February 20, 2011

Subway Jackpot!!

It has a 3.0 liter in line 6 double overhead cam with VVT, 315 horses with 330 ft lb of torque, wishbone front suspension with stabilizer bar and air springs, a diversity antenna, telematics, and a 21.7 gallon fuel tank. Folks, it’s here, the 2011 BMW 7 Series 740LI Sedan! Not only will I never own one, but I have no clue whatsoever as to what any of those specs mean, except for the size of the fuel tank, I got that one.

When I was finishing up my studies at the world’s finest institution of higher learning, I was interviewing for a job in the financial services world and the interviewer was apparently trying to get me to visualize the potential for vast wealth I would acquire by working for his “prestigious” firm. The arrogant interviewer asked me what my dream car was. I think I caught him a little off guard when I told him that in all honesty, my dream car was a 1998 Nissan Altima with automatic windows and door locks. “I’m a lucky man, because my dream car is sitting in your parking lot and the keys are in my pocket,” I told him. (BTW, Weber State is the answer to the “finest institution of higher learning” question, in case there was any doubt in your mind.)

It’s not that I have anything against fancy cars, or the people who drive them. I think it’s splendid that we live in a country where people are permitted to acquire and distribute wealth as they please and I hope they continue to do so at a rapid rate (as long as they put it on their American Express cards). As I express my opinions, I hope not to offend any of my 6 or 7 readers who might disagree with my views on the optimal distribution of my hypothetical “Subway Windfall”.

So you already know that I wouldn’t put my $5,000 towards the purchase or lease of a fine automobile, let me share a few other items that would not fall on my wish list. Again, please do not take offense if you own or have plans to purchase any of these items. Designer jeans, fine art, high end furniture, pretty much any item that could be purchased on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, food priced at more than $50/plate, stock in Atari Corporation, and this dessert: Click here for ridiculousness

I’m like you, Jessica. I’m a saver. I don’t mind spending money. I just don’t like feeling like I took one in the tailpipe. I’m all about Western Family, Groupons, and TJ Maxx. I just can’t stand feeling like I paid too much for something. If I had a dime for every hour I’ve spent haggling over the price of fake Oakley sunglasses in Nogales and Tijuana, I’d have at least enough money to buy another pair of those hideously ugly and ridiculously cheap knock-offs. I realize that my “frugality” might be disconcerting to some, but I think it’s just in my jeans (Old Navy). It’s also in my genes (you ever talk to Sister Poll about money?).

So without further adieu, here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for………the answer to the million-dollar question (or $5,000 question) is SIM. Yes, you got it, I would buy $5,000 worth of SIM cards. They’re the new baseball cards, trade em’, collect em’, and save em’. One day they’ll sell for tens of dollars on eBay. Okay, so that was a lie, SIM is a recently created acronym, and I’ll tell you what it means in just a second.

We live in a nation of spenders, consumers, and entitlement. When I see someone driving their BMW 740LI, I say to myself, he’s no better than me, if he can afford that, so can I. To me, the ability to “afford” an automobile has absolutely NOTHING to do with the minimum payment or the lease payment. In my world, the ability to “afford” a car has everything to do with a sufficient amount of funds in my checking account to cut a check for the full price of the car and thus avoid paying interest on a depreciating asset which interest cannot be written off come April 15.

After graduating from Weber State, I worked for two years as a Financial Advisor. What an awesome job for a 23-year-old kid to have! I was starting my career and almost all of my clients were retired or knocking on the door of retirement. For two years I listened to people tell the story of their financial life. I’ve gotta tell you, “The Millionaire Next Door” hits the nail on the head. If you haven’t read it, click here: The Book. Buy it and read it.

Let me tell you the story of two 50 something year olds. The first, we’ll call him Chestinald (a combination of Chester and Reginald -don’t try to steal it, we’re using it for our firstborn-) had a high annual income ($100k +), he drove a nice car and had a big truck. He owned his own construction company and lived what many would consider a pretty good life. When we got down to brass tacks and looked at his total net worth, let’s just say it was yet to reach 6 digits. We had to have a very tough conversation. I explained to him that he was nowhere near retirement and that he was in need of some major lifestyle changes if he ever wanted to retire.

Now let’s talk about Henrob (Henry + Bob –our second born-). Henrob was about the same age as Chestinald, but he was already retired. His annual income when he had been working was much less than what Chesty was making, but there was a two digit difference in their net worth. Henrob was worth well over $1 million, and he was living the leisurely life of a retired man in St. George, UT.

What, you ask was the difference between these two non-fictional characters with fictional names? Well, it’s the SI in the aforementioned “SIM” acronym. SAVE and INVEST! Henrob was a meticulous saver and Chestinald was an unscrupulous spender. Henrob bought investment grade bonds, while Chestinald was more worried about bail bonds. I just realized that this post is way too long for anyone to read, so if I come to an abrupt end, I’m sorry. I think I may have gotten a little carried away. Suffice it to say that I learned a great lesson from Henrob and Chestinald. The lesson I learned is that I don’t want to be like either of them. However, I definitely want to lean more towards Henrob’s end of the spectrum.

Saving and investing is SO important, especially for those of us who aren’t working for companies that provide a defined benefit pension (if you’re not sure what a defined benefit pension is, that means you don’t have one). It’s basically an antiquated plan that guaranteed employees income for the rest of their lives. These were common in the days when people would work for one company for 35 years and retire with them. They destroyed the balance sheets of countless companies and are all but extinct these days. We now have the 401k. I can’t believe I’m still writing. I promise to stop soon.

So here it is, for those of you still reading (I know it’s probably only my wife and my mom). SIM: S=Save, I=Invest and M=MEMORIES!! If I do spend my money on something, I want to spend it creating memories. My Grandma and Grandpa Marler, the same Grandma who inspired me to write this blob, have constantly taught me the value of memories. As they look back on a wonderful life filled with amazing experiences and an incredible family, the most important things to them are the memories that they have created with us. When they leave this world, the most important legacy they can leave behind is not a vast mountain of wealth, it’s a treasure trove of priceless memories. Every time I talk to my Grandpa on the phone, we talk about a round of golf down in Arizona, the rides he’d give us on the riding lawn mower at Bear Lake, or the ceramics we used to paint with Grandma. He also tells us stories about the trips that he and my grandma took before I was around. They relish in those memories. There is nothing in this entire world that is more valuable to my grandparents than the memories they have with each other and with their families.

If I found $5,000 on the subway, I'd probably save some, invest some, and then use whatever I had left to create some unforgettable memories with my wonderful wife. Hopefully, one day I'll be telling my grandkids about the amazing trips I took with their grandma. If everything comes together like I plan, I'll actually be retired when those grandkids are coming to visit and I'll have all the time in the world to spend creating memories with them. So there you have it folks. SIM: Save, Invest, and Make Memories. Emily and I are currently in the process of trying to decide where to make our next batch of vacation memories. If you have any ideas, please feel free to share. Just so you know, a visit to Grandma and Grandpa Marler in Arizona is DEFINITELY on the memories list for this year! I love you Grandma and Grandpa!!