In My Own Words
by Gary Foreman
I guess that I come to frugal living naturally. My parents were raised during the depression and that affected the way they lived their entire lives. Growing up my sister and I recycled, we just didn’t know what it was. Food, clothes, money – nothing went to waste. And, that was a good thing. Dad had a stroke when I was 15. He was unable to work after that but we never went without anything important because my parents took saving seriously.
In 1974 I graduated with a degree in business management. Married my college sweetheart (we’re still a team after all these years). We had a few hundred dollars in savings, a few thousand in college loans and my degree to get started.
The Dollar Stretcher.com is my third career. Before this I was a financial planner and purchasing manager for a mainframe computer company. So pretty much all of my work life has been about managing money and getting value for the money you spend.
I’ve seen a wide variety of economic situations. We bought our first house when inflation was 12% and mortgage rates were 11% and climbing. I was a financial planner when the stock market lost 22% in a single day in 1987. During the 1990’s I watched the “dot com bubble” burst. And in 2008 the latest bubble burst. Hopefully I’ve learned from surviving and studying all those events.
Sometimes I’m asked what I believe about money. Over the years I’ve found a few things that are almost always true. Allowing them to help guide my decisions has made our financial life much easier. They are:
- Never make big/important financial decisions too quickly. You’ll often regret a decision that you were rushed into.
- Compound interest is powerful. If you’re saving money it works to help build your savings. But, if you’re borrowing money, it can be a terrible burden.
- A little sacrifice now means a bigger payoff later. For instance, you might want a new car now. But keeping your old car on the road for another year means that you’ll have more cash (lower payments) when you replace it later.
- Decisions have consequences. I can choose to live a lush lifestyle now. But I shouldn’t be surprised when the bill comes due later.
- There is no perfect investment. Every investment has it’s risks. For instance, a CD may guarantee that you’ll get your money back, but they can’t promise that inflation won’t have reduced what you can buy with it. Therefore, a balanced approach is best.
- Money is not good or evil. Being wealthy or poor doesn’t make you virtuous or bad. It’s how you relate to money that can make it good or bad in your life.
- Don’t assume that the government or strangers will take care of you. Contrary to some politicians there is no ‘free lunch’. If you’re getting a sandwich, someone had to pay for the bread and meat. If a government or stranger gives you something they can also take it away. And there’s not much that you can do about it.
- Hard work and sacrifice pay off. Sitting around and waiting for your lottery tickets to win does not.
Those principles may seem outdated. But if you study successful people throughout history you’ll see them applied over and over. I’ve watched many people who thought that the old rules didn’t apply crash and burn when they found out that they still were true today.
Does that mean that I think everyone should live a minimalist lifestyle? No, not unless that’s something that you choose to do. I have my fun, too. My passion is old cars. I saved and bought a ’65 Chevy Impala convertible that I take to local car shows. Is that a luxury? Of course! But I earned it by driving plain jane old cars for much of my life. My current car is over 10 years old.
Finally, I think that The Dollar Stretcher exists for a reason. We’re not here just to make a buck. (yes, we do need to pay the people who put it together) Our purpose is to help you live well with the money that you have under your control. Reduce costs where that’s possible. Make more when you can. Avoid scams and schemes. Be prepared for the future. That’s our goal when we select material for the website and newsletters. I sincerely hope that we’re able to do that!
Do you have something that you’d like to say to me? Please send me an email at (gary (at) stretcher.com). I can’t promise to respond to everyone, but I do my best to reply to as many as possible.
About the Author
Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website and newsletters in 1996. He's the author of How to Conquer Debt No Matter How Much You Have and he's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money, Credit.com and CreditCards.com.