It is human nature, as children, to take the advice our parents give us and ignore them or deliberately try to rebel against them. And many of us are probably guilty of not listening to our parents out of spite. But luckily there is a group of writers who have, in fact, listened to our fathers’ money advice. Here are some important lessons we learned.
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1. Always have emergency savings
Maurie Backman: My dad never went to college and didn’t really have a great financial education when he was a kid. Nonetheless, he has always been financially savvy, and one thing he taught me from an early age is the importance of having money in the bank.
Even though my parents never had a lot of money, they always made a point of saving. And once I started making money as a teenager by babysitting, I also made sure to put a lot of it in the bank so that it was there for me right now. ‘to come up.
Fast forwarded a number of years and have built up quite a large emergency fund over time. This money saved me from many situations, like the time my car died in the middle of the woods or when a pipe burst in my basement. My emergency fund also helped me cover a surprise property tax hike that came at a time when money was tight.
I’m really thankful that my dad was always so adamant about saving money. His words of wisdom have, over the years, saved me a world of debt.
2. Prepare for retirement as a certainty
Dana George: My dad studied financial news and investing strategies with an enthusiasm that baffled me. Papa was not rolling in the money; he spent most of his career in the Marines, and after his retirement from the military he accepted a position as office manager. I never knew why he was so interested in investing.
I came to understand that my father was preparing for two things: death and retirement. And investments have played a role in both. The first time he signed a will was at the age of 17, shortly before leaving to fight in the Pacific. After three decades of war and retirement from the Marine Corps, my father continued to lean on the financial pages.
While it may seem contradictory, my dad was as passionate about planning for retirement as he was about making my mom comfortable after she passed away. Whether or not he survived his golden years, he wanted to make sure his wife was in good shape. Fortunately, both of my parents were able to enjoy the fruits of his efforts in retirement. He started investing in his youth even when it turned out that he didn’t have enough to invest, and it paid off.
I think about my dad every day. And while I would give anything for five minutes of specific investment advice, I’m more than grateful for the example he set.
3. Do it yourself – unless you can’t
Brittney Myers: Most of the important life lessons I learned from my father weren’t about direct advice. Instead, they were picked up the old-fashioned way: just watching him live his life. There are a lot of financial lessons I’ve learned this way, like using debt sparingly, tipping well, and always checking your math.
But perhaps the most valuable financial lesson I learned growing up was how much money can be saved when you learn to build and repair yourself. Plus, you don’t need an engineering degree – just a few basic skills and a little common sense.
Over the years, I’ve watched my dad save thousands of dollars on a hammer, drill, and elbow grease. Everything from a broken chair leg to tired spark plugs, he can, and has, fixed himself. Although I don’t have as strong a knowledge base as my dad, I’ve always looked at repair and construction projects with the same mindset: “Can I fix this myself?” “
Of course, there is another side to this lesson that my father was also wise to pass on: Sometimes you really have to hire a professional. While my father’s skills often seem limitless, he knows otherwise – and isn’t too proud to admit it. When it’s gone, my dad knows how to call in the pros, because a bad DIY often costs more than hiring a professional in the beginning.