What’s Your Story?

What's Your Story?I’ll be the first to admit that I have a tendency to make a quick judgement on people when I first see or meet them.  I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that either.  As I’ve grown more in the past handful of years though, I’ve made a real effort to give people the benefit of the doubt because maybe there’s a story going on that I’m not aware of…

Maybe that $%^&* driver is not just some reckless, haphazard driver, but is rushing to get to the hospital for some major emergency.  It’s quite possible that the obese person doesn’t eat too much – maybe there’s actually a medical reason behind it.  What about the person that seems like every decision they make is illogical… could there actually be a sound reason that they’re making those decisions that I don’t know about?

It’s tough not to judge a book by its cover, but it’s also important to remember that it’s not usually the whole story.

Everyone’s got something going on in their life and we don’t usually know what that is.  Most of us tend to just focus on what we see without even questioning that it might not be the truth.

On my quest for finding out a little more about people, I thought it would make sense to do a little bit of self-examination and throw out some of my quirky issues.  Here are some things that people don’t necessarily know about me and might judge me for before they get to know me:

  • I make conversation with people I don’t know.  For some reason, I feel the need to make conversation with strangers.  Whether it’s customers or employees at the grocery store, waitresses or bartenders at restaurants and bars, or other parents at our daughter’s school, I just go into social mode and start making some conversation.  Doesn’t sound that unusual, right?  But here’s why this is a great example of not judging… I’m not a people person.  Yes, we have a good number of friends and I enjoy hanging out with all most of them, but for the most part, I really don’t like people as a whole.  So why do I do it?  Not sure… maybe it’s a problem with being insecure, but who knows?  I’m pretty good at being personable though and you would never know that I’m not really a people person.
  • I don’t care about clothes.  That’s a tough one for a lot of people – some people feel that clothes make the man.  That doesn’t do it for me.  Sure I’ll wear a nice suit for a wedding or on a formal night when on a cruise, but chances are, you’ll find me in either a T-shirt and shorts or in jeans and a hoodie.  And the zinger is that it’s usually a free shirt I’ve gotten somewhere or a Christmas gift or something.  Otherwise, it’s me buying maybe one or two things a year from Walmart.  And I really don’t care about style – if I wear something long enough, I figure that it’ll come back around eventually.
  • Fancy cars are not important to me.  Yes, I read Consumer Reports and find the best “American” car that I should buy.  I bought a new Chevy Malibu back in 2009 and plan on driving it until it dies.  Recently, I decided that I will never buy another new car again – all you do is lose a ton of money as soon as you drive it off the lot.  I’ll still buy the recommended car from Consumer Reports, except now it will be a car that’s a year or two old… and I’ll still run it into the ground.
  • I’m a better driver than everyone on the road.  Yup, I’m one of those people who complains that the people I’m following are driving too slow and the people on my butt are driving too fast.  Ask my wife and she’ll tell you – she spends a lot of time rolling her eyes at me in the car.  I will say that back in the day I used to be a much more aggressive driver than I am nowadays.  For the past handful of years now since we’ve moved into our current house, the majority of my driving is to and from work and is a nice mellow drive through some back roads and the park, so that’s helped to make me a little less crazy.
  • I don’t believe in keeping up with the Joneses.  We live in a pretty nice middle-class suburban house in a big development – nothing fancy, but still a nice house.  However, people might look at it and think we’re living all high and mighty.  What they don’t know is that we got it at a fantastic price and they would be very surprised to find that we don’t have any fancy furniture/decor and have cheap linoleum flooring in the kitchen.  I do make small improvements as we’re going… I’ve changed out all the brass decor and light fixtures with nickel after about six years, but chances of us doing any remodeling, putting in a new patio, etc. is just not going to happen.  I watch people spend a fortune working on their house and it drives me bonkers.  It’s not a matter of if this is right or wrong – it’s just the way my mind works.

Yes, the majority of my issues revolve around money.  It’s not that I don’t like fancy junk like sports cars and I could easily afford one – it’s more that I don’t care about that stuff.  For me, if it’s going to hinder my path to financial independence, then I would prefer to skip that.  If I had a few million dollars in the bank would I be driving a fancier car?  Probably not.  I might continue to buy new after running mine into the ground, but that’s really about it.  We do tend to spend a little more money on experiences though – like vacations and cruises, camping, and other small trips.

But for people who first meet me, they might think look at me and think I’m just another schlub that is working his way in a dead-end job and can’t afford any “nice things.”  If you didn’t know who Warren Buffet was, you would think he’s just a poor old man living in some cheap house.  He bought the house he lived in for most of his life in 1958 in Omaha Nebraska for $31,500.  As of this writing, he’s worth $68.5 billion!!  And I’m no Warren Buffet, but my point is that you can’t judge a book by its cover.  People do know who Warren Buffet is and how much he’s worth, so they don’t look down at him because they know he could buy whatever his heart desires.

Everyone’s got issues and everyone’s got problems, but more importantly, everyone’s got a story.  My goal is to find out what that story is.  So I thought I would start with my readers…

Please take a minute and share a little bit about yourself and what your story is (doesn’t have to be related to finances either)!

I would love to get to know you guys and your story!

Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

You know you wanna share this!!

15 thoughts on “What’s Your Story?”

  1. Hey Jim, found your blog after you left a comment on mine, and decided I would say hi.

    On this topic, I like the quote attributed to Scottish author Ian Maclaren: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

    I’m like you, I tend to judge people the first time I meet them, and I know it’s never the right thing to do, so I’m trying to remember that quote regularly.

