Posts Tagged ‘ budget ’

Why I’m The Cheapest Parent I Know

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

3 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

For me, it’s almost like a contest: 

Can I be the cheapest parent that most people know?

I believe in the importance of just not buying things to begin with. I think that’s where the most money is saved.

I’ve covered some of this before in “5 Impractical Ways To Save Your Family Money In 2013.”

You are being raised in a household with a strict weekly budget, where our cars are over 10 years old but paid off; you live in a home without smart phones, without cable or satellite TV, without updated electronics, without pets… not to mention we rarely go out to eat because Mommy cooks basically every meal.

(And where Daddy does the dishes for all those meals. I’ve gotten really good at that, by the way.)

A credit card is used only to take advantage of the credit card company; earning points to get free stuff for our family. So we do use one, but it’s immediately paid off each week and is built into our budget the same way as a debit card.

We even reuse our plastic baggies.

You’re stuck in a household where we have an outdated 2005 TV with a mockable 30 inch screen with $8 a month Netflix streaming.

I admit, we do have an older model Kindle that Mommy bought… on clearance, after the newer model came out.

And that goes back to our trick about only buying stuff during the last two weeks of the month, when more items are on sale, like I’ve mentioned before.

Not to mention, I’m not going to deny that one of the reasons you are an only child (at least for now) is for financial reasons.

Part of your parents’ cheapness comes from us having 1st and 2nd generation immigrant grandparents from Italy and Croatia, who lived through the Great Depression. That rubbed off on us; I’m sure of it.

The rest of it has to do with us having to “learn money” the hard way.

We made a lot of financial mistakes that we didn’t realize were mistakes at the time; like moving away from a city where we had good jobs to a smaller city where we basically couldn’t find jobs for nearly 9 months- before finally moving back to where the jobs were.

However, I look to the positive. Living through that caused Mommy and me to forever think differently, for the best:

We ended up being able to pay off over $58,000 in debt, after living off credit cards because we thought that was normal.

Thank God (and Dave Ramsey), we have now begun reversing our debt into savings. However, I think that having to live through through our own “great depression” has forever changed us.

There’s just no way we could see things the same way again.

So while it may be weird that your parents can’t just look up the height of Tom Cruise on a smart phone in the middle of a conversation during dinner at Red Lobster…

And while it may sound strange that our family has to wait for TV shows and movies to hit Redbox or Netflix before we can see them, it’s okay by us.

Hey, our family is different. You get that by now. This is just me trying to explain what made us this way so you can tell your friends why your parents are so cheap… and/or quirky.

Love,

Daddy

Save money with out indoor activity finder!

Lords of the Playground: The Number
Lords of the Playground: The Number
Lords of the Playground: The Number

Above image, courtesy of Dave Ramsey.

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Mommy Handles Our Schedule And Budget… We Just Follow

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

3 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

This morning as I was dropping you off at school, you wanted to go over to your friend Avery’s daddy and ask him if Avery could hang out with us this Saturday for the free puppet show at the Nashville Library.

He was delighted you asked, as was Avery. His response: “That sounds like fun. Well, let me check with the ‘schedule keeper’ in our house, Avery’s Mommy, and we’ll let you know tomorrow.”

A few minutes later, you asked your friend Madison’s daddy the same thing. His response: “Yeah, we’d like to do that. Let me check with the person in our household who handles our schedule and we’ll see.”

Earlier this week, I was texting my friend Dave about going to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier on opening night.

Before texting me back, you guessed it… he checked with the “schedule keeper.”

Sort of like how I recently pointed out that it’s common knowledge that the modern dad does the dishes every night (or a staple household chore of similar value), I’ve observed another sign of a happily married father:

He quickly admits he doesn’t control his schedule.

So, when I’m asked about plans, I know just what to do: I refer that person to Mommy.

You and I both are just along for the ride.

Even as I’m the one driving our family around in the car on the weekends, I never really know where we are going until we’re loading up. Seriously, that’s how it is.

That’s okay by you and me. Wherever we end up, we seem to always have a good time.

And really, it’s the same way with our budget. Mommy handles that for our family.

