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.
Matthew Allen’s granddad used to give him $10 dollar bill for a $5 dollar bill. It was a lopsided deal to be sure, but one that Matt’s grandfather always let him make back when he was 6 years old. “I think because he knew I would save it,” says Allen.
Allen’s grandfather, a banker, taught him early lessons about saving and investing, and eventually inspired him to follow a career helping people reach their financial goals. Today, Allen is an advisor in Louisville, Kentucky, where he lives his wife Beth and their 2-year-old daughter. (Baby No. 2 is on the way.) After 10 years in the business, Allen is still very close to one of his best clients: his granddad, of course. We recently spoke with Allen about what he learned from his grandfather and which lessons he plans to pass on to his own children.
What’s the best financial advice you ever got?
“It’s not about how much you spend but about how much you save.” My granddad taught me that early in my life. He had been in banking for 60 years. He always used to talk about making $250 a month before taxes when he was starting out and still saving $500 every year.
His story about saving is one of the first things I learned about money. And it’s probably the most important. He taught me you didn’t have to go buy something just because you had money.
Your grandfather seems to have been very important in your life.
He’s been married to my grandmother for a little more than 60 years, and he’s still with the same company he joined right out of college. Talk about someone who has been phenomenally successful both in business and in life. But he’s so humble about it. He introduced me to Northwestern Mutual. He’s been a client for many years and always spoke very highly of the company.
"Saving doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy today. I think it means you can enjoy today even more because you know you don’t have to worry about tomorrow."
What do you want to teach your children about money?
My daughter is only 2. But I hope she learns that money isn’t everything, and also to be a good steward of what you’re given and you’re blessed with. And what I mean by that is giving back. A couple years into this business, we started making sure that we were giving away 10 percent off the top, whether that’s to church or other charitable organizations. Giving back to others is important. So is living within your means. If she can learn those two things, then she won't have to worry about much else.
What’s your most satisfying moment as a financial advisor?
We have been working with a couple who recently retired. I have tremendous respect for them. They shared with me that the work we’ve done has them at a point where they feel truly financially secure in retirement. They were great savers, but it’s been rewarding to help be a part of getting them across the finish line. They’re free to go off and do all the things they want to and they won’t have to worry, at least financially. I got a text on Christmas from them thanking us for our work. That’s the best compliment you can ever ask for.
What are the biggest mistakes you see Americans making with money?
Spending more than they make, and not knowing where their money is going. There are so many people who couldn’t even tell you how much they spend every month.
How do you spend your time outside work?
With family. But outside of that, I really enjoy hunting. All different kinds: duck, deer, quail, pheasant, turkey, you name it. I started with my dad when I was young. Today, I find it’s a great way to unplug from our connected world, experience nature and spend time with family and good friends.
What’s one random skill you wish you were better at?
I wish I could speed read. My mom can look at something for what feels like a few seconds and comprehend the entire thing. I wish I could do that.
What’s your favorite part of the day?
Coming home and having my daughter run up to me, tell me she’s missed me and give me a big hug.