Your financial role model?

Did you ever have a financial role model growing up? I did not. I had “learn-from-my-mistakes” role models, in that I decided I never wanted to live in the way that I grew up and made a voracious effort to work my ass off and live frugally in order for that to never happen. Some days Chris asks me if I am still on that road and if I will ever slow down and realize I can chill a bit.

It is an interesting conversation (well maybe to me). Who impacted how you view money? Did you ever have a financial role model? Did you grow up watching Suze Orman on TV telling you when you might be DENIED? Were you given everything, and never taught that money does not grow on trees, and that there are consequences to racking up a crazy amount of credit card debt in the tune of never freeing yourself from the monthly payments? Or, did you learn how to know about your net worth, an emergency fund, and the importance of your credit score? Additionally, that your credit score can also be a causing factor in getting a job or not?

Money and finances are a reoccurring blog topic for me. Somehow over time money and sex seem to be taboo topics. No one really wants to talk about either. And, yet “Fifty Shades of Grey” became a mainstream movie (not without some backlash) what will be the movie about money that potentially starts the conversation amongst us? Somehow I think that movie will not be of much interest to the masses. Yet, how do we actually shift the world to start taking care of itself?

This recent Daily Worth article shares one woman’s experience and what she learned from her dad, or…like me what she learned not to do. Her dad is now retired and has to live on a fixed income. The potential for many who do not plan accordingly for the future, save, and approach retirement in a way that allows you to really “retire.” Chris and I look at today and what we save as a way to prepare for our future. For a time when we hope to have been savvy enough to find a point in time when we can make the choice for ourselves rather than be forced to work past relevancy. That way we can pamper our family and truly enjoy life.

We all have to start somewhere, but somehow I think many just never start. Or maybe it starts with who our financial role models are and what they teach us about today, tomorrow, and the future.

Falling from the 1%

It has been a while since I have read a book that I could not put down — until this past weekend. I read a book titled: “After Perfect: A Daughter’s Memoir” by Christina McDowell. It is about the Prousalis family and their demise. Think Bernie Madoff. Think scandal. Think fraud. At first when I started to read it I thought this is going to be an annoying book. It will be all about the 1% that had it all and so much more and lost it due to lies and deceit. And it is, but also about so much more.

The book is told by Christina, Tom Prousalis’s daughter. It is her story. It is how she learns about her father and his crimes. He goes to prison for three years after taking a plea deal. They lose everything and she and her sisters and mother must learn how to live. Her mother has never had to pay a bill and Christina realizes that her mother has been taken care of for so long that she does not even know where to begin to pick up the pieces of her life that is now in shambles.

It gets worse. Christina finds out that before heading to prison, her father had taken out multiple credit cards in her name and racked up debt to the tune of $100,000. She believes that he will fix her credit and pay off her debt. He makes her believe on the infrequent calls and letters from prison that he will take care of her. It takes her years to learn who her dad really is, and to truly understand the lies, and deceit, until eventually he literally vanishes from her life.

You might look at her story and think she is a child that had it all. She lived in such extreme wealth, she had things most others did not. Yet, in a lot of ways she was just the victim all along. She did not know about her father, the kind of man he truly was, she knew only what she knew. Her 20’s turned into a period of abuse. She lost the footing of who she was and turned to drugs, alcohol, and sex. Until she had enough. She came clean and searched for the truth. As painful as it was to find. She changed her name, and set up a new identity, free from the past, free from her father.

“After Perfect” was a page turner. It makes you see into the world of the 1%, and those that fall from that world. How they deal with it, how they do not, and in the end they are people just like the rest of us. If you are looking for a book to read (especially a memoir) I highly recommend it.

Has service died?

Frustrated. I work in a job that is one of service to others. I highly respect those companies and individuals that believe in service, and I get highly disappointed by those that do not honor service. I was raised in a way that living by principle matters. I take a strong stand for that principle. That means I might have a harder time letting a situation go if I feel that someone is taken advantage of or being mistreated.

My situation: I purchased a pair of eyeglasses at the outlet location of a local eyeglass store: Reynolds Optical. It is a great deal, a pair of frames and lenses for $150. Due to my crazy blind prescription, I always have to pay $100 to make the lens thinner. $250 is still a great deal. I think they can give these prices because the frames themselves are floor models from other locations. Fine with me – they can be cleaned, and I always check them for nicks or scratches. I was to receive them in two weeks. Two weeks go by and no phone call that they have arrived. We call, and find out they are there waiting. We pick them up and bring them home. The lenses are massive. I have never purchased a pair with such thick lenses.

I immediately think that they did not make them extra thin, and I paid an extra $100 for that. We take them back an hour later, and the guy says oh, I will send them back and they can put new lenses in. We later find out he is the owner’s kid. The guy agreed with us that they should be thinner. We wait 2 weeks, again no phone calls, we finally learn after multiple phone calls that the glasses are waiting. Bring them home and compare and again they look the same as the first round.

Chris takes them back and meets the owner. He tells Chris that the frames that were selected are not good for my prescription and they should never have been sent back. Chris lets him know that the guy never told us that, and that he is the one suggested that we send them back to be fixed. The owner says we do not do refunds, but I want your wife to be happy, and to have me come back in a pick new frames. We do. Same guy is working and he says yes I think that those frames will work. This time it should only take a week to fix. I receive a phone call a few days later that they are almost done and I owe them money. I lose it on the phone with her, telling her what a horrible experience it has been and I am not paying more money. If more money was needed it should have been agreed upon before work was ever done. I immediately call Chris and he calls the owner.

Owner and Chris get into yelling match on the phone. This is odd. Chris is patient, composed, and never yells. Does that tell you what a horrible man the owner is? Owner does not give in and unless I pay more money I will not have any pair of glasses at all. I am beyond angry. Remember, I am all about principle. How are these people even allowed to still be in business? We decide to pay the extra money and pick up the glasses knowing that we can be done with the situation, never go back there again, and share our experience online to protect others from being duped. Maybe the experience has tainted my brain, but I actually think the prescription in this new pair is not right. I’m wearing old glasses again until I can have my normal eye doctor look at them.

I then decide to read reviews on Reynolds online. There are quite a few of them. Merchant Circle, and City Search for a start. Here’s a recap and reasons why this was horrible service in more ways than one — plus I still do not know if I can wear the glasses:

  1. Poor or lack of returned phone calls through the entire ordeal.
  2. No service or help in the glasses selection process.
  3. Clueless about how lenses should show up in frames. Son should never work in optical shop.
  4. Owner gets involved, lies.
  5. Owner yells at customer, demands more money after work was done.
  6. Reynolds loses customer for good.