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Old 12-20-2008, 04:34 PM   #21
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Wow, it is an impressive story. I also was wondering if the summer house was inherited. OTHO, it shows the power of a consistent duel* income over time. Mom always said, "get yourself a steady job."

[edit: * oops, I meant two income family, so now you know what I think about marriage.]
Essentially, they did it by dint of extremely hard work, diligent saving, making do, LBYM and a small amount of risk taking.

A huge help was that my father-in-law was an enormously talented man. He hand-built his own house, doing all the carpentry, masonry, electric and plumbing by himself. He worked the second shift for Ma Bell and worked on his house during the day. They had a small mortgage for the land and the construction materials, which they paid off in 5 years.

When the youngest of their children was an infant, they saw a giant house at the Jersey shore that was essentially abandoned and falling down. People thought they were crazy, but they bought it cheap. They bought it in the fall and then the whole family worked on the house over the winter (it had no heat), so that the next summer it could be rented out. They furnished it with family and neighbor castoffs and curb shopping during big trash pickup day. My wife, who was 8 years old at the time, made curtains for all of the 14 rooms. Every summer thereafter, they rented it out during the high season and used it for the family during the shoulder seasons. The rentals paid the mortgage off in just a few years, paid the taxes and funded the renovations. It still required an enormous amount of maintenance and upkeep, all of which was done by the family (including, in due course, sons- and daughters-in-law). Sometimes I think the reason my father-in-law let me marry his daughter is because I was the only one willing to climb the 40 foot ladder to clean the outside of the fourth floor windows.

My in-laws never, ever had a new car. They bought old clunkers for cheap and kept them running with bubble-gum and baling wire. My mother-in-law made clothes for her family and taught all her daughters to do the same. My wife was the star seamstress of the family and made all her own clothes starting in grade school. Their Christmas gifts were much more likely to be handmade than store-bought. They hunted and fished, and cooked what they caught and shot. (An interesting tibit - my FIL drilled holes in pennies to use as washers, because it was cheaper than buying them. They also sometimes used drilled pennies for buttons)

Incredibly, when it came time for college, they did not receive any need-based financial aid. My wife got a merit scholarship that covered half the cost of her college. Her sisters got smaller merit scholarships and worked during college. All the kids worked during high school and they were expected to save the majority of their earnings for college. My brother-in-law enlisted in the Marines and went to college after he got out, so the GI Bill paid for part of it, but his parents paid a fair amount too.
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Old 12-20-2008, 05:37 PM   #22
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Thanks, Gumby, that's such a nice tribute to your in-laws.
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Old 12-20-2008, 06:06 PM   #23
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I think you just claimed to be "More balanced than thou."
Ouch! - you got me.
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Old 12-20-2008, 07:30 PM   #24
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Ouch! - you got me.
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Old 12-21-2008, 08:47 AM   #25
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I think you just claimed to be "More balanced than thou."
Like that's something to brag about...
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Old 12-21-2008, 11:02 AM   #26
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You guys are so funny! While I think you guys picked up on some good catches there (like the Lucky brand jeans) I think you guys might be a wee bit harsh! It's tough being a teenager, and if the parents are able to help their kids fit in without doing anything financially stupid, more power to them. As a parent, responding to your kids need to fit in with "If they judge you by your clothes they aren't really your friends!" is just plain mean, IMHO. These people are living a normal life and not making their children require years of therapy when they are older, all while not mortgaging their future. The article is short on details, though, and I suspect we'll see more stories like this. Once the economy gets going again, Paris Hilton and Robert Kiyosaki will have their turn again.
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Old 12-21-2008, 01:41 PM   #27
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You guys are so funny! While I think you guys picked up on some good catches there (like the Lucky brand jeans) I think you guys might be a wee bit harsh! It's tough being a teenager, and if the parents are able to help their kids fit in without doing anything financially stupid, more power to them. As a parent, responding to your kids need to fit in with "If they judge you by your clothes they aren't really your friends!" is just plain mean, IMHO.
Jus' wait 'til yours are teens...

We were lucky to turn our kid on to Goodwill & garage sales before she was old enough to get the grade-school scoop. We had some serious discussions one night after her "friends" told her that Goodwill's inventory came from dead people. These are the same kids who stick sharp pins into the myths of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

By contrast, yesterday our neighbor's sprinklers came on and a geyser erupted by the garage. The head of one of the sprinklers had broken and been blown off, resulting in an eight-foot-tall 25 gpm fountain.

I knocked on their front door and finally got the attention of their 16-year-old. She said "I don't know what to do about it!" and I asked her to show me the sprinkler controller. She said she didn't know where it was and I suggested the garage. But then she whipped out her cell phone and called her dad at work.

She hung up and said "He says to just leave it." I laughed, told her that was the wrong answer, and asked for her father's phone number. She said that she didn't know it; I suggested she look it up on her cell phone and read it to me. This as she was walking out the door to get into a friend's car, a path that took her directly by the house's new water feature. I asked her to let me into the garage and she said "I just locked myself out of the house." So I found the water valve at the street and shut off the house supply. I knocked in her car window to get her attention. She looked out and said "Oh, see, it stopped." I explained the cause & effect and was asking to speak to her dad when her phone rang. It was him.

While we talked, she was hopping about restlessly-- torn between a desire to get to wherever the friend was taking her but hostage to her cell phone in my hand. After I'd explained the situation to him, she practically snatched the phone back and peeled rubber.

She was such a cute girl when our neighborhood kids were 8-10 years old, playing together and selling Girl Scout cookies and hanging out at our house and all the other pack activities. But in the last three years she's turned into a total princess cheerleader. She's told our daughter that her life plan includes a rich man and a home full of designer duds. I can believe it.
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