This marriage is NOT equal.

I’ve blogged many a times over the years about my Roth IRA and the quasi-obsession I have with making sure I always max it out. Since I love my Roth so much, you would think I would be just as eager to open one up for Girl Ninja. Not so much the case. Homegirl ain’t got no Roth. 

Why you ask?

– Is it because I hate her and want her to be poor when we’re old?

– Is it because I want her to be financially dependent on me so she doesn’t leave me for some other dude?

– Or is it that I’m lazy and just haven’t gotten around to it yet?

I pick option D…. None of the above. 

We, the Ninja household, personally believe starting a Roth IRA for Girl Ninja would be overkill. Yes, overkill. Here’s why…

1) I believe investing 15% of our gross investment for retirement is sufficient.

Could we invest 20%, 25%, or 30% of our income? Sure. But why do we need $10,000,000 waiting for us when we are 65? I’m a firm believer there is a such thing as OVER-investing. 15% diversified through a handful of Vanguard Mutual funds should do just fine over 40 years.

2) I believe historical averages will remain relatively consistent.

Sure the markets could tank and the returns we’ve seen the throughout history could go away. But if they do, guess what? My retirement portfolio is going to be the least of my worries. Having food, water, and ammunition would be top of my priority list.

I mean, most Americans don’t put away 3% let alone 15%. I should, by default, be better protected than the vast majority of my peers. If my 15% invested over 40 years can’t get me by in retirement, I don’t think 20% or 30% would have made me any better off. How you invest (diversifying, consistency, etc) is often more important than how much you invest.

3) We aren’t being reckless.

If anything, we are probably saving too much. If there is such a thing. Sure, we could always save more, but at the same time at what cost? We only get to be in our 20’s once. We only get to have Baby Ninja be a baby once. Occasionally we splurge and doing something nice, but for the most part we keep our nose down and grind. I’m not one of those PF bloggers that will make you feel horrible about driving a nice car, going on vacation, or choosing a career path with a modest salary.

I get that many of you worship your retirement accounts and contribute excessive amounts to them religiously. That’s great. You’ll be hella rich when you’re in the last few decades of your life.

That’ just not how we roll or what we want for ourselves.

Retirement is cool, but so is saving, investing for the short-term, and…GASP… enjoying some of our hard-earned money.

Net Worth update: Xmas card edition

Christmas Card

I haven’t updated my Net Worth since May. I was under the impression random internet strangers (you) stopped caring about my net worth because, well, why the crap would you care about my net worth? That said, at least one of my frequent commenters (Bob), has requested numerous times I post an update on the Ninja household finances. So this one’s for you, and only you, Bob…



Cash: $27,623; +$5,330

Nothing to write home about here. Five thousand dollars more cash seems nice up front, but spread that out over 8 months and it becomes significantly less impressive. We are three months in to navigating life as a one income household, which obviously will limit our ability to save mega cash like before. It would be silly to think a $32,000 pay cut wouldn’t sting a little.

Roth IRA: $59,384; +$3,188

Haven’t contributed a dime myself, but the improvement in the market over the year has yielded us an extra $3,000. Not complaining 😉

401Ks, Traditional IRAs, etc: $104,338; +$14,255

Feels so good to finally break six figures in this category, it’s only taken me…what… seven years… haha. I throw 10% in to my 401k and my agency matches 5%, for a total monthly contribution of 15% of my gross salary.

Taxable investment account: $16,835; +$2,740

Even though this represents my smallest financial gain in terms of actual dollars of my various assets, it’s the one I am most proud of. In March I opened up my first short-term investment account with a $14,000 one-time contribution. I added another $2,000 a few months later, for a total of $16k in contributions. Basically this account has earned me $100/mo since I opened it. How sexy is that? Answer: SUPER SEXY!!!!

Home equity: $80,000

Once a year I ask my real estate agent to appraise our house at what he thinks we could reasonably sell our property for (not some inflated number that makes me feel good). If he’s right, Girl Ninja and I have about $80,000 in equity in our house. If he’s wrong, well, I guess I wouldn’t know since I’m not planning on selling my house anytime soon.


