Four years after graduating from college (with an accounting degree, ironically enough), I hit financial rock bottom. I owed money to three different payday lenders. My car payment, utility bills and credit cards were all delinquent. At the time, I worked for my family’s multimillion-dollar business in the accounting department, yet I was bouncing my personal checks at home. Talk about feeling like a hypocrite.
How does a smart girl who made the National Honor Society make such stupid mistakes with money? Easy — it’s because I made emotional decisions with my personal finances, not logical ones. I let my heart hijack my wallet.
Click through to read more about money lessons from your favorite sitcom dads.
Here’s the short story: For seven years, I dated “Jeff,” a guy who mismanaged his finances. During that time, I let his bad habits rub off on me. When I decided to finally end the relationship, I couldn’t get an apartment on my own because I had no money and horrible credit. So, I asked my father for help. I wanted to borrow the money I needed to move out and catch up on my bills.
He said, “No.”
Although he refused to lend me money, my father didn’t leave me high and dry. Trust me, he felt overjoyed that I had finally broken up with Jeff. He said I could move in with him and my stepmom for three months so I could leave that toxic relationship and get back on my feet.
Here’s why I’m grateful he didn’t lend me money.
He Didn't Protect Me From the Consequences of My Mistakes
I needed to feel the pain of my blunders so I could learn to avoid going down that road again. If you protect someone from the consequences of their behavior, there’s no incentive for them to change their ways. My father has said to me more than once, “The mistakes you learn the most from are ones that cost you the most dollars.”
He Showed Me What to Do and Why to Do It — He Didn't Do It for Me
My father 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 patiently walk me through the details. He didn’t just create a plan and say, “Here, do this.” My father sat down beside me, and we talked through all of the details and created a plan together. He only jumped in with advice when I seemed to be stuck. I owned the plan and implemented it because I played an active part in creating it.
He Empowered Me to Rescue My Financial Dignity
My father knew if he lent me the money, he could have been my knight in shining armor, the hero who saved me. Rather than do that, he showed me how to be the hero of my own financial life. Empowering others to help themselves is so much more valuable in the long run than simply bailing them out of their money messes.
Further, when we lend money to friends or family members, it changes the relationship dynamic. As the ancient writings of King Solomon say, “The borrower is slave to the lender.” By empowering me to rescue myself, my dad kept our relationship in father-daughter territory rather than master-servant territory.
Breakups Can Be Blessings in Disguise: How One Woman’s Divorce Forced Her to Look at Her Finances
The next time you’re considering lending money or co-signing a loan for a family member, I’d caution you to think twice about it. I’m grateful my father didn’t lend me money and showed me a little “tough love,” because I learned a great deal more by rescuing my own financial dignity.
Click through to read more about what one woman experienced when her father did let her borrow money.
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