Last week, Erica and I, were able to take a mini-vacation. It was great to spend a couple of days, with just her, away from the kids. Of all the places we decided to go to, we went to Omaha, Nebraska. Neither of us had ever been there, and decided it would be a good experience. While we were there, I wanted to swing by Warren Buffet’s house.
No, I did not walk up and ring the doorbell, but the thought did cross my mind. We just drove by, and had Erica take a couple of pictures of me standing in front of it. Interestingly, there were no high walls, no gates, and as far as I could tell, no cameras. Just a simple house like any another simple house on that street.
The only difference about this house is that its owner is Warren Buffet. You know the wealthiest man in North America! According to Wikipedia, he bought the house in the early 70’s. And while, according to his Annual Berkshire Hathaway Reports, his net income has gone up dramatically, his standard of living has not. According to some locals, we ate dinner one night at a restaurant that he regularly visits called Piccolo Pete’s. It is a nice restaurant, where you can get a good dinner for about $25. Nothing fancy, nothing elegant, nothing supper outrageous, but a good old-fashioned sit down restaurant.
This experience, reminded me of what I have previously read in the The Millionaire Next Door and The Millionaire Mind. Most millionaires, or in this case Billionaires, do not have extravagant lifestyles. They realize that delaying pleasure and being content is what got them wealth, and it is what will keep them wealth. Thanks Warren for the reminder.
A couple of years ago, Erica was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS for short. IBS is a term assigned to a wide variety of conditions, which affect your large intestine or colon. She has learned over time that if she eats certain foods, or consumes certain drinks, her rear-end explodes, and she’ll be on the pooper for a couple of hours. One of those triggers is Chick-fil-A milkshakes.
Now I love Chick-fil-A. Erica says, like Tim Hawkins, “I could eat there seven times a day.” I like their breakfast, lunch, dinner, and really enjoy their deserts. Every once in a while, I’ll cruise through the drive through to get desert for the family. Most of the time, Erica does well, and resists the urge to have a milkshake. However, every once and a while, the temptation gets the best of her and she gives in. She knows she is going to pay for it later, but the instant satisfaction of the chocolate ice-dream, smothered with whip cream is just too overwhelming. But after about an hour or two, she is sitting on the hopper, saying “why do I do this to myself?”
The milkshake provided a cheap temporal thrill, but that pleasure is soon replaced with pain, cramps, and a smell that could just kill…and debt does the same thing to many people.
Debt enables a short-lived impulse that many love, but is soon replaced with buyer’s remorse and sorrow. People walk away with new electronics, clothes, cars, and even a house, with just a signature. But overtime the clothes rip, the electronics break, the cars rust, and the house could even go down in value, but the debt stays constant.
We live in a country and world where we want, yet even demand, instant gratification. And debt has fueled that desire, to epics levels. But like most instant things, they are not as good as the original. There is a benefit to waiting, being patient, and saving up for things. And while the initial glitter of that new purchase is wonderful, the underlying payments will eat away at the enjoyment overtime. I can’t tell you how many people, who once loved their new car, now hate it, because they are upside down on it. The problem is not the car, the problem is the debt. And like the milkshake, when it’s all said and done, it just leaves a mess.
What is your financial milkshake? Leave a comment and encourage others?
A couple of days ago, a lady I know told me a great financial success story, and I wanted to share it with you. This lady has been plagued with dental issues most of her adult life. She has had multiple fillings, root canals, and crowns. The very thought of it makes me squirm in my seat! She told me that the other night, she was reading in bed, and one of her crowns fell out.
Proverbs 10:22 The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.
In the past, whenever she had a dental issue, she would also have a financial issue. As you may be aware, most dentists do not work pro bono. And for some reason, they expect to get paid for their services. Even with insurance, a trip to the dentist for a procedure like this could cost hundreds even thousands of dollars.
However, due to her emergency fund, this experience was different. After years of sound financial planning and actionable steps to improve her money, she now enjoys the luxury of being a stay at home mom, and more importantly has a fully funded emergency fund consisting of 3-6 months of expenses in the bank. So what would have been at other times a major financial crisis, turned out to be a simple inconvenience, at least from a financial perspective. The next day, she called the dentist, made an appointment, got the crown fixed, and paid her portion of the procedure.
This is the tremendous value that an emergency fund offers. It turns what would be a major problem into a minor nuisance. Imagine the typical situation where both spouses worked, they have no savings, and are living pay-check to pay-check. She would have had to take time off of work, which costs money, pay for the procedure with a credit card – which costs money, and be super stressed on how to cover all of her other household expenses. And typically that stress leads to other choices which negatively impacts her money as well.
The moral of the story is this: an emergency fund is a critical part of a sound financial plan. A solid emergency fund is defined as 3 to 6 months of expenses saved in the bank for events like this.
