Beyond Money

21 comments

money is not everything
Money used to rank very high on my priority list, but the best takeaway after starting MoneyNing is probably realizing that money isn’t everything. Family, friends, health, and personal values are a few aspects of my life where I rank more important than wealth and net worth. How about you? What do you value more than your bank balance?

  1. What’s the point of being rich without being healthy? If you have to labor up and down the stairs while you are traveling in Europe, would a business class ticket really help you enjoy the trip more than if you were able to feel energetic even after a full day of sight seeing?
  2. How can you sleep at night without integrity and personal values? If you took advantage of your loved ones to get ahead, can you actually enjoy all the possessions that you own if no one will truly want to share them with you?
  3. Who can you share your wealth with if none of your family or friends want to speak to you? I much rather have a lovely thanksgiving dinner in at a cramped dinning table than eating by myself in a huge mansion with no one to talk to but all those maids that I won’t even see.

Before we make any decisions that relate to our wealth, perhaps we should ask ourselves whether it’s all worth it. Don’t trade always make the sacrifice of time with your family for that promotion and don’t always say no to your children when they want to spend time with you because you are working. Is neglecting your friends really worth being able to buy that car if no one will ever take a ride in it with you? You can decide. Money is important, but…

Real Life and Suggestions

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Roger Lady April 22, 2011 at 8:14 am

David, I’ve been signed up and reading your terrific blog for several months and was interested in taking the 7 part mini-course but I couldn’t find it. The only way I see to get it appears to be as a new subscriber but that can’t be right? Any suggestions other than signing up a second time with another one of my email addresses? Thanks. Roger

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MoneyNing April 22, 2011 at 1:58 pm

The frugal newsletter is actually something you already joined, so you should have received the 7 part mini course that comes through to your email once a week last year. If you’d like I can reset your subscription to have them sent to you again.

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April May 31, 2011 at 4:51 am

David,
I read your advice at your site all the time, it always is sound financial advice. I am writing you now because I need your advice . My husband and I have been fighting to save our house from foreclosure. In ther first few years of our newly constructed home, I lost my job (2006). Since then it has been an up hill battle to maintain a job. Fortunately we both have retirement income from the military(USMC) to keep us somewhat afloat. My husband presently has in addition a teaching job and I am on unemployment (Iam a govt contractor, no contracts open yet) Our mortgage was a predator loan, 80/20. We are paying our 20%, but have been trying to work with Bank Of America (80%) to modify our mortgage with them. They want to take our home, we hired a lawyer to speak for us. BOA keeps denying the govt programs and continues to suggest shortsale or foreclosure. It has been 4 years and no foreclosure yet even with a lawyer. To make matters worst a home was just built behind us about 10FEET from the back of our yard (NO PRIVACY at all)…….Iam so disgusted about this whole situation. We were willing to fight when we had privacy, now Iam not so sure. Especially given our credit rating with BOA didnt do our credit reports any good, it would be difficult to move into a new home again. Honestly, I really need a suggestion from you and I trust your advice because I have used it in the past and it has worked for me, especially in shopping and saving tips. Should we just take the short sale, an hope we find a home again (we are in our 50′s) or fight it out and mabe stay here with no privacy ? Any recommendations you have would be welcome. ( The lawyer is always neutral when it comes to advice…….)

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MoneyNing June 1, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Thanks for having your trust in me. Deciding whether to let go of your home is just as much a moral/emotional decision as a financial one. Strictly financially speaking, it sounds like you will be better off just walking away from your house if you are underwater and cannot afford to pay the full 100% of your obligations. However, I am assuming that you live in a non-recourse state where BofA cannot go after your other assets if you default on your mortgage.

On an emotional level, it sounds like you are also ready to move on from the house since it’s not the place you thought it would turn out to be.

So the decision really boils down to a moral issue. Your mortgage is an obligation with terms that you accepted. Do you feel right to just default even though you can drag this out while you look for a job that will help you eventually afford the mortgage, or is this strictly about numbers where you will be better off leaving the negotiated terms behind and start fresh?

This is really a personal decision that only you can answer, but either way, know that the situation is almost always better than you think it is.

