What would you do…

…if you were just handed $100,000 in cash (tax free) and told that you have the next thirty seconds to spend it any way you want?  Nothing is off limits.  Be “responsible.”  Blow it!  WHATEVER you want! Don’t overthink it.  Think fast, make gut decisions, and let me know what you’d do in the comments below!

-Frugal RN

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(not so) Subliminal Messaging

The idea of subliminal messaging came about in 1957, when a researcher by the name of James Vicary coined the term, claiming that he could increase the sales of Coke and popcorn in theaters by flashing words, such as the picture above, so quickly during a movie that it would only be seen by our subconscious mind, thereby affecting our decisions and subsequently influencing our desire to purchase yummy treats.  While there are apparently no federal or state laws in the U.S. specifically addressing this practice, the FCC and FTC have regulations in place either explicitly prohibiting it (FCC since 1974) or more generally prohibiting the idea of deceptive advertising (FTC.)

Fast forward to today and we are literally inundated with in-your-face advertisements everywhere we look, from television to internet to billboards.  Everyone, every corporation, everywhere is begging you to hand over your hard-earned cash for whatever good or service they are offering.

According to this recent CBS News article, every hour of cable television consists of nearly 16 minutes of commercials and, what’s even more INSANE…networks have been literally speeding up their shows in order to cram in more ad time!

Commercials play before shows, in between scenes, and after the closing; however, have you also noticed the seemingly unashamed placement of products right in the flow of your favorite program?  My wife and I have noticed it off-and-on in various shows in the past but two weeks ago, the episode of Scandal, titled It’s Hard Out Here for a General, is what inspired this post.  We no longer have cable but enjoy this show via Hulu and have been long-time fans of Shonda Rhimes’ television work since the beginning of Grey’s Anatomy  up to her latest show, How to Get Away With Murder.

Anyway, back to the point…Microsoft Surface tablets and cell phones were prominently displayed throughout the entire episode, with several instances of a ringing phone being the centerpiece of the shot.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the Surface tablet I own…but for the love of Pete, give it a break!  If this isn’t subliminal messaging/advertising, I don’t know what is!  While there weren’t any scripted lines of “Hey, Olivia, give me a call on your Nokia 925 later tonight” (there are actually sites that are devoted to discussing types of products used in these shows…seriously,) the fact is, the message is still there – this high-profile, strong, powerful woman is using this particular phone…I NEED ONE TOO!  It’s right on par with celebrity endorsements selling the image of our ideal selves, from Michael Jordan selling shoes to Jeff Gordon promoting Pepsi.  And let’s face it, Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) is, in fact, a celebrity.  While I don’t know if she actually receives any compensation for using the phone on the show, her use of the phone without a doubt impresses upon some individuals, subliminally or otherwise, to research and potentially purchase the phone, if for no other reason than because she uses it.

And thus the cycle of rampant societal consumption continues.

So, my dear reader, have you noticed any other such examples of “subliminal” advertising in you day-to-day lives, whereby marketers and corporations try their best to stealthily get you to open your wallet?

-Frugal RN

 

P.S. – While I personally enjoy this show for its entertainment value, I’m glad we opted for the ad-free version of Hulu.  Having to deal with the in-show advertising makes it well worth the extra $4/month to not have to sit through the same set of commercials three or four times during the episode.

To note, consumer products are not the only things being subliminally touched upon; if you watched this particular episode, you can’t help but notice parallels between the show’s story line and a certain political figure/issue going on in our country.  While I’m sure this isn’t the only show to do this sort of thing, there are obvious undertones (and some very blunt dialogue) that speak a narrative with the capacity to tilt public opinion.  I’m not here to debate politics…just pointing out my observations.  Take it as you will. 🙂

Am I a Fraud?

Sometimes I feel like a fraud calling myself “Frugal RN.”  I struggle with guilt over my past purchases; I have rationalized unnecessary purchases and really can’t explain why.  The pit in my stomach makes me feel ashamed because I know that my decisions have only added to our debt sentence.

I created and added a header image to my blog, illustrating our journey through the flames to ultimate F.I.R.E., a goal that I so strongly and badly yearn to achieve.  However, I realize that without ongoing changes in my habits and gaining control over my compulsions to occasionally spend beyond what I know is “right”, I fear it may never happen…certainly not as quickly as I would like nor as quickly as possible.

