An Intro to OneSheet

Money never mattered to me growing up.

I wasn’t raised in a household of millionaires where money seemed never ending, and I was able to buy whatever I wanted without a second thought.  I had my allowance that I got for doing chores, and I did the odd jobs around the neighborhood (babysitting, lawn mowing, life guarding, swim lessons, and coached a swim team), but I never really gave the money I was paid for these things a second thought.

I kind of just assumed that was life.  You did work, you got money, you spent it when needed on whatever you wanted.

In college, things were still affordable.  Rent and food were cheap – we all drank really cheap booze – and pretty much everything could be afforded on my wimpy pay every two weeks from the now defunct Hollywood Video.  It wasn’t until 2008 when my mindset on money shifted drastically.

If you all remember (and I’m not sure how many of you can forget), we went through quite the recession in 2008.  At the time, I was living in Michigan, possibly the worst place for a college grad who had been working a part time job while looking for full time work to be.  Jobs were scarce, and companies were closing doors left and right.  Everyone was scared.  Everyone including me.  

I wasn’t scared for the same reasons though.  People were worried about feeding families and keeping their house and cars.  I was worried about setting out on my own.  I was an early 20 something year old man…who was still living at home with his parents.  Those checks that I used to get when I was younger and in college, the checks that had somehow carried me through so many years and made me feel wealthy, now didn’t seem to cut it anymore.  

As I was looking for work, and as I was failing to even get my foot in the door for interviews, my dad gave me a good piece of advice that I still quote to my wife (probably more often than she likes)…

You’ve gotta go where the money is.

That statement would carry me through the next 10 years of my life – and allow me a very different life than I had expected to live.

When I was in college, I thought I was going to be Steven Spielberg 2.0.  I thought I would be making gobs of money and have wealth, fame, and all that other crap that comes with delusions of grandeur.  In reality, I became something that I never thought I would ever be, a desk jockey in corporate america.

My first “professional” job I ever took was in Atlanta, GA – the base salary was for $53,000 annually.  No benefits, no frills.  I was to be an IT consultant for large clients.  I lived in a 3 bedroom apartment (paid for by the company) with 6 guys from India, Canada, the Iraq, and the Philippines.  When I was hired on, I was told I would have a 2 month training period, then I would be placed at a client site and that is when my $53k salary would start.

You read that right, I flew to Atlanta, GA on the promise of pay that after 2 months of training and certification tests I would get a consulting position at a company.

I got my first client after 4 months of living in Atlanta…and the position fell through.  However, they still put me on the payroll.  So for the next two months I collected my paycheck.

Two months later I was let go due to the economy.

I was back home with my family in Michigan again.  Back looking for work, back to being the kid that was out of college, living at home with his parents, trying to have an independent life.

I was unemployed for 6 months.  I had 2 months worth of pay in my checking account (roughly $6k), and nothing else to show for my time in Atlanta, other than some new memories and a fake resume (no joke, it was 5 pages and completely made up – that’ll come at a later post though).

After 6 months of unemployment I took a job in Chicago doing the last thing I ever expected, sales.

My dad has done sales for 40 something years now, so the concept was not lost on me.  However, I never thought I would be in the selling seat.  However, like my dad always said, “You’ve gotta go where the money is”.

I moved to Chicago 2 weeks after I got the job.  I had a 193 sq ft “studio apartment” I moved into which cost me $600 a month plus utilities.  I was making $40,000 at my sales job, a $13,000 loss from my IT job, but hey this was work and an opportunity to grow.  After 6 months they dropped my pay to $35k as an ‘incentive” to get me to sell more.  After a year, they dropped my pay to $28k, again to motivate me to sell.

In my mind, I had lost $25k by working at this new place.  

After three years I escaped.  I got another job at a software manufacturer making $38k with the opportunity to make $42k based on performance.  I performed the crap out of that job.

Each time I changed positions and companies, I always earned a little more on the salary, and I always was able to improve my lifestyle just a little bit.

However, there was always that kid inside, the kid that never had to worry about money.  The kid who got to buy what he wanted, whenever he wanted, without a second thought.

Sometimes this kid would come out and rear it’s ugly head, and I would give in, putting myself in financial turmoil for a couple of weeks.  Sometimes I was able to keep it at bay.

Meeting my wife changed a lot of my spending.  Now it didn’t matter what I wanted anymore, what mattered was making sure I could give her the life I felt she deserved.  The life that I knew I wanted, and wanted to share with her.  Buying action figures wasn’t going to get me that life.

Suddenly, money mattered to me.

Now, I live in a dual income household.  My wife and I have a joint checking and savings account, and we are much more successful together than we ever were when we were on our own.  However, this success doesn’t come with management and discussion.

I typically maintain the finances in the household – however every decision made financially is a joint decision.  We discuss all purchases before they are made (pending they are under about a $20 threshold, though sometimes we’ll talk about the small buys too), and we discuss how best to split our funds between bills/savings/fun/emergencies.  

Though our money is combined, she still works hard and earns a check just like me.  In my opinion, she has the right to buy whatever she wants with her money, and I never want to make her feel that she has to restrict herself in any way because I have an initiative.

The key to making all of this work is discussion, and doing the hardest thing there is for a partner to do, tell each other no.  

So why do I tell you all this?  Why did you just read my financial sob story?  I want you to understand where I have come from, and how I will approach topics and issues.  I’m not coming from an entitled position, or a know it all position.  Only from a position of having struggled in the past and working my way out of it.  

Anyone can do it, I promise you that, and I hope that I can help you do that.

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