Dear Jack: We Closed On Our New House Today (We Officially Bought It!)

4 years, 2 months.

closing on new house

Dear Jack,

Yes, there are blue lines on your forehead in this picture. That’s because while Mommy and I signed the paperwork to “close on our house” (in other words, to officially buy it, closing the sale), you were busy drawing pictures with a blue pen on a note pad, as well as on your face.

Oh well, it kept you entertained for the 45 minutes it took to close on our new house.

You and I also had to officially inspect the house to make sure all the proper changes were made, based on our final inspection last week.

Dear Jack: We Closed On Our New House (We Officially Bought It!)

No problems there.

You and Pandy made sure everything was legit. For some reason, it was important for you to take with you some straw from our yard; I suppose as a souvenir.

After our closing, we walked over to Burger Republic to celebrate the official sale of our new home.

We made a “cheers” to our new life in our new home in Spring Hill. Here’s to life in the suburbs!

Dear Jack: We Closed On Our New House (We Officially Bought It!)

In many ways, it’s a sense of closure. Of course, by no means does this bring an end to the story of “Our New House.” As the cliche goes… this is only the beginning!

We still have to move in and get settled.

Actually, tonight while you were asleep, since we are still living with friends who were here in case you needed something, even though you didn’t… Mommy and I both drove separately with both our cars fully loaded; to get a head start on the official move taking place this weekend.

refrigerator

Tomorrow will be your last day at your current preschool, as Mommy and I will be getting the new house set up, making some Lowe’s trips, and waiting around for the Internet to get set up; as well as for the delivery of the refrigerator.

Today, I have been thinking a lot aboutt his: Our first payment will begin in March; the month before I turn 34… Mommy turns 34 a few months later.

My realistic goal is for us to have this house paid off by the time Mommy and I both turn 50.

We’ll do what it takes to reach that goal, yet still have fun as a family.

And so it begins… here’s to life in the suburbs!

 

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Buying Our Couch And Looking At Pool Tables For Our New House

4 years, 2 months.

Dear Jack: Buying Our Couch And Looking At Pool Tables For Our New House

Dear Jack,

Tomorrow afternoon we are scheduled to close on our new house. I’m definitely looking forward to getting that part over with and feeling that sense of closure… in a good way, of course.

This week at American Signature Furniture we purchased our couch at and matching chair for our bonus room; we had set aside savings for quite a while now to help cover purchases like these so we wouldn’t have to go in debt to buy them.

Dear Jack: Buying Our Couch And Looking At Pool Tables For Our New House

We also stopped by Family Leisure to check out pool tables. What started as wishful thinking and sort of a joke on my part a few weeks back has been evolving into a plan that may truly become a reality:

To get a pool table for our living room; therefore avoiding having to pay all that money for another couch and matching furniture for downstairs.

The bonus room will be the only room with a TV.

Dear Jack: Buying Our Couch And Looking At Pool Tables For Our New House

So it’s important to me that for the downstairs, our family truly has space to have fun and hang out. A pool table could facilitate that for years to come.

Otherwise, I suspect the living room downstairs will just end up a room we simply walk through to get to the kitchen. I don’t want that, because that’s pretty much how things ended up in our townhouse.

Dear Jack: Buying Our Couch And Looking At Pool Tables For Our New House

Granted, we’re looking to pay off this house paid off as soon as possible. So if and when we are officially ready to move a pool table into our living room, my ideal plan is to find a gently used one on Craig’s List that’s basically free because the people just want it moved out of their house.

When it’s all said and done, the pool table may never happen.

Dear Jack: Buying Our Couch And Looking At Pool Tables For Our New House

But for now, it’s actually the most practicial and economical plan for our family. We’re not in a huge hurry to fully furnish our house.

We shall see…

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Buying Our Couch And Looking At Pool Tables For Our New House

Lottery Commercials Don’t Target People Who Are Good Money Managers

What’s the first thing I’d do if I somehow ran into a very large amount of money?

Lottery Commericals Don't Target People Who Are Good Money Managers

You guessed it. I would immediately pay off the mortgage on our brand-new house. It would be quite the celebration!

Because I know that I’m paying nearly 100% interest for the 1st half of the life of that loan.

