There are so many directions I could go in a post about my father. He is a pretty cool dude who spent his early years driving motorcycles far too fast to mention and traded them in to pay for his daughters as they came along. That makes a pretty great start to a dad, for sure.
The most important fatherly duty of any man is to take his family to church. My father and mother did that. But today I am going to talk about the financial dadisms my sister and I were taught in our life. In a world full of people who spend too much, save too little, and basically run amok with their purse strings, I want to shout from the rooftops about the dad who taught us what's up with money.
Here's to you, Dad.
1. "I never spend a dime!"
You know those 10 gallon jugs of pretzels? My dad can finish off one of those in two days flat. Our first daughter thinks the words "PopPop" and "pretzel" are synonymous. Well, anyway, growing up he would barrel down, finish up a couple hundred pretzels, wipe the plastic container clean, and start his newest collection of dimes. He literally never spent a single dime he had. He always says he chose dimes to save because they are small enough to take up very little space and yet add up pretty quickly. The perfect coin in his mind. And so his collections marched onward throughout the years. At first he said he was saving them for each of his daughters, then he met those goals. So, then he moved onto his grandkids, of which he currently has six. Each of them have a pretzel jar of dimes, too. And when he says they add of quick in a small space, he ain't kidding...a few thousand dollars in each of those extremely heavy jugs. I don't know if I could actually ever cash mine out at this point. Those jugs have more emotional weight than they do financial weight. They teach me about the repetitive nature of saving. They show me that small steps add up. They scream to me about the love of a father as he dropped a dime in there each day and thought about the future grandkids he would bless with those jugs. Ain't nothing better than that, folks.
2. "Got some electrical work to do at that church."
Watching a father give to the church is of unspeakable value to a child's life. My parents were/are consistent tithers. My dad does not hide the fact that in the course of our lives, there were times when he and my mother had 13 cents in their checking and savings accounts (plus a hundred bucks in untouchable, dimes, of course). They were not wealthy people, but they never failed to give monetarily to the church. But that wasn't the only things they did. My dad is an electrician, and I cannot count how many nights he spent hanging fans, replacing electrical boxes, putting in new lights, and flipping switches at the church throughout my childhood. He gave of himself and his talents. Money first, talents next. Give to the church. Give to others. Be generous. Even when you are poor. Be generous. Even when you barely have a dime. Be generous. God has overflowed on you. Return to Him part of what is His.
3. "No daughter of mine won't know how to drive a stick shift."
When I was 13 years old, my parents ran across an opportunity to buy a little convertible for cheap. It was a manual, and my dad said it was the perfect first car for me. I just had to watch them drive it for a few years first. My parents weren't of the mindset that we needed to purchase our own vehicles, although I see the merit in that parenting choice, as well. But they were of the mindset that we didn't need anything fancy or new. More importantly, they believed we certainly needed to know some basic skills, like how to use a clutch. It may seem strange that I would include this in a list of financial dadisms, but the point was that his daughters were going to learn to drive from their father. They were going to learn how to balance a checkbook from their father. They were going to learn the basics of how to run wires through the walls in a house from their father. They were going to learn how to fix their bikes from their father. They were going to learn how to save a barrel of dimes from their father. Notice a trend? From their father. That meant he spent time with us. He, along with my mom, experienced whiplash when I dropped the transmission one too many times. A mother and a father together raising two daughters to be self-sufficient, law-abiding citizens who knew how to handle money and a manual transmission.
4. "If you don't have it, you shouldn't have it."
My dad is vehemently against credit cards. He did have to break down and get one just a couple years ago, because you can't even function in today's society without one as a means of booking certain things. But rest assured, his balance is at 0, his credit limit at like nothing, and if it is ever used, it is most certainly paid off in 30 days or less. So, this meant that when we were young, we learned that if we didn't have the money, we didn't get the thing. Seems like a pretty simple lesson, but our society has trouble with simple lessons. My parents pay cash for everything, even vehicles. One time my parents bought a vehicle with...yep, you guessed it, DIMES! The only loan they ever had was their home loan, and they paid that off 10 years early. They both recently retired, they own a home, two vehicles, a camper, and they owe no one anything. And their financial stability is not due to excess wealth. It is due to knowing that if you don't have it, you shouldn't have it.
5. "You can't have a job."
There are a lot of parents who insist upon their children working as a means to learning about money and the value of a dollar. My parents were not one of those sets of parents. I hated not having a job. I asked to get a job lots of times, to no avail. They did allow me to teach oboe and saxophone lessons later in high school, but only because it was a way for me to hone my playing skills while helping others. They were against me earning money, because they always said, "You already have a job, Kelly. Your job is to do well in school. Our job is to pay for you to do that. You earn scholarships. That is how you can work." And work, I did. In honor of parents who worked so hard for me, I was compelled to hold up my end of the bargain.
6. "Mmgghh, here!"
No, my father didn't speak a foreign language. This is my best attempt at spelling a sound he often makes. It was a bit of a grunt, but in a soft teddy bear sort of way. It went something like this: "Dad, can I have $10? I want to get pizza with my friends after school." Pause. Reach for billfold. "Mmgghh, here!" Or like this: (As he settles down into the couch after going to the basement for a bowl of ice cream for himself) "Oh, that looks good, Dad!" Pause. Put the spoon down. "Mmgghh, here!" I am not sure "cheerful giver" would be the right words for this spirit in my dad, but it certainly was "constant giver." I rarely remember my dad saying no to me. In today's world, you might think that is the recipe for a spoiled brat who gets anything she wants. But somehow, that is not the daughters he helped form with this constant giving nature. He and my mom modeled a life or giving to others and living on less. So, we didn't think to expect extravagant things, but we knew to expect all they could give. And that spirit lives on in them to this day. They inspire those around them to be more giving even in a "Mmgghh, here!" sort of way.
Fathers get a pretty bad name in our culture. So, to all you dads out there with some "isms" (whether it be financial or any other area of life), thanks for loving the mothers of your children. Thanks for loving your children. Us grown-up daughters wouldn't be the same without you.
Thanks, Dad. I love you.