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Episode 119: Part 1, The Wilhites: The Same but Totally Different

Buying with credit vs. buying with cash with Dave and Sherry Wilhite
Episode 119: Part 1, The Wilhites: The Same but Totally Different


Today, we’re joined by Dave and Sherry Wilhite, a couple who came from almost identical backgrounds but with completely different views on how to manage their money.


In this “Money With Mak and G” podcast episode we find out how their financial education as kids differed and how this affected their spending habits growing up…


Today, we’re joined by Dave and Sherry Wilhite, to discuss the financial education they had when growing up and how this affected their spending habits later on in life.


Dave and Sherry had very similar upbringings but were taught very differently on how to manage finances and money as children.


Dave was taught that everything can be bought on credit, while Sherry learned that everything can be bought with cash.


They explain how much of their money management skills were learned from their parents and how this affected them as they started their own lives.


Next time we’ll be learning what happens when they get married and have to confront the underlying truth of their different money management skills….


“My parents taught the value of working hard but the flipside of that was there was definitely the conversation in the house that we didn’t have extra money”Dave Wilhite


“That was the culture we knew growing up. When it was time to get a new car you would finance it, if you wanted a boat you’d fill out the credit application and see what your monthly payment would be.”Dave Wilhite


“How do you make money so, not only your children but also your grandchildren have some sort of advantage”Dave Wilhite

Time Stamps:

01:28 – Eating squid ink pasta and how I met Dave.

03:31 – Where Dave grew up and what his upbringing was like.

06:02 – The benefits you get on top of your salary as a pastor.

07:40 – The lack of financial education Dave had as a child.

12:06 – The similar upbringing Sherry had as the daughter of a pastor.

15:58 – How Sherry’s parents dealt with finances differently to Dave’s.

18:11 – How Sherry’s grandparents helped to finance her education.

22:05 – The college debt Dave graduated with and his lack of understanding of the impact this would have.

23:33 – The way our understanding around money is passed down the generations.

25:44 – How Dave and Sherry met and got together.

27:21 – When Dave and Sherry realized they managed money very differently.


Connect with Ben Jones:



BEN: Hello and welcome back to Money With Mak And G. My name is Ben Jones. Don’t forget to subscribe, comment and like the podcast. And today we have a very special couple who is here with us to talk a little bit today about money. We’re talking about Mr. and Mrs. Wilhite. And we have Dave and Sherry here. How are you doing?

DAVE: Great.

BEN: Dave is full of lots of words, but we’re trying to get a little wine into him. And we’re going to go ahead and move around. Sherry, how about you? How are you doing today?

SHERRY: I’m doing great.

BEN: There’s a little weird being here coming down into the basement. You’re like, oh my gosh, they’re going to come down here and do something really bad or is it okay and murder us? Yeah. I wasn’t going to say that but yes, but it’s okay. Little weird, but it’s a little bit different. We’re nice and tight today. I was hoping that it was going to be nice and cool in here. And I’ve got the fan on. That’s like sucking out the bad air and putting in the good air and Tony, you’re here. You’re going to say hello.

TONY: Hello. haven’t found any of the bodies yet by the way.

BEN: This is new, this is a golf course. So what kind of bodies are on a golf course? Bodies of water. Hey, that’s good. Well, we usually start off with just a little bit of background. Now Dave and I met to over what are you looking forward to the fishbowl. We don’t have the fishbowl. I’d have to run out and get it and ask the crazy question. Like, what’s the craziest food you’ve ever eaten Dave?

DAVE: Oh. The first thing that comes to mind was a pasta with squid ink.

BEN: Squid ink. Isn’t it the dark colored pasta? Then it blackens your teeth and everything like that? You didn’t start acting weird, started crawling all over the place?

SHERRY: I don’t think I was with you. You weren’t. Business dinner.

BEN: Well, the thing is, is that Dave and I met in the business world, we’re trying to do a deal together. It didn’t necessarily work out. But we became friends. And it was great to have somebody down here to go ahead and talk just a little bit about some things. And I asked Dave, an interesting question. I said, hey, how do you teach your kids about money and his eyes a little bit rolled back in his head. And he said, well, my backgrounds are a little bit different. He went on to explain what that was when my eyes lit up. He said, But my wife had a completely different upbringing. And when I heard what that was all about, I thought it was quite fascinating. And that’s why Dave is here today. Because I think you might enjoy some of this background story and what has happened. And we told them, because Sherry’s looking at me, she’s like giving me the stink eye. She’s like, oh my gosh, how much and we’re going to have to actually tell today, but we’ll go into that. And maybe Tony wants to say something. Maybe you could just give us a little bit of background on some of the stuff that we were talking about. How you learned a little bit about money? So I mean, do you want me to tell? You can just tell like your background, how you got accustomed to money and you know, like where you kind of started out? Were you in a big town, little town? Blood brothers, sisters?

