The Ziploc Bag Life

By Mark Bertrang, The Creator of the Financialoscopy® on Thursday, August 25th 2022


There are so many different choices that we can make, the question is: are you living the Ziploc bag life or the non-Ziploc bag life? I will get to the difference between those two in a moment, but before I get to the Ziploc bags, I want to re-share a story that you might have heard me talk about in the past. It was a conversation that I had with my mother or, as I like to call them on a regular basis, the parental units, to find out how mom and dad were doing. This was some time ago: I called and was speaking with my mother, and I was trying to do double-duty. So, I was doing some projects around the house as we were visiting. My mother paused me for a moment and asked me what exactly what I was doing right now.

I wanted her to know that her son still knew how to do the laundry, and I told her that I was doing the laundry and taking my clothes from the washer to the dryer. So that she would be proud of her son, I told her that I was putting a Bounce sheet into the dryer, but before I do that, I wanted her to know that I was ripping it in two so I could save half of the sheet for later on. I was only using half of the sheet at a time. I wanted her to know that I had learned correctly; I had grown up being thrifty. I paused for a moment then and she responded over the telephone, “You know, if you use a scissors, you can cut those sheets into thirds”. So, there is Mark. Still not thrifty enough.

What does that have to do with Ziploc bags? I’ll get to that in a moment. Let me talk about another story. My grandparents on my mother’s side worked well into their late 60s. They were bakers in Northern Minnesota. My grandfather got up at 2 o’clock in the morning every single morning to make sure that someone would be baking bread for their small community, 6 days a week. They had a day bed where he would actually take an afternoon nap because he was a worker, and that’s what you had to do. The bakery was actually attached to the house. You had to go through the storage room to get from one to the other. My mother shared with me recently that they were one of the few people that had a telephone in town when she was a youngster. We were having a conversation at the time about remembering our old telephone numbers from when we were kids. Mine was a long set of digits, but theirs was just two numbers, 7-7. That was their telephone number, and the phone was in the bakery so they would have to run through the house and through the storage room to be able to answer the telephone.

This is the subject that I wanted to talk about: after retirement, my grandfather died after he had lived a good, long, enduring life. I was able to be the person giving the eulogy, and along with my brother and some cousins, we were the pallbearers. I can remember going to the cemetery and getting ready to place the casket on the stand so we could have last moments of prayers. As we were going around the gravestone, I noticed my parents’ names, which was not unusual. A lot of us prepare ahead of time. So, their names were there along with their birth dates, and my parents are still rockin’ it and living, but they have their final resting place established. As we were going along the tombstone, I noticed on the other side of the tombstone were my grandparents’ names. My parent’s names on one side and my grandparents’ names on the other side. It was basically a two-fer gravestone. My parents would be laid out towards the west; my grandparents were laid out towards the east, same stone. It was a two-fer. Again, these are people who are thrifty so it makes sense that they would be thrifty with dryer sheets and thrifty with a cemetery stone.

I am just like my parents; I am thrifty when it comes to Ziploc bags. I think I buy Ziploc bags once a year because I am that guy. I am that guy that washes them out with a little bit of Dawn dish soap. I sometimes wonder if I am really ahead of the game because of the water that it takes, because of the soap that it takes, and because of the time it takes to dry all of these Ziploc bags because I’m not a one-use guy. I was raised with all of these conservative, German values that make sure that you “pinch pennies”.

That can get you quite a long way, but sometimes you have to live in the here and now as long as it isn’t irresponsible. It falls in to two different categories; I know people today who are living for today and they have nothing for tomorrow. Retirement, for them, is going to be sad. Retirement is going to be below average. Retirement is going to be a struggle because they are spending their tomorrow dollars today. I also have those clients that even now in their late 70s and 80s are still putting money away for their future, for their old age, and they don’t’ realize that they are there already.

When you work with our firm, we understand the dichotomy between these two choices: living for today and preparing for tomorrow because I am each of those individuals. We can help walk you through the fork in the road. Which road do you take? Will it be a good road or a bad road? Know that we understand using the entire dryer sheet, and we understand cutting it up. We understand throwing away the Ziploc bags, and we understand washing them out. Our goal is to understand you, and we have lived both of those lives. We get it. We’ve lived it. We’re here to walk that journey with you no matter where you are. We can help guide you to the most successful path that will give you the most fulfillment in your life and do it as safely and securely as possible. That is who we are. Perhaps it’s time to schedule your Financialoscopy.

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