Whenever I saw a rap music video as a kid growing up, I imitated their moves. I wished the family car had a loud sound system, and I even bought a fake platinum chain from the mall to look cool.

When I told my dad that I wanted a loud car sound system, he told me it was a waste of money and, more than likely, would get stolen. As I got older, I saw how purchasing “toys” that I did not need—such as a cigar humidor and expensive clothing—put a hole in my finances.

My dad’s advice was simple: Purchase what you need, not what you want. Because in the end, you’ll pay heavily for purchasing your wants. And heavily I did—with $10,000 in credit card debt.

When I realized it was time to become responsible for my finances, I recalled this advice, as well as two other important financial principles that my father tried to teach me. I still go by these today. Here they are:

Invest Your Money

Instead of spending on “toys,” my father believed in investing—both his money and his time. His philosophy was that if something doesn’t help you financially in the future, why waste your time or energy on it.

For example, my father spent money on tools that would create value in our house, instead of purchasing more fun items that added no long-term value, like a 40-inch television. With those tools, my father added an extra room in our house, which increased our home’s value when we sold it.

To this day, my father reminds me to invest in things that will pay off for my future, like my career, education, and living accommodations.

Watch Out For Scams

My father always reminded me, “If it’s too good to be true it usually is.” He said people are always out to make a dollar off your ignorance—and sell you dreams that will never come true.

I can’t tell you the number of times that people have told me to come to a seminar that will change my financial wealth. In reality, these have always just been Ponzi schemes. No matter the cleverness of the people trying to sell me dreams, I remember my father’s advice.

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