Posts Tagged ‘
Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014
3 years, 5 months.
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You’re stuck in a household where we have an outdated 2005 TV with a mockable 30 inch screen with $8 a month Netflix streaming.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.
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Above image, courtesy of Dave Ramsey.
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Saturday, March 1st, 2014
3 years, 3 months.
Spoiler Alert: Contains some minor revelations of how Breaking Bad ends.
This was a special week in the world of Netflix as people who are too cheap to pay for cable or satellite (or iTunes) were able to see the final 8 episodes of Breaking Bad.
I managed to watch them all over 3 nights; Wednesday night I only slept 4 hours in anticipation of seeing what happened, in the end, to Walter White, the terminally ill high school science teacher turned meth dealer who wanted to provide a living for his family after he was gone.
One of the reasons this show is so captivating is that it capitalizes on the thin line between good and evil, as well as the gradual breakdown of a “good man’s” morals, under the guise of “doing something wrong but for the right reasons.”
It’s fascinating, as a spectator of the demise, to find myself rooting for the anti-hero up until nearly the final episode; despite the fact he literally destroyed (and ended) more lives than I would care to count.
The fact that I was privately hoping he didn’t get caught reveals something about my own damaged sense of morality. It shows me that even in the smallest, unidentifiable ways, I can be wrong and be convinced I’m right.
Ultimately, Breaking Bad is a story about a man who gains the whole world, yet loses his soul.
When I say that he loses his soul, what I mean is that what mattered to him more than anything (at least, at first) was his family, and he lost them:
In the end, Walter White’s teenage son outright hates him; even changing his name to Flynn, from Walt Jr.; a subtle way to detach himself from his father, as he watches his father become preoccupied with his work, compensating with gifts, but not regular quality time.
Walter White’s marriage remains in tact only in a legal and business sense. And his infant daughter will grow up knowing her father only as a murderous drug dealer.
That’s just the damage he did to his immediate family…
However, he did manage to (illegally and off the radar) leave his family (via his son) millions of dollars ($9.72 million, to be exact) to live off for the rest of their lives.
One question that the final episode proposed to me was, what kid would choose millions of “dirty” dollars from a father they despised… over having a father who truly cared about them and loved them with all his heart, though he didn’t leave them much money behind?
To me, it’s a no-brainer.
There’s a good chance I’ll never be able to leave you with millions of dollars, but I can love you with all my heart. I know that’s what you’d rather have anyway.
Image: Courtesy of AMC/Breaking Bad.
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Saturday, February 1st, 2014
3 years, 2 months.
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.
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Saturday, February 1st, 2014
3 years, 2 months.
Some of the fatherly lessons you will learn from me are to never give up, to not back down on your convictions, and to be a leader.
I want you to see those concepts lived out in my everyday life. It’s in those daily routine actions and decisions of mine that I want you to see; especially in regards to how I interact regarding my love and commitment to you and Mommy… to our family.
Saying it and doing it are two entirely different things. The concept of never giving up is the backbone to being a good husband and father; the way I see it.
Even when I don’t know how to solve the problem, whatever it is, it’s a matter of dedicating myself to finding and applying the solution.
I keep that in mind with every other facet of my life as well: How much further in life can I get if I simply am more proactive that the average person in my same situation?
Instead of pointing the finger at others or even the situation itself, I have to point it at myself.
Not in an accusatory way, though- instead, it’s a call to self-appointed leadership: What can I do differently that will positively influence the people affected by the problem and proactively prevent the negative situation from occurring again?
I have to assume the role of the leader in most situations; otherwise, by default, that makes me a follower. While I may be a reluctant leader, I still am a leader- as your father, as Mommy’s husband, and as family member dedicated to increasing the income our family brings in each month.
As the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad teaches, I have to be willing to do the things the top percentile do if I want to reach the results they are able to.
For me, one important application of that means furthering my career on my own; not waiting around in hopes of getting a raise based on seniority or even my sincere efforts. In order to that, I have to delegate my free time in a way that provides me a chance of making money.
What’s going to help me make more money during my free time?
It’s like with this infographic about the habits of the world’s wealthiest people. (Click on Habits Of The Wealthiest People to see a full screen version of it.) They spend time learning each day, instead of seeking entertainment.
I am willing to make the sacrifices necessary to be one of those successful people.
In my next letter, I want to talk to you about how exactly I plan to spefically help further my career and how I’m spending me free time to make that goal a reality…
But first, I will close with the findings featured on the infographic Habits Of The Wealthiest People. (Courtesty of NowSourcing.)
They Have a Routine: Maintain a to-do list, wake up 3 hours before work, listen to audio books during commute, network 5 hours or more each month, read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons, and love to read.
They are Healthy: Exercise aerobically 4 days a week and eat less than 300 junk food calories per day.
Raising Their Children: Teach good daily success habits to their children, make their children volunteer 10 hours or more a month, and make their children read 2 or more non-fiction books a month
Television Habits: Watch 1 hour or less of TV everyday.
They Set Goals: Write down their goals, are focused on accomplishing some single goal, believe in lifelong educational self-improvement, believe good habits create opportunity luck, and believe bad habits create detrimental luck.
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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