12 Ways I Don’t Set an Example

ripped dollar bill
I was at a loss for topics to write about this morning, so I decided to go through some of my old drafts piling up and see if anything sparked my interest. And what do you know! I found a link I’d saved over a year and a half ago just waiting to come out :)

(I literally have 70+ partially written posts just sitting there waiting to be resuscitated back to life. If I put something in there and don’t finish it within 2 days, it usually stays there for good – which is why it’s always best to write when things are fresh on your mind! But I digress…)

What I liked about this post was that it shows just how NOT perfect us personal finance bloggers really are. We do stupid stuff and blow our money too, just like you! Even when we very well know it’s not financially smart to do so. In fact, if you look around you’ll notice most bloggers are blogging BECAUSE they’re in debt! They’ve got awesome war stories, unlike myself. But these are pretty close…

So. While the wife and I have gone from $0 net worth to $150k in a little over 3 years, I am not a perfect angel. This ones’ for you Kristy from Master Your Card!

Why I Can Suck at Personal Finance …

  1. I eat out Monday through Friday. Every single work day. I used to make pb&js 4 times a week but I seemed to have forgotten this trick 1.2 years ago.
  2. I’ll buy milk at 7-Eleven. I know I can save $0.75 if I drive another 1/2 a mile, but then you have to find parking, walk to the very end of the grocery store, walk all the way back, and then wait in line for 7 minutes to pay. I consider this $0.75 a “convenience fee.”
  3. I spent $1,600 at GoDaddy.com last year. $1,600! I went back to see what, exactly, I bought, and besides the necessary items like hosting for this blog and other sites of mine, it was all domain names. I’m afraid to tell you how many I have.
  4. We spend $185 on Cable every month. Internet and home phone service is included, but still. We could surely work on this.
  5. If I forget my 20% coupon, I’ll still buy something at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. You know how you sometimes realize you totally forgot to bring one from that stack in your kitchen drawer? I do that all the time. Every now and then I’ll come back later, but usually I’m just too lazy.
  6. I’ll spend 3 hours looking for the cheapest flight, but then blow $50 checking in a bag ($25 each way). Being a guy I could probably fit everything into a carry on, but I like having room and not playing Tetris to make all my stuff fit properly. Plus, you can’t bring a giant bottle of hairspray on the plane with you (I have a ‘hawk, remember?)
  7. I’ll leave a balance on my credit card, even though I have the cash. Granted, I do this purposefully to make me work harder to pay it off (like when we plopped $2,000 on it for Eurotrip), but it’s still wasting $20-$30.
  8. I go looking for apartments and end up buying a house. We went searching for an apartment one day, got lost, found a lake, saw a house on this lake, and made an offer the very next day. 3 days later it was accepted, and we went from from renting a 1 bedroom apartment to owning a 3-level townhouse in a blink of an eye.
  9. We only negotiated $5,000 off said house. Looking back this was pretty stupid. Especially since it was the month the housing bubble burst!
  10. We bought a house the month the housing bubble burst! (!!!)
  11. I have no problem spending $4.00 on coffee or movie candy. If I’m hungry/thristy, and something tasty is in front of me, I will buy it.
  12. I’ll be buying a $30k Benz soon! It may not be today, or even next month, but you can bet your sweet ass I’ll be riding around in one of these sooner than later. And of course I’ll buy it used, I’m not *that* crazy ;)

See, your boy J. Money isn’t all roses and pockets of sunshine. He does stupid stuff with his money too! And the older he gets, the more stubborn he is becoming – believe you, me. It’s a damn good thing I figured out this whole savings and retirement stuff when I did! I might be wasting hundreds and hundreds dollars over the years, but as long as I’m saving THOUSANDS and thousands of dollars I’m okay with that. Who want’s to be perfect anyways? Perfect is boring.

Runners-up: Spending $400 on a blinged out watch, and $40 on Bling Water. And did I mention $1,600 at GoDaddy?

(Photo by my friend Suburban Dollar)

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  1. Hank July 23, 2010 at 7:50 AM

    Wow! $1,600 at GoDaddy! That makes me feel better about my domain names though. $1,600…that’s a lot of names. Got any good ones to sell?

  2. David @ Money Under 30 July 23, 2010 at 8:08 AM

    I LOVE this post, J. I think all personal finance bloggers should have to write one like it. Nobody’s perfect, and we all need to look at areas we can still improve or decide when to say “Screw it…I know I blow my money on XYZ, but it makes me happy, and I’m just gonna keep on doing it”. Nice work. Some ways I’m a bad example, too:

    Dinners out 2ish times a week
    Buying new technology before I ever “need” it
    And I’m with you, I want a nice ride someday, too…albeit used.

