There are some people in this world who just have that magic touch. Everything they poke their hand in turns to gold and cash. Do you know anyone like this? Me neither. I’m from the opposite group. I’m not a money earner. Never was and unfortunately, at my age, never will be. I’ve known this about myself ever since I was a little girl. I just could never master earning enough money. Not from an allowance. Not from chores. Not from jobs well done. As I got older, having two college degrees didn’t improve my bottom line either. I’ve never once gotten the income I think I deserved.
So, what I did to compensate for my lack of financial wizardry was to become adept at saving money rather than earning money. What did Ben Franklin say? A penny saved is a penny earned? Hmmmm, not quite:
In his 1737 Poor Richard’s Almanac, Franklin delivered the line: “A penny saved is two pence clear.” And later, in the 1758 almanac, he wrote a version closer to the saying we know: “A penny saved is a penny got.” He never used the word “earned.” Money not spent is money that is in one’s pocket.
I’m so good at saving money, buying things wholesale or on discount, that I now consider the money I save is actually free money I actually earn. I’m so good at it, I can do it in my sleep. For example, I bought a home that was listed at $250,000 for only $135,000. How did I do that? I found out the owner was carrying three mortgages (one of them was a mortgage on a spec home that wasn’t selling) and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. That was $115,000 of money that I didn’t have to spend.
Every single asset of my life, from the top of my head (haircuts) to the tip of my toes (pedicures) to every single thing I have ever purchased in my lifetime (I made my first business deal at age 10) has been purchased for less money than originally offered. From cars to boats to houses to vacations, from soup to nuts, I saved money on every single deal. If I am boasting too much on this one little factor about my personality it’s because it’s my one (and only) saving grace and I need to appreciate it more.
However, if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. I always seem to be a dollar short and a day late. Thus, I compensate for this shortfall by being financially savvy in the purchasing department. This past month, I was forced to finally decide on how I wanted our future retirement investments to go. (Click here for original post) I was at a crossroad. Do I go safe, as I learned the hard way, is the best way for me? Or do I take a risk, after all the other failed risks I’ve taken so far in my life? I did extensive research. I sought out successful individuals and pounded their brains. I read at least two books per day on financial strategies touted from the highest rooftop of highly successful authors.
What was my decision, after all those weeks of angst? To stick to the tried and true system that has worked for me for many, many years. So, I made all the arrangements. I found a top notch financial institution that broadcast the highest rate in the country. Everything was all lined up. I constantly checked the rates. Everything was holding steady. On Tuesday at 11:59PM, the rate was constant. At 12:01AM my money became available and I transferred it into a new investment. And as I watched the transfer go through, behind the scenes, the rate dropped .25 percentage points exactly at midnight.
Son of a bitch! (and other 4 letter words I used, that could never be published here on this blog). Story of my life. A day late and a dollar short. I tried to finagle what I could to make the loss less biting BUT in the end, I was going to be making less passive income than I originally calculated for.
Who the heck changes rates on a Tuesday? At midnight? There was no reason for it. The Feds didn’t lower their rates on Tuesday. Why did this financial institution? Don’t they change rates on a Monday or a Friday? How about at the beginning of the month? Or the end of the month? Whose big idea was it to change rates, that had been steady and holding for weeks? On a Tuesday? To change it at the very exact time I was transferring a huge amount of cash in to it? Did someone know it was ME doing the investment? Was someone out to get me? Make my life miserable?
I just sat at my computer, looked at the screen, noted the financial drop, however minor and I just started to cry. Why does this always happen to me? Why can I never once, just once, make a successful financial move? I did my homework. This was not an impulsive buy. This was well thought out, discussed and calculated. My husband tried to console me and told me I have no control over these things. That wasn’t the point. The rate didn’t change the day before or the week before or a month later. It changed as I was actually performing the feat. And that has been the sad story of my life. I just can’t catch any breaks. They say you’re not supposed to think about it the way I have been thinking about it. Unfortunately, this exact scenario happens to me all the time. It’s the story of my life. It’s the way it has always been. And at age 68 I have finally come to agree that this is my lot in life.
I’m always doomed to struggle.
Within minutes, I started thinking of what I needed to cut out of my budget, out of my life to balance yet another financial blow. I looked over my budget. I thought long and hard about my lifestyle and I came up with nothing. I drew a line in the sand and I said to myself that I had reached the kind of lifestyle and comfort I loved and enjoyed and I wasn’t about to give up one iota. Of course, I was furious with God. “You couldn’t give me one more day?” I asked Him. “You couldn’t use your powers to convince the financial gurus NOT to change a thing? You couldn’t give me one more day?” I told God I wasn’t cutting a thing. What will be will be. But subconsciously, I was cutting back. I was buying less. Perhaps I was automatically making the changes but purposely not thinking about them (nor writing them on paper) for fear they would become my new reality.
I’m no good at making money. I think God knows that. And I think He knows that I try and try but its just no use. I don’t have the talent. I compensate by being smart and frugal in spending money in order to make my checkbook balance.
And with that my husband gets a phone call. A new contract came in to play and he was offered three weeks of steady work (not strenuous) to oversee an installation in New Jersey. He’d be gone for three weeks and the money HE would earn equaled almost to the penny the money I just lost in the .25 percentage drop. God knows that I can’t earn money but my husband sure can! That’s why we’re a good team. God knows that I did my best and I’d handle the extra income prudently and devoutly. God utilizes our talents individually and to its full potential.
I guess we have to make our money the old fashioned way: we have to earn it!