I recently purchased and read two Neil Cavuto books, More Than Money (2004) and Your Money or Your Life (2005), both published by Regan Books.
Disclaimer: I paid a buck a piece at a used book sale at a library for these books, but I feel that I got my two dollars’ worth. As is the case with many books that I purchase and read, you can purchase it for a whole penny on Amazon now, so long as you pay the shipping:
More Than Money: True Stories of People Who Learned Life’s Ultimate Lesson Paperback – May 3, 2005 by
Also, I am going to donate these two books to my local Goodwill store after this post in an effort to clear out two more of my immense pile (hoard) of books.
I read More Than Money first, which tells the stories of numerous famous persons, business leaders, sports figures and celebrities, and the difficulties and/or disabilities that they have overcome. The stories were very inspirational and make a Middle Class Guy like me feel like a total loser for failing to rise to fame and fortune despite not having numerous hurdles to success in my way since childhood.
One interesting story that I recall is that Paul Orfalea, the son of Lebanese immigrants, suffered from dyslexia and flunked the second and ninth grades. He was ostracized and made to feel different by others, but his parents taught him to rise above the hurt. He began selling random school supplies to fellow students at UC Santa Barbara in 1970, from there to an 80 square foot former hamburger stand with a Xerox machine in it, offering copying services 24/7 to fellow students, and eventually opened a shop called Kinko’s, his nickname, in a garage next to a taco stand.
For eleven years, I received monthly newsletters from Diane Swonk of Miserow Financial, at first by print and later via email. I found her writing and insights into economic issues very informative and even gained a greater appreciation for her humility in a newsletter where I recall her admitting being wrong for not forecasting the massive financial meltdown of the Great Recession. She left Miserow early this year and I have not received one of her newsletters since. I was extremely surprised to learn of Ms. Swonk’s dyslexia also, and her years of working to overcome it in Cavuto’s book.
Swashbuckling entrepreneur visionary Richard Branson merits his own chapter in More Than Money. Tales of his daring and trying challenges against the toughest odds makes Branson seem almost like a superhero. One of his biggest ventures, launching his Virgin brand into airlines, against many obstacles and reasons not to, makes this chapter about this ambitious, humorous, decisive dyslexic man, who can see differences, potential and overlooked opportunities, has resulted in some of Branson’s highly unorthodox, even “nutty” stunning victories and billions of dollars as a result.
There are many other similar stories in this book, which I suggest you read as an inspirational piece of work.
In Your Money or Your Life, I read ten things of interest to Middle Class Guys like me and you. Individual sections in this book publish short essays written by Cavuto in past years, thus the references to various years:
(1) Where were you on September 11, 2001? I had just moved to my current home ten days earlier. I live way out in the burbs, and I was commuting to a job in a high-rise in the Chicago Loop back then. I have a long story about where I was at the time, but we did not yet have a TV set up at our new house so my wife did not find out about the attacks for some time. I walked by the Chicago Board of Trade every day on my way to the office and knew something was up when every trader was outside on their mobile phones in a panic when I walked by right before 9:00. I got to my office in time to stand with my colleagues and watch the second plane hit, which I originally thought was a replay of the first plane hitting after my tearful boss told me that “they flew the plane into the World Trade Center.”
(2) In 2002, Cavuto wrote that the top one percent of wage earners pay more than 37 percent of the total taxes in this country; the top five percent, more than 56 percent and the top ten percent pay 67. Go to the top 25 percent, and 84 percent of the taxes are paid by these earners. So much for the wealthier getting all the breaks.
(3) People love to criticize the rich, as if being so were evil. I do not. Although I am far from rich, due to my position working with many business owners, the rich people that I know are mostly bootstrapping business owners who built their wealth over a period of many years of hard work. It’s the genteel, inherited their wealth rich people that I cannot stand and I knew many such people also while growing up.
(4) In 2000, Cavuto wrote that we are en route to becoming a nation of millionaires. It’s not like the 50’s or 60’s, where that would put you in the high upper echelon of wealthy earners. According to a CNBC article by Robert Frank from March of this year, “Despite volatile financial markets and slow economic growth, the U.S. added 300,000 new millionaires in 2015, bringing the total to a record 10.4 million, according to a new report.”
