Blogs > Your Money

Dave Patterson and Erin Preston, a father-daughter team of Certified Financial Planner® licensees, provide thoughts and suggestions on a broad collection of personal finance topics.  Information provided in this BLOG is intended to be of a general nature and may not be appropriate for all situations.  Readers should consult with their own financial advisors before relying on any information contained herein.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My Best Advice

The October issue of Real Simple magazine included readers’ thoughts on what is the smartest money advice they had ever received (“This Month’s Question” in the Your Words section). The advice people had received was very diverse and caused me (Dave Patterson) to ask myself the same question. In my case, it was probably not some specific piece of advice someone gave me but rather the example set by my parents in how they managed the family’s finances. Clearly, they had been affected, like many, by the experience of the great depression.

I can still remember vividly, the little black notebook that my mother kept to log all of their expenses. I remember the stories my dad told of working in the potato fields for 15 cents a day and how they had only a dollar or so for gasoline each week, when they were first married.

I began saving at an early age. Someone gave me a “piggy” bank that took only quarters, inserted one at a time. As each quarter was placed in a slot in the bank, I had to pull a lever that inserted the money and registered the current total in a small window on the front of the bank. It held a total of $25.00. What was really cool was that the bank had a key that opened a little door on the bottom to empty the bank of its precious contents. I became almost obsessed with the bank. I couldn’t wait to earn another quarter, so I could see my savings rise. I asked for jobs to do and eventually delivered papers to earn money.

When I finished college, married and started working, I made it a point to direct nearly all of any net pay increase I received to savings. As a result our retirement savings grew rapidly.

If you were to ask me what my “best” money advice would be, I’d probably tell you to make saving the highest priority. Once you are making ends meet, direct any raises and bonuses to savings. After all, if you’re getting by on what you make and get a raise, you don’t really need that extra money to live on. If you want to really get ahead, take the opportunity to direct the extra cash to savings. Sure, it’s OK to spend a bit of it on yourself or to help you achieve a goal that was previously unattainable. Saving the majority of it, however, may be the only way you’ll truly get ahead in this tough world we now live in.

There are lots of people making big bucks who spend everything they make. They have the fancy cars, big homes and all the toys. What they often don’t have, is any significant savings. They may appear to be wealthy but aren’t saving for the future.

My best advice to you is to make saving a top priority. If you do, you’ll be making a wise investment in your future.


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December 31, 2010 at 2:21 PM 

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