Don’t you ever wish you could take a mulligan in life or certain situations in life? In golf it’s easy.  Especially if you golf like me and inevitably slice one into the woods or hook one into the water. I simply reach into the pocket and out comes a brand new opportunity. A chance to fix what I just screwed up-kind of like Judge Smails in Caddy Shack.  

In life it’s not quite that easy. When it comes to financial success or even survival, small decisions can make or break us. But if we really want to be become financially successful, we have to start doing these little things early on in our lives. So why are so many people not doing this? Why is the savings rate in our country actually a negative number? (We spend more than we save). I believe it’s because we don’t learn the importance of financial literacy as children and teenagers.  

About 10 years ago I had the idea to begin helping kids and young adults with their financial skills. I wanted to create a program that would teach them valuable lessons and show them that they could become wealthy by following a few simple rules. The idea grew but I just didn’t have the right motivation to make it a reality. In 2009 my younger Brody tragically took his own life. Losing a family member to suicide is terribly difficult and forces you to examine what you could have done.  I started to reflect on some of the conversations I’d had with Brody and realized that he could have benefited from my financial guidance. Perhaps he would have been happier with his standing in life if he felt that he was on track with his money and not overwhelmed with student loan debt. The motivation was suddenly there and I created a non-profit organization called Livastride Foundation in Brody’s honor to assist youth in living life to the fullest.

With the help of my staff at Peterson Wealth Services we created the Livastride financial literacy boot camp and gathered support from local professionals and business people to teach classes and provide leadership sessions. The first couple of years was slow going. We attracted 25-30 students but felt very good about what we were doing. Fast forward to 2017. We are now hosting between 400 and 500 students and providing the one day boot camp up at Weber State University. Our instructors include myself, Shaun, financial industry representatives and local business professionals. My Mom Larie who moved back to Utah a few years ago has taken a directorship role with Livastride and made it her mission to get local high schools to bus their students up to the University for our program. 

We teach money skills like “Basics of investing”, “Debt management”, “Taxes”, “Insurance”, and “Work benefits” among the major topics. We also provide a keynote speaker every year who has a great story or message for the students (this year we hosted former U of U head and WSU head football coach Ron McBride along with a couple of his former players Ben Moa and David Kozlowski. Finally we assemble 4 local community leaders who share their life experiences and what they believe it takes to be successful in life. Students then have the ability to ask questions of these panelists which serves to enlighten the path for future career decisions.

I’m extremely proud of what we have done in this area and hope to continue providing financial literacy for many years to come. Perhaps someday a former student will write to us and tell us that by learning early on about good financial habits we made a big difference in his/her life. Hmmm, this might also apply to my golf game. Maybe I should have started getting some lessons when I was younger and I could have avoided all of these bad shots!

Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse any organization mentioned.

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