12 Lessons on Life and Money


By the time I was 5 years old, both of my parents had divorced and remarried. I was blessed to grow up in two financially stable homes with four parents who loved and cared for me. They cared so much that they taught me principles about life and money that I carry with me today and share with my children anytime they will listen — sometimes even when they do not want to hear it again. While growing up, I split time in San Antonio with my Air Force parents and McAllen with my financial planning parents.  Both have had a tremendous influence on my life. As you can imagine, many of the money conversations occurred around the dinner table with my financial planning parents.

I have observed that money is not THE source of happiness, but also that a lack of money can often be a source of unhappiness. That is why understanding the role of money in our lives is so important. In our wealth management and financial planning practice at Raymond James, we work with business owners, executives, professionals, and their families. Clients very often want us to work with the next generation to continue what they’ve started. Over my career, I found myself sharing the time-tested lessons my parents imparted on me for our clients’ benefit. Over the next four issues, I will publish my 12 lessons. I hope you enjoy and will share these lessons with your family.

If money can fix it, it is not a problem.

When a child calls to say there’s been an accident, the initial response is telling. A loving parent’s first question is not “How bad is the damage?” or “Did the other guy have insurance?” It should be “Are you safe?” and followed quickly by “Is anyone else hurt?” Cost should be secondary to health and relationships.

Keep money in proper perspective. Things can be replaced, people cannot.

Understand the difference between needs and wants.

Young children will often say “I need this,” while holding a toy or candy in their hand. Psychologist Abraham Maslow is best known for his creation of a motivational model that described human needs. The hierarchy of basic needs starts with the physiological essentials: food, water, warmth, and rest. Only when those primary needs are satisfied will a person seek to satisfy the next level: personal security, employment, resources, health, and property. Maslow’s model continues up the scale, but at no point does he list the newest iPhone, luxury goods, fine dining, or fishing boats. Sorry if that hits close to home for our readers.

Understanding needs versus wants is a key to both financial security and happiness. There is always a neighbor, co-worker, or family member who is returning from the vacation you dreamed of, driving a slick new car, or adding to their jewelry collection. You cannot keep up with all those Joneses. Stop trying, and you will find peace and better financial stability.

Nothing is free.

My first formal economics lesson was written on a chalkboard in high school … TINSTAAFL!  “There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.” While sitting around the dinner table, my parents taught me this long before Mr. Turner scratched those letters in chalk back in 10th grade.

My parents passed on lessons from my grandparents, the greatest generation, who survived a world at war.  They understood our freedom was not free, it came at a tremendous cost in the form of millions of lives lost. My grandparents also shared the trauma of the Great Depression, which taught great lessons about risk and reward. The two are tied hand in hand — higher return means higher risk.  My parents imparted that political promises of free goods and services come at a cost, paid by someone … invariably the American taxpayer.

In the next issue of RGVision, working smarter — not harder — to save the money you make.

© 2018 Raymond James & Associates, Inc., member New York Stock Exchange/SIPC © 2018 Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC Investment products are: not deposits, not FDIC/NCUA insured, not insured by any government agency, not bank guaranteed, subject to risk and may lose value. 17-WorthWhile-0028 CW 11/18