Family Finance: Why This Family Has Regular Financial Meetings

Fernando Leon holds a financial meeting to teach his kids—and their future spouses and significant others—about financial planning

Fernando Leon, President and Founder, Cabo’s Mexican Grill (Photo by Raymond McCrea Jones)

Eating together as a family every night is an important tradition in the Leon household. It brings the five kids together and allows them to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in everyone’s lives. But every few months, Fernando Leon, 48, convenes his family around the dinner table with a different purpose in mind. He holds a financial meeting to teach his kids—and their future spouses and significant others—about financial planning.

These meetings are particularly important to Leon because he’s worked hard for every penny he’s ever made, and he wants his kids to have easier lives.

A History of Hard Work

Leon first arrived in the US in 1984 from Guadalajara, Mexico. He did back-breaking work picking produce on farms in California. He’s come a long way. Today, he owns four restaurants in the Atlanta, Georgia, area and is about to open another.

“It was always my intention to open my own restaurant,” Leon explained. “I wanted to give my family a better life. That was my vision.”

To bring his vision to life, he worked long hours for fifteen years in various aspects of the restaurant business—starting as a dishwasher and working up to a chef and later a manager before spending a stint driving trucks for a
food distributor.

Leon’s long apprenticeship paid off. He now owns two small restaurant chains: Monterrey Mexican Restaurants and Cabo’s Mexican Grill. This year, he’ll open his fifth restaurant: a Brazilian steakhouse.

A Desire for a Better Future

His family, the reason he says he has worked so hard, is by his side. His wife, Gisele, and his five children—Jennifer, 27; Kimberly, 24; Susan, 22; Jacqueline, 16; and Fernando Jr., 15—all work for the businesses in different capacities. While Leon has tried to teach his children the importance of a strong work ethic, he doesn’t want them to follow in his footsteps completely.

“I’m doing well because I’ve put in a lot of long hours, but I don’t want my kids to have to do that,” he said. “I want them to go to college and work smart.”

Financial Education for the Next Generation

That’s why Leon reached out to Juan Diego Ramirez, a financial representative with Northwestern Mutual. At the family’s financial meetings, he is the special guest. “Juan Diego is teaching me and my family how to invest our money so that it can grow faster and provide protection in case something was to happen to one of us,” Leon said.

For Ramirez’s part, he’s glad that he’s able to work with the whole family. “Fernando’s reason for running his business is to provide for his family,” Ramirez said. “By having the kids there, they’re able to learn about financial planning early on.”

That education helps ensure the children start doing financially smart things—like putting money away early toward retirement and protecting their families with disability income and life insurance—rather than simply putting in long hours.

At the meetings, Ramirez often goes over Leon’s financial plan with the entire family. Both Leon and his children have a combination of insurance to protect in case something goes wrong and investments to build wealth for the future.

Leon is glad to see that his children won’t be protected and supported by just his own assets and business, but also by the assets that they’re building from their own hard work and investments.

“I feel great because they are thinking about their future families,” he said. “That is very important to me; you never know what is going to happen. Knowing that my family is building wealth and will be protected if something happens makes me feel so great because I don’t have to worry.” 

Family Financial Planning

by Juan Diego Ramierez, financial advisor, Northwestern Mutual

Build a family legacy. Working smart rather than simply working hard is something that Juan Diego Ramirez advises all his clients do. The sooner you start putting money away toward your goal of creating a legacy for your family, the more time it has to grow.

Protect that legacy. Financial planning isn’t just about investing, according to Ramirez. It’s also about protecting your biggest asset: your ability to earn income. Disability income insurance protects your income in case you get injured or become ill, and life insurance protects your family in case something happens to you.

Involve your children. Ramirez believes that one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is knowledge about how they can plan financially. Involve your children in your financial planning so that they can learn by example.

All investments carry some level of risk including the potential loss of principal invested. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss.