Friday Gratitude with Mustard Seed Money

Today’s dose of gratitude comes from Mustard Seed Money. Mustard Seed is an accountant in his late 30s who hopes to retire at age 40. Take it away!

When Gratitude Requires Hindsight

Growing up, my parents and grandparents enjoyed recounting their stories about how they met.  My grandparents lived in the same neighborhood in Brooklyn and became childhood sweethearts in grade school.  They were inseparable, until World War II called my grandfather into action.

My grandfather dutifully served, but he refused to talk about the war with us.  As a result, none of us knew exactly where he was or what he did.  He would always say that he sat in a ship somewhere in the Pacific.  He joked that the sun from the Pacific was so hot that it burned off all his hair, hence his baldness.  Shortly after he returned from the war, my grandparents married and started a family, like so many others from the Silent Generation.

My parents are both baby boomers and attended Virginia Tech.  They met while waiting outside to enter into a science class.  My dad was a sophomore while my mom was a freshman.  My dad was clearly spitting some game as he was able to convince my mom to go with him to a frat party later that night.  When I got older, I heard the full story.  My dad actually showed up a little tipsy for the date as he decided that he needed to pre-game beforehand.  But clearly, my mom didn’t mind too much.  My dad rocked a sweet ‘stache at the time, so my mom probably figured that my dad was a hot commodity.

But the craziest part of all was that they decided to get married in college.  When I was a kid, I didn’t think much of that detail.  They were adults and in love, so they got married.  But after going through college, that detail astonishes me.  There is no way I was mature enough at that time to enter into marriage.

So anyway, I’m sure many of you are thinking, what does this have anything to do with money or gratitude?

I’m getting there!  Hold your horses.

My False Expectations

My perception from childhood was that finding a spouse would be quick and easy.  I expected to meet my future spouse in school or in college.  Then once I met “the one”, we would eventually marry, buy a house with a white picket fence, and then start a family and have two perfect kids.

That’s the American dream, right?

Well, I graduated high school without meeting any potential spouses.  In fact, I think only three couples from my high school ended up married.  I wasn’t sure if that figure was high or low.  According to marriage figures, only 2% of all high school sweethearts get married.  Even crazier, less than 2% of high school sweethearts who marry graduate from college.

Since I didn’t meet my Kelly Kapowski at Bayside High (any Saved by the Bell fans?), I figured I had to meet her when I went to college.  I mean, tons of people meet their spouse in college, right?

No Wife In Sight

Well after four years of college, I still hadn’t met my future wife.  Clearly, my story would not be the same as those of my parents and grandparents.

I can’t even remember the number of weddings that I went to right after I graduated college.  It was probably around a dozen weddings, and I remember feeling envious.  They were starting their checklists of spouse, house, kids, etc.  And there I was sitting on the sideline.

For the record, going to weddings single can be a drag.  I never came across desperate single bridesmaids portrayed in the movie Wedding Crashers.  Instead, I was always placed in the weird mish-mash table as seen in the Wedding Singer.  Although, I always managed to enjoy myself.

Moving On With My Goals

Since I had no spousal prospects, I decided that I still wanted a house with a white picket fence, so I bought my own home at 23.  To cover all the bills, I rented out the additional bedrooms to a few guys.

I had a blast living with those guys, and I was even the best man in one of their weddings.  I wouldn’t trade those 8 years of sitting on the couch all weekend long, watching football, playing video games, and not having a care in the world.

To me, it was better than college.  I spent a lot of time with friends and was making money simply by applying concepts that I learned in college.  I had money to spend and was accountable to nobody.

Life was great.

Don’t get me wrong, I was still hopeful to meet my future wife.  But I was no longer in a hurry, as I was enjoying the lifestyle that I was living.  I finally reached contentment in the season of life that I was in.

So when I met my wife, I was not looking.


I had been teaching Kindergarten Sunday school with a friend, and my wife walked in one Sunday to be my summer substitute.  She was back from college and loved helping out with the kiddos on her breaks.  I remember seeing her and instantly hearing the word, “DONE.”  I knew in that moment that she would be my wife, although we exchanged around 5 words total that day.  However, even my wife picked up on the vibes.  Later that day, she told her mom that she had met someone at church who wanted to marry her.  Clearly, I don’t have a very good poker face.  But when you know, you know!

