I’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.