down to Portland for about a week. I’ll still have to work, but I can work from down there. My family understands.

What else. Oh yeah, so my really close friend (the only friend who knows about my whole financial mess) and I have been hanging out again quite a bit. So, that has been nice to see her more.


Madre

December 19, 2008

I love my mother. She took care of me for more than 18 years and was more concerned about me than herself when I told her that I had wiped out her brokerage account with my day trading addiction.

She’s pretty much 99% of the reason It’s past midnite and I’m still up working.

Sure, I have a lot of debt to payoff. But it’s taking care of my mom that really motivates me. I lost my home. I had to declare bankruptcy at age 24. I’ve made a lot of mistakes. But the fact that I involved her money is what continues to haunt me.

But for not it’s mostly a good haunt. It wasn’t always. I still feel a ton of guilt, but it isn’t as bad as it used to be. Yeah, I screwed up big time. But I’ve been working my butt off, and I’m doing everything I can to get myself to a place to pay her back as quickly as possible.

The other part that of this whole mess of losing 150K of my Mom’s money is that my mother is sick. I don’t write about this much, because this site here is about my journey, not hers. But her illness is why I was put in charge of the account in the first place (at age 19). She has mental health issues. Her insurance is a ridiculous $500 a month. She works part time (which is good for her) just to pay her health insurance.

Anyway, my Mom is constantly on my mind through this whole mess for all those reasons listed above. I’ve been sending $800 a month lately home, but I want to get that number over a thousand a month in 2009.

And just in case you’re reading (you shouldn’t be! I asked you not too!):

I love you mom.


7 Year End Tax Tips For Small Business

December 22, 2008

As the end of the year approaches quickly, tax season is coming and faster. Here are some simple tips for preparing for taxes:

  1. Get up to date on all accounting.  If you’re behind on your books now is the time to get them up to speed.  If you don’t have a personal accountant and you’re a bit behind, you may want to hire one to take care of the detailed work for you.  This will save you a ton of time so you can focus on other important aspects of your business.
  2. Hold off on getting rid of assets.  If there is anything you’re looking to dispose of, such as old equipment, you will want to wait till the start of the New Year.  If you don’t your Capital Cost Allowance Claim will be reduced for the year.  Consider being a pack rat for the month of December and once January comes around – dump it all!
  3. Encourage clients to hold payments till January.  By deferring your customers to pay in January, you will avoid raising your income bracket.  All monies deferred to January will not be taxed until April of 2009.  A ton of money can be saved in taxes by simply differing payments.  You can also push charitable donations that were made at the beginning of 2008 back to 2007 to get higher deductions (you’ll need a receipt with a 2007 date).
  4. Spend money now.  This is the best time of year to buy those large items you’ve been holding off on.  As you know whatever you purchase will be logged as an expense which, in the end will be a deduction.  Take an inventory of what you have and what you could use for the next business year.  If you need supplies, equipment, travel plans and even bills due next year.  By spending more, you’ll save more!
  5. Take an inventory of losses.  Everything you purchased but cannot use may be categorized as a loss.  Damaged merchandise, items that you can’t use, a failed marketing expense can all be classified as “loss.”  Take advantage of every attempt you made in the last year that flopped.
  6. Make a charitable donation.  If you need to decrease your income, then give some money away.  You can donate to a number of charities or grant money to a local college student.  Whichever way you want to do it, you’ll save money on your bottom line.
  7. Add funds to your retirement plan.  Another great way to reduce your income is to place money in your retirement plan (401k, IRA, SEP and KEOGH).  This is a simple way to move your money around and help balance your budget for the end of the year taxes.

My first non-selfish Christmas in a long time

December 24, 2008

Last Christmas, I was still completely broke and every penny spent was full of guilt. Plus the shame of seeing some of my family and not being sure if they knew of my mistakes or not.

The Christmas before was spent checking my phone for forex and stock quotes while I traded the last few thousand dollars I had to my name.

The Christmas before that I think I lost like 30K over the week I was home.

In other words, my last few Christmas’ have completely sucked.

Why did they suck?

Well, because it was all about me. I was a selfish, self-absorbed, loser.

I’m being harsh, but it was true for the last few years.

This Christmas is my first “non-selfish” Christmas in a long time.

I spent money on gifts, and I don’t feel guilty about it. I’ve had a good last few months, and it was with my personal money (not business where I still have a ton of issues).

For the first time in a very long time….I’m not thinking about myself this Christmas. I’m enjoying time with my family, and laughing with my Mom as I type this in her home.

It’s been my best Christmas in a very long time.


I’m beating the S&P 500 by nearly 50% this year…

December 26, 2008

With my LendingClub.com account : )

If you haven’t become a Lending Club member yet, sign up now and get all setup for 2009!

Get started: HERE


I have to setup a dating fund!

December 31, 2008

So, a kind of big thing has happened to me in the past few weeks…

I’ve been dating someone!

It’s been amazing so far. I won’t go into too many details here…this isn’t a relationship blog. But I am really excited about it, and so far I think it’s going well.

But, I’ve established a mental “dating fund” in my mind. But how big (or small) should I make the fund?

My budget on the personal side is solid right now. Even after sending $800 a month to my Mom, I can still save around $500 a month if I want. (remember, besides my mom, all my debt now is just on the business side)

A few things to keep in mind:

  • She makes significantly less than I do
  • We are both pretty frugal people, don’t need $ to have a good time
  • We enjoy food (but made dinner together last night at home)
  • I like paying for her

So, what should my monthly dating budget be? $50? $100? $200?


DebtKid: The last 3 years in 17 posts

January 1, 2009

new17life

My blog timeline. Or these past 3 years in 17 posts…

17′ish Posts For 3 Crazy Years

  1. losing money like water, pre-blog
  2. realize out of money, hit rock bottom, tell parents
  3. Start writing at debtkid.com
  4. Home in foreclosure, no hot water, taking baths with a pot
  5. Living in my office, getting a bit crazy
  6. Get small apartment, working Friday nights
  7. Meet new girl, went on one date
  8. Filed for bankruptcy
  9. Bankruptcy discharged, a few months after fun 341 meeting
  10. $3000 payment debacle
  11. Feeling down about lots of things again…
  12. Start seeing counselor again
  13. Decide the last thing I need is a girl
  14. New job at lending club
  15. Financial situation stabilizing
  16. Girlfriend: )
  17. Still in a big hole…

I had fun putting this together. One thing with the chart I noticed is that I typically have had bad summers. I would say the past three I’ve been down pretty low. I’m hoping to avoid that this year.

My blog here is almost 2 years old. Craziness. I originally just starting writing to process my own thoughts and keep myself accountable. While those two goals are still the main focus, I’ve met a lot of great people because of this site, and it has opened many doors for me.


2008 End of Year NetWorth Update: ($288,288)

January 2, 2009

Balance sheet as of Jan 1, 2008.eoy2008balance


eHarmony’s free communication weekend going on now

January 2, 2009


So, now that I have a girlfriend, I figure I should share the love, right?

Anyway, eHarmony has a free communication weekend that started yesterday and goes until the 4th.

New year, new love maybe? My Dad met his wife online, so I won’t be a hater and say something lame about online dating. The reality is that in today’s world, it’s not a bad way to meet someone.

Get started here.


My Big Hairy Goal for 2009

January 7, 2009

My Big Hairy Goal for 2009…

Improve my net worth by 200K

Money Goals

  • Max out $12,000 in payback to Mother
  • Pay off IRS Debt ($30,000)
  • Pay off car ($10,500)
  • Settle old business debts (86,000)
  • Save $70,000 for house down payment (20% of 350,000)
  • Buyout old investors in my corp ($63,000)
  • Large emergency fund ($20,000)
  • Hire part-time employee to full-time ($55,000/yr)

Personal Goals

  • Get Private Pilot’s License
  • Develop long term romantic relationship
  • Bench Press 225 (1 rep)
  • Take (1) 7 day vacation somewhere exotic and relaxing
  • Take (5) 3 day mini-frugal getaways

I’m feeling ambitious right now. The last few months of 2008 went well, and I don’t see any reason I can’t continue that success into this year.

I have other personal goals as well not listed, but those are just for me.

What’s your big hairy goal for 2009?


Heading to Vegas plus some Saturday thoughts

January 10, 2009

The last few weeks have been a bit crazy. Lot of fun Lending Club work. Lots of just ‘life’ stuff (Christmas, New Years, new girlfriend, etc).

vegasAnd now I’m heading to Vegas!

I’m super excited. I know Vegas is supposed to be this crazy, intense experience. But really, I’m just hoping for a nice relaxing time to work, network and learn how to do my job better. Lending Club is sending me since one of my duties lately has been working with their affiliate program at commission junction.

I leave tomorrow and get back Wednesday morning.

Sometimes I feel way older than I am. I look at some of my friends (many who are older than my 25 year old self), and just feel old. Maybe it’s just me, and I think that it is, but I’ve always gotten along well with people older than myself. Most of my friends are my age, or older, but what I’m saying is that I often really relate to that 40-year that works in some corporate job.

Which is weird, because I work from home in a very non-corporate job, 1/2 time working for myself and 1/2 for a hot startup. So how do I relate?

I think it’s that I really love working. I love creating new things, building a product or service and making money from it. Sitting in front of my computer all day on the phone or web does get tedious…but I love it. Maybe I just don’t know anything else, but I really like working.

Which is good….because it’s going to take a freakin’ monster year

for me to hit my goals for 2009.

I told my employee this week about this blog. It actually wasn’t much of an event at all. I was surprisingly very underwhelmed by his response. It was nice. When I told my closer friend about a year and a half ago, she was the first one outside my family to know how bad I had screwed up. And it was a huge deal. This time, it was big, but it really wasn’t hard at all for me once I started explaining things. He was just really excited about how I laid out my plan for our business the rest of the year. I was fun, actually.

Does this mean I’ll be sharing more of my story in real life? No, I actually thought it might make me think that. But it did the opposite. It showed me that people care more about the present and the future, not the past. Especially not MY past. I know I care WAY more about my past than anyone else will. Especially anyone that cares about me.

Wow, this is a really rant of a post.

Anyway, back to Vegas. If you’re at ASW this next week and want to meetup, hit me up on twitter, and we should meetup. I’m meeting with a few other financial bloggers, which should be a ton of fun. Maybe I’ll even post some pics.

See ya next week. Vegas baby!

photo credit


Living For Now Without Sacrificing The Future

January 16, 2009

Do you have goals?

Of course you have goals. Do those goals prevent you from enjoying the present?

For the last few years, all I’ve been saying to myself is, “When this happens, then I’ll start living my life”

I’ve been up. I’ve been down. And I’m done always thinking about the future. Yes, I have a ton of things to still work out in my life. But you know what? I’ve been working my butt off the last year, and gosh darn it, I’m not going to let my life pass me by.

So, I’m enjoying things (even simple things) in the here and now. Watching TV. Dinner with my girlfriend. Typing. Reading. Peeing. Whatever.

I’m slowing down and saying, “I’m living for the here and now”

Now, that doesn’t mean I’m blowing my budget or doing anything crazy stupid like that. But I’ve stopped saying, “Well, once I’m out of debt, then I can love” or “Well, once I’m debt free, then I can make a difference”

Anyone have any tips for living in the now without sacrificing the future?


Missing My Office

January 20, 2009

While I definitely don’t miss living in my office by any means, lately I’ve been missing my office to work in.

I’ve totally gotten used to working from home, and I know it saves me a chunk of money. But does it really? I feel I’m not as productive as I used to be when I had an office to go into each day.

I used to even wear a dress shirt and tie to the office each day to really get in the business or sales mood. It totally worked. Now, I’m wearing jeans and the same shirt I wore yesterday.

Well, I AM still productive. Maybe it’s just a mental thing. I don’t feel like a business person. The whole, “Act as if” thing…you know?

My lease is up in 2 months on my current place (I only had to do a 6 month), and maybe I’ll look at getting a smaller place to live in, and adding back in a small office. We’ll see.


Repairing my credit won’t be easy

January 21, 2009

One of my goals this year is to again try and buy a house. It will probably end up being a small place for my mother, but don’t tell her that yet!

My Current Credit Scores

To hit that goal, I need to have much better credit scores. I pulled my 3 scores from MyFico yesterday and the results aren’t pretty.

TransUnion: 518

Experian: 578

Equifax: 610

Rebuilder Credit Cards

I got approved and received my first two credit cards since my bankruptcy about a month ago. I got my first statements this week, and so far everything looks good. The credit limits are terrible ($300 and $600), but hey, it’s a start.

Rebuilding my active credit and building more available credit will help raise my score back up to the 700′s where it used to be before I went and screwed it all up

Started with Lexington Law

I approached a company I’ve seen advertise all over the place, Lexington Law, to see if they would be willing to offer their services to me for free in exchange for me writing about my experience. Well, they agreed and I got signed up with them yesterday.

I called into their office over the phone, and the whole process took about 15 minutes total to get setup. I already knew pretty much how they work, so I didn’t have many questions. The two guys that helped me (Jake and someone else), were very friendly.

You can find out more about credit repair from Lexington Law’s website here.

A good credit score is important to me againimportant

For future business ideas, for low auto loans, for buying a house…a good credit score is important. I used to think I’d always be a cash person from here on out. But I trust myself now to wisely use any credit I might get in the future. No more day trading, none of that crap.

Getting my credit back on track is just one part of a long journey here.


The #1 Reason You Can’t Get Out of Debt

January 26, 2009

 

The number one reason you can’t get out of debt is because you don’t want it bad enough.

Until getting out of debt is more important than:

  • That $4 latte
  • Those new running shoes
  • Happy hour with your friends
  • Netflix

you’re going to struggle.

Until you are willing to work 3 part time jobs, it’s not going to happen.

If you are not truly, 100% devoted to getting out of debt….it won’t happen. Until that shift in your brain happens, you’ll continue to fight yourself. You’ll be swimming upstream.debt and brain

Your brain is the most powerful tool you have to eliminate debt.

It’s only in the last year that I’ve realized how powerful your internal thought process is to getting out of debt, or becoming more financially stable.

Before you can be successful in cutting expenses or increasing your income, your mind has to be in the right place.

Getting out of debt requires sacrifice, but if your mind is right, those sacrifices become almost enjoyable, instead of unbearable.

Sound a little tough? Well, no one said getting out of debt would be easy. If it was, everyone would be debt free. And that certainly is not the case.

Right now, I’m still in debt. Do I want to be? Of course not. That’s why I’m working two jobs (my own business plus Lending Club). That’s why I’m learning to cook more. That’s why I play board games instead of drinking games. I want it more than just about anything.

Is desire the #1 reason you can’t get out of debt?


Making Lots of Money? It’s Time To Shut Your Trap

January 28, 2009

Are you making tons of money right now?

If so, It’s time to shut your mouth about it.shuttrap

That’s great that you are thriving right now. It really is. But with tens of thousands of fellow citizens losing their jobs every day, now is not the time to brag about how well you are doing.

On that note…this month will be the last detailed balance sheet I do. I’ll keep it for myself, but I’m not going to be posting it here anymore. The truth is that my business is doing ok, and showing that off is not why I write here.

I write here to keep myself accountable. To share my thoughts and experiences. Not to show off how much money I am making. I’ll show off my debts, and how I’m paying them down. But I see no reason to keep posting accounts receivable numbers going forward. It’s just not appropriate in this environment, and I can keep tabs on my own without sharing those numbers here. If something really big ever happened (lottery win! just kidding. I don’t play the lottery), of course I would share that, but even then I want to avoid numbers or gloating.

Does buying a new fancy car right now make you a jerk?

Are you offended when people “show off” when so many are out of work, losing their homes, etc?

For any well off readers, do you think twice about getting a new fancy car because of the economy? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Get Stuck Or Die Trying

January 30, 2009

Are you stuck in a situation? Really, truly stuck?getstuck

When you are “stuck” in a situation, you have to deal with it. You have to face it. Confront it. And hopefully, overcome it.

You don’t have a choice when you are stuck.

I’m stuck right now. I have been for the past few years. I’m stuck in a big debt hole. And you know what?

I’m glad I’m stuck.

Why? Because I don’t have choices. And sometimes NOT having choices is the most freeing option in the world.

I don’t have the option to fail. I don’t have the option to not succeed. To me, those are not options and so I do everything I can do avoid them.

Quit Whining and Get Stuck

My friends are constantly whining, bickering, and complaining about everything in their lives. They don’t like their jobs. They don’t like the weather, they don’t like this, they don’t like that.

And to them I say, “get stuck”. Get “stuck” so that every fiber in your being, and every action you take, brings you one step closer to getting unstuck.

I swear so many people choose, literally choose complacency, solely because they have that option. They don’t have a 300K debt over their head. They scrape by, so why ever try to really get ahead? They have to option to be complacent and just accept what comes their way.

What if complacency were not an option for you?

Frack that. It’s time to get stuck

  • Get “stuck” pretending you have an extra $200 bill due each month (and put that into savings)
  • Get “stuck” working on a business on the side (so you can eventually leave that job you hate)
  • Get “stuck” acting like you only have a year left to live (so you start living today)
  • Get “stuck” pretending you live on a $25,000/year salary when you make 40K a year
  • Get “stuck”……..(fill in what you need to do here to get what you really desire….now do it)

How are you “stuck” and what are you doing to get unstuck?


January 2009 Balance Sheet

February 2, 2009

Not much to comment on this month. Going forward I’ll just be posting the Liabilities side. I’ll still keep tracking everything, but not posting that top portion here. Anyway, I’ve had a good last few months business wise and February looks like we should keep about the same pace. I read the “E-myth” about 3 months ago, and it’s seriously helped me tremendously. I used to think my development business would always be stuck in the under 20K zone, but I think I may be able to break out of that this year because of what I learned from the book.

So what is up for February? Well, for one, I’m hoping to be able to eliminate a large line item on the liabilities section…the Shareholder item. Assuming everything goes according to plan, that will go away sometime towards the end of the month or early in March. This is going to be a HUGE relief for me. It’s a family friend, who never knew about all the stupid stuff I did. Buying him out is the first major step in me making things right with other peoples money. My Mom and other creditors being the next major ones. Anyway, I’m excited about this.

Observations

  • Networth increases (or is it decreases when you are negative?) over 5%.
  • Made extra student loan payments
  • Made 2 IRS payments ($1200 total)
  • Stock holdings got killed (No more money going towards that….)
  • Need to make 2 car payments this week

balancesheetfeb2


Why Budgets Don’t Work For Everyone (Guest Post)

February 3, 2009

If you are searching for advice on how to better manage your personal finances you are in luck, there is a plethora of information available on various media outlets.

When it comes to personal finance there is one word that is mentioned in almost every piece of advice: the importance of having a household budget.  Taking that one step farther there is software available to help you manage the family money as well as forms that are available to download onto your computer to help you track your spending.  With all these tools readily available it would seem that everyone would find making and following a budget a piece of cake, yet that is not the case.

When it comes right down to it there are some people that simply do not feel comfortable conforming to the rules that budgeting imposes on your spending.  If you find yourself having trouble adhering to your budget you may want to consider thinking of it in different terms.

Is your budget useless?

Budgets can be vital tool in helping you track your spending and manage your money but only if you have a budget in place that is reasonable and relatively simple to follow.  One of the biggest budget blunders occurs when you make you budget according to how you would likeyour finances to be instead of how your finances are in real life.

You would be surprised how many people cheat on their own budget, excluding expenses that they are fully aware they are likely to incur in order to make the numbers work.  Budgets work because they establish guidelines and restrictions on how and where you spend your money, if you try to work backwards and make your budget “fit” your spending habits you will likely find the numbers will never add up.

Consider a spending plan.

If you find the restraints of a “budget” are too confining you may want to consider developing a spending plan.

A spending plan is very similar to having a budget however the two have distinct philosophies and function differently.  For some people the word budget automatically conjures up images of depriving yourself of things your want and restricting your spending.  While this is a good thing for people who are living beyond their means there are still people who work hard and live within their means and the thought of not buying something they can afford because it is not included on the budget rubs them the wrong way.  In general a budget tells you how you are going to live your life where a spending plan allows you to work toward the life you want to live.  The goal remains the same; to control overspending and meet financial goals however the slight change in words can have a huge impact on how some people perceive the two strategies.

Establishing a spending plan is very similar to making a budget in that you look at your expected income and expected expenses; the difference basically being that instead of having to fall within x amount of dollars in each category you set a goal for what you would like to spend in that category.  When you have finished your list you can see how your income lines up with your expenses and make adjustments accordingly.

Choose the process that works for you.

The most important thing about having either a budget or spending plan is finding the process that works best for you and your family.  It stands to reason if following a “budget” doesn’t work for you then by all means try a spending plan.  The difference may be minuscule but if changing the definition of the process and the philosophy behind it allows you to better track and manage your finances then you have reached your goal.

Trisha Wagner is a freelance writer for DepositAccounts.com, where you can compare rates from dozens of banks in one place. Trisha writes regularly on the topics of personal finance and saving money.


Option ARM’s Resetting: Is This Final Straw?

February 5, 2009

I really am not one to give predictions….but I’ve been following the Option ARM news for some time…and it’s darn scary.

If you don’t already know, the Option ARM was a fancy mortgage that allowed borrowers to pick their payment each month. Typically the options were: negative am

I subscribe to Dr. Housing Bubble Blog. Hands down he has the best analysis on the housing market. Tons of data. Lots of charts.

To me, this isn’t “doom and gloom” its just the facts. Look at this from the latest post on options arms:

from Dr. Housing Bubble Blog….

Payment Increase

We’ve only started the first round and it is game over.  In total approximately $750 billion of option ARMs were originated from 2004 to 2007.  What is even more troubling is that 55% of borrowers with option ARMsowe more than their actual home is worth.  And this data is conservative since it comes from the banking sector which didn’t even see the recession coming even while they were standing knee deep in it.

Now here is where the data becomes more recent.  As of December of 2008, a stunning 28% of option ARMs were delinquent or in some stage of foreclosure.  We haven’t even seen the major recasts and already over 1 in 4 of these loans is imploding.  Can you say subprime redux?

This is just crazy. You should read the post for yourself, but it looks like we are in for another HUGE way of home foreclosures in the coming 2 years.


Still not quite ready to share all of this

February 9, 2009

I had a nice weekend. I attended a retreat up in the mountains and it was a great time to get away from technology for a few days and just enjoy nature.

I met a lot of new people and my old confidence issues while still being present, are becoming less and less of an issue which is great. That being said…I’m still not ready to share all my story here with a lot of my friends. I think it comes down to the fact that at this point…I kind of just want to wait until maybe I’m debt free to share it all. I’m not in huge turmoil at all anymore, and there is nothing any of my friends could do, except worry.

At some point I’ll probably say hey, you should go check out this website (ie, this one). I think you might be interested in the story there.

But not yet. Just not quite yet.


I want to be out of debt now

February 13, 2009

I know I’ve written this before….but I’m so sick of my past right now. It’s so frustrating to see opportunities and just have to sit on my hands because I have debts to pay off.

It’s frustrating to see a great little house I could totally buy right now if my credit wasn’t trashed and I didn’t still owe my mother half a house in cash.

And so I’ll just keep pressing. Plugging away.

I just wish I could speed time up a year. Or even just a few months. I’m sure other people feel like this sometime.

I am enjoying my life right now. Things with my girl are awesome, and I’m super excited for our Valentines day together (we’re taking a short ferry ride and then exploring….but shhhh!). I have food. I have shelter.

I really have no honest to goodness real complaints except that every fiber of me wants to no longer be debtkid.

: )


Goodbye Experian FICO Score. Nice Knowing Ya

February 13, 2009

I had to say “goodbye” to a dear old friend today:

My Experian credit score.

After today, Feb. 13th, FRIDAY the 13th mind you, consumers will no longer be able to access their Experian FICO score.

It’s really a shame. Lenders and commercial businesses will still be able to access the scores, but not consumers through myfico. Lame. Lame. Lame.

I understand Experian wants to establish their own “FICO” brand…..the “vantage score”. But really Experian?

I updated my own scores at MyFico today. Made some decent progress across the board actually. My two bad credit credit-cards are reporting now which I think is starting to help my scores. It will be a while, maybe never before I hit the 700′s again, but I’m gonna keep trying. As I’ve said before, I like numbers going up in my life (subscribers, bank accounts, fico scores!).

It was nice knowing ya Experian.

latest credit scores


How To Greatly Improve Your Blog

February 16, 2009

bloglogo I know some readers here have their own blogs. I often have fun looking at the sites of some of the readers here.

If you have your own blog, listen up.

My pal Pinyo (he runs Moolanomy and Blogthority) is offering a killer deal for blog owners.

