What the $#@^ is a Liebster?


I’m pretty new to the blog-o-sphere. So I was surprised when Chris, over at MoneyMozart.com, contacted me to let me know he had nominated me for this.  If you don’t already frequent his blog and follow him on twitter, you definitely should.  He writes some great stuff and you can tell he spends a lot of time to bring worthwhile information to you.  For instance, his recent post about cutting cable includes a great list of places to go to get your TV fix.  I bookmarked it as soon as I read it.

WTF is the Liebster Award anyway?

It is an award passed around by bloggers, to other new bloggers who should be recognized.  Fairly simple, but it is definitely an honor to know that others in the community recognize you, your work, and your contribution to the community.

I am sure everyone has gone through the same thing, looking at their site analytics and noticing there was a day, or two, or maybe even ten that went by and no one had visited their site.  Initially there is very little positive feedback for all the work you have been putting in.  So, knowing someone finds value in what you are doing it is truly wonderful.

There are rules to the award and how it is to be passed on, but they are simple and easy to follow:

  1. Link back to the person who nominated you.
  2. Answer the 11 questions posed to you by that person
  3. Nominate up to 11 other bloggers who are newer, fewer than 200 follows on twitter (although after a bit of research I’ve learned there are variations in this rule, so apparently it is a soft limit so, 205 followers I am sure is fine)
  4. Create 11 questions for those nominees
  5. Notify all nominees via social media/blogs

My answers to the questions posed by Chris @ MoneyMozart.com


1) What are some of your best tips and tricks to live well below your means?

I have trained my brain to throw up red flags anytime someone says “you make enough to _____“.  Just the other day I was telling a friend I’m looking for a Grand Cherokee.  He responded with: “It’s about time, you make enough to be driving something nice”.  I then let him know I was looking for a ’99-’04 for around $3k.  His comment simply drove home (pun intended) the intent of not doing the things the majority of people do, since we know the vast majority of people live paycheck to paycheck (76% to be more accurate). The day a multi-millionaire tells me something like that is the day I’ll listen to someone else’s idea of what I make enough to do.

VulcanAt the point you go to buy a home, you need to disconnect the majority of emotions from it.  You don’t need to become Vulcan and suppress all emotions though, after all, you’re going to live there for years. But, it’s not going to be the last home you ever live in.  But consider what you need now and what you will need next year.  Most likely those things will fit what you’ll need for the next 5 years.  Then, buy less than what you think you need.

One of my favorite small tips though is to not drink if I get carded while out with friends.  This probably is not something a 21-26 year old can do, but, I’m a bit past that and being carded is not that common.  So, if they ask for id, I politely change my mind and get a water.  Considering I will typically have two or three when I do drink out with friends, plus tip… I’m saving $20 that night.  If it happens only once a month, I’ve saved $240 that year.  If you are younger and that will not work because you are always carded, try the inverse; If you are out with friends of the same age, let someone else be the first to order, if they don’t get carded, order a water.

2) What’s been your biggest learning moment with money in life?

This might have to be the point I figured out that my car loan was potentially the worst financial decision I had ever made.  The student loans come close to that #1 ranking, but only due to the size of them, at least they were an investment in education that lead to higher income… even though I WAY overpaid.

I do not know when it happened, but one day I finally got fed up with not having money even though I was making around $85k/year at the time.  I realized just how bad of a decision that Jeep Cherokee was.  I bought a 2001 Cherokee in 2005… so the only saving grace is that it was a 4 year old car as opposed to the new car.  I got a fantastic 16.95% interest rate and even rolled my underwater loan for my ’99 Ford Ranger into it as well to double down on the stupid.  To amplify the stupid some more, I also took a 6 year loan.  By the time I figured it all out and paid it off “early” (only by like 5 months), I had spent $18k on a car that was worth $12k when I bought it and was now worth about $5k.  Had I just bought it outright, it would have only cost me $8k in depreciation over those 5-6 years instead of $16k over that time.

3) When you see a fake rich person, what is your first instinct? What do you think about that person?

