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October 24, 2012


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•Elementary/Middle school

To me this is a critical time in one's development and could have a major impact on future success. Many successful people claim they just did the right things continually until their actions produced positive results. Starting good habits early is a great idea.

Our experience at this level shapes how we feel about specific subjects and education. Exposure to a strong mentor, in an environment with high academic standards can establish the fundamental habits of success.
Good fundamental habits make high achievement more possible. "Late bloomers" have to work extremely hard to catch up and then pass the masses (not me of course...I just have this "friend" in such a situation!)

Well it's obviously very difficult to isolate the factors that may have led to our success, but I think the one thing that has helped by far more than any other is having learned the value of cash flow investments around the time I graduated college (and simultaneously gaining the desire to maximize the dollars available for investment). I learned that from my father-in-law, so I'd put "parents/guardians" up at the top. I feel that if I hadn't learned that I'd probably spend nearly all that I make, and that any savings goals I might make would be directly for the purchase of the next goody (because this is how I treated money when I was younger).

I'd say I got the habit of being frugal from my parents.

Then my first job taught me that I need to save up a lot if I ever want to quit / retire, and seeing how boring it could get to spend a career there got me motivated.

The other main reason is the power of habit, that has been the biggest factor once the first two came together.


I have a very different take on the main contributions to our financial success.

1) Being born in 1934 - I was too young to serve in WWII.
2) A 5 year apprenticeship with a famous British aircraft company 1951-1956. My savings were then $450.
3) Emigrated from England in 1956, the Cold War was going strong & engineers were in very short supply.
4) First job - A Canadian aircraft company gave me a good job and paid our passage by boat to Montreal.
5) That company closed in 1958, a US aviation company hired me and paid our way to Denver.
6) 1960 a California aerospace company hired me and paid for me to get my MS degree.
7) 1992, the Cold War had just ended and my company offered a Golden Handshake if I took early retirement.
8) Consolidated our investments at Fidelity on 12/23/1992 with $320K. Thanks to the bubble and learning how to become an active investor, by 3/9/2000 they had risen to $3.37M.
9) At the end of 2007 I shifted into all Bonds with $5.8M.
10) As of 3/23/2012 our portfolio is $7.1M. The housing boom also came at just the right time for us.

In summary, I was born at a good time, the Cold War played a huge role in my career right up until I retired. I married my highschool sweetheart and have had a blissful marriage for 56 years and we have three children, the oldest two each have between $2-3M. My wife also had a pension paying career once the children were old enough to be left.

I'd put Parents #1 on the list. For me, and likely most people, your success in school and life in general is significantly impacted and basically depends on good parenting.

I'd put parenting #1 as well, I was taught at a very young age to not waste anything nor buy things you dont need. When it came to things we wanted, we saved up or lived without. A lot of that aspect came especially from my grandmother who lived with us and lived through the great depression. A lot of things that go along with that mindset aren't always mentioned, but are big factors in saving. Doing things yourself instead of paying someone or improvise with what you have instead of going to the store. For example, ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide or lemon juice can be used in substitute for almost any household cleaner you really need.

- Parents

My parents taught me how to work, save, invest and be frugal in our modest living situation. These are the essential elements of increasing the gap between income and expenses.

- Other (Blessings)

At this point in our lives I'd say that I'm the most financially secure of my siblings (three others), though this was not always so. I think that I've been blessed with an interest in and capacity for financial matters that goes beyond my siblings and most other people I know. I attribute this to a blessing from the Lord.

Jim & JayB
I had good parents and after my grandparents on my father's side had their home destroyed by German bombing they moved in with us for several years and I became quite close to them.

My parents were not great savers, they would save hard for something they wanted, then buy it and repeat the process. They always had a car whereas the rest of the family did not, and we always had a nice summer vacation. They rented their whole life and died with just enough money to cover their final expenses. In a way they demonstrated to me that I didn't want to live that way. Neither parent was well educated and my mother had to take care of any business letters. I was the first in our whole extended family to get a degree. I don't get any pleasure from buying things, I just buy the essentials.

After the kids had left home and we retired we did start spending a lot of money on foreign travel and that has given us wonderful memories, unique experiences, and lots of Objects d'Art that bring us pleasure every day. I also almost never pay anyone to do things around the home that I can do myself and think it's the height of laziness to pay to have your car washed or your house cleaned. One exception is having the home exterior painted - mainly because I hate painting. Fifty years ago I used to do all of my car maintenance but that has grown too complicated these days and requires expensive equipment I don't have.

I think the parenting part has a couple aspects. Direct financial education and general parenting that has indirect impact on financial success.

If your parents directly teach you to be good with money and frugal etc, then thats good.