DAVE: Yeah. So I grew up in a small town, small farming town in Northwest Indiana. Just south of Valparaiso. And so my dad is a pastor of a small church about 100 people.

BEN: Don’t think say pastor’s kids are the…

DAVE: The best!

TONY: The best place to get weed. That’s a kid’s name. We’re going to edit that out. Three kids. BK. Okay, kids’ show.

DAVE: Pastor’s kids don’t always have the best reputation. But yeah, so I grew up with an older brother and a younger sister. And so we’re in a small town. The town had about 2000 people, you know, no stoplights. Like one flashing red. So a rural town. farming town and a small, you know, rural church.

BEN: How big was your church?

DAVE: 100. Maybe 120 on a good day.

TONY: Did you have a competitive church in the area?

DAVE: Oh, there are lots of churches, you know.

BEN: Competing for all 4000 people. 2000 right.

DAVE: There are like 10 churches in the town. So yeah, it’s very small town America, you know. So what comes with that my dad had a small town pastor’s salary, you know? And we lived in a parsonage. So $250,000? Yeah, the ballpark.

BEN: And the parsonage for people who don’t know, because I was like, okay, I think I know what you mean, we call that a rectory and Catholicism were Catholic. So the parsonage is you gets kind of free room and board.

DAVE: There’s a house right next to the church. It’s a good size ranch that the church owned. And so we lived in that ranch, you know, ranch house for my entire life. You know, for the better part of my childhood I should say.

BEN: Because you was there how many years again? About 23 years. 23 years. So that’s definitely and were you quote unquote, born when you was there?

DAVE: I think I was four when we moved there. So you that’s  pretty much all I knew.

BEN: And your wife’s upbringing was completely different. So we’ll get back to that.

SHERRY: I’m going to jump in here. The church would also pay for the expenses of electricity, water, all of that. So a pastor’s salary is maybe even a little bit less because of, there’s none of those.

BEN: So they take care of like, do they take care of your car too? No. when you’re talking about a horse and a buggy, right?

DAVE: So my dad’s church, there was an allowance for utilities, but it didn’t cover all of the utilities. That was a super inefficient house, and it didn’t actually cover everything. That’s interesting. So kind of ruin at least a portion of board was covered, but the flip side of that is the salary was pretty low. Right. So when it comes to finances, you know, my dad had grown up in just a situation and what he was taught, you know, they used that as a vehicle to get a vehicle. I mean, so that was one thing. When we get to Sherry’s upbringing, that was very different our cars versus her family’s cars.

BEN: And did you like it? Did your dad teach you about budgets? Do you teach about how you need to save you know, did he teach you, hey, investing in the stock market? I’m kind of joking a little bit, because I’ve talked about it.

DAVE: Yeah. So, you know, as a kid, you hear things. So I would say that wasn’t a financial education, it wasn’t like a deliberate thing that they were trying to teach us. I would maybe step back and say, my dad, absolutely valued working hard, like he taught us, you know, we’re always going to work hard. And so when a car broke down, we would fix it. And I hated that right, as a kid? You know, I hated working on the cars is mostly I held the light while my dad fixed the car. So you know, as he definitely taught the value of working hard. But the flip side on that was, you know, there was definitely the conversation of feeling in the house that we didn’t have extra money. So when I needed a pair of basketball shoes, if there is a little bit of guilt, asking parents for money to get shoes, because there is just a kind of…

DAVE: You want to hear a crazy story? Go ahead.

TONY: I’m looking at Ben because I wasn’t raised with religion. Then I married a sister who’s Catholic and I got introduced to the Catholic mentality. And then I started feeling guilty all the time.

BEN: Well, for me, I wanted wrestling shoes. And my brother had bought a pair of shoes that he had grown out of very, very quickly, so they’re brand new. And so they were basketball shoes. So my mom gave me basketball shoes for wrestling. And if you know anything about basketball, and a wrestling, basketballs to support your ankle wrestling is to make it easy so your ankle can move. So fast forward, literally what about seven years later, we were at IU somebody was talking and said gosh, there was this like really good wrestler at St. Matthews. And he had the stupid his shoes that were these red ponies. And my brother was like, out ready to lose it. He was laughing so hard. Brian, if you had to use like, that’s you! So you’re talking about money? Well, I had a pretty good idea that we didn’t have much money.

DAVE: And that was kind of just the context of things. It was like, asking for that you knew that it was kind of a you know, paycheck to paycheck what was how we were living.

