Financial lessons my father taught me
As lockdown restrictions are slowly eased, many of us can finally spend time with an ever-expanding group of loved ones. That means we can enjoy this Father’s Day with a visit or a backyard barbecue as we celebrate the men who matter most to us.
That prompted our team to think about our dads’ many special qualities, as well as the values and financial lessons they handed down to us as we were growing up. With Father’s Day just around the corner, we wanted to share our team’s favourite personal finance lessons from their fathers and father-figures. (Just as we did with our Mother’s Day blog post.) And we are now seeing these lessons through a different lens.
We live in changing times and our eyes are open to the realities that some of our friends and neighbours encounter on a daily basis. We understand that, in many cases, the lessons our dads shared came from a certain place—largely middle-class, ‘privileged’ backgrounds. Many of us wanted for little growing up. It’s a reality that we’re conscious of, now more than ever; that not everyone had the same start as we did; that at times, we may have had a leg up in achieving our professional success. We’re both humbled and thoughtful of what that means in the context of world events and circumstances in our own backyards. As we work to determine how we, both as individuals and as an organization, can help make lives better and outcomes more equal, we think it’s a goal that would make our fathers proud.
On that note, here are some financial lessons our dads taught us:
“When it came to money, my Dad’s lessons were simple, but have stuck with me through the years. He hated debt and always told me to never borrow more than I could afford to repay. He also taught me to be careful about how I spend and invest my money—to always make sure that some is tucked safely away for rainy days. One of his favourite sayings was: ‘If something doesn’t add up on the back of an envelope, it probably doesn’t work.’ I often find myself remembering that when faced with complex problems, and it always helps me keep things in perspective.”
“One of my Dad’s favourite lines was, ‘Don’t be so short-sighted,’ which had a number of different applications for me and my siblings. He might have said it as I wasted money fixing a car better suited for scrap parts, when I was tempted to take an easier ‘bird’ course to fulfill an educational requirement, or buy the cheap couch because it would work well enough ‘for now’. Regardless of the circumstance, the underlying message was the same: if a marginal increase in your time, effort, or money would provide you with more than a marginal increase in benefit over the longer term, ‘Don’t be so short-sighted!’”
“My dad has a level head and his investment nature is to be a bit contrarian. He doesn’t get caught up in the greed or fear cycles so many investors suffer through, and I hope I’ve learned that from him. He also reads a lot of different financial letters, newspapers and gathers data from different sources. There is no substitute for doing the hard work of investing.
For my Dad, the quality of the people he invests with is important. Management teams need to have a good reputation and be honest as the day is long. He doesn’t tolerate any shenanigans, even if an opportunity appears to be great.”
“My father passed away two years ago and I miss him dearly. He has been the root of my drive and inspiration in life. He inspired the whole family to keep moving forward no matter how hard it gets or how many times we fail. He donated to causes he believed in and helped family members and friends have the same opportunities he enjoyed in his life.
And although my father had a number of successful entrepreneurial ventures, he was a big spender. His mantra in life was ‘money comes, money goes.’ He sometimes took uncalculated financial risks and risked his long-term financial well-being. This financial roller coaster wasn’t something I enjoyed growing up. I liked stability and certainty. This life experience is what propelled me to take on financial planning as a career, to avoid mistakes that my father made in his life. It’s also given me perspective on advising clients on ways to create long-lasting financial stability with minimal risk … while still enjoying life.”
“My Dad was raised in the depression. He and Mom knew how to make a dollar stretch.
I remember that the kids whose dads worked for my dad at Ford were living in bigger, more modern homes in Oakville than we were. When I asked him why, he said, ‘I sleep at night knowing I have money in the bank.’ That was it. I never asked him again. ‘Frugal’ was his middle name.”
“My dad is a finance guy and I remember two very clear and simple messages growing up: Spend less than you earn and invest early and often. Compound interest is a wonderful thing!”
“Growing up in my family, we didn’t discuss money very much. Both of my parents worked very hard to financially support the family and when it came to spending money, my brother and I were very aware of the hard work that was needed in order to enjoy that privilege. The phrase “money doesn’t grow on trees you know” was not uncommon. My father was more traditional and didn’t explain much more beyond that. As I began my education and career in wealth management, I came to learn the value of having money conversations and I encourage this with the families we work with – to help the next generation develop sound financial skills and prepare them to steward wealth responsibly. I owe my Dad a huge credit — because he believed in me and encouraged me to pursue a career in what historically was a male-dominated field. Maybe he wasn’t so traditional after all.”
“Whether my father was talking about his manufacturing business or his personal finances, I remember him always stressing the importance of avoiding unnecessary debt. I specifically remember him saying: ‘Having someone working for a bank tell me how to run my life or my company is something I want to avoid.’”
So, on this Father’s Day, we’d like to raise a glass to the dads who always managed to provide the right kind of guidance at the right times. Every day we apply your practical lessons in money management. While the tools we use to manage our clients’ portfolios are a little more sophisticated than the envelope you used to add up the numbers and make the right financial move, the idea’s the same. Growing wealth takes time, hard work and smart decision-making. We think of you every time we do the same for our clients.
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