I wouldn’t care about a new car, or a boat, or a big trip. All I would care about would be paying off the mortgage.

Then… placing the rest in savings and investments.

From there, I might consider a family vacation or newer cars; but that would be my last priority.

Yet I’ve never seen a lottery ticket commercial or an injury lawyer commercial showing a winner who joyfully exclaims, “With the money I won… first, I immediately paid off the mortgage on my house, then put the rest in savings and investments, so that I’ll actually be making money for the rest of my life instead of losing it quickly just because I have more!”

Granted, that’s what I’d say.

But apparently, that’s not what the targeted audience for lottery ticket winners or injury lawsuit winners would do, based on what is portrayed in these commercials:

When I see these kinds of commercials, I know that the marketing department for the lottery and injury lawyers are not baiting people like me, who have learned the hard way by living in debt for years, but who finally became debt free after following the teachings of Dave Ramsey, and who are now focused on paying off a mortage ASAP, to better save and invest all future income from there.

Of course, I’m not against the lottery or injury lawyers; I see good in what they do.

I’m just simply deconstructing some of the psychology involved in some of their marketing… the way I’ve pointed out in the past that fast food logos almost always include red and yellow as their main colors to try to make you slow down (like you do at a yellow light) and stop (like you do at a red light) for their restaurant.

Lottery Commericals Don't Target People Who Are Good Money Managers

It appears that lottery commercials are trying to make people think that if they regularly “invest” in lottery tickets, they will stand a decent chance of living the rock star (or rap star?) lifestyle, by blowing the money on depreciating liabilities, instead of assets that will hold their value; or in legitimate, profitable investments.

Perhaps this is what the advertisers want people to think when they their commercials:

“You deserve more money than you know how to manage, so once you win, spend your money on consumer items shown in this commercial, ones that immediately lose their value once you buy them, instead of ones that keep or gain value.”

Lottery Commericals Don't Target People Who Are Good Money Managers

Like I said, I’ve yet to see a lottery or lawsuit commercial that portrays the winner immediately paying off their mortgage with the money; then going on to save and invest the rest. I’ve never heard that even mentioned in one of these commercials, yet it’s the very first thing I would care about.

It really shouldn’t be that ironic.

So apparently, people who make lottery ticket commercials and injury lawyer commercials don’t have me in mind as a marketable demographic.

Maybe then it’s not that ironic that back in 1999 when I woke up in a hosptial after having been knocked unconscious after wrecking on a bike, and an injury lawyer was there as I opened my eyes, offering to help me “win the money I deserve,” I politely thanked him, but turned him down.

And for the record, I rarely buy a lottery ticket.

Dear Jack: What Is That Animal In Your Drawing Doing?

4 years, 2 months.

Dear Jack: What Is That Animal In Your Drawing Doing?

Dear Jack,

I am always excited to see what new creative artwork you have for me each day when I pick you up from school.

On Friday, right before we headed over to the circus, one of your drawings particularly caught my attention. You immediately began explaining it to me:

“Daddy, see- he’s got giraffe legs, a cow body, a robot neck, an elephant tale, and a bear head!”

Sure, I was slightly confused by the robot neck, but I had to ask you right away about the one part of picture you failed to describe:

“Jack, what is that animal in your drawing doing?”

Your unapologetic answer was somewhat understated:

“Oh, I did a brown arrow… to point at the poop… because he had a big poop.”

Classic.

Somehow in all your hundreds of pictures you’ve drawn, you’ve never drawn anything with potty humor before.

But that’s the thing; I’m not convinced you were trying to be funny. Your main focus was to point out how you cleverly designed a sort of Frankenstein-style animal.

Dear Jack: What Is That Animal In Your Drawing Doing?

You really do put so much thought into your artwork. Today you brought home 4 new pictures; one of them featuring a charming snowman. You explained to me the full story:

“Daddy, the sun is mad at the snowman because the snowman said he wanted the moon to come out instead that way the snowman won’t melt, so the sun turned purple because he was mad.”

Wow. Seriously. You are one creative little boy.

I am already imagining just a few years from now how your pictures will be evolving into full stories; where you will do like I did when I was a boy and make my own books; writing all the words and drawing all the pictures for your own homemade books.

