10 Treasured Financial Lessons from Dad

June 8, 2022

Throughout life, we typically look to our fathers for guidance and advice on various life events, chapters, and milestones. In honor of Father’s Day, we asked team members at Mercer Advisors to share pieces of financial wisdom their fathers have shared with them.

1. Start Saving Early

My parents always lived below their means and taught me that the best way to get ahead financially is to save first and spend second. As a young teen, my dad showed me a chart of how saving just a small amount now can amount to more than $1 million in time – so from then on, the value of saving was cemented in my mind.

When I first started working at age 16, I set up automatic, monthly distributions from my checking account into my Roth IRA – a habit that is incredibly easy to follow through with since I only had to act on it once.

Bryan Strike
Lead, Senior Wealth Strategist

2. Start With Cash Flow Planning

Observing my father, who was a career missionary and never made more than $60k per year before retiring, managing cash flow was such a blessing. He was able to pay off his house, educate five kids, and be “economically free” by age 60 because he was a shrewd manager of his cash flow. It wasn’t about the money in his bank account, it was what he did with what he had that made the impact.

Matt Cook
Managing Director

3. Don’t Be Intimidated by Complex Instructions

Because my parents immigrated to the U.S. later in life and English was not their primary language, they relied on me to translate and fill out form. In high school, my father taught me how to prepare our family’s tax return. When tax time came around, my father and I would go to the public library and pull all the tax worksheets from the shelves. He would make me do all of them, even if they didn’t apply to our situation – Ugh! As a former mathematician, he taught me how to be careful with numbers, understand how one number influences others, review my work, and feel proud of the outcome. Throughout this, I also learned how not to be intimidated by complex instructions and to be financially literate. I did a lot of groaning about this as a teenager, but I attribute this very activity to spawning the career I have in financial planning today.

Jennifer Baick
Director of Financial Planning

4. Budget, and Budget Wisely

One of the biggest lessons I learned from my dad was the power of budgeting. I remember preparing for college and realizing I had no idea how I would pay for my day-to-day living. When I asked what my new “allowance” would be, my dad asked me to put together a Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet of my expenses. Well, after I figured out that people in 2000 called that spreadsheet program “Microsoft Excel,” I knew what he meant and got started!

In reviewing my first budget, he pointed out things I wasn’t thinking about, such as gas or haircuts, and asked where I had inserted some fluff (I did not want to call it “Beer Money”), but in the end we had a budgeting process that guided my next four years.

Now, 23 years later, I still create a budget annually using Microsoft Excel, and the core principles he taught are still the same. I thank my dad for lessons like these I learned before college, some of which I even see my contemporaries struggle with well into their forties.

Chris Blackmon
Sr. Wealth Manager

5. Work Hard and Make Time for Family

I learned many things from my father, but two things come to mind. The first was the value of hard work. My dad (and grandfather) are/were incredibly hardworking men. Most of my childhood, my dad was out the door and working long before I was even awake. Which ties into the second lesson I learned, which was to make time for family. One of the reasons he would start work so early was so he could always attend soccer games, swim meets, or baseball games in the afternoons. The balance of hard work and focus on family are two very impactful lessons that I learned from him.

Josh DeForest
Managing Director

6. Instant Gratification Is Not Always Best

My father grew up during the Great Depression; he was the oldest of five. The family struggled and his mother died at the age of 32. From my father, I learned there are two types of people who lived through those times – those who wanted more and became spenders, and those who felt deprivation and became savers. I learned that deferred gratification is essential for security.

Judith McGee
Executive Vice President & Senior Lead Advisor

7. Keep It Simple with Five Money Principles

After working alongside my dad for over 20 years in the financial services industry, I learned and focused on five money principles he taught me:

  1. Pay yourself first, 10% of what you make.
  2. Nobody cares about your money more than you do.
  3. The stock market is the single best place to help grow your wealth over your lifetime.
  4. Start early and invest in stocks.
  5. Write down your goals and read them every day.

Doug Fabian
Senior Vice President

8. Strive for a Healthy Work-Life Balance

My dad instilled in me the importance of balance in all aspects of life. He worked hard in his job to provide for my family, but earning money was not his singular focus – he made spending time with family and exploring hobbies just as much a priority.

Alex Cote
Portfolio Manager

9. Enjoy Your Wealth Now Too, Not Just Later

My father emphasized the importance of enjoying your wealth throughout life since you never know what the future may hold. In return, this manifested into us enjoying family trips and attending fun events together throughout my childhood. Memories that I still consider invaluable.

I have followed a similar mentality with my family, which has urged my wife and I to ensure our children have meaningful experiences with us as their parents and even our extended family. I’m very happy we have been cognizant of doing this, because we lost both my mom and mother-in-law during the pandemic. Because we used our wealth to build these memories, it allowed our children to have amazing experiences with their grandmothers before their passing.

Jeremiah Barlow
Head of Family Wealth Services

10. Continue Growing Your Financial Education

Growing up, the Wall Street Journal was a constant fixture in our household. Most Fridays, my dad would tune into Wall Street Week to learn what the market leaders had to say about that week’s events. What remains with me today is the importance of financial education and literacy. I feel so fortunate that I’m able to use my knowledge to positively impact others as they navigate their path to financial independence.

David Gardner
Sr. Wealth Advisor, Director

We want to hear from you! What financial lessons did you learn from your father? Which was most impactful? Head to the Mercer Advisors Facebook page to share your stories and thank Dad today.

So, this Father’s Day we would like to raise a glass to all the dads who were there to provide timely advice when it was needed, and who helped shape us into the people we are today. Though we may not read the newspaper every morning or use a Lotus 1-2-3 sheet, we have grown to use the same fundamentals of those teachings throughout our lives.

Mercer Advisors Inc. is the parent company of Mercer Global Advisors Inc. and is not involved with investment services. Mercer Global Advisors Inc. (“Mercer Advisors”) is registered as an investment advisor with the SEC. The firm only transacts business in states where it is properly registered or is excluded or exempted from registration requirements.

All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author as of the date of publication and are subject to change.

All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk., and there can be no assurance that any specific investment will either be suitable or profitable for an individuals’ investment portfolio.

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