Great Financial Lessons My Dad Taught Me – Money Doesn’t Have To Make Your Life Miserable

On April 18, 2008, my father passed away from cancer. While it’s a sad day, I always strive to make every day better than the last, as I know that’s what he would have wanted. I would like to dedicate today’s post to him. This is a post I had previously written about him, and…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 24, 2023

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Great Financial Lessons My Dad Taught Me – Money Doesn’t Have To Make Your Life MiserableOn April 18, 2008, my father passed away from cancer. While it’s a sad day, I always strive to make every day better than the last, as I know that’s what he would have wanted. I would like to dedicate today’s post to him. This is a post I had previously written about him, and it still makes me very happy when I read it. Enjoy!

My dad was a huge part of my life and not talking about him today just wouldn’t make sense. This is especially true because he taught me so many important financial lessons that I still remember to this day.

If it weren’t for my dad, I would probably be, at least, a little worse with money.

Due to this, I believe that teaching your child valuable financial lessons is key. This can help children grow up and be better able to manage a budget, understand investing, know how to save money, and more.

Below are some of the many great financial lessons my father taught me.


He taught me that I could afford to travel.

One of the top financial lessons my father taught me was that I can afford to travel.

My dad traveled all over the world. Besides his family, the other things he loved in life were traveling and airplanes (he was a pilot). He always made sure to fit traveling into his life in any way he could, and I gained many great memories from it.

I still remember him taking me to Disney World ALL THE TIME (I loved it!), him flying me in small planes, and even having a great time just sitting at the airport. He loved every little part about traveling.

He created hundreds of photo albums from his travels which I still look at on a regular basis. I also recently found a travel journal he kept which listed out all of the amazing places he traveled to.

My dad was not rich if that’s what you are thinking. Instead, he worked with his budget and always made sure to fit exciting trips in because that is what he believed in.

For example, he bought a new Camaro in 1984 (this was his baby), and he drove it up until a few months before he passed away in 2008. He didn’t care about furniture, electronics, or anything else. He would often work long hours, he hardly ever called off work, he always had a budget, he always saved money, and more.

He was all about travel and he managed his money well so that he could take trips whenever he could.


He taught me to not live paycheck to paycheck.

My dad was all about having a budget. He went over his budget and his checkbook nearly every single day. Working for the airlines meant that he occasionally got laid off and rehired over and over again.

Due to this, he always made sure to budget his money well.

He always had an emergency fund, he always made sure he spent less money than he made, and he always made sure to put as much money as he could towards retirement.

My dad did anything and everything to make sure that as kids we didn’t have to worry about money or go without anything that we needed. It’s a trait of his that I loved. Even when he would get laid off, he never acted like it was a big deal because he was always prepared.



He taught me that credit can be used to my advantage.

The topic of credit cards and credit came up a lot when I was younger.

I remember one day my dad was complaining about a scammy credit card commercial. I was super young and said, “I’m never going to have a credit card!”

My dad then told me that credit cards could be used to my advantage if I used them correctly. He then taught me all about how to use credit cards at a young age, and I now use credit cards very often to earn awesome rewards and bonuses.

Just in the year of 2015, I earned over $4,000 in cash back through my credit cards by spending just like how I normally would.

Thanks Dad for another great money lesson!


He taught me that money doesn’t have to limit you.

Out of all of the money lessons he taught me, this last one is probably the most important.

Even though my dad passed away too young, lived on a budget, and saved for a retirement that he never got to experience, I truly believe that he still lived the life he wanted to live.

He was still able to travel all over the world and he visited many, many countries. I’m not sure how many countries he visited but I’m sure it was well over 50.

I think the most important money lesson that I learned from my father is that money doesn’t have to control you. Even though you will never know when your last day is, you can still save and spend your money wisely, while also living the life you want.

Too many people believe that they can’t lead a good life on a budget. That is not true at all. You can still live a great life while managing your money, and without regret.

What financial lessons did your parents teach you? What financial lessons will you make sure you teach your children?


