Posts Tagged ‘ debt ’

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You’re stuck in a household where we have an outdated 2005 TV with a mockable 30 inch screen with $8 a month Netflix streaming.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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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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You’re Not Entitled To Much In This Life, Except…

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

2 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

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.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

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Our 5th Wedding Anniversary Gift Of Being Debt-Free!

Friday, July 5th, 2013

2 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack,

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.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

Photos by Joe Hendricks Photography.

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