We didn’t get married soon after our initial meeting.  She was still in school, so we didn’t live in the same area for most of the year.  But we learned about each other through many, many emails.  We would casually see each other on her breaks from school as well.  We found out crazy details like we had lived 7 houses down from each other for 9 years, but had never interacted.  Although, she did sell Thin Mint cookies to my mom (that went in my belly) when she was a girl scout.

We hadn’t met during those 9 years because there is an age gap between us, so we never overlapped in school or in any other circles.

Dating My Wife

While my wife and I met in 2009, we didn’t go on our first date until the end of 2011.  Unfortunately a couple days after our first date, my wife’s mother passed away from cancer.  My wife was in a whirlwind.  She was trying to cope with the loss, care for her special needs sister and family, and decide whether to enroll in law school.  We had to have important discussions right off the bat because once we started to date, we planned on marriage.

Discussing Finances

Talking about money is always such a touchy subject, especially when you are first dating someone.  So, we danced around finances for a little.  But soon enough, I assured her that she didn’t need to pursue a successful career in order to make a lot of money.  She was confused because she didn’t think government workers made much.  Little did she know that I had made wise financial decisions over my adulthood and was reaping the benefits.

I explained my housing situation, about how I had had roommates over the years, which helped pay down the mortgage tremendously.  We had to get into some nitty gritty details.  When it came down to it, I let her know she would have the ability to choose exactly what she wanted to do, whether that was continue to care for her sister full-time, go to law school, or anything else.

At that point, she felt relieved.  In that moment, she said she wouldn’t be going to law school.  She lacked passion for that field and would only be pursuing it for the paycheck.  She confessed that she had certain expectations for herself, but they essentially dissolved when she learned that we would be financially stable without her salary.

The Outcome

We married in 2012 (if you are wondering, we had a 3 month engagement after 6 months of dating).  Over the past five years, my wife has been able to stay at home.  She takes care of her sister full-time while also raising our son (born in 2015) and is truly thankful.  While there are days she dreams about working outside of the home, she relishes the opportunity to be with our son every day.  Plus, my wife’s sister is grateful to have my wife as a caregiver.  No one treats you better than family!

Of course, if my wife and I had some how met right after college, there is no way that we would have been able to live this type of lifestyle.  We would have needed two paychecks to cover the mortgage, especially since we live in a high-cost area.

So while I envisioned finding my spouse much earlier in life, I wouldn’t change any parts of our story.  I am grateful to have been financially-minded from the start.  I’m thankful that I waited for “the one” instead of jumping into a relationship solely to check it off the list.  Even though I would have written my story differently, my life has far surpassed my expectations.  I couldn’t have come up with a better story myself.  I can’t wait to share with my children and grandchildren how we met, how valuable patience is, and how God provided all along the way.

Thanks Mustard Seed Money! Pay him a visit over at Mustard Seed Money!

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64 Responses to Friday Gratitude with Mustard Seed Money

  1. I had stopped looking for a future wife when i stumbled upon Ms Blue Ribbon. After our first date i told my roommates “that’s the girl I’m going to marry.”

    It was good you had a solid financial head on your shoulders when you two finally got together! I’m sure that felt pretty awesome to be able to give that to your wife, allowing er to choose what to do and ultimately choose to take care of her sister.

    My wife and I had to work through the murky waters of debt together but we got through stronger than ever.
    Budget on a Stick recently posted…Financial Regret: Not knowing is Not an excuseMy Profile

  2. What a wonderful story Rob! I didn’t make such wise decisions early on with marriage, but luckily I eventually figured it out. Good for you on waiting for the right one. Thanks for sharing your family’s stories.

    • I was super lucky with the decisions that we made before we got married. We definitely would not have been in the position we are today if we hadn’t both been disciplined 🙂

  3. It’s always interesting hearing others’ stories, so thank you for sharing. I’m always impressed when people get married quickly and stay happily married. My wife and I dated for five years before getting married and were friends for five years before that.

