Hello boys and girls, take a look out your bedroom window. Do you know what time it is? It’s bedtime. So brush your teeth and put on your pajamas. Climb under the covers of your warm bed, and I’ll tell you a bedtime story.
It’s called the Carnival of Money Stories, and its morals are even more valuable than those in classic childhood fables. (In fact, this story has even more lessons than anyone could normally share in one carnival. Sadly, I had to cut some pieces, and if yours is one of those, I’m sorry.)
I Dedicate Tonight’s Story To…
- Poverty-Stricken Detroit Raises Money for a Robocop Statue presented by Khaleef at KNS Financial, which stood out because I looked up to Robocop when I was a kid. While the message in this tale is one of financial irresponsibility, I can’t help thinking that maybe, just maybe, this statue may inspire goodness in the hearts of the people.
Now, on to the Story…
Once upon a time there was a family of little pigs. They all lived together in a big red brick house at the end of beautiful windy cobblestone road lined with great big shade trees. These pigs were happy and safe in their big home. They never worried about creditors – and certainly not about big bad wolves – but that’s not how things always were. Let’s see how these pigs came to live together in that big house.
Ian, the youngest of the pigs, once lived in a very unstable home – literally. The house was made of straw. And Ian’s life at home wasn’t a breeze either. You see, Ian had never been that great with money. He decided that instead of attending college, he would “simply” get rich by being a genius investor. But when he looked for stocks to buy, Ian didn’t realize that asking himself questions like “To What Point Are You Ethical?” (BGB) would be important to his success as an investor. He invested in several crooked companies, and he lost everything when the companies got shut down by the man.
Ian got caught up in trying to figure out How to Turn $5,000 into $22 million (FIRE Getters) without considering some effective ways to avoid debt and quickly got in over his head. Ian started seeing his problems pop up in some of the Awesome Infographics to Visualize the Housing Crisis (Susan).
During the housing crisis, Ian was at home trying to figure out if Eliminating Credit Card Debt for Just Pennies (Robert Alan) was really possible when he heard a knock on the door. “Who’s there?” he shouted, and the wolf behind the door said, “I represent the Big Bad Bank of Brick. My name is Wolf. Your mortgage payment never showed up this month, and as a result I’m here to blow down your house!”
Ian saw this coming. After he Quit His Job to Freelance (The Financial Blogger) all because of an unfortunate, albeit hilarious incident that is worthy of one of those great Embarrassing Work Stories (FMF), things kind of came apart and Ian discovered he was in no way ready to freelance full time. While he tried to figure out how to work on his own, he fell behind on his bills and figured someone would come knocking eventually. “Uh… I sent my bill in the mail… It should be there any day now,” Ian lied, and the wolf didn’t buy it.
“I’ll blow your house down anyway!” said the wolf, and he began to huff and puff. Quickly, Ian grabbed everything he could carry and ran out the back door only to look back and see his big straw house blown to the wind by the big bad wolf. As he ran towards his brother’s place, he could hear the wolf shout, “Remember this the next time you decide to miss a payment!”
Ian arrived at his older and wiser brother Martin’s Victorian-style stick home. Martin listened to Ian’s whole story before saying a word. He knew what Ian had been like as a teenager, always goofing off and dreaming about a Financial Windfall (The Wise Squirrel), and he knew Ian would eventually come knocking. He decided not to rub it in.
Instead, Martin said, “Boy, that’s a sad story, and I’m sorry to hear about your house. You’re welcome to live here with me until you get back on your feet, but in return I want you to accept my help. I want to teach you a thing or two about money so you’ll be able to avoid this kind of situation in the future.
Ian agreed, but Martin could sense the reluctance in his squeaky pig voice. “I’m serious!” shouted Martin, “I will teach you How I Cut My Cable Bill By $40 A Month!” (Joe Morgan)
Ian’s tone changed a bit, “Really? You saved that much a month?”
“Yes!” Martin replied. “And that’s not all! I can also tell you the 5 Things That Get You In Financial Trouble (Zhu), so you can avoid them in the future.”
Ian didn’t know that Martin wasn’t being completely honest about his financial situation. Sure, Martin knew that When Gift Cards Expire Everyone Loses (Outlaw), and he Proceeded with Caution when Considering a Medical Credit Card (Tim Chen) but Martin was still clueless about many of life’s bigger financial decisions. He didn’t know how important an emergency fund is, let alone if he Should Have Multiple Emergency Funds (Tim Fraticelli). He certainly didn’t know How to Create Wealth (Nikoya Johnson).
