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Father's Day and money lessons learned

By Dian Vujovich

Without a father, we wouldn’t be here. Of course, that’s what I said on Mother’s Day too. But the simple truth is both are true.

My dad is 92 1/2, lives in Minnesota and from what he tells me, spends an awful lot of time sitting. Think he learned that from his dad. I recall him, my grandpa, spending most of his senior years sitting and figuring. Figuring as in writing down numbers. Lots of numbers.

He wrote them in such a way that they looked as though he might be adding or subtracting. Trouble is, no one in the family really new what grandpa was figuring because nobody really ever asked. Or, ever checked the math.

Nonetheless, he almost always had a pencil in hand and wrote down those numbers on the back of a ripped up carton of Viceroy cigarettes. Rarely did he figure on paper. And he did most of this maybe math while he sat in his favorite chair in the living room. Every now and then, though, you’d catch him sitting at the kitchen table figuring. But mostly it was done in the living room. After he passed away I found some numbers scribbled on the back of an oilcloth tablecloth in the kitchen. He must have turned the corner up one day when no one was looking. Or, maybe he was just out of cigarette carton paper and had the urge to figure.

I’d love to tell you that what grandpa was figuring was his net worth realizing that it changed every day as the value of the stocks in his portfolio changed. That would, however, be a bunch of bunk. Grandpa never owned any stocks. Or bonds.

Like his dad, my father has had a penchant for figuring. Instead of numbers nobody ever checked, he kept impeccable records, knew to the penny how much was in his checking and savings accounts along with the income, as well as expenses, of the income property he and my mother owned. Unlike his dad, all of these numbers were kept and recorded in proper ledgers. No carton calculating for him.

My father never was a fan of the stock or bond markets either. Back in the 1970s he and my mother owned shares of the company she worked for —Dayton Hudson. Now that company is known as Target. Unfortunately, they didn’t hold the stock long enough to yield any rewards.

As my dad has aged, money matters don’t seem to count as much to him as they used to. Sitting has taken precedence.

Like so many parents of Baby Boomers, my dad—and mom—never sat me down for a one-on-one lesson about how to make or manage money. Instead, they taught by example. And their money gift examples centered on the following: Working—they both worked; saving together for common goals; and growing their savings.

The latter they did by my father building and then the family living in income-producing houses like duplexes or triplexes. Places that basically helped pay for the roof over our family’s heads and, as a result allowed, the family income some wiggle room.

That was pretty smart figuring, dad.

Happy Father’s Day to all of the dad’s around whether they’re simply sitting or still figuring out something or other. And when you’ve got a moment today, take some time to think about what money gifts your dad has passed on to you. You might find remarkable value in the lessons learned.

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