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Growing up, I’d roll my eyes when my dad would remind me to turn off the lights when I left a room. And when he refused to spring for air-conditioning for his cars I thought he was pinching those pennies a little too tightly. But guess what? I now turn off lights when I leave a room, one of those very fuel-efficient cars became my first vehicle after college, and I was thankful when his frugal ways allowed me to graduate from college with minimal student loan debt since he and my mom were able to pick up most of the tab.

Sometimes father does know best.

Here, I asked six dads known for their financial savvy to share a piece of advice about money they wish their kids (and grandkids!) would take to heart.

Spending Is the Easy Part

Jeff Rose, CFP, CEO and founder of Alliance Wealth Management LLC, author of Soldier of Finance and father of three sons:

I want my kids to understand what it really takes to earn a dollar. Technology has advanced so far that with Amazon’s “one click purchase” or Apple’s ability to buy music and apps on our phones, it’s becoming too easy to spend money and kids need to understand what goes into making that money before they spend it.

Cap Your Spending at This

Thomas C. Corley, author of the bestselling book Rich Habits, founder of the Rich Habits Institute and father of one son and two daughters:

Save 20% of all of your earnings, including future bonuses and raises and learn to live off the remaining 80%. This forces you to be frugal with your spending. If you make this a habit early in your career you will have more money saved by age 45 than 95% of your peers. Best way to save is through tax-advantaged investment vehicles such as your employer retirement accounts — i.e. 401(k), Roth IRAs, variable annuities, 529 Plans, Health Savings Accounts and permanent life insurance.

Don’t Let Debt Define You

Michael Bovee, founder of the Consumer Recovery Network and father of two daughters:

Do not let debt and credit define you as a person, or allow either to limit your reach. Credit scores are a measure of what lenders may charge to lend to you, not a measure of who you are as a person. Still, carrying more debt than you can manage often impedes your mobility and can limit your options.

Protect Your Privacy & Your Data

Paul Nourigat, consultant and author of nine financial success books for kids, teens and millennials; and father of three:

Imagine you do everything right financially, but lose it all because of one action!  The use of the Internet has opened doors to cybercrime that were unimaginable just a few years ago. The resulting proliferation of technology and social media tools has many young people exposing more of their world than is necessary or prudent. Beyond the risk of financial crimes, one’s “personal brand” image can also be damaged through participation in settings that are not monitored, nor regulated.

Avoid sharing personal information in any site which is not clearly a high quality place you expect to frequent in the future.  Even then, only share as much information as is absolutely necessary, questioning the sites’ “need to know” what is being asked in online forms and surveys.  Avoid promotions and “teasers” that trick many smart people into providing supposedly unrelated answers which can then be used by the cyber-criminals to access personal accounts.  Last, clicking links in an unsolicited email is opening the door to Trojan horses and viruses which can track your every move.

Make Choices You Can Live With

Mitchell D. Weiss, former financial services professional, author of Life Happens – A Practical Guide to Personal Finance from College to Career and father of two:

(It’s) no different than what my wife and I used to say to our kids when they were in high school: ‘We don’t care where you want to go to college — it’s your life, not ours. Hopefully, you won’t be disappointed if you don’t get to go where you want to go.’ The same is true when it comes to managing personal finances — you may not be able to do the things you’d like to do if you don’t.

Don’t Let Your Money Evaporate

George Schofield, futurist and author, Credit.com contributor and father of two sons (and grandfather of five boys and two girls):

Money is important. So is how we think of it and what we do with it.

1. Money is good for more than buying things that hang in your closet or sit in your driveway. It also represents security, flexibility, options and access. (As an example), “Bill” wanted to go back to school to update his skills. It took money. Paul and Lisa wanted to add a deck in their backyard.  It took money. Monica wanted to stop working full time and move to part-time work. She had the savings to rely on when her income went down. Becky wanted a better job and that meant moving from one city to another. She had the money in liquid investments to make the move and invest in herself. 

2. Money has an evaporation factor when it is in cash or plastic form, a tendency to evaporate.  In its other forms — bank accounts, investments, real estate equities, or savings — it’s more difficult to access and more likely to stay solid.

Everyone needs cash, it’s true, but often not as much as we think we do. “Paul” loved the $100 bill in his wallet. He loved it so much he couldn’t keep his hands off of it. Sheila stared at her piggy bank until it almost had a hole in its side. Then she spent it.

Did your dad give you good financial advice? Feel free to share it in the comments below.

More Money-Saving Reads:

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  • Joe Anziano

    George – I LOVE your perspective. Funny this is almost opposite of what I learned when I started a business, but in retrospect, it ties together and it all becomes clear when you put these two together. In business, I was taught that Cash is King. Always have a cash reserve – at all cost. When the cash is gone, so goes the business. In our personal life, as I read into George’s words, this “cash” is better realized as a less liquid asset… but the concept is the same – save your principal – relish it and Preserve it. When its gone, look out!

    Thank you for putting this out there, It seems liek such an obvious concept, but is it really?

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