Dollars and Sense — Part 1

What’s the best financial advice you ever got?

We live in a time when financial freedom is a dream rather than a reality for most Americans.  Debt has become a way of life, a reluctant but inevitable cost of fulfilling wants and desires.  We have fallen under the beguiling spell that we can borrow our way to happiness. We swim in a pool of red ink without a life preserver.  And we’re drowning in it.

Charles Dickens is quoted as saying, “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.” 

Financial guru Ron Blue said much the same, “Spend less than you earn and keep doing it for a long time.”

I thought of these two quotes when I stumbled across a July 23, 2019, Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article, Best Financial Advice I Ever Got.  This article shared the results of a survey of financial experts on what financial advice changed their lives for the better. As I read through the variety of responses, 

I began to recall the advice I had received over the years. And how I wished I had put that advice into practice sooner than I did.

It is not easy, especially as a young adult, to sort through the myriad of available financial advice. Modern-day “snake oil” salesmen are lurking in the advertisements of every Facebook and webpage screen. The explosion of ads in social media reminds me of carnival barkers at a local fair hawking their games to win the overstuffed doll. Beware of the financial cure-alls — cash-back credit cards, rebates, refinancing offers, and reverse mortgages — they can be minefields to navigate.  Learn to discern.

My personal education on financial matters began in earnest during a season of credit card madness. We had overspent one Christmas using our credit cards. Then ear infections ran through our five children, and the prescriptions needed were outrageously expensive. The situation worsened when our washing machine broke down, and the Air Conditioning needed a new compressor. The easy fix of credit cards proved a painful learning experience. Financial freedom and credit cards do not mix. Credit card interest rates are designed to keep you in financial bondage. Years later, when we listened to personal finance expert Dave Ramsey spout his financial gospel of “emergency funds” and “debt snowballs,” we soaked in every word. With our credit card fiasco fresh in our minds, we embraced the conservative spending/saving habits we should have been doing all along.

That experience prompted me to seek out and document golden nuggets of wisdom — financial-related tips and quotes — as a resource during times of temptation. One of our favorite Dave Ramsey quotes soon became our daily mantra:  

Debt is bad, Saving is good, Giving is fun, Stuff is meaningless!

Reading this WSJ article about financial advice brought back many memories —  especially raising five children on a single income, the cost of car insurance for teenagers, and sending those five through college.  Looking back, I am still stunned to realize we had 14 straight years with at least one child in college and several years with two or three.  Yikes!   

What financial advice and philosophy did we follow that helped us survive and be in a position to retire with confidence?

The road to financial hell is paved with good intentions. The way to financial peace is located at the corner of Word and Wise.  What do I mean by that?

Come back next week for part 2 of Dollars and Sense.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

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  1. srinblue1952

    Buddy, I think every couple should get a copy of this BEFORE they say their “ I DO’S”. Now this is from a celibate woman BUT with a LOT of watching a good couples separate over finances. Thanks for helping young and older folks with their finances! Thanks again for sending me your thoughts. Sr. M Margaret McAnoy Mmcanoy19@gmail.com



    1. Buddy McElhannon

      I agree. Finances tend to be one of, if not the most divisive topic for couples. Communication is so important and being in agreement on how the budget is set up and the money is spent.


  2. npwcorp@bellsouth.net


    Patty’s longtime friend Carol from Grade School (our longtime family friends too) departed for her FL home at Noon today…we raised 10 kids between us and just hours ago at the Breakfast table this morning , we were reminiscing with her, discussing raising our respective families, the cost of doing so, Christmas spending, Dave Ramsey’s (Envelope budgeting) Credit Card debt etc., and you and Tootie’s sharing the Ramsey plan with us……. and, how several years later after our returning to Conyers we were having the same years earlier conversation with you and Tootie and how you all found yourself deep in debt for not following your own advise… Patty, tongue in cheek explained to you all how for the past almost 20 years by following Ramsey’s plan and the advice you two shared with us way back then, we managed to raise our 6 kids and stay debt free, Christmas giving expense notwithstanding … Do you remember Tootie’s response? She replied to Patty, “well, maybe we need to meet those people that gave you that advise”. Reminds me of the old saying; “we have met the enemy, and he ‘are’ us”.



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