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 »

Keep Your Ego In Check

Starting Debt (01.01.19): $124,310.77
Current Debt: $107,793.15
Total Paid Off: $16,517.62

I’ve seen a person’s ego aid in accomplishing some seriously amazing things. After all, it’s ego that makes someone say, “I don’t care if you think I’m short! I’ll be famous one day or my name isn’t Tom Cruise!”

Ego can also cause a buttload of issues.

Ego is the thing that makes you see your buddy with the hot new 55″ 4K TV and want one. It’s also the thing that makes you walk into Best Buy, see that exact same 55″ 4K TV right next to the even larger 65″ 4K TV and think, “Oh man… my friends are going to be so jealous of this!”

You didn’t even need all 55 inches to begin with (do we really need to see all of the pores on Conan O’Brien’s nose?), and then you went beyond that and bought the one you really didn’t need. Most likely on credit.

Maybe it’s not TVs for you. Maybe it’s clothes, or action figures, or art, or wine or whatever. The point is that we all have that thing that makes our ego perk up and tempt us to spend.

Good Ego: Michael Jordan wanting the ball on the last play of a tied ball game in the final game of the NBA Finals.

Bad Ego: Me buying a 3D TV and surround sound audio system to watch the NBA Finals.

Good Ego: A doctor telling the President of the United States that she can and will operate on him to successfully remove his brain tumor.

Bad Ego: Me buying a piece of the deceased President’s tumor on eBay for far too much money and then spending even more on the display case to house it in, just to show it off to my friends each time they visit.

Good Ego: Eddie Van Halen sharing one of his groundbreaking guitar solos, without a shred of nerves, while standing in front of 50,000 screaming fans.

Bad Ego: Me taking out a Guitar Center credit card so that I can buy Eddie’s signature guitar thinking that at the age of 40 that has been the missing piece up to this point that has been standing between me and rock stardom.

Yes, I get that I made a Michael Jordan and Eddie Van Halen reference in the same post. I’m old. Deal with it.

What I learned the hard way is that this is all just junk. I wind up watching most sporting events on my phone because I’m sitting sideline at one of my kid’s soccer games (I can multitask!), and I haven’t used the 3D on that TV in at least 2 years. That guitar still doesn’t sound the way it does when Eddie plays his, and it never will. It’s also really dusty because I never play it… because it doesn’t sound like Eddie for some reason.

And that brain piece in the jar? I’m pretty sure it was just a piece of old cheese.

I bought a really nice muscle car. It’s a Dodge Challenger with more engine than I’ll ever need, and it sounds like it’s grinding up chainsaws when you rev it up. Friends called it a mid-life-crisis purchase, and they’re probably not wrong, but man is it a great car.

Today while driving to work though, I had epiphany. Think about how many people you pass in their cars on a daily basis. Some of those cars are pretty average. Some are pretty junky. 1 or 2 might be AMAZING.

But you know what?

You still forget them all. Even if you happen to remember the Lamborghini you saw parked in front of the Pizza Hut on 3rd St for an extra day or two, you certainly know nothing about the driver.

Now take your friends. We all have friends with nice cars. We all have friends with very vanilla daily drivers, and we ALL have that 1 friend who has the old crappy beat up car with the chip wrappers and old coffee cups littering the floor, the missing headlamp cover, the tattered dreamcatcher hanging from the review mirror, and the beer tap for a shifter knob. That car is a piece of junk.

And yet we’re still friends with that person. Some of us are best friends with them. What they drive means nothing to us at all.

The excitement of showing a new car off to your friends lasts about a week, and then you’re the same “dumbass” they have made fun of for as long as you’ve known them. Is it really that much better to hear, “Hey nice car, dumbass.”?

The only reason I bought my car was ego. I’ve had that car for several years now, and nobody in my family or circle of friends ever gives it a second look. And remember what I said about the cars you pass on the road? Nobody remembers my Dodge Challenger or any of the other dozen they might see that day.

Egos can make us do great things, but they can also makes us do really foolish things as well. Keep yours in check if you can, and your bank account will thank you.

And pick those damn chip wrappers up off of the floor of your car!