Simple Money Lessons My Dad Taught Me

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One student shares how her dad taught her about saving, budgeting, making money and investing

Personal finance is a huge subject and not just the basic budgeting and saving concepts many try passing on to their kids. Make sure you’re teaching your kids everything you can about personal finance, making money and investing to get them ready for the road ahead.

Today’s essay is by Neridia Villa-Ortiz, a student at CSU Stanislaus. She shares the many money lessons her dad taught her about budgeting, saving and everything else to get her ready to manage her own finances.

Check out Neridia’s story and please share on social media. The most-shared essay on how parents can teach their kids about money will win our $500 personal finance scholarship, announced August 31st!

Get the help you need to teach your kids about making their money work for them. Check out these investing resources and reviews.

What My Dad Taught Me about Personal Finance

Growing up I never lived a lavish lifestyle, but I had a great childhood.  I remember my trips to Disneyland, Great America, Six Flags, Raging Waters, and so many more.  My parents didn’t understand the whole “name brand” thing so our clothes were always budget friendly and whatever was saved on clothes and shoes was used to finance our trips or “extra” things that were not part of the regular monthly bills.

I still use this budgeting tip today opting to check out thrift stores for work clothes and only buying clothes at retail stores when they’re on sale and have a coupon.  I no longer believe on paying full price for clothes as I have been amazed at what I can find for only a fraction of the price.

If it’s not on sale, I’m not getting it, that simple.  (I’d like to note that I’m speaking about “wants” and not things that I actually “need”.  Needs include deodorant, toothpaste, school supplies, healthy food)

Budgeting Every Shopping Trip to Save Money Everyday

Another technique that I got specifically from my dad is to go in to the store knowing how much you want to spend and stick with that number.  For example, when I browse through Target online looking for a new bathing suit, I limit the amount it can be that way nothing higher than my budget comes up.

This also means that when you walk into a store you should have that budget in mind either for that specific item or a total budget on how much you’re willing to spend in total.  If an item is not in your budget, I’m sorry, it wasn’t meant to be.  It’s a little hard at first, but the more you practice walking away from a “want”, the easier it becomes.

Need more ways to save money? Check out these 20 Money Saving Tips to Save up to $7,500 a Year!

Using Credit as a Financial Tool

Another big thing that my dad taught me was the importance of having good credit.  I didn’t understand what he was telling me when I was in fifth grade, but as I got older I was able to understand more.  I think the idea of it was that you need good credit, and with this good credit you can buy anything you want. Good credit is the key to getting a new car, house, appliances, and any other big items.

Credit allows you to buy things without having the cash but it is only with good credit that you can get the low interest payments or sometimes even interest free (cough cough, student loans) .  So when I turned 19 I went to my bank and got approved for a credit card.  I made sure to pay off the full amount each month and I never missed a payment.  I’ve enjoyed the perks of having perfect credit for a few years now and it’s a great feeling.

Yet another tip from my dad is to never spend more than what you make and you’ll never be broke.  It’s probably the best tip because it gets you to stop your shopping impulses and it helps to keep your credit card amounts to a reasonable limit.

If I know I only made a hundred dollars, I can’t go into Dillard’s and buy the one hundred and eighty dollar Ugg’s.  If I know I only have two hundred dollars for the month then I can’t go out and put a new four hundred dollar Michael Kors bag on my credit card.  I won’t be able to pay off my credit card at the end of the month, I’d get charged interest, and it wouldn’t help my credit score.

Read more about debt as a financial tool. Learn the difference between living debt free and free from bad debt.

Making More Money Makes it Easier to Save

For as long as I can remember my dad has always been finding ways to make extra cash.  He claims he has many talents and I believe him.  He’s a great mechanic, landscaper, plumber, and even a great tailor.  He truly can do it all, and if he doesn’t know how at that moment he will take the time to learn how to do it.

I can’t even begin to calculate all the money we have saved by having him around.  He’s fixed our plumbing, done our landscape, put in our surround sound, sewed our living room curtains, all the auto work…. The list goes on and on.  So what I’ve learned is that if he can do it, so can I.

I can’t live my life waiting around for someone to come help me do these things and I certainly don’t have the money to pay someone to come do it.  I need to take the initiative and learn how to do it myself.  I will not only save a few bucks, but I’ll also acquire a new skill set that I can use later to make extra money.

How to Get Started Investing

The last thing I’d like to talk about is investments.  When I was in elementary school I remember seeing these letters coming in from my Dad’s previous job.  They’d have this colorful circle with numbers and it was printed on nice paper.  Come to find out it was my Dad’s 401k monthly summary.

So I was introduced to a 401k at an early age and became aware that it was crucial for retirement.  At every job I’ve had I’ve always made sure to ask if 401k’s were available.  Most of them didn’t since I was only working part time but surprisingly enough Wal-Mart did, and they matched what you contributed.

Read next: How to Invest $1,000 Now

Another thing he talked to me about was CD’s.  He didn’t know too much about them but was just throwing out some ideas for me to think about.  I ended up meeting with an advisor from my bank to talk about investment options which was helpful.  It’s never too early to start planning for your retirement especially for my fellow millennials, we need to be super careful about what we do to plan for our retirement.

Three Money Lessons from My Dad

Writing this has made me realize that I’m talking a lot about my dad almost like I’m writing this paper about him which is not the case.  What I’ve realized is that my success with managing my money has come from everything that I have been exposed to through my Dad.  I’ve learned from his mistakes as well as his success.

If I could summarize it all I would say

  1. a) never spend more than what you make
  2. b) set aside a portion of your income in your savings for rainy days and
  3. c) be responsible (with due dates, spending habits, etc.) If your parents don’t have experience in any of these things don’t be afraid to Google them to find out more information. Be sure to check out a few websites on each topic to get a better understanding so that you can make better judgments.

Chances are that if you’re reading this you’re at least 18 years old which unfortunately means that high school is over and it’s time to deal with real life adult things.  I know it’s overwhelming and retirement seems so far away but I encourage you to take a few minutes to Google some things or ask HR if they have any information they can give you.  Just having that knowledge even if you’re not applying it puts you at a better position for your future.

I want to thank Neridia for her essay on the money lessons her dad taught her. Be sure to support Neridia by sharing the article through social media and check in August for the winner of the personal finance scholarship.

One Comment

  • Nicely written one! I can tell the affection and admiration Neridia has for her dad. It’s important to know finances are often tied to relationships and feelings. We behave financially the way our behaviors have always been reinforced. In her case, her dad has probably encouraged and rewarded her efforts. Discipline for developing a good habit is needed just in the beginning; later on, you are left with a healthy financial behavior that requires no maintenance, it’s recurrent. Nice little story and valuable tips! Thank you!

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