I feel bad for them and want to teach them a better way.  I assume that it is not conscience decision on their part to be throwing away their retirement and future in exchange for having things now.  There are some people out there who do have the mentality and desire to “die owing as much money as possible”, basically they want to die with as negative of a net worth as they possibly can because they believe it will maximize what they will have and get to do in their life.  Those people I look at and see someone who has an extremely low work ethic and the inability to comprehend middle or high school math involving compound interest, because they have actually “thought” about it and came to that conclusion.

I try my best not to judge them, I stand by my belief that they are free to continue being fake rich and consuming all they produce.  But what does bother me is that I know many will also be “living off the system” as they age and trying to take away the savings I and many others have built up. The savings that came from sacrificing early in our lives, foregoing the enjoyment of our money while we were working at the risk we could be hit by a bus tomorrow and never get to enjoy any of it.  Instead, they unknowingly, and would whole heartedly deny (because they truly do not understand), that they are making the decision to steal from me later in life using the force of government (taxation).  I do not blame them, instead I just want to educate them.

4) If you could only keep five possessions, what would they be?

Ha… this would be the ultimate form of bankruptcy wouldn’t it?  I would have to go with my house (shelter), a set of clothing (jeans, shirt, shoes, & socks… this is kind of cheating since it’s 4 items), my road bike, my 10/22 rifle and a couple magazines of ammo, and my framing hammer.

framing hammerPerhaps, I went a bit far and was assuming life was starting over, had no job, etc… but this is what I was thinking… I need shelter, so I would like to keep my house, but it’s also my largest retention of wealth, so that is an added bonus.  I would be arrested if I went outside naked, so I better have some clothing right? My road bike would give me cheap reliable transportation so I can get to and from a job without the overhead of needing to pay for gasoline.  My Ruger 10/22 would allow me to eat some free rabbits while I get back on my feet and can afford the luxury of a grocery store. Last but not least… my framing hammer, because I am not afraid of hard work and can swing a hammer as a handyman or on a construction crew again if needed.

If I get to keep my job though, I’d trade a few things: my Ruger for one of my other most expensive rifles, my bike for one of my cars, and the hammer for my bed.. because I do love a good night’s rest.

5) What are some of the best personal finance blogs you read today?

Obviously MoneyMozart.com… but I also visit FinancialSamari.com, DebtFreeGuys.com, BudgetsAreSexy.com, GenYFinanceGuy.com.  I really need to get a rss feed reader set up soon.  If you have a blog, drop a comment on here and let me know you exist.  I love blogs that are by and about a real person and their life vs a conglomerate financial site.  I love the personal touch of getting to know the lifestyle and personality that comes from a single person writing on their blog.

6) Do you have a “real job” outside of blogging? If so, what do you for a living?

I have a M-F type desk job as a software engineer.  This is where the money comes from because the blog is by far a net loss to both time and money.  Maybe one day that will change, but I am not holding my breath.  In addition to those two things, I am also a law enforcement officer (aka. Police).  So, in my spare time after work and on the weekends, I am in uniform with my bullet proof vest and duty belt on serving the public… unpaid.

Most people know the Texas Rangers, but most people do not know there are a few of other states with Rangers as well.  Except we do not have Chuck Norris or a tv show, but we are more than just a park ranger.  We work alongside of local PDs, Sheriff’s, State Patrol, and sometimes with the FBI, DOD’s Homeland Security, and the National Guard during major events and disasters within the state.  If you want to know more about it, contact me directly, I tend to keep that portion of my life separate for security reasons.  Especially with the current environment of the violence and hatred towards police, the people like the man who killed the Texas officer while he was getting gas will not stop to ask if I am paid for what I do.

7) If you had a chance for a “do-over” in life, what would you do differently?

I have a bit of mixed feelings on this.  My first instinct is that I should have gone to a state school for $4-5k/year instead of a private school for $30-35k/year.  But, had I done that I am sure life would have been much different and I honestly love everything about my life, so I don’t know if I’d want to alter where it has brought me.

8) What do you feel most proud of?

I am always worried this sounds conceded, but I believe it is the person I have grown up to become.  I give the credit to my parents for this though.  They raised me with the values, morals, ethics, and common sense that I have.  They taught me how to use my brain to do work, but also that manual labor is not something anyone is above.  My dad worked in the telecom industry and owned a company that setup phone systems, but at one point he also owned and worked a construction company that built bulkheads, docks and decks.  I was taught how to get my hands dirty working on my own cars, but was also given a computer at an early age and supplied with enough technical manuals to become a nerd.  They taught me about family, being active, helping others, thinking for myself, and way too many things to list. As my parents used to tell me: “we are raising you to be well rounded”… Although it is a bit of an unused term, it used to be called a renaissance man.

