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-   -   A Story From Nobody Special (https://www.early-retirement.org/forums/f26/a-story-from-nobody-special-27692.html)

UnderTheRadar 05-20-2007 09:42 PM

A Story From Nobody Special
The very first thing I should do is thank everyone who makes the effort to keep this board going. I personally have been visiting this spec-on-the-web for 2 or 3 years. I am not sure how I first stumbled upon it- but it has been a place that I regularly visit for a confidence boost to "stay the path". Thank you.

I have little to none financial or investing expertise so you will probably not see me post too much on the boards. However I do think I have a very boring story about a fairly normal person (and his life relationship with money) to share. If anything, maybe my story can help to convince another young person of what is possible and demonstrate the truism - "unless you start, you never will".

.........and someday this story will be lost forever as a tiny blip-on-the-flip-of-a-spec-of-a-flash-on-the-web.

I am a fairly normal person. I am not strikingly good looking. I am not really that smart. I am not particularly witty and can not remember jokes to save my life. I do not speak any foreign languages. I do not play any instruments (unless you count whistling which drives everyone around me crazy). And I am certainly not a great speller or writer as I am probably demonstrating.

I am however lucky enough to be supported by a very well-rounded, down to earth family. I grew up in the middle of the US. I graduated with a B average from my high school 145th out of 550ish. I went to college and graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering.

Please don't let that impress you.

It took me 5 years including two summers of classes for me to complete. I took 5 classes over in order to pass them with a C or better. I suppose you could say that I graduated far more from persistence than intelligence. I remember meeting one of my professors my senior year at 7:00 sharp outside his office to make sure I passed his class with a C so that I could graduate! I had already mailed my graduation announcements and I was elated not to be forced to call each and every family member to say, "never-mind". My professors do not miss me and probably had no reason to recognize me. I know the kind of engineer that I am- and I am not the kind that will work at NASA, Raytheon, or Boeing!

I tell you all this to emphasize the title of this post. Now don't get me wrong- I Love Myself! I have a ton of confidence in my abilities. I have a great work ethic (again, blessed from growing up around an ag-based family). I am comfortable around people and can get along with almost anybody. These few qualities are probably the sole reason for any professional accomplishments I will/have ever had. But in the great big world of CEO's, entrepreneurs, politicians, marathon runners, entertainers, lawyers, inventors, doctors, comics, and true rocket scientists...I really am nobody that special.

Part II soon...

samclem 05-20-2007 09:55 PM

Re: A Story From Nobody Special
Thanks for checking in, great to have you out of the shadows. As you already know, there are a lot of engineers here. I've got a technical bent, but got bogged down at calculus, so engineering was not for me. You are right to be proud of your accomplishments--I'd still be re-taking courses 20+ years later if I'd tried to get a BS in mechanical engineering.

mb 05-20-2007 10:23 PM

Re: A Story From Nobody Special
I think that if you read this site you will learn (if you haven't already) that you don't need to be "anyone special" to become FI and then RE if you so desire ;D ;D ;D

uncledrz 05-21-2007 05:21 AM

Re: A Story From Nobody Special
One of the weathiest and most successful people I ever knew told me that the only quality that helped him get there was not his good looks, luck, smart, human skills---but persistence.

He was quite a guy, had made many millions in two different business.

JPatrick 05-21-2007 07:54 AM

Re: A Story From Nobody Special
Welcome Radar.
Looking at your resume I see plenty that makes you special. Confidence, you love who you are, your a normal person with a strong work ethic with an ag upbringing---yeah I'd say we could use a lot more "nobody specials."

That'll be $599.00, and if your insurance will not cover it I'll take your credit card ;D

chris2008 05-21-2007 08:10 AM

Re: A Story From Nobody Special
I found that medium talent + persistance will provide better results than high flying talents + a quitter (or unfocussed) personality.

Sometimes I cannot stand the overachiever hype any more.

crazy connie 05-21-2007 08:33 AM

Re: A Story From Nobody Special
I for one am looking forward to the next installment in the series of normal and decent people! Life is not about all the super winners or far too often the super losers, rather the folks who figure out how to do what needs to be done and then just do it.

mickj 05-21-2007 08:42 AM

Re: A Story From Nobody Special
I feel a lot like how your post comes across...

I bet that there are a fair share of engineers just as capable as yourself working at NASA, Raytheon, or Boeing.

