My Dad – MY Financial Lifeguard

My Dad My Financial Lifeguard Blog Post

When I meet people for the first time, and they ask me, “So, what do you do for a living?” here’s what I say:  “I’m a Financial Lifeguard.  I help people who feel like they are drowning financially get to a safe place and catch their breath.  Then I teach them how to swim.”  I do this because I was once drowning financially, and someone threw me a life ring.  That someone was my Dad; he was MY Financial Lifeguard.

            Four years after I graduated from college, I hit financial rock-bottom.  I owed three different check cashing places money. I was behind on my car payment and various other debts.  I had past due utility bills in my name, so even though I wanted to leave my then-fiancé, I couldn’t get an apartment.  Fortunately, my Dad and my step mom, Francine, were gracious enough to let me live with them rent-free for three months so I could get out of that toxic relationship and get back on my feet.

            My Dad helped me create a budget and a plan to pay off my debt.  I was so stressed out and emotional about my financial mess that I needed an objective person to help me sort out the details.  I knew what I should have been doing with my money.  I had an Accounting degree and was working for my family’s multimillion dollar machine tool business as the Accounting Manager!  Talk about feeling like a hypocrite.  But, people do stupid things with money for the sake of love and I was no exception. 

Fortunately, my Dad didn’t judge me for my mess; instead, he assisted me in formulating a road map to my preferred financial future.  He reminded me of the basics of sound financial money management – saving money is good, too much debt is bad, etc.  He also taught me the importance of giving those less fortunate.  I guess I was feeling a little sorry for myself because after four years of being out on my own in the real world, I had fallen flat on my face.  My Dad reminded me that I had food, clothing, shelter, and a family who loved me, which made me very fortunate indeed.  That’s when I started to donate money to the local homeless shelter, which I continue to do fourteen years later.

            I think it’s important to add here what my Dad didn’t do for me.  He didn’t shield me from the consequences of my mistakes.  My Dad and step mom did NOT pay off any of my bills or lend me money to catch them up.  Some of you might think that was mean, but it was the best gift they could have given me – a sense of personal responsibility.  I needed to feel the pain of my mistakes so I could fix them and learn that I NEVER wanted to go down that road again.  My Dad has said to me more than once, “The mistakes that you learn the most from are ones that cost you the most.” 

            Now I follow this same formula for my Financial Lifeguard business.  I help my clients honestly determine where they are financially, without judgment.  We formulate a plan to start moving them towards their preferred financial future.  I teach them the skills they need to achieve their goals with minimal dependence on me.  I want people to be able to “swim” for themselves!  I don’t want to drag them around the pool month after month, doing their budgets for them.  (Yes, I’m probably leaving some money on the table, but I want people to take ownership of their personal finances.)

My Dad My Financial Lifeguard

            On this Father’s Day, I am extremely grateful for my Dad and all that he’s taught me about life and personal finances.  Without him, I surely wouldn’t be the person I am today.  Here’s to you, Dad!

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Christine Luken

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 14 comments
Robin (Masshole Mommy) - June 18, 2014

My dad has bailed me out of a few messes over the course of my lifetime and I am very thanfkul for that.

Dria - June 18, 2014

Great post, I’ve been in that situation myself a few times and it’s never fun pulling yourself out of it but you do learn from it. love that you still give back to the shelter and love that your dad taught you such a valuable lesson!

Maria Oller - June 18, 2014

Wow I know what you mean we had ot learn the hard way to and it my family who came to help and guide us now we are almost completely debt free and no more credit cards tho

Debbie Denny - June 18, 2014

Sounds like a great dad. Sometimes we all need a guide.

Jessica @EatSleepBe - June 18, 2014

I love the term “financial lifeguard” because it really does say it all. And I love that you followed In your father’s footsteps and now pass along the type of information he once gave to you.

Jennifer B - June 18, 2014

That’s awesome of your Dad for helping you find your way out of financial problems!! Now you can take what you know and help others!

Tracy @ Ascending Butterfly - June 18, 2014

My mom always taught me that you don’t spend more than you make and she taught me not to jump on the credit card bandwagon and I am so glad she did. I’m super frugal! It’s good your Dad gave you some fundamentals.

Taralyn - June 18, 2014

Becoming financially proficient is definitely a process with a learning curve! Thank goodness for objective people who can help us!

Lois Alter Mark - June 18, 2014

Love the idea of Financial Lifeguard, and think it’s so important to teach our kids how to handle money responsibly.

Dawn Lopez - June 18, 2014

Awww this is so awesome to hear. I was also in a financial jam and my father helped me out of it too! I am finally (mostly) debt free and it feels absolutely amazing! Cheers to you and your dad!

Wendy @ ABCs and Garden Peas - June 18, 2014

Yay for your dad! Financial responsibility is one of THE biggest things we can teach our kids. Why, oh WHY, isn’t it taught in schools? I guess they touch on it, but it really should be at the top of the list.

Mama to 5 BLessings - June 19, 2014

What a sweet post, it;s nice how he has helped you along the way, sometimes we learn from our actions.

Tatanisha - June 19, 2014

Sounds like you have a great Dad and what a good example. And it’s a good thing he didn’t bail you out because it taught you to value what you have/don’t have even more. Happy Father’s Day to your Dad. Great lessons to be learned here!

Annie {Stowed Stuff} - June 20, 2014

Great stories from how your Dad helped you learn about money. My parents did a great job teaching me how to be responsible with money growing up too!


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