When I want to purchase something, like tickets for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, for example, I run it by Mommy.

It’s not necessarily that I have to ask permission, per se, as it is I… collaborate with the CFO first (Chief Financial Officer).

Whether it’s the schedule or the budget, I’ve learned that pretty much, the answer is yes, but I don’t ultimately make that call independently.

Mommy and I play different roles in our household. I don’t have to worry about planning out our schedules or doing the budget. I do other stuff, which I plan to write to you more about next.

Like I said shortly after Mommy and I got married nearly 6 years ago:

I wear the pants in the relationship… but she tells me which ones to wear.

 

Love,

Daddy

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To Be The Victor, Not The Victim

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

3 years, 2 months.

Dear Jack,

Since I graduated college about a decade ago, I’ve been having this reoccurring dream where I’m at the end of my final semester and suddenly realize there was a Tuesday morning math class I had forgotten about the whole time, which means I won’t be able to graduate college.

It’s my subconscious’s way of saying, “Hey buddy, you’re not done learning yet. School never stops. You know that, right?”

That dream has especially been creeping up for the past year and a half and I’m pretty sure I know why…

I’ve been mentioning the PHR (Professional Human Resources) certification exam I’ve dedicated all my free time to. That has been my hobby now for the past year and a half.

(And keeping up with Breaking Bad, of course.)

The PHR certification exam is basically the equivalent to the BAR exam for aspiring lawyers.

Passing that test is the next major milestone for me building my career above and beyond my current pay grade. 

SO, I didn’t pass it when I took it a few weeks ago. This is the 2nd time now. (I have to score at least 87% of the questions right- my best score was 84%.)

It wasn’t for a lack of studying and memorizing the material. But instead of blaming the organization for “making the test too hard” or tricky, I am taking full responsibility for myself.

The question is, “What can I do differently to become a victor, not a victim?”

From what I can tell, it’s a matter of “re-learning” how to learn and study; as weird as that may sound.

So I just bought two new exam study guides for the test; which are specifically designed for people like me, who study hard and learn easily, but don’t take standardized tests very well.

In other words, I’m trying a new approach to reach my difficult goal.

I’m not backing down. It’s on me to close the deal, myself. Passing this test is a lesson to teach you. 

This is about you as much as it is me. I certainly have something to prove to the both of us.

While asking for help and depending on others is important, to really get somewhere in life, you have to do what it takes on your end to be the victor, not allowing yourself to be a victim of your circumstances or society.

I see life as an ongoing power struggle. Society is like a giant pyramid scheme where someone is always going to find a way to make money off of less fortunate, less creative, and/or less motivated people than themselves.

(Can you tell I’m a fan of Shark Tank?)

I want to help you climb that pyramid, but while reminding you to help others up along the way. That is the mindset I will be sharing with you… to be the victor, not victim.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

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The Best Time Of The Month To Buy Stuff Cheap

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

3 years, 2 months.

Dear Jack,

To say we are a frugal family is an understatement. While some might consider the term “penny pincher” as an insult, I would take that as a compliment.

For the fact we don’t have smart phones or cable/satellite TV, it sets us apart from mainstream America. I realize that.

It means we’re a bit removed from modern technology and entertainment; and to a degree, we’re a bit removed from society, as well.

But on the flip side, we get to put that money in savings each month; which will help with down payment for the house we plan to buy later this year…

I actually consider being frugal as one of my hobbies. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but Mommy and I worked our way out of nearly $60,000 of debt and become debt-free last summer. There’s no way our perspective on money can or will ever be the same. 

So I’m always looking for tricks that will help us save money. One example is knowing when not to buy retail items; and more importantly, the best time to do so.

My full-time job is in the HR side of freight logistics for a transportation company. Yeah, I know that sounds pretty random, but it’s a real thing; and it’s the main way I contribute to our family’s income.

I know that the next-to-the-last Tuesday of the month, until the first Monday of the next calendar month, is the best time for people to buy stuff cheap. I see it happen every month at my job; enough so that I predict logistics decisions based on that concept.

