What Jim Cramer And Other Celebrities Learned About Money From Their Fathers

Jim Cramer

Jim Cramer

When it comes to money, 30 Rock star Alec Baldwin told MoneyWatch via Twitter that his father advised: “Marry a rich woman.” Comedian Chelsea Handler told Playboythat on the financial front her Dad “was the perfect role model of what not to do as a parent.”

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I guess that makes me lucky. When my Dad passed away a few years ago the theme of my eulogy was the value of everything I had learned from him. This being a personal finance blog, I’ll stick to what Dad taught me about making ends meet:

  • When you give, you get As a pre-teen attending Sunday services with the family I once observed Dad putting $20 in the weekly envelope. That’s $140 in today’s dollars. “Wow,” I said. “Why are you giving away so much money?” He replied: “Dan, it all comes back to me 20-fold.” I didn’t understand what he meant until many years later. But one day it made sense. You get as much as you give. I went on to write A New Purpose, a book about giving. One of my favourite quotes is from Jimmy Carter: “In every case when I thought I was doing somebody else a favour by building a house or something like that, I found that I got a lot more out of it than I put into it.”
  • Money is a renewable resource Money can be hard to come by and you certainly don’t want to waste it. But your bank account is not the most important thing in your life, Dad would tell me. I had taken a beating selling my first house in 1990 (after a brutal real estate downturn). In order to close the sale and get on with my life, which included relocation for work, I’d have to write a check to the bank for $25,000. That’s $41,000 in today’s dollars. I was miserable. Selling my largest asset was going to cost me every penny I had saved. “It’s only money,” Dad said. “You’re young. You’ll make more.”
  • Pay what you owe One of my favourite stories about Dad, who was a community banker, comes from my high school friend Dave, who at 17 bought his first car with a loan from the bank where Dad worked. Dave knew my Dad and went straight to him to ask for the loan, no doubt expecting a light touch. Dad drew up the papers and showed Dave the bottom line. “David, this is the amount you’ll have to pay the bank each month. Can you do it?” Dave answered, “I think I can.” This drew a stern response. “David, I didn’t ask what you think you can do. You won’t have your car very long unless you know you can make the payments.”
  • Kids need to be pushed out of the nest This was never an issue with me. I couldn’t wait to be self-sufficient. But just in case I harbored any thoughts of hanging on to campus life too long, Dad told me on my way to college my freshman year: “I’m paying for four years. Not a minute more.”
  • People who appear rich often aren’t Maybe it’s because Dad was a banker that he understood how often people borrow money to drive nice cars and live in big houses that leave them stretched and unable to build real wealth. Certainly, many folks with two bimmers and a mcmansion have money. But many do not. He always told me there were more millionaires in plain neighborhoods than in fancy ones. They don’t flaunt it. But they retire early.
  • Compare prices Long after I had become a bargain-conscious shopper, I learned to never boast to Dad about what a great deal I had got on an item. It would only launch him into epic tales of how he had got similar stuff much cheaper. For Dad, getting a great price wasn’t so much a budget consideration as it was a sport. He enjoyed the hunt, which made smart shopping fun as well as rewarding.

Dad was far from perfect. His portfolio was concentrated in a single stock. He retired too early. But his Worldview as it relates to money was a thing of beauty. Happy Fathers Day, Dad.

Here are some Fathers Day thoughts from prominent people.

Click here to see what Cramer and other celebrities learned from dad >
This post originally appeared at CBS MoneyWatch.

Jim Cramer

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Steve Martin

Michele Bachmann

Dad's not done giving out advice...

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