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.
“Once you start working, you’re going to work the rest of your life.”
Those words changed the course of Scott Ashline’s life. He was about to graduate from Boston College with a finance degree and a great job at an investment banking firm in New York. The dean of the business school was trying to convince Ashline to volunteer at a school in Belize instead. Those words moved Ashline, and he decided to pass on the job to spend the next two years of his life in Central America.
When it was time to come back to the U.S., rather than head for Wall Street, Ashline went to the other coast instead. He moved to San Diego without any real connection to the city and became a financial advisor for Northwestern Mutual, where he’s been ever since.
Here, Ashline talks about his money tips and how he taught his daughters to budget.
Before we get to the questions about money, let’s talk about the fact that you’re training to become a yoga instructor.
It’s a pretty funny combination, a financial advisor who does yoga. I’m also an art history minor.
About 15 years ago, I had a skiing accident where I ruptured a disc. The doctors wanted to perform surgery, but it didn’t feel right to me. One of my clients recommended yoga. I never had the surgery and, 15 years later, I’ve never had any more back problems. I don’t know if it was the yoga that actually fixed it, but I’ve really learned to enjoy it.
What’s the best financial advice you ever received?
Don’t spend more than you make. I’m not sure anyone actually gave me that advice, but my mom instilled it in me. She always emphasized not to spend more than you have.
What has been your most satisfying moment as a financial advisor?
I have been doing this for 26 years and my answer would probably be different each year. But recently I had two clients die in their 30s. They aren’t related. But in two separate cases, I saw the plan that we put into place work. Each family — both with young children — is going to be just fine financially. The widows were both able to focus on their children and not worry about the plan or the money. I was so glad those families chose to work with us.
What’s the biggest mistake you see Americans making with money?
We’re not hardwired to save money and many of us don’t. I see that at all income levels — people making $50K a year and people making $5 million a year. Fixing it is so simple. We just have to find a place to save and invest our money before we spend it.
How are you teaching your children about money?
I have teenage daughters and one of the most impactful things I have done for them is give them a set amount of money at the start of every month, and that’s it. That’s the money they have for the things they need like gas for the car, clothes or a night out with friends. I also have encouraged them to save a little of each month’s amount. The deal is that they can spend all of it on the first day of the month, but then they have to figure out how to get through the rest of the month. It’s forced budgeting. It’s been great to see it work. My oldest daughter is in college and has a job now. I still watch her bank account and I love it because I see her save money every month and do a good job budgeting with the rest.
What’s your biggest financial goal?
To support my passions. We give back to several local charities and to the arts. I want to be able to continue to support those things and at the same time be able to make sure that my kids are okay.
What would your clients be surprised to know about you?
That, thanks to all my yoga, I can do the full splits.