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Episode 122: Part 2, The Wilhites: Whose Money Choices Win Out?

Why cash beats credit with Dave and Sherry Wilhite

SHOW NOTES

We’re back with Dave and Sherry Wilhite to continue our conversation on their differing views on cash and credit.

 

Dave and Sherry explain how they found out their outlook on money was very different, how they came to agreement with how to spend their money, and why they chose cash over credit…

 

Today, we’re back with Dave and Sherry Wilhite, to discuss the benefits of using cash over credit when making purchases.

 

Dave explains how his father encouraged him into a life living off credit, and Sherry explains how she brought Dave out of this world.

 

We talk about the problems of relying too heavily on credit, the value of saving, and much more…

 

“My contribution is just pushing back on every decision.”Sherry Wilhite

 

“Interest works for you, or it works against you.”Dave Wilhite

 

“We were taking the opportunity and enjoying it to the fullest, but we weren’t taking advantage of the opportunity.”Sherry Wilhite

 
Time Stamps:

00:39 – When Dave and Sherry first discussed credit, they found out they had very different views on finances.

02:40 – How much Dave got paid at his first job out of college.

04:08 – The importance of having financial education re: how to make money work for you.

06:07 – How Dave’s father encouraged him to get into debt.

10:14 – How Sherry helped Dave change his focus from credit to savings.

12:57 – Why Dave and Sherry moved to San Diego.

15:33 – The added stress of living paycheck to paycheck.

18:03 – How Sherry’s parents were able to help them financially because of their own money management skills.

20:48 – The difficulties that came with having to go back to borrowing money to cover the mortgage.

23:40 – How to make interest work for you instead of against you.

27:59 – The importance of being generous.

 

Connect with Ben Jones:

 

TRANSCRIPT

BEN: On our last episode with the Wilhites, we found out that Dave and Sherry had very different views on cash and credit. Dave honestly didn’t know there was another way. Now they’re about ready to start their lives together and they have some serious differences, and one of the toughest issues that many couples face. We laughed a lot, and very much enjoyed their candor on how they moved through this challenging time together. Here’s part two of the Wilhites. We hope you enjoy it. Go ahead.

DAVE: So anyway, I remember this conversation. We’re driving somewhere, and the issue of credit came up.

BEN: So early on, we’re not talking like 10 years and you’re talking maybe the first year maybe.

DAVE: Just before or after we were married, I don’t remember which. Do you remember?

TONY: She’s fuming right here. I can’t believe you can’t remember the date! It was December 17.

BEN: At 7:02pm at 30 seconds.

TONY: We just passed the 131 mile marker.

DAVE: So we’re driving and we started talking about money and credit. And she’s like, yeah, no more credit. You know, we can’t, we gotta stop that.

TONY: Did you slam on the brakes?

DAVE: Yeah, well, I remember…

SHERRY: Head bashed into windshield because in Michigan, you didn’t have to wear seatbelts at this time.

BEN: The airbag comes out. You hit the bag so hard.

DAVE: I remember my question to her was, how do people get things? Oh, my God, that is brilliant. Because that was how I did it. That was the only context I knew. And I probably knew people that bought cars with cash, but I didn’t know that.

TONY: And they were weird if you didn’t know them.

DAVE: I mean, the concept of saving $15,000 or $20,000 at the time just seemed…

BEN: That was like a year and a half, you’re dead salary.

DAVE: Right. It was, you know, not a year.

BEN: I know, I’m joking. I’m not trying to be disrespectful, but has a lot of money.

DAVE: It was a lot of money. And I just didn’t know that, that was a real thing.

BEN: And we’re not saying that’s exactly right or wrong, because everybody has to make their decisions and credit can be helpful, but that probably…

DAVE: It did and you know, and I had a good job just coming out of college.

TONY: You could’ve bought two cars and two boats.

DAVE: You know, I mean, I don’t mind sharing, you can share it or edit it, whatever. But you know, at the time for right out of college with a bachelor’s degree and I made $45,000. This is the year 2000.

BEN: Yeah. That’s a lot of money. But you’re coming out with a good, solid, valuable chemistry degree, right? Tough. And they needed those. So I get it.

DAVE: They were hiring like crazy at the time. I mean, there’s kind of a funny story. They offered me 42 and I accepted. And they called me back like three days later and said,hey, we did a market salary study, and we bumped your salary to 45. Best negotiator ever!

BEN: Coming from a small town, I know how to negotiate, right?

TONY: You just look sad. Haven’t eaten in weeks. Okay, we’ll give you 45.

