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The Best Money Advice From Dad: 7 Stories

Father Knows Best


NEW YORK (MainStreet)—Sure, he taught you how to tie your shoes and drive your first car, but your old man probably shared some valuable financial wisdom with you through the years, too. With Father's Day approaching, we've asked seven professionals to share the best money advice they've received from their dads. From avoiding impulse buys to keeping that credit card in check, here are their stories.

Lesson: Be Financially Independent


Esther Freedman, Founder and designer, Cuteheads.com

"My father, who is the CEO of Blinds.com, always encouraged me to be independent and self-reliant when it came to finances. At times growing up it drove me crazy, especially when it seemed like all of my friends had [their] dad's credit card, but now I'm grateful for those lessons.

"I think I live this advice on a daily basis. When I started my business, there were many questions as to whether I should try to self-finance with savings, take out loans, or take on partners. I eventually settled on self-financing it. Although I funded it with less money than I would have liked and it was stressful to rely on my husband's paycheck for a while, I didn't owe anyone anything. I have been able to grow it slowly and steadily without the added pressure of paying back loans or paying out to partners."

Lesson: Don't Buy What You Don't Need


Amber Dixon, President/CEO, Amber Gold Marketing, LLC

"The best advice from my dad was if you see a 'must-have,' take a picture and return home without buying it. Look at the picture, think about the price, and ask yourself if it is worth the money to purchase it. I have found myself in this situation many times, and most of those times I discovered that the item was not a 'must-have' but rather an expense that I could not afford.

"In February I was laid off from a job of 12 years and because of my dad's sound advice, my husband and I were not overly frantic and wondering if we could pay our bills. We do not have multiple credit cards with high balances, a home we can barely afford, or a shopping habit that needs to be fixed. Instead we have been able to ride it out and see what my next opportunity is, like being a business owner."

Lesson: Shopping Is a Lousy Cure for Boredom


Kyle James, Owner/President, Rather-Be-Shopping.com

"My dad taught me: 'Never get bored. When you get bored you tend to buy stuff you don't need. Idle hands are the devil's workshop.'

"I can remember a weekend in college where I had absolutely nothing going on and decided to go to the mall for a few hours to waste some time. I was in line at Best Buy about to buy a $350 Sony CD Walkman I couldn't afford, simply because I thought it was the coolest thing ever, when in my ear was my dad's advice. I got out of line, put the Walkman back on the shelf, and quickly exited. I'm so glad I did as it would have taken me six months to pay off that stupid thing on my credit card."

Lesson: Provide Great Value to Customers


Denise DeMaras, Author, artist and health consultant/coach

"My father was a brilliant entrepreneur and businessman and taught me to give the most value I could to my clients and customers. It has paid off in surprising ways, such as thank-you notes with extra payment as gifts, and not-so-surprising ways, like referrals, loyalty, and testimonials."

Lesson: Keep Good Credit

Brenda Della Casa, Director of Online Content and Community, Preston Bailey Designs

"My grandfather raised me and told me that credit cards were there to help you build your reputation, and when you swipe them you give your word that you will do what you need to do to pay your debts. Being someone who stood in line during the Depression, he also instilled [in me] that it was important to prepare for a crash, and if we did not have funds, good credit would make life easier.

"I believe that my equation of good credit and reputation comes from him and he is the reason that I have a good credit score and don't swipe my cards for Prada bags and shoes with red bottoms. As a result, I have had the freedom of knowing that if I needed to use my credit cards for an emergency, such as when I needed to pay a bit more than expected for my dog's neutering surgery, or for things like wine and boat rides in Capri on bucket-list trips to Italy, I could swipe without guilt knowing that I would be paying them back down to zero in a few months."

Lesson: Experts Don't Have All the Answers

Barry Maher, Author and speaker, Barry Maher & Associates

"My father was an excellent attorney, trained at Harvard Law, loved by his clients, and if you asked him a question concerning the law, the response could well be, 'I don't know.' Being secure enough in your expertise to say 'I don't know,' when that's the case, makes everything you do know that much more believable. And if you know where to find the answer and you can promise to do so, as he always did, then you become a reliable, invaluable resource.

"This lesson has been invaluable in my career as a speaker, trainer and self-appointed guru. It's probably gained me more credibility and, therefore, ultimately more income, than anything else I know."

Lesson: Take Care of Your Car

David Bakke, Editor, MoneyCrashers.com

"When I was 16, I landed my first job and needed a car to get back and forth to work. My parents sold me an old family car, and when my dad handed over the keys, he said to me: 'Take good care of any car you buy and drive it till the wheels fall off.'

"In 1994, I purchased a new Toyota Tercel and believe it or not, that is still the car I drive to this day. I got all of the scheduled maintenance tasks taken care of on a timely basis and did a very good job of taking care of both the interior and exterior. All those years without a monthly payment certainly had a major impact on my finances as a whole. I was able to save more for retirement and significantly reduce the amount of credit card debt I carried."

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