Thursday, February 25, 2016

My Money Fantasy

Today I'd like to discuss a heated topic: MONEY. I've had an unhealthy relationship with money for most of my life. I remember earning and saving money easily during my teenage years and shortly after I got married when life was so simple, but then something happened. I'm not really sure what changed over the years but I have not felt like money has been my ally for some time.I would really like to create a more harmonious relationship with money.I know money can't buy happiness, but happiness can't buy groceries either. Having money can give you options and reduce a lot of stress and misery in your life.

I sometimes find myself being jealous or angry when I see some people who seem to be so prosperous with just about anything they do. This is especially true when they are much younger than me. (Yes I'm talking to those tech nerds who dropped out of college and are billionaires today.) I know appearances are often deceiving and many people who are trying to keep up with the Jones's look good on the outside but are a mess behind the scenes. Even so, some people are able to earn money almost effortlessly and it seems they have the Midas touch while others are killing themselves just trying to survive

Despite my jealousy of the rich and the financial inequality that exists in the world I still have a hard time blaming the rich for my problems. I have noticed that is an increasing popular philosophy and political tactic these days. I know there are some super rich people who are dishonest and corrupt but that doesn't apply to most wealthy people. I also don't believe in scarcity mentality or that there is just a fixed amount of pie for us to all share. Anyway this is not a political rant. It is about my fantasy.

For the longest time I've had a recurring dream about getting a large briefcase full of cash. It is a metal briefcase with locks and is full of at least $75,000, but probably much more. I imagine what bills I would pay off with it and what repairs I would make and how much stress it could alleviate from my life.
As appealing as this fantasy scenario is to think about, I know there is no such thing as a free lunch and money should be earned and not just wished for. Aside from the integrity issue with this money for nothing scenario, I have an even greater concern about how this could actually happen. If you came across a suitcase full of money up in the mountains or wilderness what would you do? You know if you took it to whatever federal agency had jurisdiction of that area you would not see one cent. Would you put an ad in the paper or turn it over to the police? If you decided to just take it, then you would be looking over your shoulder forever. You could pretty much count on this guy showing up within a day or two no matter how careful you were.

Since it is my responsibility to provide for my family, I've tried to improve my finances by utilizing programs for money management over the years. Dave Ramsey's "Financial Peace University" is very thorough but I tire of hearing him talk down to people whose financial lives are a mess and tell people to go deliver pizzas and eat rice and beans. He speaks the truth but it is harsh and often unpleasant to hear. He also focuses on just debt reduction. I recently used another course called "Turn Your Debt into Wealth" by John Cummuta and it was pretty solid and he does not try to sell you anything either, just good information. Another program I thought was helpful was Financial Fitness by Life Leadership. They provide 47 laws of financial fitness and address the offense and defense of finances so it's not just about budgeting and paying off debts.

As appealing as it is to wish for money, I'm afraid the keys to good finances boils down to the following:

  • Providing others with a product of service of value that they are willing to compensate you for.
  • Having a healthy relationship with money and realizing it is just a tool. 
  • Being a good steward of your resources and budgeting and using them responsibly.
  • Blessing and helping other people with your wealth which definitely includes giving me a briefcase full of $75,000. ( I would even pay taxes on it.)
You never know if names like Gates, Buffett,  Branson, Walton, Dell, or Zucherberg may be reading this so it doesn't hurt to ask. 

PS- Thanks in advance and please don't forget the metal briefcase. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

My Silverware and Middle Earth

My family has gone through a lot of silverware over the last 25 years. I'm afraid our silverware drawer is made up of two or three different sets with several more stray pieces thrown in so our flatware doesn't always match. I think we may even have a few spoons that pre-date the Civil War. Since we don't entertain guests in the formal dining hall with polished silver like they do on Downton Abbey, it's not really a big deal. I'm usually just happy to find some kind of clean implement I can use to shovel food into my mouth but sometimes I can get picky since some of our eating utensils bug me.

My in-laws have amazing flatwear. Each piece feels like a work of art since they are the perfect size,  with ideal weight, ergonomics, and balance. It is truly a therapeutic experience and good for your soul to eat with their silverware. Anyway, back to our crappy silverware...I am including a picture of the variety of styles of silverware found at my house. Some of these remind me of different characters or realms from The Lord of the Rings. I'm including a reference photo below so you can see what I'm talking about. 

The first 4 items on the top row represent the more slender, long, filigree style which remind me of elves. The next 6 spoons are just to show you how many different unmatched styles of spoons we have. The bottom 5 are wimpy fairy utensils and make me feel like a little child when I use them. The last three represent the gigantic troll or heavy dwarf spoon, knife, and fork. I prefer utensils made for the kingdom of men which are the three in the center of the bottom row. When my kids set the table and I sit down to a lame fork and spoon I remind them that I am not an elf or a dwarf I tell them to find me a fork worthy of King Aragorn. They know what that means and usually find me items from the human collection.

After starting this post I came across some Elven flatware on the Internet. I've attached a picture of it so you can see the distinct  elegant style an elf would use. I'm afraid I'd have to grow my hair out and pluck my eyebrows before I could use the set below.

Until the day finally comes when I have a fine set of matching silverware to rule them all, I will just need to keep switching forks and spoons with the other place settings when I sit down to a meal. My other option is to just eat with my hands like Gollum. He never had such first world problems.