#65 Use More Than Dollar Signs To Assess Value

This past year your father and I have had to consistently ask ourselves what things in our life have the most value. We certainly aren’t made of money and when bills pile up, namely those student loans that allowed us to experience some great years that helped to shape who we would become–both in and out of the classroom–it is often easy to start adding $ signs to find value in the things around us. If that wasn’t enough, the media, internet, advertising, and just about every piece of printed material out there is in one way or another telling us to place value in life’s monetary gains and “status symbols”.

I won’t lie, a Corvette would be nice, and probably have at least some temporary value to me. However, every time we sit down and really talk about it, your father and I consistently find that the most valuable things–the things WE want to invest in– have no dollar value attached to them. The things we find most valuable to us always tends to be our faith in God, our positive relationship with each other, YOU and being active participants in your life our pets (and yes they DO require a dollar commitment), satisfaction withour jobs, and also our relationship with friends and family.

Before I start sounding like a feel-good family TV show (or maybe I’m too late for that), let me tell you that keeping the VERY valuable things the center of our focus isn’t always easy. THey aren’t valuable in a measurable way that perhaps an expensive piece of jewelry or set of new top of the line golf clubs are. However, their value is measured in the way these things make us feel, the way they keep our hearts living passionately, the way that they give us constant peace of mind.

Whenever I contemplate getting a higher paying job — that would allow us some “valuable”items – I realize that it would take me away form you and also away from a job that I have now that I really love. No amount of money could make me feel as good as spending a day with you–and working at a job where I feel I really have a chance to make a difference in the world.

My rambling is about done. What I’m trying to say is to always make sure when you consider what is valuable to you — look deeper than the attached % sign. WE all love new “things” — and I’m not telling you to never splurge. Just always remember that value can be measured in laughter, hugs, kisses, hear warming (and a few heart-wrenching) moments — it can be measured in time with a good companion and in so many ways that dollar signs can never add up to.

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#52 Save For Retirement Starting With Your First Pay Check

Saving. Our world has a problem with always living in the now. Why do you think the internet is so successful? Everyone can get things they want..Right Now. With money though, please think into the “later” part of things. Putting away a little money now leads to happiness later. Don’t rely on social security–it will be long gone before you are old enough to collect. Don’t think someone else is going to save for you. Chances are they aren’t. Starting with that first dollar you make designate yourself some savings.

Your dad and I aren’t rich but we know the importance of securing our own future. Some day we would love to spend our time baby sitting our grand children, watching sunsets fall, and yelling at kids we don’t know to get off our perfectly manicured lawn. That will never happen if we don’t put aside our dollars now. There is a reason we don’t have car payments or credit card debt. There is a reason we aren’t currently in a $200,000 house. We want to be able to enjoy our old age and we are able to enjoy our life now with our simple but sweet life.

When you have your first “real job” pay your bills, put aside for retirement, put aside for God, and then see what you have left. As you grow we will be covering this again. Your future self will thank you for it.

(Due to a mix of writers block, business, and life I have skipped a couple pieces of advice from Regina Brett’s article..upon which this post is an elaboration. You may read her article full of great adviceĀ here.)

#50 Pay Off Your Credit Cards Every Month

We are skipping advice #4 in the column because I covered it in a very similar fashion in advice #9 Laugh Every Day.

Number 5 is “Pay off your credit cards every month.”

Better yet kid, pay with cash. Living within your means is just that–spending what you have. Of course when you do things like go to college or buy a house some long term loans will most likely be involved. However, if you max out your credit card in the first month you get it–you won’t be paying it off soon unless you waited until you were a doctor to get a credit card.

Credit cards can be used to serve a purpose. In college I charged my gas each month to a credit card so that I essentially got my fuel bill in one monthly statement. What I didn’t do was buy the latest designer purse or dinner for myself and 20 friends because at the end of the month I knew that I would never be able to pay it off.

When you don’t manage to pay your card off–the credit company starts making money in the form of interest. They can charge you a percentage of what you owe and tack that amount on top of your balance for the next month. This is how you quickly get into a hole.

I am proud to say that your father and I have no credit card debt. We both have credit cards which we use occasionally. However it is usually a planned expense or a complete emergency (and not a hunger craving emergency). We do pay off our card EVERY month if we even have a balance. Until you have enough self control to spend your CASH responsibly you have no need for a credit card. Get a budget, live on cash, and then get yourself a credit card (having a credit history when you are a responsible card user can be in your favor). Pay off your card every month!! If you can’t pay off your card every month then get rid of it.

I do acknowledge that their are exceptions to every rule–however I thoroughly believe in this piece of advice when applied to a typical life scenario.

(This post is an elaboration on an article written by Regina Brett which can be read inĀ here.)