Monday, November 25, 2013

500 Posts: A Time for Reflection

I knew that I was approaching 500 posts on the blog, but I didn’t notice I had past that milestone until I hit 502. It seems like a good time to pause and reflect both on the past and on the future. Those of you have been around for a while know the history of this blog. If not, here is a link to a post I wrote back in July 2010 at the 125 post marker. It seemed like a lot of writing at the time.

A Word About What is Happening Here

I saw so many people causing themselves so much avoidable pain I just had to do something to help.

It all comes down to the money equation.

Money In = Money Stored + Money Out

Pretty simple isn’t it? Over 500 articles fall under one or some combination of the three components to the equation. Some of this material contains very basic teachings. Some of these posts successfully condense complex subjects into simple metaphors. Some seem (at least to me) a bit tedious and academic in nature. Some are a bit abstract and philosophical. On rare occasions I write red faced rants aimed at some outrage or injustice.

I was fortunate enough to be raised in a family that understood how to make certain less money went out than came in. It is a joke in my family that we know how to squeeze a nickel so hard that the buffalo bellows. I was also raised with a third generation fear of debt. During a boom time when other farmers were taking on more debt to buy more land, my grandmother was convincing my grandfather to pay down the debt on the farm. She was right. My family was one of only two families in their part of the county to hold on to their farm throughout the depression. This story was told over and over again at our dinner table. In fact, at age 62 I am blessed to still hear the family stories from my parents. I was also raised by parents who believed whole heartedly in the Protestant work ethic. They might have gone a little overboard making certain that I understood the connection between work and money, but I wasn’t surprised by the world when I was finally out on my own.

I was raised to love and respect education. It is the only way I knew how to jump start the “money in” side of the equation as I moved through my life and my career. The rules have changed. Another degree is no longer a guarantee of anything for most people, other than student debt. I have spent a great deal of time in an effort to understand the rules of the new economy. I have tried to study what is working and what is not working. As I have learned I have tried to share my findings with you, my readers.

Finally, over the last ten or twelve years, I have learned a lot about the discipline of investing. A member of my family is born knowing how to squirrel away money in a bank account. I had to learn what to do with it once I had it. I have been blessed. I am thankful. Now I try to share what I have learned with others, particularly the young. The guarantees I grew up with are gone. I expected that health insurance would always come free with my job. That is no longer the case. Even though my former employer is paying two thirds of my health insurance premium, my share is my largest regular monthly expense. The guaranteed pension is a relic of the past. Saving for retirement is now your responsibility. Social Security? Well I think Social Security will remain in one form or the other no matter what happens, but expect the payments to get smaller. Expect the age for full retirement to increase.

I don’t really know all my readers. One of the disappointments I have faced as I have continued to write the blog is a lack of comments. I have found that people are just about as unlikely to share their money mistakes and problems as they are to share the intimate details of their sex lives. The only readers I am sure I have are the ones who communicate directly with me in person, by telephone, or other means of electronic communication. Some of the posts I have written were written for specific individuals facing specific problems. In some cases I know they have been read and I know the results. In other cases, I can only guess.

If you are having problems with money, I am writing this blog for you. If you want to jump to a higher level, I am writing this blog for you. If you stuck in a dead end, I am writing this blog for you. Overall, I address most but not all the components for a balanced life. Obviously this blog addresses personal finance, business, and career issues. It also touches on personal spiritual issues and how they interact with more worldly concerns. Finally, they consider your legacy. You will carry what you contribute to this world during your life into eternity. While I am writing as a Christian, I think my readers who walk other paths will understand the truth contained this passage.

1 Corinthians 3:11-15

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ
If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,
their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.
If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.
If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

When I give away a Silver Eagle, it comes with a notebook. The recipient is instructed to write down something they have learned about money every day. If they face a problem they don’t understand, they are instructed to ask God for wisdom. One of the recipients asked me if I kept a notebook. The question caught me off guard, but I quickly realized this blog is my notebook. I am just sharing everything I have learned with you, my readers.

I am still learning. If you read all 500 posts you will notice my understanding of these subjects continues to deepen with time and experience. I don’t have all the answers, but I continue to study, every day. I even study authors with whom I have serious disagreements. Bruce Lee said it very nicely, “Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, and add what is uniquely your own.”

Go thou and do likewise.

No comments:

Post a Comment