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Being There

Meridian Points

Father’s Day is right around the corner. Fathers play a big role in how we think about money and finance. My father learned about finance the hard way; he raised six children on his salary as an envelope salesman. (I doubt if any one actually sells envelopes today; they are ordered online.)

I am sure that how your father viewed money affects your behavior today. Some people tell me that they are careful with their money because their fathers were spendthrifts. Others say they spend money freely because their dads were tightwads. Still others say they learned to be careful with their money from their dads. If you see a pattern here, let me know!

I have a vision of my dad now, mowing the lawn on a hot summer day, wearing an old pair of wing tip shoes and no socks. All the dads wore their old wing tips to do yard work, because athletic shoes had not yet been invented, unless you count PF Flyers or Converse All Stars. There was not a dad in my neighborhood who would spend money on shoes for mowing if he had an old pair of wing tips in his closet.

My father thought that being there was a big part of his job as a parent. The famous philosopher Woody Allen said that ninety percent of life is showing up. My dad excelled at showing up. I wish you could travel back in time to see him at my football games, strolling the sidelines dressed in his suit and wing tips. Many of the WWII dads knew nothing about casual attire!

Sometimes I hear parents talking today about the sacrifices they make for their children. I know this for sure: my father did not look at parenting as a sacrifice; instead it was an opportunity and a privilege. It is hard to view the job of a father in this light due to the incredible amount of energy and focus it takes to be a good one.

Recently I paused to reflect on how my father’s generation got the job of dad done. The differences are striking. Today a good father is expected to solve his children’s problems, make their paths smoother, and help his children get what they want. My father focused on being there for us kids, showing us the right path, and providing the things we really needed.

Father’s Day is on June 21st this year. I’m glad, because this will give me two weeks to find a pair of old wing tips on eBay. This will also give all you dads time to reflect upon the financial lessons you are imprinting upon your children. After a traditional Father’s Day lunch, I am going to lace up those wing tips with no socks and mow…just as a tribute to my dad and all those fathers of the Greatest Generation.

Email me if you have questions or need assistance…

Meet the Author

Tom Coulter, CPA


Tom is the President and a founder of Meridian Trust. Tom graduated from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in accounting with honors, in 1978. Tom previously worked for the international accounting firm, Deloitte. He later joined the financial medical advising firm, FIS Associates, before founding Meridian Trust in 1997. Tom has worked extensively in retirement planning, taxation, estate and financial planning and investment management. He is a Certified Public Accountant, a member of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), and the Tennessee Society of CPAs (TSCPA). Tom is also credentialed as a Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) by the AICPA.