    It’s great that you were able to be on such firm footing before getting married. Having that world of choices right off the bat must have been a great feeling. My wife and I were both just starting careers when we got married. We both had good enough salaries, but neither of us had much in the way of savings. Everything has a way of working out, though.

    Thanks again for sharing your story!
    Matt @ Optimize Your Life recently posted…Is It Worth It? (Why I Save So Much, Part 4)My Profile

  4. God bless the broken road. It is amazing how things work out. That is crazy your wife told her mom you want to marry her after exchanging five words.

    Always good to reflect occasionally. We tend to be a community of folks that are constantly chasing the next goal and never taking the time to be grateful.

    After my first date with my wife I went to the beach with some friends and told them I was going to marry her.

  5. That is a lovely story! I especially like the “DONE” part – love at first sight!

    I met Mrs. Freaky Frugal at the end of my senior year in undergrad. She was working on a Master’s degree in Library Science. I was working part-time in the library where she worked. It was not love at first site, but after the first date I realized she was someone really special. We’ve been married almost 33 years!
    Mr. Freaky Frugal recently posted…Freaky Frugal or Stupid Frugal?My Profile

  6. Beautiful story, Rob! I had to laugh when you said you met your wife when you stopped looking… Mr. Adventure Rich and I say the same thing 🙂 And while a bit longer than you, we married after a 6 month engagement and 9 months of dating (when you know, you know!). Thank you for sharing and happy Friday!

  7. Brian says:

    Thanks for sharing Rob! Always interesting to hear how others met. My wife and I had a long-distance relationship for a few years. It gave us a chance to get to know each other through great conversations.
    Brian recently posted…Debt Discipline FeedbackMy Profile

  8. Dr. Curious says:

    My wife and I met in college when we were 18, but didn’t marry until almost 8 years later. By about 3 months into our relationships, there was never really a doubt in either of our minds that we would be husband and wife one day. We didn’t know that day would be 8 years later! (Medical school got in the way)

    It’s fascinating to me how we, as humans, like and almost need to frame our lives as a narrative—with a beginning, middle and end. Often this is only possible in retrospect. While we are in the thick of living, it can be so much more difficult to see where we are headed or where we have just been.

    You two certainly seem to have found your way! Thanks for the lovely story!

  9. Yesssss. 🙂 I really identify with the whole “jumping into a marriage just to check off a list.” I feel like that’s why so many people end up divorced after just a few years of marriage–they didn’t match up with the right person. But when I found Mr. Picky Pincher, I had a similar experience to you, MSM. It was like fireworks were going off and we both immediately knew that we’d found the one. 🙂 Ain’t life funny?
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…Lessons from “Fun With Dick And Jane”My Profile

  10. Thanks for sharing. Just another way that the “American Dream” is different for everyone and something that’s been changing over the past decade.

  11. AWESOME story!!! Rick and I knew each other casually for five years. No interest really in dating. Then we sat down to talk one night and realized we were totally meant to be. I’m SO glad we didn’t start dating earlier. When you wait for the right timing it makes everything better.

  12. I didn’t meet Mrs. FTF until I was 28. At that point like you I was already financially stable. I met my wife through work though so she already had the career. Still financially she has had plenty of options thanks to that timing. Marriage earlier would not have afforded our life choices

  13. Kathryn says:

    Love the story Rob! I believe God always has a plan for us and it doesn’t always (or it seems usually) turn out the way we expect. There’s so much to be grateful for if we look around.

  14. Brandon says:

    Well written, thank you for sharing!

  15. Mrs. Groovy says:

    Thanks for sharing. I’m impressed that you “knew” right away. I’m also impressed by your wife caring for her sister. It may seem to you both like the only thing to do, but believe me, there are others who wouldn’t.

