My Dad is a pretty great guy, and I have learned a lot from him over the years. Our relationship has not always been perfect, but one thing he did do, although sometimes it took me quite a while to notice, was set a good example when it came to money and life issues. Even though it took me many years in some cases, and I haven’t quite mastered them yet, I realized as I got older that many of the things he did were quite frugal, and that by not giving me everything I asked for, he was teaching me to work for things I wanted. Now, I took that to an extreme for a while and spent too much of the money I earned, but I may have never gotten on the right track financially if he hadn’t set such a good example. Here are 10 lessons about life and money I learned from him:
1. Don’t try to buy your children’s affection- This one is hard for me, I have trouble saying “No” to my kids sometimes. But I was certainly not spoiled as a child, lets put it that way. By not giving in to everything a child asks for, you are teaching them the value of money and that “things” aren’t everything. And by making your kids work for things they want when they are old enough to, they can learn the value of “earning” a dollar.
2. Bring your lunch to work- I am sure my dad ate out or bought his lunch from time to time, but it seems like he brought his lunch to work just about everyday. I think he worked for about 35 or so years before he retired, so even if he saved $4 a day , with 250 work days a year is $35,000 not counting interest. With simple 8% interest over 35 years, that $4 a day could turn into $172,000!
3. Drive a car into the ground- My Dad drove an old Toyota for many years, several (probably more than several) years without A/C down here in hot, steamy, south Louisiana. I am still not sure how he did that, because I am not sure if I could drive without A/C. But not having a car note for so many years can allow you to save quite a bit of money.
4. Learn to balance you career and family- I know my father had quite a few opportunities for promotions which would have entailed uprooting his family and moving across the country, but he did not take them because he would have had to move away from his extended family, and would have had to put in much longer hours. While I am a strong believer that you must always do your best at your job or career in order to advance, the statement that “money isn’t everything” is true, especially when it comes to your family. You can still put in extra hours at work, just don’t eliminate quality time with your family in order to advance your career.
5. Plant a garden- My Dad has always, even to this day, planted a vegetable garden every year. It is one of his hobbies, but it also provides vegetables, herbs, and other items cheaper than the grocery store, and it also gives you something to do, with your kids as well if you have them.
6. Do your own yard work – I am still amazed at how many of my friends in their late 20′s or early 30′s pay someone to cut their grass, usually over $100 a month. And they are not too busy at work to do their own yard work, either. No one ever cut my grass at our house except my Dad, one of my two brothers, or me. As far as I know that is still the case.
7. Let stores or companies know when you are unhappy with the service or goods you receive- I remember he once came home from the grocery store, (and this was when every checkout line had a bagger) and he noticed they had forgotten to bag his ice cream. It was on the receipt, so he knew he had paid for it. He called up the store (and I am not exactly sure what he said), and about 30 minutes later someone from the grocery store drove to our house and dropped off 2 cartons of ice cream. I learned that if you don’t speak up and express dissatisfaction, you you are guaranteeing that you will not be satisfied. Some, but not all, stores or companies will try to make you happy with your purchase, but you have to give them a chance. Obviously this does not always work, but you will not know unless you express your dissatisfaction to the store or company you are dealing with.
8. You don’t have to spend a lot of money creating family memories - Go fishing, take small vacations that don’t cost a lot, spend time with your kids and get involved with their activities and lives.
9. Eat at home most of the time- We had burger night, homemade pizza night, and a few others I remember when I was a kid. It is a lot cheaper than eating out, and healthier too.
10. When you start a family, its not about you anymore- Especially if you have children, you have to realize that it is no longer about you. It is no longer that important to buy yourself things, but to provide for your family. Your kids will be gone and out of the house before you know it, so giving up some of your own indulgences for 18+ years won’t kill you. I know this one is hard, as I have trouble curbing my own impulses at times, but with two small children in the house I am beginning to learn that it is really about them, not me.
- Your Health and Money- Save Money by Living Healthier
- I Can’t Predict the Future
- Identifying Your Biggest Financial Fears and Taking Steps to Alleviate Them
- Save Money Grocery Shopping- Try Shopping at a Salvage Grocery Stores