Don’t let it go up in smoke

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Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

We bought our “dream home” and my mom came to see it. Her eyes lit up and she said it was her idea of a dream home too. The rooms were big and all the floors were hardwood. The kitchen looks bigger than it actually is but we still enjoy it. The house was set on a large lot and it reminded us of “Leave It To Beaver” when we found it.

I mention mom because she held her cards close. She had a difficult life in many ways and this was the first time she had really shared that owning a home like this had been her dream of where to raise a family.

The story twists and I hope it doesn’t sound mean. It was just one of the crazy things that happened to me that showed me the power of the small decisions we make.

Mom had gotten sick. She finally went to the doctor and learned she had advanced lung cancer. I went to help her on weekends and one of the first errands she sent me on was to buy her cigarettes.

I can’t remember their cost as I type this but I was stunned. I had no idea they were so expensive. After I got home, I started playing around with an investment calculator. (Mom always invested a portion of her money and I think it rubbed off on me. I’ll always be grateful for what she taught me and I wish she was alive to see the spreadsheets showing the growth of the Money Game. She’d love it and it would have given us something to talk about that evoked a lot of passion in both of us.)

As I played with the calculator, I made some assumptions about how long she smoked. I keyed in 30 years, 2 packs a day (I knew that much), the cost, 4% for inflation and 10% growth each year. Clinton was president and America had seen a lot of prosperity that didn’t seem ready to peter out. The calculator showed what she had spent on cigarettes would have netted her 1.5 million dollars in that time. It was so sad to take in. She would have invested it. She would have had the house she wanted. The sad part is she probably would have had her health with which to enjoy the house and the money.

I didn’t tell her about it but I did ask her how long she had smoked. She told me she had smoked two packs a day for 55 years. I reran the numbers and that was over 5.5 million.

I miss her so much as I write this. I couldn’t stay on budget (even when there was plenty of money to fund each category) just because I was supposed to. But once this became a game to play, the anticipation of leveling up was so much fun, the discipline followed. I think the Money Game would have squashed the cigarettes. She would have gone crazy with this. She just didn’t know.

I can’t be too self-rightous about her cigarettes. I think we all have something that makes our money go up in smoke. If you can just catch a vision of what your money can be doing for you, you’ll have a better use for it. Then it’s easier to divert it to a better use.

Level Completed: 135 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $601.47
Total Balance: $3,748.97

Our Money Game fund has increased 19.1% so far this month.

$59.19 is needed to reach the next level.

Have fun, grow money and level up!

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