Money Lessons My Dad Taught Me: Stories From Our Team
Rita Pouppirt (left) with her father
Growing up, we all pick up money habits from our parents and guardians — both good and bad, conscious and unconscious. Some of the CentSai staff took this Father’s Day to reflect on the financial lessons their dads taught them.
Rita Pouppirt, Former 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.
Kelly Meehan Brown, Assistant Editor
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 this 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.
Michael Shin, Director of Product Design
My father taught me that when you need to spend money, spend it like a baller — don’t regret it! But when you don’t need to spend it, save it like a cheapskate.
Kayla Nathaniel, Former Business Development Intern
The most important money lesson my dad 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 him 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.
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, Former Head of Business Development and Former Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps
“There’s nothing like a war to get promoted.”
I called my dad during my first scare in the Marine Corps, and that’s what he said. Sometimes life is scary. An opportunity can be hidden in fear can 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 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, Former Assistant Social Media Manager
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, Business Development Associate
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 the 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.
Evan Sachs, Videographer and Senior Copy Editor
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.
Clara Jeong, Product Designer
Back when our family still lived in Korea, my dad would give 1000 won (a dollar in U.S. currency) to an 8-year-old me every day. Before I could take the money from his hand, he would always remind me not to spend everything and “save for the rainy days.”
This habit helped our family overcome several obstacles, and also helped me realize how important it was to save. To this day, that’s my dad’s motto, and it’s now mine, as well — even when I spurge on shopping here and there (#sorrynotsorry). Love you, Dad!
Charlotte Baker, Consultant and Writer
My father taught me the art and value of bartering. When I was a child, we had a small farm. We had plenty to eat, but very little money.
Like most farm girls, I wanted my own pony and knew I would never get one. But my dad? He wired a house for some friends and they gave him a pony for the work. Her name was Dolly and we had some wonderful years together on that little farm.
Later, when we moved to the city, I desperately wanted to play the piano. Dad to the rescue again. He did some electrical work for someone, and they gave him a piano as payment. I played that piano for 10 years of lessons, and my own children also learned to play on it. We still have it 40 years later!
As an adult, I have bartered for ballet lessons for my daughter, catering for my son’s wedding, weekly massages and reflexology for myself, and nutritional consulting for a member of my family, amongst other things. I’ve saved thousands of dollars because of this one lesson from my dad.
He passed in 2015 and we miss him desperately, but I’m so proud of the legacy he left in the sound financial decisions he made throughout his life.