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Totally agee, for years I’ve spent money because seemed that if you can spend you can have fun, when I decided that was the time to think about future and starting to have a budget I understood that is possible to have great fun and social life also without spending money!!!:D I’m sure you’ll dad left you great tips for your financial life:D

  2. It is so sweet of you to dedicate today’s post to your father, Michelle. I’m sorry for your loss. My Dad passed away on 28 April two years ago, and I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.

    My parents did not teach me a lot about money. We never really talked about money. I’m not sure why. I guess my parents thought I’d learn one day. This is why I want to make sure I teach my children as much about money as I can so that they can make better financial choices and manage their money responsibly.

  3. A lovely post Michelle. I’m sorry to hear you lost your Dad to cancer. Both my parents have fought cancer and continue to fight through the lasting effects. My Dad has been left blind with an inoperable brain tumor and my Mum is still classed as terminal, despite her being diagnosed 10 years ago. It’s a terrible disease.

    On a lighter note, my parents were never wise with money. They were not stupid but they were very averse to risk. One thing I would recommend to every parent out there is to buy a copy of the kids version of Rich Dad, Poor Dad. The adult version is awesome in it’s own right but the children’s version is a great way to teach your older children and teenagers. I hope the recommendation helps other parents reading this.

    1. Amanda

      Thanks for sharing Lloyd and Michelle. It’s hard to lose a parent or to always worry about their health. Lloyd I decided to reply on your comment because Rich Dad Poor Dad was the book that motivated me and changed my mindset. My parents did what their parents taught them and didn’t provide us with financial lessons either. Thanks for sharing both of you.

      Michelle I also love that your dad was a traveler and how he fit traveling into his life. I plan on doing that soon!

    2. I’m sorry Lloyd. It is a terrible disease.

  4. Helen Case

    A very sweet post, Michelle! You were definitely blessed to have the relationship you had with your father, and especially the take-away financial lessons. I’m a new reader and always enjoy reading your posts. Keep up the good work!

  5. Hi Michelle… First I want to say how much I truly adore your blog. It has been such an inspiration for me throughout the past year since I started reading it. Your advice on blogging and tips on living a frugal life have been invaluable to me. This article struck a chord with me because I’m at the point where I’m transitioning to a new lifestyle, one where I can afford to travel and do the things I love because of the money I’m making from my blogs and writing. I especially want to have the means to travel. The bug has bitten me and I haven’t been able to do much jetsetting since buying my home eleven years ago. The inspirational tips your dad gave you have now inspired me to do the same. Thanks so much for your fabulous blog!

    Have a great day!

  6. Great lessons from your dad! We are teaching our three children as many lesson as possible as they begin their financial lives. Things like budgeting, living within your means, compound interest, and that its okay to talk about money.

  7. My parents taught me to be patient and not go into debt to have what I wanted right away when I was just starting out. We had hand-me-down couches and inexpensive Craigslist furniture for at least 4 years after getting married until we could afford to buy new things debt-free and we were so grateful we avoided the debt. Many of my friends had much nicer places with much nicer things, but regretted starting out behind financially. I was a little jealous at the time, but certainly not now!

  8. Your dad sounds like he was a very wise and caring man, Michelle. Thanks for sharing this today.

  9. Hi Michelle…I’ve been visiting your site and receiving your newsletter for a while now. While I always find heaps of useful information in the things you share, I found reading this post this morning particularly enjoyable and moving. Thanks so much for sharing it. Your dad gave you such an amazing legacy.


  10. Sending you lots of love today!!! Sounds like your memories are amazing – and I’m sure they extend far beyond money.

  11. Thank you for sharing the wonderful advice from your father. I lost my father in 2013 and will never forget the financial (and life) advice that he gave me.

    1. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  12. Great read. Thank you for reflecting on your loss to help spread the word for the rest of us. These are some great things to keep in mind as I raise my young son. The tip about traveling is my favorite as my family makes sure to budget for these memories.
    The Green Swan

  13. Apathy Ends

    I always admire people that sacrifice to do the things they love to do. People get caught up trying to mimic their neighbors even when they don’t truly enjoy the items they buy.

    Love reading about parents teaching their children about personal finance, it sounds like his lessons stuck with you!

