The Cash-Strapped Dad

My name is Cody Martin. I am a husband, a father, an avid financial information consumer, and… The Cash-Strapped Dad.The idiom “strapped for cash” originates from the mid-1800s and means “in need of money.”

While I strive not to be “strapped for cash,” the reality is that between the bills, kids, and my wife (yep, I said it), sometimes I end up wishing I had a money tree growing in my back yard.My goal is to never be strapped for cash, and on my way to reaching this goal, I want to pass along any valuable information (in my opinion) that I gain so that you will never be strapped for cash either. I am in no way a financial consultant, and this blog is for entertainment and informational purposes only. So… here we go! Technically, my financial journey started in high school when my parents told me I needed a checking account so that I could deposit money from my grocery store job and learn how to keep a check book. It wasn’t until I joined the Navy that I became more interested in money and finances. I can only count on one hand the instances when someone specifically told me, “Do this with your money.”

Instance #1: I was in “A” School in Charleston, South Carolina, which is where I learned how to be an Electrician’s Mate. When you first arrive to the school, you begin a 1-2 week indoctrination period or Indoc for short. Indoc was to help familiarize you with the area, how schooling worked, and to take care of paperwork that will follow you the rest of your Navy career. One of the hundreds (that’s what it seemed like) of pieces of paper you sign and date was for a Treasury bond. There are many different denominations of Treasury bonds (aka T-bonds) you can buy, and you can have money taken directly from your paycheck to buy a bond. Our instructor told us that he bought a bond every few months, and that by the time he left the Navy, he would have several thousands of dollars in his T-bonds. I decided that this was a fantastic idea and signed up to buy one $1,000 T-bond every 8 months; a total of $125 came out of my paycheck every month.

Instance #2: I had arrived to my first submarine and duty station in Groton, CT and was living on base in the barracks. Fellow shipmates had suggested that I buy a house and start building up equity, to quit throwing my money away. I didn’t understand what they were talking about. It didn’t make sense that I was “throwing away money” that I wasn’t even receiving. Here’s the deal, in the Navy and most military branches, if you live on base or in the barracks you don’t have to pay rent. If you decided to live off base, then the Navy would give you BHA, basic housing allowance. Depending on how you look at it, the Navy is basically paying you to live off base. What my fellow sailors were trying to tell me is that if I live off base and find a house payment that is lower than what the Navy gives me in BHA, then that is extra money in my pocket. For example, rent in an apartment is $700 per month, and the Navy pays me $1000 per month for housing. That’s $300 extra in my pocket that I wouldn’t have if I continued to live on base!

Like I said, I didn’t understand that or the concept of equity when you purchase and own a home over time. It was over my head and a risk I didn’t want to take. The submarine I was on was planning on changing home port, and I didn’t want to have to deal with selling a house or renting it out while I was also trying to take in how Navy sub life worked. After our change of home port, a lot of guys started buying houses, and I ended up renting from one of the guys who bought a house. Him, one other dude, and myself lived in the house, which got that extra money in my pocket. At this point, I still didn’t know anything about home ownership, and it really didn’t even pique my interest enough to look into it.

Between talking to my parents and other guys on the boat about stocks and retirement I decided to further my own knowledge about investing. I purchased a few books: Investing Bible by Lynn O’Shaughnessy, a book about Warren Buffet, and The ABC’s of Real Estate Investing by Ken McElroy. I said earlier that I wasn’t interested in home ownership, but a close friend and I planned to possible purchase a rental house together when I got to my new home port. That didn’t work out. I also read many blogs and websites about money. I knew one day I would retire and I didn’t want to rely on Social Security, because I always heard “it’ll be gone in 10 years.” I still believe that right now. Whether it is here in 10 years or not, I don’t want to rely on Social Security to fund my retirement lifestyle. I want to be in control of my finances.

That statement brings me to why I started a blog. There are many different philosophies on money and spending. I want to explore and share with people the good and bad philosophies, and how we can change our habits and perceptions about money. I want to combat consumer debt and student loans. College students currently carry $1.7 Trillion dollars in student loans. Americans collectively hold $882 Billion in credit card debt. There is a mounting financial crisis, and I want to help fight against it.  I believe educating our children and youth is the only way to fight against the current trend of accumulating debt.

I am not a professional money manager or CPA or certified financial planner. I am an Instrumentation and Electrical Technician in Houston, Texas. I have a normal average (above average!) American family whose debt and income fluctuate. I invest with my 401k at work. I dabble with my Fidelity account. I pay my credit cards, and car notes. Financial independence is my goal. I want it to be your goal too. I want it to be your kid’s goal.  The sooner we learn and can put into use our knowledge of money, debt, and investing then the sooner we can reap the rewards.

I want you to come here with me and take a journey to financial independence. I want to create a community here where we can talk about things that have worked in our lives to manage money and pay off our debts. I want to be able to share ideas about how you engaged your kids about money or the struggle you face talking to them about it, or even your significant other.

As this blog builds up, I want to review popular financial books for you, I want to review apps to help you on your financial journey, and I eventually want to interview people that have turned their financial life around or have great advice to pass on. My goal is to start posting once a week on the financial basics and keep building our financial knowledge. Thank you for clicking and reading my burgeoning financial blog. Together with your help we can educate ourselves and our kids on how to properly manage our money.

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