Never Too Old For Dad Lessons


Never Too Old For Dad Lessons

I have said this on the blog before, and actually shared it with my dad on our upcoming podcast, but I never received a financial education from my parents. Interestingly, my dad recently shared that he didn’t feel like I needed to know about money.

It’s amazing that my dad didn’t think I needed an education in money where as a parent; teaching financial literacy to my son is high on my priorities. I’m not sure if it’s a change in times or the fact that I’m a financial planner, but I feel as though financial literacy is something every parent is responsible to teach their kids, especially since money impacts all of us and they unfortunately will not receive that education in school.

Despite the fact that my dad didn’t teach me about money growing up, he has definitely made up for lost time. I realize that I have learned more about money from my dad in the last five years of my life than I did in the first 32.

Me and my dad before I started learning money lessons from him
Me and my dad before I started learning money lessons from him
Here are some recent money lessons I have learned from my dad:
1) Financial Freedom + Kids is Possible

A few months back I went out to dinner with my dad and discovered that at almost 60 years old (he is now 60) my dad and stepmom could claim financial freedom officially. My dad loves to work and will continue to do so, but he declared over dinner that it feels so much better going to work knowing that you don’t have to work. I have to say that I never thought I would see my dad get to this point so early and that’s because he has four kids, he paid for private high schools (and some private middle schools), four colleges and three out of four weddings thus far. One time when I was sitting at work I calculated how much this financial commitment would cost and it was a staggering figure. When I asked my dad if he knew, he said it wasn’t something he thought about. He wanted to provide a good education for his kids and there wasn’t a price tag for that gift.

Anyone who says financial freedom before retirement isn’t possible is just not working hard to get there. My dad and stepmom made big lifestyle changes to reach this goal and they worked together to get there. It wasn’t always easy for them to say no to various activities and indulgences, but they stayed committed to their goal and they are now enjoying the fruits of their efforts despite the financial obligations they fulfilled for four kids.

2) A New Car Is Overrated

My dad has never had the nicest car on the block, and it’s something that never bothered him. He and my stepmom have been driving the same cars for over 8 years and have no interest in trading them in. They were smart, though, in the brands of cars they invested. Both of them drive quality cars and despite paying more upfront for the cars (one was new and one was used), they have made up for it in the length of time they have driven the cars since the investment.

I used to think that I needed a nice new car all the time and now I realize that the nicer and newer the car, the further I get behind my goal of financial freedom.

3) Only Eat Out What You Can’t Make At Home

My dad and stepmom are big fans of eating from home, despite the fact that they could afford to eat out as much as the want. They have learned to cook meals that they enjoy and for my dad cooking is almost a therapy after a long day at work. The only times they eat out are for meals that they can’t make at home, and I think this is a great philosophy.

We have personally challenged ourselves to cook more from home and try to replicate meals we would eat out at home; and we have found that we not only save money and calories, but we really enjoy the challenge. Before we think about going out to eat now, we literally ask ourselves if we can make it at home.

4) Focus on What’s Important

My dad is a surgeon and it’s easy to get caught up in lifestyle inflation as your paycheck grows, but thankfully he and my stepmom sat down years ago and decided that an education for the kids and financial freedom were two important goals to have. Since that sit down, all of their money choices were easy. With their goals in place, they didn’t worry about new cars, new clothes or expensive dinners. They adjusted their lifestyle around what was important rather than around my dad’s growing paycheck.

Two years ago my hubby and I went through a similar exercise of determining what’s important and like my dad, education for our child and financial freedom are it for us. Since we made this connection, our lifestyle choices have fallen into place accordingly and we don’t miss the spendy ways of our past.

5) Bigger Isn’t Better

My dad has lived in the same home for over 20 years and while it’s a beautiful home, it’s certainly not the biggest on the block and they could have upgraded to something bigger along the way. However, a number of years back my dad and stepmom paid off the mortgage on the home and decided that living mortgage free was more important than a bigger home.

They have friends with bigger and flashier homes and I think that they are secretly thankful that they not only avoided the mortgage but the monthly upkeep of a larger home.

I used to think I wanted to live in a large home, but now that I realized it’s not on my important list, I really don’t care how big my residence is. I would rather see more money in my bank account than more square footage in my home.

