Being in Debt Does NOT Make You a Dumb*ss. Staying in Debt DOES!

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My ability to attain a relatively successful career meant that I probably wasn’t a flat out dumbass, regardless of what my wife might lead you to believe. My inability to manage personal finances, however, meant that I was undoubtedly ignorant in regards to the subject.

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I was the first male in my family to graduate from high school. Truth be told, I had a half-uncle who graduated high school about 6 years before me, but I’m choosing to ignore that to make for a better story.

Side Note: Yes I said my uncle graduated high school six years before me. My grandfather re-married very late in life and had a child with his new bride. Don’t ask, folks… it’s Smalltown, USA.

So like I said, I was the first male in my family to earn my high school diploma. My dad dropped out either his Sophomore or Junior year, and I’d be surprised if my grandpa made it much past the 8th grade. They were taught that school was for chumps, and the moment you had identified a career, schooling had served its purpose.

Yet both my father and his dad were incredibly bright. My dad still has an amazing knack for Marketing, even though I doubt he’d know that is what it’s actually called. He knows he’s good at “selling people stuff,” but could give two sh*ts about the terminology or psychology behind it. Both he and my grandfather started highly successful businesses, despite their lack of formal education, and both took chances that I to this day don’t have the courage to take.

So I didn’t have a lot to live up to in terms of expectations. If I had dropped out of high school early, I’m sure my parents would have been slightly disappointed, but it wouldn’t have been the end of the world.

While my older sister blazed through both high school and college earning a 4.0 degree at both along the way (along with things like Class Valedictorian, President’s lists, scholarships, and the like) I maintained a rock solid 2.5 GPA, mostly due to sports and… well… not really caring about school.

Again… I didn’t have much to live up to.

I did manage to graduate high school, and then attended one year at university, dropped out thanks to a job offer from my father, and later in life returned to get a degree and several certificates. In all, I’ve probably completed around 6-7 years of post-high school schooling of some kind, and now have a successful career in videogames.

Take that, weirdly-young half uncle!Read More »

Find Someone Who Knows Their Sh*t, Then Shut Up and Listen

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It’s odd when you think about it: We were smart enough to know we needed someone with more experience in this area than we had, but at the same time we were dumb enough to throw almost all of his advice out the window.

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Quick Note: Things are going well on this New York business trips in terms of me keeping up with the posts. The bad news is that I don’t have my art software and/or tools with me, so you get no fancy images at the top of the post today. I’ll add them retroactively when I get home this weekend.

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We are very fortunate in that my wife and I have an Uncle who has been a Financial Advisor for the better part of 50 years. About two years before we hit our financial crisis, we reached out to him and asked for help in getting things in order. I think we had realized that we had kept the debt monster in the closet for far too long, and it was about to kick down the door and eat us in our sleep.

Our Uncle is a fantastic human, and so not only did he agree to sit down with us, but he agreed to provide long-term guidance free of charge.

Think about that for a moment: A person who is financially sound –wealthy in fact– with a healthy list of very successful clients, was 100% willing to provide guidance to us at absolutely no charge, and do so with no set end date. We could use him until we felt secure.

Pretty baller.

So we met with him and he started to advise us on a financial strategy. Up until that point, our investing knowledge consisted solely of blindly throwing money into a 401k each month and not much else. He started teaching us about diversification, opening up a Roth IRA, building a stock portfolio, and more. He also told us that we were making some silly mistakes with our money, such as throwing all of our cash into a vacation, versus saving part of it, even if it meant putting the vacation off a few months longer.

This man told us how to kill the monster in the closet.

We then promptly went out, ignored all of his advice, smothered ourselves in BBQ sauce, and laid down in front of the closet door and patiently waited.Read More »

Having Tea with a Gorilla in a Dress

The analogy I use is this: Let’s say you’ve gone and purchased yourself a pet gorilla… as people often do. Years of work have gotten you to a point where the gorilla will even let you put a pink dress on it and have pretend tea parties together...

Starting Credit Card Debt (01.01.19): $126,310.77
Current Credit Card Debt: $108,870.87
Total Paid Off: $17,439.90
Income Going to Savings: 2%

Being in debt has been incredibly stressful on me and my family. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my debt, and frankly there are times when it crosses my mind several times per hour.

I’ve mentioned it in previous posts, but it’s all I can do to keep exercising and meditating daily just to keep my heart from exploding clean out of my chest at times!

The stress has lifted a bit now that we’ve regained some control and have our monthly bills covered. [Note: We started close to $4,000 upside down every month!] I’ve also got everything set up to auto-pay now, so nothing is late and no late charges are assessed and for the most part we can cover everything each month.

The problem is that it leaves us with almost nothing to put aside. On some months I can spare a couple hundred bucks to toss into savings, but until we get some things paid off later in the year with a bonus and some vesting stock, we’re in a literal paycheck-to-paycheck cycle right now.

The analogy I use is this: Let’s say you’ve gone and purchased yourself a pet gorilla… as people often do. Years of work have gotten you to a point where the gorilla will even let you put a pink dress on it and have pretend tea parties together.Read More »

Living the Lake Life Lavishly… for Two Days

I could not be more focused on digging out of my financial situation right now, and these types of stories are exactly why. I want to get to a point in my life where not only am I financially secure, but I’m actually so secure that I can share with my friends and family.

Starting Credit Card Debt (01.01.19): $126,310.77
Current Credit Card Debt: $109,045.60
Total Paid Off: $17,265.17
Income Going to Savings: 2%

We had the pleasure of being invited to a house this weekend for a 2 day get-together of several families celebrating the end of our lacrosse season. The house itself was modest to say the least, but the lakeside location was not.

We spent hours on the lake yanking kids around on innertubes, grilling hot dogs in the backyard as we watched the wake lazily lap the dock, chasing frogs, and drinking (far too much) beer as we watched the sun set over the distant pines.

As the weekend progressed and I began to ask a friend about the dude graciously let us borrow his pad for the weekend, I found out it’s not even his main home.

“He’s got several properties,” I was told, “He’s a single guy, so he doesn’t worry too much about keeping them spotless, which is why this place is in need of a coat of paint. It’s also why it’s perfect for 15 lacrosse boys to goof around in without worrying about them wrecking the place. This is really just kind of like one of his bachelor pads, so he often lets us use it to take our boat out.”

Several properties? One of his bachelor pads? Of course my next question had to be, “What does he do for a living?”Read More »

How We’re Digging Out of Debt: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

As with many things in life, we didn’t make 1 giant mistake with our finances all at once to get ourselves into this mess. We made 100s of small mistakes here and there, and slowly enough that we didn’t really notice what a bad spot we were getting into.

Starting Debt (01.01.19): $126,310.77
Current Debt: $109,299.87
Total Paid Off: $17,010.90
Income Going to Savings: 2%

So I’ve written a lot about how we got to where we are financially, and now I’d like to talk to you a bit about what we’re doing to correct our situation. This is 100% our story, so please be mindful that the approach we took may not be the best approach for you and your situation. I’m hoping to share just so that you can pick up a few tips along the way.

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I had these co-workers once who thought it would be really funny to take my adjustable desk and rotate it down a quarter of a turn every single day. Each morning before I got in, they would ratchet it down by a small fraction of a turn so that it effectively got just slightly lower every day. The problem was that they did it so slowly, I never noticed. I just slowly adapted with my desk.

The co-workers finally got so frustrated by my lack of response that they came clean and yelled, “WE HAVE BEEN DOING IT EVERY DAY, HOW DID YOU NOT NOTICE?!?!?!”Read More »