A comprehensive, personalized blog optimization report.

Look at a sample report on the sales page. It’s good stuff. For the new or intermediate blogger, it’s hands down a great deal. Even for more experienced bloggers, I’m sure you’ll get a good nugget or two that’s easily worth triple the price Pinyo is charging for this report.

I told him to charge $99 or more for this report.

He didn’t listen to me.

And so you can get it for $49.99.

Plus, if you use this code: DK4716

You will save $10.

–> Sign up here.


Finally got an accountant…should have done this a year ago

February 17, 2009

I finally got setup with an accountant here in the Seattle area.

Wish I had done this a year ago.

The good news is that I’ve actually been doing fine in terms of doing the corporate taxes and bookkeeping for the past few years. I’m going to have someone else handle most of that going forward though.

The really good news is that I probably screwed myself in terms of my IRS debt. Wait, that doesn’t sound good, now does it?

It turns out that because my business was operating at a loss the first few years, I didn’t need to pay myself the salary that I was. In fact, I should have had to pay any payroll taxes at all. And yet because I didn’t know this, I setup a payment plan with the IRS regarding these taxes.

I’m going to file some amended 940/941 returns and with the CPA’s help present those to the IRS and hopefully get the amount I owe them significantly reduced, if not even get some money back.

I’ve learned my lesson.

When people say, “talk to your accountant”…..

LISTEN!


Responding To Adversity

February 24, 2009

Yesterday:

  • I thought my business account overdrafted (a check cleared very late)
  • The worst host ever failed (and is still failing today)
  • I got a speeding ticket

Now, none of those events are life shattering. Or even all that terrible, but the combination of them turned me into an angry monster yesterday. I seriously stayed indoors in fear that if I was let out into the world I might rip some pour soul to shreds.

OK, I joke. But I was angry.

Now fast forward to today. I’ve moved hosts, but still cannot access my old files (I hate you dreamhost!). So, this blog is a mess. It should get cleaned up in a few days, but we shall see.

So how do I respond to all this?

Well I vented with my girlfriend. That helped. But now I am back to work. All of those events above were essentially my fault. I knew my biz account was close to zero, but I choose to risk it (it didn’t end up overdrafting). I speed to get home from volunteering downtown to fix my host issues and got a ticket. Again, my bad. It’s even partially my fault that I stayed with dreamhost so long, I knew they sucked, yet “risked” staying with them until they really died.


Get Out Of Debt Podcast

February 24, 2009

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/frugalcoast2coast/2009/02/24/getting-out-of-debt

Struggling with debt? Listen to the above interview from my pal Lynnae of Being Frugal with JD Roth of Get Rich Slowly.

I met with JD down in Portland awhile back. He was a super nice guy and his writing is awesome.

Maybe someday I’ll be on a show like this! Today I paid off my past state taxes (nearly 2K) as well as made 3 car payments. So, things are moving along…


I miss WallStrip

February 25, 2009

If you never watched Wallstrip last year, and you’re a fan of investing, you really missed something special.

Wallstrip was a video blog that focused usually on a specific stock or issue. It covered the Apple iPhone, the auto bailout, and plenty of other high flying stocks and topics.

Wallstrip was acquired by CBS (for a rumored cool 5 million) in May of 2007 when stocks were still going strong and a “TARP” was still a plastic cover.

Things have changed. 401K’s have been ripped to shreds. My Dad says he “plans on working until he is 90″. He was only slightly joking.

Wallstrip was probably never profitable. CBS has scrapped the regular schedule of Wallstrip.

Even though I’m not a traditional investor any longer, I love following the markets. I also think there are new and more exciting ways to “invest” than ever before, ala Lending Club.

I’d actually love to do a video blog like Wallstrip. I’d probably do more of a layman’s approach to investing. I’d look for ideas outside the “buy and hold” box that we are told over and over again. I’m big fans of both Howard Lindzon’s blog as well as Fred Wilson’s VC blog, and they were both involved with Wallstrip.

Any other Wallstrip fans missing new episodes?


High Yield Savings Is Dead

February 26, 2009

The online savings account is dead.

Where are people supposed to put their money right now and earn a decent return? The stock market? Good luck with that. Might as well put it all on red.

The so called “high-yield” savings accounts are anything but. The banks are desperate for deposits to shore up their balance sheets, yet rates keep dropping faster than condo prices in Miami.

I have a business account with ING Direct that’s earning….wait for it….1.7%. I hardly call that “earning” anything. There are higher rates out there of course, especially for personal accounts, but they still suck.

I setup a 2nd account (you can have two max) as a business account at Lending Club. I’m going to start moving some of my savings into notes there.

I’m not the only one starting to see the value of Lending Club as a replacement for CD’s and online savings accounts. BankVibe sees social lending as an alternative to to bank CD’s.

So goodbye “high yield” accounts. You’re dead to me.


Debt Paid Down Last Month: $4,126

March 2, 2009

  • 2147 – Old State Tax Debt
  • 800 – Mom Trading Debt
  • 849 – Reduced Car Principle
  • 330 – Student Loans

Total: $4,126

February was a good month for me financially. Heck it was a good month for me personally as well (things with girlfriend going great).

I really love getting to knock rows from my balance sheet! The feeling I get from mailing off a big check is wonderful. I always feel lighter after I do it.

How much debt did you pay off last month? (feel free to share in the comments section)


Kiva in the US?

March 6, 2009

My part time employee walked in this morning and informed me he had just heard the Kiva CEO on NPR that morning.

According to my guy, Kiva is thinking of coming into the US market. I’m not sure how this would work in the US, given their non-profitness…but it could be good for the p2p niche as a whole.

Did anyone else hear this on NPR? How would their model work in the US as a non-profit? Would they just do larger subsidized loans?


“Are you having any fun?” “Yes, I love my work”

March 12, 2009

I really am enjoying what I’m doing in both my business and with my part time gig at Lending Club. I seriously feel like I have the best “job” of all of my peers. And most of the time they think so as well.

But damn, I’ve worked my butt off these last two years to get to a point to where I really enjoy what I do for a living. And to be able to have flexibility there as well.

I was travelling on a train this week for work, and an older lady (who probably overhead two business calls I was on, as well as my furious keyboard typing) asked,

“Are you having any fun”

To which I replied, “Yes, I actually really like my work”

We ended up chatting a bit later and she explained that she and her husband and sold a insurance agency that they built up a few years back and are now retired. She looked in her mid-40′s at most.

That’s so cool. I don’t know what it is about entreprenuership, but to me, it really seems like the best way to build wealth, you know? I know it’s not for everyone, but I just can’t get over how much more I’d rather invest in myself and my business than invest in stocks. I just doesn’t make sense to me.


I get so much done when I travel

March 13, 2009

I really should travel more often. I get so much done on trains and planes. Not so much automobiles….maybe if I had a driver.

I really love traveling, but I miss my girlfriend now when I travel, and since she can’t usually come with me (on business trips) that isn’t so fun. Other than that though, I love travel.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t have an apartment to pay for each month. I could take what I pay in rent and really travel around cheaply for just about the same price. I could probably spend two months in a cheaper country (Thailand or Argentina) and still end up just about even including airfare. Crazy.

Settle down or go more mobile?

I’m so torn between liking the stability of being “settled” and longing for the adventure of travel and a mobile lifestyle. I can pretty much work from anywhere now and still manage my one employee in Seattle. It’s very tempting. After pretty much having my head down for the last two years working like crazy in one spot, the idea of a new locations is very desirable. I always get new ideas and new inspiration when I travel as well.

But, travel costs money. And I’m trying to limit all of my expenditures as much as possible so I can try and clear my liabilities as quickly as possible. It’s always a trade off, and sometimes a difficult balance. Do I invest in myself a bit in hopes that I make back that investment 10 times. Or do I take cash and pay down say more of what I owe my mother now. She is in no rush for me to pay her back, but I’d like to develop a 3-5 year repayment plan of the remaining 138K I owe. I think this is doable.


How much is my small business worth?

March 17, 2009

I remember in college, in a business finance class, we did calculations on how to value a business.

They made it seem so stinking easy in that darn class. Take the net present value of future cash flows at a certain discount rate and viola! A nice tidy business valuation.

The reality is that a business, especially a small business, is incredibly difficult to value and that it is really only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

I’ve been thinking about this a bit lately because at some point, when doing my balance sheet, I need to come up with a valuation for my small business. I’ve really worked hard on working myself out of the business as much as possible the last 6 months and it’s getting to a point where I could really have one person run it and not really be involved at all. Which is great, because one of thing that kills small business valuations the most is that the equity and value in the business is all tied up in the owner.

So, at some point I will add a line on my balance sheet for my business. It just doesn’t seem to make sense not too anymore.

Someday I think I’d love to buy undervalued businesses and try and flip them like houses. I think that could be really a ton of fun. But that is a ways off.


Going From Broke To Blessed

March 23, 2009

I’ve had a strange last few years.

It’s funny. I was visiting some good friends out of town this weekend and they were talking about their, “five year plan”

Holy smokes! Five year plan? I used to have trouble making a 5 day plan, let alone five year plan!

I’ve gotten better as my financial situation has stabilized. But I still only have about a 5 month plan.

5 years is still too much for me. Too much can change.

Heck, look just at my last 12 months (or look about 20 months ago, living in my office). My bankruptcy got discharged just about a year ago. Honestly, and I’ve said this before, I sometimes forget that I even filed bankruptcy. In light of everything else, it actually ended up being a pretty minor event for me.

I am blessed. I highly doubt many people can say that bankruptcy ended up being a minor event for them. I suppose everything leading up to that was not pleasant or minor….but still. My hard work and determination have paid off.

I refuse to let my past mistakes dictate my future. In fact, my mistakes have led to a number of good things now. My job at Lending Club, my blogger pals, even my wonderful girlfriend. None of those good things would have come about if I hadn’t made so many mistakes.

2 years ago I was completely broke. Living in a house that was headed to foreclosure. No hot water if I remember right about this time. I’d have to go check the archives.

I’m so very glad that I started writing here. This has been my little world of safety and saneness in a rather whirlwind of a few years.

From broke to blessed, I’ve been keeping track of it all here. I feel that the future is bright, and I look forward to sharing it with you.

So if you’re new, please subscribe by clicking here.


What is a Self Directed IRA?

March 25, 2009

I’ve been looking into IRAs recently just for future savings purposes. I used to be completely confused, but now I’m starting to grasp all the different IRA flavors.

So, what’s a Self Directed IRA?

A self directed IRA allows you to invest in assets beyond just stocks and ETFs. You could open a Self Directed IRA to invest in a franchise, or a partnership, even buy real estate. The possibilities are pretty close to endless with a Self Directed IRA.

Contribution limits are the same as a Traditional IRA or a Roth IRA: $5000 for 2008 ($6000 if you are old. 50+)

Lending Club now open for Self Directed IRA Investing

My part time employer Lending Club announced a new Self Directed IRA investment option today in partnership with EntrustCAMA.

Here is the press release.

Should I open an IRA before April 15th?

I’m looking at a nearly $9,000 personal tax bill for 2008. I’ll be able to pay it…but I’d love to reduce the number a bit. I took the standard deduction, no other fancy pants stuff there. But when I input a $5000 contribution to a Traditional IRA (which is how I would setup a Self-Directed IRA), my tax liability drops to around $7800 using turbo tax online.

That’s $1200 I would save by funding a $5K account at Lending Club.

That’s sounds super darn tempting. I need to talk to my accountant first, but I think this might be a good move for me on the personal side (remember, my only debt now on the personal side is my mother and student loans).

Does anyone else have a Self Directed IRA? How do you use yours?


Would you burn your car to get out of a loan?

March 30, 2009

Can’t make your car payment?

Burn it.

No, not the loan statement…..the car.

I read an interesting piece in the wall street journal today about the rise of Insurance Fraud as more and more police are finding burned or abandoned cars in Las Vegas.

Wow.

This is bad. Very bad. If you can’t afford your car anymore…you don’t deserve the car. Work out a payment plan with car maker…most companies really, really, don’t want to repossess your car. It’s costly for them, sometimes a legal liability, and they don’t want your car. So, get on the phone and work something out.

Don’t go all felon and start burning stuff up. That really can’t be good on mother nature either.

Look, your credit score is important. But it’s not worth committing a crime to keep intact. If you lose the car and it gets repossessed your credit is going to take a hit.

Big deal, you should probably be paying cash for stuff anyway.


Time To Man Up

April 1, 2009

Lately I’ve been complaining.

Complaining to my girlfriend, complaining to my friends, complaining to my family….blah, blah, blah.

If I were someone listening to me lately I would say, “Would you like some cheese with that whine?”

I didn’t feel well. Business was down a bit last week. Whine. Complain. Whine.

Well, I’m done. 99% of the time I’m a pretty positive person. If you read most of my posts here I think you’ll see I’m most of the time positive to the too far extreme. A little reality dose is good for me some time.

Negativity however just brings me down. I’ve noticed this tends to happen to me most when I spend long periods of time alone with just my work. I actually enjoy my alone time, but when I get too much of it…it does crazy things to me. It was spring break last week, and so my employee was out all week. My girlfriend was out of town for the week as well….all bad combinations.

When I don’t see a soul for days on end…I find myself beating myself up constantly and thinking that my world is falling to pieces.

So, it’s time for me to man up and realize I need other people sometimes. Otherwise I just get stuck in my own head and worry myself to death!

No man is an island, right?


I lost a ton of money. Now what?

April 2, 2009

Have you lost a ton of money this year (or last) in the markets? 401K more like a 41K? I did a nice little guest post over at GenXFinance on how to handle tremendous investment losses. It’s a topic I know just a little bit about : ). Just a little. So if you’re feeling down about your portfolio, I probably have a tip or two there that will make you feel better.

Also, Lynnae from BeingFrugal was kind enough to host a nice article I wrote for her about taking frugality too far. I used to get physically sick even spending money on groceries. I’ve since gotten better with that, but it is still something I struggle with.

So if you’ve lost a ton of money and are thinking you might be now taking frugality too far…there you go. Two nice posts for ya!


March Liabilities: Down $3,842.48

April 5, 2009

March was a decent month for me financially. My business was down slightly, but I was able to pay down another row on my liabilities, which was great. 2008 State taxes, goodbye!

I have a large federal tax bill due this month, around $9000. Which really kind of sucks, but I guess I should want to pay a lot of taxes, right? If I’m not paying taxes…I ain’t making any money!

I’ve arranged all my paperwork to dispute the IRS balance. I really screwed up doing my own taxes in 2006/2007. I hope to have that line eliminated sometime in May. I may still owe some, but more like 10K at the most, not $29,000 like I do currently. My accountant is booked this month, but said they will get to it after tax day. That should be fine.

I made my regular payments to my mother and on my student loans. I’m still deciding what to do on any of the collection accounts. I haven’t been contacted on any of those old business debts in a long time. Ideally I hope to settle those in the near term future.

marchliabilities

On the asset side, I won’t comment much except to say…my tiny stock portfolio was up like 45% in March. No joke. I think I’m still down for the year, and I never should have bought stocks in the first place, but now I’m just going to let the small 2K account ride.


Getting a mortgage after foreclosure or short sale not so simple

April 7, 2009

I talked with a loan officer from my bank a few weeks back just to explore the idea of being able to buy a place of my own again some day. The initial meeting actually went much better than I expected, but then again, most meetings with commissioned based salespeople start off well : ) I know that.

I explained my bankruptcy and the short sale and showed my income (all on the personal side) and student loans. I’ve had no late payments on anything since my bankruptcy.

I wrote a letter explaining how I got into this mess that I guess goes to the underwriters.

I really just wanted to find out if it is even possible in the next year or so to get a mortgage. There are some places now I’m seeing that are similar to where I am renting that I could purchase and actually have a lower monthly mortgage payment than my current rent payment.

No deal said the bank. Which is fine….

Short sale 2 years ago was deal breaker

What was interesting is that my loan officer said that everything was fine (even the bankruptcy just being discharged a little over a year ago)…

except for the short sale I did. That killed the whole deal. I actually thought that might have helped a bit. Rather than just walking away from the home, I at least worked out a short sale to avoid foreclosure.

It wasn’t enough.

It’s fine. It actually just makes me want to work harder. Screw a mortgage, I want to just pay cash for my next place. Plus, my girlfriend said something really nice to me this weekend, “I don’t need a house. I would live in any size apartment with you” she said. Not that we are planning on living together anytime soon, but it was nice to hear.

Actually glad I didn’t get the loan

I’m actually a little glad I didn’t get approved. It would have been a distraction to me mentally to know I could buy a place. I’d waste time looking at listings when I should be working to pay off my Mom!


Last day to file taxes almost here

April 10, 2009

April 15th, 2009….duh da, duh!

The last day to file taxes is almost here.

Wednesday April 15th is the last day to file for 2008 federal taxes

My taxes are done, but I haven’t filed them yet. I used turbo tax again for the 5th year or so. It pretty much get’s easier every year since I use the online version and it stores all my data from the previous year.

It’s also the last day to file estimated taxes for 2009 as well. I need to do that this year as well. That I have not gotten finished yet.

Still not filed?

Click HERE to start your turbo tax return.

If you make under a certain amount you can file for free, otherwise it’s a little chunk of change (but worth it in my opinion).


Are side projects worth it?

April 14, 2009

My blogger pal Pinyo of moolanomy recently launched a pretty cool news and blog aggregator called Greatnexus.

If there are any Star Trek fans in the house, you’ll remember from “Generations” that “the nexus” was pretty sweet. So you can only imagine what a great nexus would be, right?

Greatnexus got me thinking: are side projects worth it?

I blog here yes, but that is more of a side project for me. But I’m always coming up with other side project ideas. And I would say only about 1 in 10 of them have worked out for me.

So are side projects worth it?

Oh heck yes.

If you don’t even try, you never have the chance to succeed. So long as a side project doesn’t hinder your main work, I think they are totally worth it.

In fact, I’m working on a side project right now I hope to show off in a couple of weeks. It hasn’t been taking up a ton of my time, but it’s been fun, and I think it has some potential.


You don’t need money to have great relationships

April 16, 2009

I was riding in the car today with my girlfriend and we got to talking about how much we enjoy just “doing nothing” with each other sometimes.

We were reminicing about some of the great times we had when I had no hot water, no money, and a house that was getting foreclosed on.

It’s not how much you spend, or even where you go, or don’t go…

it’s who you spend that time with.


What Would You Do With A $5000 Interest Free Loan?

April 17, 2009

If you were given a $5,000 interest free loan to use to stimulate the economy or create jobs…

What would you use it for?sharestory

That’s the question Uncrunch.org is asking America. And it’s taking those responses and giving out a $5,000 interest free loan every month to the top story. As of this writing there are just over 30 Uncrunch America Stories that have been submitted.

What is Uncrunch.org?

Uncrunch.org is a “awareness campaign…aimed at providing resources to consumer and businesses in need of credit solutions. It’s goal is to help resolve the credit crunch…”uncrunchsupporters

A number of companies are involved with the campaign including Lending Club, Virgin Money, Credit Karma, Gezzeo and other consumer friendly personal finance companies.

What would I do with $5K?

Well, I wouldn’t be the best candidate for a $5K interest free loan, as I would put that towards paying down some debt. That wouldn’t directly stimulate the economy or create jobs, but that’s what I would do.

Links

Geezeo’s blog on the contest, and Credit Karma’s take.

How could you stimulate the economy?

What would you do with the money? Buy a piece of equipment? Hire a part time student? Lease a small office space?

For a chance at a $5,000 0% APR loan join Uncrunch.org and submit your story.


No more ‘buy and hold’ strategy for me

April 20, 2009

Last year, I had a little extra money in my personal account and I added some positions to my Sharebuilder brokerage account.

It wasn’t a terrible move, but last week I sold all my big positions in the account and now own no stocks (except for a few 1/10 of a shares that I might as well hang on too).

Stocks just aren’t my thing. It wasn’t a huge amount (just over 2K), but I found myself checking my major holdings pretty much daily.What a waste.

I’m just not a stock guy anymore. Even if I could get 10% returns year after year, it would not be worth the stress to me. I would always be checking stock prices and wondering if I should sell.

So, I sold everything last week (after the big run up) and I feel good.

Even if I have extra money (that I can’t pay to my mother) in the future, it’s going to go into low risk accounts (t-bills, high yield savings, etc), not stocks.

I don’t have any desire to day trade again. I have the discipline now to be a “buy and hold” investor.

I just don’t want to be.


How important is vacation and rest?

April 24, 2009

Well, I’m going to find out this weekend.

For the first time in almost 3 years, and for the first time since I started writing here, I’m taking a vacation.

To say I’m looking forward to it would be the understatement of the year.

Sure, I’ve gone places for the holidays to see family, and I’ve gone to a few conferences for work and Lending Club stuff, but actually going somewhere for fun for a few days? Nope. Nada. No way.

I think I used to feel guilty about taking time off. Well, I know I did. And I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but I’m completely burned out. My work isn’t going poorly, but I’ve definitely hit a plateau, and it’s gotten pretty stagnant.

I’m not bringing my computer. Not even going to bring my cell phone. I’m going with my lady friend so should something come up, we’ll have a phone.

It’s only a two day, one night vacation, but I think it’s going to be fantastic. I’d love to be able to take a week off at some point this summer, but I don’t know what I would do, where I would go (cheaply) and if it would work with me and the lady.

Anyway…..whew. I’m excited.


Being in debt is a downer when planning for the future

April 29, 2009

So I have a good income now. I work from home. I enjoy my job…

But I still have a huge black cloud over me and my future.

Any decision of plan I make when thinking of the future is impacting by my past mistakes. You really do reap what you sow.

The black cloud of debt. It’s getting much easier for me to deal with this year as things have gotten better, but it’s still always there, always following me around.

I need to work harder to get rid of it!


How my girlfriend saved me $216

April 29, 2009

My trip this last weekend was short, but nice. We both needed to get away from the city to realize how exhausted we really were.

One quick story: on the drive over to the mountains, I got pulled over for expired tags on my car. (side note: I’m taking care of these today!)

The officer was about to start writing me a ticket when he noticed the obvious consternation on the cute girl in the driver’s seat…

“Why hasn’t your boyfriend taken care of this” he asked her after asking me…

“I’ve been nagging him for weeks!” (true)

“OK, well, I’m gonna let you off with a warning, but only because I know she will be on your case!” (very true)

So, that’s the story of how having a cute girlfriend saved me $216. Looks like I’m buying her coffee for the next few months…. : )


Staying Motivated (When Everything Is Going Well)

May 1, 2009

The past few weeks I’ve had something happen that has not happened in years…

I’ve felt content.

Contentment is not usually a bad thing. In fact, it can be a very healthy emotion.

But not for me. I need to stay hungry, stay motivated.

Here’s what’s been working for me to stay motivated even when things are going well.

Things That Keep Me Motivated

1. Music

For me, it’s rap music. I’m a middle class raised white kid from the suburbs…but there is something about certain rap songs that really get me going. For others maybe it’s classical or hard metal.

Put on some music that motivates you.

2. Coffee/Red Bull

For better or worse, coffee makes me want to work to take over the world. It really puts a fire in me to keep reaching for higher goals.

It’s also a drug, so be careful and use it wisely.

3. My Family

Think you’re sitting pretty because you have a $1000 emergency fund?

That’s not good enough. What about your kid’s college fund? Or what about that vacation you and your wife really need?

For me…if I think I’m doing good enough and can chill for the day…I think of my mother and how much I still owe her, and how even if I pay her back tomorrow, she will need my support the rest of my life.

4. Bling

A new car. A new house. A new phone. Whatever motivates you to work harder and stash away your cash can be a good motivator. For me it’s the thought, “Could I buy a house for cash right now? No? OK, back to work…”

5. Being Debt Free

Millions of people live under the dark cloud of debt. For me, I can’t wait until the day I have my debt free party. Let the sparkling cider flow!

What do you think?

What motivates you to keep grinding even if things are going well?


What Puking After A Workout Taught Me About Finance

May 5, 2009

I sat, well, actually, more like sprawled over the thankfully clean toilet. I had just vomited a half dozen times.

“Ughhh…never again chocolate milk after a workout…”

I haven’t thrown up after a workout since High School, but I’ve been watching some old ‘Saved by the bell’ episodes, so that must have been it.

So, how what did I learn about finance in my moment of pure emptiness? Two lessons…

1. Don’t Try and Master Every Aspect of Finance at Once

Last night, I did some work on the elliptical, then lifted free weights for a bit, and then finished it off with some laps in the pool. I usually at most do one, and maybe two types of working out. I did three and that let to my vomit fest last night.

