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The Best Money Lesson My Dad Ever Taught Me

It’s funny how some memories from our childhood stick with us, becoming a part of our identity and shaping our future. One such memory that has always stayed with me was the result of overhearing a conversation. When I was young my brother and I had a mowing business, and this particular day my dad had come along to help us. He was talking to the customer who was an older gentleman and I overheard him tell the man, “We may not be able to pay for them to go to college, but they will know how to work.”

This simple statement about the value of hard work has resonated with me throughout my life, teaching me valuable lessons about money, success, and the importance of a strong work ethic.

The Family Work Ethic

Knowing how to work is a bit of a rite of passage in my family. My dad recently told a story at his dad’s (my grandfather’s) funeral about starting his first internship. When my dad was told that the work hours were long (from 7 AM to 7 PM most days), his first thought was “Gee, I wonder what I am going to do with those extra 3 hours I get before the evening news comes on.”

Reflecting on the work ethic instilled in me by my father, it’s clear that this core value has played a pivotal role in all my financial successes up to this point. Hard work has not only enabled me to achieve my goals but has also taught me important lessons about managing money, gaining confidence, and building a secure financial future.

Passing on the Legacy

Now that I have children of my own, I realize how difficult teaching hard work can be. It’s often easier to do things for our kids rather than teach them the value of doing it themselves. I am incredibly grateful for the effort my parents put into imparting this essential trait to me, and I feel an obligation to pass it along to the next generation.

Teaching children the value of hard work is a challenge, but oh so important. Based on my experience as well as what has seemed to work, I would offer these two foundations as a starting point to implement a culture of work in your family:

1. Daily Chores 

Like most habits, hard work is not best if left on a shelf and then pulled out from time to time. Giving job requirements that need to be fulfilled daily as an expectation goes a long way in forging that habit. This is where I think that those who farm or run other small businesses have an upper hand.

2. Start a Business

This is where I recognize the herculean effort made by my parents. Starting a business for your kids that they are expected to run has almost limitless growth opportunities: hard work, customer service, accounting, and marketing, just to name a few. While this isn’t for the faint of heart, working alongside your children to a point where they can be trusted for major job responsibilities can be tremendously impactful.

While it certainly isn’t a fix for everything, consistent hard work, over time, will help you to conquer almost any financial hardship.

This post is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Nothing should be construed as investment, tax, or legal advice.

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