Our Spring blog series includes excerpts and basic financial lessons from the book In A Most Delightful Way, by our founder and CEO, James Twining, CFP®. The book aims to explore and simplify concepts based on the author’s own recollection of his early life and storied career path. The formula includes a story or anecdote (the “Spoonful of Sugar”) as well as “medicine” in the form of a lesson learned. Request a copy of the book anytime from your FP Inc. advisor or staff member.
Spoonful of Sugar: The Sewer Rat
By James B. Twining
As a child, my wife Jeanne was raised in a relatively protected environment, never living by herself or wanting for anything. Part of that goes with the territory of being a southern belle, I guess. Part of it was that her father adored her and spoiled her a bit. I can’t blame him for that, but when we got married it made for an interesting contrast, as my upbringing was significantly different.
We were married at Our Lady of Good Counsel, a traditional Catholic Church in the French Quarter of New Orleans. After the wedding and reception, we ran holding hands through the French Quarter in a terrific thunderstorm to a very posh hotel that Jeanne’s dad had reserved for us. The next morning, we had a nice breakfast in the hotel restaurant. We felt like royalty.
Before our honeymoon on South Padre Island, Jeanne’s dad sold me his old Pontiac Sunbird for $1. It was the best deal he ever made. We packed our wedding presents in the old beater and pointed west on highway 10, arriving in Galveston, TX by nightfall. That was when the reality of being married to a pauper struck home for Jeanne. I checked us into a $15-per-night fleabag motel, complete with a filthy bathroom, the smell of smokers, and a resident sewer rat. (OK, we did not actually see the rat, but I bet they had one.)
The Medicine: Often a younger couple will say to me something like: “We are going to spend our money now. We really want to enjoy life for a while, so we are going to do a lot of home remodeling, boating, and traveling. After ten years we will adjust our spending down.”
Easier said than done! It is quite easy to increase one’s standard of living, but extremely difficult to lower it. Most people must be dragged, kicking, and screaming back to a lower spending level. Just ask my long-suffering wife!