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Day 14: The Long Why


I want you to think about that number. How big is that dollar amount to you?

Do some comparisons. How does it compare to your current bank balance? To what your home or car is worth? To how much every home your immediate family owns are worth combined?

How does it compare against your annual salary?

Smell the bills in your mind. What do they smell like? I hope they don’t smell like body odor and cigarettes. If they do, take them back… to wherever you got them in your mind. Then go to your mind bank. But not just any mind bank. Go to the bank where they spritz the money with Chanel No. 5 or something. Maybe they cook bacon near your money. In my mind-bank, the teller people keep Warm Vanilla Sugar scented spray in one of those squirt bottles with the fan. I admit, some of you may prefer body odor and cigarettes.

Stay with me. Let’s get more tangible.

If you were to take that many one dollar bills and line them up on their sides, it would make a line of money ten miles long.

Well, almost ten miles. 9.94 to be exact.

Ten miles of money. Ten miles of sweat and tears. Ten miles of interest. Ten miles of symbolism. What does your money symbolize to you?

Some of you may be wondering what comes after my debt. This blog after all is about my pound-the-pavement, make-the-money, Roe Intense efforts to be debt free. But what then?

I told my wife I wanted to work to get us out of debt. Then, I want to get out of fat.

What happens after we are free? Why do it in the first place?

The short answer is because we can’t afford not to.

The long answer? Well, here’s my Long Why. Back to the intangibles.

The basic reason for getting out of debt is a spiritual one. If the word ‘spiritual’ makes you feel icky, please remember that spirituality can be a-religious. I use it to signify those things that are necessary in our lives, yet intangible. To paraphrase Rabbi Lapin in Thou Shall Prosper, food is a need and we can feel it, smell it, taste it, and even throw it. We crave it. We think about it. We want it and need it.

Affection is also necessary, but we can’t put our finger on it. We crave it. We seek it out. We think about it. We want it and need it. When we receive it, we recognize it. We feel it on a spiritual level.

Being debt free and managing money is about stewardship.

See? Told you. Intangible.

It’s about dedicating yourself to the well-being of others by buying enough time back to serve. Or maybe you buy people’s labor and fund their lives. Or maybe you work with another person to grow their business, building their wealth and sound money management skills. There is a profound effect on you, and also those around you. Everything I’ve read says that being wise with money increases the joy in the world at large, not just in your own little world.

In a very tangible way, each of us can change the world by changing ourselves. If you’re reading this, there’s a very high likelihood that your credit card debt alone is somewhere around $4,000 to $10,000. Mine just broke $3,000 in the down direction. Our total debt is staggering. Yours might be, too.

I encourage you to kill it. Set foot on the mountain of beating that burden, and start climbing. It’s a long climb. My wife and I can tell you that it’s tough. I deliver pizzas at night, for crying out loud. But guess what? There’s something amazing at the end.

My wife and I plan on saving 3 to 6 months expenses in a liquid account after getting out of debt. After that, we will contribute 15% of our pre-tax income to Roth IRA’s and other investment accounts. If our income stays the same, we pay the same amount every month for 25 years from the time we’re 30 till we are 55, and average 8% return on our money, look what happens:



Here’s another amazing thing: that’s just 15% of our income. What are we going to do with the other 85%?

I promise you we won’t be burning it to the interest gods. We won’t be sending checks or transferring balances to a credit card. Eventually, we won’t even pay a mortgage company.

We will go on five missions. Or start a non-profit. Or both. We’ll buy textbooks for kids that need textbooks. We’ll feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and the afflicted. Sure, we’ll have toys, but there are only so many toys. The real happy thoughts come from handing that money to others in the form of help and opportunity.

When we’re sixty, we will have tacked on another couple hundred thou- to that number. We can just take an interest check every year to the tune of $88,000/year until we’re too old to count. Or remember stuff. Like where I put my glasses. Our conversations might go like this:

“Honey, where are my glasses?”

“Which ones?”

“The ones with the night vision enhanced bifocal targeting system I use for reading.”

“You left them under the pile of money.”

Vat?” I yell, because everyone sounds Jewish over 60.

“Under the money!” she shouts.

“Oh right,” I reply as I push my hover-walker into the hallway.

We’ll give most of it away and still have a ton to spend making memories, providing opportunities and enjoying ourselves and the ones we love.

That, my friends, is the Long Why. How long is it? About ten miles, all the way to the happy bank with the Warm Vanilla Sugar and the fan squirt bottle.



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