Life started poor in my household. No grand inheritance (no inheritance, period) to give me a lift off into adulthood. Sheer hard work, determination, and persistence led to gradual wealth accumulation. Soon the numbers started to grow. Money started pouring in faster than my young mind could imagine. The stock market was on fire so my investments made me dizzy and scared it might crash (it did in 1987). I had to protect my future by diversifying into alternative investments since the stock market was so high.
My dad is a gun nut and loves going to gun auctions. Somewhere around 1990 he convinced me to join him. He encouraged me to buy a gun. Personally, I don’t care for guns. I have no problem with you owning a gun; I just don’t feel a compelling need to own a firearm myself. He kept pressing the issue. A gun is useful against marauding hoards, the government, and the impending apocalypse. I still stood my ground.Read More
A couple of weeks ago the police started calling. It started with my cell phone which is unusual. Anyone who knows me knows I never answer my cell phone; I actually keep it on mute most of the time. Calls from my phone generally are from my youngest daughter, Mrs. Accountant, or Tabatha at the office. The best way to reach me for business matters is by calling the office and speaking with Karen; for personal matters call Mrs. Accountant. By calling me directly you will not get through. Yes, I write a blog, but I have also weaned myself from most modern instant communication stuff. I think it is unhealthy to be tuned in and turned on non-stop.
The police are a persistent bunch. The officer calling left several messages. It was important. He had to speak with me and only me, but would not indicate what it was about. I ignored the calls; I knew what it was about. Then he moved on to the office and started leaving messages there. I’ve been down this road before. When a police officer calls outside his jurisdiction something is up and it is less than honest. The police from a small town in a different county do not call for “official” business with only a vague “important” message.Read More
I have noticed a trend involving wealth building that is all wrong. I see it in comments on other personal finance blogs a lot lately. I am sure it has been there all the while and it only jumped out at me recently for whatever reason. The misinformation is so important it needs clarification.
The comment goes something like this: I am not saving right now because I am paying off student loans/credit cards/car loans/making extra mortgage payments. When you pay down debt you ARE saving and also building your net worth. The real question is: How can you balance debt reduction with retirement savings for maximum net worth building?
Paying down debt removes the most caustic item on your balance sheet holding back wealth creation. Debt interest is an expense you can only slay by destroying the debt (paying it off). Debt is not a bad thing in and of itself when used as a tool, but most consumer debt is bad. Mortgages are the exception if used properly.Read More
Grandpa told us stories of how they increased fuel economy during World War II rationing years. The technology has advanced over the years, but the goal is the same: increase the miles traveled on a gallon of gas. Today we call this behavior: hypermiling. Rationing is no longer the motivation. Saving money and reducing our personal impact on the planet are the two main drivers (pun intended) behind hypermiling today. I will share the best methods I use to achieve 46 miles per gallon in a 2007 Toyota Camry. If you are willing to work the technology harder your results will probably be even better.Read More
A cold north wind raised goose bumps on my forearms. The year is 1982. I am 18 years old with no idea how I am going to live my life. My dreams are to own a business and make lots of money. You see, my family is very poor. Just money. That is the goal.
The wind gusts, reinforcing the goose flesh. The family farm finished bankruptcy only months before. My whole life plan was over; farming is no longer a viable job opportunity, the only thing I know. Our farm house was a shotgun shack. (A shotgun shack is a building where you could shoot it with a shotgun and the pellets would pass through without hitting the building. The old farm house had plenty of holes.) By some miracle we kept the house and a few acres of land from creditors; the rest was gone.
My dad’s life was over, too. All he knew was farming and now the farm was gone. He started a business repairing silo unloaders. The competition was tough. Life in the 1982 Rust Belt was no fun. Work was scarce; opportunities few. Unemployment reached toward 20% in our local community.Read More
Reducing spending is my favorite pastime, more fun than a Pokémon or any other video game. Finding new ways to reduce costs provides me more pleasure than any other activity I engage. I bike to work as often as feasible, blasting my transportation costs to a minimum. Our home hot water is supplied by a geothermal heat pump. In the summer there is no reason to keep the geothermal on except for hot water so we put it on a timer, reducing our electric bill to almost nothing. (We use hot water in the evening to hand wash dishes and wash up after working outside.)Read More
From an early age I practiced picking out conversations from a crowd. It’s a neat little trick for a business owner to have. When you think I cannot hear you I may actually be listening in closely. Conversation in a crowded room takes skill with multiple conversations amped in volume so you can be heard over the cacophony. Picking out a select voice from across the room takes a lot of practice.Read More
One of the all-time great pleasures people receive from reading personal finance blogs is stalking the blogger. For some reason peeps want to know what the heck we are spending our money on. Who am I to upset the apple cart? Stalk away.
Below is a table showing my spending for 2015. I know, I know, you expected this months ago. All I can say is: Better late than never, you little stalker, you. My obsessive-compulsive way of recording stuff in my life allows me to break down my spending patterns for you. There were a few surprises when I reviewed the numbers. I will provide some explanations after the table.
In the future I plan on listing my annual spending once per year only. My columns listed here are exactly how my personal records read, minus the description. The miscellaneous column catches a lot of stuff I could break out, but since most months have only minor miscellaneous spending, I elected to keep it simple.Read More