I struggle with finding the balance between giving what’s needed and giving everything. I’m starting to understand more why so many men say they want to be financially stable before marriage. When I got married I wasn’t that type of man so I never understood the mindset but now I’m realizing why that mindset is normal for good men.
As the head of the household I want to provide for my wife and kids. I find myself wanting to provide their wants as equally as much as I want to provide their needs. That can get expensive fast. It really sends you into a space of evaluation where you’re trying to determine what’s really important in life.
When it comes to the kids, my wife and I may have made some mistakes, but all parents do. None of us really know what we’re doing, we just do the best we know how to do. We have two sons, a 10 year old and a 3 year old. They go to a Christian private school and for the both of them it’s about $2,100/month. We aren’t wealthy and money doesn’t grow on trees but I compare my 10 year old to some of the 10 year old’s I meet from the public schools and it makes Christian private school seem necessary. There’s a big difference for us between a Christian private school and a private school. At our son’s school they instill Christ in the kids and into the lessons. They try to emulate Christ and the love He showed the world. To hear my son learn new scriptures every week really blesses my heart. When he was little and was struggling with his allergies and eczema issues he would miss about 3 days a week. To know that he could go to school with skin completely red and not be bullied for it really meant a lot to me. He would say things like “mommy, I’ll be ok. Jesus will heal me because my friends at school are praying for me.” To hear that from the mouth of a child really blessed me. When our oldest son started going to Christian private school we were on financial aid and we couldn’t even afford that. We had to borrow some months but it meant the world to my wife that he went to a good school. She felt that it made a huge difference in her life and I couldn’t argue with that because I went to public school from K-9th grade and my mindset and behavior was totally different from my wife as she went to private school from K-9th. Her foundation was totally different from mine.
Lil Tony at his Band Concert
As much as we want to believe that everything at home makes all the difference, that’s not true. A child’s environment outside of the home is very important. We’ve always prayed for what we wanted and we went after it. We couldn’t afford it but my wife’s faith made it happen. That same type of faith helped me grow my brand and business and our son’s don’t receive any financial aid today but God has made a way. Looking around and seeing so many other kids in our neighborhood going to public school and seeming to be pretty good kids, I’m torn many days. I say to myself “man I could be saving $20,000/year. If i put that on the market or invested that into my business it would turn into millions.” But then I remember how being in public school I started having sex early even though my parents were ministers. I started stealing and even went to jail in the 9th grade. I was cursing, stealing, fighting, and all kinds of stuff because even though I had good home training, many of the kids around me didn’t and that pressure was greater than my parents influence. I turned it around thanks to the grace of God, but I could be dead or in prison today if just one thing had gone wrong. So I’m brought back to the investment that we’re making for our kids to be in a Christian private school getting their foundation set in place. I also feel some guilt because some families can’t even afford $100/month for school and have no choice other than to put their child in the public school system. I’m sure some private school parents don’t care about that but it bothers me many days. I thought about this the other day and I realize that by the time our sons are ready for college we will have already paid a minimum of $252,000 for their schooling and it’ll probably be much higher than that. It’s crazy to think about it. It hurts and it feels good at the same time. It’s sad to think that there has been a system created to protect the kids of the “rich.” I also realize that faith and the desire to have more for your kids play a part in it because not all kids at good private schools come from the same social class.
This also leads me to the understanding that sometimes we can do more for our kids but we don’t just because it doesn’t make sense to us. We will make our kids suffer just because we suffered in the same way. We limit our kids just because there were limitations placed on us. If it wasn’t for my wife having been exposed to the private school system my sons would probably be in public school. I know you may not think there is a difference, but there is. I’ve seen both sides of it and the difference is very noticeable. So even if you can only get financial aid, it’s worth at least asking the schools before just deciding to put your kids through the public school system. At my son’s school he was doing work in the second or third grade that I literally could not do. I helped him ONCE with his homework and it’s the only D he’s gotten since being in school. My wife can do all of his work of course because her education foundation was much different than mine. Because of her education my son earns straight A’s because she can teach him even what his teachers can’t teach him. Granted, they both are also naturally smart.
I’m left to the thought that maybe this is the way to go in this day and time. Although it’s a sacrifice and paying $2k/month for school is very hard to do, I see a big difference and it would break my heart to give my sons less than the best if there is a way I can make it happen.
