A shave and a haircut that pays you.

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A shave and a hair cut for free, or better yet, one that makes money for you! When I look back on some of the best financial decisions I have made over the last 12 years (since I was 18), I have found that there are some pretty simple decisions any man can make when it comes to being thrifty and smart with his money, and that are guaranteed to pay off somewhere down the road. Being smart with one’s money is not as complicated as rocket science. I would compare it more to concrete mixing or shoe shining; a simple repetitive process that requires a little bit of elbow grease and discipline. The problem is, society seems to be through with elbow grease and self-discipline, unless it has to do with sculpting your body for the purpose of…well picking things up and putting them down of course.  Just kidding, I do cross-fit too. Here are some simple lessons and values that I believe every man should adhere to:

– The first lesson a man needs to learn is not to become ensnared by the latest and greatest, but instead be captured by the value of a lifetime warranty. You may pay a little more up front, but you will never have to pay again. Therefore, before you buy, look to see if the product you are purchasing comes with a lifetime warranty. If there are no products within that “product class” which comes with a warranty, pick the company that has been around the longest and is known for their quality. If something happens to that product within its lifetime, write a hand-written letter to the company explaining what happened and why you would like a replacement. I have done this a handful of times and have always received an equivalent replacement or an upgrade.

– The second lesson which will not only save you money, but I have found helps to make money, is learning to cut your own hair. The investment is $20 (for the clippers) the return is $4000! In the last 12 years I have saved over $4000 on haircuts (1 haircut every 2 weeks for 12 years, average haircut price $10-$15). I have since taken that money and invested it to increase my rate of return. It is simple math, and a simple decision. Sure I have had a bad outing with the clippers once or twice, but I swallow my pride, and thank to God the hair grows back (for now anyway).

– The third lesson is to understand that the price/size of an engagement ring will not make your marriage better. Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but they are not your pocketbook’s buddy. The average price of a wedding ring these days is almost $5300! By spending less on your wife’s ring you can use the extra money for travel, to invest, or to pay off your college loans. I didn’t spend a penny over $1500; an instant savings of $3800. What I did do is spend a lot of time to make sure I purchased the perfect ring. The diamond is less than .30 carats, and to this day it is my wife’s favorite piece of jewelry. Not to mention she receives countless comments on its simplicity and beauty. The funny thing is, we both very rarely wear our rings anymore. After a few years, we realized our active lives had us always removing the rings, so we decided to get tattoo rings. If I had only known…I could have saved another $1400.

– The fourth lesson a man needs to embody is to never impulse buy, and be proactive. This is a tough one, but over time, it can save you a lot of bread. Unless the item is on sale (final clearance), chances are there is a better deal out there somewhere else. Today, with the power of patience, and the internet, you will be able to most likely find a steal on the product you have been waiting to purchase. To paint you a better picture, my old pair of running shoes are on their last leg. I want to purchase the same pair (New Balance 730’s, sz. 11) but the average price right now for the size and color I want is $50. I have seen them before for under $30 so every few days, for the past 4 months, I do an internet search to see if they have come down in price. I will let you know when they do.

–  The fifth lesson that should be taken into consideration is, never spend more than 15-18% of your monthly income on a place to live. Although a bit tricky, it is possible. I learned the hard way with this one, and late. If you think about it, you spend over 75% of your day at work or sleeping. So why are we (society) paying so much for a big, new, house/apt in a “hip” location that we are hardly in? Since, learning this lesson, I have been able to allocate the additional money I would have been spending on a larger/nicer living space and earmark it towards diversifying my portfolio by investing in land. I hope this decision will help me to someday pay for a future house with cash; never paying upwards of 20% of my monthly income again for a home.

– The sixth lesson is one that I have found to be invaluable. When buying a vehicle, consider purchasing a fuel-efficient used truck. My Toyota Tacoma has manual roll up windows (yes they still have those), is two-wheel drive, and has a hummingbird 4 cylinder engine! Needless to say, it is all that is MAN. This bad boy tank gets me 24-28 MPG and has the ability to tow a boat, carry couches, motorcycles, and other miscellaneous garbage. It has aided in helping others to move from one home to another, and has cost me almost nothing to maintain. In the past 3 years, I am on track to save close to the overall value of the truck on moving costs, and discounts on furniture etc. (which I can pick up and haul free of charge). Not to mention, I took my time to purchase it and bought it for almost $4000 under the kellybluebook value.

-The seventh lesson will be the last lesson I share with you today. In my eyes, it is one of the most important lessons I have learned, through my own experience as well as through others.  Never be in debt to anything for longer than 7 years (even a house payment if possible). Now there is something to be said about “good” debt (i.e., buying a home which could make you a profit). But the key word is “could;” some are more willing than I to take the risk and endure 20-30 years of paying off a fixed or variable home loan. In the Bible, Deuteronomy 15:1 talks about how at the end of 7 years all debts should be canceled. Now let me be clear, by no means am I saying it is unbiblical to carry debt longer than 7 years, I am only attempting suggest a good practice not to, based on my interpretation of biblical guidance. Since we live in a day and age where a cancelation of debt by creditors would almost never happen due to the “free” market and lack of regulation on interest rates, I have decided to master my own finances and do my very best to make financial decisions which will not allow debt to master me, longer than 7 years. My thought behind this is simply;

By not carrying any debt, it allows one to more freely give to others in need, live in the present, and invest in the future. 

– Be Wise. Rugged. Brave.

Scott

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Find your Cupola.

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Reading time: 2 minutes.

I have never been in a Cupola. Not too long ago, my 93 year old grandmother was telling me a story about an old 1800’s home she had lived in when she was just a little girl. When it stormed she and her siblings would run up to the cupola, lay flat on their stomachs, and look out the small windows of glass just to get a glimpse of the lightening out on the horizon. Thunder crashing all around they only thing they feared was their father finding out they had left the comfort of their warm beds to sneak up past the attic in the middle of the night.
Today that old farm house has been forgotten, left to slowly decay back into the earth from which it came. With it, everything will go, even the memories. The awe and wonder of what can now be substituted with the present day equivalent, an HD IMAX film, gone.

I have been in many churches all around the world. Countries like Italy, Peru, Panama, Brazil, South Korea, Germany, and others all have ornate churches with some of the most incredible Cupolas ever built. Painted with the most vibrant colors to recreate beautiful landscapes, endless skies, and holy figures. Tilting my head back, I am always dizzied in amazement when looking upon the timeless art. Nothing compares to it.
Today we are so over stimulated by the technology that surrounds us we have almost forgotten what is truly feels like to be filled with true awestruck wonder. We seek out what I like to call temporary fixes, never to truly realize the depths of our soul’s desires; we are over saturated, clogging up our pores with the cold greenish-brown muck you find between your toes while standing in a lake rather than the fine warm white sand you feel trickle past your feet as you listen to ocean waves crash all around you.

To feel the way my grandmother felt as a little girl, we have to stop and listen. Not to the noise of our busy lives passing us by, but instead to the noise the wind makes as it passes through a trees branches, the rain as it hits the tall grass in an empty field, or the sound a river makes as it flows uninterrupted along the smooth rock-bed beneath it. We have to find our cupola and let it do for us and our souls what it was designed to do in the homes, barns, and churches in which they were once built. The fear, excitement, and adventure of climbing to the highest point around, breathing in the fresh air, and feeling light’s warmth revive you will create within you something that you will carry with you until the time is right time to pass it on.

SRG

– Be Wise. Rugged. Brave.