That is going to be a lot of fun!

Love,

Daddy

How To Know If You’ll Leave Nashville After You Move There, If You Have Kids

I moved to Nashville from my home state of Alabama on September 11, 2005; over 9 years ago. I was here about a year before I met my wife, who had moved here a year before I did, from Sacramento, California.

How To Know If You’ll Leave Nashville After You Move There, If You Have Kids

We have been married 6 and a half years now and have a 4 year old son.

Something we have recently noticed is this: Married couples move away from Nashville after a few years if one of them doesn’t have close family that lives within “drivable distance.”

A few years ago, my son Jack’s good friend Henry moved to Texas. A year ago, his best friend Sophie moved.

Several of the married couples who we knew pretty well from church also moved away after a few years.

The reason is typically the same: They move back to where one set of their parents live; especially after having kids.

Apparently, Nashville is not the kind of city where it’s practical to raise kids long term unless you have a set of parents who lives within drivable distance, where you could visit and get break around once a month; as well as the major holidays.

How To Know If You’ll Leave Nashville After You Move There, If You Have Kids

Nashville is a great place to raise a family. There is money here, but of course, the lifestyle can be wearisome. It’s was ranked as The Daily Beast’s #44 worst commuted city in America; as of the most recent 2010 census.

As for my family, we are closing on a new house in Spring Hill, a popular and wildly growing “bedroom community” which is exactly 35 miles from Nashville.

In other words, to live a comfortable middle class lifestyle in Nashville, we have chosen to live outside of Nashville, but making our money inside Nashville.

Not to mention, Nashville is the kind of city where, if you want to live that “comfortable middle class lifestyle,” you have to either pay to put your kids in private school, or you have to live the “right” county, which is Williamson.

williamson County Seal

Half of Spring Hill is in Williamson County and we wouldn’t have considered building our new house there if that wasn’t the case; as our new house is in Williamson County.

It is one of the wealthiest counties in America, ranked the #17 wealthiest in the U.S. as of the 2010 census, but surrounded by others which are not; making the Nashville area’s school systems quite different from one another; though just a few miles apart.

In the small town where I grew up in Alabama, you didn’t have to worry about which school you went to. In fact, there was only one “choice.”

But here in the Nashville area, it’s something that hard-working middle class people have to consider and build their lives around.

So if you’re family is planning (or considering) to move to Nashville, please ask yourself these questions…

tn-williamson-county-tennessee-1888-map

“Do we have family (like a set of parents) in a drivable distance from Nashville who we could stay with at least every 2 months, to get a break from the fast-paced lifestyle?”

“Does it matter that our kids get into a good school, knowing that the school systems are very polarized based on the income brought in from the people who collectively make up that county?”

school map

Not that those are the only issues to consider, but based on my more than 9 years of experience living here, those seem to be the ones that cause families to move back to Ohio and Texas and Maryland… or wherever else they moved here from.

Feel free to ask me any questions about this. I want to help if you’re trying to figure out if you should move your family here.

Dear Jack: Does Society Owe You Anything?

4 years, 2 months.

Dear Jack: Does The World Owe You Anything?

Dear Jack,

I was born in 1981, the 1st year of Generation Y; a group of people now in their 30s and 20s who were led to believe clichés like “you can do or become whatever you want to be as long as you truly believe in yourself.”

We were also repeatedly told how special we were; causing us to have unrealistic expectations about life once we became adults.

As I entered my teen years back in 1994, being introduced to legitimate sarcasm about life with Green Day’s Dookie album, I started realizing that if everyone is special and everyone can do or become whatever they want as long as they truly believe, then that meant I had a lot of competition.

While I was one of the first in my family to graduate college and that truly was a big deal, I graduated college at a time when, for all practical purposes, the 4 year college degree has now become the new high school diploma.

Life has definitely been harder than I expected it to be; at least in the sense of “first world problems.” Granted, my life as turned out, on the surface, to be quite “textbook American middle class.”

I graduated college, met your Mommy about a year later, got married about a year and a half afterwards, two years later we had you, and now we just bought our first real house which we strategically chose because it’s in Williamson County… the “right one” to be in for schools here in the Nashville area.

