Growing up as the oldest of 8 kids I learned the value of money from my parents. They constantly worked hard to provide a great life for all of us. As a former accountant I still love to budget, track finances and talk about money. I will write about money in many ways especially as it relates to family and holding onto more of it.
I find writing to be a very soothing process for clearing a cluttered mind. It is with this purpose in mind that I set forth to write this blog. I sometimes become hyperfocused on a subject and think about it constantly. I also tend to want to share these new ideas with those around me in an effort to relieve them from the cavernous depths of my mind.
My current obsession is meeting my goal of being a great husband and dad. I want us to make as many memories as a family as we can manage. I do not travel for my job and actually have not been on a flight since 2003. My wife has never even been on a plane. This does not mean that we do not go on trips. We go to the beach every year, went to Disney World in 2011 and stay in a hotel more than 20 nights a year. We have been confined to locations within driving distance. However, thanks to recent credit card signing bonuses we have now amassed enough miles for multiple trips.
As a former accountant I have always had a tremendous interest in personal finances and learned a great deal about money. Budgeting and money management aspects have always been fascinating, as well as the economic motivations of different people. I am also enamored with the ability to crunch the numbers and find solutions to problems including process improvements which also interest me immensely. Unfortunately, jobs like these are not abundant. In fact, I actually told a former boss these interests in an annual review and he said condesendingly, “Well, maybe I should call the CEO and let him know I’ve replaced him with you.” After that little chat I accepted another offer with a different company.
After a few years of corporate accounting I became burnt out on the mundane nature of the job. In particular, I became frustrated with putting together budgets with the goal of cutting salaries and pay raises to the regular employees while insuring that the upper management received substantial pay raises. The way I saw it was a 10% raise to someone making $5,000,000 is $500,000 which would be enough to give 50 employees a $10,000 raise. I had trouble justifying the need to cut 10 employees making $50,000 a year just to pay one guy an extra half a million dollars. I was not happy in my job and that bled over into my family life. On top of that, eliminating “redundancies” meant that nobody had a backup for their job. Taking a vacation took an act of congress and when I managed to get a week off I spent the next week doing 2 weeks worth of work. When my daughter was born I left work on Friday at 5:30 and came back to work at 8:00am on Monday. At that point I knew it was time for a life change.
I did some soul searching and decided that my family and mental well-being was more important than wealth and income potential. I decided instead of getting an MBA I would get my Masters in Teaching and become a teacher. At the same time I also vowed that we would take as many vacations as possible and spend money on other things that bring us all enjoyment. As a teacher I may not be wealthy, but I do feel like I make a difference and I know that I feel more rewarded.
The second part of the equation is spending more time with the family and taking vacations when possible. We live relatively simply and have been making strides toward this goal. Part of this strategy is using credit cards and other rewards to maximize value and never turn down free money.