‘Deadbeat’ Dad Chronicles: Odd Jobs – Part II

Taz Bright helms this series. Taz is a father, speaker, long-time business owner and graduate of the school of hard-knocks. Taz uses his past business and personal finance experience to help steer others in a positive financial direction while, hopefully, avoiding the mistakes he’s made along the way. As a former 6-year victim of Identity Theft, Taz shares unique lessons learned while trying to regain his financial footing. Taz is a member of Toastmasters International, a martial artist, former bodyguard and a CrossFit athlete. As the owner of Bright Balance Ministries, Taz’s goal is to help as many people as possible reach long-term, solid financial stability.

I recently had a phone conversation with a well-meaning friend who I love and respect greatly. He was advising me concerning my child support payments and his perception of who I am. It was an interesting conversation to say the least. I want to recount the details of this conversation, built around the same scenario as the first post in the ‘Deadbeat’ Dad series.

I hope this serves two purposes. First, I hope it is an encouragement to men and women in similar situations and second, I hope it serves to show how discipline plus a frugal mindset will eventually yield financial success.

My friend, we’ll call him Skepto, informed me that he was concerned that I “wasn’t working” and “not paying my child support.” In my head I thought, “You haven’t even asked specifics about the situation.” However, I let him continue on this all-too-familiar road paved with assumptions.

What my friend didn’t know, and apparently didn’t care to ask, is that I was doing odd jobs while seeking traditional employment. This is where misconception comes in. Most folks believe that a traditional nine-to-five is the only thing that can/should be defined as ‘work.’

Just as there are misconceptions with respect to what constitutes work, there are misconceptions about being frugal, which is often mistaken for cheapness of even greed. Thankfully the reality is quite different.

Work [wurk] noun. Defined by Dictionary.com defines work as “exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labor, toil.”

The odd job, aka work, I want to highlight today is substituting as a newspaper carrier. This was a really fun job for me because it involved driving, which I love to do.

Okay, there was the added thrill of driving a bit faster than usual, swerving back and forth in the street because the paper had to be delivered by a certain time. I won’t deny I was pretending to be a race car driver!

The benefit of this odd job was that I would be paid at a higher rate than the carriers who were assigned permanently to one route.

In exchange for bouncing from one route to another almost daily I’d receive a flat $50/night and they’d expect me there seven days a week, including holidays.

With the frugal mindset firmly planted in my brain I spent wisely and made my child support payments in the form of bi-weekly money orders.

The small, frugal things I did played a massive role in keeping my head above water. As an example, I filled my fuel tank when it got to the half-way mark, no lower. This did two things. First, it helped maintain the optimal amount of miles per gallon. The less fuel in your vehicle the more fuel it burns per mile.

Second, if the substitute job at the newspaper came to an abrupt end, I needed to be sure my car had as much fuel in it as possible in order to get around until my next paycheck, wherever it would come from.

That’s frugal thinking. That’s how this dad set up his future financial situation in order to avoid being the deadbeat some actually considered me to be.

That brings me back to the conversation with my friend, Skepto. This conversation brought me face to face with the reality of misconception! As much as actions speak louder than words, I do understand that actions can be easily misunderstood.

For those of us who know we have been unfairly mislabeled this can be discouraging, frustrating and even cause a fair amount of anger. My advice is this: Stay frugal, work those odd jobs if that’s all that is available, ignore the negative comments, continue working towards proving them all wrong and, most importantly, be an individual your child can look up to.

Have you ever taken on the odd job, or two, something that was not a traditional 9 to 5 , to meet your financial obligations?

James
 

James retired in 2005 after serving 21 years in the United States Army. During the latter part of his career, James' interest in personal finance was piqued based on his own experiences and observations of the way most Americans plan – or more accurately, fail to plan – for retirement and the difficulty many face in starting the process. His most valued education has been lessons learned from personal experience and through conversations with smart, savvy friends.

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