I realize that others are far more frugal than we are.  That isn’t the problem; I’m more than okay with that.  We have made positive changes in our situation:  for example, we no longer have cable, we cook/eat 95+% of our meals at home, and we are on pace to reach my previously stated goal of paying off at least $20,000 of debt this year.

Wow, this is a really downer post…I’m just havng a blah moment and needed somewhere to vent.  What better place than to billions of potential readers? lol

I started writing this post a few days ago while feeling bummed and, until coming back to it right now, the above section is what I had written.   I was honestly just having a self-induced pity party that, now that I sit back and reflect on it, actually pisses me off.  My angst even triggered me to emotionally eat and indulge in a few small chocolate chip cookies at work that, while they were delicious and didn’t result in me going over my allotted Weight Watchers Points for the day, I had previously been abstaining from such processed sugars in order to save for TRULY enjoying my wife’s baked treats…so, likewise, that was infuriating!

Admittedly, I do feel guilty about making decisions that have only served to prolong my family from reaching our goals.  But the fact of the matter is, the past is the past and we have resolved to address the problem head-on and have a solid game-plan in place to eradicate the problem.

While I still have plenty of work to do, bettering myself mentally, in order to break old habits and overcome the rationalization of occasional overspending, from here on out, there will be no more self-loathing and cry-baby-bullshit coming from me.  Negativity does absolutely zero good and only wears me down both physically and mentally.

I spoke with my wife (who is absolutely amazing, by the way) the following morning about how I was feeling and she is, without a doubt, the most supportive and wonderful person I could ever hope to have by my side through our journey together.  Thank you Lovebug 😉

Writing this post has been extremely cathartic and I thank you, wholeheartedly, for hearing me out.  Don’t forget to follow along via WordPress or by entering your e-mail address over in the right-hand column to ensure that you receive future posts.

If you find yourself in a similar situation and need someone to talk to, don’t hesitate to reach out.  Talk to your significant other, friend, family member, or anyone else of your choosing; express your concerns and get it off your chest.  Also, I would love to hear from you!  Please comment below or, if you would prefer, shoot me an e-mail me at frugaltravelnurse@outlook.com.  Talk to you soon; have a good night!

-Brandon

Day 4: Personal Finance Goes to D.C.

Before continuing…if you haven’t already, be sure to start with my post regarding the Obama Administration Budget Proposalfollowed by Day 1 in this series.


 

What if I started a petition through the White House website regarding the Constitutional amendments I suggested yesterdat?  Would you be interested in signing on with me and sharing the petition with everyone you know?  We would need 150 signatures to get the petition into the public search area of the site and then we have to get 100,000 signatures in THIRTY DAYS in order to force a response from the White House.

While it is not the job of the executive branch to propose legislation, this would at least bring our united voices to Washington that we are tired of the same-old-same-old that continues to bury us under a deeper and deeper mountain of debt.  To note, there have been several legislators over the years that have put forth various forms of legislation calling for term limits; however, and most unsurprisingly, they never gain much traction and, from my searching, appear to just get buried in subcommittees where they never again see the light of day.  Shocking, right?

term limits, Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson, collage, photomontage, elephant, JGill, Paul Jacob, Common Sense

So does obtaining the necessary number of petition signatures seem doable?  Also, if you are interested, do you have any suggestions for additions to the petition?  If you are on board, I will get the petition set up and put it in a new post to be shared.  Please let me know what you think in the comments below.


Knowing all of this, is it safe to say, revisiting the words of Thomas Jefferson, that we have effectively been swindled by prior generations?  What breaks my heart is that we continue to do the same to our children and future grandchildren.

God Bless America,

-Frugal RN

 

P.S. – Thank you so much for following along through this series of posts.  Please don’t forget to follow along via WordPress, or with your e-mail in the right-hand column, to ensure you don’t miss any future posts.  My family and I would love to have you along for our journey; have a wonderful day!

Day 3: Personal Finance Goes to D.C.

Before continuing…if you haven’t already, be sure to start with my post regarding the Obama Administration Budget Proposalfollowed by Day 1 in this series.


