The best (and worst) money advice Dad ever gave you

This article is by Les Masterson.
Fathers are great at offering advice — in matters of life, love, and, of course, money.  And while we've all resorted to clichés at times, the wisdom fathers impart often stays with their children, who in turn pass that guidance on to the next generation.

So in honor of Father's Day, we wanted to ask readers: What did your father teach you about money? What was his best — and worst — advice?

Because Dad Said…

So far, the responses we've gotten back have been every bit as insightful as we had hoped. Readers were given a drive to invest and to work hard. Fathers inspired their children to save for a rainy day, no matter how modest a sum.

Unfortunately, some also went big into real estate at the height of the bubble and saw their college money drained for nothing, all on fatherly advice and direction. (Hey, we still love you, Dad!)

Here's a smattering of the best and worst…

“ Save money.”

“Buy as much house as you can afford. In 2006 = worst.”

“It's not really ‘best' but it's something we actually did. My dad told me to keep $300 in our safe deposit box ‘just in case.' His father told him the same thing except back then it was $50. I will probably tell my kids $500.”

“Buy the best tool once or the cheap tool twice.”

“Buy Volkswagen cars and Cadillac properties.”

“Put funds into an IRA and save money.”

“I learned to take his advice with a grain of salt after he invested my entire college fund in ‘New Coke.'”

More Dad Advice From our Facebook Readers:

“My father told me: You either pay interest or get paid interest. Which one do you want to be?”

“ Often times your parents teach you what not to do. I learned early in life that I did not want to model my parents in regards to money matters. Therefore, my habits consist of avoiding debt, living below my means, shopping at thrifts, making saving a priority, and preparing for the worst. My parents now come to me for advice and the occasional loan.”

“ Indirect help. Going through the mail when I was 14, I saw an envelope from an investment company. Decided at that moment I wanted to be receiving statements from investment companies as soon as I was able.”

“ It wasn't explicitly communicated, but my father is someone who models that money should be spent to buy great experiences (trips, hobbies) vs. simply material things.”

Famous Dads Said…

There's plenty of famous advice from famous Dads. Here's the best we could find. Happy Father's Day!

“Know what an asset is, acquire them and become rich.”

–Robert Kiyosaki, author of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”

“He would say, ‘You don't have to swing at every pitch. When you're ready to invest [in a stock], it looks like a fat, slow-moving ball.' But that's so true in many things in life. You don't have to swing at every pitch.”

–Peter Buffett, about the advice given to him by his legendary father, Warren Buffett

“If you have too much inventory, you are in trouble. If you have too little inventory, you are in trouble. If you have to pay too much to keep inventory, you are going to get hurt. And if you have the wrong inventory, you will get stung .”

–Jim Cramer, quoting his father's advice

“My father didn't give me much money, but what he did give me was a good education and the simple formula for getting wealthy: Work hard doing what you love.”

–Donald Trump

“The best money advice ever given me from my father: When I was a little girl, he told me, ‘Don't spend anything unless you have to.'”

–Dinah Shore

“Marry a rich woman.”

–Alec Baldwin, quoting the advice given to him by his father

“He told me if I always pay my bills with one-third, save one-third and screw around with the last third, I'll be OK, no matter how much I earn. It's the only thing he said that I listened to, and I have never been in any financial trouble.”

–Grace Slick

“What's money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.”

–Bob Dylan

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be;

“For loan oft loses both itself and friend.”

–Polonius to son Laertes in Shakespeare's Hamlet

What's the best (or worst) financial advice you've received from your father? Share your dad's quips and wisdom in the comments below.

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Daniel
Daniel
5 years ago

I really like that thirds thing.

JenniferGwennifer
JenniferGwennifer
5 years ago

Worst advice from Dad to a daughter about to start grad school at the height of the latest recession: “Don’t start saving for retirement until you have a good job that will match your contributions.”
Four years later I’m still job hunting, working seasonal jobs and just starting a Roth IRA account and wishing I’d put something, anything away before now.

Jane
Jane
5 years ago

I NEVER got any financial advice from my parents. I was always told that I was not responsible with my money, while at the same time never telling me what ‘being responsible with money’ meant. I have been lucky however to have found information in the most unusual ways. I used to work at a hospital and noticed a man sitting at a lunch table and people would come up an talk to him. One day I said ‘hi’ and ‘what are you doing’? He was the retirement fund advisor for the hospital employees. That was the first time I… Read more »

Kayla @ Femme Frugality
Kayla @ Femme Frugality
5 years ago

My dad has given me plenty of good advice and some not so good advice too. I’m glad to know that I’m not alone in getting some bad advice, haha.

