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Friday, October 17, 2008

To market, to market to buy a fat pig...

The other day I mentioned I had just received a long-anticipated and long-fought-for refund. What did I do with that money?

When I lost my first teeth in Venezuela, the Tooth Rat brought me 10 bolivares, which was like getting a $10 bill because I could buy at least 10 ice cream novelties from the ice cream cart down the street.

First "teeth"? Don't you mean "tooth"?

Apparently, I had a loose tooth that would not fall out as quickly as my parents thought it should, so they took me to the dentist who thought the tooth next to it should also come out. I had two needles inserted into my gums (go ahead and cry, I did) to numb me (eventually) and then had my teeth pulled out by force. I remember trying to be brave as tears ran down my cheeks and neck and I feebly smiled at my two bloody teeth. (I'm not British. My teeth really were bloody.)

So, anyway, the Tooth Rat must have had compassion on my ordeal because he brought me 10 bolivares.

Tooth Rat? It's the Tooth Fairy.

My goodness, the interruptions...

Well, in Venezuela, it's El Raton de los Dientes (The Rat of Teeth) that brings you the moolah in exchange for your dental cast-offs. I don't know why a rat and it seems I wasn't the least bit concerned about having a rat crawl under my pillow looking for teeth. All I know is he brought me a lot of money, and I knew it was he who brought it because the bill had little teeth marks on it from being carried in his mouth. Proof undisputable.

So, I had just come upon a small stash of cash and had figured I could buy 10 ice cream novelties. (My ice cream addiction started early.) Upon hearing about my new money and it's equivalence in ice cream, ALL of the kids in the neighborhood came to delight in my fortune. I distinctly remember sitting on the steps of the apartment building and being surrounded by a bunch of smiling and hopeful kids. And so, it came to be that my money was gone in an instant when I bought myself and 9 of my "friends" an ice cream treat.

So... who wants ice cream?

(Woah, that's freaky, an ice cream truck just entered the neighborhood. Cue Twilight Zone music. Uh, anyway...)

OK, I'll admit, I'm not quite as charitable as I used to be. Get your own dang ice cream. And besides, I already used the money. On Tuesday, I ordered myself a helping of stock market.

There's no punch line.

I realize you don't have a TV but you ARE aware the economy is shaky and the stock market is going crazy, right?

In 1999, when I lost almost everything I had, I read a book by financial consultant Suze Orman and learned about Roth IRAs for the first time. Since that moment, I've wanted my own Roth IRA. David did not understand this at first since he already had a retirement account. For me, a Roth IRA represented taking charge of my financial future and not allowing myself to be trapped because someone else held the wallet. I didn't know yet what I wanted inside that Roth, but I knew the answers would come in time.

A couple years after that, I decided that whenever I got that Roth, I would want my first one in a mutual fund following the S&P 500. A couple years after that, I decided that when I got a Roth IRA in a mutual fund following the S&P 500, I would want to purchase it through the company Vanguard, which kept popping up in different money articles with favorable reviews.

I saved money for years to get the $3,000 minimum required to open a Vanguard account, but something always came up with the family and I kept sacrificing my retirement account to the cause. In essence, I was buying everyone else ice cream and leaving myself with nothing for tomorrow.

(How creepy that the ice cream man would show up today. Anyway...)

When I got my refund from the car dealership, I had more than enough to finally purchase my Roth with Vanguard! HOORAY! I placed my order on Tuesday and my purchase went through on Wednesday. (In a few years, Warren Buffet will be calling me for ideas.)

I feel so blessed that I didn't receive the check three years ago when it "should" have been cut. At best, I would have put it in savings, but more likely, I would have purchased some thing with it. The victory of the refund is so much sweeter with a financial plan already in place.

Awww. What fun is that?! Where's the vacation? The new toy? A television for goodness sake!

We are on Baby Step 4 of Dave Ramsey's plan so it is the perfect personal timing for me to invest in my retirement, AND the stock market is having a sale! The combination of the two doesn't happen very often and I absolutely feel... well... blessed to be able to take advantage of such timing. Everyone else can go crazy selling their stocks because they've lost faith, or they can go crazy buying stocks with borrowed money, but I'll enter the market with money designated just for that purpose and enjoy the ride for the next few decades.

True, it's not the trip to Hawaii, the day at the spa, or the new wardrobe. I'm not anti- those things, but I am pretty much anti- having-to-worry-about-money-when-I'm-62. Time flies, right? Before I know it, I'm going to be putting in my teeth in the morning and putting in my papers to serve a couples LDS mission. I'd like to afford the nice set of teeth and be able to go on a mission without worrying about financial obligations (or cheap teeth).

I'm so excited to prepare my way for the future and to finally be proactive in the portfolio I always desired for myself! Well, and selfishly, I also can't wait to move on in the Money Makeover Baby Steps and pay off the house.

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig!


Kat said...

You are so smart! I need to follow your example. :) You guys do awesome with your money, and you plan ahead. Good for you. :) And I hope your plans all go well too.

chelon:) said...

way to go!! i totally would have blown it and next week would have wondered what i spent all my money on! we should all learn from your bright and shiny example :)

you are the best! i think that it is great that you didn't let the refund matter go. way to be persistent.

Kimmers said...

You are amazing and a great example. Thanks for being there for everyone you meet. Thanks for your email, you are right!! I love reading your blog. It help me to have the strength to make it my personal journal and not "post" for others. Love Ya!!

Sunni said...

where in the heck did you find a picture of a rat carrying a tooth?

Oh and good job not spending the moolah. I haven't panicked and pulled out any money, but I'm kinda nervous to check the balance of my Roth. I think I'll just forget about it for now. I've got time on my side right? :)

Kristen said...

Where does the dancing pig come into the story? It doesn't look much like you.

My belly still hurts and it's not just because I need a midnight snack. It's from unexpected and uncontrolled laughter. I was giggling and oohing and ahhing and Ben came to join me. Your new picture of Baby Adhis is HILARIOUS. What a great black and white photo. I hope she made it through the trip safely.

Kikibug said...

Great example.. good self control!
ummm... a rat that takes your teeth? I like the tooth fairy MUCH more. I have never heard of that, but that is SOOO funny.
I also love the picture of baby Adhis, she is so cute.

TheOrttFamily said...

I just have to say I LOVE the photo of baby Dhis in the picture..she is so cute...she has the cutest/funniest faces in all her it...

islandgirl said...

WOOHOO!! Adhis! What great news, I'd be just as excited!