Cowboy Money Lessons

I still love telling people that my dad was a cowboy. It’s up there with astronaut!

Growing up, I learned fantastic life lessons from him through our love of horses and the cowboy life. Many of those lessons transcend to savvy living including:

  • Put your tack away when you’re done or it will get ruined = Take care of my possessions so I don’t have to spend money on replacing them.
  • From my grandmother and my dad I learned to feed the animals first because they can’t feed themselves = I equate that to pay yourself first because money won’t save itself (unless you set it up to do automatically).

The greatest lesson I learned from my dad is perseverance. Perseverance often comes up when I’m talking to clients who, in the past, have become frustrated with their finances because they’ve tried saving, but ended up getting thrown off for one reason or another. So, they get into a mindset that they’re not good with money and give up trying to save at all.

When I was 12 years old, my dad and I were at a rodeo together and while team roping, his thumb was cut off. It was a pretty traumatic ordeal, but my dad has a great sense of humor and so the jokes began to fly about only being able to hitch hike one-way, etc.

Despite being in the hospital for almost a month due to health complications, he went right back to team roping when he was cleared by the doctors.

About 6 years later, he lost his other thumb while roping. With great doctors in place and being in much better health, they were able to save it and very soon, he was right back up on the horse.

When I was around 21, I got a call that he was in the emergency room. While roping, he had lost the thumb they replaced six years ago.

My father is in a very small category of individuals who can say that they lost three thumbs.

After what most people would have been devastated by, he took it in stride, and with a few more jokes went right back to roping. He went back to roping because it’s a sport he loves so much. In fact, it wasn’t until about six months ago that he finally decided it was time to sell his horses.

The moral of the story is, if he gave up after that first thumb, he would have lost 33 years of doing something he loves. If he gave up after the second thumb, he would have lost 27 years and the third thumb, 24 years!

Like team roping, managing your money takes practice.  The more you do it, the better you get.  Instead of getting frustrated and thinking that you’re not good at it, keep trying!  Instead of jumping in and trying to save 10% of your income, start by trying to save just 1% of your income.  When you’ve successfully done that, try bumping it up by 1% and so on until you’ve reached your savings goals.

I’ve learned that good money habits come by building on small successes. Give it a try! At least there’s no appendages at risk!


Melissa Tosetti is the founder of The Savvy Life and author of the international bestseller Living The Savvy Life. For the past eight years, she’s worked with over 600 individuals and families to create Spending Plans. Melissa also works with financial advisors and their clients doing cash flow planning as well as giving over 200 Savvy Living presentations via webinar and in-person to audiences across the U.S.

If you’d like to learn more about how Melissa works with clients visit The Savvy Life’s Programs page.

If you’d like to learn more about how Melissa works with financial advisors and their clients visit: The Savvy Life Advisor’s Page