“So, how ya doin’?” I mean, “How many firsts have you done in the past 99 days of April? Are any family members residing in the new flower bed in your backyard? Humor has been my survival tool for “shelter in place.”
firsts have you done in the past six weeks? Did you count the strawberry seeds
in a pint basket of strawberries? Raise your hand if you’ve listened to an
entire robo call? Did you misdial a phone number and have a five-minute conversation
with the stranger who answered their phone? Are you having fun, “Shelter in
Allow me to
share my dad with you. “Pop” was born in 1916 which made him 13 1/2 when the
stock market crashed on Oct. 29, 1929. He quit school after the eighth grade. In
1930 he was 6’ 2” and 170 pounds. At 14 he worked for his 19-year-old brother,
Ralph. They carried 50-pound blocks of ice up two or three flights of stairs to
be placed in the customer’s “ice box.” An ice box kept perishable food items cool
until the ice melted. In the 1930s very few homes had an electric refrigerator.
1935 Pop was accepted into the Civilian Conservation Corps. He received his clothing,
food, housing, medical and dental and $1 a day wage. Each month $25 of his $30
was sent home to help feed his dad and siblings.
months in the CCC, Pop enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard in September 1936. He
retired on Oct. 31, 1956 as a Chief Warrant Officer 2, with 20 years of
service. He didn’t believe in collecting unemployment. Pop worked a “bottom of
the barrel” job, stamping out auto body parts. He was paid “piece work” for two
years. In 1958 Pop was hired as a mechanical inspector for Metcalf & Eddy
Construction. M&E was a defense contractor constructing anti-missile sites
at Tule Air Force Base, Greenland, 500 miles above the Arctic Circle.
and parents moved to Carson City in 1981. Every Sunday we ate dinner at my
house, family time. Over the next 17 years we had conversations while we ate.
On several occasions, Pop made the statement, “What our country needs is
Now, Pop was
not a Ph.D. economist. His statement was NOT a wish for another severe economic
downturn, but a deep concern for our citizens developing more responsible
spending habits. Most people spend their money differently after a financial
downturn. Pop knew “home equity loans” were not a sound financial decision. Your
house is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it at a particular
moment in time. Forget about what homes similar to yours were selling for yesterday.
You can’t spend yesterday’s equity.
every American citizen to experience making sound spending decisions. Don’t spend
money you don’t have. Remember, there’s no such thing as “free money!”
taught by example. Rule number one, pay yourself first which means save your
money. You’ve worked hard earning it.
I knew a
World War II vet who returned home in 1946, used his GI Bill to graduate from
the University of Wisconsin and became a successful businessman. He told me, “Take
care of the bottom line, and the bottom line will take care of you.” Read the
previous sentence at least once a day.
From 1994 to
1998, I paid off my second wife’s debts that were in my name. Next, I began to
pay me, savings. Gradually, I converted my Individual Retirement Account to a
Roth IRA paying the taxes each time I converted to my Roth IRA. There’s no tax
liability whenever the taxpayer withdraws money from their Roth IRA.
In 1991, I
bought a 1964 Oldsmobile Cutlass convertible and relived my teen years. Over
the next 14 years, I spent $50,000 restoring the car. It was a weapon!
To make a
long story short, I sold the Cutlass during the 2005 Hot August Nights for
$20,000. I lost $30,000 on the car. However, I had $2,143 of fun for each year
I drove it. I invested the $20,000 in municipal bonds. Over the past 15 years
I’ve received tax-free monthly interest payments totaling $20,000.
next days, weeks, months, years and decades, everyone will need to reach deep
inside himself or herself to find the strength to stay focused and informed. “Obstacles
are what you see when you take your eyes off you goal.”