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6 Crucial Money Lessons I Learned From My Father in Law

  July 31

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6 Crucial Money Lessons I Learned From My Father in LawI’ve mentioned my father in law a few times here and there in posts on here and in other places I write, but I thought it would be good to write down six of the crucial money lessons that he’s taught me over the past 10 years.

Yep, come October it’s been 10 years since the hubs and I started dating, and so I’ve been fortunate to know my father in law for a whole decade.

When I started dating the hubs and joined his family, I had no idea that I would be gaining such an important and influential person in my life: his dad.

Now, you have to understand, my father in law is about the sweetest, quietest person you’ll ever meet. So, it takes time to soak up the lessons he has. Sit down and ask him a question though and he could go on for an hour. He’s in his early 70’s, and it’s amazing what he has to share. Here are just a few things I’ve picked up directly and from watching him over the past 10 years.

1. Document Everything

My father in law can show you records of what he purchased 20 years ago. He keeps absolutely meticulous records, and it’s seriously impressive. It’s also kind of funny though because sometimes he notices discrepancies but he’s too nice to say anything. For example, he recently learned that a waiter added some money to his own tip. My father in law knew it of course because he keeps these crazy accurate records, but he didn’t call the restaurant to say anything because he assumed it was a kid who needed the money.

He also keeps records of how much he pays for gas and the mileage he gets for his money. I asked him why one time, and he just said he simply likes knowing how much he gets per mile. One time, way back decades and decades ago he bought an insurance policy. This was before computers and so his insurance document was this little piece of paper. Well, the company got bought out two times so when it came time to collect the money 30 years later, they had no record of him having a policy. But he had the little piece of paper saved in perfect and pristine condition, and so he got his money.

2. Give More Than You Get

There is a woman that comes to knock on his door from time to time. At first when she came around, I wondered why he didn’t tell her to leave. After all, she walked on his private property, knocked on his door, and told him a sob story about her kid, her broken car, etc. and every time, he’d give her what he had on her, whether it was a $5 or $20 bill. Sometimes he had no cash on him and was honest about it and told her so.

I asked him why he kept giving her money year after year and he just shrugged and said that it was really nothing to him but everything to her. I’ve witnessed many more times where he’s been completely giving and selfless both with his own kids and complete strangers. He’s seriously the nicest man, and luckily for me, he raised the nicest, sweetest son that I married.

3. Frugality Builds Wealth

I’d never met a person who truly doesn’t buy anything until I met my father in law. I don’t think there’s one bone in my father in law’s body that is materialistic. He is perfectly fine with his old truck, his clothes, and his shoes. If he needs something, like a new tractor, he’ll go out and buy it. If my mother-in-law wants to go on a trip, he’ll take her.

Overall, though, he just lives his life day in and day out perfectly happy with what he has. Because he’s been so frugal his whole life, he’s built a serious nest egg and he retired in his early 50’s after only making around $55,000 a year. My mother in law also recently retired at 58. They are true examples that you don’t have to make six figures to build a retirement fund that will not only sustain them through retirement but last long enough to create a legacy for their family.

4. Become an Expert in Investing

My father in law does not have a background in investing. He didn’t work in finance. He actually worked for the federal government, which in many ways is worse. However, from a young age, he really took the time to read everything there was to know about investing.

Even now, he sits in his chair in the living room and reads all those packets the banks and investing companies send you filled with numbers and statistics. He loves it. He can pick a mutual fund like no one else I know. If I could even gain half the knowledge about investing that he keeps in his brain, then I’ll be a happy woman someday.

5. Pay Cash When it Makes Sense

You would think that someone in their early 70s who had parents who lived through the depression wouldn’t want to use credit cards extensively, but he does. He actually likes using credit card points and has used his airline card to fly and his GM card to help two of his kids purchase two cards with thousands of dollars off. However, he did pay cash for his house and he pays cash when it makes sense.

He had 4 kids and they lived in a small house with one bathroom but instead of going out and taking out a loan to build a new house quickly, he became the general contractor of his house and it took a long, slow three years to build his home. He carefully considered each decision and paid for each part of the house as he had the money to do so. It resulted in a beautiful home that his family and grandkids will cherish for years to come. He has never, ever had a mortgage to his name.

6. The Best Things in Life Are Free

In addition to being financially secure, my father in law is also a very content person. He’s perfectly happy to go about his day making coffee for my mother in law, tending to his garden, reading his book, and watching Megyn Kelly on Fox News.

He really embodies the principle that the best things in life really are free and that life can be happy and pleasant if you only enjoy what you already have and the good things around you.

As you can see, I’ve learned so much from him and love him more than anything and am so glad my children have them as their Grandad. He is the sweetest, kindest, smartest man you’ll ever meet, and I’m very glad that he raised his son – my sweet hubby – to have many of the same qualities.

6 Crucial Money Lessons I Learned From My Father in LawDo you have a money expert you look up to?

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18 responses to “6 Crucial Money Lessons I Learned From My Father in Law

  1. My parents have documented everything as well. They have boxes of financial records in the closet. I admire their tenacity. I personally hate stuff so I am very thankful we can document stuff electronically these days!

  2. My parents are the money experts I look up to and they do most of the things you mention in this post. They are also super helpful when I have specific questions or situations, since they’re already dealt with many of the things that I’m dealing with now.

  3. Your father-in-law sounds like such a great guy! I have actually learned similar lessons from mine. He and my hubby’s stepmom lived a very frugal lifestyle and it’s nice to see that now they can enjoy themselves in retirement because they worked hard and saved hard before that.

  4. Your father-in-law sounds like a wonderful person. By the time I met my second wife’s father, I was already set in my saving ways but it was clear my wife married a guy just like dear old dad. My father-in-law was very financially savvy, owned several businesses, and was an amazing shopper. He’d often boast of buying groceries for just pennies after he stacked the sales and coupons and such. His frugal ways were a model for my wife growing up and helped us become the good financial partners we are today.

  5. I love this – especially in light of my recent laptop disaster. No receipt = no way to dispute the missing 2 months of warranty!

  6. This is a really sweet and helpful post. Your father-in-law’s wisdom has helped us all today! We have so much to learn from previous generations, including about finances. I suggested a “Life Like Grandma” Challenge for a month–to talk to a grandparent or older relative about their financial advice, and try some throwback thrift ideas like cooking at home, hanging laundry to dry, and not shopping for recreation. http://www.pretendtobepoor.com/grandma-challenge/

  7. I look up to my father. He just built my skills in money management. I am glad that he taught me everything I needed in terms of money. He let me have my own savings account at the very young age and was willing to answer my questions about money. Now, I have a family. I feel the confidence that I can provide more than enough and would love to teach my kids like the way my father did.

  8. My father was always the money expert I looked up to, he taught me about investing early, real estate and running your own business. But now that I’m an adult I can see his investing wasn’t the most efficient, using a high fee broker for a long time, but the real estate is going great for him.

  9. I love document everything. I’m glad you included it. Often, it’s forgotten and that turns out to be regrettable. I keep a very organized system that helps me whenever I have an issue.

  10. I’m a big fan of “document everything.” The more information I can see, the better I can analyze it and improve upon it. My running journal and my strength training journals are a great example too – I can really look at trends and make a better plan for the future on how to improve!

  11. I must say that your father-in-law is one frugal minded person. I would like to echo the point on documentation of every financial transaction you make. This is very important especially if you are dealing with large amounts of money. it helps you track and account for every dollar spent which in the long run reduces wastage.

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