BEN: You’re not paying for my parsonage? Come on!

SHERRY: Actually, probably both of our Dads were sad. Excited, but sad, because they were probably making that at the time or similar. And it was like, really eye opening for both of our parents.

BEN: But you really weren’t ready. You just weren’t ready to handle that kind of money.

DAVE: Well, I only knew one way of handling money, and this is one thing that, you know, we’ve talked about is I feel like education on how to have money work for you or against you was not a thing in our high schools. It wasn’t a thing in the college that we went to. I don’t know if it is now. I think it’s still not a thing. It needs to be. Such a huge barrier, you know, and you guys have talked about. When you come out of college and you have student loans, a car payment and some credit card debt, you have a good job. You can’t take a shot on a startup making very little money, because you got all this debt. You’re absolutely right. And so, for us getting married, it was like, okay, we have to make some decisions, and how we’re going to handle money.

BEN: So Sherry. I’m sorry to cut you off, but I am going to do it. Because there’s past history. There’s two sides to every story. And I know the whole money thing, because my story is my wife, she had credit card debt, I just about lost my sh you know what. Yeah, Double toothpicks. Yeah, exactly. And so the story is very different. I was terrible about it because I was really mean, and I apologize for that. And I only think she does bad to me, I always say I deserve it.

TONY: And by was, he means still is.

BEN: 15 years. Yeah, exactly. We keep her out of this. So can I get a little perspective from your side? How this whole thing unwound, and what you saw and what happened?

SHERRY: Yes, so I’m going to rewind.

BEN: And we want you guys to actually still be married, when you leave, by the way. So it’d be nice.

TONY: We’ll edit you back together.

SHERRY: We just celebrated our 20th anniversary.

BEN: Dave’s a solid guy, I really do like him. I prefer him not to go through any bad stuff. Okay.

SHERRY: Now I’m going to go back to when he got his job and he got his new apartment. You can edit this out later, if you want to.

BEN: We liked the juicy stuff.

SHERRY: His Dad came in and pretty much pushed him into getting the apartment that he did. So Dad helped him? Yeah. So Dave was making $45,000. And his Dad was like, hey, that’s what I’m making. And I have this, this, this and this. So his dad comes in and I mean, it’s not a conversation, they just fall right into line like, they make the money financial. This is what we do.

TONY: Do you have a 36 inch tube, because you get one for $27 a week?

SHERRY: Yeah. This is how you got things. You have a nice job, you need a nice apartment, two bedrooms, and a nice apartment complex. And your apartment is going to be fully furnished, before you get that first paycheck.

DAVE: That was the scary part of me. Personally and stressful.

SHERRY: Immediately, he is starting out with $45,000 and he’s already in debt.

DAVE: I hadn’t got started yet. I don’t have a paycheck yet. And had fully furnished you know, went to whatever value shop.

BEN: IKEA but whatever it was at that time. Yeah,

DAVE: Art van probably, you know, in Michigan, and bought couches and you know.

TONY: By the way, that job fell through. Yeah, right.

BEN: So when I lived with my parents, I was like, I can’t afford to be on my own. So that’s the tightwad.

SHERRY: And that was really hard for me to see. And his Dad is like, you need this, this, this. And I’m the angel on the shoulder like, no

BEN: So this is a quick commercial. Parents, don’t do that to your kids. It doesn’t need to be like that.

TONY: Unless you’re buying it for them. Like, Dad, you check it off the list.

BEN: You’re so bad. Don’t do that to your kids, you got to see the value of what they’re doing. Yeah. So you saw all this and when you’re watching this, it was this kind of like, slo-mo, just you can’t keep your eyes off of it, you kinda like what is happening.

SHERRY: It was really hard for me to watch. And we were already engaged at that point. Is that right?

TONY: So you were signed up for half of it? Yeah, exactly. So his Dad’s like, you can afford twice as much.

BEN: And we’re not beating on the Dad, because there’s like so much you just get passed down that you just automatically.

DAVE: Yeah. And again, I’ll throw out if there is a cycle like, my Dad handled money better than his parents. That’s probably a whole nother episode. And he was the first of his maybe, still the only, my Dad has three siblings. He was the only one to go to college and the first in his family, he kind of made it out.

TONY: Right. By going to college, that means you got taught anything about money. Yeah, exactly. It isn’t right. And there’s some assumptions that go along with the fact that I graduated from college.

DAVE: That’s right. Yes, absolutely. Right. And so yeah, so Sherry was walking into this.

