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Ken Beaton: Do you have 2020 vision?

By Ken Beaton

“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.”

How many 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 Place?”

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.

In February 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.

After 18 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.

Pop retired 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 another Depression!”

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.

Pop wanted 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!”

My parents 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.

Over the 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.”