9 Important Money Tips Every Dad Should Teach His Kids

Kids, with Father’s Day right around the corner, I hope you don’t mind if your dear old dad takes a few minutes to give you a little bit of fatherly financial advice.

Despite what your mom says, I don’t profess to know everything — okay, I guess maybe I do — although in this case you’ll have to trust that what I am about to tell you is absolutely true. Remember, I learned a lot of this stuff through past mistakes and hard-earned experience.

1. He who dies with the most toys doesn’t win.

A lot of people mistakenly believe that if they could live like the small minority of wealthy people they see on television, all of their troubles would be gone. They’ll tell you that life is defined by the sum of your material possessions and how “large” you live — whether you can afford it or not. Don’t believe them. The ironic truth is that a rich life is defined by the things money can’t buy.

2. Taking on debt today sacrifices your ability to make choices in the future.

When you agree to take on debt it limits your future earnings because you’re essentially spending tomorrow’s wages today. To put it bluntly, excessive debt essentially makes you an indentured servant to your lenders. By limiting your debt obligations, you’ll not only maintain more control over your life as you get older, you’ll also avoid the chains that prevent you from ever attaining financial freedom. And that brings me to my next point…

3. You can achieve financial freedom regardless of how much money you make.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that one has to be rich to attain financial freedom. There are lots of people earning millions per year who aren’t financially free, just as it’s also true that there are folks earning less than $40,000 annually who are financially free. The truth is, financial freedom doesn’t depend on money so much as it relies on a commitment to fiscal discipline and personal responsibility. Speaking of personal responsibility, always remember this…

4. Those who believe in personal responsibility control their own destiny.

It takes real courage and integrity to look inward and take responsibility for all of the troubles that are a direct result of your own making. When you take ownership for all the decisions you make in life, you build confidence and self-respect. From that confidence comes an inner-strength from knowing that you and you alone control your own destiny. Of course, if you choose to take the easy route by failing to embrace personal responsibility, you will ultimately cede control of your life to those who don’t have your best interest at heart — and I promise you that will be the biggest mistake of your life.

5. Slow down — life is a marathon, not a sprint.

One day you’re going to leave the nest and you’re going to want everything at once. Unfortunately, your paycheck will probably be such that, by the time you’ve finished deducting money to fund your retirement and other savings accounts, you simply aren’t going to be able to afford much. That means hard choices will have to be made — and so it’s going to be very important that you understand the difference between wants (like concert tickets or a big screen television) and needs (like groceries or the rent). Patience is a virtue. Rest assured that, over time, your salary will rise — and with it, so will your purchasing power.

6. Violating the natural order of life can be costly.

A big part of our financial success is based upon the decisions we make in life. As I see it, there are four key milestones in life: 1) getting a good education, either through college or via on the job training; 2) establishing your career; 3) marriage; 4) kids. If you follow those milestones in order, you’ll greatly increase your odds of achieving financial freedom. However, if you take them out of order, you’ll quickly discover that life not only gets more complicated, but also gets significantly more difficult financially.

7. The harder you work, the luckier you’ll get.

It’s easy to belittle the good fortune of others by attributing their success to luck, and in some cases that may be true. However, the real wellspring of success is found through lots of hard work coupled with a serious passion for whatever you do — so make sure you find a job that you really love. If you’re fortunate enough to do that, the odds are good that you’ll end up making your own luck.

8. You won’t be young forever, so take advantage of youth while you can.

Did you know that thanks to a little thing called compound interest, even folks with modest incomes have a good chance of becoming millionaires? That’s because, given enough time, compound interest becomes a force of monumental proportions; Albert Einstein dared to call it the most powerful force in the universe. Think about it: let’s say you earned $2,500 working a summer job. If you invested that money in an account that managed to earn 8 percent every year it would grow to $117,254 after 50 years! But here’s the rub: after 40 years you’d have almost $63,000 less in that account. That’s why it’s important to start saving as early as you can.

9. Always strive to spend less than you earn.

If you take nothing else away from our little talk today, remember that the easiest path to a life of financial freedom is to always spend less than you earn. Do that, and many of the other lessons I just shared with you will naturally take care of themselves.

Well, that’s it for now, kids. Please, though, don’t tell your mom we had this little chat. Then again, on second thought, go ahead; she knows your dad is right. Well, at least he is this time.

Photo Credit:LadyDragonflyCC



Comments

  1. 3

    No Debt MBA says

    These are very thoughtful tips. I’m very focused around #2 right now – limitation of choices and freedom is the main reason why I’m trying to avoid taking out loans for my MBA (that and they make the whole thing way more expensive). I definitely believe in the power of hard work to bring you more opportunities (#7) and am trying to bring #5 and #8 into practice in my life.