BEN: What you’re seeing is happening and got very different, so what happened, what do you do for me? Help me out here like you had to change, just all I know and if you know me, which you don’t, I am a straight shooter. I know, it’s like a yin yang. It’s good, but it’s bad. So when I was talking to him, he was like, holy crap. She whipped me into the line, it was painful but I have so much gratitude for her for just being this amazing person who kind of showed me a little bit of light. Oh, that’s great. I know, not kidding.

BEN: He’s like we’re saving, we’re doing this, we’re doing that. And this is what I heard. None of it would have been possible without my wife. None of it. Is that an overstatement? Because that’s what I heard.

DAVE: No, I don’t think that’s an overstatement. Because again, I didn’t know, there was another path. And you know, and Sherry only knew one path, and so it took us a while. Yeah. And we did move to San Diego.

BEN: Was there frustration, were there fights, because my wife and I had a little bit but I was not kind. I admit it.

DAVE: Yeah. I don’t necessarily remember fights. I remember, we call them discussions. Yeah. Robust. Just remember, how are we going to do this, if this is the path we’re going to go down, like how.

TONY: So the answer is, we’re going to move to San Diego. Yeah. Great.

BEN: Most expensive city in the country. Yeah.

DAVE: So that, you know, Pfizer bought a pharmacy in Upjohn. We had a couple places we could move. We were young and married, no kids. Yeah. I love that. I lived there.

SHERRY: Pfizer paid for our relocation. They bought our house from us.

TONY: Just had payments on the house too?

SHERRY: Of course. And as soon as we were engaged, the house had to be bought next. That was the next step. It was just the expectation. Well, if you’re going to be a chemist, if you’re going to be professional, you have to look like it. You have to get a nice car, and then you have to get a nice apartment.

TONY: This would be for a zoom with the custom backgrounds, where you could just like it. Just pretend

BEN: For me, it was just the opposite. Like I didn’t know anything. You have to have a balance, right? Mine was like a 12 year old car, I borrowed the suit from my brother seven years ago.

TONY: There’s tennis shoes I use to wrestle in.

BEN: Red high top phonies. So you saw this and you just like, hey, let’s go to San Diego, makes financial sense, or do you just kind of like…

SHERRY: Finances had nothing to do with that decision.

TONY: It was 85 degrees every day.

SHERRY: Yeah, 72, technically,

BEN: I was going to say June gloom and May gray. It’s like, I’m sorry about May Gray. Are you kidding me?

DAVE: That’s so funny, because when we interview there, nothing but apologies. It was 73 degrees, and people kept apologizing for the weather. And it is just so cloudy, and we literally drive a mile inland and it’d be perfectly sunny, have dinner, beautiful, and it was non stop apologizing.

BEN: BMW convertible, and I was like, this is absolutely my ideal weather. You know, there’s like only three places on earth that have that weather, right? It has to do with the way the wind blows from the west to the east. It’s what you call it, longitudinal-latitudinal wherever position, It’s just like that place is amazing!

SHERRY: Finances had nothing to do with that. We were going to have to move regardless. So we can, Ann Arbor, St. Louis, Missouri, or San Diego.

BEN: A tough decision. That’s really tough.

TONY: Good thing you went to college to figure that one out.

SHERRY: So for my family, at the time, we lived in Kalamazoo, that’s where our house was. And I was an hour and 15 minutes away from my parents. I lived the farthest away from anybody in my family. And it was like, it was a big deal for us to live there, let alone to go to San Diego. Like I was crashing my parents.

DAVE: Her parents didn’t fly. Like her Dad had not been on an airplane since he got home from Vietnam. Mom, I don’t think ever had flown in her life. And so for us to move across the country, there were some tears.

SHERRY: It was a big deal for us personally. I mean, I never thought that I would move out of Michigan. I never even thought.

BEN: You know what happened to us? My Dad tried to get my Mom to go somewhere, because I was going to keep one foot on the ground. So as your son works at Tupperware, we’ll put some dirt in that Tupperware, and you can have one foot on the ground at all times. So you went to Say Diego.

SHERRY: Yeah. So I guess my contribution is just like pushing back on every decision. Like, hey, are we going to go? I want to get a new TV. We can afford this, we make a decent amount of money together. Dave on a phone and then the little jobs that I had. And we’re still living paycheck to paycheck. How does that feel? That feels so stressful. Yeah, exactly.

BEN: I’m not busting your chops, I’m like, when I don’t have so much money, on the side it makes me just stressed.

