The Three Most Important Money Lessons My Dad Taught Me

One of the responses often heard from members toward the end of a financial planning meeting is, “This sounds good. I’m going to talk to my dad about it.”

For many of us, our mothers and fathers have played a profound role in shaping our financial habits so much so that we still discuss our plans with our parents well into our adult lives. Whether it’s deciding where to invest retirement savings, how much to pay for a first home, or how much of each paycheck to invest in a 401(k), we sometimes go to our parents to help make decisions and to double-check we’re on the right path.

Conversations with members had me thinking about the values and habits my father instilled in me at a young age. Three very powerful lessons come to mind.

Live Within Your Means
On my eighth birthday, my father began to teach me how to live within my means. He sat me down and taught me about an allowance. He provided me with a weekly stipend that I would later come to realize was my means. I had a set amount of money that I could spend on anything I’d like. The only catch was that once I spent it all, I couldn’t buy anything else until the following Friday when I received my next allowance. At the age of 8, I began to learn how to budget, how to save, and how to spend wisely.

Plan For the Future
At 14, my father took me to the credit union to open my first savings account. We sat down at the desk with the branch manager. I saved $370 and I needed a place to keep it so it would grow. Entering high school, I knew I wanted two things on the day I turned 16; a driver’s license and a car. If I was going to make them both happen, I needed a plan. Dad and I created a savings plan to help me save the money I earned from a part-time tutoring job. It took me a bit longer to save up for my first car than I anticipated, but planning and saving to reach a future goal is a valuable life lesson.

Start Today
When I was 16, I sat down again with Dad to learn about a Roth IRA, retirement planning and perhaps, most importantly, compound interest. I learned that by starting early and investing, my money could grow. By opening an investment account and saving into my Roth IRA with the possibility to earn compound returns, I could potentially become a millionaire when I was older, a crazy thought for a 16-year-old. We charted out a simple saving plan to invest a portion of each paycheck I earned.  I follow a savings and investing program to this day.

On the occasion of Father’s Day, I thank you, Dad, for instilling many of my financial values and habits at a young age. Habits that will continue to shape the decisions I make for years to come.

For more information visit our online Financial Resource Center. Start saving today, open a CSE saving or checking account. Call (337) 477-2000 or visit a CSE branch today and speak with an IRA Specialist!