Anonymous Mailbag

Rejoice, it’s Tuesday and the anonymous mailbag is here to save you from your work or school doldrums.

Before we get rolling with the anonymous mailbag we obviously have a big contingent of readers from Nashville, which was hit by a large tornado late last night. As I’m clocking publish on the anonymous mailbag there are 21 reported deaths in the middle Tennessee area, so this is a profoundly devastating storm to the region.

We’re going to be doing something to help in the days ahead with Outkick, but I’m not sure exactly what that will be.

Just know that’s coming.

In the meantime, on to the anonymous mailbag. As always you can email your anonymous mailbag questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.

Here we go:

“My friends and I have a little problem.
We have had a cruise booked since early October of last year. We are all 22-year old college kids, and have finally hit what is one of the best years for spring break: Senior Year. The year where you and all your friends are 21, and don’t have to act like you’re not 5 shots in on bottom shelf cheap vodka on the beach. It’s now encouraged. 
Being our last spring break in college, we have pulled out all the stops. From getting the all-inclusive drink package with unlimited alcohol to first-class seating Delta plane flights out of Atlanta (Courtesy of my buddies dad’s skymiles account) this will be an absolute winner of a vacation, that I’m sure we will talk about for years to come.
However, this Coronavirus situation has us slightly on edge. I understand that the statistics line up very well for us health-wise, and the media is once again hyping up another issue to generate fear clicks. I am still taking in a number of factors for consideration. 
I have a few worries about our plan. Of the four guys in our group, two are driving down, and my buddy and I are flying down from the ATL airport (the busiest in the world). I have seen no news story of the virus making it to the airport. People have been screened, and at the time of this email, no cases have shown up in the airport. I am concerned of it being on a plane trip to Fort Lauderdale (where the cruise leaves from)
I am also concerned about someone on the cruise having it. While it is not going to Asia, and I have been contacted by Royal Caribbean about them not letting people that have been in Asian countries recently on cruises, it is an area of concern.
The cruise takes place March 16th-20th (5 days 4 nights) and goes from Fort Lauderdale to Georgetown in Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and then back to Fort Lauderdale with two days of the trip just at sea.
I’m asking for advice should the cruise not be cancelled. If it is cancelled by the cruise line, I know we are granted full refunds. However, if it is not cancelled and we wanted to get out, no refund would be granted and that would put me and my friends out about $1300 each. 
What should be our play here? Do you think it’s ok to go still? The vacation would be super fun, but dying of Coronavirus wouldn’t be very fun. Just so happens this whole crapshoot happens right before my vacation. Can’t have nice things in life I guess (I’m a Falcons fan). What say you?”
I understand why you’re afraid of being on a cruise ship amid the coronavirus outbreak, but I’d go ahead and take the cruise if I was you guys.
My rationale on this is pretty straightforward. First, right now there are around 100 cases of coronavirus in the entire United States. Given there is a present day United States population of 327 million, we’re talking about a tiny, tiny outbreak thus far. Furthermore, even if you presume the cruise will have international guests so far we’re talking about a total of 90,000 cases in a world population of 7.7 billion.
Put simply, your chances of ending up on a cruise in America or the Caribbean with infected passengers is slim. (And that’s even with the awful story of the Diamond Princess cruise in Asia.)
Second, you’re young and, presumably, healthy. So far almost all of the coronavirus victims have been seventy or older and in ill health. So even if the coronavirus broke out on your ship, your worst case scenarios here aren’t likely to end in death, you’d just get quarantined. Yes, being quarantined is awful, but again, that’s your worst case scenario and it isn’t very likely.
Now I’m not saying that I’d presently be booking a cruise if I didn’t have one booked now, but given the fact that you guys are already booked I wouldn’t change my plans.
I would, however, expect for all your parents to try and persuade you not to take the cruise.
I know some of you out there, by the way, are taking the coronavirus panic as an opportunity to book cheap cruises. I wouldn’t personally do that because I don’t really like cruises very much myself so this is not how I’d choose to spend my vacation even if there wasn’t a health panic. But I still think the odds are very much in your favor to be fine if you like cruises and want to take advantage of the price cuts and relatively uncrowded cruise ships.
Enjoy your spring break.
“Big time life question here. I’m pulling up on 30 and my wife is 29. We had conversations before marriage about having kids and we both agreed we’d talk about it when one of us is ready. I’m ready to have kids but my wife says she does not want kids. She doesn’t just not want them right now but ever. We’ve had multiple conversations about this for a year and have gotten nowhere but arguments. If I give in then I don’t get what I want but if she gives in she doesn’t get what she wants. What’s the best play here, advice, anything? “
This is one of those life situations where both of you can’t win and neither of you can compromise either. There are relatively few conflicts that married couples face that I don’t believe can be worked out, but this is one of them.
