The Best Financial Advice I Ever Received

Read through any financial book, newspaper, magazine, or blog and you’ll find no shortage of advice.  It seems everyone has their own opinion on what you should be doing with your money.  One book tells you to invest in real estate.  Another says index funds.  Another says tax liens.

After awhile it can become pretty frustrating trying to figure out what exactly is the best course of action.  If all these experts have different opinions, whose advice do you trust?

Personally, the best financial advice I ever received didn’t come from a financial guru.  It didn’t come from a personal finance book or magazine.  It didn’t come from the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times.

It came from my dad.

I was probably about eight or nine years old and I was sitting on the floor playing with my Star Wars action figures while he sat in his chair flipping though a trade magazine.  Out of the blue, he asked me for ideas on what kind of products he could sell for extra income.

Being an 8 year old boy the only things that came to mind were whoopee cushions and magic sets.  But that wasn’t exactly what my dad had in mind.

“Why do you want to sell stuff anyway?” I asked him.

“To make extra money.  Gotta keep food on the table,” he replied.

“But you already have a job.  Just ask for a raise or something if you need more money.”

My dad just shook his head.  And then he sat me down and gave me the best financial advice anyone has ever given me.

“Mike, my boss doesn’t give a damn about me.  He cares about himself and his own job.  If it helps him to have me around then that’s good for me.  But if he decides he’s better off without me, then I’m gone.  That’s the way it is.  It will be the same when you get older and get a job.  You’ve got to look after yourself because no one else is looking out for you.  You can’t rely on your boss, or the government, or anyone else to help you look after your family.  You’ve got to take the bull by the horns and do it yourself.”

Now, my dad wasn’t a financial guru.  In fact he was practically broke when he died.  Several years after we had our talk his company decided they could hire someone younger to do his job for a lot less money and they laid him off.   Several attempts at entrepreneurship failed and he ended up burning through the family savings while racking up debt.

But his words still echo with me today.  I harbor an inherent mistrust of corporate America and the knowledge that no matter how well I perform my job I could be let go without warning if they decide to send my job overseas to India or the Philippines.

But my father’s words also fill me with a need for independence and the need to build multiple streams of income to protect myself against the loss of one.  Without that little speech all those years ago I might not have learned how to make websites to supplement my income.  And I wouldn’t be progressing toward my ultimate plan of quitting my day job so I can focus solely on my own business while having the freedom to spend more time with my family.

Most importantly, I have goals and a plan to reach them.  Without that I would be like so many of my friends who march off to work day after day with no real sense of power or purpose.

What about you?  What was the best financial advice you ever received?

Written by Mike Collins of

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    1. Yay for great advice! I am sorry your dad didn’t prosper though. My best financial advice was from my parents – I wrote about it today at 🙂

    2. Thanks Crystal! Sounds like a lot of us got solid advice from our parents.

    3. That was a GREAT talk with your dad. It took me a long time to learn that lesson on my own.
      The corporation (my employer) are slowing purging senior employee and I know my turn will come sooner or later. That’s why I am also blogging and setting up rental income.
      The bean counter will come for you one day….

    4. Your dad was a very wise man, and how smart of him to share his thoughts with you. He may not have been a financial superstar in his own life, but he has created one in his son. I am sure he would prefer it to be that way than the other way around.

    5. The best financial advice I ever received was about credit cards, even though I didn’t initially listen. My mom told me “if you can’t pay for it with your debit card, don’t buy it with your credit card”. Pretty much to sum it up, if I can’t pay the card off immediately, I shouldn’t charge it.


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