Historical perspective on money and personal debt

Hey John, ( and anybody else who cares to listen) ūüôā

This picture caught my eye the other day and I wanted you to  see it.

I wanted to plant a financial seed in your minds eye if I may. ūüôā

It is the home of Dr Lebron Lackey, still standing after a 250 mph hurricane.¬† Notice his neighbors…

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When I was studying early Iowa history one of the things that struck me, (and we never covered in school), was the number of other recessions and depressions that had taken place.

All I had ever learned about was The Great Depression of 1929.  

We never talked about the Panic of 1837, that lasted until 1843 – (6 years).

“The Panic of 1837 was one of the longest and deepest depressions of the 19th century. It was a period of pronounced deflation and massive default on debt.”

Then came the the Panic of 1857¬† that¬† didn’t really turn around until after¬† the Civil War – (7 years).

“…the years immediately preceding the Panic of 1857 were prosperous, many banks, merchants, and farmers had seized the opportunity to take risks with their investments and as soon as market prices began to fall, they quickly began to experience….. financial panic”.

Or The panic of 1873 that lasted until 1879   (6 years).

Since you didn’t bring this topic up, I am kind of reluctant to get too preachy,¬† but knowing what I know,¬† it would be just wrong of me to not say something.

Back in¬† January of 2014, I was¬† at my wit’s end (financially).¬† To use a word picture at the time,¬† I felt like I was flying a 747 and we were about 10 to 15 feet above the ocean.

Yes we were still in the air, and yes we were still moving, but the waves were lapping at the wings, and I was tired.¬† ¬†Being self employed, my income can vary a lot from year to year…as much as a 1/3.¬† ¬†I¬† sat down, crunched some numbers and realized we had been spending $700 a month more than I was making for a couple of years.¬† Our budget was based on the incomes of better years. Those extra expenses were going¬† fun things like heating bills, medical bills and medical insurance.

We’ve never been big on going out to eat, yada, yada….

So there you go, and it was right in the midst of that craziness that I came across the book by Mary Hunt called  Debt Proof Living.

Within a month of reading it, I had hope.  Finally had some practical ideas on how to get some distance between myself and the water.

Our income hasn’t change all that much, but (knock on wood) we’ve been able to pay off all of the credit card debt, our car loan, a line of credit loan, and the loan to build that little extension on my shop.¬† Over $30,000 worth of debt, on the same income…we switched medical health insurance coverage that saved us $400 a month, and replaced the 20 year old furnace/ shut off the heat to the 2nd floor of our home and whacked another $300 a month off expenses.

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So when I see that picture of the house still standing when the neighbors have all been blown away, I see someone making different financial decisions than the rest of the culture.

Pop culture says, debt is just a normal part of life.

I say we are living in a fools paradise.

Historically, things go in cycles.

We are way past due for another financial $@#% storm.

Get out of debt and stay out of debt.

It is possible to raise a family on one blue collar income.

You can take that to the bank.

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Growing up with big ears

Yesterday son John and I worked together hanging drywall.¬† He said he liked the picture I’d put on Facebook¬† the night before….(my grandpa’s baby picture).

I said to John,¬† I just wish someone would have told me when I was growing up, big¬† ears ran in the family.¬† ¬†ūüôā

Growing up I hated my ears.  I was ashamed of them. Kids called me monkey.  I swore that I would have plastic surgery when I grew up.  Funny thing is, when I could finally gets my hands on the $3000  I needed for plastic surgery, I had to stop and think about it.  They no longer bothered me.  My ears are just a part of what makes me, me.  -)

I’ve been working on family history this winter as I’ve mentioned recently and one of my dad’s baby pictures caught my eye.

I posted this series of photos on Facebook for my peep earlier this week:

Grandpa

Dad

Me

Son John

John’s son

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Growing up, my self esteem sucked.¬† No other way to put it.¬† I had a terrible case of low self worth.¬† I didn’t realize just how bad it was until I became an adult.

