Family finance lessons: Vanguard founder John Bogle

John Bogle, the founder of The Vanguard Group.

The most important lessons we learn about money don’t come from textbooks or CNBC. They come from our family.

Every week, we invite a prominent person to tell us about the money tips that they inherited. 

This week, John Bogle, the founder of the Vanguard Group of investment companies, talks about how his personal financial views were informed by his upbringing.

Bogle was born in 1929, just after his father’s family lost its fortune in the stock market crash. Growing up, he didn’t know anything about stocks and bonds, but he knew the importance of money.

“I started working myself, at about the age of nine, delivering papers, and went from one job to another, often as a waiter or an ice cream scooper or whatever might be,” Bogle says. “If we wanted something, we had to earn it.”

Those years helped shape a philosophy he says is almost “Quaker-ish”  (though he is not a Quaker) in its reliance on two concepts, which underpin the low-cost investing that is his greatest legacy. The first is simplicity. “Nothing is simpler than owning the stock market and holding it forever, and that’s essentially the idea behind the index fund,” says Bogle. “And two is thrift. Performance comes and goes but cost goes on forever.”

Bogle, age 84, continues to champion low-cost investing in index funds as the president of Vanguard’s Bogle Financial Markets Research Center. He has six children and twelve grandchildren, for whom he has put some money away—in Vanguard’s balanced index fund, of course.

What did your parents teach you about managing money? Comment below, through the Public Insight Network, on our Facebook page or tweet us @LiveMoney.

About the author

Stan Alcorn is a multimedia journalist in New York City. He has reported for NPR and WNYC, where he has focused on business and the New York tech scene.

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