Thursday, May 28, 2015

Thanking a Mentor

My husband & I are taking a financial planning class at church. We're enjoying it very much and have realized we're kind-of ahead of the curve. We're ahead of where the class says we should be and in this I thank two people, my mom and my former manager Jeff Cole.  Mom for being a hard-working woman who showed us girls that no one owed us a darned thing and if you wanted something, you worked for it.  Jeff for putting me into action.

I've been with my company 20 years.   When I started, I was still married to my ex and our finances were in shambles.  It was about bankruptcy, bounced checks, and constantly getting fired (not me.)  After the divorce, I was a single mom with a pretty decent job, but if I balanced my checkbook and had $10 left after paying bills and buying food, I was doing the happy dance.

In came Jeff Cole.  Jeff had been with our company a while, but had been promoted to a regional management position, which meant he was our new regional manager.  Immediately, IMMEDIATELY, Jeff would speak to all of us about investing in ourselves.  Paying ourselves first by putting money into our savings accounts via direct deposit, investing at least 10% pre-tax in our 401k, having life insurance, etc. etc.  

Over & over, every visit, Jeff would ask if we'd set up the direct deposit, if we'd started 401k. Here I was, 26 years old or so with a kid, ZERO child support,  and not 2 nickles to rub together and this guy wants me to save?  Is he crazy?

He decided to go into business on his own.  Before he left, he had a meeting with me and told me I was getting a substantial raise BUT it came with a caveat; the raise money would be used to fund my savings and 401k.  Basically, I would not feel the raise. The difference would be going into savings and a 401k.  I agreed.  I started saving, investing in our 401k and got myself a life insurance policy with both work and an independent insurance agency and prepaid my son's college in 5 years.

Here I am, 15 years from that conversation, and to this day, I credit him and my mom's common sense inherent in me for not having credit card debt (we have one card debt that we're working down with this class' help - I tend to have $$ and not want to give it up. We also have an old school loan of my husband's and one car payment we're working to eradicate ), for having a 401k in the six digits, for making my husband prove to me 8 years ago when all the real estate craziness was happening that we could make the new house payments on paper and actually getting it done,  for being the one who says "No, we are NOT charging that, we don't need it," for paying for all the furniture in our house with cash, and for taking vacations in cash. (Colorado vacation? Paid for in cash.  We enjoyed ourselves and aren't paying interest months later on it.)

We're not rich.  I had someone tell me years ago  "That's cause you're rich!," a bit snidely I might add.  Combined, we do not make six digits, people.   We  just know how to work with what we've got. We are not slaves to the lenders.  We don't pay interest.  We don't have the money? Guess what, we're not buying it.

I want so much to tell younger people to please invest. Please pay cash, don't charge things, Sacrifice.   Please don't buy a new car and make payments.  Save and buy a used one now, so you can save, trade that in and buy a better one later.  

I blinked and I'm 45.  You'll be here so quickly. 

Thank you Jeff.  Thank you for making a 20-something gal just give up already and invest so you'd stop bugging her already.  My future is here and I'm so grateful.

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