Financial Lessons that Can Change Your Life

by Neal Frankle, CFP ®

We got some great financial lessons from none other than President Obama recently. It’s being reported that he asked the CEO of GM to step down from his position. If true, it’s a great reminder about financial responsibility.

My friend David over at My Two Dollars wrote a great piece about the ouster of GM’s G. Richard Wagoner Jr. David doesn’t buy that President Obama fired Wagoner. He thinks that Wagoner is just trying to escape responsibility by saying that the President is using him as a scapegoat.

David made some fabulous points in his article and I encourage you to read it. But I don’t care who ousted Wagoner. As a taxpayer, I’m just sick and tired of having to pay for others’ mistakes, and I think it’s time for heads — preferably big heads — to roll. Don’t you?

Imagine you loaned your cousin Joe the money to buy a forklift and his kid Joe Jr. ran it off the ramp — for the fifth time! That’s your forklift! Wouldn’t you want Joe to fire his kid? You bet you would. And while we’re at it, let’s take Joe Jr.’s driver’s license away. I don’t want him on the road while we are out there. Do you?

Somebody ran GM off the ramp and that driver needs to go back to drivers training ASAP. Get him off the streets (and out of the corner office) as soon as possible to avoid any further damage.

Before we get too far off the mark, I know there are many ways to look at what happened at GM. I don’t want to debate the virtues of this move from a political or economic standpoint right now. But I do want to explore what solid Wealth Pilgrims can learn from it.

At its very core, one message is simple. You have to take responsibility for your behavior and your decisions. It’s very straightforward. But there is another message that I think is even more important.

The message is this — just because I financially enabled somebody yesterday doesn’t mean I have to continue doing it today. Just because I’ve behaved poorly with my finances for the last 30 years doesn’t mean I have to continue doing it for even one more day. If I spent too much money last month and have run up credit card debt, there is only one thing that matters — determining the best way to get out of credit card debt. It is a waste of time to sit and moan about the past. Just take decisive action to correct it now.

Do you have any money patterns you’d like to get rid of? Have you broken promises you made to yourself (or someone else) with respect to your spending or investing or whatever? Do you need to do something about your investment losses pronto? If so, start your day over. You can do it now, right now. Don’t feel trapped by your past financial behavior. Don’t wait until your forklift is off the ramp.

Pick one thing. Just one thing that will make your financial life better. One change. Can you do that one thing differently today? What is it?



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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Wizard Prang July 6, 2009 at 4:48 AM

This whole “President-fired-GM-CEO” story is a bunch of… well, hooey. The President does not have the authority to fire _any_ CEO.

Who does? The shareholders.

The fact that the President happens to represent the biggest shareholder is purely coincidental.

That is all.


The David March 31, 2009 at 7:45 PM

I don’t agree with what GM has done, but if the shareholders want to keep Wagoner, I don’t see why anyone else should forced him out – even the President. I like Obama, but it seems like a dangerous precident


Neal April 1, 2009 at 4:20 AM


Yes. You bring up an excellent point. This is really a thorny issue I think. I’m not crazy about the government getting involved in this. I would gladly have the situation where GM gets to keep their CEO – and we get to keep our multi-billions.


Neal March 31, 2009 at 6:51 AM


From your mouth to G-d’s ears! That would be awesome! Time to build our nation (and car industry) based on economic, rather than political, reality.


Baker @ ManVsDebt March 31, 2009 at 6:47 AM

“I don’t care who ousted Wagoner”… I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I think it’s dumb to fire him unless you know for a fact that the person replacing him is going to take the company in a new direction. But in the end it’s the UAW that is going to need fired. From what I hear that’s about 60 days down the road…


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