January’s (Financial) Retard of the Month


Not to be confused with her sister, Candy Johnson (née Smith)

Not to be confused with her sister, Candy Johnson (née Smith)

We’ve never met the guy who runs Get Rich Slowly, but he certainly seems like a nice fella. Even though his site’s subtitle contains another one of those godawful cents/sense puns.

He recently sold his blog for way more than it’s worth, and more power to him. In the manner of a successful entrepreneur, he’s now concentrating on big-picture stuff and farming out the content of his site to anyone with a pulse and, it appears, a debt load.

Take new Get Rich Slowly staff writer Honey Smith, who might have the least imaginative pseudonym we’ve ever heard. While her name might be derivative, her story is anything but. She’s the only personal finance blogger in existence with:

  • Tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt
  • Credit card debt
  • A sense of entitlement
  • An advanced degree or two.

Yup, she’s the only one. No others whatsoever. None. Honey Smith’s story is a completely original one, the likes of which the world has never seen before. We’re guessing she didn’t vote for the stuffy old white man who was going to take away all the ladies’ IUDs, but now we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Here’s how Ms. “Smith” chose to introduce herself to the world:

my husband Jake and I owe a combined total of over $230,000 (about $100,000 apiece in student loans and $30,000 in credit card debt

Sweet feathery Jesus. How can someone disclose that and not crawl into a cave out of pure embarrassment, pseudonym or otherwise? Wait, we already know the answer. Because no one’s going to tell today’s empowered and educated woman what she can and can’t do.

Here are her liabilities and assets, with her pointless and mollifying commentary removed. The first list is her own, the second belongs to her “hubby”, and if you’re a guy whose wife refers to him as such without repercussions, will you at least show us the pretty pink handbag that she carries your testes in?

  • Bank of America credit card, $2,435.66
  • U.S. Bank credit card, $2,386.72
  • Federal Direct (student) Loans, $94,295.99
  • Retirement fund,  $12,240.41
  • Emergency fund, $4,500

Note: This is getting too easy. Of course there’s an emergency fund, and of course she adds to it every month. Even though it doesn’t pay her any interest, while all her debts incur interest. Honey Smith is a self-proclaimed atheist, but she sure has no problem not questioning the existence and/or purpose of a personal finance cliché that we’re running out of jokes for.

Hey Dr. Smith: You owe $230,000. If that’s not an emergency, nothing is. Anyhow, here are the corresponding items for Mr. Smith. (Make that Smith, Esq. He’s a bloodsucking attorney. And thank God, or the deity of your parents’ choice, because America clearly has a drastic lawyer shortage.)

  • Pentagon Federal Credit Union credit card, $12,935.83
  • Bank of America credit card, $8,311.35
  • First National credit card, $2,838.37
  • Discover credit card, $2,075
  • Chase credit card, $1,500
  • Student loans, $102,204.28
  • Car loan, $5,452.02
  • Retirement, $19,026.46
  • Emergency Fund, $2,194.77

So yeah, the two of them are going to spend the next few decades living less richly than they otherwise might, because a) they incurred too many debts and b) they’re in no rush to pay them off. (If they were, they’d start by getting rid of those ridiculous emergency funds and, you know, using them to extinguish at least some of the flames.)

Oh, how can you say that? She’s doing her best.

No, she isn’t. She’s doing her worst. Just read this post on her wedding, which includes minutiae all the way down to who got whose ring where. You think we’re joking? Not on Control Your Cash:

My ring is white gold with CZ accent stones and his is white gold.

Other expenses for her initial magical day (you want to bet there won’t be at least one more?) included:

excursions like snorkeling with sting rays, zip lining in Belize, tubing through ancient Mayan caves, alcoholic beverages while on the cruise, and all gratuities.

Read through the rest of her whining if you can stomach it, but it isn’t anything we haven’t already deconstructed and assailed on this site. She got married on a cruise ship. She should have gotten married at a justice of the peace’s office, but try telling her that while her debts continue to mount.

This was a seven-day western Caribbean cruise with four ports of call. We also stayed in one of the nicest cabins on the ship – we had a living area, plenty of closet space, and a balcony.

In the same post’s final paragraph – you know, the paragraph in which every unimaginative blogger on the planet closes up by directing questions at the readers in a lame attempt to get them to comment – she writes:

Are we heroes to be commended for spending less than half the national average?

We’ll assume that’s sarcasm, but she did feel the need to twice mention that her wedding cost less than half the national average. As if that’s some sort of accomplishment. Sweetheart, your consumer debt is more than twice the national average; for some reason, you’re considerably more reticent when it comes to mentioning that.

Look, we don’t make fun of these people just to make fun of them. That’s just an ancillary benefit. We do it because they’re sentencing themselves to a life of indebtedness and poverty, instead of the strong possibility of the relative affluence they could be enjoying if they’d just think a little less stupidly. They put these anchors around their necks willingly, they don’t care, and no amount of evidence to the contrary is going to convince them that they just might be wrong.

But “Honey Smith” is not a woman without an action plan. Why, she has goals for 2013. Would you like to hear them?

  • Pay off $5000 in student loan principal
  • Buy a house

(excuse us)



Oh no, she can totally do it. After all,

Credit-wise we are in good shape

(Please note above lists of debts.)

  • Save for travel

(And if you can make it through her interminable list of which of her bridesmaids is getting married in which city in which month, you’re either a masochist or…no, you’re just a masochist.)

  • Bring in at least $5000 in side income

We’ll only make (more) fun of the first one. What kind of a goal is it to lower your student loan debt by 5% in one year? This is saying you’re going to quit smoking by going from a pack a day to 19 cigarettes a day. Healthy alveolar tissue, here I come! Or it’s like going from routinely blowing a .12 on the Breathalyzer to…well, you get the idea.

A message to our (Financial) Retards of the Month, and to anyone else reading this who isn’t rich yet: Be honest with yourself. It’s not easy. That college degree is almost certainly a waste of time. The advanced degree is an even greater one. These are commitments with the potential, however small, for increased earnings. The problem is that they come with an actual hefty price tag. And actual financing.

Either way, whether you have a useless M.A.* or a useless GED, the primary criterion for whether you should have an extravagant wedding is whether you can afford the damn thing.

What are you talking about? We paid $11,400. That’s cheap. It’s less than half the national average.

(slaps head)
(bangs head against wall)
(finally draws blood)

Okay, we’re back. Yes, absolutely $11,400 is extravagant if your net worth is negative. Sorry if that contravenes what you so desperately want to believe – that you’re entitled to at least a reasonable facsimile of what the Duchess of Cambridge enjoyed on her wedding day. After all, every woman is.

If you’re a multimillionaire, or marry into a family of them, different story. If you’re $200,000 in the hole – i.e., 5 years’ wages – you have to play by other rules. Cheaper, less fun, more restrictive rules. This isn’t discrimination. This is math. Easy math, too; stuff that even a lady with advanced qualifications in the humanities should have little trouble with.

*”Honey” has a useless Ph.D., too. Unless getting a $40,000-a-year job was the purpose of the Ph.D. 

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