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Anne January 21, 2013 at 4:32 am

I would like to add a few thoughts to the above post from April posted in May, 2011; just hope it isn’t too late to be of some help. April, I am a licensed real estate broker in Fla (USA), also a licensed broker in Ohio for many years, (35-yrs) and as such I’ve gained exstensive knowledge and experience in real estate finance. I may be viewed as sounding harsh, for which I apologize, but it seems to me there are a few facts you need to grasp hold of.

For one, you state that both you and your husband are former military, then you should have been able to obtain a VA loan with no money down, possibly including your closing costs in the financing; the seller could have even kicked in some home improvement costs for you. I’d have to see your contract to purchse to know these things , but okay, let’s assume this establishes how you prequalified and obtained your initial financing. Great, VA financing is the highest and best financing possible and lucky are those who are able to use it. But here’s my question: Why would you and your hubby sign on for monthly mortgage payments when there might be an outside chance you would not be able to repay? Because the loan was cheap and easy to get even tho the paymets were high? Did you not consider that one of you might lose your job and then would be upside down in your lifestyle and the ability to make your mortgage payments? What this comes down too is that you were blindsided of your own chosing and bit off more than you could chew. This is not the banks’ fault, this is your own fault.

I am not defending BoA per se’ just telling it like it is. BoA isn’t one of my favorite lenders. I have had buyers get their own financing with BoA, but in 35-yrs I personally have never placed a loan with them, nor did I ever encourage one of my agents to take a loan app to BoA. (Google, they have multiple lawsuits against them and many for good reason; just recently they were ordered by the court to make 45B in settlements with numerous customers). My favorite lender has been Wells Fargo, easy to work with, very helpful, stayed on top of the loan, and never attempted to whiplash or cheat me out of my commission; most importantly, OR gouge a buyer/seller.

Get a different lawyer, one who has some real estate expertise’ in banking matters. Your lawyer isn’t on the ball, or is he? If BoA did ROBO signing on your mortgage loan and closing documents, then you may have a claim against them. Even now, in the event you have already vacated the property, you still might have a claim against them. In brief, ROBO signing is “robot” signatures, done by rubber stamp or computer print out, meaning no closing officer or other required signatory actually read the documents you were required to sign, nor were you property informed. However, bear in mind; there is a law that states “you knew or should have known”. Did you?

You state you have been on the verge of foreclosure or short sale for four years but that BoA still has not filed for foreclosure. What have you been doing with those monthly payments that apparently you have not been paying these four years? Did you save it, or most of it, some of it? And if not, why not? I am assuming you needed the money to live on, so you have been living off BoA all these years then. Why would you have some grudge against them when you have been living off them? You think this is morally right? It isn’t. Why does BoA owe you squatters rights just because you over extended yourself? How is it their fault that we had the bubble burst and you lost your job? It isn’t. Your agreement to repay was based on your credit worthiness and good faith, remember?

But we’re at this point now. You question whether you should allow BoA to go into short sale or foreclosure? Well, it’s unlikely you can catch up all those payments now, + + +, so you’ve got yourself in a bind. So I will tell you right up front; your credit is already RUINED no matter which way you go. Either way, you will NOT be able to purchase another home for many years unless you can come up with 40 to 50% cash down. It will be difficult for you to even be approved for a decent rental once you have done this dastardly deed.

First; never never never EVER allow a short sale on your property. Do NOT agree to such a thing. The deficient on your credit record will be there forever and you will never be able to repay it or get it removed. That’s not all, BoA CAN come back on you years from now and sue you for the balance, penalties, late fees and legal costs; and if you think another lender will touch you in the future, you are sadly mistaken. On a foreclosure you can walk away, you’re done with any future responsibility to BoA or a new buyer; not only that, you can stay in the home until the day title is transferred to a new buyer; technically/legally you still own the property up until title transfers.

