The Best Decisions/Strategies I’ve Applied in Life & Why.

PS: I did not make any of these decisions by myself.


I am not great at self-promotion and I rarely write about myself or my family, but today I’m making an exception.


My wife and I have been doing some long-term financial planning and part of the process is looking in the rear-view mirror at the decisions & strategies that have got us to where we are today.


So here are the best decisions I have made thus far and some context surrounding each strategy.


# 1. Marrying Maryanne.


This is a no-brainer.


I am completely in tune with Warren Buffett on this one, when he said.

“The biggest decision of your life, is who you choose to marry.”


With Maryanne I wone the lottery, she has the “three C’s.” She is Competent, Creative & Compassionate.

We have exactly the same approach to parenting and have never doubted each other’s role in raising our children.


As a bonus, we both have the same love and appreciation for design and for living a healthy active life.


# 2. Having a third child. (Although not really a decision)


Maggie coming along 10 & 12 years after our other 2 children has enriched all our lives in so many ways.


Having a young child in our late 40’s and through our 50’s has kept us both young and up to date with all the “Millennial’s” social and technological changes.


Having two generations of children under the one roof was the main motivation for creating our beach house, (more about this later).


Maggie has given me a new purpose and reason to keep working and creating amazing houses for my clients.


Maryanne and I feel so lucky to now be in our 60’s and still have Maggie living at home and functioning daily as a close-knit family.


# 3. Building and renovating multiple homes.


One thing that Maryanne and I had in common when we first met was that we were both separately renovating our first houses, and this was a big mutual attraction.


Designing and building/renovating multiple family homes over the last 36 years has been our hobby, our passion, and our pathway to financial security.


Last week we moved into our 17th personal home, and several people have asked us if this will be the final one. My answer is a resounding “hell no.” We still enjoy the whole process, and we are quite good at it, so why would we stop.


Our three children have lived through most of these personal projects, and I get that they have genuinely hated all the packing and moving every few years. But it has instilled them with ambition, resilience and a growth mindset and I feel these trats are hard to come by in todays “everything is possible” society.


# 4. Making travel one of our family’s biggest priorities.


“The purpose of life is to experience things for which you will later experience nostalgia” Morgan Housel


I absolutely love this quote.


For me, this one sentence justifies all the hard work.


My number one motivation for working 50+ hours for the last 30+ years running a small building company has been so I can spend time and money on experiences that my family can feel nostalgic about for many years to come.


Since our kids were old enough to travel, we have done at least one international trip each year. It has taken real focus and effort to make this happen each year. But now that our children are adults, we are reaping the rewards.


Pulling our kids out of their individual bubbles each year, so we can experience the world and create lasting memories together has been worth every cent.


What better way for them to develop a “worldly outlook”?


# 5. Investing in our kid’s education (Yes slightly similar to # 4 above).


There is no greater gift you can give your children than a good education.


Education was a high priority during my upbringing and my parents made significant financial sacrifices on behalf of my education. This left an indelible mark on my psyche and our three children have benefitted from this legacy and from having interesting and engaged grandparents.


Maryanne and I have always loved sharing what we know, and our children have absorbed the same thirst for learning and fostered their great work ethic.


What is money for, if not for giving your children the best education possible.


# 6. Creating a family beach house. (See Email # 210 “Benefits of owning a Beach House” One of my most popular articles to date)


The beach house at Shoreham is the only property we have held long term (i.e., 20 yrs.), and will be very difficult to ever sell.


In summary the benefits we have enjoyed by creating this family retreat are,


  • It is our family meeting place where we can all escape the everyday demands of modern urban life.
  • It has become the focus of most family rituals and special occasions, where we frequently cook together and enjoy a crowded dining table (see Email # 209, “Every Parent Wants a Crowded Table”).
  • Shoreham has also become our preferred remote work location, where creative work flourishes and technology takes a back seat.
  • But all of this comes at a financial cost, which we have supplemented and justified by frequently leasing the property out to other families for short term holiday rentals.


Summing up; my focus over the last 35 years has been on creating balance between work and family and fostering a “can do attitude” in our children.


Thanks for reading,

Stay safe and reflect on how far you have come.




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