I’ve been doing a lot or blog reading around the personal finance and frugality realms the past few months. A lot of the content is really good and well written and pretty entertaining.
Well, I was reading a post that said something like “would you watch a show on FI/RE?” and some people replied they would and some said it would be too boring, etc. My big idea came when I thought people might watch it if it was done as a madcap zany comedy! Picture some Goofball like Kevin James from King of Queens or Seth Rogan as Mr. Irresponsible, with the usual suburban set-up where they’re drowning in debt despite the appearance of making a good living. What if Mrs. Irresponsible, the matriarch of this family of 4 with their finances secretly all poon tanged up starts reading these same blogs and joins the community and decides to do something about it?! darn it!
I can picture it now: Mrs. I does a ton of reading and starts commenting and it all gains momentum and she starts her own blog to start making the changes. Pretty soon the thermostat is down to 56 degrees in the middle of winter and Mr. Irresponsible can about see his breath as he eats his dinner of black beans with a glass of water on the side when a week ago it was seared tuna with chardonnay at his favorite restaurant! I’m rolling around laughing my ‘nads off just thinking about it.
Oh, wait, there’s more. She starts selling all his sentimental crap in order to downsize houses and reduce debt, but Mr. I is having none of it! So, that’s the initial idea. Now I just need some big baller like Steve at Think Save Retire to help me get it off the ground. I doubt that will happen because nobody ever reads this damned stuff but you heard the idea here first! 12-22-2017.
What do you think? I’ve got more scenes in mind and I think it could make 97 minutes of pure fun. I’ve noticed one thing in the reading I’ve done around this subject is that some of it is 100% serious. I think a community that can laugh at itself or anyone who can laugh at themselves is better off. It could be like a modern day version of Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell in Overboard.
What Else is New in Smidlap Land?
The selling is going very well. It’s crazy at almost 50 years old how much shit you accumulate. It is very daunting once you get started. I would say we’re sold about 70 items on our Ebay but it might be time to balance this with a bunch of throwing stuff away too. There is a fine line between getting money for that Walter Payton rookie card and wanting all the worthless cards gone.
It’s Christmas time, so Merry Christmas, you hosers. We’re travelling across snowy New York to Saratoga to see some family so that is usually fun.
Mrs. Smidlap had some pretty good success in a couple of art sales so between that and the Ebay we haven’t really noticed her lack of a traditional J.O.B. Turns out they are overrated.
How was your December? Blast away in the comments and let me have it. I can take it. Oh, and here’s another on of the dog.
I was one of those scholarship lucky 18 year olds with a knack for doing standardized tests very well without having to work too hard at it. I also grew up in a small dying town in Upstate, NY with simple values. Looking back it was a decent place to grow up and stay out of trouble. My old man was a prison guard and mom stayed at home and we had the usual “stuff” that any country family had, but we were 6 miles from the nearest town and social time was tough with a corn field on one side, an orchard on another, and a neighbor and some woods on the others. I learned to love sports and even with a homemade training routine was the top cross country runner for 3 years in my crappy little town. I had the grades and credentials and couldn’t wait to get far away from there.
Well, I landed in Norfolk Sucks, Va with a full academic scholarship, excluding room and board. My folks willing threw in their share and I had a couple of reasonable federal student loans (2500/year I think) and off I went from the country to a big crappy violent city. I tried my hand at Division I cross country and was completely overmatched by people who put in the work to be very good at it. My grades were fine but some kind of balance was missing. I think I was expecting Animal House for a social life but it wasn’t exactly that. My grades were fine for a couple of years and I didn’t miss home but didn’t like Norfolk either, although skipping class and going to Virginia Beach had its merits. I didn’t know where I wanted to be but I knew where I didn’t want to be. This showed itself as a common driver over the past 30 years on my path to Financial Independence.
So I transferred schools after 2 years to a fancy liberal arts college in New York State. I had enough credential to go for more prestige in a school but a good friend in Virginia put it accurately: “Fred, what are you going to do? Go to a party at Dartmouth with mustard stained sweatpants?” He had a good point about cultural fit. Me might have said the same about where I landed this time. This time I still got decent grades and was moving along in the program but still had the wanderlust and boredom. I quit after that third year and moved to Buffalo to sleep on a couch in an apartment with Baltimore Hank and his running friends.
The financial impact probably is obvious as I kicked around doing goofy ass jobs in different cities for the next few years before I finally landed a lab job that paid my tuition at the same fancy liberal arts school. It didn’t need to be a cultural fit as I only commuted there within walking distance. My advice to anybody in that early situation is do what you need to just finish the program and then go and screw off where you would have that degree in your pocket throwing off more fun cash than the alternative.
Now, most all the downside to not finishing on time is financial. I still lived on the cheap and had some of the best times of my life without really a care in the world. I drove a series of $1000 cars (in the 90’s you could get a usable car for that) and shared apartments with good friends. The chemical company who hired me and paid my tuition paid enough to get a lot out of my system of the things I felt I missed in my country ass upbringing. I got comfortable in many situations and around all different classes of people. While I was blowing off student loan payments and accruing astronomical interest I learned how the other half lives when I discovered good wine and good food.
It was kind of a curse that a girl who worked in our ghetto wine store turned me on to Stag’s Leap Cabernet and some Oregon Pinot Noir and Bordeaux instead of starting with the cheap crap. I remember my rent was only 150 bucks at the time so it was all affordable and pretty soon I was taking vacations and going to the Beverly Hills Hotel and to Napa Valley wineries. Life seemed good but my finances were taking the savage beating they richly deserved with that behavior. One last upside is that, having gone wild and carefree in so many ways, there is no crisis in my 40’s because I can pretty much say I have been there and done that with regards to many peoples’ bucket lists.
So, that’s how not to start out but this is really a tale of redemption. More on that later.
Frugal Things We Did Before We Knew That Was a Thing
Free Furniture – I likely said we were in the process of selling/ donating/ throwing out a lot of the crap in our house, which is big and full. I got to thinking about it and looking around and at least a lot of it is full of free stuff. Mrs. Smidlap has been a curb shopper on big garbage day for 20 years since she bought the place. We have a whole front porch set-up (wicker chairs, nice metal glider couch, farm table, etc) which cost a total of zero bucks. Some were curb finds and others were cast offs from downsizing family members who were going to junk it. Formal dining room furniture was all cast off stuff too from people who were buying new. This is pretty high quality stuff too that folks are just willing to discard for our enjoyment.
Keep our cars forever – I bought a new little Mazda b2300 pickup in 1995 (no air conditioning and didn’t even come with a radio) and kept it for 15 years. Mrs. Smidlap bought a new car in 2005 that we’re still driving. Like my Owlie’s Dad used to say about a car: “Hone ‘er ’til she don’t.” That is free Vermont gibberish/wisdom that I’m not even charging you for. The bonus is that the little truck was in a New Orleans hailstorm and the insurance paid me a couple of G’s ($1000’s for you gutter snipes) for some little surface dents that was mine to keep. I drank that money, but that was before I was cured of the bad finance habit.
Moral of the Story is Better Late Than Never
I didn’t really get my financial shit together until I met Mrs. Smidlap in 2002 and the first few years was getting to around even. The rest of the race has only taken about 12 years (including the Great Recession). You know what could have derailed all that irresponsible fun for me?
Having a huge house or car debt
Having a spouse who expected me to be responsible (a reasonable requirement)
There’s some food for thought. Got something to say, Smidlapper? Go nuts, I can take it.
p.s. I was having some trouble with WordPress and comments. Could you try and leave a test comment at least and if the site doesn’t allow that, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. thanks for looking in here.