Dad and all of his kids and grandkids
Dad and all of his kids and grandkids
Did your dad teach you about money when you were young? What is an important money lesson you learned from your dad?
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Shannon is a financial planner who left a “traditional” financial services firm to start her own company, The Financial Gym, because she felt traditional financial services firms did not have the tools or resources to help people in their 20s and 30s who are starting out and trying to build assets while also managing debt. She realized that the key to long-term personal financial success is a commitment to financial fitness and making smart financial choices. Through her blog, Financially Blonde, her book, Train Your Way To Financial Fitness, her podcast, Martinis and Your Money and The Financial Gym, Shannon is committed to making financial fitness fun, easy and accessible for everyone.


  1. Great tribute to your Dad Shannon! These are all great lessons, and so much of them flow out of #4 in my opinion as that can be a guide to how you prioritize many things. Like Brian, the biggest lesson my Dad taught me was related to his work ethic – which I hope to pass on to our kiddos.

  2. I share the same sentiment that I would rather have more money in my bank account than square footage in my home. That’s awesome you have a great dad that is a good role model when it comes to handling money. Mr. Budgets and I both have dads that are better examples of how not to handle money.

  3. I so agree with the bigger home point. I really dreamed of having a home over 3,000 sq ft and I realize that I really don’t need that much space. It’s amazing what we believe that we need in life that really isn’t that important after all. Your right that your dad and step mother are great examples of defining what is really important in life. Thanks for sharing and the family pictures where great.

  4. My dad didn’t teach me about money, even though he sounds very much like your dad. I don’t know why it probably never crossed his mind, but now we do talk about it. Your dad sounds like he made some great decisions in his life. Great family photo!

    • Yeah, I always assumed my dad didn’t talk to me about money because he didn’t feel comfortable with it, so I was surprised that his answer was that he didn’t think I needed to know about it. I guess you never know until you ask, but I am thankful we have a more open dialogue now than we used to.

  5. It’s amazing what I’ve learned from my parents since I started actually listening to them 😉

    Seriously though, I caught a lot from my parents even though they never sat down and explained 401ks or compound interest to me.

  6. I definitely got my frugality from my father…he was very frugal and hard-working as most immigrants generally are. I thought that I was deprived growing up not having cable television or cool sneakers, but now that I can buy them myself, I don’t. But I think even more important than imparting frugal principals, my dad loved to learn and read books and he read about investing and encouraged me to invest as well as to open up an IRA and participate in my 401k plan when I started my first job.

  7. “Anyone who says financial freedom before retirement isn’t possible is just not working hard to get there.”

    I know what you mean, but that’s a pretty huge generalization. People have health problems, a lack of education, debt beyond their control (often from medical issues), etc. The only thing that helps my husband, who is on disability, costs $600 a month and isn’t covered by insurance. Meanwhile, we spent $12,000 on oral surgery to get him dentures 7 years ago; and next year we’ll be paying $25,000 for full-mouth dental implants.

    So while most people can save up $25,000 and put it towards a house down payment or into investments/retirement… We’ll be starting at square one.

    Plenty of people work plenty hard, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to be achieve financial freedom. It just means they had worse luck/fewer opportunities. So when we hear variations of “If I can do it, anyone can”… well, it’s very frustrating.

    The lessons he ended up teaching you are great ones, though.

  8. Awesome lessons. I really like this -> “it feels so much better going to work knowing that you don’t have to work.” I yearn for the day that I can do that, and it’s probably why I will never give up on side hustles. That’s not to say I can’t become financially free through my 9-5, I would just like to reach that point earlier if possible. Seems like your Dad really has a good grasp of finances and has made frugality work in his favor over the years.

  9. What a great tribute to your father, Shannon. Dad are simply the best. I miss mine every day. He taught me so much about money and life and I owe him so much. He’s one of my biggest inspirations and why I feel so passionate about money and paying forward the lessons he taught me.

  10. I love your dad’s living-below-his-means approach! That’s wonderful that he and your stepmom have been so successful in stewarding their money over the years. My dad didn’t teach me a whole lot about finance, although he and my mom did always teach me to save and live frugally. But, I agree with you that we’ll be making financial education much more of a priority with our kids!

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