To throw in a little note for those of you who are upset right now and saying “yeah that all sounds good and I’m glad your sons can go to private school but that’s not the case for me because it’s just not affordable, not even with financial aid.” I will say, by having a deep desire to give my sons more than what was afford to me it pushed me to new levels in my life. I don’t have a college degree. I don’t have a mentor. I don’t have any full-time staff. I’ve started 8 companies and created over 40 streams of income, many you have no idea about, all because I wanted to be in a position to give them more. My point is that there is a way to make it happen if you really want to make it happen. Don’t sell yourself short before you’ve tapped into every possible resource and option. Sometimes just pleading with the school and asking them to give you a chance may do it!
Now, to setting my family up for success. This is a calling that many men accept and it is no easy thing. Many women have accepted the same calling out of necessity. I’m investing in my gifts and it changed our lives greatly. I would spend every free dime investing in myself so that I could yield a return. I knew that I was sowing on good ground and that a harvest would come. There was a 6 year stretch that I went from earning $20,000 a year to $500k a year. My faith, my hopes, my desires, and my love for God and my family pushed me on that journey. This fuel in me is pushing me to become a Billionaire one day. I don’t know how it will happen but I didn’t know how $100k/year would happen either. I just trust God and keep working on myself and investing in my gifts. Because I did it and I know it works it has lead me to invest in my family at any cost.
What I want you to understand is that these investments aren’t from an endless supply of money. There are many times that I spend our last dime to make an investment in my wife or our sons or myself. I don’t think scarcely. I think abundantly. My oldest son says he wants to be a professional soccer player. So I invest in club soccer each year, it’s around $2k right now and he’s 10 so I know that will grow to $5k and then $10k when you include all the flights and hotel stays that await us. Just to be on the team is $1,200. Then the uniform is $250. Then some tournaments we have to pay extra. Then some tournaments are 1-2 nights and we have to spend travel money and $200-$250/night on a hotel room. It gets expensive. Many families are swimming in credit card debt investing in their kids. This summer my son is going to an overnight camp at IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL. This camp cost $2k for ONE week! It is absolutely crazy to me, but I’m doing it because I don’t want any other child to have any advantages over him. When he is grown, even if he doesn’t play a day as a pro soccer player I want him to look back and know that we invested in him and gave him every chance to be successful. Outside of those camps he’s going to two other camps. One was about $600 total and the other will be about $400 total. I want to cry just thinking about the fact that his younger brother will have to be afforded the same opportunities. So this summer alone another $3,000 is being invested into my son’s soccer dreams. I probably won’t do this every summer unless I see that it was really worth it. So here you have it, just for my oldest son I’m looking at an investment of $15,000 a year with school and soccer. It’s insane to think about but I’m painting a picture of how our world has separated us by how much money we earn. What we spend is small for some people. These opportunities are not afforded to everyone. I do believe if you want it bad enough you can find a way but it won’t just fall in your lap unless you win the lottery or find a sponsor. I just understand that I’m no one special. I’m just another child of God who has enough to believe that I can have the best this life has to offer.
I’m growing now and learning more about “smart money.” I’m learning that all the designer shoes, clothes, and cars aren’t important. The investments in our gifts and our lives are most important. I’m spending money differently now.
Those investments for our sons will have a return so that’s why I’m calling it an investment. It’s more than what I have to do and it’s not normal. It could be seen as borderline crazy. But I’m doing it because I don’t want them to have any excuses.
Outside of the money there comes, time. As a man or head of your household, the time you invest is more important than the money. The time you spend talking, playing, and bonding with your wife and kids will make all the difference. I remember my father being in the front yard with me all the time playing sports with me and training me to the best of his knowledge. He never paid for me to go to a single camp and I’m not sure why that is, but he put me through his own camps in the front yard or in the driveway playing basketball. I went on to play football in college because of his investments and sacrifices.
Yesterday, I went outside and juggled the soccer ball with my son and it was so hard. I’m lying here typing this in pain. My thighs, calves, shins, ankles, back, all that is hurting! I told him we will do an hour a day, 5 days a week. That’s the goal but if we at least get 3 days in, I’ll be happy. I know he won’t forget that just as I haven’t forgot what my Dad did with me. At the same time I watch my wife spend 15-20 hours a week with my sons helping them learn their academics. She also takes our oldest to the fields and works him out, putting him through a training regimen. She was a college athlete too. She ran the 800 in college until injuries and school work took over.