Credit Card: $2,973 (change not reflected since balance is paid off each month)

Nothing too fun here. Just standard household expenses and a ton of gifts for Christmas. Love this season, even if it can be quite expensive. Money well spent in my books.

Taking all the above in to account, this makes our current net worth $285,207. Which is about $30,000 more than last update. I’m not mad at all considering we again, lost one income, gutted our entire upstairs to the studs, and got some pretty quartz counters in our kitchen. 

Oh and as an added bonus for making it this far, here is a sneak-peak of the Christmas card I’m sending out to friends this year (the picture at the top of this post is Girl Ninja’s doing and clearly inferior)…

Christmas Card

You can see all of my net worth updates here.

I joined a gym.

I’ve always scoffed at the idea of joining a gym. All too often people join their local gym with the best of intentions only to find themselves, six months later, realizing they haven’t been to the gym for six months.


You wouldn’t pay for cable if you didn’t own a TV would you? So why the crap would you pay for a gym membership that you derive no benefit from? It just doesn’t make sense.

Seeing that my natural body type is long and lanky, I’ve never really been that in to the idea of working out for the sake of working out. I’d much rather go play tennis with a friend, go on a hike, or hit the slopes in the winter. Why pay some company a pretty penny, when mother nature offers plenty of free (or relatively cheap) options?

I’ll tell you why…

  1. I live in Seattle. It’s freakin’ beautiful here and there is no shortage of free outdoor activities. Unfortunately, the rumors about Seattle are true… it really does rain a good nine months of the year. Could I go hike on a drizzly weekend morning? Sure. Will I? No.
  2. I didn’t just join a gym, I joined an “athletic club”. This basically means that in addition to a ton of free weights and machines, members have access to 8 tennis courts, a pickleball court, five racquetball courts, four basketball courts, a pool, a hot tub, a sauna, and about 10 daily classes (yoga, pilates, spin, barre, insanity, etc).
  3. One of my good friends/neighbors joined the same gym. We’ve booked Wednesday and Sunday nights in our calendar as Pickleball or racquetball nights. Having a set schedule and someone to be accountable to, will keep me consistent. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought to myself “I should go for a run”, but never actually did it.
  4. Childcare is dirt cheap. For $3/hr Girl Ninja and I can drop off Baby Ninja at the clubs day-care facility and be baby-free for two hours. THREE DOLLARS AN HOUR!!!! If I had to hire one of our high school friends to come babysit they’d charge me $10/hr minimum. The below market child care virtually covers the cost of the membership. Instead of joining a gym, I like to think I joined an elite babysitting club that just so happens to provide their members plenty of fitness options.
  5. I’m turning 30 in July. Call this a quarter life crisis if you will (yes, that means I plan to live to 120), but I want to be in the best shape of my life when my 30th comes. It’s not that I’m unhappy with myself (remember I’m relatively lean), but more a challenge to myself. How fit can I get? I have no metrics by which I’ll be gauging my success. I don’t care if I gain or lose weight over the next 8 months. I have no goal to bench X amount or do Y number of pushups by July. I simply want to be proactive in being healthy and push my body in a way I never have before.

If you care to know my general plan over the next 8 months it will look kind of like this: 

  • Sunday Night: Play pickleball or racquetball with friend, followed by 10min ab workout
  • Monday: Off (maybe pool or sauna)
  • Tuesday: High Intensity Interval Training. 20 minute workout that is way more efficient than going for a run.
  • Wednesday: Play pickleball or racquetball with friend, followed by 45min arm workout.
  • Thursday: Work out back and shoulders; 1hr.
  • Friday: Another  20min High intensity interval training sesh.
  • Saturday: Do whatever I feel like and my body is up to.

So yeah, although I still kind of hate the idea of paying $50/mo for a gym membership, it’s worth it to me right now.

My goal is to hit cardio hard twice a week with the interval training to lower body fat percentage, and then lift relatively heavy (4-6 reps in a set) to encourage muscle growth and definition. I have no idea what the results will be, but there’s no way I’ll be worse off for trying, right?