Don’t try to become an expert at investing, insurance, budgeting, taxes at all at once. You just won’t be able to retain it all.

For example, I know pretty much nothing about insurance. I have car and health insurance, but I barely even understand those policies, let alone getting into renters or Life.

Right now I’m working on my budgeting and expense cutting knowledge. Learning how to budget for my business and personal expenses is my current topic of choice.

2. You Can’t Makeup For a Year’s Worth of Mistakes in a Day

When I first started writing here, I naively thought that I would be out of debt in a year, maybe two at most. I figured my business ideas would be fantastic and profits would just shoot through the roof.

Rome wasn’t built it a day.

If you haven’t been financially fit, and you’re in debt, you can’t makeup those past mistakes in a day. That’s what I was trying to do with my workout last night. I was trying to makeup for 2 weeks of sitting on my butt by trying to kill my body. Well, my body wasn’t too happy.

Getting out of debt or building a solid investment portfolio takes time, just like the ripped abs I’m hoping for by mid-summer…not tomorrow. : )


Looking Forward

May 12, 2009

I’m more relaxed lately than I’ve been in, well, years.

One thing I know that has been helping is that I’ve been working out 3 times a week with my employee. We’re having a good time at the gym talking shop and keeping healthy.

For the first time in a long time I’m looking forward to a summer. For one reason or another bad things have always happened in the summer in my life. This year is going to be different.

Personal Cushion

I’ve got now almost $6,000 stashed away in my personal savings. My goal is to get that to 10K by the end of the year. 

I think that’s probably the second biggest contributing factor to my low stress level of late…money in the bank. Nothing feels better than knowing you’ve got some cash on hand. Once I max out at a 10K cushion, I’ll try and figure out some more creative ways to pay back my mother debt quicker.

Motherly Visit

Speaking of my mom, she drove up to Seattle and surprised me for lunch today! I know you don’t read here Mom, but thanks, you’re the best Mom I could have ever asked for.

I told my Mom that it was my goal to try and get her paid back by the end of next year. It’s going to take a ton of work to pull that off, and it’s a lofty goal, but it’s not entirely impossible. I think that would be great for both of us.

Side Project!

I’ve been working on my first side project as DK…that I’m really excited about. It’s been mulling around my head for a few months now, and I hope to launch it in the next week or so.

If you’re a fan of reading about my journey out of debt, stay tuned for the beta launch of this new project of mine, I guarantee you’ll like it.

More details soon…


My Credit Line Got…Increased?

May 15, 2009

So, with credit lines going down all over the country, I felt pretty special yesterday when I received a postcard in the mail.

One of my two credit rebuilder cards sent me a nice note saying that since I “had been paying on time every month” that they were increasing my credit limit.

A whole $50.

Wohoo!

I’m ballin’ now…


Ally Bank: The New GMAC

May 18, 2009

I was browsing around CNBC today and noticed an interesting ad for a bank I had never heard of before, Ally Bank.

Ally = GMAC Financial Services

Their website design is quite modern and I spent some time digging around the site. Apparently, Ally Bank is the new branding for the old GMAC Financial Services.

GMAC will use the new image as a way to attract retail deposits, which will be a key funding source during the continuing credit squeeze as it tries to fill an $11.5 billion capital hole, as revealed by bank stress-test results, the newspaper said. – From upi.com

Nice Savings Rate

They are offering a 1.95% online savings account which is nearly .25% better than what I’ve seen from the major online banks. That’s pretty sweet….but from GM? Would you really trust your money there? Of course it’s FDIC insured…but still, it makes me a little wary.

Well, I like the design, so kudos there. And hopefully that 1.95% rate won’t drop like a rock like most savings accounts have in the last year. See Ally Bank CD Rates.

Sign up for a 2.00% savings account at Ally Bank: >>Click HERE

or earn more like 9% (that’s my average earnings rate so far) at Lending Club.

earnlendingclub


The 3 Books That Changed My Financial Life Forever

May 21, 2009

Since last summer, my financial picture has drastically improved. I’m making more, saving more, paying more back, and on the road to being debt free.

These three books motivated me at different times, in different ways. They made me look at why I was broke, why my business was broke, and helped me discover my path for investing in the future.

Book 1 – You’re Broke Because You Want To Be by Larry Winget

When I read it: summer 2008

Main Takeaway: Your success is up to one person: You! How bad do you want it?

This book is an easy read. It’s short, and broken up nicely.broke

This book is NOT easy to read. It will really make you feel like crap. It will beat you down and expose every excuse you use to remain broke.

And it motivated me more than probably any other financial book I’ve ever read. At the time I read it, it was exactly what I needed. I had recently got my bankruptcy discharged, and was well, pretty darn broke. I wasn’t living on the streets broke, but I was broke.

The book doesn’t break any ground technique wise (spend less than you earn!), but the presentation gets the message through. You’re broke because you want to be. You’re broke because you spend too much on shoes, or fancy food, or tech gadgets. You’re broke because you won’t get a second job, or take a risk and start your own business.

This book isn’t for everyone, but it hit me at the right time and every few months I go back and look at some of the worksheets.

If you need some motivation financially, this is the book for you.

Book 2 – The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber

When I read it: Fall 2008

My Main Takeaway: Build a business that can run and profit with YOU

If you own a business you must read this book.e-myth

If you are thinking about starting a business, you need to read this book.

This book pushed me to really step back and look at where I was spending my time at work, and where I needed to be spending my time.

It taught me most importantly how to systematize and document everything. I didn’t realize how much of my work I could have others (employees, contractors, accountant, etc) do and not feel guilty about that, until I read this book.

Book 3 – Killing Sacred Cows by Garret B. Gunderson

When I read it: Winter 2008

Main Takeaway: What you’ve been fed about saving for retirement is bunk

This book will rock your world if you’ve ever thought that maybe “buy and hold” wasn’t the best strategy for you. killingsacredcows

This book rocks the boat of:

  • The Sacred 401K (Gunderson would tell you not to participate, even with a employer match)
  • Insurance (He recommends Whole life vs. Term and spends a chapter explaining why)
  • Savings (He argues cash sitting in an account not being touched is exactly what banks want)

The book has a lot of New Agey themes that could have been toned down a bit, but if you can gloss over those, there is some fantastic content here.

This book taught me to value cash flow (investments that produce cash…dividends, rent receipts, ect) over any other investment. It lines up very well with small business owners who see the value in investing in things they can control, rather than gambling your broker or some CEO to have a great quarter so your stock skyrockets.

Screw stocks. That’s the basic premise. And as someone who fell into the trap of believing stocks would make me wildly rich, I whole heartedly agree.

Invest in what you can control. Anything else is just gambling.

What finance books rocked your world?

I don’t mean what financial or business books did you like. I mean, which ones dramatically improved your financial life or changed how you approach investing/money?


Hoping for a good summer

May 26, 2009

Summer always seems to be a crappy time of the year for me.

A girlfriend dumps me. I get a medical discharge from the air force. I lose a ton of money day trading. I have to live in my office because I lost my house.

You get the idea.

But this summer is going to be different. I can feel it this time.

I’m paying down debts, one by one. I’m sending off about 6K to the IRS this week to payoff all of 2006 and all but one quarter of 2007, which I am working with my accountant to reduce because I really screwed up my own payroll.

I settled my first collections account this week as well. Over the next few months I plan to do more of those as well. It feels great to knock ‘em down, even if this one was only a few thousand.

So, here’s hoping for a great summer.


Where the heck am I going

May 29, 2009

Warning: this post is going to be a rant.

Lately, as things have been improving more and more for me financially, I’ve noticed something very interesting.

Each new milestone or goal I reach is becoming less and less exciting.

I can distinctly remember a night about a year ago when I hit a business goal I had set. I put on some tunes and was skipping down the street at 10pm, feeling on top of the world.

Fast forward to today. I just finally celebrated a goal I hit back in March. And I don’t think I’ve skipped down the street in months, even though I’ve had lots of things to skip about.

This year is probably the most emotionally stable I’ve been in a number of years. And really, I’m happier right now than I have been in a long time. Not that happiness is always a great measure of ones self, but it’s not a bad indicator. 

So, what’s going on?

A few things, I think. And I’m hoping writing these out will help me clarify things more.

I think I crave the unknown. And right now…I have a lot of “knowns” in my life.

I know that I love my girl and want to continue dating her.

I know I will be living in the same place for the foreseeable future.

I know that my business is growing and stable.

So, why in the world do I crave the unknown? I don’t know. I do know I’ve always been attracted to high adrenaline type activities (flying jets, day trading, javelin throwing ,etc). Risk has always been something I felt very comfortable with, and right now, I’m not taking much risk at all.

Also, I’ve outsourced myself out of a lot of my work. Which, is exactly what a business owner is supposed to do…but now I’m like, “well, what the heck do I do now…”. I’m bringing my half-time employee on full time next month, and so I really need to find some higher level stuff for myself to work on.

Maybe I just need a hobby. Wow. It’s just beautiful out here today. Amazing.

The Mountains from D.K. Kidd on Vimeo.


On Not Losing Perspective

June 3, 2009

I was pissed today.

I mean, really, really worked up. My employee came into work and I just glared. He went to his room pretty quick and got to work. Good move on his part.

My main issue: I had lost perspective.

I was pissed because the month isn’t starting out great business wise, and even though I know I’m doing great, there is a chance revenues will dip this month vs. the last.

And a monthly decline hasn’t happened in about 8 months.

So, I was pissed.

Even though, looking at year over year numbers, we are doing really well. Really well. In fact, if I had told myself 8 months ago the #’s we’d be today, I probably wouldn’t have beleived it.

And so, I had lost perspective.

If numbers are down this month, it’s not the end of the world. I’ll be able to pay my bills, cover payroll, and even pay down a little more debt.

I just want everything to be over with now. And so ANY step back seems to set me off lately. My poor employee. He tolerates my mood swings well.

Thankfully, a man outside the grocery store reminded me of how lucky I am, and what I have to be thankful for.

He was homeless. I am not.

He was selling newspapers outside a grocery story. I was leaving my air conditioned gym.

He probably has his life savings on him. I have an emergency fund.

Sometimes I just want to punch myself.

{pow!}


Sometime To Succeed You Gotta Do Nothing

June 9, 2009

Sitting on my hands isn’t easy for me.

I don’t think it’s easy for most go-getters. But alas, the last month or so, that’s what I’ve had to do. While in the past I was all about taking risks to get ahead, I’ve had to cut back my financial risks.

It has not been easy (ask my girlfriend)

I’m not good at doing nothing. But sometimes, that’s the best thing you can do.

Right now I’m just focused on getting my IRS payments out of the way, and working on my business as much as I can without spending any development money.

Ever had to do nothing?

Anyone else been in a situation where doing nothing was the best thing?


Cleaning Up My Balance Sheet

June 12, 2009

I’ve been struggling with what to do about my old business accounts that are (or were at one point at least) in collections.

Looking back, I wish I had filed for bankruptcy on the business side when I did my personal bankruptcy. The business was insolvent, but my pride didn’t want to “give up” on both fronts. So I kept the business going paper-wise, even though it ceased to exist in any functional manner.

I’ve been paying down my IRS accounts one by one this month. Basically, the IRS (for payroll taxes at least) treats each quarter as a separate file to them. I had 2 quarters from 2006 to resolve ($3800 total), which I’ve not paid off. 2007 is a little more complicated because I completely screwed up my taxes that year. My accountant is cleaning this up as we speak, and I will file amended returns for 2007 later next week. That should reduce the 2007 4 quarters balance down to around $10,000-$12,000, which is the correct amount vs. the $25K that I currently show owing for 2007.

I’m not going to pursue settling most of my old business debts that are in collections. Why? Well, for starters, the business no longer exists. And secondly, I haven’t heard a peep on those accounts (nearly all of them) in over a year. Not a single phone call. Not a single letter. I did settle a small account last month for $2,400, but beyond that, nothing.

And so, for my own sanity, I’m going to remove these accounts from my debts owed for the time being. I know they still exist, and I will at some point to resolve them, but for the time being I’m not going to focus on them.

I know this isn’t the moral high ground. I know that my business signed those papers (my personal liability was removed on them as I listed them all in my personal bankruptcy), and that I should repay the money. I know this. It’s not lost on me. These aren’t just going away.

I need to focus on repaying my mother first and foremost.

Current Debts

  • Mom – $130,274
  • IRS – $15,000 (aprox.)
  • Student Loans – $34,015
  • Toyota Financial – $8,295

Total: $187,584


What Having A Girlfriend Has Done To My Food Budget

June 13, 2009

First off, I love pampering my girlfriend. She’s more frugal than I am, very low maintenance, and easy to please.

But, we were watching HGTV last night (we’re addicted to ‘Property Virgins!), and there was a couple that was spending $1,000 a MONTH eating out. Yikes! We both judged them pretty harshly (we try not to judge in real life, but we figure judging people on TV is OK).

It made me think…well, I know we don’t spend 1K a month going out…but what do we spend?

So, I ran the numbers.

Here is our food budget for the last 5 full months, and since we began dating.

Food Budget Since We Started Dating

  • Jan – $308
  • Feb – $462
  • March – $393
  • April – $400
  • May – $386

Average: $390/mo

Now, I pulled a few months from before we started dating….

My Bachelor Food Budget

  • Oct (08) – $237
  • Nov (08) – $176

Average: $206/mo

Here’s is the graph of the last 5 months from Mint.com, for all food categories.

girlfoodbudget

Conclusions?

There are some pretty clear conclusions:

  • Non-grocery food expenses have about doubled since I got a girlfriend
  • I’m very happy they did : )

My girl always offer to pickup the tab whenever we eat out, and she does from time to time. And I really appreciate that. But I think she knows that I like feeling like a provider, and so she doesn’t press the issue much.

Overall, I think our food budget is within reason. I’ve actually started cooking more since we start dating than I ever did before (since I work from home, in a desk all day, it makes more sense this way vs. her work which is a bit more physically exhausting).


I’m Sorry This Is Late Dr. Cho, D.D.S.

June 17, 2009

Dear Dr. Cho,

Nearly two years ago you fixed my tooth. You were fast, efficient, and the process was mostly painless.

I was broke, young, stupid, and in pain.

I didn’t clear with my insurance that the procedure would be covered, and so I was not expecting the $90 bill when it came due from your office.

I didn’t pay you. A few months later I filed bankruptcy.

Fast forward to today. I received an invoice from your office, and  frankly, I had completely forgotten about this.

And for that I apologize.

Your check is in the mail. (really)

~DK


Seattle Real Estate Search Tools

June 18, 2009

seattle real estate

I’m kind of obsessed with Real Estate lately.

It’s been two years now since I had to do a short sale on my first home purchase (a dumb one!), and I can’t help but look at the much more attractive prices in the Seattle area now.

Of course, I won’t be actually buying a house in Seattle any time soon. But, sigh, I love looking. It’s like my gossip magazine. You know it’s pointless, but it’s fun.

There are two sites I use when looking for homes in Seattle:

1. Redfin.com

I love Redfin’s interface. It’s slick, big, bold and beautiful. My only gripe would be that they still have some formatting issues to work out when using the site in Chrome (my browser of choice for speed). Also, they don’t cover the Portland market, so that’s a bit of a bummer. But for Seattle, heck yes I love you.

2. Trulia.com

Trulia is my catch all site. I can look up homes in Portland there as well as Seattle. It’s not as fancy as Redfin, but it’s a great workhouse. A lunch-pail, dependable type site for my real estate search wanderings.

I would love to someday be able to get into real estate investing a little bit. There is just something about owning a piece of a building and real dirt that appeals to the farmer in me.

Did I miss any other great real estate search sites? What do you use?


Money Links – June 24 2009

June 24, 2009

So, I read a lot online. And by a lot I mean hours and hours.

My Google reader is probably the last thing I finish up each night before I go to bed. I read it on my phone in bed.

So, I’m going to start a series called Money Links. It will be just that. Money. Links. Quality articles to check out, mostly financially related. But sometimes they are just *money*

Money Links – June 24 2009

Explaining CD Rates using Zoo Animals. Brilliant.

3 things that could cost you your dream house. You mean, besides that hole in the floor?

Driving 2 1/2 hours for a job? Kudos.

Going on vacation? Protect your house.

I got a nice mention at the Carnival of Top PF Posts over at DebtFreeAdventure.

If I loved my work, yes.

I’ve said it before. Get a financial battle buddy.


Was I two years ahead of the recession?

June 26, 2009

I saw an article on CNBC yesterday about “short sales”….it was a pretty generic article, but it was written in a very explanatory tone. While I did a short sale nearly two years ago, the term is only now becoming commonly known in mainstream America.

Foreclosures are soaring, bankruptcies are up….

I think I was ahead of the game. Ahead of the curve when it came to financial meltdowns.

Which is funny, because when money was flowing and home prices would “go up forever” (ala 2005), I was becoming broke faster than you can say “twitter”.

I think I just like to be different. When everyone is going left, I go right.

I’m glad I went through my short sale and bankruptcy when I did.

For all of my screw ups, I was pretty good at actually screwing up at the right time in my life. Sure, I wish I hadn’t ever lost all that money day trading, but   hitting rock bottom sure as hell woke me up.

And now I’m stable. I’m still in debt. Still owe Mom over a hundred grand, but she refuses to charge me interest, so it’s a manageable debt to continue to repay over time.

I just sent off another 2.5K to the IRS this week. I’m getting closer to wrapping that debt up. I’m re-doing my 2007 return with the help of my accountant and once that is done, all I’ll have left to owe is around 6 or 7K.

But back to the recession.

Bankruptcy, foreclosure, short sale, debt….these are becoming more and more common words every day in the press. And even in everyday conversation.

I for one am glad the bubble popped. I feel for those who have lost their jobs or their life savings. That sucks.

But I needed a wake up call, and I think we as a nation are grinding our way through our own wake up call.

What do you think?

Will the recession change our spending and savings habits in the long term? Is the new focus on frugality and saving just a fad? Will it pass if/when the boom returns?


The New DebtKid Blog Team: $320,063 in Debt

June 30, 2009

If you’ve been following my blog for some time, you know I’ve had my share of up’s and downs. And I imagine following along for the ride has been fun, eh?

Well, it’s about to get EIGHT times as fun.

I’m adding a whole new dimension to the blog here, by adding another 8 contributors to share their journey out of debt.

The 8 New Debt Bloggers at DebtKid

Note: The total debt amounts do not include mortgages, but do include any car loans or student loans. Each blogger will break out their debt in future posts.

realestatekid Real Estate Kid – I’m 27 years old, I have a good career, own two apartments and drive a nice car. I also have approximately $30k in unsecured debt which is mainly due to spending more than I earn and taking advantage of 0% offers. It was just a few short months ago when I realized the balance transfer game caught up with me and making the minimum payments would soon be very tight. At the end of July my latest 0% offer will reset to a 15.99% rate. I’ve been working to pay off my debt since then with a goal of having zero debt by the end of 2010. My next goal after that is to save up to buy another property.

Debt: $37,938

April – I’m a 25 year old with many titles: mom, career woman, and fiancé. My eighteenth birthday was the same day my dysfunctional relationship with debt began. After six years of making a lot of bad financial decisions, I’ve decided to get my financial house in order so I can stop stressing and start living life to the fullest!

Debt: $93,177

rd2 RD – RD is a former Marine Corps IT geek and now works as a legislative analyst for a health care professional association in Washington DC.  In college RD got hooked on online poker and lost tens of thousands of dollars that were paid for with credit cards and a home equity line of credit.  Eventually kicking the gambling he set out to repair the damage done.

Debt: $96,000

maeghen Maeghen – I started shopping to fill the void that was left after a life changing family trauma.  I have amassed around 30k in debt.  Day by day I work on getting my debt under control but most importantly I work on myself too.

Debt: $30,000

creditcruncher Credit Cruncher – 26 year old single male overcomes the ups & downs and twists & turns of this thing called life!  I will take you along on my rocky adventure to get myself debt free after livin’ the “good” life for far too long.

Debt: $61,268

abby Abby – Abigail Perry is (almost) 31 and lives in Seattle with her husband, Tim. They both have chronic health conditions that limit their ability to work. Despite relatively low income, they are slowly paying down debt.

 

Debt: $16,195

debtorincity Debtor In The City - Sex and the city made life in the big apple seem so easy. Guess they didn’t have almost 60K in debt to pay down. I’m a twenty something year old dealing with life in the big city. Trying to balance having fun with being frugal is definitely a challenge. Hopefully, I’m up for the task.

 

Debt: $60,000

jessicaw Jessica W – Jessica Ward is a full-time freelance writer and adoptive mom to two wonderful children. She writes to support her parenting/adopting habit. 

 

Debt: $17,000

Total Debt: $320,063

Over the next week you’ll get to meet each new blogger. You’ll get to read their story, and get to know a little more about them. Going forward each blogger will contribute a few stories each week about their journey out of debt.

Please give them a warm welcome in the coming weeks! (don’t go easy on ‘em)

If you haven’t already, make sure and subscribe!


I’m Still A Recovering Addict

July 7, 2009

I woke up with my heart pounding. My palms were sweaty and I wasn’t sure if it was real or not.

Looking around my small bedroom, I saw a pile of clothes, laundry that I hadn’t finished from yesterday.

Whew. Just a dream.

In my dream I was down $10,000 on a $30,000 bet I had placed on a currency overnight.

It’s not a good feeling to be down $10,000.

It’s a great feeling to wake up and know you don’t have any “bets placed”.

I sleep much better now than I did 3 years ago. 3 years ago I would have been up every other hour checking the latest news from the federal reserve and checking my charts. Not a healthy lifestyle.

Fast forward three years to today and I still have the occasional day trading dream. Last night’s was actual different than my normal day trading dreams. My usual dream actually goes like this:

I have some highly leveraged play going. Usually in the forex market. I’m chatting with a friend, when suddenly some news breaks and my position starts to be profitable….like hundreds of thousands of dollars profitable.

And then it happens. The trade starts to turn. I desperately try to sell, still saving a huge profit. Something doesn’t work. The trade won’t go through. My “profit” is going down the tank and I can’t get out.

I panic.

It’s nice not being a day trader anymore. It was mostly just gambling for me anyway.

It’s nice for me at least not even being a traditional investor. Maybe at some point I will buy stocks again, but I think it’s unlikely. Why play with fire?

I don’t care what the market did yesterday. I could care less what it did today.

I like my sleep.


Personal Finance For Entrepreneurs And Small Business Owners

July 13, 2009

This weekend I picked up a few $1 books at a used book sale. “The Millionaire Next Door” and “The Wealthy Barber”, and a sweet Barron’s “Dictionary of Finance and Investment Terms”.

As I delved into “Wealthy Barber”, I couldn’t help but feel more and more frustrated with each passing chapter. It wasn’t just that the advice was the standard, “pay yourself first” and “invest in real estate”, which is all well and good…

It was that it wasn’t written for the small business owner.

But DebtKid! I’ve read that book, and isn’t one of the characters self employed?

Yes, the book does cover some basic advice for the self-employed, KEOGH plans, and a bit on the tax benefits of being in business.

The Big Three Categories

But it made me realize a few things:

  • There is a big difference in personal finance for business owners vs. W-2 earners
  • I also believe there is a difference for business owners than freelancers

That means there are really 3 main categories for which I believe personal finance advice is dramatically different. The W-2′er, The Freelancer, and The Business Owner.

Now, personal finance is called “personal” for a reason. Everyone is different.

However, I feel a bit neglected. I searched for personal finance books for business owners and entrepreneurs on Amazon, and found just one that looked good (written in 2002). Maybe most business owners have accountants or money managers that handle all this stuff, but I think there is a severe lack of good personal finance info out there for the Business Owner.

PF Resources for Freelancers and W-2 Workers Abound

Mrs. Micah does a great job covering finance for the Freelancer, and they are countless numbers of great personal finance blogs.

But where’s the small business love? Where’s the advice for the company with just a few or a few dozen employees, but more than a single-shop?

I love being a small business owner. And I now love talking about personal finance. Over the next few months I’m going to read a bunch of books to add to my knowledge of how those two loves can meet up.

Do you know any good small biz personal finance resources?

Anyway, if you know of some good blogs or resources on personal finance for the business owner, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!


Checking in on my 2009 personal goals

July 15, 2009

A little over halfway done with 2009 already. Wow, how time has flown!

