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June 20, 2021

Father’s Day cards often reference the lessons our dads might have taught us as kids: how to mow the lawn, use power tools, catch a fish.

But they don’t usually cite the financial lessons our fathers have taught us. You can probably recall a few from your own childhood—some direct words of wisdom, other habits picked up over time.

Here a few celebrities discussing the best money advice their fathers have given them. Here are a couple of classic money lessons that we’d be glad to learn from any dad.


1. Start Saving Early

Whether you started with a piggy bank or watched dad empty his pocket change into a jar each night, the importance of saving is paramount.

Olivia Culpo, model, actress and entrepreneur, recalls how her dad commuted from Rhode Island to Boston each day while stretching just $20 he’d allocated for gas and food. “To him, the most important thing was accumulating enough money to invest in his own restaurant, which he was eventually able to do,” she says.

Tucking away money a bit at a time can add up to help you meet major goals, whether it’s starting a business, paying for school or buying a car. Compound interest—whether in the form of interest on a savings account or via investing to get a better return on your long-term savings—will help your nest egg grow quicker.

“Start saving early, start small, and allow time to do the heavy lifting,” says Moira Forbes, publisher of ForbesWomen. She recalls sitting at the kitchen table with her dad, Steve, who showed her “the magic of compound interest. “I was stunned to see how regularly putting away just a few dollars over the course of a lifetime could drive more decimals in a savings account than I thought possible,” she says.


2. Live Within Your Means

Perhaps it’s the most important budgeting tip of all: Make sure you don’t spend beyond your budget. That’s what entrepreneur Mark Cuban’s dad, Norton, taught him. Put simply: “Get a job and spend less than you make.”

That advice is especially important as you advance in your career. While it’s fun to treat yourself when you get a pay raise or promotion, it’s all too easy to get comfortable with a new, lavish lifestyle. If lifestyle inflation takes over, you could miss out on the real benefits of your additional income, like strengthening your emergency fund or bolstering your retirement accounts. 


3. Prepare for the Future

The earlier you start saving for your future, the larger your money will grow over time. Culpo says her dad, Peter, taught her the importance of being as fiscally conservative as possible, “So you can invest your money and provide for the future. Essentially, be prepared and think ahead,” she says.

Culpo says her dad has always been “a true penny pincher,” which helped him ensure financial comfort today. “He didn’t have anyone but himself to rely on for the future,” she says. Culpo says she’s found a middle ground with her money that honors her dad’s lessons of being prepared, but also allows for occasional splurges.

 

Being prepared doesn’t mean you should never take risks. But you should be reasonable in your financial expectations for the future. Steve Forbes, CEO and editor in chief of Forbes (and Moira’s dad!), recalls receiving a few shares of cheap stocks for birthdays and Christmas. He says his dad, Malcolm, pressed the importance of learning money management skills by experience and reading.

“Pop was right,” Steve says. “I painfully learned early on that equities can go down as well as up. It was no fun seeing a birthday present disappear into the ether!”

Forbes says learning about those early investments with his dad taught him that emotions can derail your investing goals—a warning he recalls often whenever a new meme stock gains attention.


4. Remember to Have a Little Fun

Even dad needs to treat himself every now and then. Culpo says she understands why her dad was so strict with his finances: in part so he could provide for Olivia and her four siblings. “But I do find it healthy to treat yourself sometimes,” she says.

A budget that’s completely devoid of joy is one that’s nearly impossible to adhere to. Be sure to plan ahead for fun spending too—whether it’s kids’ music classes, a family vacation or something fun just for yourself—to keep you motivated to meet your financial goals.