    Mr. Groovy and I met and married in our 40s. Neither of us had been married before. For those who are late to the marriage game there is always HOPE!
    Mrs. Groovy recently posted…How Much Crap Is Hiding Behind Your Walls?My Profile

  16. Mrs. COD says:

    Such a terrific story! It is great how all of those pieces of each of your lives intersected at the right time and in the best way possible. I know I had the same narrative in mind when starting college (meet Mr. Right, marry, have a family), but didn’t meet Mr. COD until age 28. Lots of moving pieces had to come together to make it happen! Good to be grateful for the journey!

  17. Thanks for sharing. That must’ve been tough for you guys right after your first date her mother passing away. Must’ve been an emotional roller coaster for the both of you. I dated my wife knowing that the goal mas marriage as well, so it was more like “courting” which sounds a bit old school in today’s day. We were engaged for 2 years, during college, and now we’ve been married for 7 years. Time flies!

  18. Joe says:

    Thanks for sharing. That’s a great story to share with your kids and little grand children someday. It’s like a movie. 🙂
    I met Mrs. RB40 when we were in college. She went off to Peace Corps. for a few years after school. The relationship was stressed a lot during those years, but we got back together after she came back. It’s been pretty good since then.

  19. Just a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing that. My wife and I didn’t marry until I was out of college for a few years. Like you, that allowed me to build up some nice savings and have some stability before hand. And then we continued that same philosophy before having a child. It worked well for us.

    • Thanks for sharing!!! I am/was incredibly fortunate to have been in a good place to get married and have children. I definitely know some people that things happened a little quicker than they anticipated and they are struggling. So I am definitely grateful for where I am today 🙂
      Mustard Seed Money recently posted…When Gratitude Requires HindsightMy Profile

  20. Jonny says:

    Just a great story. Thank you for sharing it. My wife and I did not get married until I was out of College for a few years.
    Just like you, that allows me to build some nice savings and have some stability before hand.
    And then we continue that same philosophy before having a child. It has worked well for us.

  21. Church says:

    Wow! So many great points in this post, let me try to be brief…

    One: Our grandparents, The Greatest Generation, are the most amazing people ever for their sacrifices, their contributions to the world and living only half their lives with air conditioning.

    Two: How great is your father for rocking the ‘stache?!? I love stumbling over old pics of my parents and seeing my father’s old ‘stache winking at my mom.

    Three: I don’t know another time, when the divorce rate has been higher than today. Did people rush into marriage? Sometimes waiting to get married isn’t necessarily a bad thing – helps a person mature and truly grow to understand what they want out of life. That said, when love comes smacking you upside the back of the head, it’s time to put on your big-boy pants.

  22. Dave says:

    Thanks for sharing your gratitude.

    I met my wife 6 months after calling off an engagement with a different girl.

    We met on a blind date and hit it off. We dated about 2.5 years before we got married. We will be married 10 years in August.

    I am greatful for her eveyday. I try to express that gratitude by treating her with respect.

    As you said, money is a touchy subject, but needs to be discussed and revisited often in a relationship.

  23. Mrs. BITA says:

    I enjoyed getting to know you a little bit better today, MSM, so thank you for sharing your story.

    Some of us have to live some and journey far to meet the person we are going to spend our lives with. I met Mr. BITA when I was 31, after I had immigrated to this country. We got married when I was 34. He was worth the wait : )
    Mrs. BITA recently posted…You Can’t Fail at FIREMy Profile

  24. Dan says:

    So many questions:

    1) If your grandparents were from Brooklyn, why did your parents go to VA Tech?
    2) I can’t believe you prefer Kelly over Jessie & Lisa. Jessie was the sexy one and Lisa was the cool one with her hip clothing.
    3) Weren’t you ever suspicious that your parent’s marriage timing was on a 9 month deadline?
    4) Three month engagement? Did you have a reception? If so, I’m surprised you were able to find a reception hall and caterer on such short notice. Or did you have a non-Saturday wedding reception?

