In honor of our Fathers, today I want to share four financial lessons that my dad taught me.
Life was not easy for my dad. He was raised in poverty but found his escape by lying about his age and joining the Marines at only 17. He survived through the brutal Korean War but was seriously injured in a terrible car accident and honorably discharged from the military. Remarkably, he saved all his money while in the service in order to purchase his mom her first house with indoor plumbing. With great determination and sacrifice, he earned a college degree in accounting on the GI bill while working full time and raising a family. As we grew up, we realized that he had denied himself what he wanted so my brother and I could attend college at a private Christian university. He even bought us a new car for a wedding present.
I don’t know how many more Father’s Days I’ll be able to celebrate with my Dad. He is now 88, and although he is in good health, neither one of us takes a single day we can be together for granted. That’s why I am reflecting on just how much I have benefitted from the financial lessons he taught me.
Value of hard work
Dad believed in teaching us to be hard workers. We always had opportunities to work with him around the house on projects, but he wanted us to learn under another boss or leader outside of our home. My first job was at an amusement park. I was only 14 years old. I worked in the oil fields beginning at age 16 and owned my own business raising and selling thousands of parakeets while in high school. Yes, you read that correctly. We started with only a dozen breeding pairs of these colorful pets and grew it to 1200 breeding pairs. Needless to say, they created a lot of mess to clean up!
Hard work teaches you the value of money and how to get along with many different people early in life. These work lessons are a cornerstone for our future careers. Hard work is a Biblical principle (Proverbs 14:23) and is essential for anyone who desires to glorify God through his/her labors.
Priority of giving
Dad always demonstrated generosity. I can remember him putting checks into the offering plate at church. He was very consistent at tithing. We were raised knowing that honoring God with our money was a priority for our family.
Consistency in saving
Dad always encouraged us to save money. It started with coin books for pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. I also opened a passbook savings account, purchased US Savings Bonds, and stocked away extra income whenever I could. I was able to save enough money to buy Ann’s wedding ring with cash. Although I did not follow this advice early in my marriage, I later developed a deep appreciation for his efforts to train me to curb my desires to spend. He was trying to help me avoid becoming a fool (Proverbs 21:20).
Dad prepared income tax returns for extra revenue to support our family. He typically would work on those while sitting at the dining room table. I recall how he would explain that you never lie to the IRS. He believed that God expected us to be completely honest, especially when dealing with money (Exodus 20:16). When Dad’s boss died, he entrusted my dad with the management of his entire estate. Dad’s integrity blessed him with stewardship of money that set a great example for me.
“The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him!” (Proverbs 20:7).
I am so grateful to have had the father that God gave me. He has been a blessing to me in every way. These financial lessons have served me well but are just a tip of the iceberg of what I learned from my dad. To all of you other dads, don’t underestimate the lasting impact you create by example.
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Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, a global Christian ministry, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian Music and Talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book, Seven Gray Swans: Trends that Threaten Our Financial Future. Be sure to follow Crown on Facebook.