The Poor Man's Vanderbilt

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vanderbilt79
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The Poor Man's Vanderbilt

Postby vanderbilt79 » Wed Jun 27, 2007 6:41 am

I am an extreme novice to the personal finance game. My wife and I have been married almost a year now and we've recently begun to tackle a detailed budget. I started doing research online, mostly at Bankrate.com, about retirement funds and decided it would be smart to open a 403b to go along with my Teacher Retirement System. My wife and I attend church regularly, her father is the pastor, and one of the members of our church is the president of Wachovia Securities in our city. So I asked him if he could point me in the right direction to set up the 403b. I thought he would give me the name of someone in his office that could help me out, but instead he set up an appointment for he and I to meet this past Tuesday afternoon.

My wife was able to leave work and attend this meeting and we were greeted by a receptionist that didn't seem to believe that we had a meeting with the president of the branch. But she notified him and he asked for us to come to his office. He greeted us warmly, as he always does at church, and asked us to be seated. It was in my mind that we would just sit down for ten to fifteen minutes, fill out some paperwork, and be done with it.

Instead, a conversation that lasted over an hour and caused tears to flow took place. We talked about church, the power of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, as well as our different paths that lead us to the church. He began to talk to us about his past and how God moved in his life and put him in the position that he now occupies. Maybe thirty minutes into this conversation an overwhelming feeling came to me. I suddenly knew that my wife and I weren't there to set up a 403b.

After this hour long conversation he began to ask us what our financial picture looked like. How much did we make, what did our bills look like, and what debt was owed. I told him our salaries, what we payed for rent and things, and then we discussed the student loans...two car loans...and the credit card debt. I saw my wife's reaction to my willingness to divulge information that she didn't want people to know, but my feeling was to tell this man whatever he asked because he had already shared so much with us. He began to tell us about the fine balance of saving and paying on debt. He repeated that ALL debt is bondage. He suggested that we pay down our credit card bills before we set up a 403b and then he paused.

From his desk drawer he pulled out a check book and as he wrote on it he told us of an instance in which another person had done this for him and it was his turn to give. The check was made out for $2,500 which is exactly half of our credit card debt. We prayed together and the tears returned. He told us that when we had diminished our remaing credit card debt to come back and see him.

I don't know your spiritual beliefs and the beliefs we have may not be similar. But I felt compelled to share this story on this board, because my research on Bankrate.com and this board lead me to ask for that meeting.
I just want to be something more than the mud in your eyes. I want to be the clay in your hands. - Mineral

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morydd
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Postby morydd » Wed Jun 27, 2007 7:50 am

He repeated that ALL debt is bondage.


I would argue that he then disproved this point to you. By giving you this money, he changed at least a portion of your debt from one form to another. Now, instead of owing the Credit Card company that $2500, you now owe that debt to yourself in the form of honor and accountability. This man has given you a head start on the self-respect and freedom that comes with relieving your financial debts. You now owe it to yourself and to him to use that (and your own) money wisely. A debt like that is actually freedom I think.

Congratulations on your first steps, and let me tell you that when when you start to reach those goals, the feeling will be even greater than what you're feeling now. Somewhere down the road, when you are secure enough in your financial picture to help someone the way you've been helped, you'll be reminded that there are debts that money doesn't cover, and that you're more than happy to repay.
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vanderbilt79
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Postby vanderbilt79 » Wed Jun 27, 2007 7:56 am

I see your point. We do not have to pay this man back financially. However, we feel a great desire to pay the rest of the credit card debt quickly so that I can go back to him and open that 403b so that he knows we took his blessing and advice and did handled both with care.
I just want to be something more than the mud in your eyes. I want to be the clay in your hands. - Mineral

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plonkee
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Postby plonkee » Wed Jun 27, 2007 11:32 am

I'm pretty certain that have completely different spiritual beliefs to you.

But I think its clear that this has put you into a new and good form of debt. You should be looking forward to the day when you can also pay it forward.
In mathematics you don't understand things. You just get used to them. John von Neumann

uk personal finance and religion and atheist

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jdroth
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Postby jdroth » Wed Jun 27, 2007 6:06 pm

I, too, have different spiritual beliefs, but it doesn't matter. Though this story takes place in the context of shared religion, it's awesome just on its own. What this man did was a great thing if you are able to do what it seems you're drawn to do: fulfill his expectations and pay off that debt. That would be outstanding. Please do keep us up-to-date on your progress.

And I agree: I hope that someday you, too, are able to "pay it forward", to help a future Vanderbilt get started.

Great story.

--j.d.


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