Tough Financial Love

As parents, we often attempt to provide our children with everything they want; however, giving them everything will not level the playing field. The playing field is leveled by providing knowledge and wisdom they can take with them for the rest of their lives. My father understood this principle very well and was determined to teach me “Tough Financial Love.”

My father was very strict and taught finances the hard way.  He made me earn and pay for items I wanted. As a child, going through his financial lessons, I wondered why he was so hard on me. Around the age of 12, we had a conversation that changed how both of us did business. We decided that I would be responsible for managing the social security check I received from my mother passing away. My father’s guidelines were: 1) Give at least 10% to God; 2) Deposit money in a savings account; 3) Purchase my own clothing and school supplies; and 4) Pay for my own lunch at school.  Some may say this was a lot to place on a 12 year old child, and I agree.  I learned to save my money and to seldom spend on wants. In high school, I accumulated over a thousand dollars in my savings account, paid for my own car insurance, and even made a few small loans to my father (interest free of course). My father taught financial responsibility without explaining exactly how to save money. He set guidelines to follow, and this has made a true difference in my life.

A second example of tough financial love is that my father and I signed a contract that stated if I graduated in the Top 10 in my high school class, he would provide $19,500 upon graduation. He was generous and offered to pay a $500 bonus if I graduated in the Top 5. I ended up #13 out of more than 130 students, and my father, demonstrating tough financial love, congratulated me on my accomplishment and waved at me when I departed for the Air Force.  I learned a valuable financial lesson.  My father (just like society) does not reward the person that almost made it.

Parents, it is never too early to teach our children financial responsibility.  Whether you provide an allowance or utilize other methods, the importance of money must be taught. As children mature into their teenage years, we as parents should grade ourselves.  Would we trust them with our checkbook? If not, we must think about areas we can improve. If we do not properly teach our children, who will? By providing proper financial instruction, they will be on the path to financial independence. For this reason, we should provide “Tough Financial Love.”

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