I have an odd confession… math makes me cry. For real folks. Oh, and I married a software engineer who every once and a while likes to talk about math. When he does, my ulcer begins to ache and I burst into tears. True story.
I want to make it clear that I am NOT, NOT, NOT– giving investing advice. I am going to go on to tell you if you have had a love/hate relationship with money and need to get this area of life under control… today is a good day to begin.
My credit score used to be so bad it was zero, 0. Yes, zero. I had some issues in the past, paid off my debt and then used cash exclusively. Paying cash for everything is great but it does nothing for beefing up a lagging credit score. My score is better now after I took proactive steps to make it better. However, I do not like the prevalence of the use of credit scores, or more accurately- debt scores, in our society. Even if you have an excellent driving record, your credit score can be used to increase your insurance payments for your vehicle. The excuse used is that a bad credit score somehow translates into being a bad driver despite evidence of an excellent driving record. It boils down to greed. If this is a credit score it should ONLY be used to measure credit and nothing else. Not jobs, not insurance, nothing but to measure a person’s ability to manage their debt. Even that can be misleading. There are people right now in America losing their jobs because of this ‘pandemic’. Their credit scores are going to be affected. Negatively affected. Some of those being impacted are people who were diligent about keeping up a good credit score. They now will be judged unfairly for something over which they had no control. People who may have had a score as high as 800+ will be judged by their lower score until it is resolved. I know because my husband and I lived through this a few years ago.
All of the ‘experts’ say to have at least 6 months of savings in case something happens. I am here to tell you from first hand experience that 6 months of savings is not nearly enough. We had a year’s worth saved up and it wasn’t enough. My husband was unemployed for 3 years.
He was working for a start up that went under. Then he became ill and ended up in the hospital. (read this post)
He could not work and I needed to stay home to take care of him. During that time we received very little outside financial help from family or our (then but no more) place of worship. We made it through but with the help of God, and some pretty big miracles. Almost $150,000 in debt was forgiven by those who held the notes through the intersession of the Holy Spirit! We still have some debt from those days we are working through paying off, but I am thankful everyday it is not more.
In good times and not so good times remember:
Prior to these events, I kind of just floated around money not paying it much attention beyond wanting more and wondering where it had gone. When I was single I was always broke. I remember once my sister had come to visit me in the big city where I lived. We were headed out to play; shop, eat, etc. and I needed to stop at the bank to deposit my paycheck. When I did, almost the entire amount was confiscated to pay for bounced checks and fees. I just could not grasp the concept of keeping track of money. I was so embarrassed. I struggle so much during those days. I ended up losing quite a bit of weight (I’ve always been on the heavy side). People were complimenting me on how great I looked. Tears would well up in my eyes when I said ‘thank you’ not because I was grateful people had noticed, but because I was living off Ramen noodles, and I was hungry all of the time. My phone was always being disconnected for lack of payment and once during the coldest part of the year my heat was turned off because I had not paid the bill.
I worked 2.5 jobs and was broke all of the time. Things got better but not by much. Every dollar that came in went out. During those days I either had extra money from working so much, but I had no time to spend it (again I should have at least tucked it into a savings account) or I would quite a job to take a ‘breather’ from working so much and spent the money frivolously. I never traveled (I should have!), with whom would I go? I worked all of the time and had no social life. I had my nails done, my hair done, I bought a deal of Mary Kay because I was a consultant but never sold enough to pay myself back for the inventory I purchased. Quit the mlm merry-go-round and watch your money tree grow!
At one of the last jobs I had when I was still single, I worked an incredible amount of overtime. I spent it all. I wanted to live the life I saw on t.v.; personal trainer, nice clothes, etc. (I never did go out and buy a new car though, I wonder why? I needed one! I do know why. Cars are a big expense. I fooled myself into thinking I was not spending THAT much money because my purchases were under $50-$100 but it adds up.) I have not a single dime left from those days but one good thing did come of it all… I met my husband (Through that personal trainer I went to when I had all of that overtime. She is now my best friend.), and of course he and I were eventually married.
Despite the hardships my husband and I have been through, it was all worth it, and I would marry him all over again. The only thing I would have done different is to invest and/or save all of that overtime money. I have gained back all of the weight I lost during my time with the personal trainer- and more. My nails are no longer ‘done’, and my hair has grown out to its natural color & is streaked with gray. If I had invested or saved even half of that money I made it would have made a difference in our circumstances. Hind sight is always 20/20 vision.
Spending money foolishly is like eating empty calories. You gain no benefit and when it’s over you are left with ill feelings toward yourself, and your lack of self control. So why do we do it? Pride? Ignorance? Most likely both.
Most Americans do not like talking about money unless the conversations pertain to; needing more, how to ‘get-rich-quick’, winning the lottery (and what to do when I do), how much better life would be if only I had X amount more money, and to talk about the latest greatest whatever-it-is they wish to buy.
