Did You Think to Get Your Financial Shit Together Your Life Must Be Boring?
That photo above probably looks like a train wreck to a lot of people. Look at all those degenerates and reprobates. Maybe you’re into good clean living and good for you if that’s the case. I wish you the best with it. My point is that is not a prerequisite to stay home and play scrabble in between prayers and have bread and water and beans for every meal. The Smidlap family is living proof that you can have a blast of twisted up, hide the women and children level fun in life and still save and invest. I am not advocating that anyone act like us or be like us in any way. I would never be so arrogant as to think our way would be of any use to anybody else. That’s why I’ll go back to the word “independence” again and again. Just own your life and actions and decide for yourselves what works best for your situation.
I Started Off a Little Slow on Getting it Together
I was living in the pictured dump apartment in Upstate, NY in the early 90’s with a couple of friends. I don’t think we paid more than 140 bucks apiece in rent and that looks about right for a place in the student ghetto at that time. I might have had 20k in student loans which I was not paying regularly but had just scored a technician job at a local chemical company doing research and development. Oh, I also hadn’t yet bothered to graduate from college despite already being in my mid 20’s. I was also driving a 300 dollar Chevette that I bought from my father. I was irresponsible (although very fit at this time) but at least wasn’t making matters any worse. We all had an absolute blast and did it all on the cheap and without hurting anyone. I avoided the big anchors like car payments, house payments, kids, and a spouse so there was plenty of time to screw around and get it back right later. This went on for about 6 years until I graduated and said goodbye to my job and moved to New Orleans.
The New Orleans experience is a whole book in itself but if you’ve ever been there you have some idea of the level of debauchery that takes place on a daily basis. I saw and did things that would make a billy goat puke, for sure. I just worked as a bartender and felt after 2 years like I hadn’t worked a day. It was just enough money to have a great time but I still wasn’t taking care of those loans or saving anything. I was just squeezing the juice out of life and living in the French Quarter near Bourbon Street where people like to go on vacation. Eventually it was time to leave and I ended up back in NY State at another Chemist job and a fantastic little $600 apartment in a neighborhood so nice that I didn’t even lock the doors when I left town for a trip. Oh, as a side note: you must already know it’s not recommended by anyone, ever, to just leave jobs when you don’t have another one lined up. I did this every single time and between that and not keeping my mouth shut I’m sure it cost me dearly in salary over the years. So, I had graduated from beer to wine (with a lot of Wild Turkey on the rocks in NOLA) so my expenses has blown up a little. The rocker lifestyle was still solidly in place and I’m sure my neighbors on Mansion Row hated me being around and not even having curtains in the apartment for a long time. I would just go to work and in the evening walk downtown for a couple of drinks and pick up a steak and bottle of wine and go home and serve it up. It was a little Shangri La, living on steak and wine and ice cream. I even made a few student loan payments and manged to meet the future Mrs. Smidlap in a whiskey bar. Turns out she was a big rock’n’roller cut from the same cloth.
Finding a Like-minded Partner in Crime
Fast forward about a year and I was moving into the Mrs. Smidlap estate. It turns out she was a real frugal bad-ass in many ways. Being an artist, she rented a 300 dollar apartment in the ‘hood where she had her paint studio and cooked on a hot plate for about 10 years in order to save up a downpayment on the estate. Houses were dirt cheap back then and she was managing an independent record label and we really saw eye to eye on how to live our lives. By around this time I ended up here at Big Brother Corporation making more steam than I had in my whole life. This is when the 2 income thing really started to shine for us and we saw the opportunity to really get serious about our finances. That was only about 12 years ago and we did plenty of fun activities like big west coast wine trips once a year and even a trip to La Rioja region and San Sebastian in Spain. Being on the guest list of the rock venue was a nice perk of hers and we had lots of parties and gave good gifts and ate and drank very very well. This whole time we were still saving like crazy and getting the 401’s and Roths funded and rolling along like a juggernaut. We were never deprived of anything (but a little depraved) and still managed to put it all together. This isn’t supposed to be impressive in any way. It’s just a way of saying no matter what holes you may have dug or how you may have lived your life, you can still have a very sound financial situation. We weren’t breaking the bank and both had soundly middle class jobs. It takes an independent spirit and some self-education but the rest was really kind of easy with a little patience. Hell, man, if we can you it, you might be surprised at what you can do.
How about you? Were you ever a big bad irresponsible pimp with your money? Are you hoping to change it up and get on track. I hope so. Even rockers sleep better at night with a little security.