BEN: And you bought everything on credit. So you probably your parents probably had credit card debt, probably had loans on your car, didn’t own a house, right? Didn’t have any assets. And so is this the point we switch over to Miss Sherry?

DAVE: So, maybe I add one thing, we did have a boat, we had a ski boat. That was our vacation, you know?

TONY: When you can borrow money, you can get a loan to get a ski boat.

DAVE: Well, right. And that’s the thing everything you know, you could do that on credit, you could get a loan, you know is maybe harder to get a loan to go to Disney World right.

TONY: So I think gas out of the car to fill the boat?

BEN: Do you know it’s really funny. I’d read some articles that said that when it comes to defaulting on things, the last thing people will default on is their boat. Yes. Because there it is like I giving up my boat. And so it’s pretty funny. So you bought a boat on credit? Go ahead.

DAVE: Right. So that was just the culture that we knew growing up was, when it’s time to get a new car, you would finance it. If you wanted a boat, you would fill out the credit application, see what your monthly payment would be and go for it that you’re out if you could afford it. And so that was just how things operated in our family.

BEN: So then we move to Sherry, are you still there? Are you still awake? You probably heard that story. 100 times, right? Yes. So you had a very different like your dad was like a high end marketing guy, is that right? Just kidding.

SHERRY: No, no. So Dave and I have very similar backgrounds. But what we were taught is so different. So my dad is also a pastor. And I have small town, small town smaller. Whoa, no way. Where Dave lives actually quite a bit smaller. So like, what a 500 or something? Yes. So the first church that my dad was a pastor at he was at for 13 years, and it was about 500 people. And we were pretty much like, bused to the bigger town city to go to school. So it was like an hour bus ride to get to each way uphill. And then the second church that he went to was during my high school years. And that was maybe 1500 people. I would say. In my high school there was a total of 100 kids. 9th to 12th. So I graduated with 23 kids in my public school.

SHERRY: So I thought I went to a small school is 50 to 60 in my graduating class. And then I met her and she’s like, oh, that’s like three times my class. So you fell in love with a big city boy. A guy with a boat. He eventually moved me to San Diego. A bonus.

BEN: How does she deal with that? It’s like everything goes on credit debt. Right. So you’re going to your in this place. What’s the name of your town by the way?

SHERRY: I grew up in Freeport, Michigan and then we moved to Ashley.

BEN: Okay. I don’t really know. You’re covered for this while debt. It’s a what do you call a fraction of his small town parents are pastor probably getting paid less money right? We’re not comparing. I mean, we’re not I don’t know, but probably.

SHERRY: Yeah, I would say less at that time. There was maybe at the most, like 100 people at this church. And then I mean, it has 500 people right in the town. So like, at some point it you know, there was maybe 20 people and I got like really rough you know for all of us. I mean, that’s my dad’s job. That’s like, our family and friends group and to see, that was really difficult. 

BEN: So what happened with the money part of it? So you’re earning less money your parents, because I’m assuming which I’m not trying to but your mom didn’t work?

SHERRY: She had a better teaching degree. And she had taught for a few years my brother was younger. I have an older brother who’s four years older.

BEN: So now we’re kind of getting laid out. You had probably less money and did you learn everything went on credit? You just borrowed, you went to Disney World, ski boats, gold trinkets?

SHERRY: No Disney World, no boats, no trinkets. We also live in a parsonage. So my parents didn’t have to pay for that. And the church did pay for all the utilities. They didn’t just give an allowance to my knowledge. But my parents never had bought anything on credit. They only paid cash for single thing that they wanted or needed. Did they have a credit card? They did not. They did not get a credit card until I was out of college.

BEN: Was it the devil’s work, the credit card? We could say that on this show because they wait for the credit card, the bad debt.

SHERRY: So the first and only credit card that they were able to get at that point. I mean, they didn’t have any loans in their cars. They didn’t have a mortgage.

TONY: They got no way to pay it back. Why would they give them credit card?

SHERRY: They didn’t want it. They didn’t they absolutely did not want a debt.

BEN: So did you know their their credit score? Did they have a credit score? I don’t know that. Because I’m curious. Was it like 300, 400? Was it probably something crazy like 800?

BEN: I don’t know if you could like, ask them or if they feel comfortable. But I think that would be fascinating. You haven’t done it, like 20, 30 years, whatever it is. 40 years. Yes. And then they get a credit card like what is your credit score, dad, you know? Because we’re just trying to enlighten people. It’s not the best to not have credit. But it’s different right? All credit versus no credit.

