From the day I opened my first childhood bank account at the Bank of Gravette, I have sought my financial advice from bankers, certified financial planners, my parents and other investment experts. But a long time ago, I heard a bit of universal financial truth from an unlikely source, and it has stuck with me. The adage is from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” that classic Christmas movie that still makes people cry 75 years after its release.
In the film, George Bailey needs to raise a lot of cash in a hurry.
“You don't happen to have $8,000 bucks on you?” George asks Clarence Odbody, his guardian angel.
“No,” Clarence replies, “We don't use money in heaven.”
“Well,” George responds, “it comes in real handy down here, bud!”
Money does indeed come in real handy down here, and so it’s important that we learn to earn, save and manage money early in life. My parents taught me my first lessons in finance. They worked hard on our little farm and at their other jobs, and they were careful to pay all our bills and to set aside money for unexpected expenses. When I started my lawn-mowing business at age 13, my mom taught me how to keep a business ledger for income and expenses. I still have that ledger today.
I followed their example and training in my family life, in my businesses, and in overseeing two federal agencies. I worked, I put money in the bank, I didn’t spend more than I made and I kept a rainy-day fund for the unexpected twists of life. Whether you’re a parent supporting a family or a governor overseeing a budget for more than 3 million Arkansans, if you heed those time-proven basic concepts, perhaps you won’t have to hit up your guardian angel for a loan.
Ask Me Anything…
Who was your financial role model?
“My uncle Asa, who owned small businesses in Oklahoma. He started in the pawn business and later owned multiple jewelry stores. He was generous and gave back to his community.”
Biggest money mistake you made and how it shaped you?
“Selling assets too early. As my life progressed, I was able to hold assets longer and enjoy more growth in value.”
The best piece of money advice you ever got?
“Buy low. Sell high.”