Advice for my kids (and who ever else listens)

As I enter the 4th quarter of this game of life and my kids are in their 20’s heading for the 30 yard line on the football field of life, I jotted down the following reflections/recommendations to consider:

Cars/Vehicles (motorcycles, etc.)

  • Hold off on buying (aka financing $$$) them as long as you can. And when you do buy them, get dependable/practical used ones (preferably e-vehicles for environment and longevity). Avoid financing and all the costly baggage (taxes, registration, insurance, maintenance, depreciation, parking cost in cities, etc.). So how are you supposed to get around? electric bikes, uber, live near mass transit, scooters that do not require registration/insurance, zip-cars/rental cars (aka, wheels when you need them) and ride sharing. FYI, I will be doing this when I no longer have a company car or I retire from my company. I’m even considering hooking up a cart behind my electric pedal bike for all sorts of monetized activities (advertising, hauling, delivering, etc.)

Houses/Real Estate

  • Avoid the American Dream trap (bigger is better, suburb over city, picket fence). Live UNDER your means, get worst house in best neighborhood, buy low, sell high, consider multi-family (let rents pay the mortgage). If moving way out into the country (or out of country) or off-the-grid, consider alternative housing lifestyles focused on the environment, affordability and durability. Land in the right place at right price is always a good bet…to paraphrase Mark Twain who said “buy land, their not making any more of it”. I think Mark Twain said this (at least it sounds like something he would say). Consider shared housing (includes condos and co-ops, mutual housing, etc.) but be really careful about the following:
  • high common charges
  • renter/owner ratios (don’t be the only owner occupant in a sea of renters. This is not to say that renters are bad people it’s just that they do not have the same vested interest in the property)
  • resale and occupancy restrictions
  • Sites that have not set aside funds (or sufficient funds) for repairs in their reserve funds.

Take it from me as someone who lost a condo because of the aforementioned issues and later a house when I got overextended in the American Dream home ownership trap.

If you get a piece of land, make it as profitable and sustainable as possible. Consider a durable, modular small home in a minimalist lifestyle where you own the building and the property rather than the bank owning the property. Why spend your time cutting/raking lawn when you can convert most of your property to a garden of even a “food forest” which is both environmentally positive and a boost for your wallet. Plus in uncertain times (which are inevitable), make sure you are canning/preserving food to get you thru the winter. I’m thinking about following my own advice and writing a memoir about this so I share my experience while monetizing the experience. Might even title this book “My Year Living in a Tent in my back yard

Considering a pet? Only add a pet if you have the money, time, space and energy for yourself and the pet. If it’s a dog, maybe a working dog that could provide security to keep other 2 legged and 4 legged critters away. And speaking of security (especially given what I predict to be increasingly dangerous, unsettled times), have in place adequate and appropriate devices/systems (cameras, guns, alarms, drones) to protect self and surroundings. There was a reason that castles were surrounded by moats and archers were ready to rain down arrows upon invaders (sorry, my ancestral roots are showing).


  • Any schooling you do beyond college needs to be paid by your company or a fellowship or some other outside source…not you. Too late to undue all the college loans but going forward make sure you live a life of austerity (no marriage, no kids, no vacations, no going out to dinner, etc.) until this gets paid off. Wish I could offer better news/advice but that’s all I got. Keep eye out for legislation concerning debt forgiveness but “don’t hold your breath”.
  • For intellectual/career advancement (and maybe for personal enrichment), consider all the Massive Online Free Educational websites, podcasts, YouTube, Ed Apps, etc. and any free (or low cost) seminars, clubs, organizations, etc. affiliated with your interests and career advancements. In my case its writing clubs, organizations, etc.

Social life, dating and finding a soul mate

  • Ok, here I’m out of my league and have no advice. Actually this needs an entirely separate blog so for now, let’s move to the next category

Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Invention, Gigs, Bartering, Alternative-Sustainable Lifestyles

  • Follow your passions and interests (especially if you can monetize them) and consider bartering for services and products. My personal example is writing with the goal of publishing and offering swim lessons since that’s the one sport I feel capable of teaching others (you would not want me teaching any other sports).
  • Get patents (example: I got my novel copywrite protected)
  • Be on lookout for market niches or as they say “build a better mousetrap”.
  • Find mentors/trusted advisors in whatever you do and keep up networking and branding.

Vacations, Travel, Retirement

At the risk of sounding like Ebenezer Scrooge, don’t do any of this “just for fun”. Try to monetize whatever you do and wherever you go. Ok, have a little fun while doing it.

For example, if I was to travel, it would be for the following reasons:

  • Take a bus and/train tour across the country coinciding with my marketing of my first novel (Mall Child). Bring my foldable electric pedal bike on the tour so I’m getting exercise, seeing sights and being kind to the environment. While doing this tour, visit family, friends and acquaintances throughout the country preparing my 2nd book (memoir) that’s appropriately titled “Family, Friends & Acquaintances”. Maybe there’s a 3rd book in the making here based upon the experience of this touring. If there is some product, idea or invention that you need to market and if you also have wander lust, why not combine forces on your own tour and have some fun in the process. Even a scrooge like me can have some fun.
  • If you are travelling around the country or travelling outside the country, consider motivations and goals beyond the traditional touristy stuff. In my case, for example, I’m looking to obtain dual citizenship (already a USA citizen and plan to add Irish citizenship since I’m 2nd generation Irish on maternal side of family). With the dual citizenship in place, consider working and/or living in Ireland so spend my touring time checking this out. As an author, include book touring and marketing/networking integrated with the travelling.
  • If you’re in a profession and affiliated with a company that entails travel (domestic or foreign), consider adding pleasure and personal research and marketing/networking to any business trips

As I composed this litany of suggestions, I reflected on my ancestors and realized that they deployed the same strategy of monetization and diversification.

For example, my great-aunt Kate on my mothers side of the family emigrated from Ireland, worked multiple jobs, bought a rooming house and created a revenue stream. This was essential since her husband died and she had to raise her own 2 children while taking in my mother and her 3 brothers because both my maternal grandparents died young. While doing all of this, great-aunt Kate fed the horses in the morning so they could pull the wagons of a hauling firm that she grew into a moving company that ended up running trucks up and down the Atlantic seaboard from Boston to Florida.

For example, my grand father on my fathers side built a 3 family house which included a corner grocery store which he managed until the Great Depression. The 3 apartments provided shelter for his children which was fortunate because both he and my grandmother died young. He and most of my ancestors were proponents of the philosophy of living “debt free” long before it became fashionable for financial advisor Suzy Orman espouse this message in her webinars. My grandfather didn’t stop with the grocery store venture. He then became a co-owner of a funeral parlor and was active on several town commissions (police and fire) as a local alderman.

No grass growing under the feet of these ancestors and many others like them. Lessons to be learned from all of them that we can certainly benefit from today.

So I hope that you found this helpful (or at least it offered some food for thought). I’m looking to implement in my own life as much of the above described recommendations as time and energy will allow. I will publish future blogs updating my progress and likewise look forward to any feedback/suggestions you might have. By the way, some of these notions are also baked into my upcoming novel entitled Mall Child so stay tuned for more announcements.

Published by dunnwriteswell

Boomer who is late bloomer to writing. Healthy addictions include Book TV and exercise. Track all things historic, political, cultural, economic and social. Mixture of tough-love. Minimalist who is fiscally conservative and socially progressive. Realist not afraid to see the glass as half empty. However, still willing to consider outside-the-box, long term solutions to seemingly intractable problems. Old enough to appreciate the greater arc of history while remaining young at heart.

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