Financial Disconnect Or Financial Awareness?

Picanha - Best Brazilian Meat

Just order picanha and skip everything else!

One of my new favorite restaurants in San Francisco is Espestus Churrascaria. The restaurant serves good old fashion Brazilian meat that is more tasty than some of the finest dry-aged rib-eyes. Ever since visiting Rio de Janeiro in 2006 during business school, I’ve been craving to eat some Picanha (rump cap) until finally my best friend took me to Espestus last month.

After going without picanha for eight years, I wanted to return just a month later. Perhaps one of the main reasons why I never went was because of the cost. At $74 a person after tax and tip for food alone, Espestus costs a pretty penny! Instead of just going with my friend the second time around, I asked her if she’d like to invite another couple friend of ours to make it four.

Here’s her text response: Too expensive for them.

Espetus is surely an expensive place to eat, but our friends are in their late 30s, rent a $3,700 a month apartment and drive a 2010 Porsche Cayenne. The husband also has a $10,000 motorbike.

Here’s my text response to my friend: Ask them anyway. They drive a Porsche that costs literally 15X more than Moose!

She texts back: OK, I’ll see. 

Saving Our Daughters From Bad Men And A Life Of Misery

Cut Little Piggy At The County Fair

Oink, oink

“What the hell was I thinking going out with him?” the woman cries to her friend as she breaks down in tears. “I can’t believe he’s now with my sister, that asshole!” I couldn’t help but overhear this emotionally destraught woman as I sipped on my lemon water using free wifi. Who knew Starbucks was such a fun place to write?

In a world full of good men, why do women constantly end up with bad men? A man’s biggest fear is becoming a father to a daughter who ends up with a deadbeat loser. If we knew our daughters would always select fantastic men, we wouldn’t be so afraid to have girls! Unfortunately, we are inundated with disaster stories.

Women breaking up with men because they discover they can’t change their man unless he goes through a lobotomy is pretty common. Husbands leaving wives who are mothers to be with younger women is so cliche. It’s hard to imagine it’s been over 20 years since Woody Allen at age 55 pursued 19 year old Soon-Yi. Men are dirty dogs, yet women love us all the same. It’s as if some women are genetically wired to be attracted to trouble.

Let’s go through an exercise to try and understand why women go out with suboptimal men. Altogether this post will have the perspectives of 15 different men and women to better understand “what the hell was I thinking” and save our daughters, sisters and girlfriends from a life of misery. 

Being Out Of Touch With Reality Doesn’t Make Sense

Coaching tennis until dark

Coaching tennis until dark

The only reality is the one you know, which is why it’s odd for someone to ever say you’re “out of touch with reality.” To do so would imply your reality is superior to another’s reality, which is arrogant. But many people have commented I’m out of touch with reality over the years because of the way I view money and opportunity. So I’ve decided to slowly do something about it.

The tone of Financial Samurai has changed from one of defiance, to one of acceptance. I no longer rail against the government or argue with folks why a ROTH IRA conversion is a mistake. If you want to only save 10% of your earnings and work until you hate your job, go right ahead. I just like to put things out there now and let the community decide what’s best for themselves. I’ll go about doing what’s right for me, and if you don’t want to take my advice, no problem.

Part of the reason why I do write about wealth inequality and socioeconomic equality is because I recognize I’m lucky and I don’t want to take my luck for granted. And so I write and write and write to share my thoughts on boosting wealth in hopes of sharing my luck around. But with the largest personal finance blogs in the world focusing on frugality instead of making more money because it’s so much easier, I need to adapt to grow, even though I know many of you don’t want to eat dog food in retirement.

Seeking Approval From A Critical Father

My father would always tell me, “You’re just not good enough,” every time I would lose a tennis match in high school. He eventually made me want to stop practicing so hard to see if I could make it to the next level because I was afraid of his disapproval. I asked him to stop coming to my matches, even though I went 10-1 senior year because I was worried he’d show up for that one loss. Losing is already a painful feeling. To then have your father be disappointed with you is terrible.

I remember coming home one day all proud of my 92% math final score. Instead of congratulating me he asked what happened to the other 8%. I stayed up all night for weeks studying because I’m pretty bad at higher level math. I still don’t know the purpose of Calculus in every day life. All I wanted was a high-five for my efforts. Once again I disappointed my father, but this time I didn’t fade. I tried harder in school because I wanted to prove to him and to myself I wasn’t a failure. I needed options.

But I realize no matter what I do, I will never live up to my father’s amorphous expectations. He never told me what occupation to follow or how much money to make or what type of person to marry. He let me figure things out for myself, which is something I do appreciate. Unfortunately, I don’t understand exactly what he wants out of me and that’s frustrating. Best I go ask.

Rejecting Expensive Christmas Gifts: Admirable or Insulting?

Expensive Salvatore Ferragamo WalletI’ve got a habit that drives a close friend nuts. She always buys me an assortment of Christmas presents every year, and every year I end up returning at least one of her gifts because it is way too expensive.

This year she got me a $390 wallet by Ferragamo (picture). I used to have a Ferragamo wallet three years ago, but it got lost or stolen in a tennis locker room one day. I was so mad because the wallet was a present and also very expensive.

I’m not into name brand items, although I do appreciate well crafted things. Quality, not quantity is something I’ve learned to cherish the older I get. For the past two years I’ve been happily using a $30 Fossil wallet everywhere I go. If I lose it, no big deal. My friend wanted to treat me since she knows how little I treat myself (she’s read my entire Budgeting & Savings category).

When I opened the present, my immediate thought was, Sweet! But this wallet could feed a lot of starving kids. Gotta return it.

My friend could sense my desire to return the wallet so she made a preemptive blurt, “No! You aren’t going to return this gift! If you return it, you will make me very sad!

The last thing I want to do is make a thoughtful person sad. But at the same time, $390 is a damn lot of money for a wallet! I don’t want to be one of those folks who totes around luggage that costs more than the items inside. My Fossil wallet has been working just fine. No, it won’t get looks from the ladies when I whip it out to pay the bill, but who cares when I’ve got a sexy smile?

I began to rationalize with my friend why she would feel sad if the wallet was returned. I told her, “Is it because you feel bad facing the sales clerk?

She immediately said, “No, it’s not that at all. I just want you to want to have it! I enjoy giving you something I know you’ll like and use. You always return my presents!

I told her I appreciate her thoughtfulness, but the cost is just too much for me to accept. I bought her a gift worth roughly $125. The only way I would feel OK is if I bought her a present of equal or greater value. But then the cycle would never end until we both go broke!

The best solution to our gift giving quandary is to stop giving each other gifts. I stopped exchanging gifts with my parents and adult relatives long ago. Instead we just go out for lunch or dinner when we’re in the same city and fight over the bill. I would propose the same to my friend, but she just loves giving and receiving gifts. It’s been a part of her upbringing. It wouldn’t feel right to ask her to change.

The second best solution is to present the situation to all of you and ask what would you do if you were me? She earns an above median income for San Francisco, but is not rich. If she was a multi-millionaire or had a huge trust fund I honestly wouldn’t feel as bad.

She says the gift makes her happy, but the gift makes me feel guilty. So wouldn’t logic dictate she should return the gift if she wants me to feel good as well? I also get a thrill out of returning things because it feels like I am or my gift giver is saving money. And we all know that saving money makes us happier!

Have you guys ever rejected gifts or asked the giver to return the item because it cost too much? How did you go about rejecting the gift while demonstrating your appreciation without making the gift giver feel bad? What type of compromise did you make?