    P.S. $1,600 at GoDaddy *is* insane. Then again, all you need to do is create another kick-ass site on one of those and it’ll be a good investment.

  3. Aynsley - WrenLife.com July 23, 2010 at 8:41 AM

    I loved this post! Honestly, I started this year reading a lot of different blogs and this one is consistently witty, honest and has survived my sporadic Google-reader diet where I delete a bunch of crap I don’t read anymore. Thanks for your honestly, perspective funny antics :)

  4. Wojo July 23, 2010 at 8:52 AM

    Holy smokes! Godaddy must love you. Come on, tell us how many you have. ;)

    Cudos for writing this post; I think many of us in the space are afraid to reveal some of the not-so-goods about our own finances because of what people might think. But in reality, they are really good teaching tools most of the time.

  5. Katy July 23, 2010 at 8:55 AM

    But J Money, did you know that if you take back your receipt to Bed Bath & Beyond with your 20% off coupon they will take it off the item you originally purchased? Plus, those coupons never expire. NEVER. And you can use several at one time! It’s a beautiful thing when you go to BB&B needing a spatula and come out with a toaster, along with 5 pillows, all at 20% off. It’s good marketing though as I’m sure I could find a lot of the items at BB&B for less, but don’t simply because of convenience and that 20% off coupon.

  6. Melissa July 23, 2010 at 9:12 AM

    Love this. Last July, my SO and I ate out Every.Single.Dinner. Many lunches too. Oops?

  7. Money Girl July 23, 2010 at 10:12 AM

    Great post. It’s all about your priorities. I eat dinners out a lot too, but it’s an excellent way for my husband and I to talk and catch up. Then we cut back in other areas that aren’t so important to us like cable TV, dry cleaning, or driving a new car.

  8. ctreit July 23, 2010 at 10:13 AM

    You are right. We all do stupid things with money. That’s what makes us human. Only Mr Spock is Vulcan, all others have emotions, too.

    From what I can tell you are still doing very well having accumulated that much net worth especially when you consider the hit you took on the house. I think this is very, very impressive.

  9. Amy July 23, 2010 at 10:23 AM

    Great post! It’s nice to know that nobody’s perfect…we all have our vices :)
    We spend about $210 each month on cable, Internet, and home phone service. We have hundreds of channels and we barely even watch TV! It’s definitely a huge waste. I need to kill some of our channel packages ASAP!!

  10. Kate Kashman July 23, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    Oh, so true. My financial missteps tend to be more one-shot deals, like neglecting to discover that it was $11 (per person) to get our hair blow dried after a haircut, (and more than one kid was being cut, so it was more than $11 wasted) or failing to get the right authorization before going to a Urgent Care clinic and having to pay the full bill myself.

    Nobody’s perfect, ‘specially not me.

  11. Tim July 23, 2010 at 11:26 AM

    Excellent post dude. I think a good “read between the lines” conclusion is that saving money is a life-long pursuit, just like losing weight or any of the other things we should all do more of. So we’re allowed to make mistakes along the way as long as we’re doing our best to stuck with the plan in the long term. Going cold turkey is a recipe for disaster.

  12. michelle July 23, 2010 at 11:40 AM

    lol one thing i will never forget: my b3 coups. i LOVE them. did you know you can even use them to order stuff not in the store? if you go looking for an item that they don’t have on site, they’ll order it for you and use your 20% off. PLUS if you ship to the store (any that’s convenient to you), the shopping is free. i’ve been talking to my sister about this since she’s buying additional stuff for college. driving over the bridge is not convenient, but store to store shipping is :D

  13. Miss T July 23, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    I just want to say how awesome I think your full disclosure is. Not only does it encourage the rest of us and reassure that we don’t have to be perfect, it also lets us respect your writing more. You are one of us just trying to do the best you can and like all of us, you slip up sometimes.

  14. Brian July 23, 2010 at 3:40 PM

    This is soooo refreshing. It’s nice to see somebody that’s serious about personal finance makes mistakes too and is ok with it. I think what’s great is that you’re conscious about it too.

