Financial Lessons from my Father
Time really does fly. It does not seem like that long ago when I was sitting there in the ICU, machines
beeping a consistent cadence in the background, gazing in disbelief at my father. The minute I walked
into that room; I knew this was different. I had sat by his hospital bed before, but this time, he would
not make it out. 2021 marks the ten-year anniversary of my father’s passing and for some reason I find
myself reflecting more often than normal about the life I had with my father and the lessons that I
learned from him.
With all parents, as you grow up, you learn there were some pearls of wisdom they had that were spot
on. Other times, you if your observant enough, you learn from their mistakes. We do not have the time
to go over everything that my father taught me, but I did want to focus on the financial lessons I learned
Pearls of Financial Wisdom:
“A car is an expense, not an asset.” That was one of my father’s many phrases and probably his biggest
or at least most consistent financial message to me. He was right. Cars lose their value the minute you
drive them off the dealership. I’ve seen people overextend themselves financially to drive an expensive
car in order to impress strangers.
Both of my parents were always good savers. Even when they were starting out in their careers, they
made sure to save money for retirement and always had an emergency fund (which always saved him if
he ever found himself between jobs). They started me out very early in my life. Whenever I received
money for a birthday or a holiday, we always went straight to the bank. He taught me about how
interest worked, and I was able to see my account balance grow with my little bank book.
When I was a senior in college and looking to start my career, my dad’s first question to me was always,
“What are they offering you for benefits?” Salary is obviously important, but it is more valuable to look
at your overall compensation. 401k plans, health insurance, disability insurance, etc. can help play a
critical role in a person’s finances. Understanding how benefits work and what is covered can have a
significant impact on a person’s financial health. Of course, my first job out of college didn’t offer
benefits. Guess how that went over with him.
As a father and parent, you have a responsibility to your family to protect them. If I had to be critical of
my father, I’d say he relied too much on his employee benefits. Employee benefits have their limitations.
Their coverage is usually not enough on their own and they may not go with you if you ever leave the
company. My father should have had more personal life insurance than he did. In my experience as a
financial advisor most people are underestimate the amount of insurance they should have.
Saving Into One Vehicle:
As I mentioned earlier, my father was a good saver, but he was not a diverse saver. Most of his savings
went into his traditional 401k plan which is common for most people. 401k plans are great when an
employer provides a company match. There two main issues with saving solely into a traditional 401k
plan: the money taxed at retirement and there is a lack of access to the funds. Saving into a 401k, an
investment account as well as a Roth will provide more liquidity and tax diversification in retirement.
Overall, my father had good financial habits and I learned a great deal from him. My experience as a
financial advisor has opened me up to some areas where he could have built on the good work he was
already doing. I was lucky to have him in my life.
I believe that everyone deserves to live the life they want. My purpose is to help others grow and be the best version of themselves. I do this by setting a good example, educating and managing their wellness with a focus on three key areas: health, wealth and fulfillment.