DAVE: Well, if I fast forward to today, so we’ve been frugal and thoughtful in our house for probably a decade now. And just that freedom, and not, how’s it feel, though? Not worrying about us, isn’t it? It’s amazing. It is, you know, it’s just so different than wondering, you know, I need to look at my bank account to see if I can pay this bill. That was a stressful way to live. And, you know, if something happened, like moving to San Diego and we had to pay, we had the crazy $300 a month HOA, that’s for our 14 square foot lawn. There’s always things that come up. And when you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it was like, well, I guess, it goes on the visa.

TONY: What’s the number of people in the United States can’t afford a $400 merchs? Literally, like 70% of people or more. Some crazy number of people that can’t afford $400 hvac goes down or whatever.

BEN: I wouldn’t be able to sleep honestly. I mean, oh my gosh! I lost a nickel, I’d be up for a week. You know what I mean? And that was always me.

SHERRY: It was really stressful I would say. How many years? 10 years. So we’ve been married 20 years, so I think about 10 years is how long it took for us to really make the decisions, we are absolutely not spending anything more on credit.

DAVE: Digging out of the hole.

BEN: So how’d you guys get there? I mean, 10 years is kind of a long time. You saw the writing on the wall from you know, t-minus two years before that, you’re like, my life’s not going to be like this.

SHERRY: Unfortunately, my parents also saw the writing on the wall. And them saving as much as they did, like growing up, we did not have a lot of money. And they were stressed because they didn’t have the cash. But somehow they saved through all of that. And I don’t really know even to this day how, and now my parents still have no debt of any kind. And they are very generous people. And so at that time, I think maybe for our 10th anniversary, they gave us $10,000. 

TONY: Thousand dollars for every year. Love it. Hey, Mom and Dad, I just had my 32nd anniversary. $32,000, I’ll do the math for you right.

SHERRY: Now, we did just celebrate our 20th and we didn’t get $20,000 from them which we were not expecting, but they did send us a decent amount that we were just like, still blessed by. And I mean, we have money in our savings account. We’re doing well, the joy of life can just happen naturally. Right. But them still being generous, it still hits me. Like that is amazing, they can do that and still impact us. Yeah.

DAVE: Because they were very disciplined throughout their life. Right. It’s all about behaviors. And now they get to do what they want with their money.

BEN: And your parents are so grateful and gracious about it, too. You know what I mean? And I remember, it’s actually funny stories for Christy’s Mom, and her biological father died a long time ago. So her stepfather, they said, you know, you guys have never asked for anything. Like don’t ask for stuff. She asked, would you please take this money? And it was, like, so wonderful. They were so happy about it.

TONY: I can see Ben with it like, woohoo! I gotta pretend for a minute that I don’t want it, but I don’t want to pretend so well that they don’t give it to me.

BEN: Write the check now and I’ll be fine. But that’s great, they probably didn’t want to give it to you in year one or two, because you’re still trying to start.

DAVE: It was a long process, and there was student debt. And then of course, you know, six years into our marriage, I quit my job and went back to school to get an MBA. And we had all that planned out, right? We were going to sell our house in California. Pfizer had subsidized the mortgage for three years. We lived there for three years, and we’re going to sell that in the market in 2006.

TONY: Right before the crash.

DAVE: So, we’re going to make $150 grand on our house. And we are going to pay for school and living expenses. Well, then the market started to come back to life or back to reality a little bit. Right. So we still made decently $75 grand on, but not $150 grand and I would give up my job.

TONY: Honey, we should borrow some money. Yeah.

SHERRY: We had to. It was like, there was no money to live on. We sold our mortgage in California. Now we were paying the full amount because Pfizer’s not subsidized. That was probably, that was the hardest, roughest time.

TONY: There’s a sound that goes along with that.

DAVE: So we kind of dug ourselves out of a hole about six years in then, you know.

BEN: But you got lucky a couple of times, right, with JJ Upjohn, with Pfizer. Okay, sorry. But you got a little bit lucky. Because he got bought out, they take you down there. You got to this place where you could let the real estate grow. But the key is to really take advantage of those opportunities. And to continue the learning to increase your earning ability? Very big stuff. Yeah. 

SHERRY: We were taking the opportunity, and enjoying it to the fullest, but we were not taking advantage of the opportunity.

BEN: But it turned into a great financial opportunity, because it got to this place, where your house grew substantially, more than what your mortgage was. So he did some really good stuff. So I know, we’re getting pretty far into it, and I swore that I would get you out of here at a particular time. That’s all right. But what are some drops of wisdom that you know, 20 years in and completely different people in regards to how you looked at money early on. Any pieces of wisdom that you can kind of share with us? You know, can’t do it all in one night? You know, it took a little time. Yeah, you still struggle with it but you have a couple of interesting tips. Happy wife, happy life, baby!

