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Tuesday, October 29th, 2013
2 years, 11 months.
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.
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budget, budgeting, Dave Ramsey, debt, debt free, family budget, finance, financial planning, money, Robert Kiyosaki | Categories:
Deep Thoughts, The Dadabase
Wednesday, April 10th, 2013
2 years, 4 months.
In theory, a family who buys no meat products should have a lower grocery bill each week. We don’t, though.
However, we still spend less money on food; it just depends on a person’s definition of groceries…
As you lifted up the “tailgate” (box flap) of your “pick-up truck” (Chobani yogurt box) and started to “drive it” (pinched the box with a pair of salad tongs) it somehow prompted me to discuss with Mommy how much our grocery bill has went up or down, compared to the days before we were aware of things like Yellow 5, sodium laurel sulfate, and Monsanto.
Our grocery bill is actually the same amount as it was when we were carnivores. This is because we make up for the cost of meat by buying higher quality (and more expensive) vegetables, fruits, and grains.
It’s not just about avoiding meat, it’s about avoiding toxic chemicals like artificial colors, flavors, MSG, and GMO’s.
Since our conversion, we have learned there are actually few food brands that we trust anymore. One of the few is Chobani.
While most brands try to disguise their ingredients, Chobani is very clear about what is and is not in their products.
They are one of the few exceptions we have found; as well as Annie’s Homegrown. We simply ignore most other brands, because we don’t trust them.
We are paying for quality and it’s worth it, to us.
So even though our grocery bill is the same, what has definitely changed is the amount of money we spend on eating at restaurants. It used to be between $100 and $200 a month, now it’s basically zero.
It’s not a moral issue; instead, it just seems pointless by now. Mommy has, by default, become a vegan/vegetarian chef for our family; thanks in part to the Oh She Glows recipe website.
Making delicious healthy meals is now becoming a sacred (and fun) thing for our family. It is difficult for us to trust random strangers at restaurants who we have to assume may be cooking our food in or with mysterious chemicals. Not to mention, a restaurant meal typically doesn’t ensure leftovers for lunch the next day, the way a home-cooked meal easily does.
To answer the question of whether it’s cheaper to go vegan/vegetarian, the answer is ultimately yes. We now save between at least $100 to $200 a month by simply avoiding restaurants alone.
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Monday, February 4th, 2013
2 years, 2 months.
This past Saturday morning as I laid down on the floor in a haze, having woken up at 5:40 AM with you, I watched you carry around one of Mommy’s old purses, which for some reason you called your “wallet like Daddy’s.”
You then took out an old expired debit card and slid it across your high chair:
“I buy groceries with my money.”
The fact you have quietly observed Mommy and I scan our debit card enough times to associate that action with the word “money” is interesting to me.
You do understand the concept of coins being money because you have a piggy bank.
However, I’m pretty sure you have no idea what cash is. I just don’t know that you’ve ever seen Mommy or I use it.
By the time I graduated high school in 1999, I had never even heard of a debit card. All I ever used to buy anything was the green stuff, not a card.
You will graduate high school exactly 30 years after Mommy and I did. It will be the year 2029.
I’m wondering by the time you’re 18, if using cash to buy something will be as obsolete as land line phones, video rental stores, or writing checks.
To you, money may simply be a debit card. (We are Dave Ramsey followers so the thought of a credit card is taboo in our family.)
As for me, I grew up seeing how much each individual bill was worth. I knew that I preferred a $10 bill over a $1 bill. The numbers meant something more… certainly quantifiable.
For you, though, the concept of money will be much different if you grow up using a debit card instead of cash. When you look down at a debit card, you won’t literally see a sign noting $20.
Therefore, it becomes your parents’ responsibility to teach you the importance of budgeting. We must incorporate in your mind that a debit card does not symbolize simply the total amount of money in the account, but more importantly, it symbolizes the key to accessing the specific amount set aside for that exact purchase that particular day.
Mommy and I have definitely had to learn the hard way when it comes to money. But this week, we are paying off our other car.
Then, we’ll just have the rest of my student loans before we’re debt-free.
I think it’s cool to see you scan your debit card like Mommy and Daddy. I really look forward to teaching you how money works; even if it’s without getting our hands on cold, hard cash.
