[Happy Friday! Please enjoy this guest article today from fellow reader, and blogger, BC from FrugalWheels.com. I only hope my own sons will give me such a beautiful gift like this come Father’s Day 2035! ;) Congrats on the epiphany, BC!]
My gift to my old man whenever a special occasion comes along is almost always a book. I read a lot, and he does too, and every so often I come across a book that I check out from the library that I know he will be fascinated by. As a writer myself, I like that I am spending gift money on supporting authors.
This year was no exception (other than the book arrived in the mail a day late – shame on me for not going to my usual local book store). But this year I gave him something better – the best gift I think a son can give his father.
I told him he was right.
I’ll explain. My dad, brother-in-law and nephew took a walk down to the pub on Father’s Day. We’d be having dinner with the rest of the family later, but this was a little side outing, just for the boys. My dad and I are very different people in a lot of ways, and we always struggled to connect. I’m a professional writer and photographer; my dad was an assessment specialist for the state. My dad’s primary concern was finding a job he could retire comfortably while supporting a family; I took the long weird road because I needed a job that matters and took advantage of my creativity and challenged me. We fought tooth and nail when I was young, my old man was pretty strict and harsh, and though as I grew older we buried all hatchets and get along now, we didn’t really connect on much.
Until I found FIRE. I started reading Mr. Money Mustache and later Budgets are Sexy (Shout out, J$!), and realized that saving and investing could help me buy my freedom. I diligently read all I could and cut expenses. Though my pay as a writer started off low, it’s gone up as my colleagues leave the business and my value has increased with my skill. The side gigs I get with photography make for a lucrative side hustle on top. As I developed my FIRE muscles, it started to really dawn on me. Oh $hit. My old man’s been telling me this all along!
My dad is sort of an OG of FIRE. He figured out the mechanics of FIRE well before a movement came along. Though he chose to work until 55 to get full advantage of his pension, he could have left earlier if needed. He is definitely what FIRE folks would call FatFIRE. I won’t go into too much detail, but let’s just say he’s pretty well set.
My dad lights up now when I bring up finances, and my current ideas, progress, plans. He asks me a lot about these new-fangled things, like Wealthfront and cryptocurrencies. It’s given us something to connect with, along with our love of reading history books and our love of bicycles.
So as we talked money, I was cognizant of my nephew’s presence. He’d just graduated high school and I hoped he would pick up some of what we were talking about, thinking it more effective than talking to him directly. My dad talked about starting early. I mentioned that while I was happy with my progress, I wished I’d started at my nephew’s age. If I had, I might be FIRE’d today. I looked my dad straight in the eye and said, “I should have listened to you – you were right about investing.”
Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but the look in his eyes told me everything. He was nearly speechless.
I really do owe a lot to the old man’s frugality. We always lived below our means. It made it much easier to adopt a FIRE mindset. Coming from a frugal background, and having lived on tiny amounts of money and survived as a young adult, made living a FIRE lifestyle a breeze. It was just about being conscious of spending. It took thought, but it wasn’t painful.
Last year I got a pretty sizable raise, mostly because I would be doing two people’s jobs. My parents had taken me out to lunch for my birthday, and upon learning this my dad had some advice. “Make sure you’re saving at least 15%.” I laughed. “Dad, I’m saving 50%.” The look on his face was priceless.
But not quite the same as when I told him I wished I’d listened to him earlier. I think for Father’s Day, it’s something that will mean more to him than some book I bought.
If you’re curious, BTW, the book I bought is Surprise, Kill, Vanish by Annie Jacobsen. It’s basically about the entire CIA’s history with more inside info from legendary CIA operatives than anything I have ever seen, and as a journalist myself I am jealous of her impressive sourcing. I heard her on the Joe Rogan podcast and I had to check it out of the library.
BC is the brains behind FrugalWheels.com, a blog about biking and pursuing financial independence in a small (cold) town. FIRE isn’t just for software engineers living in Colorado – it’s achievable for people with lower incomes too!
[EDITOR’S NOTE: If someone in your life has been sharing the good financial word with you over the years, be sure to thank them this weekend! You don’t need a special day to do it! ;)]
// Link to book above is an Amazon affiliate link