So how do we go about reigning in government spending, allowing for the opportunity to get ourselves on the path to debt freedom and financial independence?  I would really appreciate your comments on the matter, as well as your thoughts in relation to the options I am about to present.

I believe one step in the right direction would be for the passage of two Constitutional amendments:  1.) limit the number of terms (for life) that any one citizen may hold office as a United States Representative and/or Senator, and 2.) require that budgets be truly balanced (but preferably with a surplus that is then directed to paying down the national debt,) eliminating borrowing being necessary to fund operations.

As we individual citizens do, in our own private households, if we don’t have the money, we don’t buy it…or fund it.  If our credit cards are maxed out and yet we continue to borrow money from Aunt Martha (aka China, Japan, etc.) to fund our extracurricular activities and pet-projects, we will never get back on track to debt freedom.

A FABRICATED balanced-budget amendment proposal, attributed to Warren Buffet, circulated the internet a few years ago after Buffet, during a CNBC interview in 2011, said that he could fix the national deficit in five minutes, stating “you just pass a law that says that any time there’s a deficit of more than three percent of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election. Yeah, yeah, now you’ve got the incentives in the right place, right?” (Truth or Fiction.)  While Buffet has never seriously and actively called for such an amendment, how is this not a good idea?

If politicians know they’ve only got a set amount of time in office, they could focus on accomplishing things that are beneficial to the country as a whole, as opposed to focusing their efforts on getting reelected.  Limiting the number of terms they can serve would help with this.  While I find the 3% in Buffet’s statement to be too lenient (i.e. I say ZERO deficit,) if you tack on losing the eligibility of reelection if the budget is off, our elected leaders may actually pay more attention to where all of those dollars are going and utilize them more diligently.

government, incentives, flow chart, folly, results, illustration, meme, Jim Gill, Paul Jacob, Common Sense

While I am sure there are good-hearted, well-meaning Congressmen/women out there, by-and-large, the majority seem to refuse to stand up and do the responsible things that need to be done to ensure a strong financial future for our children and future generations.  They are simply too busy pleasing specific groups of people, no matter the cost, to ensure their reelection.  This stresses the importance of educating our children, and every possible person for that matter, in the matters of personal finance so that we may usher in a new generation of leaders who may one day stand up for what is right and have the capabilities of bringing our balance sheets back into the black.


Just for funsies and a chuckle…if you’d like to help get us back in the black ASAP, please utilize one of the following options to make a contribution to reduce the national debt:

  • At Pay.gov, you can contribute online by credit card, debit card, PayPal, checking account, or savings account.
  • You can write a check payable to the Bureau of the Fiscal Service, and, in the memo section, notate that it’s a gift to reduce the debt held by the public. Mail your check to:Attn Dept G
    Bureau of the Fiscal Service
    P. O. Box 2188
    Parkersburg, WV 26106-2188

As of the writing of this post, the national debt stands at $19,007,500,000,000.  Divvied up between the approximately 323,000,000 men, women, and children in the United States, your personal share is currently $59,000…but hurry!, the debt total has climbed another $10 MILLION in the time it took me to type this sentence!  I can hardly imagine how high it has climbed by the time you are reading this.

Maybe I’ll suggest we try this with the next baby I help deliver!   JUST KIDDING!!!


Tune in tomorrow for the final post in this series, where I will be asking for your help, if you’re interested.  If you’ve been following along and feel like I do, I hope you will be.  As always, don’t forget to follow along via WordPress, or with your e-mail in the right-hand column, to ensure you don’t miss the remainder of the series or any future posts.  My family and I would love to have you along for our journey; have a wonderful day!

 

-Frugal RN

Day 2: Personal Finance Goes to D.C.

Before continuing…if you haven’t already, be sure to start with my post regarding the Obama Administration Budget Proposalfollowed by Day 1 in this series.