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Wednesday, March 7th, 2012
For my son, boredom is basically non-existent. He can find entertainment out of poking me in the eye. But for a parent, boredom is a rare, higher state of being; in other words, it’s basically nirvana.
Even when he is asleep, the dishes are done, lunches are packed, and emails are checked, there’s still some kind of necessary “wind-down” time that has to take place which probably involves half-way watching American Idol, while being pretty confident that Jessica Sanchez has already won it anyway.
Then I realize, “Hey, I could be sleeping right now.”
Sleep is the go-to activity when there is ever actually extra time left in the day. But in rare instances, it can even be possible as a parent to enter the much elusive state of boredom.
Last week, I had to go somewhere after dinner for about an hour; during the time of night my wife and I generally watch an episode or two of Lost together on Netflix streaming. When I walked in, I saw my wife on the couch, playing on Facebook.
With a curious smile on her face, she said, “While you were gone, I got bored.”
That was a big deal. I can’t remember the last time she said that to me. Was it before our son was born? Before she was even pregnant? I don’t know, but it’s been long enough for it to be a foreign concept.
Boredom doesn’t really happen in our house. But I really wouldn’t mind it happening more often.
It makes me think of the concept of disposable income. You have more of it before you have kids. But then it shrinks to the point that if you any cash somehow floating up from the budget, it’s hard to spend it on something other than paying off other bills or adding it into savings.
Similarly, the state of boredom rarely gets to be consumed as is. Instead, it often translates as “I really should be doing something productive with this window of free time.”
I almost laugh at the concept of having of me having hobby, unless it’s something I do during my lunch break at work. Because hobbies require free time; time during which I would otherwise be bored.
So today, I wish the blessing of boredom upon all parents who read this.
Unless this article itself made you bored. In that case, I revoke my blessing.
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Thursday, July 14th, 2011
After all the plotlines my wife and I have lived through in accordance to our move from Nashville to my hometown in Alabama, and now back to Nashville again, it’s only natural for us to wonder: Why?
Q) Why did we spend seven months and [x amount] of dollars to live here in my hometown, only to have to go back to where we came from?
A) It took moving away from Nashville to cause us to become positively changed people so that we could go back to Nashville as the necessarily improved versions of ourselves. But we didn’t know any of this when we left Nashville.
I can confidently say that living in the small town of Fort Payne, Alabama has caused us to fully adopt the millionaire mindset (living as frugally as possible.) Because we became Dave Ramsey followers shortly after we got married and have since been living on a budget, we thought we were doing pretty well when it came to financially planning our lives.
But we had much more to learn. And I know for a fact I would have never learned to be this much of a penny-pincher if it weren’t for my unemployment and my wife’s inability to get a job, despite having a Master’s degree.
The move to Alabama has been the most humiliating process I have endured in my life: Note that when I used the word “humiliating” just now, I meant it in the sense of being humbled and disciplined, not embarrassed or shamed. (Here’s Wikipedia’s definition: “Humiliation is the abasement of pride, which creates mortification or leads to a state of being humbled or reduced to lowliness or submission.”)
Looking back, I can see how our former budget allotted my wife and I too much “blow money” (Dave Ramsey’s term for extra cash for personal enjoyment), too much “gift money” (money spent on gifts for birthday and Christmas gifts for our friends and family), and too much “food money” (money spent on eating out at restaurants and going out for coffee on the weekend). Not only that, but now we have learned to ask the question, “What will cause us to earn/save the most money?” when making any decision, big or small.
The version of me from a year ago just didn’t care about money. I only cared about happiness. And that was an epic flaw in my thinking. Now I realize that without conservative financial planning, I will not have sanity. And without sanity, I can not be happy anyway.
The truth is this: Without moving to my hometown and being psychologically broken down, I would have never been a responsible enough decision maker when it came to finances. Moving to Fort Payne was the only cure for my disease.
It’s more than just refusing to use a credit card or to buy name brand products. It’s a matter of taking my finances nearly as seriously as I take my love for my wife and son, health, and my religious beliefs. So now as we rebuild our lives again, we will be able to be better stewards of our income. Our money will be better saved, better spent, and better given away.
Photos courtesy of Moments in Time Photography in Fort Payne, Alabama:
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Alabama, baby blog, budget, budgeting, Christmas gifts, daddy blog, Dave Ramsey, finances, Fort Payne, happiness, income, money, Nashville | Categories:
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