Five Fabulous Financial Moves

Life is full of decisions. As you come to them – you make them, the best you can, with what you know and have at the time. Some of them turn out to be gems, others are more like dog poop. Looking back over my adult life from the ripe old age of 63, highlighted some of my and my spouses finest financial moments in bold relief. Some other day, we’ll talk about the dog poop side of things!

These are the things that we did right that moved us along to financial independence. Maybe they will work for you as well, but always consider your own situation and get the best advice about your own moves that you can. These things aren’t at all unusual, you have probably already read about them and maybe you are already doing them. They certainly aren’t complex or hard to understand. However, they are very effective if you can pursue them with diligence and long lasting persistence.

Lived within our means.
Although it was never a conscious decision, we both felt strongly that we should not indulge our wants if we couldn’t afford them. This was probably thanks to the way we were raised. It’s difficult when you are first starting out and you have little or less than little. You are used to your parent’s standard of living and have to take a step back to what you – without their help – can now afford. It hurts a bit. Pride is what kept us in line. We were too proud to borrow money – either from family, friends, the government, or the banks. We wanted to know that we could take care of ourselves and not have to depend on anyone else.

Avoided credit card debt.
Back in the day, when we started college, on campus marketer’s handed out credit cards like candy. We we each accepted gasoline cards – like Standard Oil (remember them?). After we married, we used those cards. Hubby joined the Army and we lived off base. His pay was about two grand a YEAR. In order to get back and forth to the base, he would charge the gas all month. Oh, and by the way, this was during the Arab Oil embargo years. When payday came, it would take most of his monthly Army check to pay off the credit card balance – but we did it.

We were lucky to have started married life debt free and we wanted to stay that way. We were very aware of all of the terribly high interest rates folks paid when they carried balances on their cards and thought people were pretty stupid for not paying them off.

Scouted, trained for and landed in a good paying industry.
I graduated from college with a liberal arts degree – worthless in the job market in the early 70’s recession. After bearing and raising kids for 10 years, it was time to go back in the job market. Instead of looking for a job to fit my college major, I scouted around to see what the highest paid and most numerous jobs were. At that time, data processing/computer programming was the field to know (and guess what – it still is!). I ran a licensed day care home for 4 years to earn enough money to go to Junior College to pick up an associates in computer processing. I was able to land a job right away and my salary and responsibilities went up and up and up from there.

Invested for the long term.
With my career going so well, we finally had some extra money. Instead of spending it, we invested. We invested with the mentality that the assets would be around still in 20 – 30 years. We invested all dividends and interest. We left the money invested even while paying for our kids college educations – using current income for that. We wanted to know that, when we got ready to start using those assets, we would not have to use the principal. It’s working so far!

Gave the next generation a leg up.
It seems that (at least so far) we have made more good financial decisions than bad. We have been fortunate in our health and in growing our portfolio. Our thing is to put our family in the driver’s seat financially for generations to come. We started that by giving our next generation a leg up. We paid their college, we helped with cars and/or houses and we have gifted each year. We want our kids, grandkids and great-grandkids to not only have money, but to have it soon enough for it to make a good difference in their lives. We want them to understand how to earn it, manage it and use it for their own and the world’s betterment.

Of course there were other decisions along the way, such as ditching Microsoft stock; pulling all bank funds together to buy CDs during the stagflation years; deciding to speak up at work to keep perks that eventually ended up allowing me to get stock options; using financial institutions that didn’t charge fees; avoiding recurring bills and splurges on new technology; prudence in discretionary spending and etc.

But, when all is said and done, the above five decisions stand out in bold relief in my mind as the ones that got us to financial independence.

Do you have fabulous financial moves in your past? What were they?

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