DAVE: I mean, to the point like her parents were rejected for like a Kohl’s card or something like that. Yeah. And that was one of the moments where they’re like, I think we need to establish a baseline of credit.

TONY: I mean, everybody wants her Kohl’s cash. Yeah, you just don’t want to be throwing that away.

SHERRY: So I graduated college in 2001. Okay, so this is like the early 2000s, that my parents are starting to realize things are moving in a different direction. And they have nothing to their name.

BEN: So how do they afford you go into school to check a lot of debt? Not to get too personal. But if you say, well, okay, let’s talk about something else. That’s fine. Did you get scholarships?

SHERRY: Well, my grandparents, my dad’s well, both sets of grandparents were really good at managing money. They do it a lot. And so

TONY: And both they told both their children, no credit. Look at what we have now.

SHERRY: Both my grandfathers, they put away money for all the grandkids.

BEN: Wow, nice. How powerful is that and how satisfying it was probably to them to be able to do that and to see you succeed, because, yes, I don’t know you were I’ve known you what, for eight minutes now? But you seem like you’re pretty darn responsible that you would follow through with college and kind of move that forward. So that’s cool. So they put away money and now you’re going to college?

SHERRY: Yeah. We went to a private school in Michigan. And I think maybe it was like 25. I only paid for one year of college on my own. So because my grandfathers had saved money.

BEN: Because of the philosophy of respecting the money, saving the money, having to grow for you because we’re really trying to get that home.

SHERRY: And also having a vision for futures, you know, not just about you, my dad’s or my parents futures, but their, you know, the grandkids futures.

TONY: I’m getting all excited now, because we’ve had this kind of multi-generational wealth, like how do you make money so not only your children but your grandchildren, the next generation after that have some sort of advanced springboard?

BEN: Yeah. And so here’s the crazy part. I’m looking at Dave, he’s going to eyeball me. How the heck did the two of you get together? Do you guys go to like a pastor’s summit for their kids, PK retreat? And there’s lots of therapy there.

DAVE: No, we met in college. I was one year ahead of her.

BEN: So the same private school? Are you allowed to mention it?

SHERRY: Sure. Yes. Spring Arbor University. It was Spring Arbor College at the time, still around. But it is in Jackson, Michigan. Think of Indiana Wesleyan. We know that it’s same, just in Michigan. So it’s a technically a Free Methodist college.

TONY: But they charge for it. That doesn’t make sense.

DAVE: So that was one of the kind of requirements I had as a pastor’s kid was to go to a Christian college. And so I chose Spring Arbor, and didn’t want to go to the same place as my brother now and kind of wanted to not be John’s brother. Or be known as John’s brother. Chose to go to Spring Arbor. I got a little bit of scholarship to run.

TONY: Did you have the right kind of shoes for running though? I heard shoes are important.

BEN: We’re talking to Ben pigeon. And he says like, oh, yeah, I was an NCAA champ and ballroom dancing. I was like, Wow.

TONY: You had the right shoes for that.

BEN: So you got some running money. You went there.

DAVE: And academic scholarship. And I still graduated with quite a bit of college debt.

TONY: But you were comfortable with that though right?

DAVE: Right. Exactly. I mean, I didn’t know any different.

BEN: And we’re trying to break the cycle a little bit. It’s like, hey, I understand the decisions. You can graduate with debt. But you just need to understand the ramifications.

DAVE: That’s right and I did not.

SHERRY: You were always used to paying. monthly bills. And that’s what you saw your parents doing. It was a monthly minimum.

BEN: I had a close friend in Chicago. And if he’s listening, he was a lawyer. And he said that his parents, I’m not saying your parents, that this is what you’re thinking. But his parents did him a great disservice by pushing him towards a private school where his debt load was substantially more and going to law school that he would have gladly if he knew better would have never chosen that.

DAVE: Yeah, I think this was at a time when things were different and the price difference was really starting to separate between a public institution, in state tuition versus a private school. But it was also just, you know, from a priority standpoint, it was a high priority to my parents for me to go to a Christian school.

TONY: Did your parents go to college?

DAVE: They did. They met in college, my dad went to us a small Christian College in Ohio called Cedarville. He was, you know, he knew he was going to be a pastor that is what he felt called to. And so it’s really generational,

BEN: I suppose I was going to say it’s being passed down. Not only that, hey, you’re going to be a pastor, and go to a private Christian school, but you’re going to learn these other things. And I’m not trying to pick a scab but you’re going to learn these other things about money, too, that I passed down to you as well. That’s right. And so you don’t really question that right? I did the same thing. My parents said, my mom, mostly, you’re going to go to a public school. It’s going to be an Indiana, don’t ask again. And by the way, you get five choices doctor, lawyer, engineer, nurse, or CPA.