And yes, in case you were wondering I took a bunch of “before” photos the other day so that, come July, I can hopefully see some significant progress. I had to put them in a hidden computer folder so no one comes across my awkward body shots. Haha.

Have you ever joined a gym? Did you/do you feel like you are getting your monies worth?

What’s your square footage?

After spending some time in a bunch of European countries and South Korea, it’s interesting (and kind of depressing) to think about how big American homes are. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some 3,000 square feet of space, but when you’re in Korea and a family of five lives in a 1,200 square foot apartment, it definitely puts things in perspective.

Girl Ninja and I dream of having a garage. We desperately want more than one bathroom. And a guest bedroom would be epic so guests don’t have to sleep on an air mattress in our living room.

I’m a firm believer buying a house should be a long-term decision. If you aren’t willing to own the thing for a minimum of ten years, you probably shouldn’t buy it. But if we abide by this rule, we must then ask ourselves what kind of house should we buy? Do we buy a house that perfectly fits our current needs, or do we buy the house that will appease our needs ten years from now?

We have to start think about things like how many kids will we have, and yard sizes, and garage space, when in reality, we have no clue what those things would look like in our life; 2, 5, or 10 years from now. What if we upgrade to a four bedroom house and find out we can’t have more kids? Or what if we have 10 kids and our three bedroom house doesn’t cut it anymore?

Reflecting on our first year of home ownership makes me think we made a good choice. We have a fairly modest 1,800sqft at our disposal and use just about every inch of the space. I’d throw up if I paid for bonus rooms, lofts, bedrooms, or basements that were never actually lived in.

Maybe that’s just me though?

What about you?

How many rooms are there in your current house (and how many people under that roof)? Do you wish you had more space, less space, or have just the perfect amount? When does home size go from reasonable to excessive?

Why make things easy, when you can make them complicated?

Let’s get right to the point today shall we? I go out of my way to ensure my personal finances are significantly more complicated than they should be. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say that I sleep better at night because of it. No, I haven’t lost all my marbles, I just hate the idea of automating my finances.

I know I’m probably in the minority here, seeing that numerous personal finance blogs preach the wonders of automating your finances. I won’t try to convince you my way is better (even though it is), but allow me to at least explain myself further. First, I’ll list off all of the regular recurring payments I have each month.

  1. Mortgage
  2. Cell Phone
  3. Car Insurance
  4. Credit Card(s) – Varies depending on monthly balance (usually around $1,500)
  5. Charitable Contributions
  6. Utilities

I may be forgetting one or two other bills, but for the most part I think that about covers it. I could theoretically set up an automatic withdrawal from my checking for each of these bills, allowing the companies access to my checking account. As the bill comes due, the company would pull the money from my checking account.

Now, I don’t know about you, but that totally freaks me out. Getting married and sharing a checking account with Girl Ninja was scary enough, I couldn’t imagine giving a bunch of random strangers access to my account as well.

I’ve read horror stories about people who thought they set up a $200/monthly payment and were shocked to find out $2,000 was withdrawn instead.

Or how about the person that had their car payment scheduled for the 8th of every month. Well it just so happened that on the night their account was to be debited, their bank was beefing up security protocols and restricted all customers accounts for a few hours. As a result, the payment never processed. But because it’s suppose to be automatic, you never think to check and make sure everything went smoothly. Thirty days later you are dealing with an angry Toyota representative hounding you for being one month past due.

No thanks. Automatic payments don’t sound worth it to me.

To be perfectly honest, I actually enjoy manually paying my bills. It reminds me how much money comes in and out of our account each month, but more importantly it makes me want to continually shop around and make sure I’m getting the best deal possible. I mean how many of you having been paying the same cable bill or car insurance bill for a couple of years? That’s insane, every year I shop around, and every year I find better deals than what I currently have. Un-automating my finances keeps me intimately involved in our personal finances. And I need not remind you, making love with money is my favorite kind of romance.

Do you automate your finances? Why or why not?

How did we make it this far?

