“Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual – that’s why we have fathers”
-H. Jackson Brown
Happy Father’s Day! What is the best money lesson your dad ever taught you?
Sometimes the most valuable lessons we learn about money come from the people closest to us – our parents, our mentors, our friends. Our parents and parent-figures often deeply influence how we relate to money, and how they treat their finances usually has a big impact on our own financial lives, in some way or another.
So in honor of Father’s Day, we asked some Personal Capital financial advisors to share the best money lessons they ever received from their father figures. Here’s what they had to say:
“My dad was born in 1917, making him a youth during the Great Depression and survivor of the frontline assault against Germany in World War II. He never had a strong grasp on how to successfully manage investments, but he did his best to live by the quote “neither a borrower or lender be” (thank you, Shakespeare). When he passed away he had zero debt to his name. Obviously, there is a time and place for responsible borrowing and lending, but he never forgot the brutal lessons learned from the greed and irresponsibility of the Roaring 20s. My father’s philosophy towards money allowed our family to never worry too much about money, regardless of how much income was coming into the household.
And of course, the most important currency in any family is it’s members. There was that lesson, too.”
-RJ Maunton, CFP®, ChFC®
Senior Financial Advisor
“My dad was a planner and a saver; a textbook example of how to plan for the future. He was a tax attorney, so was good with numbers and knew how to be efficient with money. He enjoyed life and spent money on nice things for us, but always with balance. When my siblings and I were young, he opened up trust accounts for all four of us and began putting money away for our futures and education. He also saw the importance of owning term life insurance — just in case, so his family would be taken care of if something happened.
By the time he was 40, his entire estate plan was not only in place, but he had also fully funded and protected the future needs of his family. It was around this time that he found out he had cancer. As soon as he found out he was sick, he helped all of his friends get their estate plans and life insurance in place for their families as well. He fought hard, but passed away at the age of 45. It’s devastating to lose a parent, but what I can’t imagine is going through that loss with added fears about money and my future. I am forever grateful that he showed us the importance of taking control of your financial life at an early age. I also made a point to become financially savvy at a young age so I would never have to worry about being dependent on anyone else — life is uncertain!”
-Lacey Cobb, CFA, CFP®
Director of Advice Solutions
“My dad taught me the importance of always saving a little something. For my Bat Mitzvah (13th birthday) I received presents from many relatives and friends- most people gave money as a gift. My father helped me set up a brokerage account at Schwab and most of the money was deposited there. I was allowed to spend a little bit on something fun (probably clothes or something horse-related). With the money in the Schwab account, I got to pick stocks to buy- we would often sit down with the newspaper and look through the financial section to decide what to purchase. I’m pretty sure I bought only things I knew, so brands like Coke and Disney were the mainstays of my portfolio for a while. Later on, when I had my first summer job in high school, my father helped me set up a Roth IRA and invest there as well. I don’t know many 16 year olds with a retirement account, but this put me on a great path to get in the habit of saving each and every time money was earned…. Maybe it’s not a surprise I ended up working in wealth management!”
-Michelle Brownstein, CFP®
VP of Private Client Services
“The best money lesson my father ever taught me was the value of time. ‘Time spent with family’ certainly isn’t something that shows up on your personal balance sheet but, thanks to my father, it’s something I (now as a father) place a premium on. My father knew that taking a couple half days per week to coach little league wouldn’t put him on the fast track to becoming a billionaire, but that never mattered. For him, the only ‘sure thing’ when it came to investing was investing time with his family. A strategy that, to this day, continues to provide dividends.”
-Bryan Lennon, CFP®
Director of Client Success
“The best money lessons my father ever taught me were the concepts of budgeting and saving. As a child, he always reminded me to set aside money today for things I want later. Thanks, Dad and Happy Father’s Day!”
-Keith D. Jones, CFP®
Senior Financial Advisor
“Early on, my father taught me the importance of balancing the checkbook and making sure everything was accounted for. These days, our daily Personal Capital emails make it easier to ensure all transactions are going through as expected and no fraudulent charges are getting by undetected.”
Senior Financial Advisor
“As a father, here is some money advice I try to pass on to my daughter (and my wife). To clarify, this all starts with being responsible, working hard, and earning some dough. But this particular piece of advice is about what I do with that earned money. When I come into some kind of bonus or non-recurring income, I always, without fail, carve off some small-ish amount of that bonus for me, my wife, and my daughter, and we all go out together and buy something fun for ourselves. Something that we would not otherwise have bought because we thought it was frivolous or hard to justify. We save the bulk, but the rule is that we have to spend that smaller allocated amount on something fun, and we have to do it together as a family.
This is important to me because 1) if you don’t enjoy some part of your money “now,” you may never get the chance, and 2) it gets us out, as a family, doing something that breaks the normal rules of saving and spending.
I’m all about saving of course, but I’m also about enjoying the rewards of hard work, and that’s what this is really all about. If you don’t treat yourself well, you sure as heck shouldn’t expect anyone else to!”
-Dan Stampf, CFP®
VP, Personal Capital Cash
Happy Father’s Day to all of you dads out there, and here’s to the lessons the father figures in our lives have taught us.