Congrats, sounds like you have a nice life, you deserve it.

novaman 05-21-2007 10:47 AM

Re: A Story From Nobody Special
So I'm anxiously awaiting the rest of your story!

mountaintosea 05-22-2007 07:19 PM

We will all be looking for Part II!

DangerMouse 05-22-2007 08:24 PM

UTR, most of us lead unremarkable lives, however we are all special in our own way. Life is not just about academic/work or financial achievements. I feel someone can be special just in the way they treat or help others. Look forward to part deux.

UnderTheRadar 05-23-2007 09:18 AM

Part II
Part II

I did not grow up in what you would consider to be a very financially affluent home. I suspect my father would interject here with some kind of comment like - "You have to HAVE money in order to need to learn what to do with it!"

Actually, there was very little discussion about financial matters in general. Dad would pass on the money section of the paper and go straight to the funny papers! I can’t remember him ever being interested when the market updates came on the news. There were no discussions about interest rates, IRA's, or college savings. When I got much older I remember my father mentioning that he and my mom once started a college savings account for me - but then had to spend it on necessities for one thing or another. I think Mom usually paid all the bills, but honestly bill paying was not done in front of us. My parents were very educated. Both had college degrees - in fact my father had an advanced degree and is more formally education than I ever want to be! My mother worked until my brother and I were born and then she stayed at home with us (or, better described, took us everywhere she went).

WhenI became a parent I had a better understanding of why my parents shielded us from financial matters. I think that we have all been around the opposite kinds of parents....you know, the ones that probably over-expose and burden their children with adult issues above and beyond their age and understanding. Unfortunately, this did not change much through my teen and young adult years- but that is a discussion for later.

We were probably a very typical middle class family. I hate to say this because it is so relative…I suppose everyone thinks they are middle class by US standards unless you were truly wealthy or very poor. Jeans were never thrown away - they were just turned into cut-offs. Our lives were spent outside riding bikes, climbing trees, and playing in the vacant lot at the end of our street. We had an old ping-pong table out back and it provided many nights of family entertainment (as long as you got the good side). Much of this has to do with being in a much simpler time in a smaller sized town - but a lot has to do with my parents forced to be very frugal in order to live within their means committed to enabling my mother to be at home. We did not go to the movies very often- and most of the time it would be a drive-in where we could take our own snacks and wear our pajamas. I literally can't think of a time before I was age 10 or 11 that we ever went out for fast food. We always ate our dinnertime meals as a family – a standard my wife and I upheld with our own kids. Luckily I had the kind of mother that got up in the mornings and cooked us eggs and toast for breakfast, fixed us lunches for school and then had dinner for us every night. There were not too many leftovers.

Our vacations were spent going to see family - driving of course. Do you think we stopped to eat on the road trip? No way, mom had sandwiches in the cooler. Or it would be camping - in tents. My mom finally put her foot down with tent camping and dad splurged for a pop-up camper. The one semi-extravagant trip we nearly always took growing up was a ski-trip to Durango, CO. My grandmother lived in NM- so we would ski for two days each year on the way to visit. You would think we would go ahead and splurge to eat on the slopes. Nope - back into the car at lunchtime for sandwiches and fruit.

I grew up in the Scouts and Indian Guides (anybody remember them?) We were encouraged to play sports - but I think that playing sports must have been much cheaper back then (???). The biggest single annual cost was basketball shoes and I remember always getting what I didn't want...but I suppose it didn't scar me for life. I don't think "traveling teams" existed. Even if they did (and if I was talented enough to play on them) I’m not sure we would.

My mom was one of those moms that would drive across town to an alley store to buy expired bread. Of course gas was cheaper then. She took her coupon folder with her everywhere she went. I used to help her lick those green stamps and put them in books so that she could redeem them for things (can't remember a single thing redeemed them for, but she sure was intent on doing it). My mother cut all of our hair – even my father’s. She taught herself. I never knew any better. I thought everyone's mothers cut their hair!

My parents used to make yogurt in the garage. It was terrible. We would also make our own peanut butter. They bought a grinder and we would shell and grind peanuts they found...somewhere. Boy was that a lot of work - and again, terrible.

I bet many of you can identify and write the rest of this story! Boy how lifestyles change. My children had both been on an airplane traveling (internationally) before the age of one. They order their lunches on their own at McDonalds by age 4!

Did my brother and I want things? You bet - all children do. I remember spending hours looking through the Sears catalog bugging my parents for things (I suppose it served as the “internet” for me at the time). But here is the part I remember….the responses was never "we can't afford it"....it was always "you save up your money and you can have it".