    I have an interesting anecdote to share on this topic: one day I was waiting for the bus with a group of people. The bus arrives, the lady in front of me is paying by cash, which is slowing everyone down (everybody else has a magnetic card thingy). Trying to do the right thing, I swipe my card and proceed inside the bus as she is paying the driver. My goal was to allow basically for people behind me to get on the bus while she was paying by creating two lanes (one for people with cash, one for people with the magnetic card), letting everyone on in faster.

    She yelled at me, told me I was a terrible example for my child, for not being patient enough to wait for her to get in first. I was shocked and she never let me explain what my intent was. This was extremely frustrating. There was enough room for two lanes, so she just yelled out of principle.

    1 year later, I still feel angry that she didn’t give me a chance to explain.

    1. Good quote from Maclaren – a lot of truth to that!

      I appreciate your story as this is a perfect example of the other side. Should she have found out why you were doing what you were doing, she might not scolded you and you probably wouldn’t still be angry thinking back on it.

      A lot of people just assume the worst about others because they’re so focused on their own lives. It’s an uphill battle, but I’m definitely going to try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt more often and hopefully that will diminish a small pinch of stress in at least one person’s day.

      — Jim

  2. When my kids were little, I used to coach them in youth sports. Starting out, I was pretty competitive and would sometimes lose my cool.

    Then one day, I watched as another coach completely lost it on the field. Screaming profanity across the field in front of parents and 8 year-old kids.

    From then on, I realized that I had control of my emotions. I don’t believe that you can control how you feel, but you can control your behavior. I could feel extremely frustrated and angry at someone or something, but I don’t need to show it externally.

    And actually the reverse is true as well. Sometimes in coaching, you do want to show a little emotion – either for your own parents or maybe the referee. But even though I may look angry, again it’s all controlled.

    1. Thanks for sharing that, FS. It takes a lot to be able to control your behavior – a lot of people unfortunately don’t have that self-control.

      My father-in-law loved coaching and was excellent with the kids. He had to give it up though… not because of the kids, but because of the parents. They would become out of control like that other coach you mentioned and he said it just wasn’t worth it anymore.

      — Jim

  3. I take pride in my efforts to be kind to other people, whether it’s a passing smile on the street or a “how is your day going” to the cashier.

    My story is long, but the present focus is on getting out of debt so I can semi-retire and spend more time with my family, including a cross country road trip.

    I will say that many people over the years have assumed that I am stuck up. However, I’m just a quiet introvert. While I can strike up a quality one-on-one conversation, I usually prefer to sit back and observe others, especially in big crowds. It’s easy to judge and make assumptions, but you are often going to reach the wrong conclusion.

    1. Love to hear the story, Harmony. Funny enough, not knowing you, the power of the Internet cloaks people and I would never have thought you to be an introvert based on your blog.

      I’ve never done a cross-country road trip, but I think with no rush, that would be a wonderful experience!

      — Jim

  4. The ‘I make conversation with people I do to know’ is an interesting one. It is actually one are I need to improve on going forward. Just last week, I talked to a guy on a professional event. It brought some good new insights and opportunities professionally.

    It turns out it is not quirky, it just means more opportunity.

    1. Good point – it’s true that it’s probably a good trait to have, but I don’t know why I do it when I don’t really want to talk to people. And you’re right, it is a possibility for opportunity which could be a very good thing.

      Here’s one for you… the salesmen at my office like to give new customers a tour of our office and introduce them to some of the managers (including myself). When I hear them coming, I pickup my phone and pretend I’m talking to someone and lookup at them and smile and wave. It’s pathetic… but still kind of funny! Some of the salesmen that I’m friends with know what I’m up to and just grin and shake their heads or roll their eyes at me.

      — Jim

  5. Hi, this is my first time in your blog. I found your comment on one of the blogs that I follow.

    My story is kind of a long one. But the most recent and the one that I am most proud of is paying off my debt to the tune of $40K and saved $70K, at the same time, in 2.5 years. It was difficult to do it but my wife and I went through the experience with little to know scar. 🙂

    Well, for other story, I don’t really talk to other people. Every time I meet someone new, I always tend to just observe and listen before making the hump into talking to the person. I guess i like to know more about the person before communicating with him/her. I guess this attitude is a result of my past experiences with people. I used to be the person who would talk to just about anybody. But there were times in the past that when I tried to start conversation some people just didn’t pay attention. So, I stopped what I did and the way I communicate with people.

    1. Wow – turning your finances around that much in so little time is fantastic!! Congrats to you guys!!

      That’s interesting that the way you handle other people is almost the opposite of the way I do… maybe we should meet halfway on our approaches! 🙂

      And welcome to the site by the way – glad to have you here!

      — Jim

  6. Jim – I love how our great minds thought alike and each titled our posts this week the same!

    I used to get upset with other drivers on the road but I have begun realizing that I am in no rush to get where I am going. It has helped keep me calmer when people don’t drive the way I think they should. You make a great point though, we never know what is going on in other’s lives. We should all try and show some patience with the people around us. It is just a better way to live than always being upset and judging.

    1. The odds of us posting on the same day with the same title have to be pretty slim, but I’m honored to share a title with your site! 🙂

      Glad to hear that you’ve become a calmer driver… you almost have to nowadays or you never know if someone will go insane and pull a gun on you. Patience is a good word to use – most of us are always in such a hurry that everyone else just “gets in the way.” I’m not sure if things will ever really change, but I know that I’m going to try to do better on my part.

      — Jim

  7. I feel like these quirks describe me, lol. If I could wear the same thing everyday I would so I do the next best thing – only have a couple outfits and wear them as they dry off the washing line. I would rather be mistaken for another schlub (not that fits anyone exactly) than anything above my station.

    My husband and I FIRE’d at 43 like you. I found your blog a couple years ago when we were staying in Bouquete, Panama as you know it is a beautiful spot in the world. We have been traveling very slow full time since 2016 and absolutely loving it.

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