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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
Sunday, October 27th, 2013
2 years, 11 months.
Every once in a while, I try to take a break from narrating and bookmarking your life, and instead I like to share some advice on life, based on what I, as your dad, am experiencing.
Here is one of those things I especially want you to remember from me:
You’re not entitled to much in this life.
See, I am a child of the Eighties. Born in 1981, I am the firstborn of Generation Y.
Growing up, I was told by everyone, including every adult I knew, that I could do and become anything I dreamed of and put my heart into.
And I bought it. After all, I heard it all the time!
Yes, I do indeed believe that you, my son, can do and become anything you dream of.
But at the same time, I don’t want you taking that as simply as I did.
Because then there’s a chance your dreams will remain dreams, if you do. There’s a chance you may believe that making dreams come true is actually easier than it is.
It’s not easy.
I had to work very hard (and very smart) to get where I am in life.
But I admit, something that life has taught me, especially since joining the career world nearly a decade ago, is that basically, I’m entitled to… not a lot.
I used to believe I deserved certain things in life. I believed that because (at least in my own mind) I’m a “good person,” that meant I would be the automatic recipient of a somewhat easier path to my definition of success.
It has only been in recent years that I fully realized and accepted this is not so easily the case. Sure, I’m special, as every person is, but as far as being entitled to things in life because of it, I’ve found more of the opposite to be true.
Because if everyone is special, then it takes a lot more work to prove that you, as an individual, really are that special. (Hence the concept behind American Idol.)
So I had to lower my expectations on certain things in life. That happened by me nixing the belief that I am entitled to anything.
In fact, what exactly am I entitled to? That’s a deep thought- and right now, I honestly don’t know the answer.
Life is challenging. But as long as I am here in this life, you will have me not only rooting you on, but being that (sometimes annoying) person to also show you the fundamentals on how to make your dreams come true.
Based on what I know, it has a lot to do with capitalizing on what you’re already best at, while at the same time overcoming the challenges (and fears) of your weaknesses and not letting them be the reason you don’t get what you want in life.
I also know a lot of success in life has to do with money management, not simply making money: It’s crucial to become debt-free, then save and invest your money for the rest of your life.
You will always be hearing me preach this lesson to you because it was only this past July that our family worked our way out of over $58,000 of debt, now being able to save our money; and in the future, to be able to start investing it.
So that’s what you’ve got ahead of you, a life of hard (and smart) work.
You’re not entitled to much in this life, except… my direction and encouragement on how to work for dreams, not wait on or expect them.
You’re entitled to me passionately supporting your dreams, but you’re the one in the driver’s seat. I’m just reading the GPS to you.
You’re entitled to my love and support. I know that much.
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Friday, July 5th, 2013
2 years, 7 months.
Today is a very special day… for more than one reason.
It was five years ago that Mommy and I got married!
We had talked a couple of weeks ago about what we would get each other as 5th year anniversary gifts. Well, we couldn’t have planned this, even if we tried, but…
As of today, our family is officially debt-free!
I can’t think of any greater gift Mommy and I could give each other on this special day.
Of course, we still have a mortgage. But as far as school loans, car payments, and our credit card, which mainly consisted of our wedding expenses and pre-existing debts from single life, those are all paid off now.
No other debts. Done.
Just to make sure this good news holds its worth weight, the amount of debt we paid off was a little over $58,000. And just to be clear, our household income level is completely average for Nashville.
No, Mommy and I didn’t win the lottery, gain a huge inheritance from a rich uncle, or suddenly get a multi-million dollar book deal.
We just took Dave Ramsey very seriously. Maybe a little too seriously.
I now equate credit cards with the devil, or at least Monsanto; but really, I think they’re all the same thing anyway.
Every penny we earn is accounted for. We tell our money where to go so that it doesn’t tell us where to go. We snowballed our way into debt and we snowballed our way out.
Another thing that financial guru Dave Ramsey taught us was that if we live like no one else now, we’ll live like no one else in the future.
He jokingly talks about living off beans and rice until you’re debt-free.
Considering that through this process, you and Mommy became vegetarians, and I became a vegan, you could say we took Dave Ramsey’s “beans and rice” advice pretty literally, even though our “plant-based, non-GMO” lifestyle change was motivated more by other reasons.
Either way, our family never, and I do mean never, eats food from a restaurant anymore. That saves us a lot of money every month.
Speaking of, on January 1st, I wrote “5 Impractical Ways To Save Your Family Money in 2013,” in which I proclaimed that this would be the year we would become debt-free.
Here are the 5 ways I mentioned:
1. We don’t pay for cable or satellite TV.
2. We don’t pay for Internet on our phones.
3. We hardly ever go out to eat. (That, of course, has since changed from “hardly ever” to “never.”)
4. We don’t update our electronics or possessions that cost over $100.
5. We live by a strict weekly budget, on an Excel spreadsheet.
Then, a week after I wrote that, I revealed that we also tithe 10% of our income. As Dave Ramsey puts it, “If you cannot live off 90% of your income, then you cannot live off 100%.”
Oh, and I cut your hair now. That saves us about 12 bucks a month.
I’ve never been so happy in my life to be at ground zero. Our family will continue the rest of our lives with our extremely frugal (!) lifestyle no matter what our income is.
Now that we’re out of debt, we will begin to snowball our savings and eventually our investments.
Granted, one of the greatest benefits of strategically working our way out of nearly $60,000 of debt is that Mommy and I will carefully teach you everything we’ve had to learn the hard way about money management.
