Name: Thomas Hill III
Current financial situation: debt-free.
Largest amount of debt: zero.
Road to recovery: not applicable.
Words of wisdom: "If you live debt-free, you're typically more successful in weathering things to come. It's a nice feeling to wake up in the morning and know you — not the bank — own your home."
A father of six, Thomas Hill of Oklahoma City finds plenty of opportunities to talk about spending and saving.
“We talk about the dinner thing a lot,” said Hill, 44. “Let's go out for fast food,” is a common refrain from his kids, ages 3 to 13. “Their mother and I explain that a trip for fast food costs 40 bucks … 10 times $40 is $400, and there's a lot we can do with $400,” Hill said. “We can use it toward a vacation or something for the house.” The Hills are teaching their kids to tithe and save long-term for the things they want. Hill's second eldest, age 11, recently saved eight months to buy an iPod. “When they save that long, it's not just a whim or wasted resources,” he said. “He really appreciates it and takes care of it.” Thriftiness is a tradition in the Hill family. A Marine in Vietnam, his dad grew up with fairly meager means. Hill's maternal grandfather founded the Oklahoma City-based family business, Kimray Inc., which makes valves and controls for oil and gas production equipment — and in which Hill, an engineer, has worked his way up to management. When he married, Hill’s parents paid $20,000 toward his first $35,000 home in The Village, and he paid the rest with savings from years of mowing jobs, working at a Blackwell foundry during college and at Kimray. “The differential was astronomical between the money I would have been paying, or throwing away, toward a mortgage and what I was saving,” Hill said. Subsequently, Hill helped his younger brother and his sister-in-law buy their first house outright.
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