While I definitely had certain advantages growing up, no one just simply gave me what I have in life. Through my own parents and mentors, I had access to wisdom which would cause me to make good decisions; but I wasn’t given a free ride, for sure.

Dear Jack: Does The World Owe You Anything?

My life has involved a lot of hard work, patience, and self-discipline this whole time; which I hope is evident in the hundreds of letters I’ve written to you in the past several years.

Mommy and I had to work very hard to work through the tens of thousands of dollars in debt we were in, including college tuition. And we didn’t magically win a big sum of money; instead, we strictly budget what money we make.

The way I see it, society doesn’t owe me anything. Sure, it would be nice if everyone always treated me the way they’d want to be treated and rewarded me on the level I think I deserve.

But for the world to owe me anything, it would in essence mean that if I don’t get what it owes me, then I am a victim; that I am wronged and in need of restitution by those who apparently wronged me.

I just can’t live that way. That mindset seems way too toxic. I choose to live with an abundance consciousness instead of a scarcity mindset.

AbundanceMindsetVSScarcityMindset

It’s sad to say, but I am convinced there will be no social security left for me once I retire. I don’t even expect the government to owe me anything, despite the taxes they take from my income.

That’s why I am so motivated to pay off our new house as soon as possible. It seems like the only way to get ahead these days, after paying off all other debts as Mommy and I did in July 2013.

So just as the world doesn’t owe me anything, it doesn’t owe you anything either.

You’ve got me and Mommy to provide for you, teach you, steer you in the right directions, and serve as your ultimate support team.

God has a special plan for you, yet I believe it’s based on you doing your part, and I take responsibility to guide you in learning what that is so that you can become the person God needs you to be as those opportunities arriving throughout life.

I can tell you this: It definitely is based on a lot of hard work, patience, and self-discipline.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Our 1st Time To The Circus- Ringling Bros. Presents LEGENDS! (In Nashville)

4 years, 2 months.

Dear Jack: Our 1st Time To The Circus- Ringling Bros. Presents LEGENDS! (In Nashville)

Dear Jack,

Your first time to the circus was my first time to the circus too! Our family was able to go see Ringling Bros. Presents LEGENDS! last night, where we live in Nashville, Tennessee.

 

We went Friday, opening night, but there are still Saturday and Sunday shows as well…

Show Times:

Friday, Jan. 23 – 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 24 – 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 25 – 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Show Times:  Friday, Jan. 23 – 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.  Saturday, Jan. 24 – 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.  Sunday, Jan. 25 – 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

There is no denying that in this 2+ hour show, the entertainment is non-stop. Let’s see if I can remember some highlights of what we saw… thanks to some help from the pictures I took.

Granted, you kept a pretty much baffled look on your face the whole time; having never seen anything like we saw last night at the Ringling Bros. Presents LEGENDS! show.

We saw many kinds of animals, including kangaroos, pigs, and elephants; but you told me that the lions and tigers were your very favorite part of the whole thing. It was pretty fascinating to see one man controlling all those big cats!

Dear Jack: Our 1st Time To The Circus- Ringling Bros. Presents LEGENDS! (In Nashville)

There were also the motorcycles that all drove into that sphere and somehow never crashed into each other. We saw the extremely talented acrobats as well. I imagine all they ever do is just practice!

It was like the whole time we were there it was hard to imagine what we were seeing was real.

I think you’re still wondering whether the Chinese dragons where real or not… you really didn’t know what to think of them!

Dear Jack: Our 1st Time To The Circus- Ringling Bros. Presents LEGENDS! (In Nashville)

While we were there, we got to hang out with our friends, the Hendricks, who won my ticket giveaway earlier this week.

Our family geniunely had a purely entertaining experience at the circus. I totally would be up for going again. There’s really just nothing else like it.

Dear Jack: Our 1st Time To The Circus- Ringling Bros. Presents LEGENDS! (In Nashville)

You even got to stay up past your bedtime! You’re one lucky kid…

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Our 1st Time To The Circus- Ringling Bros. Presents LEGENDS! (In Nashville)

Dear Jack: Our 1st Time To The Circus- Ringling Bros. Presents LEGENDS! (In Nashville)