    Thanks, great post

  15. Yana July 23, 2010 at 5:25 PM

    Dang! I confess, I am boring – but I have this little problem liking GoDaddy. However, I think I spend less than $50 a year there! It’s the recurring charges that’ll kill ya, thus we have pretty good habits of eating out infrequently, never using a convenience store if stuff can be had for cheaper elsewhere, not using credit and drinking coffee (lots of it) at home. We don’t like movies at a theatre as a rule, and have gone 2-3 times in the last 14 years. We didn’t buy food and drink there. We only went because we won tickets :)

    I like electronics, computers and cell phones. If I need one of these, I don’t hesitate to buy it. I get the best price I can, but sometimes it isn’t cheap. I don’t really care, if I want the thing. I figure that I am not going to waste a nickel unnecessarily, but getting what you want is not waste as long as you aren’t constantly wanting things just to be separated from your money. I know there are many people who simply enjoy spending money. I’m not one of them. I spend money in order to be satisfied or thrilled, that is, when I am spending of my own free will.

    It was a big deal recently when I got so fed up with the horrid billing practices and customer service of my landline company, who charged me $23 a month for DSL after 4 months – they had offered me a year at $20/mo. Calling them and their robot is sheer torture. I switched to cable internet, and I am spending much more on it. So far, the customer service and billing has been perfect. There is no way I can complain, even though I never thought I would spend big bucks every month to a cable company.

  16. Anna Cearley July 23, 2010 at 6:06 PM

    Many of these really hit home. The Bed, Bath & Beyond one just came up recently. I left the 20% coupon at home last week, and was thinking D-Oh! but when I was at the store I didn’t find anything to buy that day so I guess it didn’t matter. This week I decided to get some milk from the convenience store while I was getting gasoline – even though the grocery stores was across the street. It just didn’t seem worth the time and energy. And you’re right. It all should be put into perspective. When I went to Mexico City a few years ago, I went shopping in the posh section of the city and decided I wanted to buy an expensive designer suit that cost the equivalent of my take-home weekly paycheck at the time. Sometimes, saving is for spending!

  17. danielle July 23, 2010 at 6:25 PM

    i love that you buy milk at 7 Eleven …. and on the hosting issue. someone mentioned to me once that if you park the domains and, say, you’re spending $9.99 per year to renew it, if you can cover the cost of the hosting with the parked revenue, it should be ok. but dang $1600 is a lot :D lol … but i shouldn’t talk i prob spend about $1k on my domains/hosting when all is said and done…

  18. TODHD July 23, 2010 at 9:30 PM

    I sometimes have a hard time because I am always spending too much money

  19. eemusings July 23, 2010 at 11:03 PM

    Hey, I don’t know what gas costs where you are, but driving that extra distance might just cost you 75c anyway…

  20. doctor S July 24, 2010 at 9:28 AM

    I wrote a post about this with the same title last year “I suck at personal finance”. It’s funny, ust b/c we blog about the stuff does not mean we are pro’s at it. I am far from one and the “eating out” all the time issue plagues me all the time! I guess since I am married I am going to have to fix that or I will never hear it! Wifey gets free lunch every day at work!

    Half of what you do is sharing your stories and the other half is identifying how you/we can improve the ways we do. We are far from perfect but we do have it in vision at least!

  21. Kim July 24, 2010 at 9:43 AM

    GREAT POST!!! I’ve picked up milk a time or 2 (or 3, maybe 4) and I must shamefully admit that while at the convenience store I’ll grab some bananas (or any other items needed immediately). I do this when it’s after work, I’ve got to get home to fix dinner for my family and my son needs a fruit for his lunch the next day. You just can’t beat being able to purchase gas, milk and bananas in one shot. Sometimes, the saving of time outweighs the savings in money; at least for me.

  22. J. Money July 24, 2010 at 8:56 PM

    Wow, I should be more honest all the time ;) Really appreciate all the kind words everybody, I’m so glad you all got something out of this! I honestly make mistakes and spend way more than I know is necessary every month – and I’m okay with that (and you should be too). I’ve tried watching every single penny before, and making the perfect move every damn transaction, but it stressed me out like none other. I appreciate life much more when doing things 80-90% well :) Plus it’s more exciting!

    Something to keep in mind, though, is that I’ve also saved a decent nest egg at this point so I have the luxury of not caring as much. There’s no way in hell I’d be blowing $1,000+ on websites if I were climbing out of debt! So yeah, it’s okay to make mistakes and not be all hardcore about finances, but the stage in life you’re in should also be considered :) Use this to motivate you even further in getting out of debt! The less you owe, the more freedom you have!