During that two week period, stores drop their prices in an effort to move the product out before the new month begins, which helps them avoid having to pay taxes on the merchandise they don’t sell by the end of the month.

That is why yesterday, our family met up at Old Navy after work and school. “Good Freight Tuesday,” as I call it, was just a couple of days ago. This is the best time of the month to buy retail products.

So we did.

We found the best items on clearance; as the store wants the “old stuff” off the racks to make room for the new stuff for next month, which begins next week.

Here’s how I look at it. I don’t want to be the sucker who pays full price for anything… ever.

One way I can accomplish my goal is to only shop for merchandise once the next-to-the-last Tuesday of the month occurs.

(I also recognize the importance of shopping for seasonal and holiday items after the season or holiday is over, or coming to an end.)

And just as important, I avoid doing any shopping, other than food and gas, during the first two weeks of the month, when stores are in no hurry to clear their shelves.

While we’re not eager to buy a new car, I will keep this in mind the next time we do; hopefully years from now.

If at a dealership, we will go during the last two weeks of the month, when I predict the salesman will be more desperate to meet his sales quota.

I feel that money management lessons are one of the best gifts I can hand down to you to eventually prepare you to adulthood, as the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad teaches.

So stick this lesson in collection: Don’t buy stuff until the next-to-the-last Tuesday of the month.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

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Having Another Child, From A Business Perspective

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

2 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

In 4th grade, I had the privilege and honor of doing the cartoon for my town’s junior edition of the newspaper.

The movie Dick Tracy was in theatres the summer before, so I crafted up a clever (?) comic strip called Nick Tracy.

As you can see, Nick Tracy steps in to save the day, as a bully-looking character named Alan mentions to a more studious-looking fellow that he is thinking about quitting school.

(I wonder how old I intended the characters to be, because I sort of get the impression they were in 4th grade at the time, just like me.)

But when it was all said and done, the takeaway actually had less to do with staying in school and more about the reason why kids should not quit school: so they can get a job. I was only 10, but I was concerned about my classmates getting jobs.

You will always know me as the Dave Ramsey-endorsing, Robert Kiyosaki-following (author of the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad), credit card-bashing dad I am. Granted, it took me plunging into financial hades (I’m trying to avoid the cliche “rock bottom”) to be the budget-obsessed, debt-free parent I’ve worked so hard and deliberately to become.

So while there was a learning curve involved as I transitioned into my 30s, ultimately, as I rediscovered this old comic strip of mine from 22 years ago, I now realize: I’ve always been seriously focused on money.

What I never cared about was buying trophies with money. I laugh at the idea of a person being congratulated about a new car purchase: They’re simply being congratulated on having to make car payments.

I’m not impressed by anyone’s material possessions they can afford (or can give the illusion of affording, thanks to credit cards and/or loans), but I am completely impressed by people who actually know how to manage their own money. Because I am so eager to learn from them.

The irony is, I’m impressed by the fancy things people don’t buy, but could afford. To hear of a CEO choosing to drive his old Toyota instead of a new BMW, that’s a man I’m going to respect.

With that being said, the main thing holding me back now from the thought of wanting to have another child is the financial aspect of it. Robert Kiyosaki has trained me to see the world in terms of assets and liabilities.

In his book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, he recognizes children as financial liabilities. If I am looking at our family as a business unit, as I feel I should, then I have to be willing to remove the sentimentality aspect of bringing another child into this world and instead attach a dollar sign to your potential younger sister or brother.

As I learned from my editor in an article she wrote a few months ago called Will Millennials Be Able To Afford Children?, I found out that not even counting the cost of college, it costs around $240,000 to raise a child from birth to age 18.

You’re worth it, by the way!

But that would it take for me to feel comfortable (and passionate) enough to justify in my mind the expense of having another child?

Based on our current income and our plans to move to a better neighborhood so that we can get you into a good school system, I’d say… it would take doubling our family’s income, plus somehow miraculously being able to spend more time together as a family. Then I might be a little bit more ambitious when it comes to growing the family.

I’m not daring God at all on this. That’s just what it would take, based on where I’m at with it right now.

 

Love,

Daddy

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