Seeing as how this site is called Broke Millennial, there is generally millennial-exclusive content. But today we’re changing it up and allowing a Baby Boomer to put his two cents in. The following is a Q&A with Neal Frankle, CFP who is also the editor of WealthPilgrim.com and MCMHA.org. He has unique professional and personal experience in the realm of personal finance.
What is your earliest memory related to money?
Fear. My father was a real estate speculator who doubled down every time one of his “bets” didn’t work out. That usually made bad situations far worse. As a result, I grew up with constant financial fear and uncertainty. I remember our utilities constantly being shut off because my parents couldn’t pay the bill and losing our house to foreclosure.
How did you learn about finance?
I realized that if I wanted anything I’d have to work for it (not a bad lesson) because my parents didn’t have the money. I started working at 12 and basically never stopped.
The first important lesson I really “got” was when I was 14. I was earning about $1.65 an hour (I’m an old guy) so at the end of an afternoon, I’d have maybe $5 in my pocket. The problem was I went to Mc Donalds and usually spent about $3.50. So after all that work all I’d have left was a buck and change. I was a slower learner. It took me a year to realize I was better off by taking a sack lunch rather than buying my food. From that day on I was really careful about how I spent money. That lesson stuck and has really paid off.
In terms of learning about finance for my profession, I studied accounting in school which gave me the basics on how a business runs. I learned how investments work through on the job training and investing myself. Books are great but don’t hold a candle to actually getting your feet wet doing it.
How did you start teaching your children about money when they were young?
My kids knew about my childhood so they were sensitive to the importance of finance. They also were always grateful and never took things for granted. That was the start of their “financial education.” They also saw how hard I worked and they understood the connection between work and financial security when they were young.
I would always talk to them about financial decisions. We would discuss the pros and cons and I would always ask their opinion. I think that empowered them. Of course the topics we discuss when they were 5 and 6 were very different from the things we talked about at age 15 and 16. But by including them very early, it helped them become familiar with finance.
When my two eldest turned 22, I turned over their savings so they could invest or spend as they saw fit. Of course I invited them to use me to manage the money they didn’t want to spend, but the big decisions were theirs. This empowered them to become independent and to really think strategically. It was good all the way around.
What piece of financial advice would you give to any millennial?
The most important thing you can do is really think ahead. Are you on the right path? If you keep going the way you are going now, will you get the life you want? If not, what do you have to do differently….starting now?
When I was young, I never thought this way. I thought I had all the time in the world. Fortunately, I landed on a career path that worked but it could have ended up differently. Don’t waste your time because that is your greatest and most valuable asset.
What’s the best financial move you ever made?
Hands down, the best financial move I made was my career as a financial planner. It has provided my family with financial security and freedom. It also gives me the opportunity to help others, which I love. I realized at a very early stage that I wasn’t cut out to work for someone else and being an entrepreneur offers amazing opportunity.
This is not to say that you can’t do really well by working for others. I have many friends who have done far better than I have and they have always been employees. I realized where my strengths were and I put myself in the best position I could to leverage those qualities.
Thanks, Neal! So, dear reader, what are your answers to some of the questions I posed to Neal?