In fact, a bank had just rejected Martin’s application for a debt consolidation loan. The bank, after reminding him that his student loan payment was overdue, told him that he couldn’t afford the loan terms and suggested he look into Borrowing Money Inexpensively (Neal Frankle) from his older brother Doane.
Martin made a classic, terrible mistake. He didn’t pay attention the warning signs right in front of him. Instead, his pride got the best of him, and he stood before his younger brother and preached about a better life.
A few months passed, and Ian noticed a few envelopes sticking out from behind the refrigerator. He moved the fridge aside and found a stack of envelopes that Martin had hidden. The menacing red stamps all read “Past Due – Final Notice.”
Ian had also noticed that his brother was using his credit card an awful lot, and when he confronted Martin, his reply was just, “This is A Time I Splurged… and I’m Glad I Did (Barb Friedberg). Besides, my checking account is overdrawn because the bank made a mistake last week. Once the mistake is fixed, I’ll just pay my credit card off.”
Ian let it slide, and one day while the two little pigs were enjoying a game of Parcheesi, an all-too-familiar knock came at the door. “Uh oh,” thought Ian.
“Who’s there?” shouted Martin, and the voice at the door confirmed Ian’s suspicion. The wolf said, “I represent the Big Bad Bank of Brick. My name is Wolf. Your student loan payment never showed up this month, and as a result I’m here to blow down your house!”
“Wait just a minute!” cried Martin. “My student loan doesn’t have anything to do with my mortgage!” But it made no difference to the wolf.
“I will blow your house down anyway,” said the wolf, and he began to huff and puff. Quickly, Ian and Martin grabbed everything they could carry and ran out through the patio only to look back and see the little Victorian-style stick house toppled to the ground by the big bad wolf. As they ran towards their brother’s place, the pigs could hear the wolf shout, “Remember this the next time you decide to miss a payment!”
Doane, the eldest brother, didn’t live too far away, but he was surprised to see his younger brothers running up the beautiful windy cobblestone road lined with great big shade trees. Doane was enjoying the lovely weather, tending to his small garden in the side yard like he always does on Wednesday afternoons.
When his younger brothers caught their breath, they told him the story of how the wolf had first visited Ian and then Martin and blew both of their homes down. Doane interrupted, saying, “Please, stay here as long as you like. I have plenty of room, and the fruit orchard combined with my little garden project here produces enough food for all of us to live comfortably.”
There were no strings attached with Doane’s invitation, and the younger pig brothers quickly realized how well their brother was doing. Even though Doane was only a few years older than Ian and Martin, he was wise beyond his pigyears in many ways. He learned early on how to Automate His Finances to Win Big in Retirement (Mitch Archuleta) and the Lessons Learned from Starting a Business in College (Studenomist) really helped Doane develop his business sense. Plus, he found out some of the Best Student Jobs to Avoid Student Loans (Mike @ Green Panda), and he graduated debt-free.
After college, Doane went to great lengths to model himself after great business pigs of his day. He also avoided the Financial Myths College Grads Need to Stop Believing (The Financial Blogger) like the swine flu.
When one of Doane’s business ideas started taking off, he could Celebrate a Net Worth Milestone and Financial Victory (Kaye). He had invented a special fertilizer, and the patent created a passive income stream that seemed like it would continue for years. He was socking away quite a bit of cash, and he was able to retire to his beautiful home at the end of the cobblestone road lined with great big shade trees.
Of course, Doane had many failed business ideas in that short time as well, but unlike his brothers, he didn’t blame his failures on Cyberbullying and the Drama Triangle of Divorce (Stowe Family Law) or the fact that Everything He Learned about Money He Didn’t Learn from His Mom (MoneyThinking). He succeeded in the end because he owned his failures and used them as learning experiences that led to his success.
Now Doane is able to fully enjoy the life he created, and his good choices put him in a position to help his two brothers who years later would succeed in their own ways. Ian became a very successful stand-up comedian and uses his embarrassing work story as a trademark closer. Martin became interested in alternative energy after building a greenhouse for Doane. He now works for the government and is rolling out a large-scale switch to alternative energy grids including those powered by windmills, waterwheels, and solar power.
All three pigs still live together in the big red brick house at the end of the beautiful cobblestone road lined with great big shade trees. When Doane, now happily married, wonders “How Do I Motivate My Son to Save Money?” (Dave @ 50plusfinance) his brothers tend to chuckle and say, “Doane, you are an inspiration to all of us, and your son will do just fine if you teach him what you showed us through your great example.”
The end. Now you’re tucked in with valuable money lessons, so sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite…
(photo credit: Shutterstock)