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Lessons on Wealth

Lessons My Father Taught Me

First let me say this, my father, by many measures, did not have a great deal of money. He was, however, a wealthy man.

He was born in a small house at 55 Pickens Street in Little Ferry, New Jersey in 1907. That would have made him 22 when the Great Depression started, and it wasn’t until he was in his early 30’s that the depression was really over. Until I wrote this, I never really thought about how much of my father’s formative business days were spent in the depression.

He was a banker all his life, starting out as a page for a bank that recruited him as a young teenager because he spoke English and Czech. He went to secretarial school while working as a page for the bank (A sort of low echelon runner – doing errands for bankers and customers), and he retired as one of many Vice Presidents for what had become a large national bank. But, he retired at the young age of 62, the year I graduated from high school. He and my mother had a comfortable retirement in Fort Myers until they passed away a few months apart from each other, thirty years later.

Ernest Fous when he was a bank page

During their retirement, they traveled the world, lived in a comfortable house, had a boat, spent time with plenty of friends and lived an active lifestyle until the last few years, as their health declined.

They were wealthy. They were wealthy because they had more than they consumed. They had “a plentiful quantity of goods and money”.

This, this is the secret of wealth: use less than you have, spend less than you earn, consume less than what exists.

Thanks Dad, but I just wasn’t paying attention.

I wasn’t paying attention when, every day you came home from work and put your extra change into a jar. And when that jar got full, you rolled the coins in paper tubes and took them to the bank and deposited the money into a vacation fund.

I wasn’t paying attention when you explained why you and Mom had only one car when I was a kid and you took the bus instead of driving to work like all of my friends' dads.

I wasn’t paying attention when you bought shares of AT&T stock a few shares at a time every chance you had.

I wasn’t paying attention when you went shopping for groceries with clipped coupons and went to two or three markets when I was a kid, buying only what was on sale.

I wasn’t paying attention when you took each of us kids to the bank and opened bank accounts for us. You told us to deposit money in the account every week.

I was not paying attention when I got a thrill of seeing my balance grow in that passbook. I thought every kid had a bank account, and not only knew his balance but had memorized his account number like I did.

I wasn’t paying attention when you taught me how to root clippings of pachysandra and sell the plants to neighbors out of a wagon.

I wasn’t paying attention when you brought me to the bank to work all day counting coins in the basement of the bank, dumping bags of pennies is the spinning drum that spit out paper tubes of coins.

I wasn’t paying attention as my bank account grew, slowly, dollar by dollar.

Well, Dad, maybe indeed I did pay attention, but I forgot. I forgot that wealth comes slowly, penny by penny, sacrifice by sacrifice, and wealth is a bucket that has both a spigot and a drain.

And to get wealthy, the drain has to be smaller than the spigot. Make sure you adjust the flow of both.

The Oil Spill and South West Florida

July 2010

Our beaches in Southwest Florida are free from any sign of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico

Once, I received two emails that concerned me. One was from one of the real estate managers of an asset management company we represent in selling REO (foreclosed) homes and one was from an old client that now lives in Europe.

The manager from the asset management company sent us a form to fill out detailing the damage to each of the homes we were handling for him. The damage he wanted to quantify was from the oil spill. I was shocked. But then I realized he was out in California, and he knew that Fort Myers is on the Gulf of Mexico. He thought, "The oil was spilled in the Gulf, so Fort Myers must have oil."

The other email was from one of our clients that formerly lived in a Burnt Store Marina waterfront condo and now lives in Europe. He asked me what effect, if any, the oil spill was having on Fort Myers.

These two emails led me to write THIS email to all of our clients giving them an update.

There is no direct effect on our beaches nor do we expect to have any oil on our beaches.

The loop current that would bring the oil our way is 200 miles off of our coast. If, for example, the worst should happen and the oil came all the way to the Florida Keys by way of the loop current, experts all agree that the oil would not come to our shore.

To see a graphic illustration of this CLICK HERE TO SEE LOOP CURRENT.

The Southwest Florida population is concerned, however, about what effect a hurricane would have on the currents and no one seems to have a good answer for this.

As Real Estate professionals we must ask ourselves what effect this situation will have on real estate values:

· Perception is that we are affected by the oil. Will this perception influence values?

· Sanibel now has eight percent of its homes for sale and Captiva 16% (Article here). If oil does hit these areas because of a storm or some other anomaly, should we be prepared to buy?

· Are buyers practicing a wait and see attitude and will there be a pent up demand that is released when the crisis is better defined (read “over”)?

· If I am getting emails asking about oil in Florida, there must be many who think that indeed, the oil is here. So our main industry, tourism, will take a major hit. Will this spell opportunity or disaster?

· If oil hits the panhandle and the keys, but not here, will our demand increase because of this?

Folks, I can tell you that our internet lead and prospect volume is down and our pipeline is thinning. I am not ready to blame the oil spill but feel that normal seasonality is the reason.

I will keep you posted on the Oil situation.


800-439-1580 ext. 52