DAVE: You know, I think one of the things that I try to teach our kids is, interest works for you or it works against you. Oh, nice. And it’s easy. There’s no middle ground there. It’s either working for you or against you. And if you buy something with a credit card, whatever you bought is going to cost way more than what you paid for it, what you think you paid for it, if you don’t pay that card debt. And the same with a car, or a boat, or an RV, whatever you think you’re buying. Yep. I would say the one exception is a house where the value will grow over time. And that’s what I feel like the biggest setback for my parents was when my Dad moved after 23 years at the first church, he had nothing, he walked away with no equity growth.

BEN: Because you’re pushing, if you’re at a 30 year mortgage, you can have the whole thing paid off.

DAVE: Yeah, he would have been almost done. Right.

TONY: I do like that interest works for you or against you because I keep thinking of, probably your MBA, the more advanced stuff. I love arbitrage. It’s kind of a weird concept but you’re using somebody else’s interest to make you more interest. So maybe it’s working for you in a sense.

BEN: And what we refer to on the show a lot is good credit and bad credit. Like bad credit is stuff that doesn’t grow to earn you more money over and above the interest that you pay. Right. And good credit is like, you buy an apartment complex and you have to pay 6% but you’re earning 22%. You know, good versus bad. But I love it, it works for you or against you. So simple.

DAVE: I mean, for our kids, you know, it’s a simple enough concept. Yes. I hope that when they get out of our house, they go to college, they understand it. When they go to college, there’s that booth with a Visa card, or go to the mall, or Kohl’s. Right. And they say, would you like to save 10%? What’s that 10% going to cost you? 25%. I hope to instill that as just a baseline principle.

BEN: And, you know, the one thing that we talk about a lot is, kids aren’t stupid. Right. They see what you do. Yeah, they’re going to see that, you probably have some bad habits that they see. But they know that you’re working on it, they know that you’re working on it. And they know that Mom, and you together are making a lot of good decisions. Right? So the thing is that, even though you say, hey, do what I say, they’re going to know and take the lead.

TONY: I love that saying. Do as I say, not as I do. I grew up with that. Yeah.

BEN: And so I know, some of my messages are a little confusing for my kids, I get it. But most of them are consistent. And that’s a big part of it. So that’s just so weird when I heard that you’re both pastors, and you came at it, from completely different paths. I just like this is almost, what is it now, in science where you have the control group and the or whatever? Placebo? Yeah, The devil of lying. Yeah. It’s like the control group spends a lot of money, and let’s see how they diverge, and it was just pretty cool.

DAVE: Yeah, It is kind of an interesting case study.

TONY: So they proved that hormones are stronger than interest rates.

BEN: Their hormones are either working for you or against you. But from that perspective, you know, that’s pretty awesome. And anything you want to say, Sherry?

SHERRY: Yeah, I think just in general, you know, coming from my parents perspective, just being generous. It brings them joy, it brings us joy to receive it. And we try to be generous on different levels, at different times, and we want our kids to know that’s important. And you can’t do that, if you are constantly thinking in the moment and about yourself and what you want.

DAVE: And living paycheck to paycheck. Yes. Right.

BEN: We talk a lot about financial independence and how that’s actually different for every person. Some people just think that, hey, I can take a vacation and not worry about it. Other people say, hey, I want to retire at 55. But in some respects, I find part of financial independence is being able to give in a way that’s really meaningful for me, both from a  charitable perspective but also to my kids because it’s kind of fun, man. My parents, when they gave me $50 bucks, I just about died. Yeah. Because they didn’t have a lot and it meant a lot to me. But you know, if you do something pretty substantial, help them buy their first car, whenever that’s pretty cool. Well, thanks for being here. I’m sure you guys are going, oh, my gosh! It’s going to be an hour, and it’s going to be so tough. After you start to relax your first question, how are you doing? Good.

SHERRY: I think it was great.

BEN: We’re in for a great upgrade, that’s right. Yeah, it was a G word. But we really appreciate you guys, being here and giving us a little bit of insight. Maybe, we get you back and you guys, think a little bit more and can share some more, other insights.

SHERRY: We really appreciate it. So thank you for having us.

DAVE: Yeah, thank you. Appreciate it.

BEN: And we’ll talk to you soon. Bye. Cheers.

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