The investment of time is so important for the head of the household. The blessings or curses flow from the head. I do my best to make an effort to give my wife time as well as my sons. She is just as important as them. They have to see the way I love her so they will one day love their wives even better. They see us have date-nights every week. They see me grab her butt and rub on them thighs. I don’t intend for them to see all that but they see it. I slip up and get a little inappropriate sometimes with the public display of affection and my wife has to remind me to chill. As they grow older they will see how the head of the household has a large responsibility. I make mistakes too and those are the areas they will be better than me in. We always leave some room for our kids to grow because none of us are perfect. Sometimes I get agitated quickly and get snappy. I don’t curse or yell so it’s not that bad, but I get one of them nice-nasty attitudes that come with smart remarks, silent treatments and rude looks. It takes me about 10 minutes to snap out of it. When my oldest son gives me a look, I blame it on all the concussions I had in college playing football and tell him that’s why I don’t want him to play football, lol. My family watches my every move, the good and the bad. I’m the head and it all flows from me. I’m also writing this mini novel to hold myself accountable and remind myself of my calling as the head of the household. I’m still trying to get more time. I have to make more time actually. Being motivated and driven to earn more money to give my family more opportunities also comes with less time. So I’m constantly working on time management and creating a system that shows balance. I realize that they appreciate my time more than my money. Many men don’t believe that but it’s true. I know they say that love doesn’t pay the bills but in a very discreet way, it actually does pay the bills. My love for my family is what motivated me to become better so I could give them more. That love for them also has pushed me to another level to create streams of income that earn money while I’m spending time with them or even sleeping. Love is paying our bills.
Lastly, I want to make a point to the men about investing in our wives. She is so capable. She is so strong and so smart. She is smarter than you. She can earn more money than you too if given the tools. She has more longevity than you, in the bedroom, in the boardroom, and on Earth. These are shocking facts that I’m coming into the knowledge of. I’m writing this blog right now as my wife is at a conference. Her ticket to this conference cost us $400 that wasn’t in the budget. It actually cost more because of gas and parking so really about $500 plus. We were sitting in the bed early morning on Thursday and I saw it on my timeline. It’s a conference for women who blog, youtube, etc. It’s called “BlogHer.” When I saw it, I mentioned it to her and offered to send her. She accepted and I dropped $400 on it. Our budget is strict and tight because the more you build the more disciplined you have to be and it is a struggle. That’s why they say “mo money, more problems.” A lot comes with trying to make a better life. Nonetheless, we spent the money and she is loving it!! It’s reviving her and giving her a much needed boost to get back to her blogging and brand building.
Anything she wants to do in her life, I’m here for it. Anything! We are talking about law school right now. I will need a great Entertainment Lawyer one day and I want that money to go to her and she likes that idea too. She has a bachelors in Bio-medical Science and her masters in Medical Sciences. Her initial goal was to be a Medical Doctor but our lives took us in a different direction and now her interests have changed. I’m willing to spend my last dime on her dreams. She’s a full-time CEO of Home and helps run all of the companies I’ve started. She’s the backbone of our family. Our sons wouldn’t be who they are without her. I would literally be dead or in prison if it wasn’t for her influence in my life. For that, I owe her the world. She’s played a major part in my life. I think as men we often forget about the grace and favor a good woman brings to our lives. I challenge you to remember that and to give back to her instead of draining her more. There’s so much more I want to do for my wife that I’m not able to yet. As of now, I’m praying for abundance so that we can pay for law school if that’s where her heart leads her. If not, then for whatever else she wants to do. My days aren’t promised so for all the focus I stole from her at one point in life, I want to return it 1,000x. As men we can’t get into the mindset that everything has to be about us and our aspirations. Her dreams matter too. So many men want a handmaid instead of a Queen. The woman in Proverbs 31 made power moves and held things together. We have to respect her heart and her hustle and get behind her movement.
Ok, I have to put our 3 year old down for his nap now so I’m going to let you go. If you’ve read this far, thank you! I may not have made a lot of sense but I’m trying to put what’s on my heart into words and sometimes that’s so hard to do without offending or alienating someone. Please know this post is only to share another example. However you raise your kids or run your home, more power to you! I’m not saying my way is the way, but it is my way and I just wanted to share it with you to add a different perspective.
Tony A. Gaskins Jr.