Just as there is no magic weight loss pill, there is no get rich quick pill/scheme, etc.
Everything must be learned. We are born knowing nothing so why expect to absorb sound financial knowledge by doing nothing- or worse, watching reality t.v.? Financial wisdom is not, ‘I saw Khloe Kardashian’s Dior bag and now I want one!’.
Here is a chart from DigitalNomadmom.com on how to SAVE UP $3000.00 in one year!
If you have not sat down with your children to talk about money, or how to run a house (this is for boys AND girls) you need to do it now. Even when you do there is no guarantee they will listen. I didn’t but that is on me and mostly because I was embarrassed that I didn’t understand a single word they were saying at that time. Be sure to speak to your children on their intellectual level not yours. I have a friend who sent her daughter off to school in another state with a credit card backed by bank of mom & dad. One day, my friend receives a billing statement for said card for $1500.00!! After she picked herself up off of the floor she took a look at the statement. Her darling daughter had used that card at food trucks and food vending machines.
These parents are no slouches when it comes to investing, and managing, their money. They tried to speak to their child about what to do, how to do it but like so many young people, this individual thought that she had all of the answers and did not listen. Things have been ironed out but there is still a ways to go.
Another married couple I know thought they played it right working hard and saving up for retirement. Last year they ended up selling their home and moving into an apartment. It was just becoming too hard to make it on their retirement income. Now they are hoping they do not outlive the money they made on the sale of their home. I think we can agree that is no way to live.
How many of you have read an investment book and yet you are still not the secret millionaire next-door? Yeah… that’s like watching a workout video and expecting to lose weight.
Just as the bible tells us to be ‘doers of the word and not merely hearers’ we must apply this same simple and yet not so simple principal to all aspects of our lives.
So how do we become ‘doers’ and not merely ‘hearers’ or readers? At the beginning of this post, there is a picture of a book. I have not yet read it. I plan to order it and read it this month and i will keep you posted on my progress. Over the last few months as my husband illness progresses, I have found myself in charge of the check book and paying bills.
It has not really been THAT bad… mostly. My goal now is to go beyond monthly bill payment and into the realm of investing.
I’m putting on my big girl pants and diving in! In the past, I have learned complicated anatomy, I have had to explain health insurance, and how second mortgages work to angry people. Surely I can learn how money works beyond money in money out… right? Money in and GROWING it is now the name of the goal. I picked the book pictured at the beginning of this post, as a starter for me because the person writing it wrote it as if speaking to his own daughter. If you are a financial person and you want to write a successful book write it for the millions of people who are not in the industry, and not for the few who are.
Let’s call it, ‘making it digestible for the masses, eh?’
One of the reasons why I’m so interested in THIS book is because one of the things I read in the sample before I purchased it was, ‘Once you know enough to hire a professional, you’ll know enough to do it yourself.’. Or something to that effect. This is not an exact quote. I paraphrased. I like that he is encouraging his readers to become confident in the knowledge they are about to acquire.
You probably thought this post was going to be about managing household finances and in a way it kind of is… just from a different angle. There are plenty of books on that particular topic. Books on how to make a budget, and pinch pennies. That is all well and good, but what about the next level? I do not know what your situation is but mine involves an ill husband who could drop dead at any moment, and the need for passive income. Pinching pennies is great. Saving is wonderful. Living off of a passive income is the best. That does not mean sitting around growing moss, although rest is a good thing. What this is all about is financial independence. The less you need to rely on actively working for money- the more freedom you have. I am looking for freedom. Freedom for my husband, freedom for both of us.
Money management is about more than just making it from pay check to pay check. It is about being prepared, as much as possible, for what life throws at us.
“…because money will become not something you use to purchase things, but a tool you use to purchase your freedom.”. – Byron Tully, Old Money, New Woman:How to Manage Your Money and Your Life.
If you are in debt, or lacking a savings account, you are precariously perched on the ledge of disaster. It is not a matter of ‘if’, but of ‘when’ disaster will strike. For many Americans it is happening right now.
It is never too late to course correct. If you are a spender use the above chart to begin a savings account, stop using your credit cards, begin to pay them off (As in paying a higher than normal amount so that the balance actually goes down.), and living WELL below your means. Need more help than this simple post? For a more detailed path to financial freedom, read one of, Dave Ramsey’s books. Purchase a used copy of one of his books or better yet, see if you can find one at your local library.
You can take control of your finances. You can learn money management without a money management guru. You can become your own, ‘guru’.
Financial freedom is life changing. You’re independent from how many in the world are living EXCEPT for the very rich and this is NOT because they are rich. They are rich BECAUSE they practice self control and discipline, not just with their finances, but in almost every aspect of their lives.