LOUIS FAIRSAVE: Lessons from dad
Growing up, the Sunday lunch was at least the one meal each week where our parents and their children all sat together.
Our father would be at the head of the table regaling us with stories of his life. He recounted his experiences, successes and failures, guiding us in our own lives. It was through these occasions that my siblings and I got our first perspectives of how to handle life, friends and money.
Today, I present the five most prominent money lessons from those days with my dad that would have stayed with us all throughout our lives:
1. Education opens doors, so invest in attaining a high standard of education; the return on this investment is normally exponential.
Dad would not only preach this, he dedicated his earnings and savings to the education of all his children. His investment has paid the biggest dividend in the prosperity of the family over the years. This is one lesson which was manifested in daddy’s lifetime and which each of us has adopted in raising our own children.
2. Buy rather than rent. Daddy encouraged us as early as possible to start saving towards owning a home and to buy rather than rent when we moved away from home.
Even if it is necessary to rent, the rule was to keep the rent modest in order to continue saving towards the planned home. In fact, we were encouraged to buy rather than rent or hire purchase for all major purchases. There was the underlying warning to avoid debt: debt was negative because it can get out of proportion and cause the debtor to fail in life.
We were guided to save for big purchases and buy the item outright. If any debt was undertaken, either accelerate or stick close to the repayment terms; never let debt repayment instalments fall behind.
3. Don’t buy “old iron”: this warning was specifically about rushing to buy a vehicle. Daddy made it very clear that vehicles quickly depreciate in value, and the higher the cost, the larger would be the amount of the funds invested which would dissipate day by day.
So, knowing that vehicles would eventually be just “old iron” we were encouraged to be modest in vehicle acquisition, never letting the cost be disproportionate to our level of earnings.
4. The best meals are home-cooked. This was a profound lesson that daddy taught us all, and mummy lived up to the challenge every Sunday in producing varied and delicious meals.
Looking back, those were some of the most valued times in our lives – the intimate time together, the meal, the stories and the pleasing atmosphere. No restaurant outing could replicate all of that. Besides, daddy also grew a range of vegetables and fruits in his garden. Indeed, at various times he kept livestock and poultry just for feeding our family, so there was further economy in his labour in that way.
5. Honour your mother. All of us were guided that when we started to work, we would honour our mother by sharing a significant sum from our first payday, and some portion of each payday thereafter.
Our mother never worked outside the home. She took good care of all of us who either worked, or were in school. Daddy valued her sacrifices; her management of home/family finances; her work and care in keeping us all organised and happy, so he made it clear what was expected of us.
Thank you, dear father: Alex died February 12, 1991, 87 years old.
• Louise Fairsave is a personal financial management advisor, providing practical advice on money and estate matters. Her advice is general in nature; readers should seek advice about their specific circumstances.