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Nuggets of Wisdom From My Dad

dad and me, circa 1983


Happy Father’s Day, all! I thought I’d take a minute today to honor my dad, AKA my teacher, financial advisor, landlord, mechanic, plumber, electrician, locksmith, tech support, reality checker, cheerleader, problem solver, mover of heavy things…. I could keep going but I’ll stop.

Throughout my life, my dad has always been the person I go to when something is wrong or broken (which, unfortunately, has been way more often than I’d like). Despite the fact that we rival each other for the title of Most Stubborn Human Alive, we have always managed to be close, in a “let’s not get emotional because that would be weird” kind of way. I’m thankful every day that my dad is here for me to rely on, though I’m also thankful that I’m learning to rely on him less.

While I haven’t always been ready to listen to my dad’s words of wisdom at the time he offered them, I’ve finally figured out that he’s almost always right. If I had been smart enough to follow his example in the first place, most of my struggles in adulthood (financial and otherwise) would have been eliminated. I always want him to know that I’ve been paying attention, even when my actions have said otherwise.

Here are just a few of the things my dad has taught me about money and about life.

1. Cash is king. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this, I could probably retire. But it’s just the truth. When you have money in the bank, you have more choices. When you don’t, all the choices suck. There will never be a time that you’ll think, Gosh, I wish I hadn’t saved up all this money!

2. Fear is usually pointless. You can worry about something all you want, but in the end, there are only two outcomes: It either happens or it doesn’t. The best thing to do is plan for either scenario and live your life.

3. Knowledge is power… “You can work with your brain, or you can work with your back.” I remember deciding as a young child that I never wanted to depend on my ability to do physical work, both because I’m kind of puny and because using my brain just sounds better. I will do as much research as it takes to solve problems and figure out new ways to accomplish my goals.

4. …But you need skills to go with it. Just knowing stuff isn’t enough to succeed. You need to put that knowledge to work in a way that allows you to earn a living and be fairly happy with what you do. Only since I looked beyond what I know and figured out what I could do has my self-employment experiment felt even remotely like a success.

5. No one cares about your life as much as you do. Obviously we are an interdependent species, but it’s smart to function as independently as possible. Use every opportunity to gain knowledge that will benefit you later in life. Because no matter how many friends you have, none of them are going to put themselves and their happiness at risk – it’s up to you to make things happen. And the people you depend on may not be here tomorrow.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe that my dad isn’t still in his thirties and that he won’t always be here to guide and help me. For today, though, I look forward to celebrating my dad’s influence on my life and letting him know that his wisdom isn’t falling on deaf ears.

Do you get to spend time with your father today? What wisdom have you gained from him? 

About Andrea Whitmer

Andrea is a freelance web developer and mom trying to maintain a sense of humor in an otherwise chaotic world. She blogs in hopes of helping others avoid the same mistakes she made in the past. Join in the discussion here on So Over This, or connect on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Google Plus. You can also subscribe to new posts via RSS so you never miss out!


  1. Canadianbudgetbinder says:

    Great post Andrea, your father taught you well. So many of these points my father has brought up at one point or another but the "Cash is King" is something I am familiar with. My mum and dad liked to pay cash for everything they purchased. My father told me that when you have money in the bank, it takes some of the weight off of your shoulders so you can focus on long term and short term goals. That is why I started my savings program early on in life so I could build some stress relief and buy me some time and I'm thankful for that.
    Enjoy your Day Andrea!!!

  2. Budget & the Beach says:

    Good lessons. My dad is on the other side of the country so I won't be spending father's day with him. I know this sounds kind of weird but I've been thinking about this for a few days; the biggest lesson I learned from my dad, is that he DIDN'T teach me about money. He had a stable job as a dentist and we always lived comfortably with him working and my mom staying home (until they got divorced when I was in high school). I know he was good with money, but I never learning how to use it or save it. It was never a subject that was brought up, and I really wish it was.

  3. Great reminders of so many things my father taught me about life. I try to pass it along to my children. It seems more important than ever to learn the importance of preparing for a "rainy day".


  4. seedebtrun says:

    Your mover of heavy things sounds like a great guy! I spent some time with my dad last night and watched as he played with my little girl. It brought back sweet childhood memories of playing with my dad. He was always so good at playing with us! Dolls, tea parties…he did it all! Happy Dad's Day!

  5. insomniaclabrat says:

    I called my dad today, but I won't see him until next month when we're in Michigan for my cousin's wedding. At first thought, I didn't think my dad really taught me anything about money- he was never very talkative about it. But he did set a good example of living frugally- he walked to work when he worked close to home, he packs lunch 4 days a week, fixes a lot of stuff himself, etc. He also made me keep half of my birthday/christmas money in a savings account that I wasn't allowed to touch. After my first two years of college, he gave me that money, which paid for the part of my third year costs that I couldn't cover myself. Even though we didn't talk about why I was saving that money as a kid, I really appreciated it when I was older!

  6. I'm currently house-sitting in Alaska and my dad lives in New Jersey. I'll see him late next month when I make a trip to the East Coast to visit him and other relatives and to do another house-sitting job (in NYC). I'll call him a little later, though.
    The wisdom I got from him is reflected in a Father's Day post at my own website. Anyone who's interested could go read it but the short form is this: How to make do, how to figure your way around a problem if you can’t go through it, how to work harder than you think you can and, most of all, that you should never give up.

  7. @Finance_Fox says:

    Some great wisdom from your dad.
    He sounds like a great guy, and you're fortunate to have a great role model like that in your life!

  8. #2 are definitely words to live by! Now if I can only convince my husband.

  9. I spent much of the day with my father and thoroughly enjoyed it. As parents get older, it's just something I think of with each passing year than I should enjoy each opportunity to appreaciate them.

    From my father, when it comes to money I've learned that nobody cares about your own finances as much as you do, and that there are no shortage of people out there who would take your money in a heartbeat without a care for your outcome. And, there's no such thing as a free lunch. Be smart, and think things through logically rather than emotionally. At the same time, try to lend a hand to others in need without thinking of getting things back.

    Those are some of the things I've picked up on in terms of money, from my father.

  10. callmewhatyouwantevencheap says:

    It sounds like you have a great dad! Cash is king is advice that all parents should give their children. I also love #5,

  11. This is an excellent tribute to your dad. in our life the biggest influential persons are mom and dad. They shaped us. I think you are also playing dad role for Jayden. So I can wish you on father's day, isn't it?

  12. I remember helping my Dad fix the family station wagon in the garage. He could fix just about anything and I guess that is where I got my DIY skills. Happy Fathers Day!

  13. Your dad is uber cool! And great advice, especially the point on fear. I don't know why, I've had a lot of fear lately. I need to remember how to just live my life again without fear hanging over me. Dads are great 🙂

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