I hated my ears, I hated my name.  I hated the fact that I was small for my age growing up, not good at sports like my little brother.  I was different than him. I had a musical bent.  A sensitive heart. And I was clueless when it came to girls.

Low self esteem casts a long shadow.

It affects all your relationships.

Low self worth is  a festering wound in the soul.

I no longer battle with the self esteem issues I had growing up.

Restoring self worth in others is one of my passions.

A part of me would love to start a support group for kids who think they have big ears.

Question for you…What would you tell that little boy who came to you and said, the kids in school are making fun of his big ears, calling him “monkey, monkey, monkey,”¬† and picking on him because he is so small?

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Have a great day and thanks for stopping by. DM

 

In the middle of the night

Two weeks ago, I followed a young couple¬† into our local farm and fleet store.¬† She had a noisy pair of boots on that were going “clomp, clomp, clomp.”¬† There were purple wisps of hair sticking out of her head scarf. I couldn’t help but hear the tone of her voice as she talked with her man.¬† It was¬† short and snippy.¬† ¬†I found myself forming a judgmental attitude not because of how she was dressed but because of¬† her attitude and tone of voice.

Three minutes later  when I went over to the stain and paint isle, they were standing right in front of the dark walnut stain selection, the last item on my list.  I asked they if they could see any cans of dark walnut stain?

The woman turned to look at me and inwardly my judgmental attitude  was suddenly gone.

I  recognized the two of them.

I was ashamed.

I knew part of their story….

They had been in a¬† terrible car accident two winters ago. The roads had suddenly turned to a sheet of ice, and as they approached an intersection,¬† they couldn’t stop.¬† Their car slid¬† out¬† into the path of a semi.¬† There were several fatalities and both of the two people standing in front of me that day had spent weeks recovering in the hospital, and to this day are still dealing with medical bills and reconstructive surgery.

Just within the past month, the woman had confided to someone I know, that she has to take a lot of medicine in order to “Keep her s*#@t¬† together.

We never know what other people are dealing with when we see them in public.

In the middle of that night, I woke up¬† thinking about that young family and what they are still dealing with.¬† A thought began to form in my mind… I wanted to do something/ anything/ to encourage them, yet do it anonymously.

Since we live in a relatively small town, I had to be careful and keep the details kind of vague.   Decided to posted the following on our facebook page:

I stood in line behind a young family today who has had some serious heartache the past year or so. I don’t know them personally, just knew who they were. When she turned to say something to me, I could literally see the pain and brokenness in her eyes. Anyway, I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about them and wanting to do something anonymously for Christmas. I happen to know where the wife works, and also know her boss…here is what I’m thinking…I would like to give them a card and a gift in the form of either cash or gift cards to Walmart, the grocery store, etc. If you want to be a part of it, or know more specifics, shoot me a message. …. Going to give it to her boss Friday the 21st…the first day of winter. .

PS this will be the only time you see this post…won’t keep seeing it on our feed.¬†

¬†Thanks! DM”

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7 people stepped forward and said they wanted to be a part of the action.

I’ll be dropping the $ and gift cards off this coming Friday.

Kindness and love are  still alive and well in middle earth.

Do not doubt me.

 

 

Jumble of words

Saw the following picture on our screensaver this morning.

(Our screensaver scrolls through the photos I’ve uploaded on the computer)

Grandson helping dad and grandpa cut wood with his chainsaw

Kasen was born with an extra  Chromosome 21

(Down Syndrome)

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My mind is a jumble of  words when I see that picture.

95% positive

I am so thankful my daughter and her husband did not choose to end his life while he was still in the womb.  6 out of 10 babies diagnosed with down syndrome never make it out of the womb alive here in America.   The odds are even worse in Europe (9 out of 10)

Kasen is as much a part of  our family as any of us.

