12 Things Dad Taught Us About Money

12 Things Dad Taught Us About Money

Want to hear a money-related dad joke? (The answer is always yes.)

Anyone who thinks talk is cheap must not be paying his teen's phone bill.

Want another? (Of course.)

You're spending so much money on coffee each month, it looks like your budget got mugged.

Mugged. Get it? Oh man.

But seriously, dads give us a ton of punny jokes and grilling tips, but they also pass down loads of wisdom. In honor of Father’s Day, we want to look into some of the dadisms many of us grew up hearing and see how they relate to budgeting. Here are 12 things Dad taught us about money. 

1. “Money doesn’t grow on trees.”

Well, we could get technical and talk about how paper is made from trees, but we won’t go there. We will go where Dad was sending us: You can’t just walk outside and pluck bucks from tree limbs. Use your limbs and get to work.

2. “Sleep on any big purchase.”

You know what being impulsive does? For Romeo and Juliet, it led to their early demise. Don’t be like Romeo and Juliet. Don’t rush into big purchases. Let the first impulse simmer down by taking at least one night to think before you buy.

3. “Leave room in your budget to help others.”

Marie Kondo has created quite the catchphrase: Does it spark joy? Well, this dad tip proves he knew about sparking joy in a different way before Kondo came on the scene. Research shows giving to others boosts your own happiness.1 Help others. Help yourself. That’s a win-win from Dad. 

4. “Be thrifty, not a scrooge.”

It’s smart to put time, thought and effort into saving money. But hoarding treasure like Smaug in The Hobbit or Mr. Krabs in Spongebob Squarepants is just too far. Don’t let your thrifty ways keep you from sparking that just-mentioned joy in giving. And don’t let it keep you from enjoying and feeling secure in the life you have now.

5. “Always live below your means.”

When you spend less than you make, you can use that extra money to make your money goals happen—like saving up for emergencies, crushing debt, investing for retirement, paying off your house early, etc. These things aren’t doable when you’re sending all the money that’s coming in right back out again! Live below your means.

6. “Don’t take money advice from broke people.”

It makes such good sense. However, if someone was broke and made a proven plan to get out of that situation, that’s different. That’s Dave Ramsey. We love him. We’ll take his advice all day long.

In fact, the advice means more because he knows what it feels like to hit rock bottom and climb back up again. That’s who you take advice from. The climbers. The achievers. Not the broke.

7. “Hard work is hard work.”

Okay. Read it again. It’s not a typo or accidental repetition. It’s truth. But there’s payoff. So work hard, and don’t expect great things to come easily.

8. “Waste not, want not.”

Maybe our dads came up with this one by watching their moms rinse out gallon food storage bags and reuse them. Or maybe by seeing their dads fix the busted toaster instead of chucking it in the trash. Whatever taught our dads this phrase, it’s one we could all stand to put in play far more often. Waste less stuff—and save more money. 

9. “Save for a rainy day.”

Why? Because it rains. We cannot predict what emergencies will come, but we can predict they will come. So, we’re financially ready for them with emergency funds. Hey, rain—I can pay cash for a light sprinkle or a downpour. I’m ready!

10. “Learn the power of the word no.”

Because it’s a powerful word. With money, we need to know how to say no to ourselves and to our immediate wants. Because delaying gratification for now will bring an incredible payoff later.

11. “If you don’t need it, it’s not a good deal.”

Yes, Dad. We shouldn’t buy a second air fryer—even if it’s on sale. Even if it’s a “steal of a deal.” Because all it’s stealing is . . . our money. If we don’t need it, spending money on it isn’t actually saving money. It’s wasting it.

12. “Beware financial opportunities that seem too good to be true.”

“Because they probably are,” Dad warned us. Get-rich schemes are just that—schemes. Getting rich takes time.

This reminds us of another dadism: Anything worth doing is worth doing right. It’s worth the time and effort to budget, get out of debt, save up money, and build wealth.

So tell that “you can be a millionaire in three easy steps” plan it’s not your thing, and tell budgeting it is your thing. Might we suggest EveryDollar for those budgeting needs? Okay. Suggest it we do.

Hey, Dad. Thanks. Thanks for playing catch, or driving us to all those flugelhorn lessons, or teaching us the Pythagorean theorem so we could pass geometry. And thanks for taking the time to give us those words of wisdom that we can now use to make wise money choices on our own.