You want kids and she doesn’t. One of you is going to be unhappy no matter which choice you make. So the question you have to answer for yourself is how badly do you want children? If the answer is it’s truly non-negotiable in your life then the next question becomes do you want children more than you want to stay in a childless marriage?
This is a tough conclusion to draw, but if you truly want children — and your wife doesn’t — then I think the two of you have to get divorced. I just don’t see any other solution. Sure, it’s possible your wife could change her mind if you keep arguing with her for the next several years, but what if she doesn’t ever change her mind no matter how much you argue? Then you’re likely to hold that disagreement against her for years into the future. Potentially, honestly, this could end up destroying your marriage because it’s an issue that festers from the inside. You’ll resent her for not having children and she’ll resent you for blaming her for not having children.
Ultimately if you truly want children and can’t imagine not having them then I think you have to take the conversation to the next level and let her know that you’re willing to get divorced over this issue. Make it clear that you aren’t judging her or trying to bully her over the issue, but this is just something that isn’t negotiable for you.
Sometimes divorces happen and neither member of the couple is in the wrong. This would be one of those situations. Your wife hasn’t been dishonest with you. She was uncertain whether she wanted kids or not and you both agreed to discuss it when one of you decided you wanted kids. That moment has arrived in your marriage.
I don’t blame her for not wanting kids and I don’t blame you for wanting kids. Neither of you is in the wrong here. But you, as the man, are in a particularly difficult spot here. Because not only do you want kids, but you’d be requiring her to have a kid herself, which, let’s be honest, is doing the vast majority of the work when it comes to actually giving birth.
I think if you’re truly committed to having kids and she truly isn’t you have to strongly consider divorce.
Which, by the way, isn’t an awful result for you. I can’t speak for every woman, but I’d think being a thirty year old guy who wanted kids so bad that he got divorced has to be every 25-35 year old woman’s dream. Trust me, that story plays well on the dating circuit. There are plenty of single women around your wife’s age that would kill to find a man this committed to having kids.
But first you have an incredibly difficult decision — do you want to stay married — and never have kids — or get divorced and have kids with someone else? That’s not an easy decision and I don’t envy you having to make it.
Good luck.
“My wife has a credit card that her parents pay for. I knew about the card, but the understanding was that she used it only for certain expenses (e.g. – her parents generously pay for some of our children’s sports and activities). I’m OK with that kind of thing.
However, I recently found out that my wife has also been using this credit card to buy personal luxuries for herself (expensive beauty products, clothing, etc.) Things we could not afford otherwise—I’m talking thousands of dollars worth of products. 
I confronted my wife about this, and told her I thought it was wrong for two reasons: 
  1. She’s a grown woman and shouldn’t be living above her means on her parent’s dime. 
  2. It makes me feel like I’m unable to give her with the lifestyle she desires. I work my ass off providing for my family so that she can stay home. My pride is hurt here. 
The wife thinks I’m overreacting and that it’s OK for her parents to pay for things like that. Is this type of thing common? Am I wrong for being pissed off? Should I talk to her parents about it?” 
First, I have no idea if this specific type of thing is common — how often do you parents foot the bill for their married kids credit card bill? — but I do think it is common for wealthy parents to shower gifts on their children and their grandchildren.
The bigger issue here is this though: it doesn’t matter if it’s common, it matters what the two of you think. Your marriage isn’t a Reuters poll. Your wife probably isn’t going to agree to try anal just because 36% of married women have tried it before.
Now I don’t know the exact amount your wife is spending on the credit card, but if her parents gave her birthday and Christmas gifts worth thousands of dollars would you object to that? Because that’s essentially what these are, gifts from her parents.
What’s more, you say you’re fine with her having the credit card to use for family expenses relating to the kids. So you’re not upset with the money she’s spending for family expenses involving the kids, but you are upset with the things she’s buying for herself? That seems like a bit of a fuzzy line you’re drawing.
That’s why I think this is mostly about your second rationale here more than it’s about the first. This is about your pride being hurt as the financial provider of the family, not about the expenses themselves. Ultimately, why do you care if your wife has nicer perfumes or clothes than she would have if only you were paying for them? This seems like you’re trying to punish your wife or teach her a lesson more than it’s about family economics. (You don’t suggest that she’s blowing through the family budget on your family credit cards so it doesn’t seem like living above her means is a problem in all facets of her life).
Ultimately you’re okay with your family living above its means — and the grandparents picking up the tab — so long as the family benefits, but you’re not okay with it when your wife individually benefits? Let me explain why I think that’s a fuzzy line. What if your in-law’s decided to buy you a new house so your kids would be in a better school district? Or pay for private school for the kids? Or if they decided to buy you a bigger, safer car for your family to ride around in that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford? What about if they pay for a family vacation that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford?
