In personal finance, as in life in general, you have to be you. I didn’t make much progress in my career back when I was trying to strictly imitate others. It finally occurred to me that the only way I would succeed is if I did it my way. Role models are great. Books and blogs are inspiring. But in the end you have to find your own path. Mr. Moneymustache and the Mad Fientiest have incredible personal finance blogs that have certainly motivated me and countless others, but the winding road I have traveled toward financial independence doesn’t resemble their paths in many ways. If Mr. Money Mustache saw some of my annual spending totals he would punch me in the mouth! And there is no way Mrs. BK2FI would ride a bicycle to buy groceries (she asked me to share that). If the Mad Fientist reviewed my investing history and all of the mistakes I’ve made, he wouldn’t let me in the lab with his guinea pig! Even so, I figured out what worked for me and my family and have stayed the course toward financial independence for 15 years!
Archives for March 2017
In Part 3 of my story, I shared how I made my already disastrous life even worse by trying my hand at the Music Business and going deeply into debt. I had made a total mess of my financial life for sure, and I didn’t know where to start in my quest to climb out of debt and get my financial house in order. I was working as hard as I could, but needed a systematic plan to address my debts or I knew I would continue living paycheck-to-paycheck. That’s when I hit my local book store and found two books that would change my life: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey and The Automatic Millionaire, by David Bach.
In Part 2 I described the crazy amount of debt I incurred during my law school years. I left law school with $170,000 in household school debt and a starting salary of $45,000. But I wasn’t done yet … not even close. You see, when I was in law school I had a professor who told stories about his rock band and the fun they had in the recording studio making music. I had a musical background and I thought that sounded so cool! He offered to sponsor a “record label” self-study course that I would propose for school credit. I had to start a record company and prepare all the associated corporate document, trademark a logo, and prepare a business plan. It sounded a whole lot better than Constitutional Law. In fact, my (then) wife and her brother were singers and musicians and wanted to record a country music record. I jumped in with both feet. [Read more…] about My Story Part 3 – The Music Business Disaster
In Part 1 I shared my early days when I left home, attended college, landed my first job, and got married. I spent one year working in the office of an insurance investigation firm with a $20,000 annual paycheck. My new marriage was unhappy, but I hoped it would get better. I quickly learned that a salary of $20,000 wasn’t going to get the job done. Although I made fun of my humble beginnings in Part 1, the truth is that it would take more than 10 years before my net worth would return to that level again! How is that possible? As you will see, I went on a major borrowing spree.
So, what does a history major do when he can’t think of anything else to do with his degree and he wants to make a lot more money? He applies to law school. [Read more…] about My Story Part 2 – A Way Out
Today I reflect on my ancestors — two brothers who traveled to America from Ireland in 1729. They came here on a boat full of 32 indentured servants looking for opportunity and freedom in America. They landed in Philadelphia, PA then traveled on to Richmond, VA before they found their place of work in North Carolina. I am thankful that I was born here in America where, even today, our best days are ahead notwithstanding all of the doom and gloom you hear in the media. I hope everyone has a happy Friday enjoying time with friends and family. I know I will.
Proverbs 22:6 is pretty accurate. It reads, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Well, I was “trained up” to spend a lot, save very little, and borrow as much as you want as long as you can make the minimum payments. I knew absolutely nothing about money at the age of 17. So as I left home for the first time, my first financial decision was take on an out-of-state tuition school and start a very long relationship with someone named Sallie Mae. Sallie gave me all the money I needed for college. It didn’t even occur to me at the time that I would have to pay her back some day. In fact, I naively assumed my parents would take care of it. I found out the cold hard truth after graduation when mom handed me the Sallie Mae letter.
No problem, I thought. I would land a big job with my marketable history degree and all would be well. To make matters even worse, I decided that right out of school I needed a wife and one of these: [Read more…] about My Story Part 1- The Early Days