Honestly I still struggle nearly every month with the idea of saving up before I buy something even as and adult – but the philosophy of “we can’t afford it” vs. “we choose not to afford it” stuck.

Cattusbabe 05-23-2007 06:53 PM

Now that brings back memories. I remember our vacations to visit our grandparents in upstate New York. No way did we stop to eat out, you kidding, not with seven kids. (Dad deserved combat pay to drive all that way from Philly with all of us in the car. He says that you do stuff like that when your young and stupid.)

We had the cooler for sandwiches or fried chicken that my Mom made. Desert would be cup cakes. We had this large thermos for drinks. God knows how she balanced that on her knee when she poured the drinks but she did. Got real good passing glasses of Kool Aid around the car. Good eats. ( Dad only stopped for bathroom breaks when he'd gas up the car so we ate while he drove. Heck he ate while he drove, Mom would hold his food between bites. Needless to say we made good time.

Goonie 05-23-2007 10:07 PM

Welcome aboard, UTR!

Yep, I remember those vacation trips to visit great aunts & uncles in southern IL and MO. Ma would fry up a bunch of chicken, make some tater salad, and throw it into the ice chest, then she'd fill our little brown thermos jug with ice cubes and top it off with water. We used paper bags from the grocery store as our suitcases. And then off we'd go!!! And it seemed like between my Dad and my Grandad, they knew every 2-lane back road in the country!

We got a drink of water sparingly.....otherwise we'd have to pull over to wizz!

We'd stop at a roadside rest stop about half way to wherever we were headed, to eat lunch......and wizz....then it was back in the jalopy for the rest of the ride.

Actually, I still like traveling like that! I guess I was ruined for life! ;D

cho oyu 05-24-2007 02:15 AM


Originally Posted by UnderTheRadar (Post 518523)
Part II

My long-lost brother. Welcome :)

Seriously, I can't believe how well you described my childhood - even down to the yoghurt.

Coach 05-24-2007 08:24 AM


Originally Posted by UnderTheRadar (Post 518523)
Part II

I grew up in the Scouts and Indian Guides (anybody remember them?)

Wow, Indian Guides! That brought back memories that haven't surfaced in decades.


Fireup2020 05-24-2007 09:31 AM

My parents (and I with my friends) STILL tent camp - and I'd have it no other way!

While we had cooler packed snacks and drinks for all road trips, Dad would definitely splurge on "real" meals (mid way through trip) simply as a break from driving. I remember once he even fell asleep en route to his mother's (4 hour road trip to Mt. Shasta) while I was at the wheel with my driver's permit at 15!!! What a compliment!

Martha 05-24-2007 11:17 AM


Originally Posted by UnderTheRadar (Post 518523)
Part II

My parents used to make yogurt in the garage. It was terrible.

My parents made it in the kitchen and a batch always sat on the back of a wood stove we had there. It was a thin yogurt the locals called fiilia. It was good.

We also canned just about everything, from peas to venison. Canned veggies--oh ish.

HobbyDave 05-24-2007 11:40 AM


Originally Posted by Coach (Post 518803)
Wow, Indian Guides! That brought back memories that haven't surfaced in decades.


I loved the indian guides. Just a couple months ago, my dad & I explained the indian guides to my wife. It was a fun trip back down memory lane :) My dad also took my 3 sisters through Indian Princesses, pretty impressive of him :)

Siv 05-28-2007 02:00 AM

I'd like to think once our baby is born, we would teach her to be just as simple and frugal. I think my generation is used to having pleasure out of simple things, i.e when we were small, my mom used to take us to the beach later in a day, after 3PM. She won't let us swim when the sun is at its strongest and mind you, this is not malibu, this is a black sand beach with a bunch of kids running around. I don't remember how we get there, we do have a car but sometimes we go with horse cart. We don't have electronics toys, we hardly have toys as a matter of fact...our plays are basically climbing trees, climbing poles, chasing each other, etc.

I remember getting new clothes once a year, on new years....the rest is handover from older siblings.

We did, however, grew up in a very nice house for the time...dad was able to build his 4 story house when he was only 33! But none of our lifestyle change because right after we moved in, his business took a bad hit.

We didn't know how to shop in malls until I finish high school, believe it or not. My mom, despite of her current high net worth, doesn't know much about shopping for herself....

One way or another I'm glad for what it was..it taught us to be simple. All is well.

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