I can tell you we had the most frequently mowed lawn on the block. My Dad wasn’t the type of person who would know the cost of a gallon of milk, but he did give me many foundational experiences with money. He provided me with opportunities to earn, spend, and owe money.
The earning money? Well, by 5th or 6th grade I was regularly mowing the lawn and washing the car, as often as possible! I don’t remember what he paid me but I am sure it was fairly generous. This really gave me a taste for earning money and as soon as I turned 16 I got a job within that very week. Earning money also gave me an opportunity to learn to do my own income tax forms.
Spending money… well, that is a learning experience too. My Dad gave me a subscription to Penny Power magazine (Consumer Reports for Kids), which I wrote about a few months ago. It was useful to discover that some products weren’t really as exciting as they appeared on t.v. commercials (the Snoopy Snow Cone Maker comes to mind . . .). When I wanted something expensive, my Dad would usually offer to pay for half and I needed to come up with the other half. That was a great lesson in working hard to save money, and then having it be gone so quickly.
Another piece in the financial puzzle is owing money. My Dad gave my husband and me an experience in owing money that had more teeth than a simple “pay me back next month.” When my husband and I were just out of college and still riding the city bus around town, my Dad offered us an opportunity to buy his old car when he was buying a new one. It was a great deal – $1000. for a car worth much more. We had to really think about it though – it seemed like a whole lot of money! While my Dad could have set us up with a family payment schedule, instead he sent us to the university credit union to apply for a loan. We were approved and got the old fashioned payment book with a slip of paper to tear out every month until the loan was paid off.
Now that I am a parent, I have an opportunity to provide a financial education for my daughter. I’ll let you know how we do! I wish your family a Happy Father’s Day.
I’d love to hear about a money experience you shared with your Dad!