TONY: Oh and by the way, I’m going to pay for your college and then when you’re done, you’re going to pay us back because I’m married into that debt. I’m not bitter.

BEN: And then when they sit you down, it’s really funny, because I always like a credit to, I got the book, I’m opening your book, and this is what you owe us. And it’s just like, Oh, my God! 

TONY: We get the photocopy and handwritten ledger every year to make sure that we reconciled the balance of how much Laurie and I owed your parents. And at one point, there was an entry in there for $100 charge, addition to the death, like, what’s that for Wayne? Well, we get a life insurance policy on her in case she dies before she pays us. And that’s how much it costs per year. I go, I got insurance on or you can take that off. I don’t wanna buy that each year any more.

BEN: So it’s just weird the things you learn, right? Yeah. And you think they’re normal and maybe they are, but the thing is, like, I just keep saying, okay, guys, you don’t have to take out a ton of debt. Let’s do some things different.

DAVE: Right. So back to your question about how we met, you know, so we met at college, and you sit next to her in religious class? No, I don’t actually remember.

TONY: You don’t remember? Let me let me take a guess it was the enchantment under the sea dance.

SHERRY: We met through a friend. I mean, our roommates had known each other and it’s a small college like 1000 or 800? No, more than 1000. So you pretty much knew everybody on campus, which was fun. It was a fun experience to know everybody. So I knew Dave, he’s a year older than me and his friends and my friends were friends with his friends. And we just started hanging out.

BEN: So you get this like, great relationship started, right? Because you meet this lady that has similar, you know, ideas is right, because you’re, you know, money, call it a Christian college, smaller, embracing that. And you guys make the connection. And I don’t know if we jump to getting married unless there’s like something that’s interesting.

TONY: No, we can’t talk about that. Kid’s show!

BEN: But I want to get to the point where you’re just like, hey, we’re like great together, and oh my gosh, hey, let’s buy this on credit. And you’re just like, What the heck are you talking about?

DAVE: Yeah. So I know, I told you, when we were talking about this story. I don’t remember what we were doing, we’re driving, we’re in we had a Ford Explorer at the time we had a loan for. Yep.

TONY: She’s not bitter, though.

BEN: Oh, my gosh, you see her face. I hope they put that face on because she was like…

TONY: I told you, I didn’t want to borrow money for this. And now you’re stuck on the side of the road to fix it.

SHERRY: I didn’t marry into that.

BEN: Okay, I got to tell you a story. So my brother Brian. He’s like, I’m going to buy her the biggest ring ever. You know why? And I go, why? He goes, because I’m going to put that on credit and the day after we get married, it’s all have hers, baby. We’re going to have to edit that out. You know, we’re not. So anyway, so you married into that. So he already had the loan.

BEN: Right. And so I got a job after I graduated, and she had one more year of college, I got a good job at what was pharmacy and Upjohn, and I’m in Kalamazoo, I was a medicinal chemist. Because your background is in chemistry or biology? Chemistry. Yeah. So, you know, a good job and I got, you know, good benefits, good cash, tons of credit. Right. We did not get a Mercedes, but I got a nice Ford Explorer, you know, and a two bedroom apartment for some reason, rather than one bedroom. To put all your stuff you’re buying on credit. I like it.

BEN: And what were those liquid TVs? What were they called the plasma? Plasma TV back then. All right.

TONY: I thought you’re talking about the moon lamp. Those are cool too.

DAVE: So after she graduated, we got married. So we’re, we’re fairly young, you know? Very young. 22 and 23.

BEN: Oh, yeah. And 35 Over here. I had to get a little crazy good.

TONY: It took him a long time to find somebody with Miriam. Yeah, exactly. She doesn’t listen to podcast. We’re going to edit that. No, we’re not.

BEN: So you’re in a good place. Two bedrooms, got married, good job, benefits.

SHERRY: You had the apartment before we got married. So this was a bachelor well engaged. But like bachelor pad to explore like full furnished.

TONY: You know what it was. It’s like parents coming to visit you’re there by some chance but you get to sleep in the other bedroom. Yeah. Yes. I know that Program.

DAVE: There’s definitely that.

BEN: Isn’t it just amazing that both Sherry And Dave came from almost identical backgrounds. However, one learnt that everything can be bought on credit and the other learn that everything can be bought with cash. We learned so much from our parents and passed those behaviors to our children no matter whether they’re good or bad. In our next episode, we find out what happens when they get married, and there is no way to ignore the underlying truth of their money management skills. Come back next time to Learn what happens when you mix a little oil and water into a marriage.


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