12 of 100 Dads – Financial Management

Darren is a friend of mine and a Dad I’ve come to know and admire. He’s a proud Newfoundlander and a world traveler. These days he’s enjoying his three adult children and watching their lives blossom. Darren takes a special pride in seeing where he, and his own parents, have influenced their life and their personalities.

Although his children are now in their 20’s, Darren continues to worry about their safety and well being. He shares, worry is the only negative thing about parenting. Darren adds that he realizes, as a Dad, worry is completely unavoidable and also what makes us special.

Darren’s tips serve to advise other Dads, as well as his children, on achieving happiness and success for themselves. Darren lives with strong principles and has found the road to happiness though a deliberate attempt to follow his those principles, as well as his family values.

Darren, “Watch your pennies (nickels now). Bank debt is a vicious cycle.” Tip 10

Darren’s final tip, encouraging financial awareness, was an important parenting responsibility to me as well. We spent some time on money management and developed a few great practices.

One of our first lessons came from a wonderful Mom named Chris. I met Chris when Michael was just six years old. She gave me a system which instilled in him the value of money and one that continues to meet his needs today.

Chris was a banker and she encouraged a method to teach Michael all he needed to know about money. I needed three Tupperware containers (small, medium and large) and a determined amount of money. For us, it was $5 per week.

The small dish was labeled “Quick Cash” and I had a little image on the front displaying stacks of coins. This would be used for things such as trips to the store, recess at school, or when the ice-cream truck came whizzing by. In this dish Michael would deposit $1 per week.

The middle dish was “Short Term Savings,” also with a picture on it. In it he would deposit $2 per week. This would be for a pre-determined item, a larger priced toy, a planned outing, something special he identified wanting to save for.

The largest dish, “Long Term Savings” was described as something he would want as an older teen. This would be a big ticket item he understood would not be touched for many, many years. He determined it would be for a motorcycle. About two years later he announced it would be his educational fund.

Michael had a clear understanding as to what his money would be used for, as well as the concrete knowledge he was responsible for establishing and achieving his goals. He understood if there was a shortage of funds, we would be required to go without or to wait.

I am forever thankful to Chris for having introduced us to this concept. I was fortunate to have had the peace of mind to organize this, as well as five dollars weekly to support the learning. Michael still organizes his funds in this manner, over 20 years later.

We paid careful attention to teach Michael about the value of money. As he was an only child, we had to resist the strong urge to over-indulge him. We were deliberate in implementing teachable moments and an appreciation for practical items.

We often gave gifts of intention, purpose and meaning. For example, I recall raising his allowance to $10 per week. We strategically wanted to provide him enough to continue with his “Savings Plan,” while adding some as disposable income.

This decision was made at a time when the kids were buying school lunches. I could not afford $5 per day and did not want to develop this habit in him. This allowance increase would enable him to purchase in-school lunches on average, one day per week. It also gave him the decision-making ability to make that choice, or to work toward another goal.

To add another layer to this concept, for a gift at Christmas time, we purchased an in-school “Healthy Lunch Card.” I recall the regular lunch card was a few dollars cheaper. This “Healthy Lunch Card” had 10 lunches to be punched after each purchase. This was a gift he was very excited to get! Still, one of my favorite ideas.

Other gifts would include things like winter clothing, ski passes, youth camps, books and theater productions. Where we could, we tried to incorporate extras, luxuries and experiences in our gift giving. Michael always enjoyed this ‘mindful’ gifts, and before long the intention and thought became evident.

Of course, Michael did get toys and useless, impractical things. Surprisingly, maybe not surprisingly, those items were often not as fun or as meaningful. Since the very early years, Michael independently bought presents for others on his own behalf. He quickly took responsibility for friendship gifts.

As an adult male, when gifts are no longer an expectation, he celebrates his friends with both birthday gifts and random thoughtful gifts when the mood strikes. He is extremely generous while holding a great respect for money. He is able to find the best gifts, the most thoughtful gifts, in unbelievable economical ways.

Thanks Darren. I’m sure all our efforts will “pay off” (pun intended).


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