Would those all be acceptable expenses since they benefit the family?
It seems like your answer would have to be yes.
So if your wife was truly unhappy with the status of your family’s life it seems like she could easily exploit the opening you’ve created here by getting her parents even more involved in your family’s finances. Once you open the door to the credit card existing you create the temptation on behalf of your wife to use it as she sees fit. (Presumably her parents have the money and aren’t complaining.) As is, it seems to me like she’s not even taking as much advantage of this situation as she could be, which means she’s probably fairly happy with her life otherwise.
She’d just really like to have that new pair of shoes, or that bag, or that perfume.
Which makes her, you guessed it, pretty much like every other mom out there.
And it just doesn’t have to be moms, by the way. How many guys reading this right now have access to a family’s season tickets for football or basketball or have taken a vacation they couldn’t otherwise afford thanks to the in-laws?
Put simply, why do you care about the things your wife is buying if it’s not costing you money? I’d understand your antipathy here if your wife was constantly complaining about what salary you earned or if her profligate spending was spreading into your own family’s finances, but it doesn’t seem like that’s the case here. And it also doesn’t seem like your in-laws are providing this credit card as a way to subtly denigrate you and the work you are doing to provide for the family.
It seems like they just have extra resources and they’d like to help you guys out with them.
Given the fact that one day you and your wife would stand to eventually inherit whatever assets they have, it seems like your in-laws probably enjoy the opportunity to see their money benefit their grandkids (and their daughter) while they are still living.
My wife and I have young kids now, but it’s likely we will be in good financial shape when our kids eventually have kids. That’s, hopefully, twenty years from now or so. And in twenty years we’ll be sixty years old. At that point in time we’ll have around twenty years left to live, on average. I’d like to think that we’ll be able to pay for all our grandkids to go to college. That is, I’d like to believe we can eliminate that stress on our own children and take that responsibility off their shoulders.
I guess you could argue that’s letting our kids live beyond their means, but what’s the point of having money if you only allow yourself to live beyond your means? I don’t want to make a substantial sum of money and then rush to spend it all on myself when I get old. I’d like to leave some money to help my kids and grandkids and, hopefully, my great-grandkids too.
Who knows what our kids will end up doing with their lives — maybe they will have far more resources than we do now and just laugh at our offers of assistance — but that wouldn’t change the way we’d feel as parents.
My dad still tries to give me twenty or forty dollars every time he comes by the house and knows I’m about to leave town.
And you know what I do, I still take his cash! Not because I need it but because he’s my dad.
Plus, I still let him pay for dinner for my family sometimes too.
Now I make more money in a month than my dad ever has in a year, but, guess what, he’s my dad. And one reason I make that money now is because he was such a phenomenal dad. (My mom was also great. She still reads everything I write. Hi Mom!) And now that I’m a dad I totally get the idea that no matter how old you are your dad and mom always want to help take care of you.
And that’s exactly what is happening here.
So long as your wife isn’t expressing displeasure with your family’s financial status or your providing for the family, I’d be inclined to look the other way on the personal credit card expenditures and not take it personally.
And I certainly don’t think it’s worth starting a fight over.
“Good morning Clay. I’ll keep it straight forward. I’m pulling 10k from savings to set up an online trade account. I have no experience trading stocks. While this is not an all in move, I would prefer not to lose my ass in the first week. What is the absolute worst thing I can do? What sectors/stocks do you see responding favorably to the Coronavirus panic, as well as the political uncertainty here at home? Any thoughts on marijuana stocks as legalization looms? Thanks for any advice.” 
Don’t buy individual stocks, especially not when you are new to investing.
Buy S&P 500 Index funds — that’s an indexed collection of the 500 stocks in the fund so you have exposure to the entire market, essentially. Historically S&P 500 index funds have outperformed almost all professional money managers or individual stock pickers.
Don’t over think it, just do this.
More importantly, consistently put your money into the market — especially if you are young — and don’t overreact to stock market price swings advertised on the best stock trading apps, which are generally counter-opinion to the company stance. On average you will do fine, but in any individual day, week, month or year you might do poorly. The more you try and time the market, the more you tend to lose in the long run.
This is the best possible financial advice I can give anyone since it’s pretty much guaranteed to do fine. Even better than that, most people will underperform you by buying and selling individual stocks in a haphazard fashion.
Having said that, if you must buy stocks, here are the ones I presently own (almost all of these stocks I have owned for years): Twitter, Activision, Netflix, Amazon, WWE, Sirius, Take Two Interactive, CBS — full disclosure I just bought CBS —  The Stars Group, Caesars, and William Hill.
But I’d advise buying S&P 500 Index funds over simply following my lead with stocks. Odds are you’ll outperform me.
Good luck with your investments.
As always, send your anonymous mailbag questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.