Common Cents and My Dad

“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” – Proverbs 13:22

I have written about how my dad inspires me to be just like him and better. Some of the lessons that he taught me were hard to understand or grasp or even practice at a young age. Now that I am older and I look back on some of his thoughts, I realize how smart he is.

There was a conversation I remember having with him about cars. I don’t remember how we got on the topic, all I remember is him saying “I could drive a Benz like some of my other peers, but I realize that you guys need to go to school and that’s more important.” Thanks to my father, I didn’t have to take out loans to attend my undergraduate. Neither does my sister who’s currently an undergraduate nor the one who will be an undergraduate next year. I don’t think this feat would have been possible without my father’s thoughts about what was important and relevant even before we (the kids) were even born.


CommonC_Peugeot

For as long as I can remember, we have always had two cars: one from the company my dad worked for and the other owned by us. Both cars were Peugeot 504s (Check out the stationwagon above). For comparison, a Peugeot 504/505 in Nigeria is like a Ford Focus in America i.e. a simple and very commonplace car. I never really thought about why that was the car we had or whether we could have driven something else. At about the age of 16, I actually started to notice luxury cars (the BMWs and the Mercedes of the world) and like any other kid, I dreamt about owning one and rolling down the street with a girl at my side (Ah, teenage dreams). Even when my father made the comment above, I wasn’t really thinking about what he was referring to: being frugal.

Many (including me) think that being frugal means being miserly or being stingy and can is too restrictive. It’s easy to think that the only way to have more money is to make more money without also focus on controlling expenses part of the money equation. It’s the reason why I enjoy reading people like Trent (@ The Simple Dollar) and JD Roth (@ Get Rich Slowly), because they talk about the many ways in which being frugal is a healthy and fruitful lifestyle. It’s the same philosophy that the authors of The Millionaire Next Door were writing about.

That Bible verse I mentioned above is one that reminds me of the legacy that my father is bequeathing to my siblings and me. And I am learning now that being frugal actually just means living below your means so that you can dedicate funds to what is truly important. For some that could mean the ability to send your kids to school and for others it could mean no debt collector calls.

For me, it’s a lesson that’s helping me keep my equation balanced so that I don’t fall into the trap of earning more and retaining nothing.

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