ADVICE ON MONEY

Money, it’s a gas–Pink Floyd

I ran way too long on the blogs regarding marriage advice and advice on raising children, so I’ll make that up by keeping this one pretty short and simple.  I only have six simple pieces of advice regarding money.  They are important, but simple.

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A Penny Saved is A Penny YOU GET TO KEEP!

1.  Eat at home.  Most people who are in financial trouble spend too much of their monthly income at fast food restaurants.  Learn to cook at home, from scratch, with better and cheaper ingredients.  It costs the average family of 4 about $25 or more to eat at a fast food restaurant.  For about $10 I can cook that family of 4 a delicious meal and have leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.  Besides, homemade always tastes better anyway.

2.  Get this through your skull–the BANK is not your friend.  Your bank exists to make money off of people like you and it does so by exploiting your bad habits and your impatience.  Credit card commercials are funny.  The interest they charge and the pain they dole out is not funny.  Learn the difference.

3.  Give money away.  Until you show money who is the boss, it will demand to be the boss.  The only way to show money that you are the boss is prove you don’t need the money, so give it away.  I advocate for 10% tithe to a local church as as starter, but give away more than that.  If you don’t believe in tithing or have an aversion to church (we should talk maybe, if you do) then I suggest giving it way to someplace else like a veterans organization or the American Cancer Society or any charitable organization you agree with.  What you will find is that not only does it feel good, it gives you spiritual and emotional control of your money.

4.  Be thrifty.  Most of the things in life we need can be bought cheaper than new.  Cars, books, tools and clothes are the big ticket items, but there are more things like cookware or furniture.  I think God smiles upon the thrifty because it demonstrates responsibility and humility and he really digs both of those attributes.  Thrifty is not just shopping for a used car or buying books at the used book store, it is about eating leftovers for lunch, turning off lights, and not indulging in things you don’t really need.

5.  Don’t smoke cigarettes.  I know of some very wealthy people who smoke cigarettes, but almost every ‘poor’ person I know smokes.  Most smokers can’t afford it.  They can’t afford it because of their health but they can’t afford it because of the price of cigarettes.  Those things are very spendy and they literally go up in smoke and hold no value!  Check this chart out on the price of a pack of cigarettes per state.  In Texas, where I live, a 2 pack a day habit costs you $14.48 a day, or $434 a month.  Yet, even the poorest of poor find a way to get their cigarettes.  Life is about choices, and if you choose to smoke you are likely choosing to drain your life of wealth and financial security.

6.  Get married before you have children.  Child rearing is difficult, but it is also expensive.  Single parents can make it, but it is extremely hard and it will hit your pocketbook pretty hard.  God intended families to have a mommy and a daddy, and the financial obligations is one of the reasons why.

7.  BONUS ADVICE:  Read a book or two about finances.  I suggest anything by Dave Ramsey, but especially Total Money Makeover.  I made my oldest child listen to it on audio.  I think every high school and college student should.  Of course, I recommend buying it the thrift store or check it out at the library.

JACQUES, JULIA AND JAMIE

Saturday afternoon my Mrs. Greenbean and the girls were out shopping for dresses and stuff and I had some free time.  I had worked most of the morning and, honestly, was just thinking about kicking back in the recliner and napping.  I know that as a card carrying man I should be watching college football, because it was Saturday.  However, I was flipping through the television and spotted something that caught my eye.

That’s right, it was Julia Child and Jacques Pepin on PBS!  This demanded my attention.  Julia Child of course is a great cooking hero but Jacques Pepin—what a stud!  I mean, seriously, he is like the coolest chef guy ever.

Julia and Jacques were baking soufflés and they looked so yummy.  One was a desert soufflés and the other was a scallop soufflés.  I could almost smell the kitchen flavor as they whisked, beat, and baked.

Jacques Pepin used to have a regular weekly show on PBS that I watched all the time when I was in college.  I learned a lot about simple cooking techniques from watching him.  He always uses fresh ingredients and he encourages me to never over cook the meat!  To my knowledge Pepin had three shows–one with Julia, one by himself, and a third with his daughter.  I didn’t care for that so much because I found her lack of cooking skills annoying.  She seemed to be in the way.  I’m sure she is nice and all, but she didn’t have that cook’s instinct—and those of you who cook know what I mean.

Before I found Pepin on tv as a young man, the only people I’d ever seen cook were women—mostly my mother, grandmother, aunt, and my friend’s mothers.  My father can cook very well, but he never did it unless we were camping, and then it was always fried fish, potatoes and breakfast foods like sausage and eggs.  The idea of my father baking a soufflés, for example, is just impossible for me to imagine.  But Pepin, somehow, in a smooth, confident and definitely French way made cooking come alive for me as a guy thing to do.

Of course, Pepin doesn’t do much anymore in terms of tv, although I think he still puts out cookbooks.  What I find fascinating is that most of the major cooking personalities on television today are masculine—Alton Brown, Anthony Bourdain, and a host of other people who do tv shows about food.  Yeah, I know there are plenty of women out there on television who cook great food, like Paula Dean but it fills me with a certain amount of joy that food can be a man’s game.

And, after all, when a man cooks he can eat his labor.  Eating footballs is never much fun.  It was a delightful half-hour of nostalgia and testosterone fueled indulgence.  Of course, when the show was over I took my nap and dreamed of making soufflés in a gadget filled kitchen of my dreams.