Last month we started an impromptu feature in which we devote a post to displaying the horrible habits and lifestyle of a particular self-styled personal finance blogger. It’s part warning, part comedy. The inaugural post in the series was titled “Retard of the Week”, but lots of people left comments saying that they found that offensive. We respect that, so we’ve decided to change it.
We’re now calling it Retard of the Month. This month’s honoree is Mom’s Plans, which sounds like and is a mommy blog. But instead of offering pumpkin spice latte recipes and craft projects for her readers’ daughters and effeminate sons, the woman behind it recently chose to host a popular personal finance blog carnival. This reclassifies her as fair game.
The brains behind Mom’s Plans lists (oh God, does she love to list) her debts on her website. Rounding to the nearest thousand, they include $7000 on one credit card, $13,000 on another, $7000 on one student loan, and an incomprehensible $30,000 on her husband’s student loans (plural). However, she is making payments on these loans. At a rate that will take her decades to pay them off, but whatever. More to the point, she’s chosen a time at which she’s drowning in consumer debt to
a) dispense financial advice to whoever wants to hear it, oblivious to any irony;
b) have kids, which aren’t exactly free, and;
c) see how much she can reduce those balances while simultaneously refusing to get a freaking job.
By the way, she took a 16-month leave of absence after her most recent kid was born. You know, because when you add another economic liability to a house full of them, the last thing you want to do is go out and earn money.
This woman’s stated goal is to become a stay-at-home mom. Not an astronaut, not a research scientist, not even a hot dog cart vendor (which would require at least the discipline to get out of the house.) Her professional ambition is to watch Live with Regis & Kelly while wearing her jammies and visiting Amazon to order Halloween costumes for her kids. And it’s not as if she started off doing this. To hear her tell it, being a stay-at-home mom was something she was working towards.
Becoming a stay-at-home mom is not a “goal” for several reasons, the least of which is that a goal implies expending some effort. If you want to be a mom who stays at home, you have to a) spread your legs and b) stay at home. She already accomplished the first half of that, and to do the second half, all you have to do is not do anything.
Think about what society has chosen to value and chosen to dismiss. Incurring consumer debts of $57,000 is considered something worth sharing with one’s readership. Imagine if someone else – say a recent high school graduate with a burgeoning career and a knack for deferred gratification – proudly announced that he’d done the exact opposite of the Mom’s Plans lady and had accumulated $57,000 in assets. Here’s my car, here’s my townhome, here’s my motorcycle, here’s my furniture etc. People would deride him as materialistic. They’d leave comments reminding him of the importance of a balanced life, friends and family, no one likes a serial acquirer, etc.
Building assets is commendable. It’s something to be proud of. It proves that you contributed something of value to the marketplace, and received just rewards for doing so. Building liabilities, as Mom’s Plans is doing, is the exact opposite of this.
The husband has rung up 10 years of student loans while working on a couple of advanced degrees. A), why does it take so long to earn a master’s and a doctorate, and B) why is education the one commodity that doesn’t have to submit to cost-benefit scrutiny?
If you’re going to college for 10 years, even if you somehow get a free ride for the entire decade, your education should still have to justify itself somewhere along the line. You can talk all day long about the intangible, non-monetary benefits of an education, even an advanced one. Doubtless they exist. But they still require real outlays of that pedestrian concern called money. Penn Foster – a school that we’re guessing Mr. Mom’s Plans has never heard of, let alone considered enrolling in – will turn you into a carpenter for $700.
The median salary for an entry-level carpenter in the United States is around $40,000, which means that any Penn Foster grad who financed his tuition can pay the whole thing back within weeks. While learning a legitimate, honorable trade that will be in demand as long as the overeducated need someone to hammer their nails and drive their screws for them.
Let’s not forget the utter narcissism of it. It takes a particularly inconsequential kind of person to post her freaking grocery list online and consider it compelling content.
But it’s inspiring. And it’s sharing. Who are you to judge?
Who are we? Just people who make an effort (there’s that word again) to write worthwhile, purposeful, intelligent and helpful personal finance content, 3000 or so words of it a week.
If knowing that someone else bought a bag of quinoa and some soy milk inspires you, you need new heroes. Here are some people you can find legitimate inspiration from:
One more thing. The URL is MomsPlans.com, but the introductory image on the main page reads “Mom’s Plan”. Which is it? Do you have one plan, or several? If you have several, do they include putting in a bid for the URL MomsPlan.com, which appears to be a placeholder for a porn site?
Alright, yet another thing. This passage was too good to pass up. From her September 9 entry:
When September 11, 2001 happened, my husband and I were glued to the television for days. We were horrified by what we saw unfolding, and I remember those days as particularly dark ones.
You mean because of the terror and the destruction and the wholesale murder of innocents? Yeah, it does seem as if those days were indeed “particularly dark”, once you stop and think about it.
This should be obvious, but if you were horrified by 9/11, that’s not exactly a sentiment that warrants mentioning. We get it. Then again, there are some things we don’t get. Later in the paragraph, she polishes this gold:
In light of the 9/11 anniversary, I almost feel silly posting these links, but they are my light reading that take me away from the heaviness of the events 10 years ago.
Homemade Peanut Butter – Heavenly Homemakers. Who knew making peanut butter was so easy? This is on my agenda to try in the next few weeks.
That’s an unedited excerpt. She went straight from 9/11 reflection into sandwich spreads. No cowardly, wanton act of mass human butchery is so vile that a peanut butter recipe can’t make it all better.