Friday Favorites – October 20, 2017

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks.  We were supposed to go camping last weekend but didn’t.  It poured buckets all day Saturday.  That would have been our final trip of the year.  Oh, well.  In addition, kids activities have kicked into high gear.  My son is doing Cub Scouts for the second year in a row.  I’m excited (and a little nervous) as I agreed to be his den leader.  That means I’ll be coordinating activities for the ‘Bears’ (a.k.a.) third graders.  Definitely exciting!

Favorite Posts

Here are some posts I’ve enjoyed over the last two weeks:

image from Morguefile courtesy of jppi

I hope you enjoy these posts as much as I did.  Have a great weekend!

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Debt is a Habit and Mindset That’s Contagious

We’ve all heard about the difference between nature and nurture.  These two umbrella categories of influences determine who we are and how we behave. Different people have different ideas about which is more important – the role that parents have in raising their children, or in the environment the child grows up in and in their own DNA. It’s clear that there is a complex interplay between these two arenas of influence. But how does this play out in the realm of personal finance?

Financial Behaviors

It is thought that most of our financial behaviors are learned, not innate.  Humans have instincts when it comes to being thrifty.  How we allocate our resources ties to our basic survival instincts.  Yes, this goes all the way down to how we spend our money.  Regardless, what we learn from our parents shapes us in many ways.  This holds true in many ways, including how we use our money.

Kids observe the way their parents spend, save, and invest money. Some households make a rule that the family’s finances won’t be a topic of discussion around the children. But these kids are still seeing some of the most important financial decisions you ever make – how and when you buy groceries, how much you use your credit cards, how stressed out you get because of financial matters (whether you speak about them directly or not).

These are the kinds of financial behaviors that kids will tend to build their lives upon, simply because they don’t know any different after many years seeing these actions performed in their childhood home. So when parents are in debt or go through bankruptcy, the actions that precipitate these states tend to rub off on their children.

Setting A Good Example With Debt And Money

It’s important for parents to acknowledge this and to start exemplifying good financial behaviors if they have not done so up till this point. If you are nearing bankruptcy, for example, use a Creditfix Trust Deed to eliminate your debt without having to file for bankruptcy (and endure the damage to your credit that will result). It’s financial recovery behaviors like these that make the biggest impact on kids, because it’s evidence that you can stop destructive behaviors and make the sacrifices that result in better financial states in the future.

The alternative is passing on behaviors that will result in debt for your children. Most people carry a fair amount of debt. This is common knowledge. Even if your debt isn’t passed onto your children one day, the behaviors that they are predisposed to may result in the same state in their lives later on.

If you have kids, start talking to them about money now. Don’t pass on the habits and mindset that result in lifelong debt. Beyond simply talking about money, make sure you use your money in a way that demonstrates responsibility. Not only will this help keep your kids out of debt in the long term, it could help them greatly increase their wealth, independence, and opportunities for many years to come. Start making these changes and you’ll reap the benefits for life.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

How Much Would You Replace If You Lost Everything?

Post revision: I wrote this post after seeing images of the horrifying wildfires in California.  This prompted me to think about what would happen in a similar event.  It turns out that someone in the personal finance community was right there.  They were safe but lost everything.  There’s actually a few different posts tied to this topic.  I’m honored to be among them.  See the bottom of the post for the ‘Chain Gang’ on this topic.  

There have been a lot of disasters around the world lately.  Earthquakes.  Hurricanes.  Wild fires.  In each of those tragic situations, many have lost everything.

I live in Michigan.  Many would never consider this a great destination.  Summers are beautiful but short. Because it’s practically surrounded by water, winters are often gray and slushy.

But one thing we have going for us is that we’re not a big target for any natural disasters.

  • Earthquakes – We’re not on or near any known major fault lines.
  • Hurricanes – We’re nowhere near a coastal line.  We might get a day or two of rain a few days after a hurricane fizzles out.
  • Tornadoes – While we’ve had some bad tornadoes, they’re generally not an ongoing, serious threat.
  • Wildfires – We do have a lot of trees here.  There have been instances of fires, of course, but we get enough rain to generally keep things moist enough.  Our worst droughts don’t hold a candle to anything out in California.  Another good benefit from being nearly surrounded by water, I suppose.

What If We Lost Everything?

But it still got me thinking, what happens when you lose everything?  The latest tragedy on the news is the Northern California wildfires.  The images on TV show fire taking out entire neighborhoods.  In many cases, not a thing is left standing.  There is absolutely nothing to save.

So what would you do if that happens to you?

Pretend you have something come in and take out your home and everything inside.  In the scenario, everyone comes out safe, but your stuff?  Gone.  All of it.

So, once you settle with the insurance company, what do you replace?

Nobody will put their house back together exactly as it was.  There’s no way anybody replaces things item for item.  It just doesn’t happen.

What Percentage Of Items Would You Replace?

It got me thinking.  If you lost everything, what percentage of items would you actually replace?

I don’t know if I can have a hard number, but it’s definitely less than 100%.  Let’s think about a few things.

House

Most people will end up replacing their house.  But in some cases, you might not.  You might not rebuild.  You could sell the lot and buy another home.  Even if you did build a home, it would likely be different.  For one, everything will be new.  You might have a different layout.  You’ll choose different finishes and fixtures.

Clothes

If you lost everything, you’d need a new wardrobe.  But would you replace, piece by piece, what you had?  I know I wouldn’t.  I’d probably start off with a much smaller wardrobe to begin.  Think of your current clothes in three tiers: New, Good, Near The End.  New items would likely be replaced, as would some good items.  But right now, you probably have a lot of items that you keep but don’t wear often.  Maybe they’re near the end of their life. Perhaps they’re more reminders of something.  In any case, with shirts, pants, shorts, etc. I can almost guarantee I would have less than I do now.

