My Father Taught Me “Cash Is King”

I was just telling this story the other day, and I’m not sure why it sticks with me so much. But it does. In my early 20s, I never had cash on me (and I mean never). This always drove my father nuts. I had credit and debit cards; he had cash and cash. We were truly a great juxtaposition of new school and old school.

One day, my father finally had enough and said, “Andrew, would you carry cash? What if you need it?” My smartass response was, “Dad, why would I ever need cash?” The conversation continued with him asking, “what if you’re broken down on the side of the road and need cash?” Again, my smartass response was, “I have a cell phone, three credit cards, AAA card, and a debit card. What in the world could I not get with that?” This went on for a few more minutes and neither side gave.

Until my dad passed, he always had cash. I just checked my wallet a minute ago, it’s still empty. I tell you this story not so you can reminisce with me about one of the many life lessons I got form my father, but instead as the beginning to a lesson about cash.

You see, my father also loved a good haggle. It would drive me nuts, all his wheeling and dealing. But I learned a lot from him. He’d have a contractor over, or go to a store, and there were always two prices in my dads’ mind. The first price was what they told you (which was always negotiable). The second price was the magical one. You see he’d get a quote, “Mr. Rosen, I’ll do it for $15,000!” Then the most spectacular thing would happen after they’ve gone into the negotiating dance. My father would say five of the most beautiful words on the planet. “Mr. Contractor…. WHAT IF I PAID CASH?”

Now the entire mood of the conversation changed. The contractor’s ears would perk up. He’d sit back at the kitchen table with his little calculator, crunch figures, and say, “well, if you’re willing to play completely in cash, I can knock another $2,000 off that price!”

And I’d sit there in disbelief. This guy wouldn’t budge and, in a weird way, I was rooting for the contractor. Again, I was a smartass kid and wanted to see my old man bested. But time and time again, those five magic words brought the toughest negotiators to their knees. This is when I learned that cash truly is king.

Let’s not feel bad for the guy, as it was as win across the board for everyone. Mr. Contractor got the job, had no credit card fees, and most likely he didn’t pay taxes on certain things. And, my dad got us a better price.

I know what most of you are thinking (especially you 40 and under people like me). Andrew, that was then. Today, it’s totally a different story. Oh, how wrong you would be. I’ve seen it twice over the past two weeks. After I suggested the offer of cash, do know what I got in response?

“Thank you. That saved us a ton of money.”

So, give it a try.

Now, just three points of clarity. One, it really isn’t that unusual to go to your bank and ask them for cash. Second, call the bank first. Depending on amount, it might be more than they have on hand. Three, no we don’t accept cash at Diversified. You can thank the regulatory bodies for that one.

There you have it, life lessons about cash from the man who taught me everything. I miss him every day, so thank you for letting me share a financial planning tip from the guy I owe it all to. Miss ya pops!

Stay wealthy, healthy, and happy.

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