I wanted to check in on some of my personal goals that I set earlier this year:

Personal Goals

  • Get Private Pilot’s License
  • Develop long term romantic relationship
  • Bench Press 225 (1 rep)
  • Take (1) 7 day vacation somewhere exotic and relaxing
  • Take (5) 3 day mini-frugal getaways

Goal 1 – Get Private Pilot’s License | Status: Holding Pattern

I’m not sure why I was so set on this 6 months ago. I don’t have the time to get my pilot’s license right now. Plus it would be about 6 grand that I don’t want to spend right now on something I can do later in life. I’m putting this goal in the “holding pattern” for now…

Goal 2 – Develop LTR | Status: Going Well

When I wrote this goal in Jan., I had just started dating my best friend of the last few years. Although the “development” of the relationship is still ongoing…it’s going very well. It’s hands down the healthiest and most fun relationship that I’ve ever been in. I can definitely see us together “long term, long term”.

Goal 3 – Bench Press 225lbs | Status: Real Close

I think I’ll have this goal achieved by the end of this month. I’ve been working out with my employee 3 times a week for the last two months, and my overall strength has improved greatly. I can now bench 185lbs eight times, so doing 1 rep of 225lbs is well within my reach. I just haven’t tried yet. I’m heading to the gym later today, so maybe I’ll give it a shot.

New Goal: Bench 250lbs

Goal 4 – Take Week Vacation | Status: In Progress

Consider I’m taking a 5 day vacation this week, I think I’m pretty darn close on this goal. I’ll be gone most of this week enjoying a fun time in Vegas ($100 gambling limit, no worries) watching NBA summer league.

Goal 5 – 5 Mini Getaways | Status: 2 of 5 achieved

I’ve taken at least two mini getaways this year so far. A short camping trip with friends, as well as a short stint with my girlfriend in Leavenworth. Both were relaxing, though only single day overnight trips. I’m hoping to get in a few real 3 day short trips later this year.

I’ll do a check in on my financial goals next week.


Back in the office again

July 24, 2009

No, not the office where I lived for two months…

I got a small office for my business! I’m very excited about it and I think it will be good for me to separate my work and home life a bit. Since I moved out of my old office, I’ve been working and living in the same space.

Working from home has been great, but I’ve hired a full-time employee now, and plan on bringing on 3-4 part time workers in the fall, so it was time for me to get a space again.

I also am going to venture into doing some web programming work with my business. Up til this point we’ve mostly done desktop commercial software, but I have some cool wordpress plugin ideas, and I’m excited to begin working on them.

I literally spent the last 5 hours painting one wall of the office. And it wasn’t even a big wall! Never again with the painting. At least paint is pretty cheap for the impact you get. I’ll have to post some pics once it’s all done.

I’m beat. But excited.


I was way off about the “gift tax”

August 12, 2009

I found out a few weeks ago that I was way off about the so called “gift tax” that comes into play when you give someone more than $13,000 a year.

There is a $1 million dollar lifetime exemption! (In other words, anything over the 13K/year goes towards your 1 mil lifetime limit)

All this time I thought I would only be able to pay my mom back at $13,000 a year, which, well, would take some time consider I’m still in the low 100′s with my balance with her!

So, this is great. I can’t pay her back all this year, but I’m shooting for maybe 2-3 years.


Depression and Debt – A Dangerous Combination

August 18, 2009


despairDoes debt have you feeling down? The negative financial consequences of having too much debt has been well documented. Before the recession, debt had become such an ingrained part of our society that many people accepted it as part of life. Unfortunately this sense of normalcy left many people unprepared for the devastating reality of living with debt once their credit limit hit the ceiling.

Without savings to fall back on or access to easy credit many families now face the daunting task of repaying those debts at a time when money is a concern for everyone. Sadly there are some people who find themselves unable to handle the stress caused by financial concerns. The combination of depression and debt can have a devastating effect on individuals, families and society as a whole.

Understanding Depression

Before we can help ourselves or those dealing with depression, it is important to first understand the condition with which we are dealing. The first issue that has to be addressed is recognizing the difference between feeling depressed and depression. At some point in life, we will all face times when we feel depressed. This is a normal and completely natural emotion felt when we deal with death, divorce, loss of employment or illness. Feeling sadness or sorrow during emotionally painful situations is not only expected but also a necessary part of the healing process required to move forward.

People who suffer from depression on the other hand, are dealing with an entirely different animal. Now recognized as an actual illness, depression is not something a person can simply shake off. Unable to escape their constant feelings of sadness, people suffering from this illness often give up trying to lead a normal life and withdrawal within themselves.

Debt and Depression

It comes as no surprise the debt can trigger feelings of depression. A person who is able to work through these emotions may feel stress, irritation, anger and frustration when faced with a severe financial hardship. Most people are able to work through these emotions and focus on taking action to resolve the problem. Apply the same circumstances to a person suffering from depression and the results may be very different. Already feeling as if life cannot get any worse, this person may sink deeper in depression making it impossible to face, let alone correct the situation.

Who Is Affected?

As a society we have come a long way in how we deal with depression and people who suffer from this illness. The more we learn about depression the better equipped we are to help those who are unable to help themselves. Unfortunately there are still those who think people with depression are just feeling sorry for themselves or lack the motivation to pull themselves out of a bad place. Unable to envision happiness or success in their future many people suffering from depression find ways to escape their feelings through alcohol, drugs or suicide.

The Impact On Society

As a society we often lack the strong communal ties that bind people together when facing adversity. That is not to say we don’t help others in need, however the tendency to not get involved is more prevalent in today’s society. The single mom down the street that is struggling to keep her kids from going hungry could use your help. The grocery store clerk that lost their only source of income, might be worried about being a burden on society. The day care worker who’s house is in foreclosure might find it difficult focus on her charges. Would you help these people if you could? Can you see the impact depression could have on everyone in the community?

The number of people facing financial hardship has not yet reached a peak. People already struggling with depression might just find dealing with debt or other money problems the proverbial straw the broke the camel’s back. So the next time you notice something is “off” with a friend, family member or neighbor don’t just pretend nothing is different. Taking a moment from your day to simply ask how they are doing or extend a helping hand might be the positive experience they need to push through another day.

What do you think? Has debt ever contributed to depression for you or a friend? I know for me personally, it was definitely a factor when I was experiencing some mild depression last year.


How Do You Handle People Asking You For Money? (When You Are In Debt)

August 24, 2009

I had an interesting situation come up this past week where an acquaintance from my church wants to meet up with me and discuss the non-profit work they are doing. The party disclosed right up front that they are in fund raising mode (which I appreciated).

My wheels are turning. And while I would love to support this person, any excess funds of my own right now are going towards savings to pay down debt. I could definitely give a little, but I don’t see it as prudent given what I owe my mother still (120K ish now) for example.

The person asking sees me as a successful business person (and has no clue about my debts, etc).

What would you do? How would you respond to this request? How do I say “no” or “maybe later” without saying I’m in debt?


I am the Luckiest

August 29, 2009

My girlfriend loves the song, “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds.

Lately, for a while now, I’ve been feeling pretty darn “Lucky”. Now, granted I believe a lot of luck is a result of hard work, but still.

Wonderful girlfriend? Check.
Emergency Fund. Check.
Good job. Check.
Good friends & family. Check.

I have goals and aspirations. But I have everything I need right now. I’ve had it for a while.

I have a roof over my head. Food to eat. People to share experiences with.

Life is good. It’s a little eerie actually. I keep waiting for the good times to end….but they just aren’t.

I’m happier than I’ve been in a very, very long time. Maybe happier than I’ve ever been.

IRS Bill Update

So after I worked out my 2007 taxes with my accountant the IRS finally got back to me with updated statements. Everything is looking about what I estimated.

My total bill went from like 28K down to about 16K, and of that I already paid a good chunk of that a month or so back. So, I have around 13K left to pay. Still a big bill, but much better than it’s been in a long time.

Note to small business owners: Accountants are worth it!

Mom Debt Update

My mother is planning to move into her own place in a few months, and the money I send her is a big reason she is able to do that now. She had been living with her mother.

It feels good to take of my Mom. She took care of me for so many years, and then I totally screwed up with my trading. It feels good to be back on track and I know she appreciates my determination to pay her back.

The good thing about debt

It’s funny, if I didn’t have the motivation to get out of debt I don’t know if things would be going so well for me. Because I can’t be content with my business I’ve really been working hard this year to increase my earnings. I hired my first full time employee and am looking to hire some more part time help soon.


Do you need a foreclosure lawyer?

August 31, 2009

As someone who went through a foreclosure without using a Lawyer, my experience is a bit biased. But with millions of homeowners underwater, and many facing foreclosure, the demand for foreclosure lawyers has skyrocketed.

What would a foreclosure lawyer do?

If you are the home owner, a foreclosure lawyer would help you determine your options: modifying the loan if possible, bankruptcy, walking away, etc.

As a renter, if your the place you are renting goes into foreclosure, you have rights. Actually you have more rights than ever with recent legislation. A foreclosure lawyer would be able to help you stay in the home, or help you determine what options are available to you and review your lease contract.

While a lawyer is usually helpful

They are also usually not cheap. If you are facing foreclosure, there are lots of options available to you.

When I was losing my house, since I had virtually no assets, I decided to do a short sale. A short sale is when you sell your property for less than what the balance of your mortgage is. The process sucks, and it can take forever, but at least in my case it was the best option.

I was able to short sell my house, and didn’t have to sign a note to cover the balance. I had a good real estate agent experienced in short sales, and that helped quite a bit.

Pick up the phone and call 2 people

I would say it’s probably worth at least a quick phone call with a lawyer if you are facing foreclosure, but also a real estate agent that has experience in short sales. The real estate agent won’t have any out of pocket costs to you (as they only get paid if they sell the house).

If you are facing foreclosure, try not to get too down on yourself. A lot of people are in your boat, and you will recover from the process!


Blue Nile Diamonds: Should I Buy An Engagement Ring Online?

September 8, 2009

Read here: http://www.debtkid.com/blue-nile-diamonds-should-i-buy-an-engagement-ring-online


Should you ever borrow money to invest?

September 10, 2009

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about why I was such a terrible day trader.

I think the number one reasons was that I was using money that was borrowed, and money that I couldn’t afford to lose.

I also had no clue about risk management.

But it got me thinking, should one ever borrow money to invest?

No, silly, Never Borrow

I don’t think you should, at least not for “investing” in stocks or options or anything risky like that. You trade differently (worse, just look at me) when you are trading with other people’s money. Losses don’t sting as bad as they should (until you run out of money completely).

So, when might it be a good idea to borrow money?

Maybe it’s OK

If you are a startup or small business owner, I think you could make the argument that borrowing money to “invest” into your business can make sense.

If you can get a 0% loan, I think that might be worth taking and at minimum stick in a savings account or I’d put it in my small lending club account and do a little interest rate arbitrage. This used to be a pretty popular technique when 0% credit cards were abundant and interest rates on savings and cd’s were much, much higher.

I can’t think of many other good times to borrow money to invest. Maybe if you were sitting on a million in cash or something, and it was somewhat illiquid, then you could get a secured loan.

What do you think? Borrowing ever a good idea when it comes to investing?


Personal Debt Update: $177,266 to go…

September 14, 2009

It’s been awhile since I did a debt update here, and things are progressing nicely so I updated my spreadsheet and thought I’d share here.

I’ve decided to include the balance of my car loan (around 4.5% APR on the loan), along with the amount I still owe my mother, and my student loans. The $11,000 is the balance I owe the IRS and then I will be completely done with that debt. I plan to pay off that balance this month.

Personal Debt

Mom Trading Debt: $125,274 (APR: 0%)
Student Loans: $33,425 (average APR: 6.5%)
IRS Balance: $11,000
Car Loan: $7,567 (APR: 4.5%)

Total Personal Liabilities: $177,266

Personal Assets

Checking Account: $6,500
Savings Accounts: $59,130

Total Cash: $65,630

Debt Repayment Schedule

I’ve been repaying my Mother at a higher rate the last few months, averaging almost $2,000 a month. I intend to keep that rate going for the foreseeable future. As I mentioned above, I plan to payoff my IRS balance this month.

Why not repay my mother faster? I’ve been thinking about that alot lately. And there are 3 main reasons. 1. My mother needs a monthly income stream. The $1-2K I send each month helps her budget and save a little now. 2. I can utilize cash better than her. 3. I will be taking care of my mother for the rest of her life most likely.

If I was able to repay my mother the entire 125K or so remaining, she would still have to pull out of that a good chunk each month to meet her own expenses. I’ve mentioned here before that my mother has health issues and is unable to work full time.

So I think it is better to plan on repaying my mother quickly, but not too quickly. At a 2K/month rate, I can continue to pay off my other debts, and build my own savings. It also allows me to work on expanding my software business so I can continue to increase my earnings.

I don’t plan to payoff my student loans at an increased rate until I have at least a 100K savings cushion.

The future is looking up

As you can see, things are going really well this year financially. My software business has really taken off, and I’m planning to continue to expand that and hopefully earnings will continue to increase.

Looking at some of the goals I set for 2009, I’ve already hit a few including:

  • Max out $12,000 in payback to Mom (Complete)
  • Large emergency fund – $20,000 (Complete)
  • Hire part-time employee to full time (Complete)

One of my goals was to save $70,000 for a down payment. I’ve decided to give that one up and just change it to a goal of having a 100K savings account. I don’t have the desire I once did to own real estate.

Looking at rental prices in Seattle and Portland, you just get so much more bang for your buck renting right now. Plus, I would have difficulty obtaining a mortgage due to my past credit history (though, my FICO is above 640 now!).

So, that’s my personal debt update. I’m looking forward to spending the holidays this year not as stressed about my debt as I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Also: what do you think of the new “DK” logo? I really like it…


I’ve Got Swine Flu Symptoms!

September 29, 2009

I’ve been feeling terrible ever since I woke up this week. I felt sore all weekend, but just figured I was sleeping wrong. Monday morning, however, I nearly puked during the night and came down with an awful sore throat, fever, and feeling very fatigued.

Swine Flu (H1N1) Symptoms

So, I checked into swine flu symptoms, just to be sure, from WebMD:

“Symptoms of swine flu are like regular flu symptoms and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Many people with swine flu have had diarrhea and vomiting. Nearly everyone with flu has at least two of these symptoms. But these symptoms can also be caused by many other conditions. That means that you and your doctor can’t know, just based on your symptoms, if you’ve got swine flu. Health care professionals may offer a rapid flu test, although a negative result doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have the flu.”

I haven’t been vomiting, but fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue, chills….check, check and check.

I’ve still been able to work this week, but it’s been a bear. I kind of hope I do have swine flu, just so I can say I had it! But, I don’t have any plans to see the doctor yet, unless I still feel awful come Thursday maybe. So, maybe I’ll never know.


Late Night Update

October 3, 2009

I’m sitting in my office. It’s nearly midnite on a Saturday night.

No, my girlfriend didn’t break up with me. She did however, go home early tonite because she wasn’t feeling well. We’ve both been dealing with a nasty bug this week that seems to have infected half of Seattle.

I already worked about 5 hours earlier today. My full time employee and I were at Ikea picking up a few odds and ends for my office. We hired a few new part-time workers this last week, and needed to setup a few more workstations. I don’t usually work weekends much anymore, but it feels good.

Sometimes I’m amazed at how quickly things have changed for me. I’m not out of the debt woods yet by any means, but I’ve made some really big strides this year. I sleep better. I have a girlfriend I’m going to propose to in the near future. I have a mattress to sleep on!

Gotta love having a mattress!

A mattress to sleep on in an apartment that’s warm. Do you realize it was just two summers ago that I was sleeping on the floor of my office, and sometimes in my car???!!! Holy smokes. It doesn’t actually seem like that long ago. And yet, at times it seems like ages. It’s weird how some events are like that.

New Project: Coming Next Week

I’ve got a new project in the works that I’m pretty excited to share about with you guys, probably next week. It will be the first one that I can actually share about here, since I’ll be working on it as DK.

What are you happy about?

What are you happy about this weekend?


How much does carpet cost? Too much

October 12, 2009

Update: I took a trip down to Portland to figure out this carpet mess. We ended up getting a SmartStrand nice Karastan (Division of Mohawk) carpet, installation and removal, 6lb pad, for $4800 for 1300 sq. feet. We used a local company, as they had the carpet in stock, vs. Home Depot, which would have to order it. All in all, I think we did well, and I’m excited about the new carpet. Still spendy though!

My mother is moving back into a rental house that she owns, her only real equity as far as her finances goes.

The house badly needs new carpet.

How much does new carpet cost?

Well, what I’m finding out is that it completely depends. It depends on the carpet mostly. Carpet is like cars. You can get a KIA or you can get a Porshe.

My mother had called empire direct, and I immediately told her to go with someone else (after reading some terrible reviews online). Their price was 4.36 a sq. foot, or 39.24 a sq. yard, including pad and install for what sounded like medium grade carpet. That price is high, right?

From what I’ve read, a decent carpet should run around $20-25 per sq. yard installed. My mother needs about 1500 sq. feet of carpet installed.

What’s been your experience with buying carpet?


Crap Happens

October 15, 2009

Crap Happens.

You know the more colorful phrase.

Bad things happen. Sometimes bad things happen because of our stupidity (guilty!), and sometimes bad things happen and that is just life.

“Nothing bad has happened in my life”

I had lunch with a friend today, in his mid twenties, who said, “Nothing bad has really happened in my life”

This isn’t uncommon for people my age. They had great childhoods. They didn’t see a family member struggle with mental illness. They haven’t faced any real major obstacles in their life.

When I encounter someone like this, my reactions split. Part of me feels envious, and the other feels sorry for them. When stuff hits the fan (and it will eventually), how will they handle it?

When it comes to money, some people make mistakes early in life (me!), others get hit with an illness or job loss and have no control over their circumstances.

Mistakes just make us human right?

It’s how we respond to those mistakes that define our paths in life.

I choose not to give up after I had to confront my massive trading losses. I was very tempted to give in. To just run away, and try to avoid the horrific pain I knew would be coming.

I’m glad I faced the fire. I have learned things in the past 3 years that I never would have had I not screwed up so royally.

It’s funny how sometimes our greatest mistakes can turn into the most opportune learning experiences. I know that’s been true in my life, and I imagine it’s better true of many of you as well.

What lessons have you learned when “Crap Happens”?


Lending Club’s New Stats Page is Yummy

October 22, 2009

If you’re a visual learner, you’re going to love Lending Club’s new statistics page.

The new page takes all the granular, nitty gritty data that Lending Club collects on it’s borrowers and lenders and turns it into a beautiful, almost sensory, colorful experience.

Lending Club's new stats page

Lending Club's new stats page

Data Highlights

  • 79% of Investors are earning returns between 6% and 15%
  • Lending Club has issued over 61 million in loans to date
  • 58% of Lending Club borrowers use their loan to consolidate or payoff credit cards
  • The highest returning loan purpose? Renewable Energy Financing at 10.58%
  • The lowest returning loan purpose? Moving Expenses at 4.59%
  • “E” credit grade borrowers are providing the highest average return of 10.88% (“A” credit grade is the highest)

Get $25 to Lend at Lending Club

Lending Club is still giving you $25 to lend if you sign up using this link.

My Lending Club returns

My current return with Lending Club is at 9.15%. I’m going to be moving a decent chunk of my cash fund into Lending Club in the next month.


Are you a saver or a spender?

October 28, 2009

I remember the plastic bag I carried into Toys R Us very vividly. It was a concoction of $1 bills and coins, with a little dust thrown it for good measure.

My allowance at the time was .50 a week, and the squirt gun I wanted to purchase was $20.

It was the earliest “saving experience” I can remember, I was 6 or 7 at the time.

It’s funny how little has changed now that I’m grown up. I still get an allowance (payday!), and I have goals that I’m saving for. The only difference now is the numbers.

At some point growing up, I switched from a “saver” to a spender. I believe it was around my 18th birthday. It’s only in the last 3 years, really since I started the blog, that I’ve reverted back to my “saver” mode. I spend significantly less now than I earn, which has allowed me to make some huge strides in paying back my debts this year.

Some thoughts that parents could use to encourage saving:

1. Be a saver yourself

2. Setup a kids passport account for them

3. Match their savings

4. Withhold money from their allowance for savings

5. Set savings goals (ala smartypig)

Are you a saver or a spender? Did your parents encourage saving?


If Money = Freedom, Why Buy A Home?

October 30, 2009

why buy when you can rent?

why buy when you can rent?

I love that the love affair with “home ownership” has come crashing down in the past few years.

Especially among 20-somethings. I’m obviously sympathetic to those that have lost their homes, but nonetheless glad “homeowner” isn’t such a golden term anymore.

Graduating from school in the heyday of the housing boom, there was a quiet and sometimes not so quiet “race to be the first homeowner” among my peers.

Why were we all chasing this American dream?

We got caught up in the hype. Caught up in the lie that owning a home is always a good investment.

I strongly believe now that owning a home in your 20′s is a bad idea for the majority of us

Why?

Most 20′s college grads live/work in urban, high priced areas. Rents may be high, but they are still much cheaper than the mortgage on comparable places for sale.

You pay a crapload of interest the first few years of even a traditional 30 year fixed mortgage.

Property Taxes.

Homeowners Fees.

If money buys freedom, why would I use it to tie myself down?

I understand the advantages of homeowners (tax deductions, pride, etc), but I just think for most urban 20-year olds, you’re much better off to rent than stretch to afford a condo that’s small and ties you down just so you can “buy a home”

I have a friend who’s girlfriend is upset because he can’t afford a house here in Seattle. He is 26 and in grad school. Are you kidding me? A decent single family house, in the city limits is going to start at 300K not falling apart.

By this time next year, I’m pretty sure I could be in a position to buy a nice place if I wanted….and I’m gonna pass.


How To Stop Money From Ruling Your Life

November 9, 2009

rulerI’ve been observing lately how friends and family interact with money, or the lack of money in their lives.

I know this may be obvious to everyone reading here, but I honestly never thought about the impact of money until the last few years. It really does impact nearly every area of our lives.

It impacts our school choices, our family vacations, our church giving, where we entertain ourselves, the circle of friends we have, how we sleep at night.

But I don’t think it has too. As I climb closer and closer to getting out of debt, the more and more I want my life to NOT be defined by money.

I want my life to be defined by my values, my ambitions, my family. Not my bank account.

3 Major Hindrances

So, how do you do that? Well, I think it starts with removing the hindrances that money can play in your life.

1. debt
2. not having savings
3. not having steady income

If you have debt, it’s constantly on your mind. If you don’t have savings, you’re always in fear of your car breaking down. And if you don’t have a steady income, both debt and no savings are difficult to achieve.

Once those three milestones have been hit (little debt, healthy savings account, steady income), the challenge is to recognize how far you’ve come, and choose to not let money rule your life. But it’s very difficult until those three marks have been hit.

I still have a lot of debt. And so unfortunately, I still feel ruled by that debt. I can’t run off to some third-world country to help feed the poor. I don’t think that’s my calling, but because of my debt, that isn’t even an option, I’m confined by that debt to some extent.

What do you think, does money rule your life? Are you confined by your debt? Or your lack of savings? or lack of a steady income?


SmartyPig Bonus Up to 12% at Macys. What Should I Save For?

November 17, 2009

macysmartuI have all my cash savings at SmartyPig right now, and they just announced a 12% bonus at Macy’s (and other bonuses at Barnes and Noble, iTunes, etc). And I kinda like Macy’s. Quality stuff, and not too overpriced.

So, what the heck should I save for?

They have a ton of nice furniture stuff, but I don’t need any furniture at the moment. But, by next year, I probably will. So hmmm…

You can see all the SmartyPig bonus % and retailers here.

Current Savings Rates

[fintools savings]


7 Ways To Motivate Yourself To Save When All You Want To Do Is Spend

November 19, 2009

savingsmotivateChristmas is coming round the corner faster than an Amazon PRIME delivery.

And with that, comes the pressure to spend, spend, spend.

We are constantly bombarded with marketing messages, but never more so than during the holiday season.

So, you’ve got savings goals. How do you stick to them?

Here’s what I’ve been doing (successfully)

1. Print out a picture

I used to want to be a missionary pilot, so I printed out a quarter million dollar float plane and pasted it on my bathroom mirror. Ambitious? Yes, and it worked. I’d hit the restroom late at night, see that picture, and be re-motivated to get back to work.

2. Think of your Grandparents

My grandparents lived through the depression and to this day my Grandma is one of the most frugal people I’ve ever met.

She’s also one of the happiest.

3. Make it a competition

I love competition. When it comes to saving money, I’ve been trying to make a competition with myself to see how much I can save each month, and try to improve on that number each month.

4. Think of your future (grand)kids

Every time I’m tempted to buy something I don’t need, I think of my kids.

What? “Debtkid, you don’t have any kids!” you say?

Yeah, but I will someday.