The Thanksgiving holiday here in America¬† is day after tomorrow.¬† Wishing all of you that stay in touch with me on a regular basis here via my blog(s) a great day…and if you lived locally I would invite you to join us for lunch.

I really would…

Then you could meet Kasen¬† ūüôā¬† and the rest of clan.

Take care. DM

Of Grit and Bone 11/13/18

About the title…

Read this first

Much to be thankful for.

The Honeybees

Where do I start?

I took the lid off the hive yesterday to finish insulating the top and return two frames of honey I’d thought about keeping for myself until I remembered they were in the hive when I treated for mites back in September.¬† The temperature¬† yesterday was in the mid 20’s so I assumed the bees would be huddled down in the bowels of the hive trying to stay warm.

Nope.

Hundreds of robust looking honeybees milling around the top frames on the hive. I find it fascinating and¬† exhilarating to be able to approach a bee colony with tens of thousands of bees and work with them.¬† ¬†I freely admit being a “new bee” when it comes to raising bees.¬† The learning curve is crazy steep.¬† I still feel like I really don’t have a clue.¬† Fortunately for me,¬† there are two new local bee keepers who have been willing to share with me their experiences, and the Internet.

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Remodel

I have been on this current¬† project for 3 months. Should finish up tomorrow unless the home owner wants our help on insulating or trimming. Other than some help issues and a very rainy¬† fall, it has been a treat to work on this project. 90% of the time it doesn’t feel like “work.”¬† I love what I do and I don’t take that for granted.¬† We¬†took a 1120 square foot ranch, and turned it into a 2000 plus square foot home.¬† Added a 3 stall garage, and new 4 seasons room.

Want to say something about work and attitude.

We stopped by my aunt’s this past Saturday for lunch.¬† She mentioned in passing her son (my cousin) is planning on retiring after the first of the year. He is 4 years younger than I.¬† He’s worked in a factory setting for 30 + years.¬† Great union benefits.¬† ¬† I heard that and found myself battling feelings of failure.¬† ¬†That is not the first time this has happened.¬† Rather than just be stuck in those negative, energy sucking thoughts, I decided to tell some friends that we get together with on a regular basis about it.¬† Just as I’d suspected. Every last one of them (5) confessed to battling similar thoughts at one time or another.

“So what do I do about it?” I asked????

Be thankful.  (And they proceeded to list off a plethora of things in my life I do have to be thankful for.)   Just admitting those feelings of comparison and inferiority out loud to another human being, (and in this case to 5 people) then being thankful for a host of things removed the sting.

It really did.

Here are a few before and after pics of my current project…

Original house:

Back of house:

 

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Finances

In 2014 I wrote a series of posts on the financial stress I was feeling.

I sometimes think it word pictures in case you haven’t noticed. ūüôā

The word picture I had at the time in my mind was this….

I felt like I was flying a loaded 747 and we 15 to 20 feet off the surface of the ocean.  Yes I was still in the air, but the waves were licking @ the wings, the weight of financial stress was nonstop and I was getting tired. Credit card debt, car loan, medical bills..etc.

Then we  stumbled across a book on personal finances that was a God-send.

Here’s a portion of the chart I put on the wall in front of my desk:

 

The chart showed where we were currently,as well as where I wanted to head.

Flash forward to today.

Our financial situation has¬† changed.¬† Same job, same basic income….

Credit card is paid off.  Car loan is paid off.  Medical bills are currently all paid off and there is a surplus in the medical checkbook.  (Although that could  change in a heartbeat).

Today there are two  different word pictures in my head.

First, the one with the airplane… We have created distance between those waves¬† and our plane.¬† Today we are at 10,000 feet and climbing.

The second word picture in my head is that of a beehive.

Imagine that ūüôā

I feel like a bee going into winter with multiple frames of honey stored up.

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Well, I guess I need to wrap it up.¬† If you’re reading this post, I would love to hear from you as well.¬† ¬†If nothing else, tell me three things you have to be thankful for.

