Two very ugly vacation encounters transformed into great teachable moments


During a recent family trip, on two separate occasions, I saw what I, and most of you, would consider completely unacceptable behavior. Fortunately, my wife and I were able to turn these ugly incidents into very positive and teachable moments.  Let me explain.

At one outside market area, we saw a young man whom obviously had too much to drink. Well, my oldest son Jake was with me, and he was very surprised to see someone in such condition. This opened the door for us to begin a discussion on being responsible, moderation, self dignity and just having good judgment. Believe me, it was a lengthy conversation and I am just giving you the highlights. Fortunately, Jake found the man's actions quite embarrassing and stupid to say the least. 

The icing on the cake was when we saw this young man unconscious, being strapped to a wheelchair and carted off for his own safety. Honestly, he looked pathetic and my son Jake now has a picture of what out of control behavior can lead to, that he won't forget for a long, long time. 

Separately, we were at a large and somewhat lively restaurant and noticed a girl a couple tables over, I am assuming around 10 or 11, throwing the tantrum of the century. I was not trying to ease drop, but the girl’s loud screams, kicking and pounding on the table would have made a rabid Chief's fan proud. 

It appeared that her grandfather wanted her to finish all or a portion of her dinner before getting dessert. Well, I have to give grandpa credit for his patient, poised and firm resolve. No matter how out of control and loud she became, he did not give in. Luckily, my three kids watched the whole episode. It was great, because they could not believe their eyes. To see a child within their age range act like a bratty three year old was priceless. 

They thought the girl's behavior was completely inappropriate, and they'd be mortified to be seen acting similarly. What began as a very ugly tantrum ended with a very composed grandfather, leaving with the girl's dinner in a to-go bag in one hand and her hand in his other. 

Neither of these examples may appear directly associated with personal finances, but in some ways they are. In both instances my kids saw uncontrolled, impulsive, immature and selfish behavior driven by emotions not logic. Also, they saw the negative consequences and extreme public embarrassment of poor judgment. 

My and wife's goal is to try to use these situations to teach my kids the consequences of being foolish with one's money. Especially since one's personal behavior often carries over to their financial behavior. As such, a pattern of poor and undisciplined money decisions can become a permanent obstacle or setback much greater to overcome than a hangover and skipped dessert. 

Overall we had some great experiences on the trip, but these two incidents offered some great lessons in life, and I am very thankful for that! 

Is common sense becoming an endangered species? 

Please let it be known that I love animals and only want the best of care for them. However, the following is just an example of taking this belief to an extreme! 

Common SenseA U.S. animal rights group on Monday filed what it said is the first lawsuit seeking to establish the "legal personhood" of chimpanzees. The non-profit group asked a New York state court to declare a 26-year-old chimp named Tommy "a cognitively complex autonomous legal person with the fundamental legal right not to be imprisoned." 

The group's argument is that chimpanzees "possess complex cognitive abilities that are so strictly protected when they're found in human beings," and as such, there's no reason why they should not be protected when they're found in chimpanzees. 

The lawsuit on Tommy's behalf is the beginning of an open-ended, strategic litigation campaign, and a group representative stated that, "we're just going to keep filing suits." 

What is scary about this type of lawsuit is that it is an example of what some otherwise intelligent people believe is sensible. These kinds of cases are a waste of the courts' time and taxpayers' money. In addition, if by chance this crazy idea became law, then what? Highly trained dogs, seals, dolphin, parrots and other such animals being considered persons as well. 

I bring this extreme situation up, because human behavior and emotions play a role in the stock market's actions and performance in the near term. Thus, I can understand why day-to-day market activity seems completely nonsensical and unexplainable when you have individuals actually believing in and promoting such crazy causes. 



"Don't be afraid of opposition. Remember, a kite rises against, not with the wind.” 

                   Hamilton Wright Mabie 

"If you want children to improve, let them overhear the nice things you say about them to others."

                   Haim Ginott


Tony Moeller, CPA 


The information listed in this commentary is a compilation of various publicly available sources and is for informational purposes only. It is not a recommendation or solicitation of any particular investment or strategy. A risk of loss is involved with investments in the stock and bond markets.  

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