Thursday, December 15, 2005

Nick’s Finance Blog Secret #1: U$e Lot$ of Dollar $ign$

Author: Nick
Category: Money

I swore it would be a cold day in Maryland before I ever started a blog with a real purpose. I poked my head outside this morning and saw penguins ice skating in the parking lot, so I think today qualifies.

Of course, the question poses itself: just what is a married software engineer with not much hobby-wise going to blog about that a lot of other people would want to read? I guess I could talk about computer stuff; after all, I do know how to build one out of things you can find in your kitchen cupboard. I’m just not so sure that my unconventional mishmash of technological know-how would prove useful for anyone except maybe some 40-year-olds who live in their parents’ basements and perhaps a few mad scientists looking to conquer the world with robots made from a can of green beans and some zesty Italian spices.

Then I thought it would be a good idea to start learning more about a new subject area. That way, I can share what I learn with everyone else as I learn it. It didn’t take long for me to figure out what I could start studying that would be of most benefit to myself and you wonderful readers. So welcome to Nick’s Blog on Male Pole Dancing.

I mean, welcome to Funny Munny, a blog about my journey through the world of personal finance. My name is Nick, and we’re going to learn together how to turn $ into $$$$$. (Answer: instead of pressing SHIFT+4 once, press it five times. Hahaha.)

First, a little about myself. I’m a 23-year-old software engineer living in Rockville, Maryland, a good-sized town about 20 miles north of Washington, D.C. Rockville is the area between the middle-of-nowhere western part of Maryland and the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capital. We just moved to the area a few months ago from the Baltimore area to be closer to where I work. The other half of that “we” is my wonderful, loving, forgiving wife Tegan (which rhymes with “Megan” and sorta with “bagel”). She’s a student in college and she brings in a few bucks working at the Krispy Kreme across the street.

We live in a two-bedroom apartment in a newly built planned community right in the heart of Rockville’s technology sector. While the cost of living difference between the Baltimore suburbs and Rockville isn’t much, it’s still about 50% more expensive to rent an apartment in Rockville than it is to get one about five miles outside of Baltimore. I was commuting about 90 minutes each way for more than a year, so I’m saving a large part of that difference in gasoline. Now that I live 1.4 miles from where I work, my 2004 MINI Cooper uses a tank of gas once every month. Fortunately, that’s about how often we visit friends and family in the Baltimore area because gas costs at least 30 cents a gallon less there than it does here. Why is that? I think it’s because Rockville is further away from the Middle East, so the gas has to travel farther. Then again, by that thinking, gas in Kansas should be about $15 a gallon, so what do I know?

Dishing out a few hundred extra dollars a month in rent was enough to encourage me to take better care of our personal finances, so I’ve started taking steps to save more money and make smart investment decisions. While I’m just getting started, I’m hoping we’ll save enough in the next couple of years to purchase one of the fantastically overpriced pieces of property somewhere around here. We’ll definitely be keeping our fingers crossed for an end to soaring real estate prices and, if we’re lucky, for a few “Free house for Nick and Tegan” signs.

The next few entries in this blog will go into some more details of our financial lives including the four “how much” questions (How much do we have? How much do we make? How much do we spend? How much do we save?), our short- and long-term goals, and our plans for meeting those goals. Starting January 1, 2006, I’ll be keeping painful details about every dollar that enters and leaves our hands. I’ll also be sharing some of the financial tips and strategies that I’ve been learning to help us save more and make the most of the money we do spend. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I’ll try to break the mold of personal finance blogs by injecting a little humor in my posts. While money is a very serious thing, it doesn’t need to be boring, and having a laugh while you save just makes the experience all the more rewarding.

So grab your MasterCard, fire up Quicken, and point your RSS feeds this way for what’s sure to be a voyage full of exciting financial discoveries, thrilling money-making enterprises, and more hyperbole than a million blogs!