My brother and I grew up the children of immigrants. Though it may not seem like a big thing, but it was to us. My parents gave up great corporate careers back in their home country to secure the best potential for their children. Like many that immigrant their degrees and skills from their home country did not translate back into great careers here. They ended up working in the retail and the labor force all their lives. My dad worked tireless until he got into a car accident that gave him time to realize he and mom could retire if they live frugally. They now live a very happy life entirely on their Social Security check. Growing up my parent ingrain in us:
- Always Respect Money! If there was a penny…. pick it up. Don’t take it of granted.
- Always Respect People! People go through different things in your life. Don’t pass judgement.
- Do better then we did! This is the typical immigrant mantra of we came here, so you need to do better then us.
Those tenet were great! But what it didn’t do was teach you the HOW TO. Growing up we struggled to make ends meet. My parents didn’t always show it…but you could feel it in the air. They knew how to get by, but didn’t know how to excel. The jobs that they had gave no pension or allow for much discretionary income. My belief is they got lucky! They save up to buy a house in a real estate market that became super hot during their work years and retire by downsizing to a condo and living off Social Security . We all need luck on this journey!
With little HOW TO, I enter the work force in the late 90s. With my newly minted degree, I found a job in the Internet business making $30K. Back in those days the it was HOT HOT HOT and it paid to jump from company to company. Within 3-4 years, I had jumped 3 times and ending up with a salary around $90K. So what does a person do with Money and no financial foundation? They spend it with disregard!! I didn’t save a penny or even use it to pay off more then the minimum payment on my student loans. I can remember buying my first (and only) Tag Heuer watch with my first real pay check….I was so proud and so “stupid”.
Fast forward 5 or so year. I’ve done well in my career progressing higher and making more …..and spending more!! I’m now married with child and another on the way, modest house, two car payments, 2 student loan payment and credit card bills. So what is one to do with a child on the way…..get a bigger house and a bigger car…so we can have enough room. WOW….in writing this I was so naive back then. At this point, I had read many financial books but they were mainly in stock investing. How to identify the winners. William O’Neil, Peter Lynch and other were on my book shelf at the time.
We have always been blessed as a family!! My salary growth has luckily out paced my expenses to this point. For some reason after the second child, I decided to get my house in order. Being a better father…I’ll forever be working on that! Being a better husband….I’ll be happily working on that with my wife/soul-mate forever!! To own my financial destiny…I’m hoping to get to financial independence and then finance abundance within the next 10 years.
One of the books, I picked up was Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover at Sam’s Club. Not growing up very religious, I told my wife, if the first thing he tells me to do is tithe…..I’m returning this book to Sam’s Club! Lucky for me…he doesn’t get to that until the last chapter and he does it more in a sense of generosity and charity.
At that time, I thought we had it all together financially. We were able to make all the bill payments and live a very good life. That book changed our life!! I laid out all our debt against income and realized quickly that we were basically treading water. That is to say, we spent everything we take in and them some, and let the credit card absorb the rest. Minimum credit card payments…no problem!! But their was no way to pay off the entire credit card.
In a later series, I will detail our journey out of credit card debit and give you my opinion on pay off strategy such as Debt Snowball vs the Debt Avalanche. In a nutshell, we became debt free in less then 2 years. Six year after that, we became completely debt free including our mortgage at the ripe age of 40 years old. There was a lot of internal debate about paying off our mortgage. I don’t regret it one bit!! Two years, after paying off our mortgage, I was downsized from my job, which brings me to where I am today.
Currently, I’m doing consulting work, but actively looking for a full time job so I can finish off our plan towards financial abundance. Join us in this trip towards financial abundance as I share my experience, logic and goals.
Mr. and Mrs Financial Bounty