The Greatest Mentor I Ever Had Said…

My original financial mentor also fitted the bill as a male role model for life in general.

He was my Uncle Jack and sadly passed away in 1999 aged 86.
(Man… what I’d give for one last walk on the beach with him!)

He was one of those larger than life characters who seemed to have life by the short and curlies. He was always, always, always smiling and looking for the funny angle of anything. Mischievous, cheeky and fun loving – he was known far and wide for his loud laugh. Something that seemed a part of him.

Both to honour him and help you – I thought I’d share some of what he passed onto me.

That means a few tears at my end and some smiles at yours – both of them a pleasure…

Born the last of 9 kids in 1913 into a house with a dirt floor, Jack realised he’d have to figure out how to make his own way in life at an early age.

That meant wagging school to collect bottles for cashing in, running errands for pennies and later on when he was old enough (8), a paper run in Concord, Sydney.

Stories I Love…

One day my father was having a huge, embarrassing and never ending dummy spit at one of our backyard BBQs. The sort of outburst that makes you feel like you could fit between the blades of grass down there in the lawn. He was claiming that the knife my Mum had given him to trim the snags with – was so blunt that he could ride it naked to Burke and back without harming himself.
Jack nudged me and said “Watch this…”
In a gap in my Dad’s tirade, Jack called gently across the yard…
“Hey Richard, me n Curly would like to see you ride that knife…”
The line was delivered with Jack’s typical rascals smile & giggle that invited the whole gathering to join in – and got my Dad to let go of his ridiculous behaviour.

First Lesson.
You get more in tips than earnings if you ask for them.

By the time he was 12 Jack had realised he wanted to fry bigger fish so he sold his paper run (unbeknown to the newsagent) to a mate for three weeks of it’s earnings – payable at the end of each week.

Second Lesson.
When someone with no money wants to buy your thing – help them do that.
(today, we call it creative financing)

Third Lesson.
Save prodigiously. Opportunities are never free but they are often cheap – for cash…

Too young for a job or an apprenticeship, Jack began work as an assistant to the local milkman back when the cart was horse drawn.
He maintained the 3am starts gave him the rest of the day to find other ways to make a quid.

Chief among them becoming a ‘runner’ for the local SP bookmaker.
In those pre-phone, pre TAB days, a bookie (totally illegal activity) would base himself somewhere like a pub and runners would cover the suburb by going out & taking money for bets – returning winnings on the next ‘run’.

The miles covered by a typical runner in any one day were brutal and devastating on a Saturday when the big races were on and workers were at home.

Jack laughingly claimed he ran many marathons that he never got credit for and in the backyard BBQ’s of my childhood – entertained us for hours with hilarious stories about running for his life with wads of cash in his undies.

Stories I Love…

Jack once had a business and golf partner named ‘Smithy’ who (1955/6?) vanished with 100,000 pounds ($200,000) of their money.
He was never seen again.
My families favourite game was to see if they could get Jack to say something bad about anyone because they had never heard him do so.
Smithy scarpering with the “squillions in todays munny” seemed like their best shot.
Every now and then (yep – at a BBQ) I’d hear one of them tempting Jack to vent a bit by asking Jack where he’d be now if it wasn’t for that bastard Smithy nicking the moolah.
Jack would look off into the distance and become wistful… (my family would learn forward) …and then he’d talk about how much he missed Smithy.
“Used to play a great game of golf old Smithy…”

Fourth Lesson.
You are better off being the bookie than the runner.

By the time he was 15 Jack could drink most adults under the table.
(all that time waiting around at the pub)
He also realised he would have to either end up owning the pub or the bookie’s business because he saw everyday that neither the punter nor the drinker ended up in the winners circle.

On his 18th birthday he rolled the dice – setting himself up as a fully fledged SP bookie in a pub without one.
He put everything he had ever earned into the venture and was broke by the third race of the first day. (He could never tell this story without laughing his head off)
He offered those he owed the money – the chance to ‘double up’ rather than cash out for the day and was “a couple a hundred quid” ahead by days end.

Fifth Lesson.
Changing to the next opportunity is best done by you – not to you.

Jack was well aware that the government wanted in on the betting action and was setting up the TAB – which would wipeout SP’s in their thousands overnight.

He had a healthy disregard for public servants of any persuasion and on many occasions buried cash in glass jars in the back yard. He lost sleep over it and began to look for ways to hide it.

Realising that there wasn’t much of a future operating on the wrong side the law anyway – Jack closed up overnight and literally built a milk run by knocking on doors asking for customers.

He used to laugh about his sales pitch… “Would you like me to deliver your milk or do you prefer lugging it from the shop yourself?”

* this was happening around the time people were getting fridges in their houses.

Stories I Love…

Back in the 30s and 40s, a pub would fill up around knock off time as workers turned up for a few “sherbets” before going home at “six o’clock closing.” Jack and his mates couldn’t help themselves but take the mickey out of anyone who thought highly of themselves. Petey MacGoghlin became one such character when he bought the first new car in the suburb – ever. One afternoon while Pete was in the loo the whole gang ran 4 X 2’s under the car and put it up on the back of Johnny Wilders truck.
Jacks sides would split while he told us how they all kept straight faces when Pete arrived back.

Sixth Lesson
If you are on a winner – bet everything.

Jack hired mates to deliver the milk and spent his days knocking on doors – building milk runs – but money was becoming an issue. There were wads of cash lying around.

He figured he’d have to hide it in plain sight.

Buying houses was his solution.

He started accumulating them.

When he died there were over 100 paid off properties in suburban Sydney.

In his latter years he lived on the waterfront at Coogee, “Paying for the bookies next around the world trip” by having a quiet punt.

Jack drove a ten year old Toyota Crown but dived into the passenger seat if there was another driver available. He loved to “waft along” waving to the locals in that old Toyota that he considered to be an engineering marvel.
I asked him one day why he hadn’t upgraded to a newer model and he jumping into the car to point out the clock on the dashboard that looked like it belonged on a mantle piece.
“Look at that! How are they ever gunna do better?”

(every single one of which was accompanied by loud gut busting laughter)

The deal of the century comes around about once a week.

It’s only money ya silly bastard. Stop taking it seriously.

Giveus a kiss ya big poof. (to every male in my family – then he’d kiss us & hug like a bear)

Never really had a job in me life – couldn’t afford it – you’ve seen how Jeanny drinks that bubbly.

Come on Gwennie (my Mum) get tinkling those ivories and we’ll have a sing.

Stories I Love…I recall one day the local fishermen knocking on Jack’s door. They had a few lobsters wiggling in a bag. Jack asked how much each one was and declared he was buying the smallest (cheapest) for the price they wanted for the largest. They didn’t argue.
I’d learned by then that Jack was always working an angle – so I asked.
He replied: “They knock on my door first