Don’t Be Envious, Be INSPIRED!

3190804.png

The moment I start to even feel jealous for a second though, I snap myself out of it by telling myself how good it will feel to be in that position one day. I’ll look back on this point in my life, and remember the stress and frustration, and SWEET MAPLE SYRUP will it feel good to know I don’t have to deal with that ever again.

____________________________

I am a part of quite a few Facebook Groups now that revolve around finances. While they run the gamut in terms of what subsection of financial independence they deal with, the one I’m currently pretty involved in is the ChooseFI group. I’ve mentioned this group in other posts, but essentially it’s a group of fans of the ChooseFI podcast, who post on a pretty broad range of topics.

One of my favorite posts that they do, for example, is every Friday the admins make a post that asks, “What was the ONE THING you did this week to make your life easier, happier, wealthier, more efficient, etc.? Take action each and every week and let us know!”

It’s a great topic, because the responses can be at both ends of the extreme, and everywhere in between. Some people will say things like, “I figured out a way to make toothpaste out of old shoelaces and saved $1.89!” While others are like, “I bought my 2,983rd rental property all while being President of the United States!”

Obviously I made the responses up, but the point is that you find some really valuable and cool things in the replies, some of which will be popping up on this blog in the form of future Tip Jar tips.

However the group can frankly be a bit overwhelming at times for someone in my financial situation. I would say that better than half of the posts on the group are people hitting some really killer milestones:

“We paid of the house today, and are debt free at the age of 32!”
“I have $100K in cash. How should I invest it?”
“We went to Disneyland and paid for the entire thing in cash!”
“We have so many golden toilets that I turned one of them into a pet bed!”

Again… made that last one up, but it would be pretty frickin’ sweet if you think about it…

I on the other hand would be making posts like this:Read More »

5 Tips for Talking to Your Kids About the Family Finances

fiveheader

The “Friday Five” features five items to help you in your journey to financial freedom. They might be 5 tips, 5 tricks, or just 5 ideas. In any case it’s Friday, so here we go!

____________________________

My parents never talked to my me or my Sister about our finances. To be fair, my Dad really didn’t talk to us about much of anything at all other than how terrible the Seahawks were (this was the early to mid 80s, and they were stupidly awful), his fleet of semi trucks, or the chores we still hadn’t done.

I’ll retract that statement almost immediately, because my Dad did talk to us about money. Here’s how it went:

“Hang on to that Sports Illustrated with Michael Jordan on the cover. That sucker is going to be worth money one day.”

“Hang on to that Bo Jackson rookie football card. That sucker is going to be worth money one day.”

“Hold on to that Coke bottle telephone. That sucker is going to be worth money one day.”

You know what my Dad never held on to?

Money.

I’m not bagging on my Dad at all. My Dad started a business at the age of 18, built it up and sold it in his 40s, then parlayed that into a business that grew in value in the millions before losing it all due to circumstances FAR beyond his control.

Now in his late 60s, my Dad owns several small businesses in my hometown and is a staple of his community.

That doesn’t mean he was necessarily good with money.

As a kid I never knew how we were doing financially. I saw my parents buying lots of things; spots cars, satellite dishes, pools, ATVs, etc., but I never really knew if we had money in savings, or if all of that junk was purchased on credit and we were teetering on the brink of financial collapse.

It’s understandable why they didn’t share any of this information with their kids. Their parents survived The Great Depression, and was a generation that tried to forget about finances in general, not discuss them openly. They sure as hell didn’t share with their kids during that generation, and so my parents never felt the need to be super open with us.

When our finances took a dump on our collective heads in January, my wife and I decided that we would start talking to our kids about finances. We did this not to freak them out or add stress to their lives, but because we wanted to start teaching them to be financially responsible so that they can hopefully avoid our mistakes and live a financially independent life of their own one day.

