We never really talked about money when I was growing up, or at least not directly. Everything I consciously learned about money was from school and working as a financial advisor. But as I think back I learned a ton about money growing up.
My dad’s been gone for more than 20 years – but I still think about him often. He was a quiet, kind, and interesting man. Although we didn’t have many money conversations I realize now he actually taught me quite a bit about money. Here are the top five lessons I learned from him:
1. Debt is dumb – As far as I know my parents never had a mortgage, or if they did it was paid off pretty darn quickly. They never charged on a credit card they couldn’t pay off each month.
2. Be an investor – My dad liked to invest. He invested in stocks he understood and projects he was involved in. He also was open to advice and had advisors that he trusted. This helped him leverage their savings and grow a nest egg.
3. Do work that’s “your work” and bring your full self to it – My father started his own architecture firm early in his career. He grew it with a partner and found meaning in his work. When I started as a financial advisor, he said to me “get experience and then you’ll open your own firm.” I remember thinking – naw, I’m good working for someone else. Three years later I went off on my own. I’m so grateful he held a bigger vision for me that I was able to see for myself at the time.
4. Be generous and charitable – I wish I had realized how important this was to my parents at an earlier age. It took me a while to learn the joys and benefits about giving of our financial resources. Looking back I realize now that my parents were always involved in charities and gave generously to causes and institutions that they believed in.
5. Spend money on what you value – Being a good saver and investor is important and so is experiencing life. Travel was always something my parents valued. I was so blessed to be able to grow through experiencing other cultures and continue to this day to have the travel bug. My parents spent money on what they valued: family, travel, entertaining, art and learning.
I’ve tried to be conscious about the money lessons we pass on to our kids. But what I’ve come to realize is that what you do with money has a much bigger impact on your kids that what you tell them.
Happy Father’s Day Dad! Sure do miss you.