I’ve always been just slightly paranoid about my hairline. My dad doesn’t have much on top anymore, and neither did his dad. When I was 27 and couldn’t take the uncertainty anymore, I broke down and bought some Rogaine.
Hair loss prevention products are sneaky. It’s hard to know if the fact that I still have my hair can be attributed to using them or not. I finally discovered I could get a 6 month supply of the Costco brand that is just as effective (they all use 5% minoxidil…if you were wondering). I’ve spent at least a few hundred dollars on it over the years. And good news! I still have my hair at 32!
Though my dad may have given me a receding hairline, he’s more than made up for it with everything else that he has given and taught me through his example, finances included.
My first job
I was 12 when I started mowing lawns at the office building where my dad worked. He taught me the concept of sending an invoice for work I performed. All I had to do was come up with a business name to write on the top of a piece of paper and put the amount owed. I came up with “Mark’s Lawn Service”–pretty catchy right? I mowed once a week and made $25 each time. $100 bucks every month for a 12-year-old in 1995–not too shabby.
My first bank account
My dad would submit my invoices for me and bring me home a bank receipt every time I got paid. I remember watching the balance in my account steadily increase by $100 month. It felt really good seeing the balance creep upward. Before too long, I had over $1,000 dollars! And on top of that, there were these things called compounding interest and bonus dividends that I earned on top of the money in the bank!
The importance of giving
I remember several family vacations when we contacted local churches to get recommendations of families who were in need and who would benefit from some new clothes or a financial donation. I also remember many Saturday mornings out with my dad and brothers helping people move. I can’t say I always enjoyed it, but it did teach me to look beyond my own needs. He also taught me about tithing, which has stuck with me ever since my first job.
Not to be unnecessarily cheap with your kids
For college, my parents took the approach of giving us money to cover a portion of our living expenses or tuition and leaving it up to us to figure out how to pay for the rest. Between scholarships and summer jobs, I was able to make it through school without having to work much during the school year, and it was a blast.
I feel like it was a good balance of being able to enjoy college while also learning to work hard both academically and on the job. I imagine we’ll take a similar approach with our kids.
Keep in mind that my school was relatively very cheap, so had I chosen to go somewhere else for my undergraduate, I probably would have had to work a whole lot more.
Giving others opportunities while holding them accountable
We didn’t go out to eat too often, but when we did, we would usually take the frugal(ish) approach of skipping the appetizers and ordering water for drinks. My dad was generally open to us ordering what we wanted, but we were so trained to stick with the basics that we didn’t usually think to upgrade.
Occasionally he would order a shake or some other desirable food item and imply that we could as well if we wanted. When we didn’t order and inevitably gathered around my dad to see if he’d share, he would say something to the effect of “get out of here, you had your chance!”
When I got home from my mission, my dad offered to take me shopping for a new wardrobe to usher me into a new age of sophistication and maturity. I didn’t feel like going, so I declined. Later, when I told him I was finally ready, he reiterated that it was a one time deal. My wife has been trying to buy me proper clothes ever since.
I find myself doing the same thing with my kids. I don’t feel bad for occasionally not sharing with my kids if I gave them a fair opportunity beforehand.
Don’t quit your day job to follow your dreams
Those are my words, but he basically taught us not to quit our day jobs to pursue our dreams. By following his own advice, he managed to do just fine for himself. He grew up in a very musical family and would have loved to pursue a career in a music-related field, but he just didn’t see how it would provide the kind of life for his family that he was hoping for.
He ended up studying business & accounting, eventually going into banking. But he didn’t give up on his dreams by doing so. He just didn’t rely on them to support a family of 6. I remember going to bed almost every night as a young kid hearing my dad singing and playing the piano. He also sang in a performing choir.
He may not have been able to spend as much time as he would have liked on his passions, but he was still able to fit them in to an extent. And he made a lot more money that way than he otherwise would have (just based on statistics).
I decided to go the CPA route which I can’t say is something I’m exceedingly passionate about, but it has opened up doors that have provided for an increasingly comfortable lifestyle. And despite not pursuing my dreams of being a jazz saxophonist, pianist, professional skateboarder or volleyball player, I can still enjoy those things to an extent outside of work. In fact, I was just asked be the organist for my church congregation. Yes, an organist.
So there you go, sort of follow your dreams.
It’s all about what you’re worth
I couldn’t have been much older than 13 when I learned about the concept of personal net worth. My dad made some comment about how much someone was worth. My first thought was “how can you put a price on someone?” You can’t put a price on human life, right?
That’s when I learned that saying what you’re worth simply equates to a person’s net assets. (You can share yours here.) I remember him sharing with us kids interesting insights from a new book he had read called the The Millionaire Next Door (still a classic).
He didn’t often share with us the specifics of what he was worth, but only because we didn’t ask. The few times that I did, he was open to share, and it was very eye opening for me as a teenager. That was the beginning.
So far so good
Right or wrong (I’d argue right), those are a few of the financial lessons I picked up on from my dad, and so far, I feel like they haven’t steered me wrong.
Even if I do lose my hair within the next few years, at least I’ll have enough money to get that new robot assisted hair transplant I’ve been eyeing.
What lessons have stuck with you from your dads?