Frank
Frank
5 years ago

Dad always never invest in (stocks, real estate, vehicle, etc.) anything that you wouldn’t want to keep forever.

Beth
Beth
5 years ago

Hmmm. So how come GRS didn’t ask this question at Mother’s Day? Let’s not perpetuate the stereotype that men are better with money than women. I’m really grateful that my both my parents had financial savvy. I can’t really separate out what my dad taught me versus what my mom taught me, so you’ll just have to settle for both 🙂 1) Pay yourself first. (Needs no explanation.) 2) With the exception of a home and a car, don’t buy anything unless you already have the money in the bank to pay for it. 3) When I broke #2 with… Read more »

Bonnie
Bonnie
5 years ago

1. Buy the worst house on the street and make it the best.

2. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Nicholas
Nicholas
5 years ago

I always wanted a sports car and to this day I managed to stay away because of what my Dad drilled into me:

“Don’t waste your money on depreciating junk. Save your money, invest it in assets.”

John
John
5 years ago

My family never really taught me how to invest for the future and plan my retirement the right way. Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way. The good news is that its never to late to get started.

Bryan
Bryan
5 years ago

I was told that “if you have the right tool – the job is half done”.

I know that works well for building or repairing something. Certainly if you have the right tools regarding personal finance, you are setting yourself up for success. Those tools could include basic personal finance knowledge, creating budgets, setting goals, etc.

Ely
Ely
5 years ago

My dad didn’t give much direct advice, but I learned a lot by example: Buy your house. Invest now for the long term. Don’t spend a lot on stuff you don’t need. Do work you enjoy. Have fun. He has done all of the above and will never need any money from me. In fact he still insists giving it away – he’s treating his kids and our spouses to an expenses-paid week in France. Thanks to his influence I began investing in my early twenties and bought a house as soon as I got out of California. (A life-saver… Read more »

Golfing Girl
Golfing Girl
5 years ago

My dad was on both ends of the spectrum, giving both excellent and terrible advice.
His excellent advice: Drive a used car, don’t carry debt. And pay extra on your mortgage.

His worst advice: You should really get in on these penny stocks!!

Greg
Greg
5 years ago

My father told me to work hard at a young age, so I can reap the benefits when I am older. He never wanted me to have to work as hard as him (mostly physical) at his age. Stay in school, get the best education possible, and then be the boss that gives out the order, rather than being the one taking the orders.

Other than that he said “lets invest in a house together and rent it out,” but that idea never came to fruition. It’s a great idea, that’s for sure!

Chella
Chella
5 years ago

I never got any one-on-one financial advice from my dad or mom. But i learnt the hard way through the way we spent money throughout the month. We all sat on the table on sundays and wrote the budget with every kid saying what they needed, then everyone would be given enough for the month, and not allowed to come back asking for more. It somehow worked for us all except when emergencies came up.

Rail
Rail
5 years ago

Neither mom or dad ever really gave me money advice growing up, other than just watching them argue about money. There were a couple of gentlemen though, one a boss and the other was like my other dad, that gave me great advice. Things like avoiding new cars, distrust of banks, investing, and general thrift etc. Thats what has stayed with me. I thank them and miss them both. Cheers!

Adam
Adam
5 years ago

“My father didn’t give me much money, but what he did give me was a good education and the simple formula for getting wealthy: Work hard doing what you love.” Donald Trump.

Doing a quick google search says he inherited 40-200 million dollars. If that’s chump change, I’ll take that.

CERB
CERB
5 years ago

My parents gave me quite a bit of good advice, much of which began with the phrase…”when I was growing up during the Great Depression…” Good Advice: Live below your means, don’t pay for work that you can do yourself, save money and invest in the stock market, price compare items before you buy, never go into debt for something that isn’t an absolute necessity, get your college degree, postpone immediate gratification for eventual satisfaction, don’t lend money. Bad Advice: Looks don’t matter, and telling my sister during the early 1970’s not to major in computer science but to “major… Read more »

JB
JB
5 years ago

In 2005 when I asked if I should pay off my college loan or put a down payment on a condo:
“Are you kidding? Home prices on Long Island only go up.”

I paid the loan off 8 years later after selling the condo for a 30k loss.

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