9) What teacher in school made the most impact on you and why?

This goes back to why I would not change what school I went to, because one of those teachers was a professor there.  He is one of those teachers that you know really cares about his students.  He gave me the opportunity to do things while the rest of the department was not a huge fan of me.  He taught me a lot not just about software and computers, but also planted the first seeds about how more formal education is not always the best financial choice in life.  His comments about how you do not get a PhD in order to make more money, because over the course of your life, you will never compensate for the lack of money you would have made working during those years.

10) If you won the lottery, what would you do?

In no particular order:

  • Pay off the remainder of my debt
  • Purchase a second home and allow my parents to live there rent free.
  • Buy a nice 3 year old car (yup, still wouldn’t go new until I had income from the investments coming in, but it would be nice to upgrade from the $4k civic)
  • Buy some rental real estate, a mix of single family homes, small apartment complexes and some commercial.
  • Start a software company based around real estate.
  • Buy at least 50 acres of land and start building my own house.  Acting as the GC on the project and doing a lot of manual work myself.
  • Start a horse boarding company and hire a manager for it on part of that land so I can have a horse or two of my own.
  • Start a family foundation and establish an endowment for it so I always have a way to help others
  • Maybe start a car dealership so I can attempt to transform that industry since I hate how it currently works.

So… after listing all that out, I realize that winning the lottery would cause me to increase my workload.  Kind of ironic considering most people play the lottery in order to never have to work again.

11) What are you most afraid of?

Well I will not say I am a big fan of heights, but I have a few asterisks next to that fear.  I do not mind the height if I am tied into a good harness and some anchors on the side of a cliff 1k feet up.  Put me on the edge of a two story building on a sloped roof and I get pretty scared.

From a financial perspective though, I do not want to make the same mistakes of my parents and end up in their situation, nearing “retirement”, but with no money and still in debt.


The new nominees of the Liebster are!

Katasha @ BrokeGirlBlogging.com

Andrew @ DollarAfterDollar.com

Des @ HalfBanked.com

Amanda @ basically-broke.com

If you choose to accept, be sure to post a comment below along with a link to your post of course.

My questions to them

  1. What is your definition of retirement?
  2. What made you decide to start blogging?
  3. Do you have a real job outside of blogging that pays the bills? What is it?
  4. What car do you drive and what is the value of it as a percentage of your yearly income? (If you don’t have a car, substitute in your mode of transportation… bike, bus, train, shoes, etc)
  5. What is your financial “guilty pleasure” that you could cut out of your budget, but refuse to?
  6. You are obviously on track to be financially wealthy at retirement, will you spend it all before you die? will you leave it to family? will you donate it? what’s your plan?
  7. What was the last book you read and what was it about?
  8. What are some of your pet peeves?
  9. If you could meet someone famous of your choosing (alive or dead) who is it and what are some questions you would ask them?
  10. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
  11. What was your family’s financial situation growing up?



3 Comments on "What the $#@^ is a Liebster?"

  1. Thank you so much for the nomination, Pete! I’m really happy to have found your blog – and am SO impressed that you have a full-time job, volunteer to protect your community (amazeballs, seriously) AND run a blog. I’ll be posting my replies next Friday – thanks for including me!

  2. Great advice about purchasing a home! Leaving emotion out of the purchase as much as possible helps maintain focus on what a house actually needs. We recently took our own advice and moved into a small house that fits our needs perfectly–and we love it, so that’s an added bonus!

    • A lot of people have a very hard time seeing past what is immediately in front of them. Of course I too would love a $500k house, but it wasn’t appropriate for me at that time no matter how much I love them. It’s like many things in life, you need to build up to it… I didn’t start my career making what I do now… I had to build up to that. So many people want to skip straight to the back of the book. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much less you’ll spend on that smaller house too and how much better off you’ll be in 5 years. Plus, your quality of life in other areas will improve because you have more disposable (or investable) income too.

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