5. Think of who you could support

I’ve got 2 friends who are doing fantastic work in the non-profit world. I would love to be able to support them financially someday.

Can’t do that if you’re broke.

6. Make it automatic

Set up your monthly or weekly savings draft and forget it. Done.

7. Write down your savings goal

Seriously, write it down on a sheet of paper. I’ve had a sheet of paper at my office since January with my savings goal on it. And you know what’s funny, I’m on track to hit that goal almost EXACTLY.

It’s amazing how much psychology plays into our ability to save and resist spending. Write down your dream savings goal for the month/year and just see what happens.

How do you motivate yourself to save?

Twitter says….

@nodebtplan – Goals are all the motivation I need to save. Run basic math to figure out how much to save to reach a goal by a certain date.


Getting out of debt is lonely

November 23, 2009

I made a strategic decision around 2 years ago to not share my “get out of debt” journey with anyone in my real life.

In other words, if you’re reading this blog, you probably know more about my life than the group of friends I see on a regular basis.

I’m a private person. I don’t feel my business is anyone else’s business unless I’ve known them for a long time. I prefer to listen, rather than talk.

Being a listener has a lot of advantages. No one gossips about a listener because, well, they don’t say much to gossip about. I pride myself on being a good listener, and question asker….and so people talk to me. I don’t know if it’s my slightly crooked nose that makes me look so approachable, but for some reason I’m a “safe person” people like to talk too.

But back to my story…

I choose a few years ago to keep my story and my mistakes under wraps for the time being. For the most part it’s worked out well. It’s allowed me to focus on fixing things without having people call me all the time to see how I’m doing.

With the exception of my immediate family (mom, dad, brothers) and my girlfriend, no one else in my life knows about my mistakes, and the debt I accrued. Oh wait, and my full time employee, I told him this summer.

So, now as things are going really well for me…here’s the thing…I can’t share that without explaining the backstory. And since I don’t want to explain the backstory, I don’t want to talk about my life, pretty much ever.

Which is fine most of the time. As I said, I’m not a talker. I have my girlfriend, and I have my blog, and my family, and that’s been enough.

But at times when someone asks me at a party, “what’s new?” I want to scream, “Dude, I’m on track to being completely debt free by 2010!”

Instead, I say, “Not much, you know, the usual. Work, church, girlfriend, life is good…yada yada”

Now, I know people are going to comment and say, “Just tell people!”

Remember, I’ve told all the people truly close to me. I have two close friends that live outside the state, and had they been local, I would have told them as well. And I will tell them eventually, probably next year.

So, back to the title, being in debt is lonely. Especially considering the path I choose to keep my debt from being a part of my “normal life” as much as possible.

Not only is being in debt lonely…getting out of debt can be lonely as well.

So, thank you for listening, like I said above, you all know me better than most!


Why I really just want to beat the crap out of someone

November 24, 2009

OK, just a disclaimer, I don’t actually want to cause harm to anyone. I’m not the violent type…

But lately, man, I’m just looking for a fight.

And I nearly could have gotten myself into one tonite.

I was ending a 2 mile or so run, around 11pm in Seattle. As I finish my run up a small hill, I have to cross a fairly major road. I consider my run done at that road, and I’m a bit out of shape, so I walked rather than run across the road. The closest car was probably 150m away, no where near even needing to slow down to avoid me walking.

Regardless, as the car passes by, the driver has his window down and yells something along the lines of, “Why the **** are you walking across the road”

I blew up.

“Bring it! Come on, turn around!” I yell at the top of my lungs.

Holy crap. Did I just say that out loud in the middle of a busy neighborhood to an unknown car at night?

Yep. I did.

Here’s why I think I did it:

1. I will take risks when I can win, or walk away safely – I was a half a block from my house. I could have been inside a gated building before the car even got fully turned around…so I felt safe.

2. It was a minivan. Not to stereotype…but really, who flips a u-turn in a mini-van to get into a fight?

3. I had just finished my run, and since I went pretty easy, my adrenaline was pumping and I still had some good juice left in me.

Now, those are the situational reasons. But the whole reason I’m writing this out is because I know there are some deeper issues for me here.

In the past few months there have been a couple of days where I told my girl, “Jeez…I was just looking for a fight today” (not a real, punching type fight). Today was one of those days.

I got frustrated at work. I don’t have a ton of urgent work at the moment and I really just wanted to chew out one of my employees today. But, since that’s not me, I didn’t. Never have, but deep down, a part of me really wants too.

You know “The Prince” it’s best to be both feared and loved? Well, I’ve gotten the loved part down….but I’ve never been told I was someone to fear.

I know another reason I’ve been looking for a fight, is that I still feel very trapped by my debt and my past mistakes.

You have the realize the whole reason I took all those risks was not just because I was a trading addict. I really truly wanted to have an adventure of a life, and I felt that having enough money to live that adventure was a necessity. I wanted to impress my family, my mom, my friends.

Fast forward 5-6 years to today….and I still haven’t achieved those old goals. Now, I don’t want to impress anybody. I’m my sharpest critic, I know that.

But I do still crave adventure…and if I think I can win, I’ll probably keep looking for that fight.


I’m Getting Married To My Best Friend

November 30, 2009

I just wanted to let you all know…I got engaged last week!

My now fiancee had NO idea, and was in shock for about an hour after it happened. It was wonderful. I setup a bunch of flowers and used a friend of a friend to take pictures at a local coffee shop where my lady and I frequent often.

She said, “Yes!”

and now I’m getting married.

This has been the most awesome and craziest year of my life.

And I have to say, a lot of you readers knew something before I even did! I denied, even on my blog here, that we would ever get together.

I am now going to marry my best friend. The friend that has seen me go through a ton of the stuff I’ve blogged about here.

She was there with me when I didn’t have hot water at my house.

And when I was sleeping on the floor of my office.

And now we are getting married.

And I’m very, very happy.


The whirlwind of getting engaged

December 7, 2009

The whirlwind of getting engaged is now past me.

Whew.

It’s wonderful getting to share a special story and event with my family and friends, but it’s also incredibly exhausting.

It also invites more questions than I am used too, and more than I am comfortable with.

For the past 2-3 years I’ve really tried to stay out of the limelight when it comes to my friends and family. For good reason. I didn’t want them knowing what I had done in regards to my finances.

Now, with a wedding to plan (Summer 2010!), I’m realizing how distant I’ve become from certain topics with my friends and family. It’s not a big deal, especially with things going well now, but it’s still a touchy subject.

You’d think with my blog here, that I like attention. I mean, who blogs about their life that isn’t a little ego-driven, right?

Well, maybe I like digital comments, but in real life, I don’t like to talk about myself too much.

But I’m discovering weddings are alot about the bride and groom!

Any shy people out there have some tips on handling the spotlight?


How Do You Handle Crushed Dreams?

December 14, 2009

I’m not living my dream. This isn’t what I had planned. I’ve had three major dreams of mine crushed in the past few years.

  • My dream growing up was to be an officer in the military.
  • My dream family didn’t include divorced parents.
  • My dream of being financially stable got a whallop when I day-traded away 250K.

How exactly does one handle crushed dreams?

Never, ever, give up

Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense – Churchill 1941

Well, for one, you don’t give up. I almost did, not recently, but back in the early part of the decade my dream of becoming an officer was crushed. I had this idealistic dream that I would do something great as an officer. A unexpected and involuntary medical discharge changed that very quickly.

It took me years to recover. Even today I struggle with that crushed dream. But I never gave up the dream that I could do something big with my life. I don’t know what it is….maybe it’s just being a good husband, or father someday. I don’t know.

One thing I do know, when a dream is crushed, you can’t give up on your life. Something else will come along.

Let Time Heal

It’s amazing how much just a little bit of time can make situations better.

I mean, don’t you remember the first time you got dumped? (OK, maybe that’s just me….but it sucked!)

Now, you look back at that time, and you laugh, right? I know I do. But at the time….gosh, I think I was depressed for all of 8th grade after my 7th grade girlfriend broke up with me.

Sometimes, to get through unexpected loss, the best technique is just to slog through time, hour by hour, day by day.

Turn your weaknesses into strengths

3 years ago, I was broke, had a day-trading addiction, no clue how to manage a budget, build a savings account, or any basic money skills.

Now, well, I’m no Dave Ramsey, but I’m ten-thousand times better at those skills because of the mistakes I made. Granted, I could have learned these skills without screwing up, but you get the idea.

I believe every mistake is an opportunity to learn. An opportunity to grow stronger.

I wanted to be a master day-trader without a care in the world. Well, that dream (as crazy as it was), got crushed. And I’m glad that it did. It could have happened softer, but that’s not life. Sometimes you just get smacked by a 2 x 4 of your own creation.

How have you handled crushed dreams?

We all don’t always achieve our original dreams. How have you handled losing a dream of yours?


Wedding Planning 101 Series

December 16, 2009

After the holidays, I’m going to run a series called,

Wedding Planning 101: How To Survive The Wedding Planning Process Without Losing Your Mind (or Wallet)

A debtkid reader, Kimberly will be authoring the series, and I will be throwing in my own two cents as well as I go through the wedding planning process myself.

Some of the topics we will cover include:

  • Setting a budget
  • Dealing with contractors
  • Not losing focus on the real reason of the wedding
  • Handling big ticket items
  • The little things that add up
  • Who’s running the show
  • Enjoying your big day

I’m very excited for the series, and I hope you don’t mind a little wedding bliss around the blog the next few months : ).

Getting married is (obviously) a big deal for me. For reals, one of the reasons I wanted to make it big when I first started day-trading was to impress a girl. Yeah, I was dumb.

But I’m excited about the wedding planning process. My fiancee and I have already set our budget and she is a very frugal person, even more so than I, so I think we are going to be fine.

Got any wedding planning tips?

I’m taking the day off work tomorrow to go look at some venues, any last minute tips for me before I jump headfirst into the process?


Debt Down, Confidence Up

December 19, 2009

An interesting trend has developed in my life the last few months.

I think I’m growing up.

I mean, of course I’m growing up. But, I think I’m really moving into a new stage in my life. I find myself not caring as much about things that I used too…and caring more about new, more adult things. It’s a bit strange, but it feels good.

My confidence is also way up. I used to have quite a bit of confidence issues, especially in social settings. Lately however, I’m feeling really good about what I’ve accomplished this year, and the amount my debt has gone down. I still have a ways to go, for sure, but this year has been good.

Speaking of some debts, I still am tracking everything, and I thought it would be fun to look back at the debts I still have today and see what they were in December of 2007, two years ago.

Mom Trading Debt

Currently repaying this at around $1,000+ a month, with a few larger payments ($8,000!) this year as well.

2007 -$145,650
2009 – $109,436

Student Loans

2007 – $44,859
2009 – $32,852

Car Loan

2007 – $14,726
2009 – $6,005

IRS

Granted, this number was wrong originally, once I got it all worked out, the total was around 15K

2007 – $28,000
2009 – $0

It will be nice to get my Mom number under 6 digits in 2010. I plan on keeping up the $1,000 or so pace into the future, as this is what my Mom wants, and the reality is that I will probably be taking care of her financially even after I’ve paid back everything I lost.

After I get married (next summer!) I will start including my future wife’s numbers into the mix here. She has about the same amount of student loan debt as I do, but also a little credit card debt that we will payoff as soon as we can once we get hitched.

It was pretty funny, we checked our credit reports (and scores) this week, and I was so proud of her because she knew what a “hard pull” was and wanted to make sure that pulling our own scores wouldn’t be a hard pull. Cute.

She came in at a 711 on Experian, me at 664. Her report is actually spotless and has a great history, the only thing dragging her down a bit is her credit card balance, and once we pay that off, I’d expect her to be above 750. Very impressive.

But back to confidence.

I’m really looking forward to the day when my living in the office days of 2007 become far enough away that it becomes a funny story.

You know how really not fun things at the time can become quite a laugh after a while? Like the time my girlfriend broke up with me in 7th grade and then dated my best friend? Yeah, HILARIOUS now…..not so much then! (darn you teenage angst!)

Anyway, I’m hoping that the time is coming soon when my stories of being so ridiculously broke and in debt are comical. Well, I’m not quite there yet. I think once I’m actually debt free….then I can look back very fondly and comical on this journey, but not quite yet.

This has been one of my more rambling posts in a long time. Well, I’m off to Portland for the holidays, be safe, and have a great Christmas!


11 Alternative Investment Options for 2010

January 4, 2010


I hate stocks.

Well, I don’t really hate them. But they’ve caused me a ton of grief in the past, and thus, going forward with any “investing” I do, I am going to avoid stocks, mutual funds, forex, really anything that could be traded in the short term. Just not my cup of tea.

That leaves me looking at alternative investments for building up my networth. I currently am keeping a good chunk of change in my SmartyPig account, and that earns 2.01%, but I think I can do better and still sleep at night. I used to live for a risky investment, now I want to avoid that feeling if at all possible.

Possible Alternative Investment Options

-Land
-Real Estate
-Gold (nope, too risky in my view)
-Businesses (buying a franchise or small business, etc)
-Social Lending (Lending Club, Prosper, etc)
-Fine Art
-Wine
-Classic Cars
-Municipal Bonds
-TIPS (Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities)
-Fixed Annuities

Lets take a look into these, one by one, and see if any might be appropriate for me (and you!) in 2010.

Land

They aren’t making any more of this. But is land really a good investment? As with many investments, it looks like, “it depends”. Land tends to be very illiquid (which is OK for me to some extent) and can take a long time to sell. But I wouldn’t be looking to sell the land anytime soon. If anything, I’d want to buy a piece of land I could one day build a house on out in the country. It’s a crazy dream of mine, but I’ve always wanted like 5-10 acres for a small ranch, with some riverfront.

Cost? $250,000 in an area I would want to buy.

Risk: Medium

I could see myself making an “investment” in land when I am older, but right now it doesn’t make sense. No matter how cool it would be to own my own patch of dirt.

Real Estate

The classic story of the down on their luck person who gets into “real estate” investing and makes it big is so cliché I hate even bringing it up.

While owning and renting out real estate might sound like a blast for some people, I have little desire to be a landlord. I’m not super handy, and while I would like to learn to fix up a house, I just don’t have the time right now.

Risk: Medium

While I may purchase a home again someday, my credit history is pretty beat up, so I don’t see this as an option until at least 2011.

Gold

Gold prices have gone nuts in the past few years, and I think buying gold right now would be about as risky of an investment as I could find. So I’m going to stay away. Gold bugs will say that Gold will always hold it’s value, but with the run up it’s had, it’s just too risky for my blood

Risk: High

Buying a Business

This is one that intrigues me a bit. I have quite a bit of business experience now, my current software biz has 6 employees now, and I’ve finally figured alot of the operations side of running a business out.

Buying say a local restaurant definitely appeals to me. But, having not ever run a restaurant, I’d probably pick something else, but you get the idea. I know the failure rates for businesses, but I think there is opportunity here that I would really enjoy.

Risk: High

If I could find the right type of small business, that was local to where I was, and I could run as an absentee owner (ie, have a store manager run the day-to-day operations), I might consider it.

Social Lending

I’m a big fan of social lending. I have a small account funded at Lending Club, and so far, my returns have been great, just over 8%. Heck, I even worked part-time at Lending Club last year, which was a blast.

The two major players in the social lending sphere are Lending Club and Prosper.

Risk: Medium

For me, I need to start putting more of my cash reserve into Lending Club, maybe even 20%. I feel confident in the Lending Club team and their processes to keep defaults low.

Fine Art

I read up quite a bit on “investing in art” and it seems very, very risky. Sure, the market has had some great returns, but it seems mostly on very high-end dead artists stuff. And even still, the market seems to depend on the wealthy too much.

I like investments that I have some control over. Art is not for me. Not liquid at all, and I’d rather just support some local artist and buy something I really really enjoy.

Risk: High

Wine

Here is one where I think for some people (wine lovers!), this might be worth looking into.
Me?
I just don’t like alcohol all that much. I rarely drink wine, and don’t particularly like it. So, investing in wine is out for me. But for those who invest in Bordeaux wines, apparently the risk isn’t terrible. Also the New York Times thinks now is the time to invest….

Risk: High

Don’t get drunk on this investment!

Classic Cars

This is another alternative investment option that seems unlikely to payoff unless you know the niche well. I know nothing about cars, but I’m sure there are lots of people out there who could identify value in classic cars. Just not for me.

At least with this type of “investment” like wine, you get something you can be proud of. But that’s not a good reason to invest in something. I want to invest in numbers, not the number of waves I get out on a sunday drive.

Risk: Medium

Municipal Bonds

Muni-Bonds are bonds issued by local governments to fund anything from schools to roads to a general budget. Looking up some Municpal bonds in Washington State I found a bunch for some of the Ports around here as well as many of the counties. Most yields were in the 5% range on average.

Muni-Bonds are often non-taxable, which is nice, especially if you are in a higher tax bracket.

Risk: Low-High (depends on the Bond Rating)

This is something I would consider investing in. I think a well diversified muni-bond portfolio could be a pretty low-risk investment, but it’s something I want to do some more research on in 2010.

TIPS

TIPS are Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, which, are pretty much exactly what they sound like. Government sold by Treasury Direct (or your broker), TIPS are issued in 5, 10, and 30 year terms and payout interest twice a year. Interest is subject to federal income tax, but not state or local income taxes.

If inflation occurs, your twice yearly interest payment will increase (market to the Consumer Price Index). Likewise if deflation occurs.

Risk: Low

These look interesting, but the yields are not great right now (shocker) with the 10 year yield near 1%. Ouch. I’d rather just put my money in a high yield account.

Annuities

Oh boy. Now we are getting into some controversial stuff. Depending on who you ask, Annuities can be a great income stream, or an absolute ripoff. The advantages seem to be that you get a fixed return…that’s nice. But at what cost? The high costs of annuities and the general complexity of them are enough to keep me away

Risk: Medium

Alternative Alternatives?

Staying away from stocks, mutual fund, et. all….what other alternative investments might be worth pursuing? Alpacas? Beanie Babies? : )

No really, what can you think of that is outside the box?



Staying Focused On The Goal

January 11, 2010

I’m having trouble staying focused and motivated on my goal this year, which btw, isn’t to be debt free, but to have a positive net worth.

I’m getting complacent. A little lazy. Coffee doesn’t even seem to be helping much lately.

The problem is a general lack of pain in my life right now. I’ve gotten comfortable. It’s time to shake things up. Not that I need pain in my life, but I need something to get me moving!

I think I just need to come back to the fact that I’m going to have to support my mother the rest of her life. I still owe Mom around $108,000. But the reality is that I’ll be sending $1,000 checks to my Mom the rest of her life. At least that’s what it’s looking like right now.

And, I just found out that my Mom’s part-time job is shutting down their office in a few months, and my Mom will be out of work. She was making about $1,000 a month at the job.

It’s strange being 26 and supporting your family. It doesn’t feel like a burden to me, I mean, I put this on myself, but it does feel like pressure.

Like, if I don’t bring home the bacon, what happens to my Mom? I dunno. There are other family members, but no one in our immediate family has the extra income to support my Mom.

Now, I’m feeling a little more motivated.

And….jeez DK, I’m getting married in like 6 months! My fiancee knows all my debt situation, and is fine with it….but gosh darn, I’d like to have a bigger cushion going into our marriage. I’m hoping by our wedding I can hit the networth even mark. We’ll see.


You Are Not What You Drive, Right?

January 14, 2010

"I drive a Dodge Stratus!"

Side note: my fiancee and I will be selling her car once we get married. I drive a 2006 Scion xB with 70K/miles on it.

I had a funny conversation with my brother today. My younger brother doesn’t have a car, he rides his bike and the bus to his work.

But lately he’s been rolling in a Lexus SUV.

Quite the change.

The car is my father’s and my brother has had a bunch of interviews around town and so my Dad is letting him borrow the car.

He said, “I feel very self-conscious in the Lexus”

I probably would too….but I bet you get used to it.

Cars are a funny thing. They are one of the most visible ways we judge each other’s financial situation right? I mean, I know I do. My office is in a nice part of town, and the number of Land Rover’s and BMW’s makes them the norm. My apartment however is in a more, umm…Volvo part of town.

Which gets to my point….

You can tell absolutely NOTHING about a person’s overall financial situation from what kind of car they drive.

You can however tell what they value.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with driving a nicer car if you can afford it. But if you’re rolling around in a $600/month leased BMW….and you’re in debt up to your eyeballs….not a good idea.

The funny thing is…let’s say the BMW leaser is a young professional. Most people would see the car, see the job, and conclude….”Success!”

Ugggghhh.

I for one am resolving to quit making snap judgements about anyone based on the car that they drive. It’s just one of those things that’s so easy to fake.

All hat, no cattle.

So, you’re not what you drive, right?



Why Do We Get Into Credit Card Debt?

January 18, 2010



This is another post in my series about busting debt, in partnership with Lending Club. I wrote about the 9 rules to follow to get out of debt recently.
I’ve been having a think lately about why we purchase things. And if *things* are usually the reason so many millions of us are stuck in debt.

Me? Yeah, I made some dumb purchases (a $2,000 camcorder in 2006 come to mind), but on the whole, my debt resulted more from my trading losses than my spending patterns. But I’m not the normal debtor.

Lots of people get into debt because of medical bills. That’s been well documented. I’ll stay away from that debt debate.

I’m fascinated by the individual that goes into debt to impress others.

I can relate to that person in some respect. The whole reason I was attracted to day trading was because I deep down, wanted to show others how ahead of the game I was. I was trading advanced options and currencies that 99.9% of people don’t even understand. It made me feel superior (of course, superiorly-stupid in retrospect).

Meet Johnny Debt

Why do people purchase a luxury item when they are in debt? I mean, lets say Johnny Debt is 5K in credit card debt. Johnny goes and buys a new flat panel LCD TV for $1800, though his current 32″ LCD works great.

I think Johhny’s purchase comes down short-term vs. long-term thinking.

Making that purchase, Johnny improves his *image* in the short term, right?

Long term, that purchase adds to his credit card debt, and assuming his past patterns continue, he’ll go further and further into debt.

Does Johnny think he’ll get a big promotion at work in the next few years? Does he just not even think about paying off the TV in the future?

I’m super curious about this type of behavior now. I think my thinking is so long term now, that it’s difficult for me to imagine this frame of mind.

So, debt isn’t attractive. But what we can finance with that debt is attractive, right? (To some people at least)

What do you think? Why does someone in debt purchase a non-essential item?


13 Tips To Reduce Your Wedding Budget

February 3, 2010

This is a special post from debtkid reader Kimberly. Great tips for setting at wedding budget! Just in time for me as I got engaged at the end of last year!

Congratulations, you’re engaged! Now that you are now a “we,” personal finance should become part of the conversation. You could be thrown into this immediately with the thoughts of a wedding. As weddings can be overwhelming, expensive and all-encompassing, this series will discuss the way that personal finance and weddings can co-exist.

Dig a little into planning, and you begin to wonder – how much will this party cost? The largest party most people throw is a Halloween bash of a couple hundred dollars. Weddings can range from a $50 Justice of the Peace affair to hundreds of thousands. For those who enjoy thinking about personal finance, a wedding can present a whole host of challenges to a budget beyond adding up numbers – family expectations, relationships, and differing financial perspectives. Many will decry any restraint in the celebration of a marriage – and the kool-aid is easy to drink. If you’re determined not to be driven crazy, a budget is a must-have tool.

First, imagine the wedding of your dreams – a snazzy swing band, 1941 Packard LeBaron, bungee jumping, lobster, or a hot air balloon ride. Then imagine the smallest wedding you will enjoy, and plan for it. Write down every guest that you could ever hope to invite to (childhood friends, co-workers, long lost cousins) avoid continually revising the list upwards. Figure out a location amenable to both sets of families. Dream about location – a rural location is easier on the wedding budget, but more expensive for the traveler. Do some internet research to reveal the costs; typical high cost items include save the date cards, invitations, dress, tuxedo rental, celebrant, church rental, church musician, reception venue, food, open bar, photographer, florist, centerpieces, bridal party gifts, party favors, hotel, getaway car, rehearsal dinner, honeymoon.