    • Thanks for the questions Dan!!!
      1. My grandparents moved from Brooklyn to VA when my Dad was in elementary school so that how’s they ended up at Va. Tech.
      2. I have to disagree with you. Kelly was by far the best. Lisa was relegated to hanging out with Screech and Jessie was too type A for my taste.
      3. If I remember correctly my parents got engaged like 6 months after they met but got married 18 months later. So it never really crossed my mind.
      4. We were able to secure a local venue on a Saturday. We had the wedding in late September so it wasn’t nearly as crowded as the summer time. So it worked out well for us.
      Mustard Seed Money recently posted…When Gratitude Requires HindsightMy Profile

  25. Quite a story, MSM.

    Like you, I took the casual route to finding a mate. I’m not sure I was mature enough for a serious relationship in my twenties, but I got serious in a hurry when I met my wife just after my 29th birthday.

    I asked her to marry me the day we met and made it official with an engagement ring about 15 months later. This summer, we celebrate our 10th anniversary.


  26. SMM says:

    “who wanted to marry her”… I wonder what your face was like when you saw her that gave it away 🙂 My wife and I never talked about finances before we got married, which will be 10 years this month! I admit I wasn’t as interested in PF as I am now.
    Great story by the way and it looks like you have no regrets which is the way it should be.

  27. Although there may be exceptions, I do believe that most things happen for a reason – especially when you’re living the best life you can.

    It seemed like you two were really blessed for the lives you led – you met the woman of your dreams and she met a man she loved who could provide for her financially so she could take care of her sister.

    I’ve had so many experiences where I was angry or sad because of something that happened, only to look back months or years later and realize that I needed that trial in my life in order for something better to come along. Thanks for the post, MSM, really led to some reflection.
    Matt @ Profitable Matters recently posted…Online Surveys: Lucrative Side Hustle Or Waste of Time?My Profile

  28. Awwwwwwwwww this is an amazing story!!!

    “We found out crazy details like we had lived 7 houses down from each other for 9 years, but had never interacted. Although, she did sell Thin Mint cookies to my mom (that went in my belly) when she was a girl scout.”

    Oh that’s insane. I’m such a sucker for missed opportunity stories like this. It’s like a fairy tale! You’re like Mr Dreamboat. There are a lot of guys that would have gotten cold feet/clamped down on the changes + responsibility but you just stepped up to the plate and decided this is what needs to be done. And they say there’s no good men out there!

    I’m impressed you purchased a house at 23, single no less! My husband didn’t because he wasn’t sure he would ever meet the one so he missed out on some great deals after the bubble. This is why it’s good to have faith 🙂

  29. Great story – mine shares some similarities (though I wish I would have known back then how to save like that!). I wouldn’t trade my single years either, and I found my wife in exactly the one place I never looked: at work. It turns out, she told her mom she found the man she was going to marry, and I told myself I had better avoid that young attractive woman, because she could be trouble. We were both right.

  30. Fun to learn a little more about you and your past. I fully agree that you need hindsight to experience gratitude. I also think context helps. You don’t know what you should/shouldn’t be grateful for until you understand experiences of others and how your experiences fit with the rest of the world.

  31. Eliza says:

    Such a sweet story! Sounds like it really was love at first sight. It’s really easy to say it was lucky how your lives turned out, but that’s a lazy way of saying you made some great decisions that paid off for both of you and your families. Well done.

  32. veronica says:

    What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing that. It’s what I’ve always dreamed of for myself – meeting a man who knew I was the right woman for him and vice versa. Alas, at my age (soon to be 54) I have to face the reality that this is unlikely to happen. Not impossible, but unlikely. I envy you and all the other commentators with similar stories. Don’t ever forget how blessed you are.

  33. steve poling says:

    Great story. Marrying well is one of the best things a man can do.

    My wife & I went to the same High School, but never spoke. Midway through college a buddy gave a missionary presentation at another church and i saw her with her sister and thought, “i didn’t know she’s Baptist.” The next summer i saw her at a Christian concert and decided then to ask her out. We dated long-distance my Senior year & grad school, then married 37 years ago. Glad she puts up with me.

  34. Aw, such a cute story…. Good for you that you waited and got it right on the first shot! I wish I could say the same about my first marriage. 🙂
    Primal Prosperity recently posted…How to become a ‘Muon Hunter’, ‘Carbon Detective’ or a ‘Gravity Spy’ (no experience necessary)My Profile

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