Yep, I’ll Play 20 Questions…

Yep, I’ll Play 20 Questions…

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Apparently they made an electronic version of the game 20 questionsYesterday Trent from the Simple Dollar quoted a list a of 20 questions from the book Money Drunk, Money Sober that he’s about to review.

While I’m not really interested in this particular book, or any of the other thought-process based finance books since that line of thinking rarely applies to me, I’m always up for a game of 20 questions, so here goes:

1. What five things do you most truly love doing? Think of things that you both enjoy in the moment and also enjoy looking back on later. Do any of these cost money?

Sadly, I’m not sure I can think of five. The first thing that comes to mind that I enjoy most is driving around aimlessly with my wife when we have nothing on the agenda. No place to be, no place to go, just finding new things to drive by and maybe even stop. It’s basically just wasting time, but very fulfilling at the same time.

I like mowing the lawn too when, again, there’s nothing else on the agenda. I also like watching hockey… Pro or youth, it doesn’t matter. I just enjoy it for some reason.

And relating to that, I also enjoy my hobby of collecting game worn hockey jerseys. In the end, that’s the only one that actually costs money.

2. What five things that you do regularly do you truly hate doing? You hate thinking about them and doing them in every way. Are these in any way worth the reward you get for doing them?

Again, five is too many for me to come up with.

I hate talking on the phone so I don’t do it very often.

I’m not real fond of all of the questions my wife peppers me wife before going grocery shopping. In that case, the reward is food, so I suppose it’s worth it, but it’s one of those weekly things that I kinda dread.

But the real thing I hate is, well, my side business. I’ve painted myself into a bit of a corner doing work on topics I have no real interest in and I’ve also grandfathered my pricing to a point where I’m not earning enough to really make it worth it. It’s not hard work, by any means, but it’s never at a convenient time and it’s, well, often just plain annoying.

3. What things are preventing you from doing more of the things you love and less of the things you hate? How can you remove those obstacles?

The side business is what gets in the way. Absolutely 100%. I mentioned the “lack of agenda” a few times above in my list of “loves”. Well, it’s rare that I don’t have an agenda. I *always* seem to have something waiting in my inbox that needs to be done. There is always something sitting there in the back of my mind where I know I need to get in front of a computer and get it done.

I’ve already started removing this obstacle. When I dropped my highest paying customer in the Fall, that was a huge step in the right direction. Unfortunately, I’ve been keeping them “on” in a smaller capacity since then. More unfortunately, they’re months late on payment again which was one of the main reasons I dropped them the first time. Sigh…

4. When was the last time you felt guilty about an expenditure? Why did you feel guilty about it?

Last month. I spent far too much on my hockey jersey collection last month. I felt guilty about it because had I not done it, I’d have been already out of credit card debt weeks ago.

5. What would you do if you went to work tomorrow and your boss handed you a pink slip? Get as specific as you possibly can. What could you do right now to make that less of a shock?

I’ve thought about this a lot lately with all of the crap reported in the news.

If it happened, I think I’d be content. I mean, there would be obvious hardships on the horizon, but my wife’s income is enough for us to pay the mortgage and I’ve cut down my debts to a point where I think we could scrape by — especially because I think I’d be paid for my saved up vacation time as well.

Not something I’m hoping for, but in the event it happened… I don’t think the world would end. It would just put a lot of my plans on hold. Indefinitely.

6. What five people (besides yourself) do you care for most in the world? Do they know this? What could you do to show them that you feel this way? Does your reaction involve money? Does it need to involve money?

Wow. Five?! Again? Well, I’d start with my wife. Then my parents… After that, I can’t really suitably rank people. No one really jumps to the front. But one thing is for certain, money isn’t involved in the equation at all — for any of them.

7. Have you ever been in a situation where you felt powerless about your spending, almost as if something else was in control of it? Why did you feel that way? What do you feel was driving that spending?

Nope. I’ve always been pretty aware that I’m the one in the driver’s seat. My debts are 100% my fault.

8. Can you think of five ways you attempted to control your spending? Did they work or not? If they didn’t, can you remember the exact moment when you realized you were losing that battle?

I’m really starting to hate this “five ways” trend. Can I add that to the list of things I hate?

I kinda blogged about this topic already, but the main thing for me that controlled my spending was to keep it on my mind every time I went to spend. Having just sent $600 to Visa and then spending $750 on a new monitor wasn’t going to get me anywhere.

Once paying down debt almost became like a contest or a game, it got addictive. It originally started back in 2003. It really got going at the tail end of 2006.

9. Do you remember a time in your life where you weren’t concerned about money? What specifically changed between then and now? Is the difference between the two mostly “stuff”?

I think buying a house is when things changed. I’m not really sure I remember a time when I wasn’t concerned about money. I mean, I always knew how much I had and tried to spent it wisely. Sometimes I thought wrong, but for the most part I did okay.

The one thing that has changed in recent years is that it’s not just about paying the bills anymore, it’s more of a “let’s see how much I can accumulate” type of mentality.

10. Can you name all of the individuals and organizations that you owe money to, and roughly how much you owe and what the interest is? Which one is dragging on you the most? Why does it drag on you?

Yes. As of this morning, I owe Chase Bank one thousand dollars. I owe Toyota just shy of $7000. And I owe Countrywide around $116k. Interest rates are 5.14%, 5.35% and 6.735% respectively. I didn’t even have to look those up.

