4 Financial Lessons from Jerry Hayes OD

June 21, 2020
Happy Father's Day! I hope all the dads out there got to sleep in and receive nice tokens of appreciation from your family. After writing this, I am picking up the phone to call my dad, Dr. Jerry Hayes, and let him know how much I love and am thankful for him. He is a great father, mentor and friend, and since today is Father's Day, I thought it would be timely to share the four most valuable pieces of financial wisdom he taught me.

Pay yourself first.
Chances are you work pretty hard for your lifestyle. Before you pay your mortgage lender, car payment or gym dues, pay yourself first. Start by setting aside 6-12 months of living expenses and at least 10% of your (gross) income for retirement from the day your start working (late savers will need to save more). Make capacity to take care of yourself and your family before paying others.

Live below your means.
I hear this saying in my sleep at times it was so often mentioned growing up, but it's perhaps the most important financial advice out there. Set yourself up for a lifestyle you can maintain. This is especially important right now- much like 2008, a lot of people, including practice owners, are operating on a reduced income. It is really hard to cut back on a standard of living, which is how a lot of folks get in trouble with debt. If you live below your means, tight years won't feel so bad.

Money is a tool.
Although the media frequently suggests otherwise, having money isn't good or bad, or something to feel guilty about having or not having- it's very simply a tool. Money gives people flexibility to live where they want, access the medical care they prefer, and help others in need. The bigger your toolbox, the more equipped you are to handle many (but not all) of life's curve balls and live the way you want to.

The golden rule: he (or she) who has the gold makes the rules.
While this was often used in a "as long as you're living under my roof" manner growing up, this was also an important lesson in terms of the benefits of owning a successful business (or practice). As the owner of anywhere from 3-5 businesses at any given time while I was growing up, my dad worked hard. But I didn't notice- played horse at night, he coached my basketball team, hit tennis with me, and came to almost all my cross country and track meets.

While I'm sure he was up on his computer long after I went to bed some nights, being the owner of his own business and "having the gold" to hire the right staff to make those businesses run gave him the ability to set aside time for himself and his family.

While the above wisdom isn't hard numbers, it's a great road map for success and reaping the benefits of creating and maintaining a strong personal financial situation. Think about how you can implement each of these in your life and practice- and teach your kids to do the same.

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