There is no advantage to a seller to go into short sale, not in the long run. Sellers (and buyers!) just do not know what they are in for. I do NOT show or contract short sales for my buyers and avoid other realtors and lenders who offer short sales. SO much time and BS is wasted in trying to deal in short sales. I will take a buyer to foreclosures as I know they will eventually get the home and will know the costs stipulated up front. No tricks, schemes and devices; although they still might find some little something croping up they weren’t aware of and I warn them of this possibility. But in a short sale the buyer goes out on the limb for hidden costs and blindly agrees to pay them at the closing, if/when they ever get to a closing. The lenders hold up short sale offers endlessly while a buyer waits, sometimes up to two years+, only then to find at the closing that they have just obligated themselves for costs they never dreamed of. IFFF they ever make it to closing!

Ref the new home that was built behind you: Obviously you had a very small rear lot to begin with and surely you must have known this. The builder of the new home behind you had the right to build in accordance with deed restrictions, set backs and city/county permits. It is too bad that a present home owner does not realize when they purchase a home that they have no rights and no control over what a new owner decides to do on his adjoining property so long as that owner conforms to present laws. If you stay there, you’re going to have to ‘git over it’ or have a privacy fence installed if your deed restrictions and county permits allow . I certainly wouldn’t just vacate my home and destroy my credit forever, (which is already ruined) possibly never being able to purchase another home, just because some neighbor bugged me by building too close to my property line; when to be fair, that neighbor probably didn’t want to be close to you either but was restricted to the lot lines just as you were.

For your OWN sake, try very hard to stay in your present home. Get a job in a pie factory sampling pies if that’s what you have to do. You could be (and likely WILL be) far worse off if you don’t. That’s my take.

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Lilia June 8, 2011 at 7:54 am

Hello Money Ning. I am a 23 year old full time graduate student (on an assistantship) who opened up a Roth IRA (approximately a year ago). Currently, I have $1700.00 in this account earning 0.01% interest (big whoop!) As you can tell, I am not happy with this account at all. I know that I am young, I have plenty of time to worry about retirement and that I am not really in the workforce as yet, but how can I promote growth on this account. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. there’s no reason why my money should be sitting in an account earning pennies!

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MoneyNing June 9, 2011 at 2:11 pm

If the really long term is your time horizon, then you should think about building a diversified portfolio, such as one that has much of your money in stocks or equities in general. Always watch out for all the fees and be patient with the ups and downs of the market.

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Investment Manager June 9, 2011 at 9:09 pm

I like point #1 above. I know people that work very hard to build a nest egg and plan carefully to enjoy retirement. But, they let their health go over the years and by time they are ready to reap the rewards they don’t feel well enough to truly enjoy it. Sad

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lifeisdynamic January 25, 2012 at 3:24 am

I realise what I have to say is probably too late for the above two people requesting advice, and what I have to suggest may be naive.

To the lady in her 50′s:
1. Can you take in a border or divide your house in such a fashion as to rent out part of it to subsidise your income to pay the mortgage. Wait until the housing market picks-up then sell.
2. Can you take in overnight guests (tourists) charging by the night. Offer to pick-up guests from the airport, etc. In Australia these homes are known as Bed and Breakfast accommodation. Starting a home grown business to support your income and offset tax.
To the 23yo student:
How about looking to put your money into an Aussie bank where interest rates are much higher. Consider a Term Deposit to protect your principal investment (I am assumming the Aust’n Gov’t will guarrantee your principal investment in Term Deposits as they guarrantee Aussie investors). It’s worth looking into.

Hope my comments help somebody if not the above people.
Judith

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Morgan Stuart February 1, 2012 at 8:46 am

Hello, I am a stay home Mom of two young children (18 months and 3 years). What is the best way to start a retirement fund for a stay at home Mom? Where do I start? Thanks! Love your blog.

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Jonathan December 8, 2012 at 5:47 am

Excellent observations, for me health is something that should be valued and treasured. Even if you have little money available to you, if you are fit and healthy you can still be happy :)

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Ryan January 26, 2013 at 8:33 pm

Nicely said! I applaud you on these thoughts. Keep up the good work.

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Jay Aspenwood March 28, 2013 at 2:41 am

David, thanks for great thoughts regarding the (un)importance of money. Your first couple of rows of text really mirror my own experience. The more time I’ve spent on thinking about the meaning of money and wealth to me, the less important they have seem to have become. What really matters is happiness.

