Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing my father on my podcast. It was my 250th episode and I thought it was fitting to honor the man who helped me become the person I am today.
After our conversation, I started thinking about all of the financial lessons I learned from my dad. Not just the dollars and cents side of things but the true life lessons that have guided the way I think about money and family.
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I don’t think I was always open to listening and absorbing those lessons, especially in my teens and 20s. It wasn’t until I became a father that I was able to truly empathize with his path and how hard he worked to strengthen our family tree.
Here are just a few of the life-changing lessons I learned from my father about money.
You Are Wealthy If You Have a Family That Loves You
Dad didn’t grow up with much in the way of money, but he was rich with love and family.
His father (my grandfather) was a mechanic and tow truck operator. Money wasn’t plentiful, but it was enough to get by and take care of the family.
Their 1,500 square foot house was home to nine family members — both primary and extended. He had the joy of sharing a room with his four younger brothers. I can only imagine what that was like!
As the oldest sibling of the bunch, my Dad was given a lot of praise, but also given a lot of responsibility. His teen years were spent fixing and selling cars. He used the money to help his family and plan for his future.
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Looking back, their living situation and his work as a teen was not a burden for him at all. It was an honor.
He had (and still does have) a family that loved him dearly. They may have been in tight quarters, but that proximity grew their bond even more.
Hearing my father describe his situation growing up, it all sounded very “wealthy” to me. He may have not had the financial wealth that a lot of us desire, but his mother, father, brothers and sisters were all the wealth he really needed.
It Doesn’t Have to Feel Like Work If You Love What You Do
For the first 15 years of my post-college working life, I didn’t really feel passionate about the work I was doing. I graduated and tried out event marketing and advertising. It wasn’t horrible. They paid me money so I kept doing it.
And then I had a family so I definitely needed the money and more of it.
15 years later, I asked myself, “Why am I doing this? Isn’t it time to find work that you feel passionate about?”
I don’t believe Dad had the same struggle with work like I did. Sure, it wasn’t constant daily doses of happiness in his career, but I do genuinely believe he was passionate about the industry and the work he chose.
While working for his college newspaper in his early 20s, my father made a connection that helped him launch a 33 year career at Volkswagen of America. He worked for over three decades in the automotive business and for the same company.
My father looks back on this time fondly. He found a company that treated their employees like family. They took care of you financially with excellent benefits, pay and even a pension.
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Outside of working for a great company, he loved the car business (and still does). He found an industry and a career that made it fun to go to work every day. His company had a mission he believed in, his roles were fulfilling and his work … didn’t feel like work to him.
If You Can’t Get a Pension, Create Your Own
The landscape has changed quite dramatically in our country with regard to pensions since Dad started working.
From 1983 to 2016, pension plans offering defined benefits have dropped by about 73%. Risk and costs are partly to blame, but mostly, the burden of retirement income is being pushed on to the employee instead of the employer.
With that in mind, I’m not under any illusion that a company or the government is going to take care of me in my later years. Especially now that I’m a small business owner!
I’m inspired by my father’s pension, so it’s time for me to create my own.
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He was able to retire — he likes to refer to it as “graduate” — at 55 years old and have a pension that pays him ⅔ of salary for the rest of his life. That’s cool.
I’d love to do something similarly cool.
Since my family comfortably lives on around $60,000-$70,000 per year, it’s my goal to create our own pension. With a safe withdrawal rate of around 4%, we’ll need to accumulate around $1,500,000-$1,750,000 to make this a reality.
We’re well on our way there having increased our investments substantially over the past 10 years. Time, consistent contributions, patience and compound interest will have to get us the rest of the way.
Read More: Defining Retirement: What It Means to You
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Final Thoughts on Money Lessons from My Father
Money and finances are so intertwined in life that it’s complicated to separate them. When I say I’ve learned financial lessons from my father, I’ve honestly learned life lessons.
When you decide how you want to earn money, you’re making a major life decision.
As you prepare your retirement investment plan, you are working out how you want to live your best years.
And, most importantly, when figuring out how wealthy you really are, it’s better to examine the love and family you have in your life than looking at your net worth.
Personal Capital compensates Andy Hill (“Author”) for providing the content contained in this blog post. Compensation not to exceed $500. Author is not a client of Personal Capital Advisors Corporation. The content contained in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and is not meant to constitute legal, tax, accounting or investment advice. You should consult a qualified legal or tax professional regarding your specific situation. Keep in mind that investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate over time and you may gain or lose money.