Ode To My Almost Friend—Henry “Bud” Hebeler

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Henry Hebeler

When I wrote the book, The Kid$Vest Project—How parents, teachers, and communities inspire kids to budget, save, and invest in their dreams--I was looking for people knowledgeable about person finance to offer reviews. Bud Hebeler seemed like the perfect candidate. His long career as President of Boeing Aerospace Company, an MIT graduate and later Board Member, WSJ writer on financial literacy, and financial blog poster on www.Analyzenow.com were all qualities I valued.

So, when I was fortunate enough to get Bud on the phone, I gave him my pitch and asked if he would review a book that could help kids and communities upgrade their personal finance skills. Like me, he had a passion for the subject and asked if I could send him a copy to read. He also mentioned he would be on vacation the next day and was flying to Germany (with his spouse, Mirriam) for a trip down the Rhine River. I complied immediately by sending him a draft, expecting maybe a comment in 30 days. Of course, I didn’t know Bud Hebeler yet.

Thirty minutes later he emailed me and asked if I could send a draft of the book in word format. Again, I complied and waited for his response. As it turned out, I didn’t wait long. I was just learning what others already knew about Bud. That he was a smart, gifted businessman because whatever he was passionate about, he jumped into immediately. Even at 84 years old!

To my amazement, Bud read The Kid$Vest Project on the plane to Germany and responded that night. He said, “I thought this was GREAT. I really hope this leads to something, because you are absolutely right.” What he meant by “absolutely right” was that in order for kids to be financially successful, we must first teach them personal finance modules in grade school and then individual classes in junior high and high school. Research shows us that one-time, intermittent literacy classes will never be successful in teaching kids about personal finance.

Second, we must show kids “action steps” about building a Roth IRA in their teens and beyond. Why? Because education without action doesn’t offer our youth the advantage of the miracle of compound interest or financial security. And investing in the US economy with tax sheltered vehicles is one of the only ways the average American can build wealth! For example, education without action steps (or practice) is like Jordan Spieth or Steff Curry becoming world class athletes in golf or basketball simply by watching videos of the world’s best players. Not going to happen! Talent and practice is what  makes these guys great.

Bud also gave me three ideas to incorporate into the book—which I did immediately. I was now beginning to understand why Bud Hebeler was successful in life—and a guy you just had to respect and like. He is the kind of person we all aspire to be. I felt fortunate to enter this great man’s circle of influence.

My final request of Bud was to write a quote about my book for the “Praise Section.” Typical of him, this is what I received as he and Mirriam were boating down the Rhine.

"This is a GREAT book.  Young people have to learn a lot about finance

because they will face tens of thousands of financial alternatives and

much tougher economic conditions than previous generations.  Our

population is aging which will be a larger burden on them as will the

ever growing government debt. The book provides the essentials that

will help them better cope and hopefully prosper.  Henry (Bud) Hebeler

After it comes out, it would be kind if you would send me a copy that I can

pass around to my MIT teacher friends.

     -Bud"

I was never able to comply with Bud’s final request. Unfortunately, he passed away a month later. So, to honor his legacy and that of my father, another man who spent his career teaching youth (math teacher, coach, athletic director, principal), I have dedicated my life to helping American kids become financially literate and secure.

I only wish my “budding” friendship with Henry Hebeler and my father’s mentorship were still here to inspire and guide me.

Rest in peace Bud and Dad!

Greg A. Fouks, HeadKid and author of The Kid$Vest Project

“Teaching kids to budget, save, and invest in their dreams”

Go to www.KidsVest.org for more information.

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