Beyond Your Paycheck

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This November, I plan on participating in National Writing Month.  I was not going to mention it until around Halloween as an explanation for why I will be taking a step back from posting on Middle Class Guy every few days for that month.

I have long surpassed my original goal of one hundred posts this year, which I later amended to one hundred and sixty in my own idea notebook.

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With the publishing of this one late this Sunday, it will be number one hundred and forty-six for 2017, which puts me only fourteen away from my amended goal.  I already have more than fourteen planned for October, so I should achieve my blogging goal by Halloween.

I mention this for a good reason today.  I have two excellent plots already outlined in notebooks years ago but never commenced. Both involve protagonists that, like I have done many a year, resolve to make some extra money above and beyond their monotonous, bureaucratic local government jobs (yes, like I have) with inept supervisors (yes, like I have) to help fund the lives of their wives and two children (yes, like I have) as their expenses continue to rise.

I have decided on the one that I plan on proceeding with and look forward to actually taking a stab at writing it rather than just thinking about it like I have for the past seven or so years since I outlined the plot.

Like me, the protagonist has come to the realization that he will never earn his fortune merely by collecting his meager government salary for thirty-plus years.  He could support his family so long as he remains gainfully employed and very frugal, but will never make it ahead.

As a Middle Class Guy, I, too, have come to the realization that as long as I rely on my local government salary and my wife’s extremely small part-time seasonal income, we will not really build any prosperity.

Like millions of others, we can get by as long as we both continue to work our respective jobs, but unexpected hits like the new central air conditioning unit that we are having installed tomorrow will always set us back and take a painful bite out of our savings.

I have tried, unsuccessfully, to supplement our income with investing.  Besides a nice gain that I made on a crazy volatile triple-leveraged gold miner stock last year, I have basically failed at generating any significant amount of income via trading.

What I have been moderately successful at is investing for our children’s college accounts.  I saved $100,000 for our son and am now at $99,000 for our daughter, who just began high school this past August.

Truth be told, most of the gains that contributed to these almost-impressive amounts that I saved despite a modest income over the years could be attributed to a mutual fund that my late maternal grandfather advised when he gave me a few thousand to invest for them, Vanguard’s Wellington fund.

Like me, most people do not have salaries that will help them attain a great amount of wealth.  We need something on the side and to make our money work for us.

There are many ways to do this, one of which is tapping into your creativity and sharing your knowledge and interests with others, like I do via this blog.  It takes some grit to follow through on doing something extra for your family and it also requires you to create rather than consume information.  But in the long-run, if you stick to it, it should be worth your while.

Of course, money is not the only thing in life.  It may not even be the most important.  However, I have never bought into the notion that money cannot buy happiness.  True, there are many wealthy individuals whose personal lives are in shambles and end up regretting the steps that they have taken to achieve the wealth that you and I so desperately crave.

But money can purchase peace of mind.  Instead of me fretting over all the money flowing out of my account this month and the past few, if I had a million in the bank, I doubt that I would be worried at all.  I would probably be searching for plane tickets to travel to NOLA in January instead of losing sleep over my family’s mounting expenses.  I also could not sleep well last night due to it being about eighty degrees in my house.

Money could take care of you and your loved ones, and to a great extent, it means a greater amount of freedom.  Not that I would live in the same lower middle class home in an aging lower middle class neighborhood, but if my air conditioning unit gave out and I had about ten times as much money as I do and the freedom that comes with it, I would certainly stay home tomorrow to oversee the installation instead of my wife having to deal with the contractors herself.

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I would also grill up some nice steaks and crack open a fine bottle of wine to go with them after the installation was completed instead of taking orders from a young, inexperienced and brash young supervisor all afternoon.

Even though we will be paying for the new AC this month and I have also made some large payments related to our daughter’s upcoming marching band trip to Disney World and her poms trip to the same destination two months later, I still look forward to Paying Ourselves First this coming Friday.

September is one of the two months this year when we are paid three times, having already been paid on the first and the fifteenth. This coming Friday will be the twenty-ninth and will provide a rare opportunity for me to send $300 three separate times to our retirement accounts, in addition to the $400 that I automatically send to our daughter’s 529 account on the first of every month.

I am guessing that it will be more like eleven or twelve thousand leaving our checking account this month, but I relish the fact that $1,300 of that will be going toward our future.

$2,500 of it will go toward keeping us comfortable during hot weather.

With our expenses already high and continuing to mount, you can easily see why it is that I feel the need to make money beyond my paycheck.

My guess is that you feel the need too.


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