Our dads teach us a lot. For many of us, they’re the ones who show us how to ride a bike, how to mow a lawn, how to use a power tool. Some of them become our coaches, showing us how to weather losses and celebrate victories, how to work hard and be a good teammate.

The lessons that our dads teach us can be outrightly stated or be more subtle. For some kids, the money lessons they learned from their dads were helpful and practical, but for others, it was a lesson in what not to do.

Here are our financial advisor’s best stories on what they learned from their fathers – for better or for worse.

I learned how to be frugal

Financial planner John Angelo Flavin of Synergy Financial Management said his father didn’t talk much about money, but demonstrated his frugal values through his actions.

“It wasn’t like he gave me a big lecture,” he said. “We never bought the nice new car, we always bought a used car, we always drove it into the ground.”

One time, his father’s car needed a new paint job. He took it to the body shop where the mechanic said it would cost $1,000 to repaint the car. Instead, his dad drove to a hardware store, bought a paint compressor and used house paint to cover the car.

“At the time I was kind of like, ‘Well, that’s a little ugly,’” he said. “Now, it’s a prideful thing, how we figured it. You get resourceful. I can’t afford the $1,000 paint job but I can afford the $50 compressor and $10 cans of paint.”

His parents saved money so they could buy what mattered, like their kids’ college tuition so they wouldn’t have to take out student loans. Back then, his parents made between $25,000 and $35,000 a year each and Flavin says “they did some incredible things” on that salary.

Nowadays, he’s taken his father’s financial lessons to heart, encouraging his daughter to open a cat sitting business so she can earn her own money. Nowadays, his kids know that if they ask for a new toy or a treat at the grocery store, he’ll say they have to use their own money.

I learned to pay attention to taxes

Financial planner Marguerita Cheng CFP® and CEO of Blue Ocean Global Wealth said her dad taught her a lot of practical lessons around personal finance, but he also showed her the toll that tax season would take on him.

“I learned to be more proactive with tax planning throughout the year and stay organized throughout the year” she said. “Apps and filling systems mean that I don’t need to scramble and search for important items.”

Otherwise, her father was a great role model when it came to money. When he came to America from Taiwan, he had $17 and a hard work ethic. He taught Marguerita that financial success wasn’t the only way to determine your value as a person.

“He told me that money doesn’t buy happiness, but it does bring opportunities,” she said. “Don’t squander your opportunities.”

My father taught me everything I know

Cary Carbonaro, MBA, CFP® of United Capital of New York and New Jersey said her dad taught her everything she needed to know about money.

“We bonded over finance instead of sports,” she said.

A senior vice president at JP Morgan Chase, her dad took her to the office before “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” was commonplace. They attended foreclosure auctions together and watched “Straight Talk on Money” with Ken and Maria Dolan.

He taught her to pay her credit cards in full, match her 401k contributions and “Always remember your money in the future is worth more than your money today.”

The Bottom Line

If your dad taught you the wrong things about money, it’s not too late to get the right advice. Find a financial planner through GuideVine who can show you how to make the best decisions with your money and plan for a retirement your pop would’ve been proud of.


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Zina Kumok

Zina Kumok

Zina Kumok is a personal finance freelance writer. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Learnvest and DailyWorth. She writes a blog about how to be mindful with your money. Follow Zina on Twitter and ConsciousCoins.com