As Father’s Day quickly approaches this weekend, I started thinking about some of the important lessons I learned from my dad. He’s the first man who showed me what it means to work hard to provide for your family and helped me understand that money doesn’t fall from trees – which was a colossal disappointment. Dads teach us some of life’s most essential lessons, especially when it comes to finances. Here are a few I learned from my dad.
Magic is an Illusion
When I was a kid, I loved to watch magic shows on television. David Copperfield was a big deal then and I remember being awestruck by his abilities. He could float, disappear and even cut people in half and put them back together! I was too allured by the wonderment of the magician’s tricks to see that it was all merely an illusion. Imagine my disappointment when my dad showed me that the magician wasn’t so magical at all, but rather manipulating the crowd by making them look where he wanted so they wouldn’t see how he was tricking them. In life, there are all kinds of bad people who manipulate people like a magician manipulates his audience. If we’re not careful, we can fall victim to the tricks of scammers and end up giving away our life savings. Be leery of things that seem too good to be true. Also, watch out for magicians, especially if they pull a bunny out of their top hat because they just might be pulling a wallet out of your pocket at the same time!
Turn Off the Lights
Like most kids, I rarely turned off lights when I left a room, thought absurdly long showers were a way of life and opened my windows while the air was running. Which made my dad seem like a real buzzkill when he told me to shut my window as I was listening to the charming sounds of the outdoors. He told me time and time again that we were not providing air conditioning to Mother Nature and eventually I began to understand that my dad wasn’t a buzzkill, he simply didn’t enjoy wasting money. He taught me to be aware of how expensive life can be, especially if we don’t pay attention.
Don’t Drive Through Deep Water
When I first started driving, I approached some standing water in my dowdy but durable Oldsmobile. With the very little driving experience I had, I decided the more quickly I could get through the water the better so I hit the gas and really went for it….and then my durable Oldsmobile stopped right in the middle of the water. My dad of course came to my rescue and was quick to tell me two things. The first, never press hard on the gas when you drive through standing water. It allows more water to get up in the engine and ruin your car. When you’re making a large financial decision, don’t hit the gas. Take time to really think about your decision and consider the choices that are best for you and your future. The second, and more important, thing he said was to never drive through standing water in the first place, especially since I didn’t have a car that was equipped to handle it. Sometimes we encounter once in a lifetime opportunities, but no matter how great they are, if you’re not financially prepared to handle them, you too will end up stuck in the middle of standing water.
The Boogeyman Isn’t Real – But Bill Collectors Are!
I never seem to fully gain my courage back after watching scary movies which is why I’ve never really liked them. It took me a long time to feel comfortable hanging an arm or leg off of the bed at night because I dreaded feeling the creepy cold hand of the boogeyman. Like all good fathers, my dad told me there was nothing hiding under my bed or in my closet. At some point – likely far too late in life – I overcame my terror of the boogeyman, but began to understand that if you don’t pay your bills, there’s an adult version of the boogeyman and it’s called a bill collector. As a teenager, learning about all the bills you are responsible for paying as an adult is eye opening. Learning about what happens when you don’t pay your bills is more frightening than the boogeyman. My dad showed me how important it is to keep up with all of your responsibilities, including bills which help maintain good credit and avoid the boogeyman….err, I mean bill collectors!
Be sure to thank your dad this weekend for all of the great life lessons he’s taught you. Happy Father’s Day dad and to all of the other great dads out there!!