Wednesday, June 30, 1999

How Does a Fool Say Thank You?


As a mere child, my father blessed me with the sensibilities to think for the future. Of course, he had his eccentricities as most depression babies do (we'll not talk about the hoarding of gallon jugs of water, flashlights, rubber bands, pocket knives and way too many other items beyond description). But he also was a Foolish man long before we knew what it was to be Foolish.

Since he worked for a large telephone company for nearly his entire career, he had the ability to purchase stock for all of his children. Further proving his Foolishness, he let the dividends reinvest thereby amassing quite a tidy portfolio for me and my brothers by the time we reached the age where we were legally able to squander it if we so chose.

Amazingly, however, none of us ever did. You would think that at least one of his three children would be the spendthrift, go on a shopping spree in Europe or just blow the money from the stock on some cool muscle car, women, drugs, or other illicit activities. Instead, all of us used the stock as a basis for our own investment strategies or sold some off to plunk down a big down payment for a house.

Now don't get me wrong, my dad did not preach about investments to us. Hey, until I went to grad school, I really did not know much about investments, and after finishing with an MBA in finance, I still barely understand the stock markets (but then I guess I'm in some good company). My father, instead, taught us by his example. He was sensible in his investments, he was a buy-and-hold investor long before the average person knew what that meant.

Upon his passing a few years ago, we discovered what his fortune has amassed to and we were all quite surprised. Again, with foresight he had he left his investments in a trust for my mother so she may afford a good standard of living. In a little over two years time that trust has more than doubled in value, which is a strong testament to the power of sensible, or Foolish, investing.

I suppose the moral of this story is that it is never too early to begin setting good financial examples for your children. Buy them some stock, let it reinvest, buy them some more. If you do this and set a good example of financial responsibility, it is almost guaranteed that your children will have a good, solid start in life.

I am ever grateful to my dad for so many things (including the flashlights, pocket knives, string, rubber bands, calculators, etc.), but especially for the solid start he gave me in my life. Thanks, daddy.

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