7 Financial and Work-Related Life Lessons I Learned From My Dad

Guest Post Author Bio: Broke Professionals is a personal finance blog aimed at the over-educated and underpaid.  Join the husband/wife blogging team of Broke Professionals as they attempt to dig themselves out of a combined six figures in student loan debt.

My dad has worked for nearly 40 years as a School Custodian.  He is one of my heroes.  Although you do not know my dad, I think some of his best sayings/lessons could be valuable to anybody.  Here are some of them.

1. On work ethic: “Never turn down overtime.  Once you turn it down you might not get asked as often.  They always put me at the top of the list for overtime, because they know I always say yes.  That’s how I end up making 1/3 to 1/2 more then my salary each year. ”

Lesson: Be dependable and hard-working.  It isn’t always easy but sometimes that is what you have to do to get ahead.

2. On credit cards and debt: “Credit cards are the easiest way to get into trouble.  Stay out of debt in general.  Our family left Europe in the first place decades ago, because we didn’t want to be indebted sharecroppers to the rich.  Neither do you. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.”

Lesson: (And one I did not heed since I have six figure student loan debt) Stay out of debt at all costs.

3.  On being a custodian: “Sometimes people look down at me because I’m a custodian.  I don’t care.  This is how I put two kids through college and raised a family.  I’ve been blessed to work for the same place for 40 years.  Take pride in your job no matter what it is, even if it is scrubbing toilets. Prestige may come with a big salary but prestige alone has never put food on the table.”

Lesson: Be proud of working an honest job, even if it is not glamorous.

4. On exercise: “All day long I’m on my feet at my job.  I’m active.  I don’t have to exercise.  My work is my exercise.  I’ve been noticing a lot of my friends who have sat around in offices all day for their work dropping dead of heart attacks lately.  You work in an office son, and you will be sitting on your you know what all day probably for the rest of your career.  Make sure you exercise.”

Lesson: People are not meant to sit around all day in an office.  If you do, you have to find a way to stay physically fit.

5.  On marriage and money: “The best financial decision you can ever make is marrying well.  I don’t mean marry for money, because even if you do a divorce can take it all away.  I mean marrying someone who has the same ideals as you.  Someone who you can stay married to for over 40 years, like your mom and I have.  You’ll never see your mom and I getting divorced, cutting every nickel in half.  Marry someone who is willing to get down and paint with you.  The couple that paints together, stays together”.

Lesson: You have a better shot at marriage if you have similar ideals, and that includes finances and goals.

6. On gender roles and marriage: “It’s not about whose the man and whose the woman in a marriage.  We’re in the 20th century (now 21st).  What it’s about is who is best for the job?  If I’m the better cook and mom is the better electrician then that’s the way it goes.  Now I know your not handy at all.  You better learn  quick, or else learn to cook”.

Lesson: This is one I followed, Mrs. BP is way more handy then I am, but I can cook quite well.

7. On first jobs: “There’s more to a job then the salary.  My health benefits are what make my job great.  Look at the whole package.  Choose wisely because this first job sets up your whole financial future”.

Lesson: Your first job is important and you should always look at the complete picture.

So that is a taste of some of my dad’s life wisdom.  It’s probably not too different from what your parents have told you.   I have always looked up to my dad and his intense work ethic.  He never complains about working 60-70 hour weeks.  He’s just happy to have a good job.

What are your dad’s (or mom’s) favorite life lessons?


7 Financial and Work-Related Life Lessons I Learned From My Dad — 8 Comments

  1. It was never said, but I saw it everyday! It was living based on a set of principles. Always do the right thing. If you give your word, you follow through. My parents were immigrants who became successful and admire how they remained true to their principles during that journey.

    • @Krantcents It is nice to hear that your parents set a good example for you. So many kids today are left to flounder on their own and they end up in real messes.

  2. Those are great advices. I especially agree with #5 to marry someone who has similar financial goals and ideal.
    My mom’s lesson is to work hard and get the best education you can. My dad’s lesson is to never give up and keep working toward a better future even if you fail. 😉

    • @retire by 40 It sounds like your parents set a good example. That’s great.
      I too think it is important to have the same goals as your spouse. If you don’t you will never be able to succeed. Instead of working together you will end up competing against each other.

  3. Very good advice. I too was taught many of those same things especially about work ethic and pride in work. The debt lesson is one that I failed at as well. I will be stressing this to my kids again.

    I read an article at Men’s Health last night that states those sitting at a desk are 50% more likely to die of a heart attack vs those standing. Many are now trying to create standing offices in response.

    • @optionsdude I read the same article. Interesting hey!

      When it comes to talking to your kids remember that learning is good and that they will make mistakes along the way but know that these mistakes will be learned from and better decisions will be made in the future. Preparing our kids financially is one of the best things we can ever do for them.

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