How would you feel if you had a fully funded emergency fund in the bank? Leave a comment and encourage others.
Hopelessness is one of the characteristics that I see in people who are not doing as well financially as they would like. Some are even overwhelmed and stressed when they come to see me. They are often hopeless because they don’t see a way out. They don’t see the path, the process, or the means that will take them where they want to go financially. They believe they are destined to a life of financial ruin, and truthfully, that is a depressing thought, but it’s not a reality…
Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
One of the lies that fear whispers to you is that you are too far gone. You’re done. You can’t recover. But those are lies. The truth is that life is a film strip, not a Polaroid. While your current financial state might not be what you envisioned, it can get better. Whether you are deeply in debt, or just don’t have as much in retirement as you would like, the future can be better.
Hope is a great motivator. It’s a powerful change agent. Instead of listening to fear tell you it will always be like this, listen to hope tell you “it can be better”. It might be hard. It might be uncomfortable. It might take some sacrifice, but the future can be better. But that future is dependent upon two things: your attitude and your action. I tell people all the time, if you keep doing what you are doing, you are going to keep getting what you have been getting. If you are not happy with that, then it’s time to make a change. And change is something that you can control.
Are you looking to make a financial change? Are you tired of being broke? Are you tired of the financial stress? Are you looking to do better with money? Commit today to making a change. If you don’t know what changes to make, please contact me, and I’ll be glad to help.
On April 16th, I started a new chapter in my life as a financial counselor. The day before, I was leaving a company that I worked for over 5 years, as I marched toward this day of having my own business and performing financial coaching as a full-time vocation. This opportunity didn’t happen overnight, nor did it certainly occur on accident, but nonetheless it is here. I thought I would share the process here with you, so that you too can have a vocation that you love and pay your bills at the same time. This is the abbreviated version. The full version of the story will be the feature article in the Financial Proverbs Quarterly Newsletter, that only goes to subscribers. If you want to get a copy of that, please subscribe by entering you email address in the upper right of the screen.
Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
Mondays are no longer something I dread. I look forward to Monday just as much as Sunday now. I don’t wake up horrified at the idea of going to work, but enthused and excited. I believe the same can become a reality for you as well. While the details of the path may change, I think this process could certainly be duplicated by many. Here is a high-level overview of what I did.
1) I identified what I wanted to do - This may sound silly to you, but if you asked me 3-5 years ago, what I would like to do as a full-time job, I wouldn’t have been able to honestly answer you. I began a process to trying to understand what my passions where. I began to gain an appreciation for my talents, and view them as God-given, not just something I am good at. I read books like 48 Days to the Work You Love, that helped me look inward to what I love doing, vice the high-paying work trends. I discovered that I love to teach. And not just teach some theoretical based principles, but teach applicable concepts that help improved people lives.
2) I identified a need – While there is always a need for good teachers in schools, I would go crazy even thinking of the idea of teaching 20-30 school aged children all day. I wanted to teach adults. I wanted to children. I wanted to teach anyone things that would help their lives. At the same time, Erica and I were repairing our finances, from the mistakes we made in the past. As I began to work out of the financial ruin I put us in, I realized that many others are struggling financially. Thus the idea to teach about money and finances. It was something that was borne out of my own experience, something that I could relate to in people’s lives, and no doubt there is a grave need.
3) I Identified a Path - I read the book Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job & Your Dream Job, by Jon Acuff, of how he transitioned from his day job to his dream job. Step 1 – Don’t quit your day job. So I kept working full time. It would have been irresponsible for me to quit my job, knowing that 5 people were counting on me to provide for them. I started learning all I could about coaching, counseling, business, and money. I listened to podcasts, read books, even took formal classes at Georgetown, all in a quest to become an expert. My plan was to start small, boot strap my way along, and continue to help and demonstrate value to people as a financial coach. Much of this, did not result in income, but rather experience. It actually cost me both time and money, but it was a needed path that has proved to be ever so valuable.
4) I Identified the Possibilities - I was not looking to take a major pay cut, so I had to discover opportunities that would allow me at keep my income up, but also make this transition. I tried reaching out to many different financial planners to get started, but nothing developed. I continued to remain patient, waiting for the right opportunity to open, but also continued to press forward in trying to open a door. Eventually, I was asked by an existing financial coach, if I would be interested in doing some consultant work at the CIA. I had the clearance from my previous work, the experience in the Intelligence Community from a cultural perspective, and the financial skills based upon the years of gaining knowledge and practicing on the side. So I applied, interview, and was selected. After a quick negation on scope and price, I started on April 16th.
Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great, talks about the need to have passion, talent, and an economic model to be successful in business. A three legged stool if you will. I now have the 3rd leg of the stool. I had passion and talent, but was missing the economic model. My point in sharing this is not to brag, but to encourage. If I can do it, you can do it too.
What is stopping you from having a job you love? Leave a comment and encourage others.