    A few comments:

    @David @ Money Under 30 – I would LOVE to see every pf blogger write up their own list! It seems like the readers would appreciate it off of the response here. You continue the trend on your site now! :)
    @Katy – I did not know about that! Good lookin’ out… I’ve also started trying to
    keep coupons in my glove compartment too which I would NOT be lazy enough to go out and grab ;)
    @Tim – Yeah, usually. Although I WILL say that both Holly and myself stopped shopping for a certain amount of time cold turkey (me for 40 days, and Holly for 1 entire year!) and it made a WORLD of a difference. I have cut down at least 70% of my discretionary spending, and Holly is a beast at saving now :) Kinda extreme, but if you make it you get extreme results.
    @michelle – hahahahaa….b3 coups? at first i thought you were talkin’ about some sexy new mugs or something (don’t ask me why), and then maybe a new BMW car (like the “M3” coup), and as soon as I went to Google it I realized you meant Bed Bath & Beyond coupons!!! Man I’m slow.
    @Kim – I’m a banana addict! I will spend $1.50+ on one if I need to because what you get in return is extreme deliciousness! :)

    PS: Oddly enough my wife asked me last night (at 11pm) if I wanted to stop by 7-11 to get milk instead of going to Safeway. Haha…tempted every day by the devil!

  23. Donna Freedman July 25, 2010 at 2:53 AM

    J$: I’m totally judging you. ;-)
    And now I will break your heart: If you’d spent that GoDaddy money through Mr. Rebates, you would have gotten a 12% cashback.
    And if you’d used my referral link to join Mr. Rebates, I’d have gotten a teeny percentage of your total cashback. So you see, your slackitude isn’t just hurting you — it’s hurting me. I don’t know how you can sleep at night.

  24. J. Money July 25, 2010 at 11:44 AM

    I never said I didn’t use a referral link of my own ;)

  25. finallygettingtoeven.com July 25, 2010 at 1:21 PM

    2 ways I blew it in the past few weeks….

    Bought a SUV- could have gotten them down maybe another $500 (did really well to begin with but I don’t know…there was still room there I think)

    Sold an SUV- could have gotten another $300 out of them (although I DID get $2000 more than hubby said I would)

    Sometimes we just gotta let this stuff go and not re-hash it over and over, oh well…

  26. Holly @ Shopaholly July 25, 2010 at 2:14 PM

    This is one of the best posts I’ve read in ages! Sometimes I feel like all other PFers are saving every spare penny, living the frugalist life possible and here’s me spending £3 on a bar of chocolate just because I want it. Makes me feel like a failure but it’s great to see other people are buying stupid stuff too.

    But $1600 at GoDaddy? SERIOUSLY?!?!

    Also, I had no idea you lived on a lake. When can I come visit? ;)

  27. Moneyedup July 25, 2010 at 11:20 PM

    Nobody’s perfect. I can relate to spending $4 on coffee and a ton at the movie theatre on snacks. When I was younger I would go to the Bulk Barn and stock up on candy to eat at the movies, and then stick them as well as a can of pop into my coat pockets. I would then wait until a loud crash, yell or explosion in the movie to open my can of pop since you weren’t allowed to bring in any outside food or drinks. I should start doing that again…

  28. dollar incense July 27, 2010 at 5:50 PM

    Yay for the new car!

    I switched from the Porshe to a 08 BMW 335i and love it! Got it for 30k out the door, put 12k down and the rest is financed at .09%. Will never again own a German car out of warranty, but look forward to having no car payment for 2 years (yet still being under CPO). :)

    Hope all is well with you, I might update my blog one of these days….hehe.

  29. J. Money July 28, 2010 at 12:13 PM

    @finallygettingtoeven.com – “Sometimes we just gotta let this stuff go and not re-hash it over and over” yup! At least on the one-time occurrences like that. If it’s a monthly expenditure or something then def. worth peering into more if it’s bothering you. I sold my SUV a good $800+ less than it was valued at but I had to get rid of it. And it didn’t help that it was in the middle of Gas-hysteria the other year!


    @Holly @ Shopaholly – Gotta keep it real ;) You are welcome to come over any time! It’s been a good year+ since i’ve even tipped my toes in it….sad, huh?
    @Moneyedup – Haha, I like that. Frugalness to the max!
    @dollar incense – HEY!!!! nice seeing you here :) Glad you’re happy w/ the BMW too – the 3 series is also kinda on my list too, all depending on what happens when I test drive them both and what features/colors are available. No matter which I pick though I will most CERTAINLY have a warranty on those bad boys – I hate car maintenance with any car, not to mention expensive ones. Hope to see your blog pick up!! :)

  30. Katie E July 28, 2010 at 3:38 PM

    I always do these too. I always think that it is not a big deal and it will all up up in the end, but in reality I am losing money! I have now become a bargain shopper always try to get things on sale because A PENNY SAVED IS A PENNY!!!!!!