I didn’t expect to come away from a Christmas dinner with a financial independence story. Somehow I managed to leave with two. The first story is short. The second story is important. I’ll start with the easy story. 🙂
My cousin is 35 years old and single. He’s the youngest of three boys and has always been a bit of a floater. He used to work maintenance or grounds crew or something for the local university. At Christmas, I found out that he quit his job in June. He’s been unemployed and proudly not looking for new employment since. He called himself a Retired Bachelor.
I asked my mom about it, and she says he’s been living off his parents. His parents don’t have much money, but his family doesn’t seem weird about it and my cousin has a soul, so I can’t see him mooching too hard. My guess is that he’s living rent free, eating for free, but otherwise living a small existence. I told him to write a blog about it. I proposed RetiredBachelor.com. Maybe he’ll write. I’m excited to watch how it unfolds.
The more important story is one I was surprised to hear. Somehow after dinner, after all the guests had left, my mom, sister and I got to talking about real estate. Feeling more confident in FIRE inclinations, I told them about my interest in buying a multi-unit building. Depending on the timing, we could live in part of it and rent the rest out. House hacking, so to speak.
I thought I was being unique in my endeavors.
Then my mom chimed in, “That’s what your Grandpa did. He owned several multi-family units.”
Um, excuse me, what?
She went on to say with a smile, and a hint of long since forgotten annoyance ” He made his children clean the units between vacancies.”
I had no idea.
A little backstory…
Born in 1913, my grandpa carried with him a deep rooted trauma from the Great Depression. He was a true to life hoarder in every sense of the word. He also had a tough time parting with his money. From that came a money smarts that makes me smile.
He used to start savings accounts all over the country. While driving through, he’d drop into the local bank and open an account. The family had a heck of time tracking down all the accounts after he died. They seemed to keep appearing.
One blessing I will never take for granted is he paid for most of my college, and for many of my cousins’ college. He liked savings bonds and purchased them as gifts for what seemed like all occasions. He also liked to give cash. In fact, the only written momento I have from him is one of those envelopes meant to give cash.
The funny thing about all this is that he never had much money. Or at least, that’s how the world remembers him. He was a tradesman. He owned his own small business. He lived modestly. He was the millionaire next door.
Without knowing it, I’m following my grandfather’s footsteps. I save like him. Unfortunately, I hoard like him. And now I want to grow wealth like him.
I couldn’t be prouder.
I hope you had a very Merry Christmas!