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  • Writer's pictureBill Holmes

What young people need to know about money - Chapter 1 – Introduction

project, program, portfolio, leadership
You need to know how to handle your money!

“A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned” Benjamin Franklin

“Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people that they don't like.” Will Rogers

I was shaped by the values of my parents.

My father grew up on a farm in Iowa and survived both the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. Life was so hard on the farm that he ran away at the age of 16 and joined the US Army to fight WW II. He fought in North Africa in WW II, then stayed in the military and eventually served in Korea and completed 3 tours in Vietnam. He retired as a decorated disabled veteran in 1969.

My mother was a young girl in Germany in WW II. When the Third Reich began to collapse, the military became desperate and conscripted anyone who was old enough to hold a gun. At the age of 15, my mother found herself on the front lines fighting the Russian military. She was captured and placed in a concentration camp where her left wrist was tattooed with her prisoner identification number. Eventually her concentration camp was liberated by the west, but she had been so badly abused that she was unable to have children.

My parents met while my father was stationed in Germany during those few years between WW II and the Korean war. In 1964 they were again stationed in Germany. Purely by chance, they met my birth parents in the hallway as they were taking me to the orphanage. My mother always wanted a child, so I was adopted!

When my dad retired in 1969, he decided to settle down in Augusta, GA. His younger brother (also a veteran) had retired there, and there was a large military hospital at Fort Gordon. We lived in a single wide trailer for the first couple of years while my parents saved the money for their first house. In 1970, after 20 years of marriage and 32 years of military service, my parents bought their first house.

My parents never made much money, but their habits were forged by their incredible life experiences. They both remembered a time when there was no food or water and money meant nothing.

In spite of a modest income, when my father passed away their house was paid off, they had no debt and they had a sizeable amount of money in the bank. They taught me about money and debt, and over the years I refined those into “rules”. I also picked up a couple of my own rules as I navigated investments, debt and taxes. None of them are complex, but I am shocked by how many adults were never exposed to them. I also find that there is a lack of financial literacy in young adults, and I sometimes find myself explaining basic “real world” money related concepts to my children and their friends.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing those rules. This is NOT investment advice! You should never take investment advice from a nameless stranger on the internet. But, these rules and concepts could have a profound impact on your financial future.


I know that I cut off the “Project Management Basics” series rather abruptly, but I was bored with it! I also found myself in financial discussions with a variety of people over the past couple of weeks, and several told me that I should write a book. I’ll start with a couple of posts and see how it goes.


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