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Best of: Best Financial Advice Ever

It’s been more than two years since my Dad passed away, and reading this story makes me smile every time I read it, so here it is again.

You can find this story and other Favorites of mine on the Favorites tab at the top of this page.

Best Financial Advice Ever

My parents have been very helpful in my life, both financially, but also with very wise advice, and with that in mind, I’d like to share you a story my father told me (kind of a parable):

 

Jesters Are Wild

There once was a court jester who enjoyed a good joke, usually at the expense of the King, which got the Jester into deep trouble. One day the Jester was having a particularly “devilish” day and insulted the Queen in a large public forum. The King was OUTRAGED by this and ordered the Jester executed for his insolence and the guards dragged the Jester off to the dungeons.

Hours passed and the Jester (who was a quick thinking man) thought how can I get myself out of this mess? Finally the door to his dungeon opened and the guards dragged him back to the King. The King said, “I have enjoyed your buffooneries over the years, so I will give you one wish before I put you to death for your crimes.”.

The Jester thought what could he wish? Then he came up with a plan, he knew that the King adored his horses so he came up with the following, “Sire, all I ask is that you give me a year’s reprieve, and during that time, I will teach your horses to Sing! This will make you the envy of all other monarchs. If at the end of this year I am unable to get your horses to Sing you can execute me in any gruesome fashion you wish.”. The King looked perplexed and then confused, but finally he thought that he had nothing to lose, he would either be the envy of Europe or the Jester would be executed, either way was fine by him.

The guards then took the Jester towards the Royal stable, when one of the Guards asked the Jester, “Why would you make such an obviously impossible deal, surely you know no one can get a horse to sing?”

The Jester smiled and whispered to the guard, “Many things can happen in a year my friend, I could die and thus I have cheated the executioner… the King could die and I might get a reprieve… or the horses could sing!”

My Dad told me this story after we discussed payments schemes for money he was loaning me to buy my first house. What was he telling me? I’ll leave that to you gentle reader, as usual with a story from my Dad, you get from it, what you think, not necessarily what he thinks you should.

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Best of: The Singing Horse Parable

As I am on the road, I give you one of my favorite postings about financial advice Advice: Best Financial Advice Ever Given. I like this story for many reasons but specifically:

  • It is my father’s advice at it’s best, not preaching and always causes me to think.
  • It shows the importance of parents to talk to their children about money and their views on money.

Advice: Best Financial Advice Ever Given

My parents have been very helpful in my life, both financially, but also with very wise advice, and with that in mind, I’d like to share you a story my father told me (kind of a parable):

There once was a court jester who enjoyed a good joke, usually at the expense of the King, which got the Jester into deep trouble. One day the Jester was having a particularly “devilish” day and insulted the Queen in a large public forum. The King was OUTRAGED by this and ordered the Jester executed for his insolence and the guards dragged the Jester off to the dungeons.

Hours passed and the Jester (who was a quick thinking man) thought how can I get myself out of this mess? Finally the door to his dungeon opened and the guards dragged him back to the King. The King said, “I have enjoyed your buffooneries over the years, so I will give you one wish before I put you to death for your crimes.”.

The Jester thought what could he wish? Then he came up with a plan, he knew that the King adored his horses so he came up with the following, “Sire, all I ask is that you give me a year’s reprieve, and during that time, I will teach your horses to Sing! This will make you the envy of all other monarchs. If at the end of this year I am unable to get your horses to Sing you can execute me in any gruesome fashion you wish.”. The King looked perplexed and then confused, but finally he thought that he had nothing to lose, he would either be the envy of Europe or the Jester would be executed, either way was fine by him.

The guards then took the Jester towards the Royal stable, when one of the Guards asked the Jester, “Why would you make such an obviously impossible deal, surely you know no one can get a horse to sing?”

The Jester smiled and whispered to the guard, “Many things can transpire in a year my friend, I could die and thus I have cheated the executioner… the King could die and I might get a reprieve… or the horses could sing!”

My Dad told me this story after we discussed payments schemes for money he was loaning me to buy my first house. What was he telling me? I’ll leave that to you gentle reader, as usual with a story from my Dad, you get from it, what you think, not necessarily what he thinks you should.