Next, figure out who is paying – which inevitably means going back to step two and revising the budget! If a parent offers to pay, thank them…and remember that nothing in life is free! But regardless of who pays, no one should take on debt for a wedding – few things can shackle a young marriage quicker than money woes. Therefore, simple life hacks to reduce the budget are:

Tips To Reduce Your Wedding Budget

  • skip the wedding planner
  • ask guests for help in lieu of a gift – hosting (large house/yard; club membership for a reduced rental fee), talent (photographer, hair stylist), getaway car (a convertible will do), honeymoon (vacation house)
  • hold the ceremony in a park – free, manicured, and less flowers needed!
  • wear a used or non-standard wedding dress
  • plan the day for the off-season (fall and winter)
  • dance to a DJ instead of a band
  • create a center piece with peacock/ostrich feathers and branches (no florist!)
  • email the save-the-date instead of sending a paper version
  • hold the ceremony and reception at the same venue
  • serve hors d’oeuvres instead of a meal
  • eliminate party favors
  • hold the reception at an orchard or old barn (not inhabited by animals!)
  • serve ethnic food – tends to be cheaper

Like anything, planning is the key. Create your vision together, and talk about creating a budget with your fiancé. This is harder than creating a monthly budget because you do not have a history of costs from which to estimate. One way to handle this is to treat it like a construction project and pad the budget by 10%. And as described in Debt Kid, ING offers subaccounts so that you can track your saving. Good luck, hang on, and enjoy being the ringmaster.


Should I Buy Term Life Insurance?

February 8, 2010

Read here: http://www.debtkid.com/should-i-buy-term-life-insurance


Moving to Portland, OR

February 11, 2010

Being engaged is a strange place in life. You’re no longer just “dating” and yet, you’re not yet married.

It’s a heck of a lot of waiting.

Waiting to move (more on this).

Waiting to live together (til after we are hitched).

Waiting for checks to come so I can pay off more debt (I want to pay off my car this month!)

Wait. Wait. Wait.

I swear, I’ve read more news and blog posts in the last two weeks than I have in the last few months.

I’m trying not to spend much money on my business right now, keep costs low, and profits up, and so I’m bored at work half the time. But I head to the office….because what else am I going to do all day?

Moving To Portland

I am excited about moving to Portland Oregon.

My fiancee and I will be looking for a place in the next few months before our wedding. She will live in our new place for a few months while I move in with my Mom for a few months until we are married. Free rent!

So, lots of change coming. Just. Not. Yet.

10 Things Millionaires Won’t Tell You

I read a really interesting article on smartmoney today about millionaires. Number 7 was that the median college GPA is 2.9.

My cumulative college GPA?

2.9

Ha, that made me laugh. Next time my fiancee mentions my not so stellar college grades, I’ll bring that little statistic out!

Portland Finance Bloggers

JD Roth of Get Rich Slowly fame is a Portland area blogger, but I don’t know of any other personal finance bloggers in Portland. If you know any, or are one, leave a comment and we can meet at some hole in the wall coffee place sometime and talk about the “weird” that is Portland.


Stop Acting Rich

February 17, 2010

I’m about 3/4 the way through “Stop Acting Rich” by the same author of “The Millionaire Next Door“, Thomas Stanley.

The good news is that for the most part, my consumption and spending habits match exactly with the frugal millionaires (or Toyota Millionaires) that Stanley lusts over.

I don’t even drink Vodka, but if I did, I’m sure it would be the $10 bottle brand, not the $60 grey goose brand.

I drive a Toyota, which is good according to the book (well built, not flashy, good value). And I don’t lease. My car isn’t totally paid off yet, but I hope to have it paid off at the end of this month. Then I’ll go buy a new Mercedes….

Just kidding. My fiancee and I will probably keep my Scion Xb (a Toyota brand) for years to come. It’s a great little car.

Now, the one part of the book that worries me a little bit is that Stanley statistics show that the area you live in determines your spending habits. Not a shocker, but I think this will be a struggle for me when I move. We are planning to live in a nicer neighborhood in Portland, though will be renting. I don’t think our spending habits will change, but according the “Stop Acting Rich” they most certainly will.

I know for a fact our food budget is going to go down. It’s always been my Achilles heel. I’m just not much of a cook, and I’m willing to part with dollars to get food. I love food. So, our food budget has been way too high for a long time. Living together however, and without the stressful job my fiancee has now, I think we will cook a ton more. In fact, I know we will. As cliche as it is, she is looking forward to cooking more, and I’m looking forward to eating! (and doing the dishes of course!)

Why do so many people, especially my age group (young professionals), “Act Rich”.

Well, we think that to be “Rich” you have to drive a Mercedes, and buy a fancy condo. We don’t drive around town with our savings account balances as our hood ornaments, but maybe we should.

So, as I prepare to live in a nicer part of town after I’m married, both me and my wife will vow to not “act rich”. One, because we aren’t. And two, because being rich isn’t about status symbols. It’s about freedom, and the ability to sleep at night without worrying that the Repo man is taking away your leased Mercedes.


I ate better when I was broke

February 23, 2010

I stepped on the scale this weekend, and the results were not pretty. 199.8 lbs.

Yikes. Now, I don’t consider myself “fat” but I’ve gained 15 lbs since last summer, and I’m not happy about it.

I was thinking about my food spending habits lately, and I know there is some correlation between my weight gain and my income gain. When I was dirt poor, I thought about every single grocery purchase. I never splurged on anything extra.

Now with a little more cushion in my budget, I’ve noticed that I throw in extra food into my cart that I wouldn’t have even considered when I was broke.

So, I need to go back to shopping like I’ve got $70 in the bank instead of $700.

The good news is that since my “fat awakening” I’ve already started eating better. I’ve even been counting calories, which is shockingly familiar to counting dollars. I’ve found it kind of a fun game to play watching how many calories I eat. I even splurged on a food scanning app for my iPhone to scan food items and track the calories, it makes it super easy and fun.

My goal is to be 180 lbs by my wedding in July. I weighed in at 196.4 this morning, so I’ve got a ways to go, but definitely some time to get it done. Maybe I’ll post some before and after shots here for motivation.

The last two months have been bad health and spending wise. With my fiancee’s mother passing, and then we both got sick for 2 weeks, we just ate terrible. And all that happened right after the holidays. Not exactly the best way to start 2010. Here’s looking at a better March!



Talking about debt

February 26, 2010

Here from CNN Money? Make sure to subscribe!. Also, if you have a few hours and want to start from the beginning of my story in January of 2007, here’s my very first post. Grab some coffee.

Very few people like talking about debt. Those who do are either 1. personal finance bloggers or 2. weirdos who don’t care what anyone thinks.

I fall into both camps, and lately I’ve been feeling more and more ok talking about the mistakes I made in the past. Probably because I’ve come so far since I made them.

Why don’t we talk about money

My fiancee and I talk about money quite a bit. Probably more than we even need too. But, given my unique debt situation, it’s often warranted.

But I can count on one hand the number of money conversations I’ve had with friends in the past 3-4 years. For such an important part of our lives, the topic just doesn’t come up that much. And I don’t mean conversations like, “How much do you make?” those don’t need to come up. But conversations like, “How do you guys save? Where do you save? Do you save money? Do you invest? How? Why?” etc. Those types of conversations could be fantastically interesting to have…

So, how do you start those conversations or are they better left to just your spouse and you?


Home Loans For The Self Employed? Good Luck

March 2, 2010

Read here: http://www.debtkid.com/home-loans-for-the-self-employed-good-luck


How To Prevent Lifestyle Inflation

March 12, 2010

So, I’m moving soon. And I’m moving into a neighborhood that has a significantly higher “lifestyle” than my current neighborhood. And gosh darn it if I haven’t read ever smart money book that explains how you spend like those around you! And gosh darn it, I’m gonna try to avoid it. My fiancee and I are quite frugal, and intend to stay that way.

So, here’s my strategy for preventing lifestyle inflation (ie, spending more as you have more money, live in a nicer part of town, etc)

1. Acknowledge The Pressure

I have no doubts that there will be external pressure, both seen and unseen to spend more. The good news is that I pretty much gave up caring what people thought of what I wear, or drive, years ago. I lived in an office on the floor for two months for goodness-sakes. But the pressure will be there. So, Step 1 is acknowledging that the pressure will be there. There is no use denying it.

2. Talk about Spending Changes

If you have a spouse, or significant other, talk about how you can prevent lifestyle inflation. I found just discussing the issue with my fiancee uncovered a number of good insights. Agree to not fall into the “keeping up with the Joneses” trap. Stuff doesn’t equal happiness. Never does. Never will.

3. Allow Yourself to Inflate A Little (if you’re debt free!)

Allowing yourself a little inflation isn’t necessarily evil. If you’re making more, and out of debt completely, then living it up a little bit is totally OK. Lifestyle inflation is a negative when you’re broke, or just buying for appearances, but spending more doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. It’s all about moderation, and circumstance.

4. Learn to Cook

One of the easiest ways to blow money with friends is to eat out all the time. Learning to cook, even if that means spending more on groceries, is a fantastic way to avoid lifestyle inflation. Instead of going out with friends, offer to cook them dinner! It will end up being cheaper for you, and you’ll probably have a chance at a deeper connection with a home-cooked meal anyway.

How do you prevent lifestyle inflation?


The Debt Slog

March 16, 2010

Photo by Respres

Sometimes getting out of debt is just downright, utterly….boring. It’s a slog. A knock-down drag out fight that certainly know one would watch, let alone pay for on pay-per-view.

I’m feeling the slog of debt right now. Sure, the future is looking bright, and gosh darn it, I’ve come a long, long way. But I’m still not even to a point where I feel comfortable sharing my story with friends or extended family yet. I know I will get there (probably early next year), but in the meantime, I’m struggling to stay motivated.

I just want to blow $300!

All I want to do is go out and blow like $300 on something I don’t need (like an xbox 360!).

I’ll get home, play it for an hour, then feel terrible. So, darn it, I won’t blow the $300.

The truth is I’m sick of scrimping. I’m sick of feeling bad for every purchase I make. I’m tired of having dreams at night where I’m watching stock charts and I’m up like a million bucks only to see it all vanish.

But, I got myself into this slog, and I’ll get myself out of it. Heck, I can’t believe how fast the 15 months have gone. It seems like just yesterday I was spending friday nights at home, working….and now, boom! I’m getting married this summer. And moving to Portland. And getting out of debt.

Now that I’m out of emergency debt mode (ie, an overdraft charge could put me on the streets), and starting to build a nice savings account, I’ve found my goals changing. My old goals were all based around my debt, and dealing with that. And while I still have a ways to go, I can see the light.

And lately my software business has been slow, and so I’ve had lots of time to think about what I’m doing with my time.

I always wanted to be a “hero”

When I was in high school, I wanted to be a hero. No joke. I wanted to join the military, and go save the world. A long story short, that didn’t end up going as I had planned.

Then I wanted to save my Mom. So I thought, “Oh, I’ll just day-trade her account into financial freedom!” Well, we all know how well that went.

Can idealism be practical?

But now I’ve learned my lessons. I’ve taken some crazy hard lumps, and as I’m seeing some success across nearly every area of my life, I’m thinking, “How do I get back some of my idealism, mixed with my newfound practicality?”

I don’t know the answer yet. It really doesn’t matter anyway. Even if I wanted to run off and join the peace corp or something I can’t. I still owe my mother too much money, and I need to focus on earning more, savings more, and paying that back quicker.

So, the debt slog is a bit like this post. Long. Rambling. Boring.

As that fish in Finding Nemo says, “Just keep swimming!”


IRS Sure is Cashing Checks Fast These Days

March 25, 2010

Wow. The IRS is getting zippy. I’ve noticed the past few checks I’ve sent them seem to be getting cashed lightning fast.

I actually like it, it’s nice to not have a check outstanding for weeks on end. I’ve seen checks to the Treasury that are out of my bank account in 4-5 business days from the day that I mail the check! That’s speedy.

Anyone else notice an uptick?


How Does A Bank Make Money?

March 29, 2010

Read here: http://www.debtkid.com/banking#bankmakemoney


One Simple Money Hack To Spend Less and Save More

April 5, 2010

Every since I’ve not been completely broke, I’ve been using a simple mind trick to make sure I check my spending.

I never keep more than $2,000 in my checking account.

And I keep my savings account at a separate institution (SmartyPig for right now), than my checking account. (Bank of America)

Keeping the minimum amount in my checking account makes sure I never make a larger impulse purchase or business investment. I have to wait at least a few business days to transfer any money from savings. Sure, it isn’t the most convenient setup, but I’m not looking for convenience in accessing my money!

Most immediate emergencies, like my car braking down, or a dental emergency, won’t be over $1,000. So I feel comfortable not keeping much in checking.

Any extra money over 2K goes into my online savings account.

It doesn’t have to be $2,000. It could be $500, or even $100, or $5,000.

Anyone else use this hack?


New Government Short Sale Program: Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives

April 6, 2010

image from icanhascheeseburger.com

If you’re facing foreclosure, getting behind on your payments, or need to move but are “underwater” with your mortgage, help may be on the way. The new program is called: Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives

After the government’s abysmal failure to modify loan mortgages, they are finally giving some help to the win-win situation: a short sale

What is a Short Sale

A “short sale” is when the homeowner sells their house on the open market, but the bank agrees to a sale that is less than (“short” of) the mortgage balance owed.

The government’s new program will in some cases even help the homeowner transition to new housing with a $1,500 cash allowance. Why? Because they want to stem the tide of foreclosures, and a short sale is a decent alternative. Obviously keeping people in their home would be best, but it’s just not possible for millions of homeowners right now. The program will also give $1,000 to banks who participate in the program.

Short Sales Take Time

As someone who successfully went through a short sale, I will say this: it’s not an easy process. This new law should speed up the process a bit, but it still can take a very long time. I was lucky to work with a very experienced short sale real estate agent, and I would highly recommend you do the same if you’re thinking of going this route.

I’ve written quite a bit about short sales including:

Short Sale Better in the Long Run

My take on a short sale is to think about it from a future lender’s point of view. Rather than just stopping all communication and “walking away”, you work with the bank to get an agreeable amount for your house, and you at least make the effort. It will hurt your credit score, but it won’t destroy it, and from a Banker’s point of view, it looks much better than a foreclosure.

It’s been about 1 1/2 years since I completed my short sale, and my credit score has returned to the 660 range.


Are You a Renter by Choice? Judged Much?

April 16, 2010

Choose to rent? Judged!

Guilty of renting!

Warning: If you’re fanatical about home ownership, or think real estate is the fast lane to riches, you may want to skip this post.

I’m sick of it.

I’m sick of the “oh…(voice drops) that’s nice” reaction when I tell my friends that I’m renting a place when I move to Portland.

Renting…..noooooooo! Oh the horror!

God forbid someone who is a semi-successful businessperson rent.

Is owning a home really the “American Dream”?

I hate the idea that the “American Dream” is owning a home. Seriously, what PR firm did the NAR (National Association of Realtors) hire to make that myth so prevalent?

The “American Dream” is having the option, the ability to buy a home. The freedom. Not the home itself.

Even with the madness of the real estate market the past 5 years, I’m still amazed at the number of people who will judge you because “you rent”. Good lord, get over it people!

I could buy a house.

I choose not too.

I’m good.

Great scene from “Up In The Air”

There is a great scene in George Clooney’s latest flick, “Up in the Air” between himself (a renter) and his future bother-in-law…from here

“Up in the Air” main character Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) touts the benefits of a mobile, possession-free and house-free lifestyle throughout the Oscar-nominated film. In one dialogue, Bingham’s soon-to-be brother-in-law, Jim Miller (Danny McBride), asks Bingham if he owns a home now that he’s not traveling for work so often. Bingham tells him “no.”

A stunned Miller then says, “But you’re looking?”

“No. Not really,” Bingham answers, unfazed.

“So, you’re just good?” Miller asks.

“Yep, I’m just good,” Bingham replies.

Throughout the film, Bingham, in his one-bedroom apartment in Omaha, exemplifies today’s “renter by choice”–he is successful enough to buy a home, but chooses not to because renting better supports his ideal lifestyle.

By contrast, Miller supports homeownership.