Apparently, that knowledge alone is worth at least $60,000. It was for us, at least.
Photos by Joe Hendricks Photography.
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Tuesday, January 8th, 2013
2 years, 1 month.
A week ago when I published “5 Impractical Ways To Save Your Family Money In 2013,” I intentionally left off one crucial way that I believe our family saves money. Maybe it’s not so much about it saving us money, as much as it helps us manage our budget with even more discipline and focus.
In fact, out of the 5 impractical ways I listed, I see this “6th way” as not only undeniably impractical, but the most important, for our family, at least:
For us, that means we give 10% of our paychecks to our church. From there, a lot of that money goes to helping people not only in our area, but all over the world.
Of course, that 10% of our income isn’t the only money we give to help others, because we help financially support other non-profit organizations that help people too.
But right off the top of every paycheck, we know that 10% of it goes to our church, which in turn helps other people.
I should be clear about something: It’s not that we have a 10% excess in our income. Not at all. Instead, we build our budget around the 10% we tithe.
(That might help explain why we can’t afford cable or satellite TV, or Internet on our phones, or eating out, or updating our electronics… which I pointed out in 5 Impractical Ways To Save Your Family Money In 2013.)
Financial guru Dave Ramsey, who includes tithing as part of his teaching, puts it this way:
“If you cannot live off 90% of your income, then you cannot live off 100%.”
If this can make any sense, we can’t afford not to tithe.
We believe that God will bless our family’s efforts as we acknowledge that what we have is not ours to begin with; instead, everything we have is what God has given to us.
So to “give back” 10%, technically isn’t giving back.
But I believe a lot of the importance of tithing has to do with the mindset it puts a family in. In the likeness of feng shui, tithing constantly keeps us mindful of where each dollar we earn goes.
Just like the importance of having a solid weekly budget on Excel, tithing helps us tell our money where to go, before it can tell us where to go.
Therefore, I think tithing is even a good idea for families who don’t go to church, as well as, those who aren’t particularly religious at all.
I would venture to say that a family who always gives at least 10% of their income to, at least, a charity that helps the needy, even if it’s not through a religious organization, is still going to find that they manage their money better than before they started promising to give away 10% of their income.
Sure, giving away 10% of every paycheck is pretty extreme and not necessarily normal.
But I suppose for a family who doesn’t pay for cable or satellite TV, or Internet on our phones, or for the fact we don’t really dine out, or update our electronics, I guess it’s not really that much of a shock that we automatically give away 10% of our income.
Photo: Giving Offering Sharing Blessing Background, Shutterstock.
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Sunday, September 18th, 2011
Let me be up front about what this post is not about. I’m not going to be talking about how, despite whatever amount of money we make as parents, that ultimately our value to our children is priceless. Instead, I’m literally going to be talking about the invisible dollar sign each one of us has floating over our heads. It’s that simple; and for me, it’s that deep and fascinating.
From December 2010 to April 2011, my wife and I were worth zero dollars. We had left behind our respectable jobs in Nashville and moved to Alabama to be close to my family and we were both jobless, yet desperately looking. Our education, professional experience, resumes, and determination carried no weight in this different town. Finally, I got a job, but it wasn’t enough for me to support my wife and son- we literally couldn’t afford to pay the bills.
So we moved back to Nashville in July. After returning to my old job, I began making over $15K more a year than the job in Alabama. As for my wife, her old position at Vanderbilt no longer existed, but she was instantly able to get a different job there paying more than I get paid now and more than she was paid before moving away (not to mention benefits for the whole family).
Oh yeah, and I have my sanity back now. I, for one, was in a very dark place there for a while. There was such a hellish, demonic, heavy feeling of worthlessness I experienced when I couldn’t financially provide enough for my wife and son, knowing that I was qualified, capable, and willing. If it wasn’t hell, it was at least purgatory with a broken thermostat.
For months, we had no income; zero. Now collectively, we make over two and a half times more than I alone made in Alabama.
It’s literally a case of “double or nothing.”
Granted, the cost of living is a bit more in Nashville. We are obviously spending a lot more on gas now. My wife’s 20 mile drive to work each day often takes well over an hour (thanks to traffic) and we recently had to buy a newer, more dependable car for her. Plus, our son is now enrolled in a wonderful daycare; as compared to free child care back in Alabama, when my wife was unemployed.
As a family unit, we spend much less quality time with each other throughout the week, as we earn our living. But I have to admit, the time I do spend with my wife and son on the weekends has never meant more to me. I savor every minute.
I had thought our valuable jobs skill and “big city job experience” from Nashville would have helped us tremendously in finding jobs in Alabama. But it didn’t, whatsoever.
Instead, the two of us are worth much more money in Nashville; despite the higher cost of living. I guess it’s just weird now to think about how it was only a couple of months ago that we couldn’t afford to pay our bills.
Today as I was thinking about all this, I reminded myself that finance guru Dave Ramsey actually went bankrupt twice; it was part of his necessary life lesson to became the expert he is today. And thanks to his teachings, my wife and I are able to put his practices into daily use.
Like he says, “Debt is normal. Be weird.” Trust me, I want to be weird, so badly.
My wife and I are now so dedicated to (and educated on) being the best stewards of our income, as we build back our savings, pay off our debts, and regularly tithe to our church and sponsor a child through World Vision.
I hate money. I wish I didn’t have to think about it. But it’s kind of hard not to when I have an invisible dollar sign floating over my head that increases or decreases when I cross the state line.
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