Monday, June 13, 2016

Financial Lessons from my Father

My father is long gone, but the financial lessons he bestowed have never left me. As Fathers Day approaches, I reflect on those principles:

Get a good education so you can take care of yourself, just in case. When I was growing up, the assumption was that if a girl even went to college, the purpose was to find a good husband to support her. But my father expected me to learn how to do something that would pay me enough money to live on. My father's parents were divorced when he was young, and he watched his own mother struggle to make ends meet. Going to college was out of the question for him, so he joined the Air Force and went later, on the G.I. bill. Both my parents insisted that their children would go to college, and they saved all their married lives to make that happen.

Hang onto your silver dollars. I took up coin collecting as a child, but coins took a backseat to boys when I became a teenager. In my collection, there were 22 silver dollars from the early twentieth century. My father told me these belonged in the bank for safekeeping. Next thing I knew, my silver coins disappeared, and my father deposited $22.00 into my savings account. Soon afterward, he took over the rest of my neglected coin collection. I often ridiculed my father for depositing my silver dollars in the bank, receiving only face value. However, when he died, I inherited my coin collection back from him, and every one of my silver dollars was still there. And by then, they were worth much more than $22.00. I guess he was afraid I was going to spend them, so he hid them away.

No matter how much you have, give something back. Share. There is always someone worse off than you. There are countless charities doing good work with not enough resources. My father was active in Kiwanis and Boy Scouts, especially after retirement. I've always had a soft spot for animals, so I support many animal charities. Now that I'm retired, I devote much of my time to the Fayette Humane Society, where I serve on the all-volunteer Board of Directors. And charitable donations, as well as expenses incurred doing volunteer work for a qualified charity, are tax deductible!

How did your father shape your attitudes toward money? I would love to hear your comments.

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