But good parents also do a good job raising people and helping them succeed in elementary school, middle school, high school and college. You can do that without being particularly frugal. Teach your kid to read at age 4, don't get divorced and remarried, live in a good school district, help the kid avoid drugs and teen pregnancy, support and encourage education in their teen and college years, etc.

WE have on the list elemntary school, middle school, high school and college. All those directly impact your success in life. Parenting directly impacts your success in school and life in general.

Would you rather have parents who were frugal meth addicts and felons or parents who were not frugal college graduates with good paying jobs in the nice neighborhood? Obvious extreme example, but I think basic parenting does more towards your success in life than simply teaching frugality.

Old Limey
It is very interesting how much WWII influenced life in so many parts of the world and how it still does today, over 70 years later! The lessons I learned from my grandparents live on as well as how you decided to live by observing your parents and grandparents lifestyles. I agree 100% on doing things myself, and would only pay others if it is something I do not feel safe doing or if I really hate doing it! After sitting behind a computer all day at work, I really find manual labor at home to be fulfilling and sometimes a stress relief.

I would put Myself as #1. Parenting and their supports are really close as well. College Education was very important too.
That's my top 3. It's really hard to pick the top one because they are all important. I'm putting myself at #1 because some of my friends who has the same experience are not as financially successful. Some are more successful though...

I never thought of the Cold War this way, but I guess it influenced me as well. I grew up behind the Iron Curtain and in 1991 I already had the opportunity to choose a college major that wouldn't have been open to me (lacking the right political connections) just a year earlier. That led to a good job after and a few years later to immigration to US (again indirectly related to the Cold War end).
Directly my financial success is related to a terrific current job, following an Ivy MBA - but digging deeper, it was all about the Cold War after all :-)

We had a really good vacation in two Cold War countries in 1986, they were Hungary and Yugoslavia. Then in 2006 we went on a river trip from Moscow to Saint Petersburg which was outstanding. It was interesting that in Hungary each tour guide did their best to extol the greatness of Communism.

Old Limey,
What do you think were the criteria for becoming a tour guide?:-) Everybody working with foreigners was under scrutiny. I watched recently a British documentary "A State of Mind" about North Korea and their gymnastics games, it was quite something to watch the conviction with which they spoke, at least we did it a bit tongue-in-cheek (big brother watching), while for them it seems to come from the heart.
But you never know what you are missing until you have something to compare. If the changes hadn't happened, very likely I would have been teaching math in an engineering university, and very likely wouldn't have felt too bad either (aside from the inability to travel much).

Nothing beats education and upbringing. My parents both educated in 60's with Bachelors degree always stressed to me the importance of education. Being born in India did help too. My Mother taught me to how to plan, save and live well within means.

Great post! I think for me it was finding my passion, that made work much less painful ;) Also, I was lucky enough to discover an older, wiser and financially successful individual who could give me great mentoring along the way!

My Mom really taught me the values of frugality - but our financial success is because my husband is incredibly driven in his career and personal ambitions.

My parents, particularly my mother, taught me and motivated me to spend money wisely and save, save, save.
We grew up in a working class family and I watched my mother budget from an early age. She spent money very wisely, and although I haven't handled money as well as she did, I am a big saver. She taught me to shop grocery sales with a list, use coupons and one of the best lessons was to buy in bulk. Get as much of one item as you can and make it last until the next sale. Try not to pay full price for anything. She saved old coins before copper was used in silver coins, too. She helped me open my first bank account and co-signed my first car (which turned out to be a lemon)

The great thing about those lessons is that I can NEVER forget them, even if I tried. They're so deeply ingrained that they've become second nature. I've passed them on to my adult children as well. I watched an episode of Extreme Couponing and just shook my head. They've completely missed the point in saving money rationally, leaving products for other customers, and having a sense of fun while you're saving money.

I would say my parents are a big part. They gave me the opportunity to go to college without being saddled by debt. My pending degree in Mechanical Engineering, combined with some blessing and luck, allowed me to Co-op at on a highly regarded project. That led to starting a career at age 21 making more than the average household in a fortune 500 company. Five years later, that led to a job change into a very high profile and highly respected company along with a 20%+ raise and stock options with a very high potential (but no guaranteed) value.

I would say that my parents played the biggest role, followed by my degree with my current/past jobs ranking 3rd. I also cannot forget a particular high school teacher who helped influence my degree choices.

I would say my wife and kids pushed me to change myself. They are my inspiration and what gives me focus and drive to get things done, including financially.

For me it was friends and family, as a networking tool. Through my cousin, I got my current job, which has been the biggest reason for financial success in my life!

The main reasons behind my financial success are Parents/guardians, Friends, Past/current jobs and myself. However, I am still awaiting for desirable success in financial freedom. I want to be free from all types of debt taken by me in the past. I am working on it and feel that I am little bit financial success.

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