One of my fondest memories growing up was listening to my dad refer to himself as “the money tree.” He took that saying about money not growing on trees, and turned it around. In some cases, during my teen years, he lamented that the only reason any of his kids talked to him was when they wanted to pick a few dollars from the branches of the money tree. And, as I grew older, and became financially independent, my dad started talking about how my branch of the money tree had shriveled up and died.
I thought of some of the great money advice my dad has given me through the years:
- Get it in writing
- Have your uncle (a lawyer) look over contracts
- Stop spending money
- Really, stop spending money
- Work hard in school so you can get a scholarship to college
My father was a man of few words, and most of his advice was simple and practical. He encouraged me to work smarter, so that my hard work paid off even more, and he taught me lessons about being responsible for my financial destiny, while at the same time making sure I had a safety net.
Other Personal Finance Bloggers’ Fathers Weigh In
I asked a few other personal finance bloggers for financial lessons learned from their fathers. Here are some of the interesting stories others offered:
My father, a man of few words, taught me a great deal about money, not so much by what he said on the subject (which was almost nothing), but by what he did: work hard, live frugally, pay for everything in cash, put every spare penny into savings. Here’s one important lesson I learned by watching him: Never put all your eggs in one basket.
During the early 1960s, he invested in what was at the time a hot ticket: insurance securities. To his astonishment, these instruments returned 30 percent. Sensing Possum Kingdom within reach, he moved virtually all his savings into these funds.
As you might guess, a 30 percent return on investment is what we call “too good to be true,” or, in 2011-speak, “a bubble.” Before long the bottom fell out and he lost everything. Not especially sophisticated about finance, he sold as the market bottomed out: he bought high and sold low. It took him another ten years of hard labor to recover from his losses.
What that said to me was diversify, diversify, diversify! Spread your investments across a wide range of instruments. And by the way: buy low, sell high.
“Money is not earned, it is deserved.”
He once tried to foist a private tutor on me when I was a middle school kid. I protested, saying I was already the best student in the class and didn’t need extra help. He took me aside and told me in a very serious voice “It is not for you. This young man here needs help paying his college tuition.”
*What a great example Arohan’s dad set for him! A good money lesson to learn is that we can use our good fortune to help others.
Big Cajun Man directed me to a great “parable” about money, given by his dad, in relation to payment schemes for loans. Additionally, he mentioned that his dad’s best advice for university was this:
“If you have gone out drinking, have at least two large glasses of water before you go to bed.” When BCM expressed his confusion about the lack of practical school advice, his father replied, “Well, don’t be an idiot; study hard. That’s why you are going!”
“You can’t do everything with money but without it, you pretty much can’t do anything!”
*Short and to the point. A great contribution from MoneyNing’s dad.
What has your dad taught you about money?
Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.