Later!  DM

 

Q and A with Dr Philly

Attended a wedding reception last night.  Sat next to Don and Philly.

Haven’t talked to them in years.

Lots of laughter coming from our table @ the reception I was told.

Told them I’d been¬† talking¬† about them just the week before! ūüôā

“No wonder my ears were burning.” Philly said.

“It had to do with parenting¬†I said.¬† I remember one of them making the comment, years ago, that one of their goals as parents was, if one of their kids was acting up at a basketball game, all they had to do¬† was to look across the gym and their child would straighten up.”¬†¬†

Don gave me a knowing smile.

(None of this, “I’m going to count to three stuff or else.”)

Then I reminded them¬†about another conversation that we’d had with them during that same season of our lives.

(A conversation to this day ranks as one of the all time most helpful, most impacting, conversations of my life.)

The conversation had to do with sex.

Philly was an RN, same age as my mom.¬† We as a couple were dealing with¬† the normal tension and stress many couples experience in the area¬† of sexuality. Don and Philly were attending the same church we were at the time, and even though they’d been married 40 years, there was definitely a “spark” in their relationship. They were doing something right.¬† I really wanted to pick their brain.¬† When I need input in my life, I would much rather talk with someone with practical experience than one who is just book smart.¬† ¬†Out of desperation really,¬† we reached out to them as a couple to see if we could talk to them about the area of sexuality.¬† ¬†Don suggested we talk to Philly, because of her background and personality,¬† she was more than happy to do so.

We ended  up driving around town  while we talked.

Think Private conversation with Dr Phil ūüėČ

Where no question was a dumb question.

What about ___________?

What about ____________?

On and on.

Conversation went on for a good hour.

Laugh….boy did we laugh. ūüôā

You can cover a lot of ground in an hour if you have to.

Came away from our time together both of us feeling heard.

We were able to untangle some knots in our relationship, that frankly, I’m not sure we would have ever been able to untangle on our own.

Don and Philly¬†are in the mid 80’s now.¬† There is still a spark in their relationship.

Don and Philly, thank you for being willing to open your lives to a young struggling couple.

DM

 

 

 

Speak Life

Quick story from this morning….

Number one son and I were in Muscatine the last couple of days doing repairs on a turn of the century house.¬† Place had been converted into a group home and was in need of some TLC.¬† ¬†First thing that struck me when we got to the job was the¬† neighborhood.¬† Lots of large older homes, that in their day would have been something to see.¬† Second thing that struck me was the couple next door. The two of them, ( I’m guessing, mid 70’s) were hard at it.¬† She had a dew-rag on her head, and he had one of those floppy safari hats.¬† ¬†Their house sat back further from the street than the rest of the houses on the block and it¬† (the house) looked like it could be on the cover of a magazine.¬† A part of me wanted to tell them how nice their place looked, but I didn’t want to come across as some nut-case, so I kept my thoughts to myself.

This morning on the way back to Muscatine, the guy on the radio was talking about the power of our words.  Our words have the power to  build up, and tear down, and to look for opportunities to encourage.

So, that little thought was rolling around in my head¬† as I was finishing up.¬† I spotted the neighbor lady bringing a garbage can out to the street, so I thought, what the heck. I told her good morning.¬† ¬†Then I told her¬† how much I had admired the way they kept their place up.¬† She in turn complimented me on how nice the newly painted front and back porch looked on the house we were working on.¬† We¬† talked for 30 seconds, but that’s all it took.

That little ditty they taught you when you were a kid about “sticks and stones can break your bones, but word can never harm you.”

That’s a bunch of BS.¬† (BS stands for Bad Stuff in German.)

I have a¬† friend who will occasionally say to me¬†“Speak life.”¬†

I like it.

I think it’s a spin off from the phrase “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.”

Do I do this perfectly?  Nada.

Especially at home.

Well, I better call it a day. Later! DM