    • 4

      Len Penzo says

      I think #8 is probably the most important tip of them all, if only because it has a limited shelf life!

  2. 5

    Bret @ Hope to Prosper says

    This is a great article Len.

    I especially like #4, since Personal Responsibility isn’t the most popular subject of the younger generation right now. I don’t think they have any idea how important it is to control their own destiny. Your kids are lucky you have taken the time to explain this to them.

    Bret

    • 6

      Len Penzo says

      I explain it, Bret, but I worry sometimes that it’s not sinking in — at least not with my 14-year-old son, Matthew. I hope I’m wrong…

    • 8

      Len Penzo says

      That’s an interesting perspective. I totally agree with the second part, however the first part may be a bit too broad for me. For example, food is a need, but we don’t really invest in the groceries — well, unless you’re buying options in pork bellies! ;-)

  3. 10

    krantcents says

    The most important thing to give kids is your time. During that time you can teach them your values and skills. Most children learn more from the behavior of the adults, than what they say. So model financial responsibility to your kids.

  4. 12

    MD says

    I love this point “The harder you work, the luckier you’ll get. ”

    Too often do I see my peers complaining about their lack of success. When I ask them about their effort levels, they just shrug it off. If you don’t put in the work, you won’t get the results. There’s nothing complicating about this!

    • 13

      Len Penzo says

      It took me awhile to figure that one out myself, but once it finally sunk it, my fortunes got a whole lot better.

      Here’s another saying that took me awhile to learn that you can share with your kids:

      “The older you get, the smarter your parents get.”

      (I didn’t figure that one out until I turned 25 or so.)

  5. 14

    Squirrelers says

    All wise words, Daddy Penzo…(that sounds like the name of a rapper: Daddy Penzo)

    Anyway….I think it takes repetition in both words spoken to kids, as well as in directly modeling behavior that follows such tenets. The earlier this starts, the better.

    Sometimes I feel like some of my words fall on deaf ears (wants vs. needs, money doesn’t just magically come from an ATM, etc), so this is a topic that resonates with me. I definitely want to pass on financial responsibility to my kids, it’s an important life skill they need to have.

    • 15

      Len Penzo says

      I agree with you; parenting definitely requires us to repeat ourselves alot. Parenting definitely requires us to repeat ourselves alot.

      (Oops, sorry, Wise Squirrel. For a moment there I thought I was talking to my son again.)

  6. 16

    Harri @TotallyMoney says

    Love this post! Very touching and thoughtful. The way you’ve phrased your valuable tips is so digestible and accessible. Setting a good financial role model for your kids is vitally important, but so too is imparting simple meaningful advice that doesn’t sound too preachy or self-righteous. Great post!

    • 19

      Len Penzo says

      LOL! It does in my book, Brynna — assuming your kids heed the advice (with my kids, that’s easier said than done). Thanks for sharing this! :-)

  7. 21

    Ron says

    pertaining to point number 1. I heard it said a long time ago and have ever since said it this way. “Even if you win the rat race, your still a rat” Meaning? slow down and let the racers go by.

  8. 23

    Canadian Budget Binder says

    This is such a great post, very powerful and I enjoyed reading it. I hope that it motivates other parents to talk to their kids and teach them about lessons that might take them far in life. Well done Len.
    Mr.CBB

  9. 24

    Katrina says

    Excellent advice Len! Thanks for posting this and Mr. CBB thanks for sharing it with us. I wish I had taken more of my dad’s advice when I was younger.

  10. 27

    Barbara Friedberg says

    I expected this post to be just drivel and stuff everyone has already heard. And I was wrong. Although I’ve been training my daughter in money lessons for years, (I’m still not sure if it is taking or not :) this list, particularly don’t fight the natural order is gold. My husband and I decided to get our graduate school educations done before having a child, even though it made delaying that decision a bit. I don’t regret for a moment getting our lives going before bringing a kid into the world.

  11. 28

    Andre Vaughn says

    Hello and thanks for this post what an excellent read. My favorite point is # 8. I have a 7 year old and 1 year old boys and I tell you, the both will know about the TIME VALUE OF MONEY because I certainly did not! Its amazing to me the lack of financial education in these important times that we live in. Nice Post!

    • 30

      Len Penzo says

      Sure, Mom can teach them too — but shame on Dad if Mom doesn’t and he fails to pass them on. :-)

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