Excuse me if I sound like a cheapskate in this blog post, but I prefer to call it "frugal" and "economical". I am going to share with you 8 things I've never done with money and why I've never done these things with money. I'm using the term "I", but the things in this post apply to me and my wife since before we were married, and after we've been married.
I want to say that these are things that we have not done, but it doesn't mean that your financial life is ruined if you do any of these things, or if you've done them in the past. These are things that we have decided not to make a priority in our financial lives.
Here Are the 8 Things I've Never Done With Money
1. Never owned a pair of Air Jordans. Buying the newest latest fashions has never been something I've cared much about. When I grew up it was a big deal to get some new high top Pro Wings from Payless. I went through entire school years with 4 and 5 pairs of pants. I've never had much, so I've never needed much. Like everyone else, we like nice things, but we believe in buying things on sale and at discounts whenever we can. Whenever I have to pay full price for anything, it's a feeling of loss. I approach every purchase as though it's negotiable. Buying used clothes and used shoes is ok and never out of the question. We don't need, or want, what everyone else thinks is popular, so buying the latest Air Jordans has always seemed like a waste to me. I'd rather spend a few hundred dollars on dress shoes that can last for 15 years and get re-soled, when needed.
2. Never Invested in individual stocks. There are enough index funds and mutual funds out here, so I've never felt the need to invest in individual stocks. I don't have the time or desire to research stocks, jump in and out of stocks, or to manage an indiividual stock portfolio. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing this, I just don't have the desire to do it. There is increased risk with investing in individual stocks, but if you want to do it, by all means do so. After all, Investing in individual stocks is much better then not investing at all. Just make sure you are well diversified and you have enough various types of individual stocks to offset downturns. For us, it's always been about leveraging the knowledge of other money managers. We've done our stock market investing in our retirement plans at our jobs. It's worked out very well for us. In a later blog, I will share exactly how well it's worked out.
3. Never used a credit card on vacation. We have not been on big cruises or expensive vacations, but the vacations we have been on, we have always used cash or a debit card for all purchases. Vacations are planned, saved for, and cash is used. It may sound a bit overly structured, but the beauty is: we've never come home from a vacation with a credit card bill. In fact, the last time we used a credit card was for an emergency business purchase way back 9 years ago in 2011. The words "credit card" have been like a curse word for many years in our house. Credit cards are a subtle invitation to overspend, and when you couple that with a vacation, it can be a recipe for disaster. We've been able to stay away from that.
4. Never borrowed money from a Retirement Investment account. One key word: DISCIPLINE. Whatever money you save for your future, leave it alone and let it grow. Yes, you can read article after article that will explain the pros of borrowing from yourself, but the bottom line is its just another loan, with interest. We've been able to stay away from this with some planning and grace. Thankfully, we have never been in a position where this was a viable option that we had to consider. With proper planning, creative thinking, and intentional diligence, we've steered clear. Everything we've ever put away for retirement is still growing with the help of some seriously healthy compound interest. If you have borrowed from a Retirement Investment account, pay it back as soon as possible and try to avoid it at all cost in the future.
5. Never gone a month without a written budget. Ok. call me overly weird AGAIN, but every month that I've been alive since I went off to college as a Junior at Kansas State in 1992, I've had a written budget. Up until a couple of years ago, this was a handwritten budget. In the last couple of years I've moved to a spreadsheet. But the point remains, we live by a budget. Yes, things go wrong and the budget can get busted from time to time, but it gives us a well thought out reference point for each month. It also gives us the feeling of having direct control, responsibility, and a say-so over our money. Our spending is never out of control. Again, things do happen that are out of our control, but with a written budget, those things are manageable and never overwhelming. The beauty with this one, is that if you don't do a budget, it's something you can change today.
6. Never co-signed on a loan. I've been asked to co-sign on a loan. I've never done it. I always try to think through and around situations that will avoid the need to co-sign on a loan. We help people with what we can afford and by providing outside-the-box solutions, but co-signing on a loan is something we've never done. We have not gotten a new loan for any purpose whatsoever in about 12 years (since 2008), and haven't looked back. We realized that there are other ways to get what you want without loans. So if we don't do loans then it stands to reason that we wouldn't co-sign on them either. You can help people without co-signing.
7. Never bought a latte from Starbucks. First, I don't like coffee, and if I did, I'd buy a coffee maker. Second, the thought of spending $5 on an expensive cup of coffee with a layer of foam on top just doesn't do it for me. Without sounding too much like a neanderthal, I just don't get it. Hats off to Starbucks for creating luxury drinks with fancy names that some people somehow believe they can't live without. I'm just unable to fathom spending that amount of money on a large cup of cold coffee with foam on the top. In the middle of writing this blog post, my wife informed me that she has bought a pastry from Starbucks one time, but that's it. So I had to change this one from "Never been inside a Starbucks" to Never bought a latte from Starbucks"!
8. Never paid for a personal trainer. I've been working out since I was 9 years old. I literally received a set of dumbells for Christmas when I was 9. Check me out in the picture to the right, which was taken when I was about 21 years old in1991. I've read and learned a lot about working out and lifting weights over the years, so I've never needed the services or the additional motivation of a trainer. In the past few years my wife has gotten in to working out regularly also, but neither of us feel the need to pay someone money to inspire us to do what we already know we need to do. For some people a personal trainer helps inspire them, but for us, its not something we've thankfully never needed to spend money on. There are workout facilities like your local YMCA, perhaps your local Recreation Center, and Planet Fitness, that offer free personal training services for aged person, persons with disabilities, or those that may simply need the help.
We march to the beat of our own drum, not the drum of the media, or commercials, or trends, or pop culture. We love and appreciate the Jones's, but we care absolutely nothing about keeping up with them. We think differently about money and material things than most folks, and financially, that benefits us in the long run. If you own the latest pair of Jordans, the latest iPhone, swipe your credit card during every vacation, have a personal trainer, and stop at Starbucks every morning for your latte, congratulations. You are officially like most people, and most people in America are broke.
I don't mean to put anyone down for what they do, or decide to do with their money. That is not the purpose of this blog post. The purpose is to simply say what we've done and whats worked for us. Thankfully, we're blessed to be just different enough to be a little "weird" in the eyes of most, and that has worked for us. We sort of like it like that. It keeps us financially in control of our money, our spending habits, and our financial lives.