Everything I Need To Know About Money, I Learned From Dad

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Fathers make an impact on our lives like no one else does.

That impact ranges from happiness when we got encouragement for a good report card to nervousness when we got in trouble and heard the words “Wait until Daddy gets home!” But the effects we feel are life-changing.

In her book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, Dr. Meg Meeker writes that girls who perceive that their fathers care about them and feel connected to them have fewer instances of depression, low self-esteem and substance abuse, as well as significantly fewer suicide attempts. The American Institute for Research says children growing up without fathers are 71% more likely to drop out of high school.

The fatherly influence touches all aspects of life, including money. So what are some of the best money lessons dads teach us? We turned to Dave’s Facebook fans for answers, and we got some great ones.

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Have a Giving Spirit

No matter what we have, there are always people who have less. Maureen’s dad didn’t forget those people. “I watched my dad faithfully put money in the offering plate at church every week. He never said a word. He also taught me to give to veterans’ charities as well as to those less fortunate,” she said.

Mark’s dad had the same spirit. “When I was 7 years old,” he said, “I sold lemonade from a booth I made with my dad. At the end of the day, he said we should give some of the money to church. I said I didn’t want to give away any money since I’d earned it. He listened patiently while I whined and then said ‘God sent your customers to you, so we should give to others like He gave to us.’ That was a great lesson.”

Related: Should You Give While Getting Out of Debt?

When we give, it makes us think about others. It also gives us perspective. That perspective helps us to be content with what we have. Without contentment, we will never find real happiness. That nearly happened to Eli.

Practice Contentment

Eli admitted to his father that he was envious of a friend’s lifestyle. “I wish we were rich like so-and-so,” he said. It’s a thought many of us have. But since Eli’s dad knew there is a price that comes with living beyond your means, he knew just what to say. “My dad said ‘Baby, they’re not rich—they just don’t mind owing other people. We do.’”

For Chris, learning contentment was about appreciating the small things. He grew up in a family of 17, and money was tight. Still, the little moments with his dad are what stand out to him. “I love the memory of dad buying a half gallon of ice cream and dividing it up amongst everybody after a hard day’s work in the field. It taught me that you can be happy with what you have.”

Know When to Say No

Being content also involves hearing the word “no” from time to time. “No” isn’t the word we want to hear when we ask for something. But when dad says it, it’s usually for the best, as Debbie learned.

“I asked for money for a car,” Debbie said, “and he said ‘If you don’t have the money, you don’t need it.’ My sister was 18 with a baby and asked dad to sign for her for the deposit for a phone. He told her no; that if she didn’t have the money, she didn’t need the phone. He added that if she wanted it bad enough, she would find a way to get it—and she did. I know it was hard for him to say that.”

Related: Dr. Meg Meeker's take on real dads vs. "dumb" dads

Think About the Long Term

Wisdom from Dad isn’t just for the moment; it also means thinking about the future and preparing for it. Just ask Cathy.

When Cathy paid her car off, her wise father asked her where she would start putting that “extra” money. Cathy shrugged her shoulders. “‘I didn’t realize this was going to be the only car you ever owned,’ he said. That day, I began putting my car payment money in another account. I now pay cash for every car I buy.”

Related: Make It Happen: Dream Car

That’s certainly thinking ahead, but Katie’s father took it one step farther. When Katie received birthday and Christmas money as a little girl, her dad used the cash to buy mutual funds for her. As it turns out, she got something even better than a Barbie house—she got a real one. “When my husband and I bought our first home, I cashed in those funds for a down payment. Thank you, Dad. I didn’t have to wait for Dave to tell me to invest in mutual funds. I learned it knee high to a grasshopper.”

A father’s wisdom can make a life-changing impact on us, so whenever that wisdom is passed on to you, soak it in. And one more thing: Happy Father’s Day, dads—we wouldn’t be the same without you!

What are some lessons your dad taught you that have stuck with you through the years? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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