Why I Write About Finance and How YOU Benefit

Why I write about finance

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Investment banker I am not…

 

Nor do I call me a CFP (Certified Financial Planner), accountant, or loan officer. Do you know what I’m actually pretty good at, though?

 

Handling money well… And teaching others to do the same

 

My knowledge when it comes to finance is less Formal MBA, and more: live, learn, and fine-tune moving forward. And I knew from an early age that learning about money and how to handle it was one of my passions.

 

(Photo courtesy of MKulp Photography)

 

Meet the Neighborhood Lawn Care Co.

 

My first entrepreneurial story takes place around age 12/13 and I remember it like it was yesterday.

 

This was back in ‘98 or so, and that’s when color printed flyers in mailboxes actually got looked at. I used that fact to my advantage when I “created” The Neighborhood Lawn Care Co. and sent out a mailer to every house in my neighborhood. “We” offered regular maintenance of yards, help with one-time projects (mulching, planting trees, and the like), and help with odd jobs.

 

My first lead was from Mr. Chalker – a phenomenally gullible 70-ish-year-old that called up the “business line” first. Although my parents had received their appropriate coaching for how to answer our home phone line as if it were exclusively for the business, mom slipped up with her, “Hello?”

 

Not cool mom…

 

She did recover after Mr. Chalker asked to talk with Mike about a job. “…Please hold for Mike.”

 

Mr. Chalker and I worked out the details of the full day mulching job and as I hung up the phone I knew there was another call I had to make. This job – to edge and mulch his .75 acre lot – was more than just a 1-man job, so I called up my buddy business partner to help with labor for the day.

 

I will never forget the look on Mr. Chalker’s face that morning when my buddy and I came walking up to the Chalker residence pushing wheelbarrows full of tools. He was equal parts confused, embarrassed, impressed, and concerned.

 

That wasn’t the best part of the day, though – That happened near sundown…

 

When Mr. Chalker handed us our pay with a giant smile on his face, thanking us profusely – I had never been prouder of myself. That joy that comes from turning work into profit is one of the best feelings in the world and it lit a fire in my mind right there at that moment.

 

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My education in finance continued from there

 

By mid-2007 we had saved close to $30,000 for a down payment on our first house. In ’09 that invested sum got cut to about $10,000. We were young and invested aggressively so the crash hit us HARD.

 

After gradually dipping one toe at-a-time back into the investment pool, we were able to recoup our savings and eventually buy that home we had saved for. We just had to wait 6 more years.

 

We were lucky

 

In 2009 we were 23 and 21 years old. This meant 2 great things for our family:

 

1) We were young enough that most of our income producing years were in front of us (knocking on wood profusely while writing this). We still had time to invest and take advantage of the all-powerful – compound interest.

 

2) We got an education via the school of hard knocks without it breaking our backs.

 

Many weren’t as lucky

 

I couldn’t imagine being close to retirement and losing 25-75% of my net worth. This crash made that nightmare a reality for many. Retirements either got pushed back a long way or pared down to the point that what you had planned to be your lifestyle may now just be a dream.

 

A job loss for me would’ve been bad, but wouldn’t compare to a parent trying to provide for their family. Clara (our daughter) wasn’t in the picture yet and we didn’t have a great deal of debt to worry about (that has changed since, though).

 

The crash forced us to adapt to the changing environment

Because of the Great Recession, many families changed their investment strategy, job situation, feelings on retirement, etc… You buying the point that it was terrible yet? OK, good. Let me tell you why the crash could’ve been the best financial moment of our lives.

 

That education I referenced above was different than anything I had read in a book. We lived it. Every dollar mattered and every decision had to be evaluated for relevance and importance.

 

The recession forced us to go lean and eliminate unnecessary spending – it wasn’t a conscious choice, there just wasn’t money enough to do everything. Big parts of every month felt like a spending freeze.

 

Living an ultra-lean lifestyle wasn’t what we had in mind long-term, and needless to say, we were done with feeling powerless to money. 

 

We needed to prepare. I’m no futurist and I can’t predict what the next crash will be or when it will come, I just assume it’s on the way at some point. I wouldn’t call this pessimistic, just being financially prudent. Because of this, we wanted to learn how to live a lifestyle that was insulated from the next potential recession. This way we’re either prepared when it happens or thrilled when it doesn’t.

 

The present-day look at our financial situation

 

Our financial situation has changed considerably over the last decade and a half. No offense to Mr. Chalker, but we’ve upgraded our entrepreneurial drive and started our own family business.

 

As the CEO, it’s my job to make sure our team has all the needed support, tools, and energy to best serve our clients. On top of that, I’m managing our finances and debt as my business partner (read: wife) and I work together to handle the big-picture and long-term thinking for the business.

 

What do we want our culture to feel like? Can we afford to hire X or buy Y? And where do we see ourselves in 10-years as a business and brand?

 

Decisions about healthcare, retirement plans, wages, benefits, when to buy new equipment, and negotiating relevant deals have all given me a legitimate reason to do the things I actually enjoy as hobbies… Reading widespread economic articles and listening to all the financial podcasts I love so dearly.

 

Someone once told me to find my passion in life and turn that into my career. After a decade in the workforce, I think I’ve finally taken that advice to practice – and I’ve never enjoyed a profession more.

 

So why do I tell you all of this about my financial past

 

I say all of that to add context. To let you know that when I say I’ve taken financial risks, had great successes, and made large mistakes – I’ve learned from all of these experiences. And I’m fortunate to say that these experiences have been vast.

 

What’s more is that we are by no means done with expanding our business, paying off student loans, saving for retirement, or exploring other opportunities. So, you know what? I still have mountains of financial and business lessons to learn.

 

How does this help YOU – the MikedUp Blog Team

 

I’m going to keep writing about all of these experiences. The ones we’ve learned from, the ones we’re going through, and the hurdles to come. All the highs and lows. The good times and the bad. In sickness and in health… Wait, I’m going back to our marriage vows there – my bad.

 

But I do that to make a point. I’m committed to this blog. And the purpose of this blog is for me to help YOU find a better version of yourself. In the case of this post, we’re here to learn financial lessons so that you can take what applies to your life and use it to tweak your process or improve your current position.

 

Let’s not stop with a unilateral flow of information

 

Don’t be afraid to reach out and let me know what posts are useful to you and which ones you could do without. The best way to stay involved is to subscribe to my free newsletter for exclusive content and announcements before they’re made to the public.

 

I use my email subscribers to solicit feedback, test out upcoming giveaways, and interact on a personal level. You’ll also get every post that’s published delivered straight to your inbox. And if you have a question or comment about your specific situation, just hit reply to one of my emails – I read every one.

 

Thank you for being here! Thank you for reading – it means the world to me! Now let’s get out there and make some serious financial progress together!

 

-Mike
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