“We all need a place to call our own,” he says. “It’s what we were promised.”

~~~~

It’s this type of “well, this is what I was promised” mentality that got so many people into so much trouble with the housing market. Myself included!

At 22, I should have never been able to get the mortgage I did to purchase my home. It wouldn’t happen today, but back in 2005, it was easy as pie. Fax a few bank statements, a quick credit check, and bam! Here’s $450K! No money down? No worries.

I understand the appeal and I will buy someday

I understand the appeal of home ownership. The pride of ownership is apparent in many neighborhoods, and at some point in my life, I’m sure it will appeal to me. Just not right now.

In some areas of the country, buying a home makes a ton of sense in relation to rental prices. But when I can rent a place for 1/2…..one half! of what my mortgage payment would be…how can I justify not renting? Not every market is like that, but there are many where renting is so drastically cheaper, the stigma should really be against the homeowners!

We’re all different

Let’s say someone chooses to rent a small apartment, but could afford a nice 3 bd house in their area. With that extra money however, they take 4-5 nice vacations a year, often for a week or longer.

Which lifestyle sounds better?

Well, it depends. That’s the thing, we are all different. We all have different values, and desires and goals.

And not everyone’s goal in life is just to own a home. Plus, a home is just a space to create the real meaningful aspects of life: relationships

I’m going to create lots of great memories and relationships in my rental. And if I decide I don’t like the neighborhood after a year…I’ll move. No real estate agent needed.

So please, the next time you ask someone if they are buying a home, don’t judge them if they say they are “renting” because it’s really not a bad word!


#1 Reason To Have an Emergency Fund?

April 16, 2010

emergency fund = sleep!


33 Green & Utterly Random Ways To Save Money (Uncensored Edition)

April 19, 2010


So, I wanted to get some fresh ideas on how to save money….so I paid 33 people a few nickels to give me their creative & unique ways to save money.

Be warned, I did not edit any submissions!

1. Hypermile

A way to save a lot of money and gas is hypermileing. One way to hypermile is drive slower. I can only say for my self that by driving 55MPH instead of 65 I save a quarter tank of gas a week. Also keep your tires properly inflated, and keep your RPM’s down. Try to make the car shift smoothly. If you follow these basic techniques you will be surprised how far a tank of gas will get you.

2. Cycling

One of the best tip to save your money and on the on the other hand which is good for the environment is buying a cycle and to good cycling. Cycling is the best exercise and keeps you fit and healthy and saves the penny from your pocket (saves the amount spent for gym and doctor). Cycle is environment-friendly. They do not pollute the air thereby making the environment clean and unpolluted. So search for your nearest bicycle dealer.

3. Buy in Bulk

One of the best ways I have found to save money and the environment is to buy in bulk. Even though I am a single person this works. Larger quantities of a product are usually less expensive than the smaller versions. It is just as easy to reseal a box or bag (most bulk bags are resealable) than to have a lot of smaller bags and boxes around. And the fewer plastic bags and boxes coated with plastic and print, the better it is for the environment.

4. Reuse Coffee Containers

Teachers are always looking for inexpensive crafts for their students. I save my empty plastic coffee containers (Folgers),give them to teachers to reuse for crafts for their classes. They have used them for growing plants and making gifts at Christmas.

5. Recycle Trash

Recycling trash helps save the environment. Segregating it into biodegradable and non-biodegradable is a systematic way to identify items that can be sold as is and recycled such as newspaper, bottles, and plastics. By employing creativity, you can even create a trash item into another and these ideas can even yield cash for anyone.

6. Avoid Plastic

When buying food avoid plastic utensils, straws, etc. Example- Buy icecream in a cone instead of a cup Buy products with the lease amount of packaging and make the difference

7. Unplug Electronics

It is good to unplug electrical appliances when you are not using them. This helps lower your electric bills by using less electricity, which is always good for the environment.

8. Brush w/ Baking Soda

Use baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to brush your teeth. Not only will this eliminate using artificial chemicals that may harm the environment (and yourself), but it’s more effective and inexpensive.

9. Cloth Pads (?!)

Instead of buying disposable menstrual pads every month, consider making your own washable cloth pads from flannel or terrycloth. If you normally spend about $7 per month on pads, that’s $84 a year you can save. Not to mention all that plastic that doesn’t go into the landfill. I’ve been using only cloth pads for six years now and haven’t had any problems with leakage or staining on my clothes.

10. Wash with Cold Water

Washing clothing in cold rather than hot water gets your clothes just as clean. This will save you money on your electric bill and waste less energy.

11. Paper Towel Flower Vases

I like to save my empty paper towel rolls and turn them into flower vases. Obviously they don’t hold water, but they look so cute with some easy decorating (using other local things) and my friends love getting them as gifts.

12. Reuse Coffee Cups

If possible, alway reuse coffe cups from 7-11. The money for refill is less and you make use of the cups at least 2 to 3 times.

13. Repurpose Old Clothes

Try not to throw away old clothes instead you can do some recycling work and make it to be a good handcrafted designs for various purposes like screens, floor mats and kitchen waste this way you save money on shopping for screens and door mats because you spend only once and more over if your designs are good u can sell it online this way u solve the recycling process and the energy resources involved in recycling them

14. Turn Off Lawn Mower

Turn off your gasoline powered lawn mower when you are taking a break. You will cut down on air pollution as well as noise pollution. You will save money by not wasting gasoline. Powering down your mower protects something even more precious; curious children.

15. Turn Off Unused Lights

Turn off lights that are not in use. Use energy saving light bulbs that may be more expensive at the store, but will save you money in the long run.

16. Cover Up!

Cover it up! The Windows should be covered in plastic or some other bio-degradable/recycled material. Doors should have draft catchers under each one. Windows should all be freshly caulked. This saves over 20% a month in home energy bills for our family.

17. Go LED of CFL

Forget incandescent light bulbs! Try out the compact fluorescent bulbs and LED lights! These bulbs cost more but they use less energy and last longer than the old incandescent ones! And did I mention they light up brighter?

18. Reuse Cardboard Egg Cartons and….

A way to reuse cardboard egg cartons, lint from the dryer, and the unused wax from candles. Take the lint from the dryer and tightly pack the cardboard egg cartons until the holes for the eggs are completely stuffed. Then in a metal container melt any unused parafin wax that you have laying around. Pour the wax over the egg carton/lint until they are saturated with wax. You now have your own homemade, water resistant, fire starters. Pull off one egg square at a time for use. The one square will burn for about 5 minutes before it burns off, which is usually enough to get a good fire going. This is a GREAT project for scouts to do, as they can collect these materials from family and neighbors, and then they don’t have to buy firestarters for camping trips.

19. Garden

plant your food in your garden by yourselves .the trees will stop the global warming

20. Walk Further

Extend how far you are willing to walk to do errands. If you can walk to more of your destinations, you save money on gas and you also pollute less. On top of that, you get one of the best forms of exercise there is.

21. Get a Reusable Coffee Filter

The reusable coffee filter is a way of saving money and saving the environment. Available for a couple of dollars, the reusable filter allows us to stop buying paper coffee filters. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can dump the grounds outside for compost!

22. Carpool

Assume that a certain number of office goers in an apartment complex or a street have to commute daily to offices and back in the same route. Instead of going separately if they can go in one car turn by turn, this will help reduce air pollution and will save money also at the same time.

23. Cloth Grocery Bags…

Using cloth bags for everyday use is a great environmental help. One large bag for groceries means no plastic. Take one with you to the library to carry books in. Wherever you usually end up using plastic bags…use cloth.

24. Ditch the Car

I leave my car at home and walk short distances. This saves me money on gas, and also reduces the amount of car emissions polluting the atmosphere.

25. CFL FTW

Use CFL bulbs. This will reduce usage of electricity. CFL produces bright light.

26. Jute Bags!

Use jute bag against polythene. Since poly bag is not biodegradable it cause soil pollution. Do not waste paper. Use paper economically so as to save trees.

27. Turn it off!

Turn off your car/bike/truck engine whenever possible as it has not one but multiple benefits. Switching off the engine ensures your car does not over heat, your save gas & if you save gas money, you sve money, you are also helping the environment by reducing the emission of gas in the environment. You do not need to idel your car engine to warm it especially during winters and the engines today do not need a warm-up period, in fact doing that will cause more harm to your engine. So by turning off your vehicle engine for sometime everyday when you drive will help the environment & save you money too.

28. Collect Used Water From Your Washing Machine

You can collect used out water from washing machine and can use for some other purpose..Thus we can save 10 buckets of water daily..Remember water is very precious.. Thank you…..

29. Use a Mug

I would suggest investing in purchasing a few mugs/cups and keeping them both at home and at work. The company I work for used to keep styrofoam cups for everyone to get their coffee, but they got rid of the styrofoam cups and gave all their employees a travel cup that can be used for cold and warm liquids. Obviously at first this was an investment but over time it is much less expensive to use a cup you can wash over and over again. My husband and I also used to use plastic disposable cups but we now make the effort to use a cup/mug that can be washed an re-used. This is great for the environment because there is less trash and in the end saves who knows how much money since a washable cup is really not expensive.

30. Ground The Politicians

I have a suggestion. Let’s ground our politicians and force them to share private jets thus saving taxpayers money.

31. Flex Time

Driving to and from work every day isn’t good for the economy, and it costs you money. Lots of companies, especially larger ones, are willing to let employees set more flexible schedules. If your company allows it, why not work four days a week instead of five. That way, you save one day’s worth of gas every week. In just over a month, you will have saved one week’s worth of gas. In a year, you will have cut the equivalent of 2 months of commuting! That means fewer emissions and less money spent at the pump.

32. Grocery Bag Discount!

Buy reusable grocery bags from your usual grocery or retail stores. Not only do the bags help cut down on plastic usage and landfill space, but they allow you to save money in two ways. First, if you pay for garbage removal, less bags will mean less garbage. And second, some of the stores will give you a small discount for using a store bag with your purchase!

33. Hoard Your Heat

In order to save on your bills here are some tips I have found that work during the winter time. For heating leave the heat on half and only turn it up when you take a shower and then turn it down a little after. Use space heaters in rooms and close the doors this will heat up the room and save money on oil if you turn it down when using these. For electricity when you leave a room for a extended amount of time make sure to turn of the tv and lights or other devices you wont be using for a while.


Debt Update – April 2010

April 19, 2010

I realized it’s been awhile since I updated you all on my own debt progress. I’ve been pretty swamped with moving and wedding planning the past few months, but my debt destruction planning is coming along as well!

Here’s where I stand:

Mom Trading Debt – $96,000 (first time under six digits!)
Student Loans – $32,200
Car Loan – $0 (Paid off today!)

Total Debt: $128,200

As you can see, I’ve made some significant progress since my last update in September, I’ve mostly focused on repaying my Mom, but paying off the IRS completely as well as Toyota feels fantastic!


What would you do to get out of debt?

April 20, 2010

get out of debt with blood?
I’m constantly amazed by some acquaintances, whom I know to have significant credit card and/or student loan debt, who continue to spend without regards to their current debt load.

It makes me think these people don’t really care about getting out of debt.

Well, that’s crazy. It will catch up with them eventually.

I hate debt. It hurts productivity, and is like a giant freakin’ 200 lbs weight around your neck 24/7.

Here’s what I’ve done to try to reduce my debt over the past few years:

- Sold stuff on ebay/craigslist
- Lived in my office for 2 months
- Worked friday/saturday night for months
- “Treated” myself with $5 or less rewards
- Tricked myself into saving money
- Took freelance writing gigs, other various 2nd incomes

I’ve made a ton of progress in the past few years, but it’s been because I was willing to sacrifice a bit, and work my buns off.

But, there are some things I never did do, like:

- Sell my plasma
- Sell my sperm
- Live in my car long term
- Go dumpster diving
- Apply for government aid
- Borrow more money

I don’t know if any of those things would have gotten me out of debt faster, but who knows.

So, what would you do to get out of debt?


Opening a New Online Savings Account

April 22, 2010

So, I’m going to open up a new online savings account in the next week or so. I already have a nicely funded account at SmartyPig. And while they are raising their rate to 2.15%, that’s only for up to 50K.

Top Online Savings Accounts Choices

ING Direct – classic, but not the best rate in the world
Ally Bank – Do they NOT advertise somewhere? My gosh, these guys are everywhere
Local Portland Bank – I could go local and not online at all
EverBank – $1500 deposit minimum isn’t a problem, but I once tried to open an account online and they sent me a ton of paperwork. Never finished the app

So, opening it up here, which bank should I choose and why?


Moving in with my Mother

April 27, 2010

Yep, I’m living with my Mother now.

Many people on this site suggested I do this….about 3 years ago!

I’m now living with my mother for a few months in Portland before I get married this summer. I’m just getting settled in, and so far it’s going quite well.

She’s not letting me pay rent, which is nice. But I’ve already got some yardwork tasks assigned. Fun :)


Tips For Handling Life When Everything Changes

May 26, 2010


Change is hard.

Most people do almost anything they can, subconsciously even, to avoid change. It’s why we buy the same butter that our parents did growing up, or why we will stay in a job we hate for years and years. Our bodies like routine. Routines give us structure and consistency in an otherwise chaotic and scary world.

The last three plus years of my life have been an insane flux of constant change. I had periods of consistency, 2009 for example was fairly stable. But other then that….wham, pow, change, change, change.

But, one thing I’ve learned, is that change can be good. Great even.

It was a change for me to stop day trading. I had been trading stocks and forex since I was 18 at various levels of addiction before stopping cold turkey in January of 2007. That was a big change. A good one.

I lived without hot water for months in a home going into foreclosure, before moving into an office building to save money because I was so darn broke. A pretty big change. Not such a good one.

I worked every Friday and Saturday night because I had few friends and my closest pal had gotten a boyfriend (we are now getting married : ). That change was very difficult, but brought my business to new heights and showed me the power of hard work and a little chip in the shoulder. Good change.

And now I’ve moved in with my mother, am engaged, have slimmed down my business to just a few part-time employees, and have lost all structure I had in 2009. And it’s all gonna change again when I get hitched. Good change.

How have I handled all this change? Sometimes well. Sometimes not.

My tips:

Go to the gym. Or go for a run. Nothing will clear your head and put things in perspective better then a good, even puke inducing workout.

Go to church. And if that isn’t your thing, go for a hike or a long walk, not too strenuous so you hit the puke level, but something where you can think and meditate for at least an hour.

Talk with you family. I, without a doubt, wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for my family. While I never asked them for money the last three years, the amount of other support they’ve given me goes beyond the call of duty. No one else will be there for you during difficult change like your family can be. Just make sure you ask for their help. Yes, that can be hard.

Start a blog. Or write a journal. If you’re like me, you may find that you can process your thoughts and feelings much better in written form. You don’t have to even show anyone, just start typing or writing, set aside 30 minutes, and see what comes out. This entire blog is pretty much that for me : )

Work smarter. Not just harder, but find something productive that you can feel good giving extra attention too. When lots of change is happening, having a project you can complete and control and contribute too feels fantastic.

What do you do to handle change?


What do I have to prove? Everything

June 11, 2010

You see that chip on your shoulder?

Yeah, that one. The one your boss gave you when he belittled you in front of your peers. The chip you got in Jr. High when that 8th grader threw you in the shower and just laughed.

You can use that. I know I am.

I have some pretty large chips on my shoulder. I feel I have to prove myself as not a failure after all the mistakes I made in my early 20′s. And even before my financial mistakes, I made some general life mistakes that were just dumb.

I don’t think it’s unhealthy to have a drive to “prove” yourself.

For me….it’s completely personal.

No one is harder on me, than me.

I want to prove that:

  • I can payback my mother completely (down to around 90K now!) and show those people who said some pretty nasty things about me that they were wrong
  • I can run a successful business
  • I can be a loving, caring, healthy partner to my future wife
  • I can achieve goals that I set

I feel like I lost nearly 5 years of my life because of my trading addiction.

Things are going better now. I still follow the markets from time to time, but I have no intention of every being a trader again. Don’t play with fire, right? I feel bad for people when I see the markets tank like they have recently….buy and hold, right? I dunno…I just don’t trust investing in anything I can’t directly control, or at least have some personal experience with (like Lending Club or a savings account)

My wedding is coming up fast, and I’m excited to be marrying my best friend. I’m excited to start a new chapter in my life, and prove to myself and you, the reader, that I can get past my past mistakes!

You got something to prove?


7 Health Problems Associated With Debt

July 2, 2010

Read here: 7 Health Problems Associated With Debt


“Thinking Poor”

July 20, 2010

The last few days I’ve been riding around in a nice Lexus SUV…

No, it’s not mine. I’m borrowing it while my fiancee took our car for a few days.

And it’s weird…even though I could now easily afford a Lexus, heck, any Lexus really, I just feel funny driving it. Maybe the feeling will change after a few days, but I don’t think so.

You see, I still “think poor”. Even though I’ve got a healthy emergency fund, and my car is paid off, and my income is great…I still “think poor” a lot. When I’m at the grocery store, I still get a little anxious buying the nicer fruit or an extra treat.

And it’s not a bad thing at all. In fact, I think a lot of wealthier people “think poor”. I think alot of wealthy people weren’t always wealthy and once they “made it” they don’t turn into Lexus-buying Gucci-wearing consumers.

Anyway, I haven’t “made it” buy any means. But I’m very happy. I sleep well at night now. I have a wonderful partner (and future wife!), and I have lots of fun opportunities in life to pursue.

One thing I’ve found that helps me not get carried away when I have money in the bank is to never keep more than 2-3K in my checking account. Any amount over that gets put into my online savings account at ING or SmartyPig. That little technique keeps me in check.

Also, I have a fun post coming up about a pretty large investment that I made about 6 weeks ago. It’s taken some time to get setup, and so far it’s going well, but I’m at a point with my savings now that I need to start putting some money to work outside a savings account.

So, what do you think? Do you “Think Poor”?


Bringing Debt Into a Marriage (P.S. I’m Hitched!)

August 9, 2010

Well, It’s official.

I’m married : ).

And it’s awesome. : ) : ) : )

Yes, that was three smileys in a row on a blog.

It’s a strange feeling…sometimes it feels strange, but I’d say 99% of the time, everything feels the same with my now wife, which is great, because we are both very happy.

The past few months have been pretty crazy, lots of wedding planning, moving, living in my Mom’s basement, etc. But now I’m settling in with my wife in Portland, and we just love it.

I honestly thought, when I started this blog back in January of 2007, that there was no way in heck I would be getting married anytime this side of 30 (I’m 27 now).

What, you didn’t think so either? Ha.

Bringing Debt Into Marriage

My wife brought very little debt into our marriage, she had a little chunk of credit card debt that we paid off a few months ago. She is now completely debt free.

As for me…I still have a ways to go, but I’m making great progress. The amount I owe my mother is in the 90K range, and continuing to decline each month. I may be able to pay her off in full by the end of the year, that’s the goal at least.

My car is paid off, all tax debts resolved, no credit card debt. I still have about 32K left on my student loans, but those are pretty low interest rates, and while I may pay them off this year, I may just leave them alone.

The good news about my debt issues, is that my now wife was with me through all of them. She used to come hang out with me when I was living in my office. She would wash her hands with cold water after my heat got shut off in the house I had to short sale.

So none of my debts were a surprise to her. We didn’t start dating until I had really turned things around a bit, but it was still pretty touch and go even when we first started dating.

I think bringing any amount of debt into a marriage CAN work, but only if you both are clear on how much and what the plan is for paying it off. Communication is the key.

Mrs. Debt Kid?

I asked my wife to do a guest post here, so hopefully in the next week or so you’ll get some words from her perspective on my journey (and hers with me) over the last few years.

Thanks again for being such awesome readers!


Investing $100,000 with Lending Club PRIME

August 13, 2010

Why so much money?

Well, it was just sitting in a savings account earning less than 2%, and I need to diversify my investments a little, but I’m not ready to go back into the stock market yet. I realize there is risk involved with holding a personal loan portfolio, but I’ve met the Lending Club team, and I feel confident in their tactics and processes to minimize that risk.

I’m looking now for investments that generate cash, and Lending Club fits that bill.

Setting up my Lending Club PRIME account

I didn’t want to choose dozens of loans on my own, and since Lending Club was waiving the normal .8% PRIME loading fee, I decided to enroll in their PRIME program.

The PRIME program allows Lending Club to invest on my behalf, which is exactly what I’m looking for. I want a hands off, low risk approach to this pretty significant chunk of money.

They were also offering a bonus on deposits, so I took advantage of that : )

Filling out the forms

I talked with Chris, a client analyst, and he sent me over the form (Prime Investment Account Order Form) that allows Lending Club to invest on my behalf. I figured there must be something to sign to allow them to pick loans for me.

The form has you specify what interest rate you want to show for (and thus how much risk you want in your loan portfolio). The options were: 11%, 13%, 15%.

I went with the lowest risk option, shooting for a 11% return.

Funding Notes

Once I had faxed the form back, the Lending Club team started investing on my behalf in notes in my risk range, in $250 increments.

The process took about 3-4 weeks to fully complete. I imagine with smaller amounts it would be quicker. Larger amount would probably take a little longer.

3 Months Later…

3 Months into the PRIME program and things are looking very good. It’s very hands off, as new payments come in, and I have cash sitting in my account, it gets auto-reinvested about once a week.

I get an e-mail every time that happens, but I don’t have to do anything myself for that to happen. I think that’s probably the best feature of PRIME accounts, once you’re setup, your investments just run on auto-pilot according to your interest rate selection.

Any Defaults?

So far, not yet. But it’s only been 3 months, and I expect with the sheer number of notes that I have invested in (446 as of today) that I will have a number of defaults. I do have one loan that is in the 15-day late category, but hopefully that will get back to current soon.

Diversifying My Investments

As I look into more investments beyond just a savings account, I’m going to get pretty creative. Lending Club is pretty strait-forward, but it is not conventional by any means. I figure as long as I end up with a 5-6% return, I will be happy. There is just no way to have your money work for you sitting even in a so-called high yield online savings account. The rates are just too low right now.

I still plan on staying away from stock investment for the time being. At some point I may look into some dividend stocks for the cash-flow, but for right now I’m sitting on the sidelines. I was pretty much the worst stock investor ever, so I’m very, very hesitant to ever commit a large amount of money to something that I don’t know and understand inside and out.

To sign up for Lending Club Prime: Click HERE


Should You Ever Buy A New Car?

August 17, 2010

A friend of mine was considering buying a used luxury vehicle (3-4 years old), and while it’s not a car I would ever buy, it fits his personality.

However, he is thinking of now buying new because,

“The interest rate on a new car is a lot lower, 1.9% vs 4 or 5%”

Now, my friend is one of the smartest people I know…but this is just terrible logic, right?

On a $40,000 loan, a 2 or 3% rate difference isn’t going to make a dent in even just the first year of depreciation on a new car.

I know if I ask for advice, everyone is going to scream, “Stupid! Go for the used car”….

but,

Are there ever any reasons to buy a new car? (I can think of a few…mostly not financial though!


How Open Are You About Your Debt?

August 24, 2010

The past few years, with “this economy” and all, have given rise to more and more talk about a formally very taboo topic:

Money.

But, what still seems pretty taboo, at least in my social circle, is talk about debt.

Student loans are a common gripe from 20-somethings my age, but beyond that, I’ve never had more than a few sentence conversion about credit cards, or other “bad debt”.

Except of course when someone whips out their “rewards credit card” at a dinner and explains,

“I get like 1% cashback at XYZ store”

To which I always try to hide my thoughts. I know responsible people can use rewards cards well, but for alot of people, it just gets them into trouble. And since we don’t talk about debt much, I never know with people which way they use their credit cards.

I think my own journey out of debt is something I’m going to start sharing more with some of my friends. Very few people outside my wife and immediately family know anything about my past debt issues or trading addiction.

I think I am getting to a point now where I can talk about my trading addition and now get too upset at myself about it. And I think that will help me in explaining my history to my friends.

Anywho, if I do tell any of my friends over the next few weeks, I will for sure report their reactions!

How Open Are You About Any Debt?

That being said, how open are you about your debt with your friends & family?


Are High Yield Savings Accounts Dead For Good?

August 30, 2010

A while back I did a post about the death of the “high yield savings account“.

Now, over a year later, rates are only lower.

Yep, the days of a 4-5% yield for an online savings account are gone. But will they ever return?

Not any time soon, say most economists.

2010 has been a year of massive withdrawals by investors from equities (stocks) and into more conservative investments (bonds, treasuries, CD’s, etc).


And it’s a simple law of supply and demand. There is lots of supply of money going into these lower yielding investments, which in turn, drives yields even lower.

So don’t expect to see rates on savings accounts up anytime soon. The fed plans to keep interest rates low for the foreseeable future. They see any interest rate hike as a potential knock-out blow to any type of recovery we might get here in the US.

As for me, I am still keeping a good chunk of my savings in online savings accounts and away from stocks. I still don’t see myself investing heavily, if at all, in the stock market anytime soon, give my past with the darn thing.

Are you moving money into lower risk investments? Have you this year?


Frugal Hobby Ideas

September 1, 2010

First off…marriage is awesome. I love living with my wife, and we are a fantastic team.

But marriage has brought me that I wasn’t expecting: more time.

Before I got hitched I would always have to drive home somewhere in the evening, and so most often our nights ended around 9pm or earlier. Now living together, my wife and I are getting lots more time together (mornings, late evenings, lunches, etc).

Need Some Frugal Time Killers

It’s great, but I think I need some hobbies!

For the past 4 years, any spare second I had that I wasn’t spending with my now wife was spent either: working, or working. Even when I would watch a tv show, I was usually working at the same time.

I’ve started playing basketball at my gym quite a bit, but I only want to play maybe 2-3 times a week.

I need some frugal hobbies that take up time that I would enjoy. These could be either things I do on my own or with my wife. I really need a mix of both.

About.com has a list of 8 Frugal Hobbies, but most are pretty domestic and one, Reading, I already do a lot of. I just finished, “Enders Game” (a book I had heard about for ages, loved it!) and am currently reading, “Tipping Point”. So, I’m good there. Photography could be something, but everyones “a photographer”…maybe I could get back into making videos. I’ve always enjoyed that.

Jim at Bargaineering has a nice list of 10 frugal hobbies. I already blog, play basketball, and hike. Geocaching could be fun, but I’d need to get a GPS, although I wonder if an iPhone would work. There is a good thread here on Saving Advice with some good ideas. Maybe a class at the local community college? That could be fun.

Top Ideas

OK, after researching a bit, here’s my top picks

  • Classes at a local YMCA or Community College (I’ve always wanted to learn to program and do real web design work)
  • Acting Classes (not sure if this would be frugal) or something like Toastmasters (again, not sure if could be frugal)
  • Digital Photography (maybe try taking a class first) or Digital Filmmaking (I love movies)
  • ????

What Are Your Frugal Hobbies?

What hobbies do you have that are fun and cheap?


My #1 Rule of Money Etiquette

October 17, 2010

I just asked my (new) wife: “What should I write about?”

She said, “Money Etiquette….like who pays for what, and when”.

We are coming into wedding season for us (after just doing our own wedding this summer) and it’s an interesting topic that we’ve encountered quite a bit the past few months.

Here’s my number 1 rule of Money Etiquette

If someone wants to do something nice for you, and it isn’t a financial strain for them, let them.

In many cultures (not so much America) it is very rude to NOT accept a gift, or an offer of food, service, hospitality etc.

You would not believe how many of my parent’s mothers love having me over because I graciously accept their hospitality. Too often we say, “No, thank you, I’m fine” instead of “Oh yes, I’d love to have some of that cake you baked (even though I’m on a diet)”.

Now, when someone offers to cover the whole bill at a group dinner in a passive-aggressive manner, and they aren’t significantly more well off than the rest of the group…then make a little stink. The person is just trying to look good.

What’s your #1 Money Etiquette rule?


How Much Savings Is Enough?

October 22, 2010

I’m running into a big dilemma. Granted, it is a very, very good dilemma to have. 2 years ago I never thought I would have this problem…

I’m thinking I need to start “investing” again.

Ughhhhgh. The whole thought of buying a stock again just makes me shiver. But at a certain point, the whopping 1.4% I’m earning in my high yield savings accounts just are not cutting it. CD Rates are absolute garbage, so no point looking there.

I’ve got now well more than enough of an emergency fund, and I know even have enough saved so that I could pay back the rest of the balance I owe my mother (down to around $90K now!).

I’ve already made a significant investment in Lending Club, so I don’t want to put any more money there.

What should I do? Should I bit the bullet and invest in some stocks? (My plan if I ever do this is to get the stock certificates from the purchases and lock them in a safety deposit box…that will make them hard to day trade!). Should I just keep putting cash in savings?


5 Debt Blogs Worth Reading

October 26, 2010

Read here: 5 Debt Blogs Worth Reading


My New Commuter Bike: Scott SUB 10

October 27, 2010