Now, the funny thing is that money and happiness are not mutually exclusive, but neither are they directly correlated. While in my case the path to wealth has also made me happier, this is mainly due to other things than money. What has really made the difference are things like getting to do what I really like the way I want, feeling good about things I achieve in doing what I do, or being able to spend more of my time in ways that matter and with people that matter to me.

Of course there are also things like (mostly) avoiding major money-related head-aches, or the ability to spend more on things that are really important to me. But still, what’s clear to me is – exactly like you said – that family, friends, health, personal values, etc. are much more important than money. They are really the things that make me happy, and the only role money has there is to allow me to focus more on them.

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Thetiis April 29, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Glad you have learned what happiness is. I am an old, old lady, ( 85 ) I had a wonderful life, with children and freedom.

It is almost over, but there are still things to learn and love.

Go back to school when the children are grown, learn to fly, don’t think anything is impossible. That is what I did. Never thought much about money, things usually work out, and you find a way to solve the problems that stump you at first.

Have a wonderful life.

Thetis

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Judy July 15, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Well said! Live your life while you still can. If you have more life to live when you are done, move on to something else that will bring you joy and happiness. Life is way to short to give away a single moment wishing you would of done something instead of going out there and doing it.

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lana May 5, 2013 at 9:18 am

I think that a couple of missing components of what you stated are making a difference in the world and being able to meet your creator having used all your gifts and talents before your last breath.

It is a lot easier to make a difference if you are a good steward of your finances. I’m not talking about giving huge lumps of money, there are ways big and small to give. But if you have the mindset of just making it another day, it is hard to look beyond your situation. Been there, done that.

Look up, look around. See who you can impact for good.

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zimmy@moneyandpotatoes.com May 25, 2013 at 12:31 pm

I love your point #2. Integrity and personal values are very high on my list and although I would love to be rich, I don’t want to get rich in a way that would hurt other people…Just some good advice.

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lana July 19, 2013 at 4:41 pm

We tithe first and save second. Money has been important, but not the be all.
My dream was to take my kids to Europe and be able to teach them about history, culture and help them to feel like they can navigate through the world. Saving money helped facilitate that. We spent $18K for six weeks of sightseeing. We traveled frugally and enjoyed a dream come true. It helped that my hubby’s company paid for a month in a flat, but we rented a car and had many flights, tours and hotels. What a joy. Now the kids are in college, no debt so far. With the house paid off, we are still able to save 25% a month. Being blessed and trying to be a good steward has made all the difference.

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Kristin July 25, 2013 at 11:02 am

Hi,

I just signed up for your newsletter after reading the “Why Everyone Should Aspire to Retire Early” article (which happens to be the motto of my life!) and I a excited to read all of your materials/advice.

Thanks for your your website!

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jude August 13, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Hi my name is Judy, I took care of alztymer patients most of my life, But in 1992 After having extensive brain surgery, while carry a second child I contacted hepatitis c,,after having major migraines for 18 yrs. After numerous blood check ups they finally came up with this diagnoses, I had run thru a glass window in my teen yrs. , But I have found out somewhere along the line in my numerous blood transfusions I contacted hiv also, and fibromyalgia cfs, I am non detectable in my hiv and had lung cancer in 2005 and am in remission cinch have gone thru one hep c treatment and got down to normal but after taking the medicine for a year and quit it came back right away the hepatitis c I am getting ready to go for another treatment for my type of hep c, I have been lucky enough to have not transferred this disease to anyone nor the hepatitis c, I have been on social security and disability cinch 2002 , I am afraid for my future the cronic fatige is the most compromising, I don’t have the energy to go back to work I don’t smoke and I havnt had a drink cince 1991 , I do a lot home craft sitting down and have sold a few have been with the same man for app 10 yrs , A wonderful man He bought a mobile home and started a business driving a tow truck, but he owns this home but we don’t have rent control here we pay almost 1000 dollars or more for the space I am 56 he is 57 I don’t know what our future holds, Where do find rent control homes he has a va loan he hasn’t used yet and his credit is very good , butt Im feeling the crunch of not having extra money to spend Ive read your colume and it gave me a lot of good ideas I just want to thank you for your information sincerely a soul survivor, Jude

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Skilled Saver September 21, 2013 at 2:45 pm

So true. Family, health and safety all come before money!

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