Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My final thoughts on money

I hope you enjoyed my breakdown on my finances last week.
I still shake my head when I think about money and its affect on the way we practice.

Before I get started...
I just finished a book called Brushko. It was copywrited in 1978 so it is not new or anything.
Very good.
Now I am reading a book called The Shack. This is a book going around that is getting a lot of exposure and a lot of people at my church keep talking about it. So I am reading it. I will let you know.
Growing up I was never a big reader but I felt like I was missing something. My freshman year of dental school I started to read. I real all the time.

But, as you know, I am also a movie buff...
I watched the movie No Reservations this weekend. Not bad. In fact, I liked it.

So you saw my budget. I told you my wife and I fought a lot about money. I think every couple does.
I remember like it was yesterday when I read a story about Warren Moon. He is a professional football player and was making millions of dollars a year when he was arrested for hitting his wife when they were arguing about the credit card bill.
It doesn't matter how much you make...
I find anyway that the more you make the more you spend.

You don't have to be a Bible thumping Christian to appreciate this but the Bible has more instructions about money than it does any other subject in the whole book. It has thousands of verses about money.
One that always sticks with me is...
No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24. I looked it up).
What do you think He is saying? Don't you think He knew what we were going to thing about money?
Don't you think He knew my wife would love purses? Don't you think He knew it was going to be tough when your friends roll up in a fat Mercedes to the study club? Didn't He know you were going to feel inferior as a person or as a dentist?

I went to a party with a bunch of dentists the other week. I roll up in my very comfortable
F-150. I love it, my kids love it. "Daddy can we go in the truck?!!"
But when I rolled up and an orthodontist and his wife get out a CL (the really nice slanty shaped one, I don't know the numbers) Mercedes and I have to walk by another dentist's car (a current model 7 series BMW). I walk threw the garage of the party giver and there is a Lexus and a Mercedes in the garage. Last dude coming to the party rolls up in a S550 Mercedes.
I feel like a dud. I shouldn't. I start saying to myself, "Man, they must be in some serious debt", trying to make myself feel a little bit better. I stop looking at the man and starting looking at the car. This is not right.
But you know who they call when they need a truck? (Although this doesn't help me at all. I get to drive their car for a day and feel even smaller.)
I continue to stand by the fact that even if I had that kind of money, I would not buy that kind of car. Because you lose all perspective. You have to get it washed all the time. You hate it when your kids are in it because they might mess up the interior.
I don't have anything that I hold on to that tightly.
If I ding my truck, I don't care. If the kids leave a crayon on the seat over the weekend and it melts, I pick it up and give them a lecture. I don't get mad about it or lose my cool.
I think if I spend that kind of money on something there is no way I will not Worship it (please refer to Mathew 6).
It is the same about my house. I love my house. It is a great house. But someone is always going to have a bigger house than mine. In a nicer area, with nicer furniture.
Lastly about the cars. If I have one (a fat car) I fear that I would make people feel the way I feel when a fat car rolls up. I feel like I am making someone else feel smaller than they are. We should have worth in our families, the way we love, our kids. Not in our stuff.

I try really hard to live under my means. I have been in a position of debt and it is not fun.
Going to work is a lot different debt free as oppose to going to work needed a certain number to pay your bills.
If someone comes to me and has an issue, I do not turn into a salesman. I turn into an educator and let them make a decision. Now if they make a decision that I am not comfortable with, I now have the ability to say, "Maybe this is not the practice for you. Maybe you should look for a dentist that wouldn't mind extracting that tooth." I let this patient walk out of my office. I don't even charge them for the exam.
Now imagine going to work and having debt hanging over your head all day.
I am not saying young dentist who have $200,000 in school debt and a $500,000 new office debt have any other choice but...
If that is not you then you have a choice to make.

Remember when I told you in the last blog about, "what does your check book say about you?"
Well in my budget I made some tough choices.
I have priorities.
I tithe...this is a line item that doesn't have to be there. And it may not be in your budget.
I save for the future...again, I don't have to do this.
Insurance...I don't have to have a $2.2 million life insurance policy on me. But I know if I get "accidentally" pushed down a flight of stairs and die my wife and kids will be taken care of for a long time (Guys take note, if I die, my wife will be available and really really rich).
I send my kids to a private school.
I have no consumer debt.
I pay all off all my loans as fast as I can.
All the above are things that are important to my wife and I. Could I knock a couple of those things out and get a fat car? YES.
Could I buy a bigger house? YES (but don't forget a bigger house means a bigger tax bill. It means bigger electric. It means bigger lawn and pool bills. It means bigger everything)
But I don't have my worth in things.
But I choose to live this way.

I am not telling you this stuff to make you feel crappy if you have a fat car.
I am not telling you this to make you feel bad if you are in debt.
I am telling you this to let you know it is okay to not have a fat car. It is okay to be the millionaire next door.
It is okay to live within your means.
It is fun to come to work. It is freeing.
Sometimes you can't help but feel small but I have to get over myself.
I have a family that loves me. I am a good dentist. I have a handful of patients that like me (that have nicer cars than me) and that is where I get my worth.

I could go on rambling for pages and pages.
The Millionaire Next Door says, "It is not what you spend it is what you save."
It is not cool. It is not showy. It is not as fun.
But it is what it is.
It is okay.

See you on Friday,

I have been reading my AGD's General Dentistry magazine and it it chalked full of great articles. I am getting good material for next week.


Anonymous said...

I really liked what you had to say here (unlike the last time I commented on your blog!).

Being 100% debt-free for 10 years, including no mortgage, I have many of the same thoughts you do about cars, toys, etc. I agree that the key here is that life's richness isn't measured in the type of car you drive, but so many people don't see this. I live in a gated, somewhat upscale community that is very close-knit (also known as a bit nosey). I'm always amazed at some of my neighbors' perspectives: "wow, he must be doing really well, look at that new SUV he has." Meanwhile, with an unbelievably successful business, we have been socking away a ton for retirement for years now, BUT I drive my 9 year old van (which I happen to like) and I don't raise an eyebrow. Sure, we spend more now that we make more, but we definitely live wayyyyy under our means.

There's no reason to feel small. Feel proud. You are teaching your kids a valuable lesson (you already know this) and you enjoy life. My kids are 17 & 18, and they know how to manage money and both want to live debt free -- they finally get it.

It truly is what you save and not what you spend. I look forward to turning 50 and knowing that we don't have to work unless we WANT to. Of course, retiring at 49 might raise an eyebrow or two in the neighborhood...

gatordmd said...

Great stuff.
You have great kids and I hope I can instill great values in mine.
In this world of "get me this" and "my friend has this and this"
it is not easy, as you may know.

Doesn't it suck if retired and you have to worry about what the neighbors might say.

Talk to you soon,

Anonymous said...

This is really good stuff, John. We love you and Hilda.


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