Our fathers, who art in Georgia and Florida are awesome!
Whenever we find ourselves in a fit of nostalgia, connecting dots between who we are today and who we were as children, so many of our best life lessons point directly to the role our fathers played in our lives. Our childhood experiences were very different but having spent enough time combing through the memories, we’ve both drawn the same conclusion.
We get it from our fathers.
Whenever Mr. r&R see’s pictures of his father as a young man, it’s scary to see the resemblance in their faces, body type, mannerisms and even style. Whenever Mrs. r&R thinks about her favorite childhood experiences, she too is immediately drawn to memories and experiences with her Dad that shaped the woman she is today. She is the quintessential Daddy’s girl!
Now, to be fair, our mothers had a hand in this as well. Obviously, there’s a healthy dose of their magic in us too. But when it comes to our beliefs about money, our father’s were the architects. Our Dad’s have only met once [at our wedding], but they clicked instantly despite their cultural and age differences. It could’ve just been the energy of New Orleans that weekend, the mashup of brass band music that tickled their respective Texan and Jamaican spirits, or it could’ve been the booze. Whatever it was, we were happy to see them having a good time as our families became one.
In a perfect world, we’d get them together again so Mrs r&R’s Dad [Blue] can share all the details about his new tech gadgets and Mr. r&R’s Dad [Vic] can share tips on his Florida garden. Until then, we’ll have to settle for this lil interview we pieced together to get both of their perspectives on money and how it shaped their lives.
Our plan was simple: interview our Dads and get their thoughts on money and retirement. It didn’t quite work out exactly as we hoped but we were still able to squeeze some juice out of these guys. But before we do that, here’s a little back story on our Dads so you know who you’re dealing with
Blue, 63, (approaching retirement)
To know him is to love him. He’s a legend ’round these parts for his perspective on life, business, politics, his affinity for technology, providing for family and others. He hasn’t given a single $hit since Jimmy Carter was in office and has climbed the corporate ladder to incredible heights. He’s traveled the world, lived through racism in the South and been the ‘fixer’ behind the scenes for many a household over his life. In other words…he’s seen some thangs so if ever you see him, you put some respect on his name!
Vic, 84 (retired since 2005)
If you look up consistency in a Jamaican glossary, you’ll see a picture of Vic staring back at you. Come to think of it, he may also be there next to work ethic, solid, stern and cool. After starting his family, he immigrated from Jamaica to New York City, bought a home, started a a tax business and somehow found the courage to buy a plot of land down in Florida that he’d eventually build his dream home on. When he’s not doing people’s taxes, he’s tending to his garden and trying to convince himself that this is the year he’ll take the big vacation he’s been talking about.
We wanted to mine deeper into their brains to see if we could find any remaining diamonds. After all, they were the ones that made the deepest impressions on us as children. Vic famously told a young Mr. r&R once that “he shouldn’t let ANYONE or ANYTHING get in the way of him achieving his dreams…not your sister, not your brothers, not your mother or even ME”. Those words gave a young Mr. r&R permission to shoot for the moon.
Mrs. r&R’s notable advice from Blue was similar, but seasoned a little differently. Like most kids, she went through stages where she wanted everything. Rather than just buy it for her, Blue encouraged her to create the money she so desperately needed so she could buy all the stuff she asked for. And so, a t-shirt printing business and babysitting business were born.
Even today, as we share our wild and crazy ideas with our fathers, they support and encourage us. Even if they don’t understand the details, we know they have our backs and are more than willing to lend us an ear. So we figured, why not return the favor and extend an ear to them.
Q. We give you guys a lot of credit for who we are today. What do you think is the best advice you’ve given [us] your children?
Blue: Three things actually. 1) Don’t chase the dollar, chase the dream and the dollars will come. 2) It’s not about how much you make, it’s about how much you spend and 3) maximize the matching investments from your employer sponsored plan.
Vic: I have always been a big believer in being “independent” so I tried to encourage my kids to get a good education and/or acquire a vocation which are prerequisites to becoming financially stable. I must confess…my perspective on financial stability wasn’t about wealth building but more so about being able to own your own home, take care of your family, having some funds in reserve, (you know..the rainy day thing) living comfortably and wherever possible contribute to or participate in worthy causes.
Q. Interesting. Well, what was the best advice you received?
Blue: I got three more things 1) Create and maintain multiple income streams 2) Use/exploit other people’s money and 3) God bless the child that has his “OWN”. You gotta have your own things going to get ahead in this world.
Vic: This is a long story. When I arrived here [from Jamaica] I had difficulty getting a job at the same level, being told by many prospective employers I lacked NY experience. I went for an interview at a Manhattan hotel which had over 1800 rooms and vast banquet facilities. The financial controller who was Cuban apparently recognized my potential and made it clear I was way over qualified for the vacancy he needed to fill, but he would strongly recommend that I take the job “just to get my foot in the door” he said. So, I swallowed my pride and accepted the job. Now, this may not seem like financial advice but it was the best I ever received because it put me on the path to reestablishing my professional and financial status which I accomplished in a relatively short period of time thereafter.
Q. Wow, those are great lessons. So, as you look back and reflect on your life, what is the best financial decision you ever made?
Vic: Not sure of this one, but taking advantage of 401K opportunities and IRAs and always aspiring to own my home as opposed to renting were key.
Blue: I would have to say buying my first home with the idea it was my first big investment.
Q. You each grew up in pretty large families. Do you believe you think differently than your brothers and sisters even though you shared similar backgrounds?
Vic: Not sure if I think differently. Some were good examples for me in terms of being financially savvy and so on, others weren’t so much. I tend to plan, analyze, strategize, prioritize and generally be cautious about money matters, but that might just be due to my zodiac sign (LOL). I also know that the experiences of my humble beginning have something to do with it.
Blue: Oh yeah. Simply put …I have always thought about finance. We all had different exposure and experiences with money.
Mr. r&R: Alright, last question Dad. Blue is approaching retirement and you’ve been retired for years. Any advice for him?
Vic: Always accept and respect the inevitable changes that come with aging but don’t ever entertain or succumb to any thought of being “too old to do anything.” Embrace the opportunities that allow you to be active and productive at your own pace. Listen to your body. Keep it simple and enjoy life.
Mrs r&R: Dad, I’m so excited for you. If all goes well, we’ll be retiring shortly after you! What are you most excited about?
Blue: I’ve been fortunate to work from my home for 20+ years. I have slowed the work/travel pace in the past five years leading up to this so retirement should not be a lot different for me. You’re gonna get the same Blue you’ve been gettin!
Looking back on these conversations, one thing stood out to us; the fact that our fathers, by all measures, are ‘get it done’ kinda guys. Yeah, they’re good for hanging out in the back, throwing back a few brews and chopping it up until the wee hours of the morning – but the next day, they were always ready to go.
Today, as we think about what may be the thing that separates us from our peers and others who may aspire to get out of debt and build wealth, that same key difference shines through. We don’t believe we’re smarter and don’t work much harder than many of the people we know. The difference is we don’t just stop at learning or talking about it, we get it done.
Thank you to our fathers, Blue and Vic and all the Dad’s and mentors out there who are teaching young impressionable children how to manage their money. We love and appreciate you all!