An anonymous reader e-mailed a story about the financial education he received from his father.

Something my dad did for me when I was a kid — after I got my first job (delivering papers) at the end of the year, he gave me a gift.  He wrote a check for my annual salary ($650) and told me to pick a brokerage firm and open an IRA.  I didn’t have any idea what an IRA was, or why I needed to care about retirement — I was still a kid — I was still immortal.  But I did what he said. (Why pass up “free money”?)  The next year, he did the same.  As a result, I learned a little about stocks and mutual funds, the power of compounding, and about how starting early was a good thing. 

I also learned a lot about my dad.  He was born to a poor family in a small town, and was a little kid when the Depression hit.  He attended a one-room schoolhouse from first grade to tenth, and had no illusions of going to college.  He enlisted in the army and served in the Pacific during the occupation of Japan.  He came home and used the GI bill to become the first in his family to get a college degree.  He bootstrapped his way to owning his own home, and raising a family who knew the value of a dollar, and how to save.  Perhaps coincidentally, or perhaps not, my brother and I are the only ones of our generation of our extended family to get a college education. He also taught me that if you and your wife both work, try to live on one income, save and invest the rest.

His simple act of helping me start funding my retirement at age fourteen was an eye-opener for me.  I’ve been investing ever since. I’m now 45 and have managed to accumulate over $1.5 million. With luck, I may retire in a few years.  Thanks Dad!

Awesome. It’s been a long time since I shared a success story from a reader. I should do it more often. I think they’re great. If you have a story about money, drop me a line at

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