We’ve learned some valuable lessons about how to approach kids when it comes to discussing finances, especially if you’re in a bad way. Here are some of our favorites:Read More »

The Vicious Cycle of Student Loan Debt

190715.png

“I don’t care what side of the fence you fall on in terms of whether or not student loans are good, not good, beyond evil, a godsend, etc. Speaking from my own personal experience they have been a burden for the majority of my adult life, and I have paid probably close to double the amount of the loans in interest alone.”

___________________________

My sister is 4 years older than I am, and when it was time for her to head off to college, my parents were in a great financial position. The result of that position is that they paid for my sister’s college, all of her books and needs, her food, and her housing four all four years while she attended a major university.

She looks back on it now as some of the best years of her life, and readily admits that part of the reason was because of how stress free and fun it was to not have to worry about the financial aspect of college at all.

__________________________

Tangent: My sister majored in Business Administration, where she got straight A’s and made the Dean’s List of her university. She then parlayed that education into a job on a dude ranch in Montana where she made close to minimum wage giving horseback tours for rich city people like in the movie “City Slickers.”

She eventually got a very good job and now makes a solid living, but for a 4-5 year stretch there, my parents weren’t too thrilled about spending that kind of money on college when they could have just paid $250 bucks for horseback riding lessons.

__________________________

Around my Junior year in high school I think my Mom began to realize that I wasn’t college-minded, and so she started to bribe me to attend. The bribes started small, but eventually she told me, “If you go to college, not only will we pay for everything, but upon graduation we will buy you a brand new pickup of your choosing.”

For a small town kid, your pickup was your world, and so this was the equivalent of telling an old, chain-smoking, Frank Sinatra-loving, widow in Vegas that the penny slots were now free until the end of time.

I reluctantly agreed.

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, my career plan was to be a radio Disc Jockey, and so my major was to be Broadcast Communications. The problem was that I hated school, and my heart just wasn’t in it at the time. I dropped out after only 1 year.Read More »

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

postend-1

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.

_______________________

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.

_______________________

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 »

A Fun Approach to Being Broke

190628

“So this blog serves the purpose of creating what I feel is valuable entertainment, but it’s also a coping mechanism for me of sorts. After all, if I really stop to think about the fact that I have  OVER ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS in credit card debt, I’ll probably just pass out. However if I think about having that same amount of debt, but then see a cute little drawing of a guy with a shovel… It can’t be that bad right?”

_______________________________

First things first! As you can see, I’ve removed the stat tracker from the top of this post showing how much credit card debt I have remaining, and I have instead moved it over to the fancy new graphic on the side bar to the right over there.

I felt like it was cluttering up my posts to have that sucker at the top of each post, and since the numbers really don’t move from day to day, it was often just a stagnant piece of information that felt better served to the right.

As I was making the little graphic of the dude with the shovel on that chart, I got to thinking about whether or not my approach to debt is the right one. I don’t mean in terms of what I’m paying and where, but more in terms of the fact that I’ve created a semi-sweet, light and fluffy blog about effectively being broke.

I pepper the tops of posts like this one with fun little illustrations, and then spend several hundred words talking about just how close I came to losing my home and putting myself and my family in a really ugly situation. It can be quite the contrast!

Humor has always been a defense mechanism for me. When I get nervous, or when I am put in tense situations, I tend to crack a lot of jokes… usually of a self-deprecating nature. It’s something I’ve done since was a kid, and continue to do often as an adult. So if you ever happen to be in a situation with me where I am obviously desperate in my attempts to make the group I’m with laugh, chances are it’s because I feel WAY outside of my comfort zone.

I was up in the mountains once and had a guy pull a revolver on me and two of my friends. True story. We were driving up to a keg party in the mountains, and as we crested up over a hill in my pickup, there he was on horseback, pistol drawn, pointing it directly at my face. He then told us that his son had put his pickup in a ditch about a mile up the road and needed to be pulled out. The gun was just a “motivator” as he called it. To make a long story short, I was so scared and cracked so many jokes as a result that by the end of the night both the son and the father were standing at a campfire with us drinking beers and laughing.

Again… defense mechanism.

So as you can imagine, when it comes to writing a blog chronicling the really dumb situation I put myself in, I try to find to add some levity.Read More »