'A strong work ethic': What my dad taught me about money


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Ahead of Father's Day tomorrow, we asked the Money team to reflect on the money lessons - big and small - that they learnt from their dads. Let us know in the comments what your dad taught you about money.

'A strong work ethic'

My dad was a Yorkshireman which, the British joke, is "a Scotsman with all the generosity squeezed out of him". Growing up in England in the shadow of the depression, war and rationing, he was definitely careful with money. His lessons to me came mainly from behaviours observed. We would take packed lunches to school and work and even sandwiches on days out.

what my dad taught me about money julia newbould
Money editor-at-large Julia Newbould (right) with her late father John Newbould.

We had very little waste in our home - things would be mended, fixed and kept in good nick to extend their wear. His lessons on repairing, not wasting and recycling are those which are very popular today as they're good for the environment as well as the bank balance.

We never had a new car - it lost too much value as soon as it came out of the showroom. Buying second-hand was also natural when it came to buying books and some of my best memories are fossicking through book sales with him. Money on books and education was always seen as well spent and a strong work ethic was also forged by my dad who encouraged me to work from age 14 - and I haven't stopped since.

- Julia Newbould, editor-at-large

'Don't sit on cash'

Having an accountant as a father didn't rub off on me as much as I'd hoped. Still, he left me with some nuggets of wisdom that I carry with me to this day.

The first is a rule of thumb for splitting the hard earned dollars - keep a third for expenses, a third for saving or investing, and a third for fun. My preference for the last has too often come at the expense of the first two, but hey, life's to live.

He also taught me that the best time to invest is as soon as you have the capacity to. So, don't sit on cash doing nothing when you can invest it sensibly and let compound interest, one of the only 'free lunches' in finance, do its thing. I've tried to follow this last maxim as best I can, ignoring the short-term up and down of an investment's value. In that sense, I've never gambled and don't plan to start - the house usually wins.

- David Thornton, staff writer

'Make your possessions last'

Dad (and mum) were raising three children under four when the 90s recession began. As a family we lived off Dad's income for more than a decade and to this day I'm still amazed as to how we did it.

He taught me the value in making your possessions last. Whether it was toys, tools or cars, he never took these things for granted.

Dad also taught me that you didn't need to live or holiday five-star to have fun - our family holidays were always domestic and in caravan parks, but the stories are timeless.

In adult life, dad offered great advice on what to look for when buying and maintaining big ticket items like a house or car. His attention to detail on these purchases has always impressed me.

- Darren Snyder, managing editor

'Don't be selfish'

My dad gave me the best - and the worst - money advice I've ever received when I was growing up and they continue to influence me to this day.

First, my dad taught me the value of short-term sacrifice for long-term gain. For example, instead of saving up on small things, he would save up all his money to buy property - in cash. He came from a generation that didn't automatically have access to bank loans. He bought most things in cash - but had to really penny-pinch to save enough.

But while he's frugal, he didn't scrimp when it comes to big-ticket items.  For example, you don't just buy a TV unit. You buy a TV unit that lasts. You don't just buy a lawn mower. You buy a lawn mower that lasts. This meant that he always bought the product that's usually twice or three times dearer than the cheaper alternative but nothing ever broke down in our house!

He was, however, an extremely generous man and would rather give to his family and relatives than save for his retirement. When someone's in trouble or needed help, he would always give money, even if it's his last dime. When I complain and tell him that he should set aside money for a rainy day, he would always tell me, "Michelle, don't be selfish. It's just money. If you keep your money to yourself, God will take it away!" So unfortunately, I associated saving up for my retirement, irrational as it may sound, as being cursed by God if I make my own financial needs a priority. There was so much focus on using our finances for the present instead of setting it aside for the future.

I've decided to make the most of his good advice and found a healthy compromise about saving some money for myself while still being there for my extended family.

- Michelle Baltazar, editor-in-chief

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