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Friday, November 12, 2010

The Reeducation of America... and me

I was asked (in a non-nosy manner) why I took on a 2nd Full-Time job.  So I figure if THAT person was wondering the same thing, then someone else probably is too.  I have decided appease the masses and give a little insight into the World of Que.  Unfortunately, this section will be classified as the non-funny portion of Que World.  It's a pretty small section but has a HUGE impact.

Money, Money, Money
Where to start... Well, we have debt.  That's the simple truth.  We, like most American households, have enough debt that it makes us uncomfortable.  We have tried a lot of avenues to rid ourselves of the evilness of debt.  Some worked but none worked well.  So we decided to try OUR last resort.  And that was to increase our income by finding another job.

It's the dietary equivalent of trying to lose weight but not knowing the right way.  Then trying every diet plan under the sun.  THEN after having marginal success with some plans and complete failure with others, deciding to go to the last resort... a lot of exercise!  This is us putting aside a lot of other "luxuries" in life and getting on the dreaded financial treadmill and just running until we pass out... literally.

I personally think the debt mentality starts a lot earlier than we care to accept.  I started teaching our oldest daughter about debt and finances at the age of 7.  Some may feel that is early.  But I don't think it's early enough.  It wasn't like I was having her file my taxes.  I was just teaching her basic principles of money.  But not just that.  I was teaching her some of the basic principles of finance.  I think this is where the disconnect in my life started.

My parents didn't teach me those lessons.  I don't BLAME them one single bit, though.  They grew up poor.  Their parents grew up poor.  And their parents before them grew up poor. (You get the picture.)  So how do you teach your child about how to bake a chocolate cake if no one ever taught you how an over works?  Eventually, if you are to break the cycle, someone has to teach someone how to bake a cake!

Another place that I think fails is school.  And I'm not talking about all schools.  As a matter of fact, I think teachers should be one of the highest paid professions in the world.  But here is what I'm talking about with school.  School is supposed to help prepare us for life AFTER school.  One of the biggest (if not THE biggest) dilemmas we face after school is how to handle money.  So why isn't there a LOT more emphasis on that?  Yeah, we learn what money is and how to use (spend) it.  But most of us never truly learn how it works.  And that is the HUGE fail in my book.

If we really think schools are supposed to help prepare us for life, then this is something that should be taught almost every day and at almost every grade level.  Finances should be a reflex by the time you graduate.  We are a capitalistic society.  And that is true whether you agree with it's principles are not.  I just think that economics classes in school should have more "real world" value and not just a class that people glide through.  As important as money is (again whether you like it or not) economics should be ranked up there with reading, 'riting and 'rithmatic.  I think we as a society should be given better tools to deal with such a huge problem that affects everyone.

I know some of that sounded like a rant but it really wasn't meant to be that way.  I honestly believe that ultimately, we are responsible for WHO we are as well as WHERE we are in life.  So this is not a pity party "blame the system" post.  This is more of a "yes, most of us were failed but here's what WE plan to do about it going forward" post.  I do believe that it's sad when you live in a time when you feel having 2 full-time jobs a blessing.  But that's what it is and where we are at this point.

In case you are looking to buy me
something but didn't quite
know what to get.
For those of you who would think that I'm not doing this to have some of the the finer things in life... You would be WILDLY mistaken.  I would much rather get some sleep than to work extra hours to get the first flat-panel HDTV for the home.  We are really doing this so our family doesn't have to sacrifice one kids dreams for another.  We are doing this so that we don't ever have to rely on anyone (friends, family, govt) from now to well past old age (retirement and such).  We are doing this so that 5 years from now we aren't STILL telling our kids they can't go to the movies, to the store or even to a friends house because we can't afford it.  We are doing this so that emergencies don't cause us to have to decide whether to keep the house or the car.  We are doing this so that when my 3 girls get married off (in their 40s because they can't date until then) they will start life knowing how money works and knowing the best way to keep from having to work 2 jobs is to make sure you stay out of debt to begin with.  We are doing this to help break the "poor" cycle.  And, truly, we are doing this so that our finances start to have some resemblance of our character.  For me they haven't matched since college.  And it's LONG overdue.
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