{ 4 comments }

Advice: Two More Thoughts

My advice of making sure you buy the first round when going out drinking (as pointed out, this does assume that more than 1 round is going to be bought), is important. There is a corollary to this theorem. I wonder what is the best advice you can give?

If you borrow something from your neighbour, say a cup of sugar or some aluminum foil, always pay back in full. If you borrow a cup of flour, buy your neighbour a bag of flour, if you borrow aluminum foil, buy a new roll of 50 feet. This kind of pay back is cheap, and assures you a good reputation as a good neighbour.

Best Advice Ever

When I went off to University, my Father gave me possibly the best advice I ever received that I still use to this day.

I was going away to University and I had never really lived away from home. He came into my room and I expected a long lecture about how I should work hard to live up to my potential or something like that.

My Father told me that since his parents didn’t go to College (my Grandfather was a carpenter and my Grandmother a piano teacher) the only advice my Father got was from his Uncle. My Father said that the advice was very good so he decided to give me the same advice.

I sat transfixed waiting for my Father to tell me this advice, and I must admit it was very good:

“… Always drink at least two glasses of water before you go to bed, if you have been out drinking…”

That was it, sounds simple doesn’t it? Sounds flippant as well, but surprisingly I don’t view it that way. This was genuinely useful advice from a man I respect, so I pass it on to my readers, hoping it helps you.

Even Better Advice?

What is more intriguing is I mentioned this to Larry MacDonald and surprisingly had never heard this advice. Even more surprising is that Preet from Bonds are For Losers had heard this advice and had even better advice.

For those that don’t know the water is to stop the dehydration that the alcohol causes, however Preet pointed out that there is a need for electrolytes as well so you should either drink something like Gatorade which has those, or if you have only water add some salt to it, because that may help with the inflamation that comes with the hangover as well.

Interesting to get good advice, and then have that advice refined like that.

I just wish I had similar good financial advice to give you all, but I don’t.

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Always Buy The First Round

My wife told me about her weekend and she mentioned what she thought was an innocuous story about buying a “round” of coffees for a group of parents and how she didn’t have to buy coffee for the rest of the weekend (everyone else kept buying “the round”), and it reminded me of some of the best advice I ever received.

Always Buy The First Round

When I had just turned 18, I went out to a Tavern for the first time with a group of guys I knew from my C.E.G.E.P.. All these guys were a little older and were much more worldly than I was when it came to the art and science of drinking.

How Beer Came

One guy had worked in James Bay on the Hydro project in the mid 70’s and he knew about life. I confided with him that I had never been out “with the guys” drinking, and he gave me some very good advice.

Always buy the first round, because that is the only round anyone ever remembers and it is very rare that anyone does the correct accounting to answer the question asked before each round, “Whose round is it?”.  People will however remember that you bought the first round, because that is the only round anyone, ever remembers.

This advice works for alcohol, for coffee and any other areas you can think of where there is a “round” of spending to be done.

Is this financial advice? Maybe not, but it is very useful.

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Teaching the Horses to Sing?

Yes, that was the punch line to the story yesterday, but what does teaching the horses to sing really mean?

Well, in the context of my Father’s discussions with me about paying back money’s owed to him and my mother, his view was: wait a while. Maybe in a few years you’ll have a lot of money and you can pay me back then, or maybe my parents will pass away, or the horses might sing. Have I paid the money back? Well, that is none of your business, is my answer to that question, but good question!

Singing Horses ?
Maybe Those Horses Might Sing ?

So that was my context, what can this parable mean in terms of Financial Planning and Debt Reduction? No, I don’t think I am saying procrastinate or hope for a better day in the future where everything will be better, but I am saying that if you have the luxury of Time to put perspective on a problem or a financial decision, maybe take advantage of that luxury. Don’t rush decisions that don’t need rushing, you’d be amazed at what can happen in 6 months.

I seem to remember a very good financial writer stating that any time you get a “windfall” of money (e.g. large inheritance, large settlement, lottery winning, etc.,) DON’T leap into a quick decision about what to do with the money. Put it aside in a conservative slow growth but safe place and think for at least 6 months about what you think you should do about it. I might only append to that sage piece of advice with, if you can pay off your debts right away, and still have a “nest egg” left, maybe do THAT, because you never can be too sure if the horses will actually sing!

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