Step 0: What do you think about money?

I have an admission. I am the “spender” in my family. Before I married my AWESOME wife Yayoi, I had wracked up well over $10k of credit card debt. Wait a second, let me write that again and put all the zeros behind to get the message through: OVER $10,000!! And what were the life changing purchases that required me to go so far into debt? Hmm, well it’s been about 14 years, but here is a short list of what I remember buying with my credit card:

Part of the Festival of Frugality #106

  • $1500 A Roland JV80 professional keyboard — I never learned how to play it
  • $400 Portable CD Player – they had just came out, I think I owned like 12 CDs
  • $8100 Clubbing, drinking, girls, clothes, strip joints — you know “the essentials”

So, I can tell you what I was thinking about money. I was thinking that using money to buy things would make me happy. Granted, there is a sense of happiness that comes from buying something new, but everyone knows that when the newness wears off you just have a dusty keyboard in your room that you still don’t know how to play. My point here is that, often people think that money is for buying things to make us happy. Since those early spending days, my thinking has changed. Now I think allot differently about money and things. First, as I stated above, they DON’T make me happy (we can get into what makes me happy in another post). Second, I prefer to have more money than I need from paycheck to paycheck.

Yayoi and I are by no means “RICH”, but we have a nice little sum of money invested in the stock market that I refer to as the “pile”. The other day a co-worker of mine asked me what I was planning to do with my bonus this year to which I replied “put it on the pile”.

Having a pile of money set aside is much more satisfying to me than the quick little “high” I used to get from buying something new. This is not to say that my “pile” makes me happy…but I choose to have a pile rather a lack of a pile. If, for some reason, my pile was gone…I would still be happy (I think Yayoi would be rather upset), and I would start working on a new pile. Having money set aside in various stages on investment provides the benefits listed below and more I have not thought of:

  • Earn interest on (savings, checking, stock investments etc.)
  • USE credit cards all the time and pay off the balance every month…not matter what. Use the “points” to purchase airfare. We volunteer to use our credit cards at work and get paid back in cash or checks down the road…so we get the points!
  • Buy cars by writing a check. You save a TON of money on that interest you don’t have to pay…and one less bill every month.
  • Yayoi’s piece of mind
  • If you lose your job, you can survive for a while without income…you are emergency tolerant.
  • Have almost enough money to pay off your California mortgage in a crappy sub-prime market disaster (whew glad I have a pile!)

Yayoi and I still spend money, just not all of it. Yayoi gets upset if she can’t SAVE her goal every month…which happens when we do some out of the ordinary spending. Here is a list of thing that help us keep the money we have:

  • Cable TV – We get “broadcast basic” and Cable internet – $53 per month – I like to watch TV on DVDs or on the internet (a lot of shows are now web-casted for free).
  • Cell Phones – Yayoi and I both have pay as you go phones and they only cost $20 per quarter. This works for us, because we don’t use our phones that often. Also, are phones are just phones….not toys. Hey, if you want a toy…go for it….we just want phones.
  • Work clothes: Outlet malls – get shirts for work for $6 or $9, shoes—50-75% off, suits $200 per suit for 100% wool (ok that is about what you have to pay to get a good suit, but people pay allot more than that as well)
  • IPOD: Yes I bought an IPOD, but I only paid $2 downloading one TV show. I prefer Podcasts which are all free for now.
  • NFL ticket? – No WAY! I get the NFL field pass which is about $40 per season and you get all the radio broadcasts on the internet. I also got Sirrus Satellite Radio…so I can take football on the road; I think it costs about $13 per month.

What do you think about money? Do you have a pile? Do you want to have a pile? Step Zero is changing the way you think about money. If you are ready to do step Zero, then you have a chance at succeeding in creating that pile of yours.

However, having a pile won’t make you happy (well maybe a little happier) but not truly happy…that is another post. 🙂

8 thoughts on “Step 0: What do you think about money?

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  5. I remember when I changed my attitude about money. It was when I was on my internship before my senior year of college. Real life must have hit me and I started thinking much more seriously about things. I’m definitely glad that I did too.

  6. It is all about the nickle and dimes you are right. Even starbucks is crazy…. if a person buys one $4 coffee a day it is $1,460 per year

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