Frank further writes, “The number of American households with assets of $1 million or more, not including their primary residence, increased 3 percent last year, from 10.1 million, according to Spectrem Group, a market research and consulting firm.”
Us Middle Class Guys feel like we’re missing out on something here.
(5) Cavuto wrote way back in time, sixteen and a half years ago, that you should try to stick to a budget at home, but probably don’t. We certainly don’t in my family, spending $7,000 some months, which is within our budget, but the next month it goes over $10,000, and then maybe $12,000 in a month before going to $8,000 the next. Truth is, all of us Middle Classers have some big-ticket items come up from time to time that throws things off for a month and when it comes to unexpected costs, just learn to “expect the unexpected.”
(6) Considering last week’s crazy second presidential debate and the Republican nominee’s recent issues in the press over remarks made way back when, it is interesting that Cavuto extolled on the virtues of “The Donald” brilliance way back eighteen years ago in 1988. He wrote about Donald Trump’s pride, ego and determination to claw his way out of debt and facing a heap of trouble into a casino magnate. We saw all that last night in his tirades against Hillary Clinton.
(7) In a prescient piece written in 1999, Cavuto wrote about “beeper vacations.” No one, anywhere, will ever be able to go on vacation the same way again. They can get you. Reach you. Nag you anytime. It’s that easy, that annoying and that permanent. Although beepers are now obsolete, the idea continues with cell phones.
I can and will write posts on this subject, which has taken me from many a relaxing and enjoyable time with my family, hundreds of miles from home, back to nagging little troubles at the office that could very easily wait until my return. Nothing brings you down while boarding a ride at Disney World or hiking with your family in the north woods like answering an inane question from somebody many miles away at your office; one that could just as easily have been answered upon your return with no difference whatsoever.
(8) In a 2004 essay, Cavuto lamented the overwhelming amount of commercial shown in movie theaters prior to the main feature. It is come to be expected by now in late 2016, but I do remember seeing a polar bear-themed Coke commercial many years ago prior to a movie and feeling frustration at being forced to view it after paying my six bucks per ticket.
Fast forward twelve years and I pay upwards of fifty bucks taking my wife and two children to a first-run 30-screen multiplex AMC theater just for the tickets. God forbid that I have to buy popcorn, candy and soda for everyone. Tack on another $25 to $30. Then, when we find suitable seats, I would miss the days when it would just be a polar bear Coke commercial. Now, we are forced to watch 20 minutes of bullshit car commercials, fast food commercials and whatever else.
Cavuto claims it to be a bold-faced lie that the theater owners need these commercials to defray the cost of tickets for the viewing public.
(9) In 1999, Cavuto wrote about a different kind of midlife crisis. He writes about the long-held view of guys my age turning their lives upside down, ditching their wives, purchasing sports cars and scooping up a young blonde.
He wrote that although a few guys might do that, the overwhelming majority do not. Perhaps it is because of the kinds of friends that our children have made, but most of my wife’s and my friends are the parents of children (and now college kids) who are friends of our own. In the several dozen of the couples that we know, only one middle aged man has done this. Most of us remain loyal to our spouses and children through thick and thin, as we promised to do at our weddings many years ago.
The main manifestation of my own “midlife crisis” is spending some dough to purchase a domain name and putting thoughts on the Middle Class Guy blog.
(10) In 1999, Cavuto also wrote about anger. He characterized anger as a career killer as well as a killer of lives. Cavuto cited a story in Investor’s Business Daily (something that I also read, although not even weekly let alone daily) noting that over a 25-year period studying medical and law students, those with calmer personalities only died at a 4% rate by age 50, whereas 20% of those with more hostile personalities died by that early age.
Coming up to 50 years of age, myself, in only four-plus years, this hit home. I have been easily annoyed by things in the past, but not so much any more. I try not to get so upset when I am told to re-do something at work for the third time even though it was fine already, or some bozo cuts me off in traffic. I am high-strung enough without letting every little thing make it worse, which could ultimately cut years off of my life.
Angry people sit and stew and are often avoided, while those with positive attitudes tend to get raises and promotions. I have witnessed it many times, and strive to come in with a positive attitude every day, something that some of the Millenials who I work with could learn from.