“Dad, will you help me change out my headlights?” My son is just days away from his birthday and getting his driver’s license. He bought a truck in May with his own money and can hardly wait for the freedom and fun that comes with a driver’s license. When it comes to retirement or big purchases, how much we are saving is more important than our rate of return.
My wife and I could have bought him a truck, but he wouldn’t have learned anything.
So instead, like his older sister before him, he sold firewood, ran a gumball machine business, cut brush, and did anything else he could to make money to buy a truck.
Our kids saved and invested as soon as they could start tracking their investments.
His investing wasn’t always smooth, but that is how investing goes. I not only wanted him to learn the value of a dollar, but I also wanted him to understand the ups and downs of the stock market like a seasoned investor.
“I don’t know where to start.” I often hear this from people who have not started working on their retirement savings.
I always say, “Just do something!” Invest a little every month, and don’t touch it.
During the building of the Panama Canal, the senior engineer John Stevens, after dealing with delay after delay on the Atlantic side of the canal, hired Frank Maltby.
Stevens told Maltby, “You won’t get fired if you do something; you will if you don’t do anything. Do something even if it is wrong, for you can correct that, but there is no way to correct nothing.”
In the same way, regarding investing, just do something. Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player in history, sums it up best, “I can accept failure; everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”
We got the headlights installed late last night, and they look great. They make an 03 GMC with “five on the floor,” as he likes to say, look a lot newer. But we won’t be taking a celebratory drive tonight because he’s doing yard work across town to build his investment account back up.
He wants to buy his first house the summer between his sophomore and junior year in college, and he’s saving for that down payment.
Just save and invest. Just do something, even if it’s wrong. Start right now.