Since moving, getting married, and all that jazz, there has been a pretty big change in one of my daily routines:

I hardly ever drive anywhere anymore.

Which means I’ve been walking like a madman all over Portland. Which is great in the summer, and even into the fall, but it’s getting colder now, and I hate being cold.

So I splurged and got a new bike! I love it. It’s really the first major discretionary purchase I’ve made in years besides my wife’s engagement ring.

Here she is:

Scott SUB 10 Commuter Bike

white lighting!

I paid $975.93 + fenders, a helmet, lock and lights. Just over 1K.

I love riding this thing. I don’t mind walking to my office for example, but it takes about 15 minutes, and when it’s 40-degrees out and raining, I’d rather bike and make it in about 4 minutes.

I’ve also been riding around other parts of town and using it to strengthen my legs to get ready for winter. I want to try some snowboarding and XC skiing this year, so getting my legs into tip top shape is a high priority for me.

What do you think? Good purchase? Bad purchase?


Are you too comfortable?

November 15, 2010

Being comfortable financially is what we all strive for, right?

But being comfortable means you:

  • Don’t strive to make more money
  • Don’t make savings a priority
  • Think “getting out of debt” will happen tomorrow
  • Are average, just like everyone else

I think one of the primary reasons I’ve been able to dig myself out of the giant hole I was in….was because of the extreme uncomfort of my situation.

I didn’t like not having a mattress to sleep on.

I didn’t enjoy having creditors call me every hour.

I hated that I had to hide my true living situation from my friends.

I was very, very uncomfortable.

And it made me work harder than I ever thought I would have too, to change that extreme uncomfort.

This year I’ve gotten comfortable. And I stopped striving to hit larger goals. And it’s time to change.

Have you gotten too comfortable?


Paid Off My Private Student Loans

November 16, 2010

So, I actually thought I had done this about a month back….turns out the check *literally* got lost in the mail.

But now, it’s done! My private student loans are completely paid off. Suck it Sallie Mae!

Private Student Loans Paid Off!

I still have $8,354 in a federal student loan that I will try to pay off probably in the early part of next year.

It feels really get to get those paid off, it was around 22K that was at interest rates from 6% up to 9.25%.

Overall it feels good to almost have my college experience paid off. I was worried I was going to be stuck with these debts for a very long time (student loans aren’t discharged in bankruptcy). If I ever go back to school, I would not borrow to pay for it however.


Mint.com Can’t Seem To Pay It’s Bills

November 23, 2010

Mint.com Late PaymentsBefore Mint.com was acquired by Intuit, they had a history of slow payments to contract bloggers for content and advertising.

Since the acquisition, thousands of dollars has gone unpaid to at least a half dozen personal finance bloggers, including $1200 to one blogger alone.

“The process was running really smooth until Intuit took over. As of now, November will be 9 months of them not paying me. They keep saying they are going to pay, but I’m kind of getting fed up with it which sucks, because I really like Mint”
- Personal Finance Blogger

Another blogger on neglect at Mint.com,

“Working with them up until the last few months for me hasn’t been that bad. They were always slow in paying, but they always paid.

In the last few months, however, their slowness has turned into outright neglect -and multiple emails garnered no response. Finally they have gotten back to me and I expect to be paid within the next couple of weeks, but it has been a long time coming.

I really noticed things getting slower in the last 6 months or so especially since they were bought out by Intuit, and things at their company started changing, and i think a lot of bloggers were just falling through the cracks. They told me that systems were changing, and that they were trying to come up with a new to make the payments happen, but it probably slower than it needed to be.

If they can get things squared away and a new process working, i’ll be happy to continue with them, but the last few months have left a sour taste in my mouth” – Blogger currently owed $1200

From Mrs. Micah @ Finance Freelance Life,

“FWIW, 2 days ago I closed my Mint.com account and in reasons for closing said 1) I wasn’t using it any more but that I’d probably have let it stay dormant except 2) I heard that they had owed thousands of dollars to bloggers who’d advertised for it and hadn’t paid them in over 6 months. And that I thought it was a shoddy way to run a business.

I’m actually pretty sure that they owe me money from last winter, but it was so long ago and I don’t even know if I have the e-mails and it’s too much of a headache to dig those out. So I just said bloggers.

Dunno if that was in any way helpful, but I figured I’d vote with my membership.”

I’ve been sitting on this post for nearly a month now, debating on what to do. But after following up with multiple bloggers who have still not been paid…it was time.

I guarantee I’ll be getting an e-mail from someone at Intuit within a few hours of this post asking how they can fix this.

But it shouldn’t take a public flogging for a company pushing financial fitness to pay it’s bills.

Disclosure: I use Mint.com often. I was an early beta-tester of the site, and to this day I probably login a half dozen times a month. I’ve never taken payment or done any paid advertising for them.

Update: I have reached out to a contact at Mint.com for a comment. I will post it here when I receive a reply.


Who Has The Best Free Online Checking Account?

November 30, 2010

See post: Who Has The Best Free Online Checking Account?


How Do You Track Your Debt?

December 8, 2010

Quick Question…how do you track your debt?

I’m working on another debt widget tracking tool, and I was curious what people use to track their debts.

Also, do you categorize your debts? Like student loans, mortgage, credit cards, line of credit, etc? Or do you just track the whole amount?


Shred (or melt?) Your Credit Cards in 2011 and Win Cash

December 27, 2010

Ahh….the smell of burning plastic in the morning.

Over three years ago I entered into a video contest to promote newly launched Lending Club.

Three years later…I still think I feel some of the after affects of those melted chemicals.

Well, this time around, Lending Club and Perkstreet have teamed up to launch a new video contest at http://www.shredyourcreditcard.com

I’m cool with credit card shredding. And I’ll bet Larry Winget is too, after his scathing look at excuses to use a credit card earlier this month.

I haven’t had a balance on a credit card for over 2+ years now. I do have a few crappy credit-rebuilding type cards that I opened right after my bankruptcy, but I haven’t used them in ages.

My wife has a credit card, but we rarely use it, and when we do, it gets paid off every month.

Here’s a video about the contest:

Prizes

  • 1 $1000 grand prize on 1/31/2011 for the video that gets the most votes overall.
  • 2 $300 second prizes on 1/31/2011 for the most creative overall submissions. (selected by Lending Club and Perkstreet)
  • $50 prize every week until 1/31/2011 for the top vote-getter of the week.
  • 1 $25 prize on 1/31/2011 for my favorite Debt Kid reader video!

How To Win

  • Cancel a credit card. (Make sure you disguise your credit card number in your video, just to be safe.)
  • Film yourself talking about why you’re done dabbling with debt this year, or record the most creative way you can think of to destroy your card.
  • Submit your video to ShredYourCreditCard.com
  • Vote for yourself EVERY DAY and encourage others to do the same on Facebook and Twitter, or via email.
  • Check ShredYourCreditCard.com every Wednesday through the end of January to see if you’ve won a weekly prize.
  • Visit ShredYourCreditCard.com on Shred Your Credit Card Day (Jan. 31) to see if you’ve won the GRAND PRIZE ($1,000) or any of the Second Place prizes ($300 each).

Coming This Year…

January 3, 2011

I can’t believe it’s 2011.

Do you realize I started this site as a journal for my thoughts back in January of 2007?

The housing crisis was just starting to really get going. And I was a young 20-something with over 300K of debt.

It seems worlds away, and thank goodness!

I’m adding a few more writers this year to Debt Kid to focus on the news aspect of debt and foreclosures and investing and all the stuff I’ve been trying to learn more about the past few years.

Also, later this month I’ll be launching, “My Debt Blog”, a free platform where users can blog their way out of debt with a free debt tracking system I’ve been working on. I’m pretty excited about this as well as the new writers.

As for me personally, I’m doing well. I’m loving married life, and my pace of life has slowed significantly the past few months. And I really like it. I’m spending more time on my bike, and less time driving, which I also like.

Here’s to a great 2011!


Do I Regret Filing for Bankruptcy at Age 23?

February 2, 2011

Read here: Do I Regret Filing for Bankruptcy at Age 23?


Debt Update: $83,177.00 Wohoooo!

February 25, 2011

It’s time for another debt update. I’ve been continuing to whittle down the amount left on my mom debt.

I still have a federal student loan that I’m deciding at the moment to just not pay off. I don’t know why not. I could. I guess I just still like the idea of more cash in savings vs. paying it off. I know, it’s probably dumb at this point.

Current Debt - Feb 25th, 2011

Current Debt - Feb 25th, 2011

Total Debt: $83,177

Heck yes.

In other areas of my life stuff has been going pretty well.

I love being married. It’s great. My wife and I are really enjoying living together and just being boring together and I couldn’t be happier with that.

I’m busy working on lots of larger projects, including one for Debt Kid that I’ll be announcing next week and showing off because it’s just really, really neat.

How is the first part of the year going for your “get out of debt” plans?


Am I really saving for a BMW?

March 22, 2011

A few months ago, my wife and I started coveting a new car. Something that could take us comfortably up to the mountain and over the coastal range to get to the beautiful Oregon coast.

Now, coveting is not a good thing. At least I don’t think it’s a good thing. As we discussed our goals for the future, one of them is a new car. Our current car is a 2006 completed paid off (now!) Scion Xb. It’s a great little car. I love the thing. Heck, I slept in the thing a few nights when I was living in my office. I’m very attached to the car.

But, I still have some debts that need to be paid off completely before we can seriously think about a new car.

I like the idea of a goal though. So, once my Mom debt has been completely paid off (about 71K left), and my last student loan is paid off (8K) we’re going to get a newer car. I think we will keep the Scion, it gets such great gas mileage, but add a small SUV to the mix.

OK, here’s the car:

Yep, I’m coveting a BMW.

I can’t believe it either! How terrible is that?!

Oh well, it’s the truth….I WANTS one.

I also want to set a new savings goal: $400K in liquid assets before we think about this! I’m still a long way from that number…hopefully by next summer. Until then…I’m dreaming. My lending club 100K investment has done well so far this year (up to 109K) and we still have quite a bit in a few high yield savings accounts. So it’s not too far from reach!


Crazy Money Goals

March 30, 2011

Do you have any just crazy money goals?

I’m finding myself coming up with new goals that are just nuts lately. Maybe I’m aiming too high, but:

  • I want to be totally debt free by the end of 2011
  • I want to be a millionaire (in cash) by age 30 (I’m 27 now)
  • I want court-side season tickets to the Portland trail blazers by 2013

See what I mean. Crazy goals right?

What crazy money goals do you have?


Still Worry About Money, But Less Often

April 13, 2011

A few weeks ago I took a vacation with my wife. For the first time since our honeymoon, we got away and I didn’t think about money for like 4 days.

It was awesome.

It’s been years now since I first started documenting my journey out of debt, and my situation has so dramatically changed for the better, I’m surprised at how many of my old anxieties about money still visit me daily.

Grocery store shopping. Still hate it. Something just makes my stomach tighten every time I think about spending money on food. It’s gotten so much better, but still not a normal level considering my financial situation now. Plus, the more we grocery shop, the less we eat out. Doesn’t make sense rationally, but what money problem does?

Splitting bills. Every group setting I’m already thinking about the check before we even eat the bread. And it’s not that I am worried about having the money…I think it stems from a few years back when I wasn’t always sure that the card would go through. I dunno. I think sometimes I’m more worried about looking like I don’t have any cash now (that I do) than when I didn’t.

The psychology of money is so interesting to me. I thought for sure once I had X amount saved up in a savings account that I wouldn’t ever stress about money again! How stupid!

Now I worry, well what if something happened to me? (solution: get some life insurance dummy!). What if we start spending too much? (really? My wife and I are both pretty frugal). What if my business has a bad year (So…it’s had good and bad years…it happens!).


4 Years as Debt Kid

April 21, 2011

4 Years ago I changed my blog/journal here from a terrible domain name: my334442debt.com to DebtKid.com.

It was a good change and gave me a sense of identity that led to some great job opportunities over the years.

But 4 years is a long time, and looking back at my posts from 2007, I can’t believe my life then compared to my life now. It’s just really, really, crazy.

Sometimes I feel like I lost about 5 years of my life because of my trading and then subsequent debt issues. I don’t feel 27.

I’ve grown a lot the past 4 years. I’m more confident and sincere. Less worried about others opinions. More concerned about not screwing up again than trying to “make it big”.

I take less risks. I go to bed earlier. I get up earlier. I shave more.

Am I boring?

Eh, maybe a little. But that’s OK. Boring is just fine with me for awhile.

There is no part of me that misses the constant anxiety that followed me around for years. The worry that a process server would show up at an awkward moment (it happened!). The worry that an unknown number was another collections agency. Unknown numbers now are just like anyone else’s: a robo-call from a charity, a message from the insurance agent, a wrong number, etc.

I’ve learned alot the past 10 years. I’ve had more “life experience” than most.

But I’m not special.

If the past 4 years have taught me anything it’s that I will continue to make mistakes. I just won’t repeat them. And that itself was something that took me years to learn. Mistakes are human. Mistakes are normal. It’s when you continue making mistakes hoping for a different result…that’s when you end up 1/4 million in debt.

4 Years. Jeez. 4 Years ago I was in a debt management plan (DMP), my house was own it’s way to foreclosure, I was heading towards bankruptcy, and even my closest friend didn’t have a clue what was going on. That’s no way to live.

This year I had planned on telling more of my friends my story, about this blog, etc. But, as more time passes, I realize….most of this doesn’t matter. There is no crisis, just a lot of lessons here. And on occasion, I share little tidbits from the last 4 years.

I’m not ashamed of being Debt Kid anymore.

In fact, I’m pretty darn proud.


Can I get a mortgage after my Bankruptcy?

April 22, 2011

Well, it’s now been over three years since my chapter 7 bankruptcy was discharged.

My credit score has returned to a pretty average level: 682 on Experian

My score hasn’t really changed much in the past 18 months, I was a 664 in November of 2009. But I haven’t done much to really work on it.
could I get a mortgage with this post bankruptcy credit score?

I setup a few credit rebuilder type credit cards right after my bankruptcy, and I don’t use them, but they are active, at least 2 $500 limit cards. I think those have helped.

Since my bankruptcy I haven’t had any adverse credit issues like a late payment showing up, and little to no inquiries. So, the question remains…

Could I get approved for a mortgage?

First off, I’m not looking to buy a house this year. But it’s something that in the next year or two my wife and I might look into. My wife’s credit is like 780 or something ridiculous like that. She’s goody-goody like that.

Strikes against me: Bankruptcy, house short sale in 2007, self-employed

Positives: No bad debt, good landlord references, High income level

I know I looked into buying a home awhile back and the mortgage office I talked with seemed to think it was doable 2 years post bankruptcy and short sale. Well, by the time I might be serious it will probably be 4 years post those events.

Does anyone have experience getting a mortgage after bankruptcy and/or a foreclosure or short sale process?


April Showers Brings Weekend Links

April 22, 2011

Well, it’s not raining here in the NW, hooray!

Here’s some weekend reading from some of the best financial bloggers around

David from MoneyUnder30 asks the question “how much do you need in an emergency fund”. I say always start with $1,000. Then a medium goal of 3 months salary, then a big hair goal of 12 months.

Well, I’m not getting a tax refund this year, but if I was I’d be curious about the status as well. Miranda at FreeFromBroke explains how to check the status with the IRS.

Gosh, this has been on my “todo” list for about a year. I do need to make a will. At least I think I do. Jeff from GoodFinancialCents has the 3 questions you have to ask yourself to answer the question.

Pinyo from Moolanomy asks a question I was just thinking about in my last post on getting a mortgage after bankruptcy:

Mike at ObliviousInvestor (hey, that was me!) explains…

Matt at DebtFreeAdventure explains the ramification of walking away from a home, as well as some other solutions (short sale people!)

PTMoney has some thoughts on retirement savings after you’ve maxed out the traditional options. My favorite line? “You can’t live in a mutual fund”

Any other great stories worth checking out this weekend?

 


The Difference Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

May 5, 2011

Read here: The Difference Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy


Giving up Caffeine: Withdrawals and Regret

May 23, 2011

I picked a heck of a time to give up caffeine again.

I tried this a few years back for Lent, and the headaches were just insane. I’ve stayed on top of it better this time (thank goodness for advil), but I’m not so sure I can make it.

I’ve noticed the past few months that my as-needed coffee had turned into just my daily routine. And I wasn’t getting going at work until I had my coffee. It used to be that I used coffee as a special boost, and I want to get back to that vs. the daily crutch it had become.

But jeez…I’m 5 days without caffeine and don’t feel super hot. Day 3 was the worst headache day, but I’ve been lethargic, unmotivated, and all-around blah now for 5 days. I was hoping today might be the day I turned the corner but so far nothing.

My entire family is a mess right now. My wife is recovering from surgery, my grandmother is dying, my Mom isn’t doing well at all, my Dad is scheduled for surgery this week….Sigh, it’s just a mess right now. Just needed a place to vent.

But back to coffee.

I was noticing that my mood swings were so closely related to my coffee it just wasn’t OK anymore. So, I’m going to stick it out, but man, I really want some coffee right now. Maybe I could try decaf? I just haven’t even wanted to temp myself. Plus, I put a ton of sugar in my coffee, so I thought it would be good to cut that out as well (like 6+ sugar packets).

Any more tips for dealing with caffeine withdrawal?


The 5 Biggest Money Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid

May 24, 2011

I’ve made a lot of money mistakes in my life, but here are five easy fixes to avoid some of the largest financial pitfalls.

1. Not having a simple budget

There is no excuse today to not have at least a basic budget. Free services like Mint.com make it so ridiculously easy to setup a budget and have it automatically update that it’s just insane not to take 5 minutes and set it up.

2. Not reviewing your investments annually

No investment is “set it and forget it”.

Even those target date mutual funds need to be checked in on every year. I like looking at my investments (Lending Club, ING Direct) at least once a month.

3. Overdraft Charges

Every bank must now allow you to decline charges when you don’t have enough money in your account, instead of overdrafting and sticking you with a $35 fee. Call your bank and ask about their overdraft policy and make sure that you didn’t opt in to their overdraft coverage (or whatever fancy marketing lingo they call it).

4. Never checking your credit report

It’s free. It’s easy. It doesn’t require a credit card or any payment at all.

It’s annualcreditreport.com

You pay taxes. Take advantage of this government provided service to check your credit report. Make sure little Johnny Js. hasn’t been opening credit card accounts in your name.

5. Keeping your savings at your local Big Box Bank

Do you know the average interest rate of brick and motar savings accounts at the national banks?

0.01%

Yep, you read that right.

It’s crazy not to spend 5 minutes and setup a savings account online. I prefer ING Direct, but most online savings accounts are pretty good nowadays, and even though you won’t get over 1% it’s still a thousand times better than your local big box bank.


How To File For Bankruptcy Without Losing Your Mind

June 20, 2011

Read here: How To File For Bankruptcy Without Losing Your Mind


How many miles do you need for a free flight? [Infographic]

July 6, 2011

A new handy dandy info-graphic from Deals.com below shows how many points you need for a free flight on Alaska, Continental, American, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, United, and US Airways.

I don’t have any airline credit cards personally, do you find them worth the hassle and/or annual fee?


Always a renter be?

August 1, 2011

Even though my credit score has recovered from it’s pretty hidious 500′s phase, up to over 680 now, I don’t see my wife and I looking to purchase a home anytime soon.

At least in our market (portland), it continues to make much more sense for us to rent. We also don’t know where we may end up location wise in a few years, and so we will continue to rent.

It’s funny how the perception of renting has changed in the last few years since the housing meltdown. I have a half-dozen friends who just a few years ago couldn’t stop talking about their new condo/townhouse/home purchase.

Now?

Not so much.

Most seem envious that we rent. We have flexibility. We’d never think about purchasing the unit we rent (it would be too much $$), but for a few years of cheapish rent…it’s wonderful.

I don’t think we will always rent however.

Even after my disastrous first home ownership experience, there was something neat about owning a piece of land and the home on top of it. Even though it sucked mowing the lawn, and fixing all the broken stuff…it was mine, you know?

So for now, we rent. Someday we may buy, but for now it’s nice to flexible and not too tied down.

What do you think? Are you glad you rent? Do you choose to rent? Or do you own a home? Do you wish you didn’t? Why or why not?


What do you mean the Post Office might shut down?

September 13, 2011

When a business can no longer bring in more than it pays out, it generally ceases to operate and although post office rates have continued to raise it can no longer continue to bleed money the way it has for years. Without a major overhaul to how it does business the chances of it surviving even one more year are grim.

What’s the deal, anyway? If the post office is a government agency why can’t Congress fix it? There’s a lot about the post office that average Americans know nothing about and yes, it’s true; mail service may soon be a thing of the past unless a massive overhaul takes place. Even if you don’t live in the United States, this is your problem too!

Postal Facts

The postal service is huge. It processes 563 million pieces of mail and uses 1.4 million gallons of fuel each day. That’s 72,165 barrels of oil used to handle the 43% of the world’s mail that is moved worldwide by the U.S. Postal service. When the price of gas rises just 1 cent, their fuel costs rise about 1.4 million dollars. It’s the nation’s largest civilian employer, has the world’s largest civilian fleet of vehicles and has a larger retail network than McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Wal-Mart combined. 90% of its revenue comes from 15,000 of its 32,000 retail locations and in Arizona, it still uses a train of mules to carry 130 pounds each of mail, food, and supplies down an 8 mile trail to the Havasupai Indians at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

The problem with the postal service is that it’s a private corporation, in fact the 29th largest company in the world but unlike most private companies, it isn’t free to make its own business decisions. Congress has to do that. It is not allowed to raise post office rates beyond the rate of inflation, which, over the past 10 years has averaged about 1.8%.

The biggest expense plaguing the postal service are the costs associated with the over 574,000 employees. $2 billion is paid every two weeks in salaries and benefits including a mandated $154 million to a pension plan. This was suspended in June of 2011 because the postal service had reportedly overpaid $9 billion to the fund. It has to get permission from Congress to return this money and so far, Congress hasn’t taken up the issue. This money alone could give the postal service the cushion it needs to make some restructuring decision.

Frustrations

Although the postal service is close to being bankrupt, Congress has been largely opposed to large scale changes. E-mail has changed the way we communicate and according to the postal service 50% of all of our mail is in the form of bulk mail advertising pieces. For that reason, the postal service requested that they be permitted to eliminate Saturday delivery greatly reducing costs. Congress has been opposed to that.

Changes

As of now all the postal service can do is continue to close smaller post offices and not replace the positions left vacant by retiring workers. In 2010, enough hours and positions were reduced to equal nearly 43,000 employees but that isn’t nearly enough to keep it in business. The plan to overhaul the postal service is to change the retirement system, eliminate Saturday delivery and close 3,700 more post offices. The postal union doesn’t like it but it is drawing praise from many others.

Bottom Line

Without Congressional action and possibly steep rises to post offices rates, in the summer of 2012 they will run out of operating funds and what has been part of the landscape of America for 200 years could, in a worst case scenario, cease to exist. Not only will this catastrophically affect United States mail but also for the countries around the world who rely on the postal service infrastructure for some of their own mail delivery, this is a business that may truly be too big to fail.

Sources:
http://about.usps.com/who-we-are/postal-facts/welcome.htm
http://www.ceol.com/vvpo/facts.html
http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2011/09/what_would_a_world_without_the.html


Getting back on track with some new goals

September 19, 2011

Whew.

It’s been a whirlwind of a past year or so (moved, got married, tons of other crazy stuff), but it’s time I got back to writing about my life, cause it’s still pretty darn interesting.

Which isn’t good.

I really want a boring life sometimes. I mean it’s great that I love my work and business, and I absolutely adore being married, but it’s been too much change the past 18 months. My business has been up and down, and back down again, but with potential to be back up again soon (hopefully).

I’ve been able to keep paying down my mom debt slowly (I send her $1,000 every month). I don’t plan on increasing that paydown at the moment, but I’ve told her at any time she can ask for a big chunk back (up to 30K or so). She seems OK with the 1K/month for now, which is good. The graph is looking good (from 145K to 69K current):

current debt levels

The next few months are going to be very telling to how the next stage of my debt repayment journey goes. I’ve done well to pay down alot the past few years, but now it’s time to totally be debt free AND start to grow my savings into a number that really lets me sleep well at night.


Taking a look at Betterment.com

September 20, 2011

Sigh, I’m still not a fan of the stock market. I guess being out of the market the last few years has probably cost me financially, but I still don’t think I could take the stress of the ups/downs. The funny thing is that I still watch quite a few stocks, daily even, but I don’t own any of them.

Betterment.com contacted me recently and wanted me to take a look at their new site. I’d usually just ignore the email, but their site looked so pretty I decided, what the heck, I’ll take their call.

So, they set me up with a sweet referral site of my own, and I setup my account last week. The registration was pretty easy, but they do require a deposit verification, which I just completed this morning. So, you can setup an account in about 3 days or so. Pretty painless for an online financial account.

security deposit verified

must verify your bank account with two small deposits

One things I immediately like about Betterment is how easy on the eyes the site is. I don’t know if I’m just used to be blinded on most financial websites, but everything about their site is very muted, and I really like it. It makes it easy to focus on the data and not be distracted. But I’m a design nut (not that you’d know it from my site…).

Once you’ve verified your account, you can setup your asset allocation. Betterment lets you choose between two main buckets: stocks / bonds. Simple. If you’re looking to invest but don’t want to get into the nitty gritty details, and just want things to go on automatic…well, Betterment is probably a good fit for you.

set your asset allocation

I'm still avoiding stocks for now

For me, I’m still avoiding stocks, so I decided to invest my initial $250 deposit into all bonds. Yeah, I know it’s not recommended, but bite me, this is my account and it’s called “personal” finance for a reason. Plus, I’m a former trading addict…so yeah, it’s all bonds for me.

Yeah, I know it.

No stocks for you!

The neat thing with Betterment is you can compare your allocation and returns to others in your age and income range. Here’s something interesting I found….for my age group, the higher income demographic has been doing much better at investing on betterment than the lower income group:

high income investors do well with betterment

Rich get richer last year?

lower income not doing so well on betterment

Hmmm...why is this? Why underperformance last year?

Any guess on that stat? Very interesting.

Anywho, once you get all setup, there is a nice overview page, although since my $250 hasn’t deposited yet, you don’t see much, but you get the idea:

overview of my account

The "Overview" Screen. Nice.

The Fees

So, how exactly does Betterment make money? I mean, all these fancy pants graphs cost money to build and manage right? Well, of course, nothing in life is totally free. It depends on your account balance but for most of my audience here (and myself) it’s going to cost you 0.9%/year.

So why pay that fee? Well, part of the appeal is that you get access to some nice index funds that normally have like 100K account minimums. Also, Betterment will automatically rebalance your allocation if it falls outside some set guidelines.

So if you’re like, “I just want to invest, and know it’s going to rebalance correctly, and not have to worry about picking individual stocks/bonds (with say, Sharebuilder)…then Betterment might be a good fit for you.

I’ll keep you updated on the status of my 100% bond account of course.

To sign up for your own account: Click HERE


Never Hide Money From Your Spouse

September 21, 2011

It seems like a basic thing, but I can see how easy it would be to think,

“Oh, well, my wife doesn’t need to know about this expense, I’ll just put that on my old checking account from before we were married”

For me this is a big deal.

As someone who struggled to hide investment losses for years from family and friends, I’m trying to be as open as possible with my wife about our financial situation.

We use Mint.com and all of our accounts are linked to it (savings, lending club, etc). We both have the app on our phones to check balances and we can both login to the website.

I actually like having a second pair of eyes on my spending habits, I’ve noticed myself getting less and less little silly things and sticking to our budget better.

Maybe we are strange though…we also like to compare credit scores (she wins every time we check! 800+ for her…I’m creeping to 700 finally). We might be a bit financially weird.

Anyway, back to the hiding money thing. I totally realized that I forgot to run my $250 betterment.com deposit by my wife, usually we have a soft-rule that anything over $100 we discuss. Sorry hon, I’ll tell you about that tonight. To be fair, I usually think about my blog as business related, and that we do keep separate (of course, my wife hears way too much of my business talk!) for her sanity sake.

So yeah, hiding money. It’s a sore subject for me because I did it in the past. Luckily my wife is great about keeping me in the loop about our accounts and handles all the bill-paying for the most part. It’s nice when you’re a team, ya know?


Debt Update January 2012

December 29, 2011

It’s been awhile since I did a debt update, so lets take a look at where I’m at vs when I started debtkid.com back in 2007.

2011 was definitely not my best year for earning, especially compared to 2010 and even 2009. I let my work slack off with moving to Portland 2010 and getting married and other major life stuff.

So I was not able to save as much this year as I would have liked. I also started investing back into my current business more and so the last few months I’ve been going negative on my savings! Yikes. Hopefully only a few more months of that and I can start saving again.

Total Debt Jan 2012

debt chart

(change from 2010 in parenthesis)

Student Loans: $7512.01 (-$841.99)
Mom Debt: $67,000 (-$20,000)
Total: $74,512.01 (-20,841.99)

What’s in store for 2012

I’m hoping that 2012 will be a breakout year for my business to really start earning well again.

Other than that life has been pretty darn good. It’s still weird for me sometimes going into a grocery store and not having to think so much about what it will cost to buy food.

I will never forget that feeling of dread I used to get when shopping. I think it’s a healthy amount now.

Hope your 2011 was fantastic!