 

Federal Debt Held by the Public

Graph obtained here.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is an independent, non-partisan organization that analyzes Congressional policies regarding budgetary and economic issues.  According to the CBO, the federal budget deficit this year will rise in relation to the size of the economy for the first time in the past six years.  While it almost sounds good to hear that the deficit had been decreasing, the fact of the matter is that the CBO estimates the 2016 deficit at approximately $544 BILLION – that’s HALF A TRILLION DOLLARS…in a single year.  Decreasing or not, that still leaves us in the red.  This is projected to increase our debt load to about 76% of GDP by the end of 2016, an increase of 2% since last year.  From the chart above, you can see that the debt-to-GDP ratio has, in fact, been higher in the past (i.e. during WWII) but our current trend continues to raise our debt higher and higher, pushing us to a projected 86% of GDP over the next decade.  Overall deficits for the next decade are estimated to total $9.4 trilion with growth of government spending outpacing revenues, as liabilities for Social Security, health care, and interest on the debt continue to grow, further compounding with the addition of more debt.  The CBO report goes on to detail that, if current policies remain unchanged, as that is what their predictions are based on, then our debt will rise to as high as 155% of GDP in the next thirty years.  Please read the full CBO report here; I honestly find it to be more than a little horrifying.

 


Please tune in Monday for day 3 regarding my thoughts on ways to combat the growing problem, in the hopes of reigning in government spending.  Don’t forget to follow along via WordPress, or with your e-mail in the right-hand column, to ensure you don’t miss the remainder of the series or any future posts.  My family and I would love to have you along for our journey; enjoy Valentine’s Day tomorrow.  Give your sweetie and/or loved ones a smooch, tell them all about my blog, and encourage them to follow along!  🙂

 

-Frugal RN

Day 1: Personal Finance Goes to D.C.

Before continuing…if you haven’t already, be sure to start with my post regarding the Obama Administration Budget Proposal.


It is my hope that this will not be viewed as political in nature, as that is not my intent.  I am simply looking to engage others in a conversation regarding the financial future of our great country (the United States) and/or whatever country you may call home.

I do not pretend to believe that what I am about to discuss is some the only possible cure for the financial problems I see ourselves in, and I have no doubt that there are thousands of you who are likely far more intelligent on the subject, with the capacity to present a valid argument against me (and I beg, PLEASE DO!)  That being said, let’s get started…


In the personal finance blogosphere, we often go on about the basic concepts of setting a budget, telling your money where to go, and paying off debt, while also discussing the concept of paying yourself first, whereby not robbing your future self due to frivolous purchases in the present.  Today, I would like to discuss these concepts on a much larger scale.  I’m referring to our country as a whole and, while you may not call America home, I feel that the general theme of this post series may pertain to your home country, as well.


During the early days of America, many of our Founding Fathers believed that debt, while sometimes necessary, should also be remedied as quickly as possible.  America first took on debt during the Revolutionary war against the British in order to secure our independence.  Fast forward three decades, introduce the War of 1812, and our nation’s debt doubled.  President Andrew Jackson, born poor and frugal by nature, took office in 1829 and vowed to finish what his two predecessors had started…pay off the debt…and he did!  He oversaw the successful extinction of the national debt, in 1835, for the first and only time in our nation’s history.  Unfortunately, this only lasted two years, as a “speculative balloon” arose as a result of Jackson’s moving around of national funds in an effort to shut down the Bank of the United States.  He took money from this centralized bank, divvied up the funds between various state chartered banks and, with an influx of new capital, those banks became more liberal with their loan policies, extending loans to speculators who wanted to buy up western land from the government (Housing Bubble circa 2008 anyone?)  In an attempt to limit the damage of this bubble, Jackson put out an executive order stating that government land would only be sold in exchange for gold.  This order resulted in the Panic of 1837 just as Jackson was leaving office, setting off a recession that lasted into the mid-1840’s.  Unfortunately for his successor, Martin Van Buren, the government began borrowing again and our debt has continued to climb to where we find ourselves today (Teaching History.)

Since our country’s incredibly short-lived debt freedom under Jackson, our debt has snowballed in the face of the Civil War, the Great Depression, two World Wars, and the Great Recession of the new millennium.


Tune in tomorrow for day 2 covering the latest report from the Congressional Budget Office regarding their projections for the ballooning deficits to come!  Don’t forget to follow along via WordPress, or with your e-mail in the right-hand column, to ensure you don’t miss the remainder of the series or any future posts.  My family and I would love to have you along for our journey; have a wonderful day!

