Where was that millionaire’s manual?

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I peered over my youngest child’s shoulder as she opened a financial aid letter from the private college she’ll be attending in the fall. It was a notice about the student loan offer that was part of her financial aid package. (There’s an oxymoron.) “No, we’re not doing that,” I said to her. “But then,” she asked, “how will we afford my college?” “I’m saving our pennies,” I said. “You are not going into debt.”

My oldest had already accrued some debt before I woke up to our financial nightmare and started getting it together. I’ll pay that at the end of the line, after cash flowing both their college costs, paying off all our credit card debt and car loans. Then there will still be the HELOC and the mortgage. Still, we should be totally debt free in a little over five years.

Yep, I’m hell bent on living on a budget, paying cash for college, and paying off the nearly $662,000 in debt we accrued over the years.

I can’t believe how stupid my fella and I had been. As I’ve written, two decades ago we inherited a million bucks. An inheritance like that should come with an owner’s manual. It would include tips like these:

  • Put the money in mutual funds.
  • Don’t touch the principle except to buy real estate.
  • So don’t take out a mortgage.
  • Live on your income, not the proceeds from the investment, much less the principle.
  • In fact, live on a budget so you can still add to your investments.
  • And don’t borrow a dime.

Well, there was no manual, but we should have had enough sense to seek out some good advice. Fortunately, we did roll over a good amount into some IRAs so we weren’t left with nothing after all our stupidity.

As Dave Ramsey says, now’s the time to stop looking in the rear view window and start look ahead. It’s going to be fine.  I found me some sense before it was too late. I’ve written my own manual. If all goes well, we’ll get back that million and then some.



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