Kids Stuff

We have a lot of stuff from when the kids were babies or younger than they are now.  Some we keep in case anyone else might need it.  Other items we just haven’t gone through yet.  We’ve got a whole lot of toys that can be sold or donated.  The kids would need to replace stuff they use today, but that’s it.

Bedding and Towels

Let’s face it.  When you replace bed sheets or your towels, you probably keep the old ones.  You stick them aside in case you need them for guests or emergencies.  While you’d need to replace what you use, there’s stuff you don’t that you’d skip.

Holiday Stuff

I know for a fact we wouldn’t replace all of our Christmas stuff.  One of the things I have is a Christmas village. I’ve built up the collection for years.  I love it and put it out every year.  But if we lost everything, I’m not sure I would instantly replace it.  Since many of the items were gifts, or bought at special times, replacing the whole thing piece for piece wouldn’t be the same.

Heirlooms and Other Irreplaceable Items

We’ve got some items that were passed along from family.  You simply couldn’t replace the item.  Even if you did find that exact same china set, it’s not the one your grandmother picked out and used.  The same goes with pictures (pre-digital era) and other treasures.

What Does This Mean?

Thinking about this gives me a few takeaways:

  1. I need an updated digital inventory. It’s hard to imagine going through and documenting things by the item.  But a video walkthrough would let you see much of what you lost.  This would help for insurance purposes.  It’d also help you create a list of items to replace.
  2. There’s a lot of excess. If you could live without something after you lost it, could you now?  I wouldn’t get rid of the heirlooms.  But, chances are you’re sitting on a lot of items that you wouldn’t miss.  Maybe now is your chance to reduce some clutter.
  3. It’s hard to imagine.   You live with the stuff you have.  You spend hours buying it, cleaning it, keeping it.  To imagine not having any of it is pretty hard, isn’t it?
  4. It reminds you of what’s important.  As hard as it is imagining life without your items, it’s just stuff.  I know that if something bad did happen, none of it would matter.  My wife and my kids.  That would be my list of what I’d need.  It would suck to lose everything else.  But even if you did lose everything else, guess what?  Life could still get back to normal one day.

The Chain Gang

Here are other posts.  Please give them a read.

Anchor Post: DadsDollarsDebt – Tubb’s Fire – A Sudden Evacuation19
Co-Anchor: Chief Mom Officer – A Harrowing Escape Inspires The Personal Finance Community – Beyond The Emergency Fund5
1: OthalaFehu – Cool As A Cucumber2
2: The Retirement Manifesto – Am I A Prepper?1
3: Mrs. Retire to Roots – In Case Of Emergency Follow The Plan
4: The Lady In Black – Emergency Preparedness1
5: The Green Swan – Preparing For The Worst1
6: Minafi – Minimal Hurricane Preparation3
7: A Gai Shan Life – Earthquake and disaster preparedness1
8: The Financial Journeyman – Emergency Preparation: Be Proactive1
9: John And Jane Doe – Thinking the Worst: Emergency Planning or Fighting the Last War?
10: Adventure Rich – Emergency Preparation Up North
11: Money Beagle – How Much Would You Replace If You Lost Everything?
12: Crispy Doc – Fighting Fire With FI/RE1
13: She Picks Up Pennies – How Can A Planner Be Unprepared?
14: Chronicles Of A Father-Getting Ready for a Natural Disaster

Readers, have you ever thought about potentially losing everything?  If every material possession went away, how much do you think you’d replace?  What does this tell you about how much you have now?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Fall Fun At The Cider Mill The Way It’s Meant To Be

Fall is not my favorite season.  I’m definitely a summer guy.  I like warm temperatures, beaches, and long days.  Still, fall has a lot of fun things.  One of those has been to head to the cider mill.

I wrote a pretty discouraging article a couple of years ago about a cider mill ‘gone bad’.  They took a bunch of long standing traditions and scrapped everything in the name of money.  It was obvious that customers were just dollar signs.

Still, I knew that while some places turned to the dark side, not everybody would.  There had to be good cider mills out there.  Cider mills that stayed true to the roots of good cider, donuts.  And some good apple picking was a bonus as well.

We Found Our New Cider Mill

image from MorgueFile courtesy of AcrylicArtist

My wife and daughter tried a place out last year, and loved it. My son and I were off doing something, so we didn’t get to try it as a family until this year.

It’s called Hy’s Cider Mill.  It’s about half an hour from our house.    We went and absolutely loved it.

Apple Picking

First on the agenda was apple picking.  They charged by the pound.  They were absolutely cool with us taking one basket per family. We could take a ride to the apples or walk.  Since the apples we wanted were close, we just walked.

It was all low pressure and lots of fun.  On top of it, we got some great family photos as well!

Bonus.

Cider and Donuts

Next up was cider and donuts.  We stood in a very short line.  We ordered a gallon of cider and a dozen donuts.  They asked how many cups we wanted.  We grabbed a bunch of napkins.  No charge for either!

And when we went to pay by credit card, no problem.  They didn’t shuffle us off to an ATM conveniently located on property.

We headed outside and found a picnic table.  They were plentiful.  We enjoyed some great cider and probably the best donuts I’ve eaten.  Everybody had two!

Play Time

The place had some really large hay bales rolled up.  They put a few out near the picnic tables, which was great fun.  The kids loved climbing up.  My wife and I even hopped up and got a few more pictures.

A Great Day

In the end it was a great time.  It helped that the weather was great.  Everybody was in a good mood.  Nobody felt nickel and dimed.  Nobody felt rushed.  We all enjoyed some great cider and donuts and left feeling satisfied.

Since the place has been in business for years, presumably they’re making money.  Imagine that, treating customers right and still managing to turn a profit.

Some places need to take a lesson.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.