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 »

The Night I Found Out I Was Broke

Note: If you got notified of this post yesterday, I apologize. It got messed up by the holiday weekend, and I didn’t catch it until it posted early. What follows is the edited and much funnier version!

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Now I was wishing I was the person holding the phone in that scary movie, because I was only moments away from the sweet release of that orange traffic cone.

Starting Debt (01.01.19): $126,310.77
Current Debt: $110,102.44
Total Paid Off: $16,208.33
Income Going to Savings: 1%

Okay, so I’m not broke. It’s a sensational post title to get views because I guess that’s what my life has become. I’m really close to broke, but I’m not broke. I’m still paying my bills, but I just don’t have anything going to savings and a mountain of debt. So maybe I am broke.

In any case…

My wife and I have had an agreement pretty much since we got married 23 years ago, and that agreement goes like this:

I keep my mouth shut and she lets me continue to live inside.

Wait… wrong agreement. Here is the right one:

My wife handles the bills, and I don’t ask questions.

If there was something I wanted to buy I’d say, “I’m going to buy this,” and then she would either say it was fine or it wasn’t fine.

My wife is one of the most caring and loyal people walking the face of the earth, and slowly over time my kids and I began to wear her down. She hated the feeling of being “the bad guy” and telling one of us that we couldn’t have something, so she continued to find ways of saying yes.Read More »

Not a Good Day

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

Today was not a great day. Today was a day I had to text my wife to let her know that, at just halfway through the month, we are already about 70% of the way through our budget.

I’ve read books by David Bach which state that budgets never work, and I understand the point he’s making that if you try to run your life on a budget that you will wind up hating life. I will get to a point where we are no longer governed by a budget, but we’re not in a spot for that just yet.

Right now we are digging out from a substantial amount of debt. We don’t have a nest egg or savings to utilize, and thus every penny we make goes to paying bills. The “budget” I’m referring to is literally the money we have left from the paychecks I’ll receive this month.

Next month we will refinance the house, and this will help. While helpful, these types of relatively small steps won’t solve our problems. This is going to take a long time, and a very mindful approach to how we address the situation we are in.

I know this might feel like a somewhat non-sequitur post, but it’s something I plan to do more. I’d like to utilize this blog for two purposes:

  1. To help others realize that they aren’t alone in the choices that they made that may have put them in a tough financial situation.
  2. To track my journey (bad days and all) to hopefully rectify my mistakes and get my family on the path to financial well-being.

Today was not a good day, but I can almost bet tomorrow will be better.

The Money Was Limitless… Until it Wasn’t

A pretty small percentage of people born in my home town ever leave my home town. As a kid, I used to hear jokes from people in the town that went something like, “Here in Kittitas (*real town… look it up) you either die a farmer, or you die a farm equipment mechanic.”

There were obviously more jobs than just those two, but reflecting back on things it was the distilled belief that opportunities were limited, and that was okay.

My father was not a farmer, or a farm mechanic. He owned his own business from a very young age. My father had a fleet of semi trucks that hauled hay from those farms to the thriving dairy country of western Washington state.

He started with just a couple of trucks purchased from a relative when he was barely of voting age and a partnership with his brother. Through hard work, waking up every morning at 3:00am to start his hauling, my dad and my uncle slowly amassed a fleet of trucks and drivers. They called their company Johnson Bros. Hay, and by the time they reached their peak in the early 90s, my Dad was making a really good living.

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As a kid, I had a lot of amazing stuff. We were one of the first families in the town to have a satellite dish, and not one of  those tiny little ones you see now. This sucker was the size of a small pool, and took around 3 days to slowly rotate if you wanted to change to a new satellite in the sky. And speaking of swimming pools, we had one of those too. My dad had two beautifully rebuilt classic muscle cars, we had ATVs, a camp trailer, a classic pick-up, a motorcycle, snowmobiles, and a massive shop to store all of it in. If my dad earned money, my dad found a way to spend the money.

Growing up I had lots of stuff too. I had toys, videogame systems, computers, and really anything I could ever want. I learned that having a lot of stuff was awesome, but do you know what I didn’t learn about?

Investing and saving money.

So I’m in some financial distress now and it’s all my Dad’s fault. Right?

Nope. It’s mine.

The point I’m making is that long-term financial security wasn’t even a thing in my world. The money seemed limitless, and there was simply no reason to worry about whether or not we had a plan for if it ever ran out. There was no need.

My Dad eventually sold his half of his business to his brother and built a state-of-the-art cattle ranch that could hold upwards of 3,000 head of cattle. He invested almost every dime into the facility, and used his wealth of connections to the dairy farmers he had been hauling hay to for years to fill up this cattle farm to the brim. Within just a couple of years he was entertaining (and rejecting) 7-figure offers from business people to buy the business out. He rejected every one of them.

As sometimes is the case in business, things started to go sideways for my Dad. I don’t need to go into details, but I eventually left his company and ventured out on my own, and my Dad lost it all. He lost his business, his house, all of the cars and toys. Everything.

He had started and built two businesses to a very successful place, but he neglected to plan for his long-term future.

I would almost certainly learn from my father’s mistakes and take a different path right?

If you’ve come this far with me, you know that almost certainly isn’t the case.