Money lessons my father taught me

Money Lessons My Father Taught Me: Stories From Our Team

•  5 minute read

Our parents may teach us more than we realize about money. Here's what we've learned from our fathers.

Growing up, we all pick up money lessons from our parents and guardians — both good and bad, conscious and unsconscious. Some of the CentSai staff took this Father’s Day to reflect on what their dads taught them.

Kelly Meehan Brown with her dad at her graduation | Money lessons my father taught me
Photo courtesy of Kelly Meehan Brown.

Kelly Meehan Brown, Editorial Assistant

We didn’t have much money while I was growing up, but I never knew it. My parents always made sure we had the best of everything or as good as we could get. My dad has worked at least two jobs every day for as long as I can remember. He runs on very little sleep and without complaint (mostly!).

I watched him do when I was a kid, so each time I complained about having to go to work before or after college, the image of him sleep-deprived but smiling would rear its head and make me feel insane guilt. He taught me that it doesn’t matter what you earn, it’s how you make the most of it. I love you so much, Pops! Thank you for every sacrifice you made for me.

Kayla Nathaniel and her dad at a New York Mets game | Money lessons my father taught me
Photo courtesy of Kayla Nathaniel.

Kayla Nathaniel, Social Media Intern

The most important money lesson my father taught and continues to teach me is that money should be taken extremely seriously. The thing that I remember day in and day out that I learned from my dad is to save, save, save.

My granny told me a Caribbean proverb when I was younger that stuck with me: “Don’t hang your hat higher than you can reach.” She, along with my dad, instilled the art of saving in me, and it’s safe to say that I have taken that lesson and run with it. They taught me that money is great to have, but it isn’t everything.

Further Reading: “My Dad Was My Best Money Coach”

Rita Pouppirt and her dad | Money lessons from my father
Photo courtesy of Rita Pouppirt.

Rita Pouppirt, Business Development Executive

If we wanted money to go to the movies or go roller skating, my dad made us clean the garage or his office or do some other chore. He didn’t just hand us money. We always had to work for it. He was a great man.

Burt Shulman, SVP Institutional Business

My dad had a small business and woke up at six o’clock every morning, whether or not he’d slept well, whether or not he wanted to. He’d leave the house, Monday through Saturday, by seven. When my turn came to follow in my brothers’ footsteps and help Dad, I was deeply proud.

I went on to work far longer than brothers had — every summer until I turned 18 — because it turned out I liked it. I studied how my father conducted himself. What I learned from him sounds clichéd, but turned out to be as crucial to my future as any other lesson from childhood: I took down into my bones the foundational dignity and value of work, of showing up and getting it right, of fixing my mistakes whenever I made them (and I made many).

I learned the power of dependability and professionalism, brought to bear on every task, no matter how “unimportant” or “boring” it seemed.

I’m describing the work ethic, and that’s what my father taught me until it became part of my DNA, where it remains. If he were still alive, he’d turn 100 in November 2019. I thank him for that gift — and so many others — every goddamn day. I love you, Dad. Period.

Nick Bradfield, Head of Business Development and Former Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps

Nick Bradfield with his dad and son | money lessons my father taught me
Photo courtesy of Nick Bradfield (far left).

“There’s nothing like a war to get promoted.”

I called my dad during my first scare in the Marine Corps, and that is what he said.

Sometimes life is scary. Hidden in fear can be an opportunity if you stay calm and pay attention to what’s happening around you. It led to a great conversation about being prepared, surrounding yourself with good people, and not going into into a dark hole when things get bad. Instead, lift your head and look for people around you who can help. This has applied to many aspects of my life, not just business and money, though it absolutely applies to both of those, too.

Emma Finnerty, Editorial Intern

My dad taught me that “saving starts at the top of the bag.” That didn’t make a lot of sense to me when I was younger, but he instilled in me that whenever I got money I should immediately put some in savings.

He always says that there’s no point trying to save toward the end of the month when funds are already low. It seems kind of obvious, but there have been a lot of times when I’ve been grateful for that habit and for those savings.

Niamh Ring with her dad and sister | Money Lessons My Father Taught Me
Photo courtesy of Niamh Ring (far left).

Niamh Ring, Business Development Intern

The money lesson my father taught me was not intentional. Time and time again, after seeing him splurge and not take into account where money should really be spent, I was eventually exposed to the unpaid bills that were “forgotten” about or just completely avoided in hope that they would soon disappear. It eventually piled up on him and became far too much to deal with. Therefore, the lesson I learned from my father was to prioritize the boring stuff like bills, then splurge if you have anything remaining.

Further Reading: “My Dad’s Best Advice Came Out of His Company’s Failure”

Evan Sachs, Videographer and Senior Copy Editor

Evan Sachs and his dad | Money lessons my father taught me
Photo courtesy of Evan Sachs.

Even today, my dad is one of the first people I go to when I have financial questions. Confused about my taxes? Thinking about switching bank accounts? Not sure whether a credit card is actually a good a deal? I can always count on thoughtful advice if I call my dad.

He’s probably the one person who has shaped me the most when it comes to financial habits. As a kid, I watched my dad comparison shop everything from shoes to groceries in order to get the best prices without sacrificing quality. And today, when I ask him for financial advice, he will often stop and do research to make sure that he has the most accurate information. I still have a long way to go before I’m as thorough as my dad is, but I’ve learned so much from him about doing my due diligence before making decisions.