I remember my Dad teaching me how to fish. I remember being enthralled with the rods and reels at Jones Hardware in downtown Leaksville, NC. One day in 1958, he succumbed to my plea, purchasing a Zebco 33 rod & reel for our new adventure in fishing!

The first step was to stand in our back yard to learn a little about casting. The maple tree near the sidewalk and my Mom’s peonies provided lessons about the dangers of recklessly slinging fishing line.  Dad taught me how to carefully tie the hook onto the line without piercing a finger and then to weight it properly. I even recall an explanation of several minutes about where the float was to be placed on the line. All this happened before our first visit to a pond!

It was on the bank of some pond in Rockingham County NC where he explained how to bait the hook with a slimy piece of a worm he tore away. He tutored me in the patience needed to watch the float, when to set the hook, and how to reel in the fish. Ultimately, he demonstrated how to get the smelly, flopping fish off the hook with the fewest number of fingers as possible pierced.

Developing within me an interest or devotion to fishing proved to be a lost cause. Still, 62 years later, I remember the pain he took to help me understand the details of “how” to fish.

I wish my parents had been as thorough in my financial education as they were with teaching me to fish. I am thankful that I heard about saving for tomorrow. I can remember my parents having a detailed (in hushed tones) discussion about which new light fixture they could best afford for the kitchen. I remember my Dad saying he was determined to be better with the family finances than his parents were. My parents did not “ignore” finances with me, but the lessons were not as detailed as fishing.

Let’s be as detailed in the financial instruction of our children and grandchildren as we are about teaching them how to fish, how to repair something, how to throw a baseball, or how to cook the next meal.

  • Teach them about earning an income by attaching their allowance to chores around the house. Giving an allowance without responsibilities attached can encourage the notion that money is available without effort. No, an allowance is not the same as an income, but the principal is there. Incomes are not always based solely upon the effort expended; an income is based upon the value of the work in the overall business.
  • Show them how to share their income with others and save for tomorrow by helping them set aside some for church and charity and putting aside some for later. Take some time to explain to them how you and your spouse do this on a regular basis. We cannot expect our descendants to learn this lesson by osmosis. We do not have to divulge the amounts to our children but allowing them to see us take deliberate actions to share and save is vital.
  • Help them decide how much of their money may be spent on an item they want. Explain early on the CONSEQUENCES of spending money. Allow them to experience disappointment when they cannot buy something they want because they purchased something already. Do not shelter our children from disappointment. It is a vital lesson of life.
  • At some age (earlier for some than others) help them experience setting aside some of their savings for “the long term.” During my high school years, a businessman in our hometown was planning to sell 25 shares of North Carolina National Bank stock. My girlfriend’s father (ultimately my father in law) asked me if I would be willing to buy this from his friend. My parents encouraged me to do it, because I needed to learn about saving for the “long term.” I took some money I had earned in my part time job, and our investing experience began. I am forever thankful to my parents and the man who became my Father in law for this lesson. This is a much easier lesson to teach in 2020 than it was in 1969 with index funds and no commission trading.

Here is to creating fishing and financial memories that will live on for generations.