Where slacking is a sport, reading an addiction, and underachievement a birthright

Archive for March, 2007

Rich Dad, Poor Sarah Anne

Lately, I’ve been reading a number of books that are related to finances/investing, etc.  This all started because one night at a friend’s house, we were playing this game called Cashflow, which is like an updated, more realistic version of Monopoly.  This game was designed by Richard Kiyosaki, the central figure of the Rich Dad, Poor Dad empire. The game was fun, fast paced, and a lot of fun. The next day, I woke up at the crack of dawn (which was 2 pm, but come on, it was the weekend), and raced to the nearest Borders Books to purchase the related book: Rich Dad Poor Dad.  It was a book that through a thinly veiled ‘Richest Man in Babylon’ story format talked about finances with the ultimate message that there are those who work for money (ie most of us fools who work at jobs), and those who make their money work for them.  Their money didn’t just work, it worked HARD.  Overall, it was one of those books that was an interesting and motivating quick read. 

Dale and I got all fired up of the things we would do and the riches we would make and the lives we would lead by getting our money to work for us.  All sorts of ideas started rushing in of what we were going to do, how we’d do it, and how quickly we’d become financially independent just like them.  It was exciting to think of being considered ‘well off,’ given that I’m 35 , I live with my parents because rents/housing prices are out of control, and I work in a state where the jobs generally pay less than what they did in San Francisco 12 YEARS AGO.  Regardless, we were going to do this, and we were going to succeed!

The problem was, the buzz from the game and book wore off.  Soon, I found myself buying Rich Woman and Who Took My Money soon after. It was somewhere during reading Rich Woman that I started getting this vague feeling of being sucked into an infomercial. The book said much of the same as Rich Dad, and she (this one was written by the wife) did a lot of the same talking about how they started from nothing, and now they can do whatever they want because their money is working so hard for them. It, too, had a flimsy plot of four or five best high school girlfriends who get together for a reunion and end up having her teach them how she became so successful. In this book, I started looking for actual DETAILS on how she did this (like leveraging a bank when you have no money or credit), and I wasn’t very successful in finding any. While each of her ‘friends’ had a strategy of what they would do by the end, they were pretty ill-defined (‘I’m going to research stocks!’ or ‘I’m going to look into real estate!’).

By now, I was prety convinced I was pursuing ‘how to make the Kiyosaki’s rich’, but I needed ‘just one more book’ to make sure. I picked up a copy of Who Took My Money?, already basically knowing the storyline, and it wasn’t very different from the other two. I don’t know what it is, but there is something about these books that sucks you in, gives you the sense that ‘it’s just around the corner, we’re just about to tell you…’ that keeps gullible people like me buying them.

I believe I helped make Barnes and Noble rich with those two books.

To say I got nothing out of these books would be a lie, because I am more of a novice at finances than I am at web development, and I do feel more informed now. I learned that, just like with so many writers, they write one book, and it’s great. People love it, it sells well, maybe even becomes one of those household name books that EVERYONE has read. Unfortunately with this scenario, the writer spends the rest of his/her life writing variations from the one that made them famous. I thought this was largely reserved for the New Age community (and Dan Millman in particular), but I guess if you can write one, you can write a ton (see Rich Dad’s Catelog if you don’t believe me).

And don’t buy the game. I got it for Christmas after begging and pleading for it.  I would rather have the $200 in hindsight.

Not Being Known Doesn’t Necessarily Equal Failure

As I was going through my reader, half filled with either blogging or finance tips, half filled with stories from slackers like me, I came across a posting My Comment Policy which changed the way I look at this whole blogging world and everything in it.

I write what I want, what comes up, what comes out, and to no one in particular. However, it is my hope that what I do read will be written, and being shy in commenting has not gotten me much traffic. On occasion, this bothers me, especially as I see others’ success come in droves. It could also do with the ‘I go to bed at 9, while they stay up till 2’ sleep schedules.

My main partner in crime in this world tells me relentlessly how “it’s all about content, baby,” and I feel like in that area I can hold my own. My god, I’d better, an English major not being able to write? O the travesty that would be!

However, reading Chris’s policy on his blog, keeping in mind first and foremost that it is HIS and he can do damn well with whatever he wants, was something I needed to hear today. True, Chris has hundreds of readers and I’m still hoping for maybe one someday, but it was a good reminder that the moment I start to play to an audience in hopes of getting people to like (and link) to me is the moment that I lose why I started this in the first place-as a place where I can rid my mind of some thoughts and stories of my life today and my former genX glory. Until next time…

A GenX’er who LIKES doing taxes???

I bet you’re all wondering how a slacker like me can look forward to tax season.You know what my impetus is? It’s really simple. It’s called BEING POOR .

Anyways, in 2005 I worked first at an animal center, working with the boarding animals. It was a good physical job, and I figured if I had so many problems dealing with people, perhaps it would be for the best to begin working with dogs first. Plus, I got free doggy daycare for my dog, so we were around each other all day, so it was a good arrangement. Not a well paying one, but a good start. The only problem with these incredibly repetitive kinds of jobs is that you get sick of them, especially if you aren’t particularly enamored with your boss (who you went to school with and was two years younger than you). Fortunately, I was only working 30 hours and they wanted someone for 40, so it was the perfect reason to leave.

From there I moved to the world of folding towels, handing out locker room keys, and coming up with membership campaigns as I began my next job at an athletic club. It was a good job, nice hours, still awful pay. I got reprimanded for not being perky enough (ironically, this has become a running theme in my work life), but I got a good title (“Director of Marketing”) out of it, I and started acclimating to working with people.

This time last year, it was these two jobs and their W-2s I had to deal with when filing taxes. I got pretty much everything back, and then I got this thing called and Earned Income Credit? That was like Christmas! Sweet! I continued working at the Athletic Club until some developer bought it to level it and put in a bunch of condominiums. It didn’t really matter though, because I was moving to Hawaii. My parents were planning on moving there before I came into the picture, so it’s a kind of ‘where they go, I go to’ deal.

So I’m off to Hawaii. In Idaho, my folks had their whole bedroom/bathroom suite upstairs; here I’m 4 feet away from them. It’s been a rough transition for sure, but that’s not the topic. My first job here was through a temp agency which involved the opening and revival of a new restaurant in a mall. This job required a cheerleader person, and I’m not quite that bubbly. After two months, it was again an amicable separation.

The next month was among the worst of my life, when out of nowhere, my dog suddenly has cancer and dies in less than 2 months. I was with him when he left, and I sang him to sleep, but it still was the worst thing I’ve had to deal with in my life. And believe me; the tears are flowing as I write this.

4 days after that happened, I was offered this job. Between this and leaving my temp job, I had been unemployed for about a month. In a way, it helped a lot to have something else to focus on. Sometimes it was a feat to keep myself together, but I did. The days went by, the phones got answered, the year ended, and I kept putting one foot in front of another in my quest to join the rest of the world and be a ‘normal’ person.

I did my taxes this week. The 1040EZ is nothing. It’s the filling out two part time resident ones that suck. Fortunately, I’m pretty good at reading instructions, so though I’d rather be napping, they got done. And what do you know? There’s a fair chunk of change coming back to me! Just like last year! Just like Christmas!

I guess the moral of this story is that a slacker CAN do taxes. And I did them, on my own, no help. When you know you’ve been using the government as a sort of piggy bank by overpaying (yes, I know this is not the smartest thing to do, and that money could be doing a lot of other things, but I’m not at that point yet), breaking it open and getting that cash back is enough to get almost anyone off the couch.