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What's the best financial advice you've ever received? Here are a few answers

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 13 2013 6:35 p.m. MDT

Ken Marthia, 70, retired seven years ago from a self-employed landscaping business. He and his wife bought a house in Lake Havasu, Ariz., earlier this year. She still works in Utah and handles the finances for a country club. She and Marthia will move to Lake Havasu permanently when she retires in about a year.

He said the most valuable financial advice he ever received came in stages. The first bit was from his dad.

Like many returning soldiers after World War II, his father struggled to find work. The elder Marthia worked odd jobs, saved and worked extra hours to make ends meet and "never, ever had any kind of financial trouble."

The advice?

Marthia learned the value of "slow, steady progress. Without going deep into hock. Buy what you can afford and don't ever miss a payment."

The second significant financial lesson came when he was a newlywed in his first marriage. The couple needed a new home and to "float some expenses" while they waited for their original home to sell.

A banker he knew taught Marthia about credit and how to use it without going into too much debt.

"I learned how to use it to acquire things," he said.

His final set of lessons came from his wife, Rita, whom he describes as "frugal."

They take advantage of her 401(k) plan and save for retirement by using tax-deferred IRAs. They also prioritize their purchases and avoid spending money on things they do not need, putting the money aside to pay for luxuries.

"There is a good-sized boat in my immediate future," Ken Marthia said.

When he gets it, he will pay with cash. And his pocketbook won't feel the squeeze.

Lynne Ward, money manager

From as young as 5 years old, Lynne Ward knew two things: She was going to college and it was going to be at the University of Utah.

Each birthday and Christmas, her parents had her deposit all her birthday and Christmas money into a college savings account.

From this, she internalized the habits of saving, paying off her balance each month on credit purchases and preparing for the future.

"Because tomorrow comes. And it comes fast."

As a teen, an older girl in her Girl Scout troop told Ward to save half of what she made. So, she saved half of her 16-year-old grocery store checker earnings.

She saved so she could invest in herself by going to college, she said. She put herself through college and graduated without student debt. And she used her college education to invest in her future.

Ward is executive director of the Utah Educational Savings Plan. Under her leadership, the company has reached more than $6.1 billion in assets, up from $939 million eight years ago, and it has acquired more than 228,000 additional accounts.

She handled finances for two former Utah governors, first as Gov. Michael Leavitt's planning and budget office and then as deputy chief of staff for Gov. Olene Walker. She also worked for Utah's Division of Finance and Utah State Auditor's Office.

Craig Israelsen, UVU faculty

"If you want to take volatility out of your portfolio, check it less often."

Craig Israelsen cannot recall whether he heard or read this statement by Ron Muhlenkamp, founder, president and portfolio manager of Muhlenkamp & Company Inc. He does know that it spilled into all areas of his life.

"It's the most peaceful path, to not be saturating yourself with details of the moment that simply don't matter in the long run. Only focus in the moment on what matters in the moment," he said.

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