What my father taught me about money

Contributed by Rachel Stever

Daddy-and-DaughterMy dad is the first to tell you he doesn’t know anything about budgeting or saving money. As he puts it, he’s “not one to let a dollar get warm in his hand.” He’s done all right over the years, but I don’t think he would ever suggest someone should follow his path as an example. He may have never given me advice on how to manage my money or make investments but he had taught me a lot of valuable lessons over the years.

My sister and I used to tease him because he always buys his jeans at the thrift store. I watched him refuse to buy a pair of new jeans because they were$13 and he could getter a better pair at Goodwill for $3 . In high school we couldn’t understand why he just wouldn’t shop in a regular store. He didn’t understand why people were getting rid of things that had years of use left in them. I’m not as avid a thrift store shopper as he still is, but I check second-hand shops first when I am  in the market for something.

He also taught me too that it’s ok to splurge when I really want something. He wears those thrift store jeans with a pair of custom made cowboy boots that he had to go to Texas to have made. At the time, he was a long-haul truck driver so it was on the way, but they were still quite an indulgence. I haven’t tested the waters of custom footwear myself, but I do have a couple of things I like to spend on. And that’s ok.

My dad has always stressed the importance of being able to take care of myself. I can call roadside assistance to change my tire if I want, but he made sure I could do it myself before he let me take the car out in high school. Before I moved out of his house he taught me how to turn off the water main and change a fuse and he gave me a fully stocked tool box to take to my new apartment.

Probably the most important thing my dad has taught me is to be generous. To give materially to charity when possible, but to always give my time and energy when friends or family are in need. He has taught me that it’s worth taking an evening to help a friend with their problems, or to spend a weekend helping a family member move even if there is something else I would rather do. 

I once asked my dad to tell me about his grandfather. He didn’t remember much; they had only been to visit him a few times during my dad’s childhood. But he remembered that his grandfather worked on a railway.  He always had coins, which were flattened by the trains, for my dad and his sisters. Fortunately, my dad gets to see his grandkids more often than a lot of grandparents, but he always has something for them to take home, a small toy or some loose change for their piggy banks. Because my father learned a long time ago that it’s the little things a person remembers.


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