We learn a lot from our parents. Many times these lessons go unnoticed for years or even decades. But subconsciously they form the foundation of how we act and think today.
Recently during an interview, a journalist asked me about my earliest memory of money and how I thought it impacted me today.
And when I thought back, a consistent memory stuck out.
Every Sunday, my dad would spend an hour setting and tracking the budget for the next week (he even used the Dave Ramsey "envelope method" with real cash and real envelopes).
And I realized seeing this taught me my first and most important money lesson.
Be Intentional with Your Money
My dad had a solid job but never made a ton of money.
But I know a ton of people today who make way more money than my dad ever has, who can't seem to make ends meet. They are always short, they are always racking up credit card debt, and they are always sacrificing the truly important things because they can't get a handle on their finances.
None of that was true with my dad. Of course, my parents told us "no" sometimes, and we may not have had the same back-to-school clothes budgets our "rich" friends did, but I never thought or wished once that our family had more money.
My dad made our money stretch and made our money matter.
He was intentional with money.
He prioritized, he saved, and he watched every dollar so that us kids would lead a great childhood.And what he didn't realize was in the process he was teaching me and my brothers the best money lesson we could learn.
When I look at me and my brothers, we've heeded that lesson and applied it to our adult life.
Both my brothers are great with their money, and I have made a career of helping others do better with their finances. I even get to help lead the financial planning profession as I serve on the Board of Directors for CFP Board.
It's amazing what you can do with money when you are intentional.
I am so thankful my dad taught me that foundational lesson.
My hope is I will teach the same valuable lesson to my kids.