The Chase Bank one is the one that dragging me down the most, simply because it’s a credit card balance. Yeah, it’s the lowest interest rate and it’s also the lowest balance, but it’s just one of those things I want to be able to say. “I have no credit card debt.” I’m almost there.

11. Where do you want to be in one year? Describe your life in as much detail as you can. Can you name five actions you can take in the next week to lead you to that goal?

In one year, I hope to have remodeled or have enough cash banked up to remodel the interior of my house enough so that it’s something I’m proud of and not something that looks it’s age. I also hope to have abandoned the side business enough so that I don’t always have something on the agenda. I want to be able to come home from work, greet my wife, and say, “Now what?”

I won’t take any actions in the next week to lead me to this goal. I’ve been putting things in place for months already to get me there.

12. Where do you want to be in five years? Describe your life in as much detail as you can. Can you name five actions you can take in the next week to lead you to that goal?

A lot can happen in 5 years… But in 5 years, I hope to stay on my new course. I think I should be able to “save” well over $1500/month. A huge interior remodel will hinder that, as could the pink slip scenario, but I’m certain that my life will be a lot better 5 years from now. Hey, the last five have been nothing but an improvement!

13. Do you actually ever want to retire in the traditional sense? If not, what do you want to be doing with your life at the typical retirement age?

No. I don’t golf. But really, I think that when I retire I’ll like to spend my time doing my own things and things that interest me. Thankfully, most of my interests won’t tap into my retirement savings.

14. How much do you actually earn for each hour you work? Don’t just divide your salary by the number of days you work and the number of hours you work each day. Subtract out the cost of commuting, clothes, social events for work, eating out, taxes, and other such expenses, and add in the hours you spend commuting, attending conferences and meetings, working late, and so on. That dollar amount is the exact value you put on an hour of your time – your true hourly wage.

I don’t do this because it just makes me angry. When you put in a minimum of 50 hours per week at your day job, and often times approach 70, then tack on another 30 or so for the side business after hours, it’s just not something you want to calculate. And I’m not even working in all of those other related expenses.

I make enough to get me where I want to go and that’s good enough for me.

15. Once you know that exact value, what else could you be doing to put that much in your pocket, particularly work that leaves you feeling more fulfilled and happy?

I don’t know the exact value, but I’m not sure there’s something else I could be doing to earn this wage. Or at least something I’d be comfortable switching to. I am trying to limit the work I do after hours. Raising my rate was an option, but in the long run, I’d rather not have to work at home at all.

16. What would happen to those around you if you walked out of your house and were hit by a Mack truck and killed? What would happen to those around you if you walked out of your house and were hit by a Mack truck and put into a long-term coma? What could you do differently to cover those bases?

We’d be screwed. I think the coma scenario would be worse actually. We’ve talked about life insurance a little bit, but I think at this point we’re just putting it off until we have children.

17. Think of ten childhood memories about money. Do these memories point to a healthy relationship with money (saving and planning for the future) or an unhealthy relationship (spend, spend, spend!)?

Ten?! Are you kidding me?

Two come to mind…

One was when I was in 5th grade. My grandmother had just had a heart attack and we went up to Toronto to visit her in the hospital. At the time, for whatever reason, I really wanted an Opus (from the comic strip Bloom County) doll.

My grandmother caught wind of this and, from her hospital bed, gave me a $1 dollar bill and told me to get that “penguin doll”.

Well, one buck wasn’t going to cut it…especially in an over-priced hospital gift shop. I’m not sure if she did that on purpose or if she was just out-of-sorts (she died a couple of weeks later), but I never did get that doll.  And I never spent that dollar either. I still have it.

Not sure if that makes the memory a “saving for the future” lesson or a sad “holding on to the past” lesson.

The other childhood memory was when my Uncle came to visit us and because I had bunk beds, he ended up sleeping in my room. As he was preparing to leave to head home, he gave me a $100 bill and told me to keep it hush-hush and to sped it wisely. At that moment, I had 5 times more money to my name than I’d ever had. It was exciting.

Sadly, I think I blew that $100 on Double Dragon for Nintendo and some tropical fish. But the good news is that it took me a few weeks to decide what “best” to spend it on.

18. When was the last time you bought something primarily to impress someone else? Did it work? Did you ever buy anything to impress someone and had it completely fail to work?

While it’s not that last thing I bought simply to impress someone else, the thing that comes to mind is my BMW Z3. It did work. And it didn’t work too. I regretted it for a long time but the minute it was paid for, well, I can’t say I regretted it anymore.

19. When was the last time you bought something that was completely unnecessary? When you look back on it, do you feel happy about that purchase? Do you feel happy about earlier frivolous purchases? If some make you feel happy and others don’t, what’s the difference between the two groups?

My Cessna airplane! This was my most ridiculous purchase last year. Looking back on it though, it makes me feel good. It was my first experience in a live auction. And every time I look at the plane, it puts a smile on my face. It was silly, but well worth it.

I can’t really think of a totally frivolous purchase I’ve made that I don’t feel good about now. I mean, I do feel buyer’s remorse from time to time, but I’m not sure I’d call those items frivolous… My wife may have a few examples I’m forgetting though!

20. When you sit down and send out your bills for the month, are you left feeling good or bad after doing this task? Why? Is there anything you can do to change that perspective?

I feel great when I pay all of my bills and have them entered into MS Money. I sit back and think, “Hey, no more bills for another month…” In fact, right now, I’m almost excited to check the mail each day hoping they’ve come in. (All of my utility bills come in between the 11th and 15th of each month.)


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