I have to admit to total ignorance when it comes to seriously investing money to increase my net worth. Years ago my brothers were buying up Apple stock at bargain basement prices. I suspect that if had purchased as little as a few hundred dollars at those low prices I would have made a remarkable profit. I just never got into the game. I have not ever made much more than just enough to go beyond setting aside the bimonthly investments into my teachers’ retirement fund and saving to send my two daughters to college. Only at the end of my career did I even hear about a mutual fund that my district matched with a small percentage. I have done rather well with that and wish that other schools where I worked would have had a similar program.
Things have changed a great deal over the years. My first teaching position paid eleven thousand dollars per annum and after more than twenty years in the profession I was still only earning a salary in the mid-twenty thousands. I remember when the Texas legislature raised the beginning teacher salary to forty thousand dollars and gave those of us who had been around for a time a whopping five thousand dollars more than the rookies. I finally hit the big time in my final years when I became a Dean of Faculty. I had a more comfortable income that allowed me to end up with a reasonable pension and begin actually investing even though I was rather late in the game.
I’m happy that today’s teachers are doing way better than I ever did. Most of the school districts around me offer between fifty five to sixty five thousand dollars a year to rookie teachers and are even more generous in the ensuing years. There are also number of stipends offered to those who teach mathematics, science or special education. Of course additional duties like coaching or helping with after school programs can also add to the eventual take home pay. Sadly about the time that such increases occurred inflation followed, so I’m not sure how much better off our teachers actually are.
I suppose that my best investments have been in my home and in education for myself and my daughters. Along with my husband I have now helped pay for his bachelor’s degree, my bachelor’s and master’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees for both of my daughters. I have always believed that there is no way that I might better have used my money than in education. Learning provides individuals with independence and happiness.
These days I am more and more appreciative of my home as well. I purchased it for a price that would not even provide me with a vacant lot these days. It is worth well more than twice its original value and the evaluation seems to be rising by the month. More importantly is the comfort I feel inside my rooms. I sometimes pinch myself and wonder how I got so lucky that I have a lovely, comfortable place in which to live, surrounded by the best neighbors that anyone might want. I am in my little castle with conveniences that my own ancestors would never have dreamed of owning.
Beyond the treasures of education and home, I most value the investments that I have made in experiences. When I think back on my life I remember vacations and concerts and special occasions with family and friends. I can still feel the exhilaration of hiking to the Boulder Field on Long’s Peak or marveling at the mountains in the little ski town of Soll, Austria with my friends Monica and Franz. I think of touring London and the Cotswolds with my brothers and sisters-in-law or visiting Maine with friends Egon and Marita. I smile at the thought of the many camping trips we took with our daughters to Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, North Dakota, Arkansas and Louisiana. I can still picture walking along the narrow streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico with my mother-in-law and father-in-law. I think of Seattle, Los Angeles, the Grand Canyon, New York City, Washington D.C., Boston, Niagara Falls, Savanah, Disneyland, Disney World, Yosemite, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Albequerque, Santa Fe and so many other glorious places that I have seen and enjoyed. There is really no amount of money that seems adequate to replace the joy that I found in my travels.
Then there are the concerts and visits to local museums that brightened the routine of my days. I suppose I understood how important they had been to me when those kinds of things were cancelled during the worst times of the pandemic. I missed the sights and sounds and camaraderie with my fellow humans. I wanted to be on the road again with Willie Nelson serenading us as we traveled along new highways toward new adventures.
I suppose that I might have done better at investing my money for a more comfortable future but I think I did fairly well given the choices that I made. I found great satisfaction and joy in the things that were most important to me. I suppose that one can’t ask for much more than that when it comes to plotting a pathway to the future. Life is good for me. My memories are so wonderful that they sustain me in even the toughest of times. I can’t think of anything more that I might want.