The Best Money Tip My Dad Gave Me

by Neal Frankle, CFP ®

I learned a lot about money, career and investments from my father. He worked hard and modeled a great work ethic. I never met a harder working person than my father. He was also a master of negotiation skills.

He also made some huge financial mistakes, and I learned quite a bit from that too. As a result of seeing him lose just about everything, I’m cautious. I have a tendency to see the risks before the benefits. It slows me down. Sure I’ve missed some opportunities. But thankfully, I haven’t suffered huge financial consequences either.

The Big Tip

The best money tip my father gave me was, strangely, nothing I saw him do but something he said to me often. He used to tell me not to worry about the results but to focus always on my efforts and doing my best.

His argument was that results are often beyond our control. But we have complete control over how hard we try. And a results-based life isn’t satisfying either. At least not for me. There will always be someone who has better results. There is always someone with less, too. If I build my life around results, my happiness will always be dependent on how I stack up against others.

But each of us knows how much we’ve got to give. If we stop because we’ve reached some artificial goal, we sell ourselves short. And if we set our goals artificially high, we’re bound to be unhappy.

In the financial services industry, we’re trained to be miserable – and to make our clients miserable too. Our trainers wanted us to always have super high lifestyle and income goals so we’d have to sell more of their (sometimes) lousy products. That led to a constant sense of dissatisfaction. And we were taught to make you, our clients, dissatisfied with your results so you’d buy more crappy annuities and high-load mutual funds from us. What a stinkball system. That’s why I left and became an independent advisor.

I believe that you should do your best. And if you do that, what more can you ask from yourself? I don’t believe you can really kid yourself either. You either do your best or you don’t. How does this translate into your financial situation?

I don’t care if you have the best job possible. I care if you’re doing everything you can to land that job.

I don’t care if you are in debt right now. But I wonder if you’re doing everything you can to get out of debt.

If you don’t have enough income, that doesn’t bother me. But what I want to know is if you’re doing everything you can to create a second income, get a part-time job or make the best investments to create income.

What about you? Are you more concerned about results or efforts? Why?



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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Super Frugalette July 9, 2011 at 8:15 PM

From my experience in life…all you can control is the effort and you never know when all the effort you put in will pay off.


Jerry July 9, 2011 at 1:35 AM

I can’t believe that they teach you to try and make your clients unhappy to buy more crappy annuities. When you’re selling crap only to buy more crap, no wonder so many people are miserable.


Bill July 7, 2011 at 8:21 PM

My dad gave this advise on my last day at home:
1) Never lie to your doctor or your lawyer.
2) Never (have sex) with a women you wouldn’t be willing to marry.

I took both pieces of advice but added: “Work a job you love”, my dad loved his job as a biologist, I love my job as a computer programer.


Neal July 8, 2011 at 4:56 PM

Sounds like your father is a smart fellow. And you were clever to heed his good advice. Nice work Pilgrim!


Eric J. Nisall July 7, 2011 at 6:34 AM

Personally, I think the two are forever tied together. You can be happy with the effort, but if the results are not as expected, then the effort may seem wasted to a certain degree. This is especially when it comes to finances.

If people are working their butts off to get pay down debt but don’t see any progress, they get down and start to question whether the effort is worth it. If someone is always the first one in and the last one out yet never gets any compensatory recognition or promotions, they question whether the effort is worth it.

Funny thing, too, because I just wrote about my own father’s advice to me. I guess it’s a lot better to get advice from a parent rather than find out the hard way on your own!


Neal Frankle July 7, 2011 at 11:31 AM

You are right. My experience is that “best efforts” include making sure I am on track by having accountability in every important aspect of my life.


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