It’s Father’s Day and I want to know what your dad taught you about work, love, and money.
My Dad, he taught me hard work and money management. To live below your means and to be constantly working towards something.
My Mom and Dad were both raised on farms. Work ethic runs in our genes. We didn’t live on a farm, but my family lived in a house that my dad designed and built himself that sat on 24 acres of land. And you can bet that there was always something to be done.
As teenagers, my sisters and I were never really allowed to sleep in. Mom was up making bacon and eggs and Dad was rounding up the troops by 8 a.m. There was a yard to pick up sticks and walnuts, mowing and trimming, picking up gravel out of the yard and tossing it back into the driveway, only to later be sprayed back into the lawn by our wheels speeding up the hill for momentum. There were trees to be cut down and firewood to be stacked.
Then there were the house chores, cleaning up after breakfast and then again after lunch. There was the dusting and the sweeping, the vacuuming and the mopping. The laundry for the five of us and then time to make dinner, then the dishes so we could do it all again the next day.
We knew what work was.
Of course, as kids, we didn’t appreciate that much. But now? Now, I am glad that they gave us the tools that we needed to survive, yeah, thrive.
Opportunity looks an awful lot like work boots.
My dad has a mathematical genius financial mind. He had crazy convoluted systems for everything. There was the chore chart, with every chore in the house available in a hand drawn chart. An X meant that you had done that chore on that day and you got paid fifty cents for that chore. At the end of the week, they would tally up the chores that we had not only completed but had remembered to write down and that was our allowance.
I remember abusing the hell out of that chart. It took me a while to catch on, but by the time I was 16 and working for a paycheck I realized I could make a lot more money per hour doing all the household chores in the day. My sisters didn’t mind, and neither did my mom. I could make as much as $40 a week on top of the paycheck I was earning from waitress at Pizza Hut.
I used it to go out with friends, for buying the shampoo in the magazine (instead of the one they were using), my makeup, my clothes. If I wanted it, I was buying it.
They also let us use their credit card. When we turned 16 and were driving the car, they made us a user on their account. It was convenient for them because we ran errands while we were in town, bringing home groceries, and they never had to worry about us having money for gas or being broke down on the side of the road. They had a system for us to write down all of our own expenses in the notebook when the bill came in – and to pay it back. I once worked myself into quite a hole that took me 18 months to crawl out of – and that was without even having to pay the interest. To this day I have never used more on a credit card than I could pay in full when the bill came due.
My dad’s craziest hatched scheme was our first cars. They bought our cars for us, usually from a car auction – my first car started with a screw driver until Dad could replace the ignition – and they paid for our repairs and our gas. Pretty sweet deal.
We could drive the car to school in lieu of the hour long ride on the school bus, to work, to hang out with friends, but we had to write down our mileage in a notebook. Once a month we would have to bring the notebook in the house and tally up what we owed for mileage. The rate we paid for mileage was based on the write off amounts on the Federal income tax. Later, I realized how brilliant this was to cut down our unnecessary teenage shenanigans.
At the time, it was just plain unfair. No one else had to do any of these things.
What I know now, now that I am a parent, is that if your children like everything that you are doing, you are probably not doing it right. My parents, led by my dad in discipline and financial matters, taught me everything I need to know to get out and hustle for what I wanted.
And for that, I couldn’t be more thankful.
Thanks, Dad & Happy Father’s Day!
ACTIONABLE STEP: Think of the things you learned from your Dad or a father figure in your life. Think about how it has shaped your life as you are today. Thank them for it. And let me know what the best things your dad taught you about all things money, or if you have children, what their Dad is doing to teach your kids about money on the daily. I want to hear it!