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Fathers and Money

Unfortunately, my Dad passed away not too long after I wrote this post, but I am glad I wrote it, just to help me remember what he did for me.

My Father turns 8 decades plus one year old, and as usual I almost forgot his birthday. It’s interesting that Fathers always make sure that kids send their Mothers cards and such, but Fathers kind of get lost in the hustle and bustle of daily life. In the days of Long Distance being a big money-maker for phone companies, it used to be that Father’s Day was the day the most collect phone calls were made, but I digress.

What do our Fathers teach us about money (those of us lucky to have Fathers)? That depends on how your Father chooses to teach you things in life. A lot of Today’s Fathers tend to be very hands-on and will tend to tell kids about life lessons in general and money in specific, in a very direct manner, which I think has it’s merits. Many times we need to be told about the perils of money directly, because you just might not know what problems you might be creating by a bad decision on your part.

In my case my Father rarely directly said much to me about money, he preferred to teach by example, where he worked hard, and made sure all the bills were paid and we had what we needed to live on. He did on occasion intervene but not directly, usually by asking leading indirect questions or telling stories (remember the The Parable of the Singing Horses), but he rarely intervened directly.

I can’t really say which is the better way for Fathers to advise their kids about money, I think my Father’s ways worked OK, I think I would have liked some more direct advice from him, but then again, would I have taken the advice? Some things are best learned in the school of hard knocks as well.

What have I learned from my Dad?

  • Hard work is rewarded, eventually. He worked hard every day, and sometimes he got the short end of the stick but mostly he reaped the rewards from his hard work.
  • Panic is a luxury that you cannot afford, no matter what. My guess is my Father did have some anxious days in his life financially (in the beginning), but I never knew about it. Do my kids need to know when there are financial issues? I don’t think so, unless it may affect their lives directly, then they need to know.
  • Pay cash for everything, I rarely saw my Dad use a credit card, but I am also paranoid about walking around with large amounts of cash, so that one is a little harder to live up to.
  • Education is power, there was never any discussion about whether I would go to a post-secondary institution, most of the discussion was on what I might study. He commented directly here stating, “… there is no bloody way I worked my ass off to get off a farm, to have my son go back to one!”, when I mentioned Guelph Agro-Engineering program.

What did your father teach you about money?

What did I get my Father for his birthday? Sh*T My Dad Says, it’s not meant as a commentary on his advice to me, it’s just a funny book.

‘Why the f**k would I want to live to 100? I’m 73 and shit’s starting to get boring. By the way, there’s no money left when I go, just fyi.’ – From the book

Feel Free to Comment

  1. Neuroscientists estimate that about 95% of our behaviors and core beliefs are pre-programmed in the unconscious mind, many downloaded in the first years of life. Among those behavioral patterns and belief systems operating on subliminal autopilot are surface and shadow stories about money and its meanings.

    Some of my own and those of my Dad came to light as I wrote The Secret Language of Money (McGraw Hill).

    One of the explicit lessons from my Dad that I now see manifest in my son’s newsletter (he has his own investment firm) is: “It’s not what you make, it’s what you keep.”

  2. My mom was the one offering financial advice in the family and she definitely got me interested in money and investing at an early age. I think the one thing that I learned from watching my mom while growing up was how to stretch a dollar.

    We were never very well off financially, but we always had good food on the table, a few toys & gadgets to play with, a family vacation, and both my brother and I got to play every sport we wanted to.

    PS – I’m stealing that line from the book, “By the way, there’s no money left when I go, just fyi.” Love it!

  3. Not a specific “lesson”. But having gone through a downturn in his business and rising interest rates in the 80s making it difficult to hold on to real estate definitely shapes my perception of home ownership.

    Perhaps it’s that experience as a child that makes me conservative when looking for a house purchase in here in Vancouver. Unlike others my age who have never seen downturn, I’m hesitant to jump in at these levels knowing full well what it feels like to risk losing your home. Only buying when I am VERY comfortable with the debt and payment levels.

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