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« Lessons from 20 Years of Smart Money | Main | Reader Profile: CH »

September 09, 2012


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I have been a saver my whole life since getting my first job delivering papers before going to school. I met the young girl I am married to when I was 15, we dated for 6 years, seeing each other every day. I married her 56 years ago when I was 21, we sailed away from England 3 months after our marriage and stepped off the boat with $450, a job to go, and lots of dreams. Fortunately for us the immigration quota for Brits was never filled in those days. Today the quota is so small that a special H1B visa is needed and they are very hard to get.

Every payday we would sit down at the kitchen table, and decide how much we could put into savings that week. That was the routine and it continued for our whole working life. We were a typical British couple and continued the roles that were typical in those days. I managed the money, paid the bills, did all the gardening, learned to drive, and disciplined the children. My wife took care of the home, nurtured the children, did the shopping and cooked delicious meals. Gradually we became Americanized, my wife learned to drive, and got a job when the children could be left. We didn't grow up in a society where women worked so I could never bring myself to depend upon my wife's earnings so she saved the bulk of it in separate accounts. All of the money that she saved throughout her working life was invested the same as my own but kept separate and that didn't change until 8 years after we retired in January 2000 when we opened a Living Trust.

As things turned out for us my working life as an aerospace engineer took place during the Cold War when there was a huge shortage of engineers, consequently I have never been out of work a single day. Then when I retired in 1992, Clinton soon became President and the next 8 years were the best the financial markets had in a very long time because of the DOT.COM bubble resulting from the invention of the Internet. The period from 1963 when we bought our first home saw home prices soar right through until about 2006 when the housing bubble burst. The first home we bought for $27K, was sold for $90K, the second was bought for $107K, and is now valued at $1.2M. The result of these two situations couldn't have happened at a better time for us and consequently the approach of "Get Rich Slowly" worked in excess, so we were incredibly lucky. We could have saved far less all those years and things would have still turned out well but the future is ALWAYS unpredictable so you have to plan for the worst while hoping for the best.

The past four years have shown the true colors of not sound and sound principles of ownership and trying to get rich quickly. You cannot legislate wealth in that everyone should be a home owner.Some of the people who failed had little invested so were able to walk away while others got burned severly. People need to have a good foundation built on a rock solid foundation (the rock) in ability, as opposed to the sand (quicksand of get rich quick).

I think with new generations being so used to instant gratification, and get-rich-quick business ideas, people often forget this important point. You don't have to win the lottery, marry someone rich or invent something stupidly profitable; you just have to be smart with you finances and save more than you spend.

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