Financial priorities shift when men become dads

Raising a son or daughter is the most important and longest job a father will ever have. This Father’s Day we recognize the 70 million dads around the country for their contribution to raising the next generation. In addition to being a driver, chef, and janitor, the job of parent requires men to teach their children about a seemingly endless number of subjects.

One thing children learn from their fathers is how to manage money. In a recent survey by the NFCC, the majority of respondents indicated that they learned the most about personal finance from their parents.   And a study by ING DIRECT found that nearly all parents feel responsible for their children’s financial education.  While there is some concern that parents don’t feel adequately prepared to teach their children about money, what might matter most is the example that they are setting.

Most people can increase their financial literacy by reading books, taking classes, or talking to experts.  But making the right financial choices isn’t only about knowledge – it’s about putting that knowledge to good use.  Unfortunately, the survey by ING DIRECT revealed that only three out of ten parents think that they are "excellent" financial role models. 

While many dads may not feel like “excellent” role models, there is some evidence that becoming a father causes men to adjust their financial priories for the good of their families.

  • Dads are good providers – More dads said they’d “get another job if they couldn’t pay the mortgage or the rent” (43% vs. 28%), and more believe that “purchasing a home today is a good investment” (75% vs. 67%) than men with no children.  (From “Home Ownership” survey, June 2011)
  • Dads do what it takes to help financially – More dads said they’d “put off plans for buying a car” (48% vs. 30%), “put off plans for buying a house” (25% vs. 16%), and “shop at less expensive stores” (61% vs. 52%) compared to men without children to help maintain their families’ financial condition during a difficult economy.  (From “Financial Literacy Month” survey, March 2009)
  • Dads have their priorities right – When asked what the silver lining might be in a tough economy, more dads said they were “spending more quality time with family and friends” (42% vs. 26%) compared to men without children.  (From “Financial Literacy Month” survey, March 2009)
  • Dads are sensible about unplanned-for money – More dads than men with no children would take care of “an obligation” with a tax refund (53% vs. 38%).  (From “Tax Time” survey, February 2007)

This Father’s Day, consider the financial lessons your dad taught you by example.  And this Father's Day, remember that one of the most important gifts you can give to a parent is to simply say “Thanks.”

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

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