- Life & Money
- Financial Planning
- Planning With Northwestern Mutual
- Northwestern Mutual
- Jan 08, 2018
The $20 Bill That Changed How I Think About Money
Get to know the people behind the financial advice in our Planner Profiles series, where you’ll get the inside scoop on their best money tips.
Brian Eder will never forget that walk home from the bus on that cool fall day in 1987. That’s when he spotted it lying among the leaves on the ground: a $20 bill. There was no one around. He picked it up and brought it home. Brian’s family didn’t have much and for them it was a lot of money. “I remember my mom near tears when I brought it home and gave it to her,” says Brian. “We walked to Kmart and bought things we needed.” Brian’s mother also let him buy one small toy, a cheap plastic gun. It’s the first time Brian really understood what money was.
Today, Brian is a wealth management advisor in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and works with clients to help them reach their financial goals. He lives just outside the city with his wife, 5-year-old daughter and their English bulldog. He’s moved only about eight miles away from his hometown, Stillwater, Minnesota. And his memories of growing up without a lot of money are never far either.
Who is your role model?
My mom. She taught me about sacrifice and putting family first and just doing what it takes to get things done despite circumstances.
What’s the best financial advice you ever got?
Save 20 percent before you spend and then don’t feel guilty about spending the rest.
What do you want your daughter to know about money?
She already gets it a little bit. She knows that when she gets dinner for the dog she gets a quarter. She loves to take the coin and drop it in her piggy bank. Then when she wants to buy a game on the iPad she’ll run and get the bank — she calls it her treasure box — and give us two quarters. She doesn’t fully understand it yet, but she’s starting to get the concept.
I want my daughter to understand that there are people in the world who don’t have a lot of money and that when you get it, it’s important to share it with others who need it. That’s very important to me. Growing up the way I did gave me a special appreciation for money. Luckily, through a lot of hard work, my daughter is going to grow up in a different situation. So one of the things I think about a lot is how we can raise our child with a good value system as it relates to money.
How do you instill those values?
I think it’s as simple as helping her understand that you can earn money by doing basic chores. Then we’re trying to teach her that when she gets a dollar, she should save a quarter for later, give away a quarter to someone who needs it and then spend 50 cents on herself.
We also make a point to expose her to the real world. That includes helping to feed people in need, letting her see that there are some kids who don’t just get food anytime they want it. We want to instill that awareness for others before self.
How do you give back?
A bunch of different ways. But I’m most proud of a charity my wife and I started called Birdies4Brains. We raise funds to help people who are recovering or dealing with some form of traumatic brain injury and their families. Our main event is a unique spin on a charity golf tournament. People who participate play 100 holes in a single day, pay for their own golf expenses, and have to fundraise in order to participate.
My sister had an aneurysm when she was a senior in college. She’s incredibly lucky because she’s here, by all means she shouldn’t be. But that exposed me to a huge lack of understanding when it comes to brain injuries. Because it’s an injury you can’t see, people who have had brain injuries often aren’t treated very well, and there are some inadequacies in terms of the support that’s available.
I want my daughter to understand that there are people in the world who don’t have a lot of money and that when you get it, it’s important to share it with others who need it.
What’s your most satisfying moment as a financial advisor?
There have been so many. What I love most is seeing the look on people’s faces when they know they can do something financially and that everything will be okay.
I had a client send his first kid off to college the other day with the peace of mind that he’s just going to sign the checks and everything is paid for. That’s really satisfying for me.
What’s the biggest mistake you see Americans making with money?
Not saving early. The power of compounding is incredible. It’s back to the best financial advice I ever got. Save 20 percent and then spend the rest without guilt. People who start that when they’re young are setting themselves up to create a very secure life for themselves. It doesn’t have to be an arduous process. You could just set aside some money and spend the rest.
What’s a random skill that you wish you were better at?
I would kill to be able to sing. I was an athlete and had no musical ability. But the first time I went to a Broadway show, I was blown away at the level of talent those folks have.
What would your clients be surprised to know about you?
I’ve read every Harry Potter book and I love them.
What’s your favorite part of the day?
The morning. I love that first cup of coffee, the sun coming up, breakfast with my family and the energy around what’s yet to come.
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