What my father never taught me about life……

 

What my father never taught me about life or at the very least I refused to listen too….

Over the years there have been numerous times when my ideals, opinions and hard learned wisdom have spewed forth wanted or not.  Reflecting on the expansion of my life over the years from a single man aimlessly wandering through life to a married father of four with a career, mortgage and an unending flow of responsibility; I wonder how life should be experienced by my children.  Should they struggle earning their way through hardship, confusion and eventually embarrassment? Or should I provide them an effortless transition into adulthood with all the privileges it entails?

While stuck in this conundrum I find myself spewing more wisdom to one of our younger members here at the firehouse.  Good solid foundation wisdom, things my father never taught me. (He was always gone at work)  It was then I realized this list needed to be created.  A middle ground if you will, not just for me, not just for my children but for all children and parents out there who are afraid, embarrassed, or alone and unable to sit down and have an open honest conversation about life and what awaits them in this scary world.

There is no order of importance in these writings, just written down as they flowed from brain.

Finances

A credit card is not the same as money.  It never has been and it never will be, if you are using a credit card you are just padding some wealthy executive’s pockets.  Pay cash, or use a debit card.  Save yourself the interest.

Put away a portion of your paycheck every pay period.  Even if its $10.00! Don’t use it for anything! You will be amazed at how fast it adds up and becomes a tangible amount, there in case of a cash emergency.

Purchase used instead of new! There is nothing wrong with “thrifting”! I have tons of brand new and slightly used designer clothing obtained from thrift stores! I have lots of friends who spend thousands a year on new designer clothing! If that’s how you wish to spend your money that is fantastic! But I live on a small budget and I can’t tell you how many times compliments have rained down on my thrift store attire! Example: New designer shirt with tags at thrift store $4.99 after 50% off sale $2.50! Same shirt in a well known department store that rhymes with ordstroms; $69.99 true story!

A used car with 20-50,000 miles on it, is still a new car to you! Don’t waste your money on a brand new car! You might as well just shred 10-20,000 dollars and throw it into the wind!  Is a subjective status so important to you that throwing away that kind of money remotely makes sense?

Don’t live beyond your means! If you can’t afford it you don’t need it! Our country does a fantastic job through marketing of making you feel as though you are entitled to a new car, a new house, a new boat, a new motorcycle, a new trailer, a new leather jacket, etc…. Right behind that marketing genius are commercials warping your mind into believing you need $40,000 in credit cards along with a second on your house, helping you keep up with the Jones’s! Don’t fall into this materialistic trap.  Set a budget, learn your true expenses, your true needs, then identify your wants and systematically achieve them over time! Not tomorrow with a 19% interest credit card or next week with a 7.5% interest loan, but over time through hard work and savings.  The best person to borrow from is you! Not some bank in a glass & steel building on Wall Street!

If you decide it’s time to purchase a home, make sure it fits into your budget! We have all heard stories about families moving into a house they couldn’t afford only to lose it later because making the payments became impossible! Yes there are many unscrupulous and greedy lenders out there backed by even greedier banks but the responsibility still falls upon you! A 5000 square foot palace with a pool does you no good if you can’t furnish it, maintain it, or see yourself living there in financial comfort for the next 30 years.

In the end an old saying come to mind; a penny saved is a penny earned. It still rings true to this day.

 

Your job-any job including your inevitable career choice

If you tell an employer you will do a job then do it 100% from the time you arrive till the time you leave at night. Not 20% here and 80% there, 100% all the time! You gave your word, this business gave you an opportunity and they don’t owe you a damn thing! You owe them for the paycheck that pays your bills.

If you change jobs or move on to a higher level within the company (listen closely this one is a big one) don’t under any circumstance bitch about your old job, your co-workers, the hours, your boss or any other aspect of your former occupation! I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people doing this and it always ends up biting them in the ass! Once when I was younger I applied for a driving job with a local beer vender. I made the final round of interviews and although it was a driving job, this vender was a nationally owned company with excellent benefits along with a pay scale that would have doubled my current cash flow! I wanted it bad! My final interview was a slam dunk! When I got home I just knew the job was mine! The phone rang an hour later; it was the human resources director politely informing me I had been passed over for the position! My heart sank, when I asked why, he was kind enough to explain at one point during the interview when asked about my current employer I had made a few off the cuff, derogatory remarks.  If it weren’t for those remarks which showed a lack of character from the company’s point of view the job would have been mine.  Lesson learned.

When it ends up becoming your job to correct problems within a company remember to complain up not down. Never ever let your subordinates hear you bad mouth your bosses! It just sets the tone for them to do exactly the same when you are not around.

Always lead by example. Nothing helps you climb the ladder quicker.  Ass kissing may work in the short term, but in the long run you will be labeled just that, an ass kisser.  No one will ever respect you or the work you perform.

Show up early.  Anyone can roll in with minutes to spare, but is that who you really are? The employee so disorganized, so lacking any care for the company or business you represent that you can’t show common courtesy and arrive a few minutes early to greet your co-workers.

Don’t say you can accomplish a task if you can’t.

If you need help ask for it, don’t run around acting like you know what you are doing when you clearly don’t.  Remember most people with little effort can spot a poser a mile away.

There was a time early on, when I held three jobs at once.  I said yes to all three of my bosses no matter the task.  Sometimes the three would overlap, leaving me feeling as though I was a hamster on a treadmill.  My work was always substandard and I was exhausted all the time. Never take on more than you can handle. It is one thing to get ahead, but at what cost? No kidding, thought that year I was going to have a heart attack!

That’s all for today! My next blog entry will encompass love, women, dating and relationships.

Lord help me…..

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