 

-Frugal RN

30 Seconds, $5 million

Yesterday, Generation YRA posted about what she would show Super Bowl viewers (just shy of half the United States population!) if she could purchase a 30 second commercial during the game.  Since I was at work, and also since we don’t have cable, I didn’t watch the game.  Nor have I watched any of the commercials online.  I did, however, enjoy this post over at Becoming Minimalist about some empty promises found in a few of this year’s ads.  Anyway, all this got me thinking about what I would love to see as a commercial during the Super Bowl.  Here it is…

I envision a very long couch with the likes of Mr. Money Mustache, Jeremy from Go Curry Cracker, Justin at Root of Good, Mr. Fire Station (FI and nearly RE!), and countless other inspirational people who have achieved FIRE seated end-to-end.

Mr. Money Mustache would start out the commercial saying something along the lines of “stop buying all that shit those other people are selling!”

The camera then fades in on each early-retiree and they would share the greatest benefit that financial independence has had on their life, as well as their greatest piece of advice.

To bring the commercial to an end, a list of personal finance blogs, including mine of course :), would scroll across the screen, encouraging viewers to educate themselves on the matters of personal finance, frugality, and the benefits of debt freedom.


 

While the ROI for this commercial would be non-existent, as there is no product being sold, the potential financial benefit for our nation as a whole would be worth it in my opinion.  Mr. Money Mustache had an interesting article titled What if Everyone Became Frugal? back in April of 2012 touching on this topic; while the past four years obviously hasn’t seen everyone in the country turn towards frugality, maybe this commercial could push a few more toward the edge.  I feel like 30 seconds might be a bit of a time-crunch though; maybe 2 minutes would be better….anybody got $20 million I can borrow?

 

-Frugal RN

Obama Administration Budget Proposal

Before getting started on the coming four-post series titled Personal Finance Goes to D.C., I wanted to have a brief discussion regarding the latest budget proposal that just came out of the White House.  Tuesday morning, I awoke to an Associate Press alert regarding the 8th and final proposed budget by the Obama administration.

This record-breaking $4.1 trillion dollar spending bill estimates a $500 billion deficit for FY 2017, with deficits totaling an estimated $6 trillion over the next decade.  Hoping to receive minimal attention, it was conveniently released on the same day as the New Hampshire primary.

The AP article even goes on to state “the Congressional Budget Office says that last year’s tax and spending bill, combined with worsening economic projections, means that deficits will begin a steady march to the $1 trillion mark in a few years. Sooner or later, CBO says, action to curb the deficit is a must, or else it could drag down the economy and lead to a potential European-style fiscal crisis. These problems will be left to Obama’s successor since he and GOP leaders have long since given up on working together to get the deficit under control.”  More to come in the following days regarding the CBO report!

I’m fully aware that this proposal will in no way be the final bill ultimately passed by Congress.  Also, I’m not here to argue the issues and government programs contained within the bill, nor am I going to attempt to pick it apart and say such-and-such program or agency should or should not be funded.  Rather, my purpose behind this post is to ensure that you’re aware of the current goings on out in D.C.  Were you aware of this?  If not, are you paying attention now?  When will the madness end?!?


 

Tune in tomorrow for day 1 of further discussions regarding my perceptions of the problems in Washington, as well as potential remedies to the those problems.  Please follow along to ensure you get all the posts and please participate in the discussion via the comments section below.  I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter, as well as any possible solutions you have in mind.  I sincerely hope you enjoy and are inspired to comment as we go along.  Thank you and have an amazing day!

 

-Frugal RN

Change of Plans

This morning’s (2/10/16) post titled Personal Finance Goes to D.C. garnered only 3 views within the first twelve hours.  It is my hope that it was due to the fact that it was over 2000 words in length…sorry about that.  🙂  In hopes of remedying that, I have taken the post down and will be dividing it up into four sections, releasing one at a time over the next week.  My family and I will be out of town over the weekend so if you are gracious enough to comment on any of my posts, first off, thank you.  Secondly, I will make every effort to reply to you as soon as possible when we return home.  Thank you so much for your support and don’t forget, if you’re not already following me, my family and I would love to get to know you, learn from you, and have you along for our journey towards debt freedom and financial independence!  Follow via WordPress or by entering your e-mail over at the right-hand column.  Have an awesome night and, hopefully, talk to you soon!

-Frugal RN