  14. This is such a sweet post, Michelle! I’m sure your dad would be so proud of you right now!!!

  15. We use credit cards to our advantage as well for the points. We always end up “making” around $2,000 a year by just using them like we normally would. We tend to use this for our yearly summer vacation. Of course the key there is to never carry a balance.
    ~Bridget |

  16. Heartwarming and beautiful to read. I’ve contemplated getting my pilot’s license. It’s so awesome you were able to gain so much insight from your dad. I never really learned a lot about money from either of my parents. Their lives were filled with lots of debt and buying possessions rather than experiences. I feel as if my fondness of all things personal finance developed from wanting to be better with money than my parents were.

  17. Shaquetta

    This is amazing! I believe I’ve learned these lessons along the way but it sure feels great to get confirmation from your Dad that I’m right on track.

  18. Norman

    This is such a heartwarming post. I’m sorry to hear about what happened. It is great that he instilled a lot of positive financial habits into you early on in life.You just reminded me that I need to spend more time with my parents. Thanks for your article!

  19. Thank you so much Michelle for sharing your dad with us 🙂 He sounds like a wonderful man. Now we know where you got your love of travel from!

    1. Yes, he was a wonderful man 🙂

  20. Kim Cobb

    My dad passed away on this day also, but in 2004. He taught me to be careful with my finances for which I am very grateful.

  21. These posts are always so hard to read :/ Do you listen to country (haha, I know a lot of people don’t) but there’s this song called You Should Be Here and it’s everything. My parents always raised me that I could be anything I want and that all big business decisions happen on the golf course (hence the golf lessons growing up)

  22. Kaitlynn Marie

    Sadly my parents taught me how to live above my means and never believed in a budget. My dad once had a thriving business that his ex-wife ruined for him. Though I suppose they taught me one valuable lesson: don’t do what they did. Don’t live paycheck to paycheck because you know how hard that is. Don’t waste money on stupid things (like addictions, my parents’ happened to be cigarettes) and save wisely. I’m still learning how to manage my money, but honestly your blog has been astoundingly helpful to me. I’m so glad I stumbled upon it a few months ago on Pinterest.

  23. Tiffany Griffin

    Honestly, while I have great parents, they never really taught me any financial lessons. Unless showing me what not to do counts. 🙂

    Everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned on my own and with my husband. From reading this post, I can tell that you love your dad dearly. You are lucky to have had parent who taught you so many great lessons.

  24. Lindsey

    My dad was the exact opposite of yours. He is terrible with money and still is. He treats debit cards like credit cards and is always spending more money than he has. When my mother was still around it took her taking away his debit card just to get things on track. She always managed to find ways to give a little extra to those in need and give us everything we could ever want. I feel like she did everything she wanted to do though, and they went on a lot of adventures together. But I guess he needed my mom to keep him on track

  25. Very cool, Michelle. I think it’s so great that your Dad loved travel and extended that to you. Based on your travels around the US it’s pretty clear you inherited that passion!

  26. This is an incredible post Michelle! I want my kids to understand a budget is not a restriction on the quality of life you can have. It’s awesome your dad provided you with such great lessons as a child. Not everyone receives these lessons and that is not something I want for my kids.

  27. “Too many people believe that they can’t lead a good life on a budget. That is not true at all. You can still live a great life while managing your money, and without regret.”

    That last line couldn’t be more true! In fact, I like to look at budgeting as a fun challenge. Just cut our wireless bill significantly. It’s going to be 1/3 what it used to be and I’m so excited!

  28. Sebastian(Wealth Manager)

    Great blog post and the life lessons shared here is worth learning! I think money is important in life but you’ve to earn and spend it honestly to enjoy the life and happiness of contribution. Managing finance is very challenging in every step of life, you’ve to be creative every time.

  29. Brittney @ Life On A Discount

    I am sorry that your father passed away so young, but it’s clear he taught you a lot and had a profound impact on your life.

    He taught you some great lessons and had some beliefs about money that I wholeheartedly agree with overall. Money is a tool, how you use it will impact you either negatively or positively, but you can control that.

  30. Thank you for sharing, Michelle. This post hit close to home. 🙂 Your Dad reminds me a lot of my Dad. He also taught me to manage money well but also enjoy life in the process.

    You have been an inspiration to me as I am starting my new blog. I am also a former finance analyst 🙂 Thanks again.