I learned 3 very important financial lessons from my Dad. He didn’t sit me down and go through any brochures. He didn’t give me a lecture. He simply led by example and it somehow taught me three behaviors with money that has lasted my entire life.
Do you recognize any of these?
Experiences, not Expenses
One summer in the late 1970’s our family took a road trip. My dad found someone that needed a car transported 2,000 miles away and offered to be the driver. He chauffeured our entire family through places we had only seen on TV or in magazines and was essentially paid to do it. My dad was able to create experiences simply by controlling expenses, – and I still have the pictures from the Grand Canyon to prove it.
The cars dad purchased were used, often at a great deal from family or friends. Garage sales weren’t just great for kid’s clothes – they were also social events for my mom. Birthdays were special occasions and often involved a tiny amusement park that resembled a parking lot carnival.
Dollar theaters, church pot lucks, and community playgrounds may be a thing of the past but fun and entertainment does not have to be replaced with expensive weekly visits to the Imax, white linen restaurants, and trips to the mall “looking for something to do.” We didn’t grow up living the lifestyle of the rich and famous but we did have everything we needed. We simply did more with less.
While every child wants more, more, more (and I certainly was no exception) my dad always made the few toys we had more enjoyable by playing with us. The driveway was where Hot Wheels cars rolled the best and popsicle sticks turned into little boats for the puddle that grew after a good, long rain. He also made eating Frostys at Wendy’s or going out for ice cream a special treat!
He provided us with the things we needed (food, clothing, shelter) and trained us to be grateful for everything else. He taught us how to be content with what we could afford so we could avoid the temptation of acquiring things we couldn’t.
Married couples working together have fewer fights
I can only remember my parents fighting about finances once. Was it because they argued behind closed doors all the time? I don’t think so, as a kid you just kinda know those things. I believe it is because they had shared goals. My dad was a strong, Christian man who worked hard for his family and community. My mom is a strong Christian woman who works hard for her church and her family. The goal wasn’t to buy a big house and go on yearly cruises, although those can be wonderful goals. My parents simply valued the same things which enabled them to walk hand-in-hand through life.
Some would say my parents lived a very simple life. They did. Yet somehow they were able to raise three boys into mature men and be remembered for being reliable and caring people. They did it all without a 6-figure income or winning the lottery. My dad slowly built his empire of friends and touched the lives of hundreds of others without flashy cars or expensive watches. The examples my dad has left still live within me.
What lessons did your dad teach you that has changed your life?