 Was at a group meeting a few months back and an older gentleman shared an email he received from a friend. The email read….

How Did We Make It this Far?

Looking back, it’s hard to believe that we have lived as long as we have…

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags. Riding in the back of a pickup truck on a warm day was always a special treat.

Our baby cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based paint.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors, or cabinets, and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets. (Not to mention hitchhiking to town as a young kid!)

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then rode down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into
the bushes a few times we learned to solve the problem.

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day. No cell phones. Unthinkable.

We played dodgeball and sometimes the ball would really hurt. We got cut and broke bones and broke teeth and there were no law suits from these
accidents. They were accidents. No one was to blame but us. Remember accidents?

We had fights and punched each other and got black and blue and learned to get over it.

We ate cupcakes, bread and butter, and drank sugar soda but we were never overweight … we were always outside playing.

We shared one grape soda with four friends, from one bottle and no one died from this.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo 64, X Boxes, video games at all, 99 channels on cable, video tape movies, surround sound, personal cellular phones, Personal Computers, internet chat rooms. Instead we had friends.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s home and knocked on the door, or rung the bell or just walked in and talked to them.

We made up games with sticks and tennis balls and ate worms and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes, nor did
the worms live inside us forever.

We ate penny candy, swallowed bubblegum, and our intestines did not stick together because of it.

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t, had to learn to deal with disappointment.

Some students weren’t as smart as others so they failed a grade and were held back to repeat the same grade. Tests were not adjusted
for any reason.

Our actions were our own. Consequences were expected. No one to hide behind. The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem solvers and inventors, ever. The past 50 years has been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.

Obviously as a twenty something I can’t relate to everything in this letter, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t certain things that stood out to me (I bolded the things I liked).

I mean think about cell phones. Twenty years ago no one had cell phones and people managed to get by just fine. Now, if I reach down to grab my phone and it’s not in front of me, I have a mild panic attack. Funny how priorities change.

What were some of the things in the letter that rubbed ya the wrong way? What were some that resonated with you?

Any other 20-somethings out there willing to admit we are probably the laziest generation to have ever existed? Would love to hear from the 40+ crowd today and get your insights on how you’ve seen things change over the years!

p.s. if Facebook is the biggest “accomplishment” of our generation I’m going to cry.



Mortgages and Medicine.

Unless you are the dumbest person in the world, you probably have realized I’m not the biggest fan of debt. I think it’s pretty stupid and unlike most PF bloggers, I don’t believe “good debt” exists.

Although I’m a pretty avid debt puncher, I do compromise on two issues…


If you didn’t already know, houses are kind of expensive. The median home price in my zip code is $500,000. Even if Girl Ninja and I were able to stock away a whopping $50,000/yr in savings (which we aren’t), it would take us 10 years before we could pay cash for a house in our hood. And that’s assuming home prices don’t increase during those 10 years we save (which we know it will).

Last year we took on a $280,000 mortgage for our $350,000 home. That means we put 20% down, and financed the remaining 80%.

I would never try to call my mortgage debt “good”, perhaps “necessary evil” is a better descriptor.


This one goes without saying, and I assume most of you would agree.

If for some reason the crap hit the fan and I was faced with a decision between death or debt, I’m gonna take on some debt. That said, I am doing what I can to ensure I never have to be faced with that choice. I pay a pretty penny for health/dental/vision insurance each month, not to mention I have a decent chunk of change sitting in an emergency fund.

My insurance and savings should significantly diminish the chances of having unpaid medical bills, but on the rare chance I needed to buy an organ on Ebay, you better believe I’d do so. Side Note: How much you think a kidney goes for on the black market? $50K? $100K?

That pretty much wraps up my Tolerable Debt List. I realize my stance may be extreme for some, and for others it’s probably not strict enough. And this leads to today’s question….

Where do you draw the debt line?

What type of debt have you sworn off for good (credit cards, car, mortgage, payday loans)?

What type of debt are you comfortable with (mortgage, cars, 0% credit card offers, etc)?

At what point does debt go from being logical to being ridiculous?