Money Monday: Buy Less Shit

I’m on a spending diet and I encourage you to join me in this effort to buy less shit. After clearing out a condo filled with crap and trying to make the best use of our storage in a 1-bedroom apartment, I am convinced that Americans needlessly and wastefully buy a shitload of stuff that they don’t need. I mean, it’s embarrassing all the stuff I’d accumulated and never used. The irony is that I am super minimalist. I’ve become very zen about material things and realized I honestly want to take half the stuff I own and drop it off at the Salvation Army. It’s all crap.

We probably have the smallest kitchen known to mankind. We have the bare necessities: plates, cups, wine glasses, forks, knives, spoons. We don’t have a food processor or a blender or a cake display or a fondue set. We don’t pretend to be Martha Stewart nor should you! Get that crap out of your kitchen.

A quick glance at our transactions on Mint.com show the following:

Costco

SF Soup Company

Sprint

Kaiser

Safeway

Sallie Mae

Amazon (I bought vitamins)

Chevron

Haircut

Acupuncture

Osha Thai

Pluto’s (salad)

Kara’s Cupcakes (my sweet tooth)

It’s all food and basic necessities like cell phone, gas, and loan payments.

Here are some things I’ve implemented to assist me in my minimalist diet. I’ve removed all design and fashion blogs from my feed. All that shit just makes you want to buy more shit! Get rid of it. Aside from Vanity Fair (because it’s so gossipy good), I don’t subscribe to any other magazine. All those advertisements can set you down the $$$ consumer path. Out of sight, out of mind.

For us, it’s about eating good San Francisco food and saving for early retirement. I am on a mission to retire when I’m 50. Who’s with me?!

On Being Racist

When I received the 2 offers on my condo, I told my agent, “I hate to play the race card, but let’s just go with the Asian girl.” Granted her offer was higher than the other one, but even if they had been equal, I still would have given preference to her over the white male. Isn’t that totally racist? Don’t we naturally and instinctually prefer people who are similar to us? Which is why you are likely to see groups of Indians hanging out at District wine bar in SOMA. It’s the same reason you see circles of white people hanging out in the Marina. When our ancestors immigrated here, they didn’t choose some ho hum random destinations, they gravitated toward locations where other family members or friends went.

Merriam Webster dictionary defines racism as having a racial prejudice or preconceived opinion. When I favor someone who is Asian isn’t that akin to Hitler favoring the Arian race? If that is the case, then aren’t we all racist? Which brings me to the best song in the musical Avenue Q: Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist.

The reason I thought about this post was because of the Masters. I want Tiger Woods to fail because he disgusts me to no end. But I heard about the 14-year-old prodigy Tianlang Guan from China and have been cheering him on ever since. Again, isn’t that totally racist?!

I’m Homeless!

Well that was a downer. To watch Cal lose their lead, then ultimately lose the game was heart-breaking. Ugh.

Before I get entrenched with work this week, I wanted to quickly post that we definitively sold my condo. I mentioned previously that selling a home has to be one of the most stressful life events, ranking up there with losing a job, moving to another city, and getting married. Funny, I should probably count myself lucky since, comparatively, the process was actually really smooth since we took offers 10 days after it went on the market.

I had to give my tenants notice. They weren’t too happy.

We staged it ourselves, painting the whole place and moving furniture from Dean’s apartment into my condo. I bought a bed from Mancini’s Sleepworld for $200 which included delivery, then turned around and sold it for $100 on Craigslist. We also bought a head board (that we returned), bedding (that I carefully repackaged and returned), and San Francisco prints that I framed and hope to sell. So total we spent about $1,000 to get my place ready, primarily to cover the cost and labor for painting.

I paid $455,000 for my condo at the height of the market in 2005.

We listed it for $499,000.

Sold it for $525,000.

Frankly, I just wanted to break even. I’m very happy to have made a profit because I know other people who lost money, including the other original owners of the two other units in the building. They sold during the downturn while I held on.

I learned a couple lessons during this whole experience:

Do not buy during a frenzy. I feel like we’re currently experiencing an unsustainably hot real estate market.

Buy when others aren’t.

Next time you buy something (i.e., clothes, books, picture frames, toys, antiques), ask yourself if you really need it. It’s incredible how much unnecessary crap we accumulate.

Money Monday: Real Estate Bubble

Hey people, if you haven’t noticed, we are experiencing a housing bubble: skyrocketing rents, zero inventory, and astronomical offers in terms of both volume and price. This is not the time to buy. Back away, people. Back away! I’m completely flabbergasted at how many people have decided that THIS is the time to buy. Very odd. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in the hunt myself, but I’m not paying up for a shack. I’d rather stick to our 1-bedroom, thank you very much. I have zero pressure to buy.

A coworker said that NOW is the time to buy into a new condo development because the price just keeps going up and up. And I’m like, dude, that is not sustainable. Use your brain! I asked him what the monthly HOAs are and he said $450. What a joke. Seriously, these people deserve to go into foreclosure for making such dumb mistakes.

Let’s do the math with an example.

37 years old – because that’s how old I am

$700,000 purchase price for a nice 2-bedroom condo in San Francisco

25% down – because these days that’s how much you have to put down to compete

30 year loan at a 3.5% interest rate – which is generous for rates right now

Mortgage + 1.14% property taxes + $450 HOAs = $3,425 housing expense per month – that doesn’t even include electricity, water, garbage, cable

Imagine still paying $3,425 at 65 years old? Because I’d still have another 2 more years to go. I don’t want to be coughing up that much money in my twilight years. I want to be on the beach in Central America drinking raw coconut water and eating shrimp.

I have this ongoing debate with my mom because she is a firm believer in owning a home. She’s one of those old school types. I questioned why should we be shackled to such a high mortgage 30 years from now when we can easily rent a 2-bedroom in a podunk suburb for peanuts. She countered that once your home’s paid off, the only expenses left are utilities and property taxes (which I should add are insane if you live in San Francisco). I don’t know. I’m still not sold on this home ownership dream. But since my parents are, it’s good to know we can always move in with mom and dad!

Treasure Island Flea Market

I am under so much pressure right now, I feel my heart is going to burst out of my chest. Work is insane. I’m in escrow with the sale of my condo closing any day now. And we still have a bunch of crap at my place which needs to be vacated any day now. Best thing to do would be to toss all our stuff on the sidewalk. We don’t have time to deal!

Over the weekend, we did manage to go to the Treasure Island Flea Market which was so much fun. I’m really trying to stay away from being such a consumer, but the weather was fantastic (albeit a bit chilly right by the water) and you can’t beat the Chairman food truck which was there on Saturday. I’m a downer when it comes to food trucks (overpriced with no seating), but the Chairman is orgasmically delish. OMG! The pork belly is TO-DIE-FOR! Follow this truck! I swear they’re catering my next party. I can’t get enough of their buns.

Dean and I both ‘splurged’ on $10 hats at the popular hat booth. Then proceeded to play skeeball, which proves once again, how bad my hand-eye coordination is! I think my total score was 10. I promised the owner I’d blog about his business. Check it out. JoeytheCat.com for skeeball rental. Tons of fun. He’s the one who took pictures of me and Dean having a jolly good time.

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