Updated on 07.02.08

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Family Surprise Edition

Trent Hamm

Life turns out in very unexpected ways, if you give it a chance.

After finishing my manuscript late last week, my wife and I celebrated by going on a short trip with our kids. We stayed with a cousin of mine who’s about eight years older than I am – in fact, she used to babysit me when I was really little. I had basically fallen out of touch with her over the years. Once upon a time, she lived next door to me growing up, but she moved away when I was fairly young and found her own career path. On the rare occasions over the last ten or fifteen years or so when I did see her, it was usually at large family events where I felt fairly awkward anyway, being pretty introverted and surrounded with extended family and people I didn’t know really well. So we just fell out of touch.

For some reason, we just decided to go visit her. I really don’t know why – it just fell into place for some reason. But it was one of the best things I’ve done in a long time.

Every once in a while, you discover that a person that you really didn’t know well at all has so much in common with you that it almost blows your mind. There are so many aspects of my cousin’s life that overlap my own that it’s almost incredible. We’re the youngest of a group of siblings, with two brothers several years older (she has a pair of sisters even older than her brothers). We both are fairly introverted. We both have two children, just a couple of years apart. We both “made it out” – going to college and finding a good, mentally challenging job far away from where we grew up. We’ve both made countless lifestyle choices that have taken us even further away from how we grew up. We both feel somewhat awkward going back to our hometown to visit people. We both value living cheap.

When I first arrived, I felt uncomfortable and awkward. When I left, I didn’t want to leave and practically wished she lived down the block. Visiting her and getting to know her a bit again as an adult was one of the best things I’ve done lately, and I’m going to make a strong effort to ensure we don’t fall out of touch again.

Anyway, here are some good posts from the past week or so.

Are You Financially Healthy? The 5 Stages This is an excellent post, visually illustrating the five stages of financial health. (I actually think there’s at least seven, but this one’s a good start.) (@ moolanomy)

Young Entrepreneurs: Encouraging Children With Kid-Sized Businesses There’s a kid down the block from us who is apparently going to sell tomatoes door to door. I think it’s brilliant, and I may write a post about it soon. (@ get rich slowly)

Everything I Learned About Personal Finance I Learned From WALL-E My wife and I are animation fans, so this one particularly struck home around here. (@ watch my money maker)

An Example of How to Turn a Hobby into an Income I think this is the key to being happy – turning what you enjoy doing anyway into an income stream. Do it well enough and you can spend all day following your hobbies and doing whatever you want. (@ free money finance)

Winning the Daily Cash Flow Battle In my eyes, this is the biggest battle to overcome in getting your financial life straight. (@ frugal dad)

Sometimes It’s Just Better to Pay Someone I usually try to tackle anything that comes up, but there are times where it would have been more cost effective to just hire someone from the get-go. (@ gather little by little)

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  1. DivaJean says:

    It is odd how things turn out, Trent. A few years back, I had my high school reunion and people I had been looking forward to seeing and catching up with, I had nothing in common with anymore. And other folks I had never gotten along with or understood- were now people I had more in common with.

    Glad you reconnected with a family member.

  2. Jeff says:

    In “Stage 1” of “Are You Financially Healthy? The 5 Stages” it states two options: fight or give up. I certainly don’t think bankruptcy is done justice in a paragraph that uses less than 50 words! Someone reading that article who feels so defeated and is seeking help/advice could easily see step one, and think “OK, bankruptcy it is.” At least they provide a link, but even then the information is lacking. Thumbs down!

  3. Outsaving the Joneses says:

    That’s great to reconnect with family.

    Just wondering, what’s the deal with moving “far away from where [one] grew up”? I hear this a lot, I guess because after college I returned to where I grew up, and I plan to build a house here. I like being near my parents. They’re awesome people, and a life where I lived so far away I saw them once or twice a year wouldn’t make me very happy.

    I guess I’m old school. I love the way families used to live near each other and take care of one another. If my mom is sick, I’m right there to help. If my dad is working on the house, my husband drops in to lend a hand. People who moved two hours away act like they “made it,” when really they just live two hours away from where they used to live.

    (This isn’t just in response to Trent’s post, more a general question I’ve had since moving home and hearing similar comments>)

  4. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    The area where I grew up had very little in the way of career opportunities beyond foreman at a factory or working as a law enforcement officer. I was also concerned about some aspects of the culture.

  5. Pinyo says:

    @Trent – That’s sound like a great experience. I’m glad you are able to reconnect with your cousin. I wish I have more time to do the same. And thank you for linking to my article, I’d love to hear your thought on the other two stages.

    @Jeff – Sorry it didn’t meet your expectation, but the post is meant to be a framework and not exhaustive discussion of each point. Personally, I am against bankruptcy, but there are legitimate reasons to utilize it.

  6. Flea says:

    I had a similiar experience with a cousin of mine. We saw each other at a wedding after years of no contact. We hit it off and now have a great friendship!

  7. Thanks for the link, Trent. I’m a sucker for animation as well. I don’t buy a lot of movies for many reasons, but I own every Pixar movie – bought with cash, but purchased for the collection.

  8. Lola says:

    Just last month, a second-degree cousin I didn’t even know I had contacted me by email. It’s been great writing to her, and I hope we can meet someday, even though we live in different countries.

  9. Joanna says:

    I know exactly what you mean, Trent! I have recently developed an adult relationship w/ a cousin who grew up thousands of miles away from me, who I saw once every 3 – 4 years. It has been a real pleasure for me to get to know his heart now that we’re both grown and has also given me a window into my mother’s family.

    I’m blessed that you have enjoyed this experience as well.

  10. Frugal Dad says:

    Trent, thanks for the link. I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

    It was great that you reconnected with your cousin. A couple years ago we received word that my cousin, who I was close with growing up, had died at the ripe old age of 31. I was obviously upset at the news, but even more upset that I never had a chance to reconnect with him as an adult.

  11. dug says:

    Joanna is wierd…every time…

  12. Glblguy says:

    Thanks for including my article Trent. Great story, and reminds me of a few relatives I should probably hook up with again.

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