To say that I got lucky when it comes to my financial management skills is a bit of an understatement; actually it’s a flat-out miracle.
My father, for as long as I can remember, always had credit card debt. He filed bankruptcy not just once, but twice. He once borrowed $8,000 from me and when he finally realized he would never be able to pay me back he took out a life insurance policy for the exact amount so that I would eventually be repaid.
My mom wasn’t that much better. To her credit, she only filed bankruptcy once. She was then able to sell her home in LA at the peak of the market and pay cash for their retirement home in Las Vegas before the housing bubble hit.
She could have been sitting pretty, but decided to take the cash they had left over and invest it into real estate property. Her credit wasn’t the greatest, so she tried to get me to co-sign with her. I was smart enough to say no. The three properties that they invested into all dropped to 30% of their purchase price. They couldn’t sell them or find renters and were forced to short sell all three of them.
Some Words Of Advice I’ll Never Forget
Like I said, when it comes to managing money I’m lucky that I did not follow in my parents’ footsteps. So how did I get so lucky? Sometimes I wonder the same thing.
When starting school I had this vision of wearing suits and going on business luncheons as a part of my career. I didn’t really know what that meant, but somehow that prompted me to want to major in accounting. When I told my dad this, I’ll never forget his advice.
He asked me, “Have you ever met an accountant before?”
I responded with “No, not really.”
He then so wisely said, “I’ve never met an accountant that had a fun personality. You want to go into something more fun like finance.”
My father didn’t get his bachelor’s degree until he was in his late 50′s. Although many would not consider him to be the smartest man in the world, I’ll never forget the words of advice he gave me that day.
Choosing a Major and Shaping My Career
I majored in finance, got an internship at a local investment firm my junior year, which then led to me becoming a financial planner. You would think that being a finance major would have given me the necessary training to be a steward with my finances, but unfortunately, that wasn’t even close. I didn’t know anything more about money after graduating than I did before I started. There are two major events I can reflect back on that had a tremendous impact on my financial life.
The first was my father.
It’s hard for me to remember a time when my dad didn’t struggle with money or debt. He was always stressed out and for the last years of his life I could see it wearing on him. I used to come over to his house, walk into his home office and next to his computer, he had a list of all his credit card debt. Each one of them was 20% to 30% APR. He was always trying to figure out how he was going to afford the next payment. He would even pull cash from one card and make the minimum payment on the next. It was a vicious cycle, and I could never understand why someone in their 60′s didn’t get it.
Financial struggles had a tremendous impact on me and I knew exactly what I did not want to become. Sometimes it’s not just your parents’ situation alone that will change your behavior.
The Second Impact
The second largest impact was becoming a financial advisor. When I first started my career, I wasn’t talking with people that were multi-millionaires. I was talking to regular people that had small 401(k)’s, small IRA’s and just needed help. I can remember a few of the first client meetings I had were with couples that were around my father’s age who also had similar struggles.
They didn’t have the debt load that my dad had, but they did have to deal with the fact that they hadn’t saved enough. They had retirement accounts that weren’t nearly adequate enough. Needless to say, an early retirement was not in their forecast. They were now forced with the fact that they would have to work until their mid to late 60′s at minimum and maybe even into their 70′s.
One couple, in particular, I remember meeting with was literally three times my age. I’ll never forget sitting with this couple, looking at them across my desk and thinking that these folks were three times my age and yet I have more saved than them. I wondered and struggled with the notion of why?
Why had this couple allowed themselves to get to this point? I realized that they are not the only ones. There are many more people out there that have the same struggles.
Between seeing my father struggle with his finances and meeting with several other couples that had their own financial struggles, I quickly realized that I did not want my life to turn out the same way. I wanted to try to help as many people as I could save themselves from this financial mess that I grew up witnessing.
Essentially that is why I started my blog Good Financial Cents. I know that a lot of people out there want to do the right things, they just don’t know how and they don’t know who to ask. Hopefully, with my blog, they don’t have to ask; they can just read!