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Boot Money


Justine was named after her father Justin, a farmer who read The Wall Street Journal and had a sharp mind for figures. He also trusted his namesake, sending her off to college at the age of 16 (she graduated from high school early) with a single check for the entire anticipated four-year-cost of her college degree!

Do the math and calculate what that check might equal today and ask if any 16-year-olds you know would be up to the task. Well, she was. She graduated from college a bit early and joined her new husband in a military barracks in Germany where, as newlyweds, they used their saving and budgeting system called Boot Money.

The system was simple. The Army paid once a month. They paid their bills and then divided the rest. Most went into the right combat boot for the end-of-the-month expenses. The rest went in the left combat boot for long-term savings. This was an uncommon system among their peers.

Most GIs spent the money fast and quick. Bars, pubs and restaurants were packed the first half-week of the month.

But, by the third week, the money from the right boot got them a quiet evening and immediate service any place in town. Using money from the left boot, Justine was able to buy a Pfaff sewing machine of indestructible quality. When Justine and her husband returned to the U.S., they used this Boot Money philosophy to pay off their house in less than 15 years and to fully fund the education of their children. It was a mostly-wise use of money that serves as a mostly-wise example of how to live.

I say mostly-wise because years later they planned to visit Germany again after the kids grew up. They certainly had enough money in the boot. But the trouble with Boot Money is its desire to stay in the boot. They never did go back to Germany; there was always another future day for doing something so frivolous.

When Justine was diagnosed with a terminal illness, her husband had plenty of money to spend on the disease and no time to spend on the vacation.

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