An Unintended Interview – Money Lessons From A Redneck American

Last week, I was in the United States for 2.5 days. Being back to the States sounds cool, but it was for work, not pleasure. The fact it was in the middle of nowhere also didn’t help, and the trip was awfully long considering I only spent 2.5 days there.

Luckily, I got to fly business class. Man, that shit is luxurious! Also, it earns me a whole lot of airline miles, so that’s cool.

Now there weren’t a whole lot of fun things to do, but there was a shooting range. Being from Europe, I had never held a firearm in my life. So obviously, I had to go for an hour on the range. It was amazing. They let me shoot both a 9mm pistol and a 5.56mm semi-automatic rifle.

As a plus, I met this stereotypical redneck American. Our political views were quite far apart, but we got into a conversation and that was pretty good. Without him knowing, he gave me a fantastic interview for my blog!

Climate Change Isn’t Man-Made

Or well, that’s what this gentleman told me. He knew that mankind couldn’t be responsible for all that’s changing in our climate. Now that’s something I respectfully disagreed with, however, I didn’t push it too much.

Of course, he drove a big-ass truck. Not the kind of thing we call trucks/lorries here in Europe, no, this massive pick-up with no less than eight cylinders. What did he need it for, well, you know, driving to the supermarket and shooting range. That’s about it.

His truck was filled with NRA stickers. You know, the National Rifle Association? Yeah, think about private gun-ownership whatever you want, I’m just trying to paint a picture of what kind of guy this actually was.

Now to be fair, he was in his early 70s and retired. And it’s about his retirement and money management that we spoke quite a lot.

An Interview On Personal Financial Management

This guy, let’s call him Rick (real name known by me), was quite chatty about his financials. He lives a happy life.

R: You know, I have been retired for twenty years now, and I have never been bored. There’s always plenty to do.

B: So what do you do all day then?

R: Well, I’ve got a nice house, but man it needs a lot of maintenance. I’m lucky I can do most things myself or I wouldn’t be able to stay retired, ha!

B: That’s quite a statement. How big is your home if I may ask?

R: It’s slightly over 2,000 square feet [±190 square meters], but it’s old. My wife and I bought it forty years ago. We’re still living a good life there. I’ll never move.

B: I’ve heard real estate here has been cheap, have you been lucky buying this house?

R: When we bought it, we could afford it but it wasn’t cheap. We started paying off the loan aggressively, that helped! We’ve been mortgage free for about twenty years now.

B: Oh wow, that’s amazing! Great job! I’m actually debating whether I should accelerate my mortgage payments too. I’m going to pay a little extra but I’d much rather invest.

R: Well B, you should invest! Investing is the only way the middle class can make a little money. There’s only so much you will earn during your career. You must invest a piece of your pay and let it grow!

B: Is that how you built your capital?

R: Oh hell yes. You see, I worked for ACME (real name known by me) for quite a while, and they really helped to build up capital.

B: Tell me more!

R: So for starters, you could invest in your 401k [American pre-tax retirement account] with them matching the amount you invested. Free money! Then, that money could grow tax-free. It’s amazing.

R: On top of that, ACME had a scheme where they were paying out some kind of bonuses in company stock. I didn’t need the money then, so I just let the stock accumulate. And you know what’s cool? They paid quite a good divided. Since I wasn’t counting on that money, to begin with, I used the dividends to buy more shares.

B: You bought more of your employer’s shares? Why didn’t you invest in something more diversified, like an index fund?

R: I don’t know. The stock was given to me. The dividends were given to me. At the time it made sense to just buy more of those shares. And it certainly worked out for me now doesn’t it!

B: I don’t know, are you doing well?

R: That one stock alone made me over 300,000 dollars!

B: Damn, well done sir!

B: But what about index funds? Did you invest in them too?

R: Oh yes I did, and still do. The American economy is the best in the world. I own a piece of that with my S&P 500 index fund!

B: That must have performed well over the years.

R: It did. I consider myself lucky!

B: Well, you worked hard for it and invested wisely. I’m sure it’s not been just luck.

R: That’s true.

B: And what about your current situation? You are retired right?

R: Yes I am! My wife and I haven’t had our full-time jobs for twenty years! And why would we? The house is paid off, we have money in the bank. We’re enjoying life son!

B: I can imagine that. Is there nothing else you do?

R: We don’t sit around if that’s what you mean! I still work one day a week as a security guard. It keeps me busy, and it forces me to keep my skills up to date [laughs, and points at his 9mm handgun]

B: I see, I would call that a side-hustle. Some people prefer driving for Uber, but I get why you’re happy with your job.

R: It’s fun being around other people, and hey, they even pay me to go to the range. Can’t say no to that!

B: Amen! Do you have any tips for a 26-year-old like myself? I think I’m pretty good with money, but there’s always room for improvement.

R: Be humble. Work hard. Stay the course. Keep going, and keep investing. Always keep investing. Those dollars aren’t growing themselves! You have to make them grow. Invest.

B: Thank you, sir! I really enjoyed coming out to the range here tonight, and I enjoyed our conversation a lot!

3 thoughts on “An Unintended Interview – Money Lessons From A Redneck American”

  1. Ik lees steeds vaker over deze fantastische spaarmogelijkheden in Amerika. Niet iets dat paste bij mijn beeld van dat land. Best jaloersmakend ook ;)

    Ook een leermomentje voor jou Bas, want de beste man de denigrerende term ‘redneck’ noemen zou hij zeker niet waarderen en het siert jou ook niet.