Helpful money lessons I learned throughout life

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Bob Land


Business Columnist

Monday, March 18, 2019

I grew up in a loving and encouraging family.

But we lacked financial knowledge and budgeting management. I fortunately met great money examples along the way.

My first great example was my grandfather “Pop Pop.” He came from meager means. The great depression caused him to manage money well. After college, he climbed from new employee to company president. He and his wife, Mary could have lived “big.”

But instead, they purchased a duplex and rented out the other side. He lived below his means. He had life insurance, a last will and testament, participated in company benefits and retirement plan to practically love Mary. His high value on education manifested itself in three college savings plans for myself and my two siblings. After his and Mary’s passing, my mother still benefited from rent from both sides of the duplex. His sacrificial living enabled others to be educated and provided for.

The next great examples were my wife’s parents, the Wilsons. They too lived on a budget below their means. They made lists, prioritized spending and balanced their checkbook. They were unified about money and had one joint checking and savings account.

When their kids started college, Mr. Wilson created a hobby/job on the weekends to make ends meet. He sold “blue willow” plates and china and similar items at the Raleigh flea market. They paid for three college educations and their two daughters weddings all with cash flow, and no debt. They utilized the practical safety nets of group medical insurance, personal life insurance, 401(k) savings, disability protection and a long-term care plan.

Our friend Rick was a CPA and CFO. He was the next financial godsend. Unlike my grandfather and parent in-laws, Rick was young. He was 30 years old and in full control of his money. He was the first person who showed me his written budget and the freeing power of it. He used a “dome budgeting book.” He itemized spending categories: mortgage payment, utilities, groceries, auto, clothes, savings and charitable giving. He paid off his home at age 32. He introduced me to Crown Financial ‚Äč— www.crown.org — a company dedicated to responsible money stewardship and how to integrate your faith and finances.

We soon moved to Rocky Mount. Through work and church circles, we met other young couples who faced similar money challenges of raising children, home ownership and making ends meet. We attempted to live financially wise lives. We started affordable safety nets: life insurance, saving accounts, a last will and testament and participated in employee benefits. We daily tried to pass on stewardship values to our kids. Soon Dave Ramsey’s books and videos reinforced God first, family next and financial responsibility. Our money focus was on being joyful and faithful managers of what we had.

Soon my roles reversed with my parents. I was no longer the child, but a care manager. As their health declined, I became power of attorney and eventual executor of their estate. We saw the wisdom of their life insurance, liquid savings and long-term care plans for likely extended care needs.

As the years have flown by, we too have miraculously found ways to raise a large family, fund college and save for retirement. It takes sacrifice, being united in purpose with my wife, keeping budget records and hanging in there. I hope my grandfather, parent in laws and our friends financial wisdom and examples are helpful in your financial world, too.

Bob Land is president of Landmark Financial Services LLC, a 26-year-old executive and employee benefits independent agency firm based in Rocky Mount and Raleigh.