Financial Lessons

See? You can take more than just a story from a kids' flick!

Never follow a white rabbit.
Don’t let your stock broker or financial advisor rush you to jump into a decision -- you could end up in a money pit. Think carefully before you make a move, and always feel free to get a second opinion.

Pinch yourself if it feels like you're dreaming.

This Christmas, many of us are thinking DIY gifts and even IOU “time with me” coupons.  While we’re saving money, though, why not take the time to explain to your kids a few important points about this time of year. 

If your child looks up at you with puppy dog eyes, silently pleading for that next gift that won’t come (it wasn’t in the budget), answer that plea with knowledge instead of longing.  After all, Christmas is a time for giving.

In 2006, my husband and I moved back to the Midwest after a whirlwind three years in Seattle.  We loved Washington, but I was homesick for "home" and for family.  Also, we dreamed of owning a home and starting our own family, and the house prices in Seattle were too high for our (very) modest incomes.  So, we packed up our one-bedroom apartment, put our “kids” in the SUV, and drove home. 

A couple of years ago, I found a “free horse.”  She had been emaciated, abused, and then neglected for the first four years of her life.  Eager to provide a better home for her, I took her.

Previously, I had owned horses and I have dealt with many problem horses, but Calypso was different.  Nearly as wild as a mustang and as hungry as a fox in a hen house, I soon became quite aware that there really is no such thing as a “free” horse. She was quickly depleting my horse budget.  More than anything, though, she was eating up my time and energy.

My mortgage and I didn’t always get along.  We had fights, and my mortgage often made me want to cry.  Recently, however, we came to a truce and decided to play nice with each other.  The following is our love story.

The mortgage – let’s call him Bob – and I met over a three-bedroom ranch in small-town Iowa.  We instantly fell in love.  Bob offered me the ability to own a home with the ease of an affordable down payment and low monthly payments, and I offered Bob hefty interest feedings…I mean payments. 

My husband and I have many blessings to be thankful for. We are both healthy, have a new home, no debt, and basically a blank sheet to begin writing our lives upon.

Unfortunately, this blank sheet has been given to us by a passing of a loved one--my husband's father. He was killed in an automobile accident in April. It felt as though I was reading a great novel, turned the next page, and realized the rest never got printed. Where the future pages of his life were left unwritten, those blank pages are now sadly available to us.

My husband and I were both originally raised in sheltered lifestyles, so when we moved to Seattle, WA, in 2002, we were in for some surprises.  From the annual nude bike ride in the Fremont district to four-star cuisine to snow-capped mountains in June, we experienced countless adventures that rivaled our laid-back former lifestyles.  In one adventure, we were buying a used car at a dealership, and our previous sheltered farm existences were challenged.     

Picture it. The suburbs of Buffalo. Summer of 2005. My hubby and I had been married for four years, and I had just got the car of my dreams. A new-to-me, shiny, black VW Beetle was mine (complete with the bud vase and everything!). We had two incomes, ate out a lot, and now I had new wheels. Life was sweet.

Have you ever bought the "cheap" version of something you needed, only to find out a day, month, or even year later that if you'd just paid the premium for the high-quality version it would have saved you money in the end? While we all know that paying attention to costs is important, saving now can easily lead to paying more in the future. Here are a couple of examples from my own experience:

I have a very vivid memory of my twin girls' last birthday party.  You gotta picture it: our modest ranch home packed with close friends and family, balloons galore, pizza, wings, a Caillou cake (which is a story in and of itself!), and about a gazillion presents.  When it came time to open all of those glorious, glittery, girly packages, my gals could hardly contain their joy.  Gleefully, they tore into the presents, tissue and ribbons flying.