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NerdWallet Dads Share Their Personal Finance Tips

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Category: Money and Finances Published: Monday, 20 June 2016 Written by Admin

Parenthood brings joy -- and new layers of complicated financial decisions. At NerdWallet, some of our personal finance experts are also parents who are navigating those choices. In honor of Father's Day, some of our Nerd dads share lessons they learned while preparing for their new family members, after the kids arrived, and from their own dads.

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Carlton Robinson, head of Finance amp; IT and dad of Malik

What are some key financial lessons you've learned since being a parent, or leading up to being a parent?

If your kid gets money via allowance, holidays, etc., make him use his money to buy the things he wants (toys, apps, video games, etc). This helps him to understand the value of money. When he sees his cash balance dwindle, he’ll think hard about the things he wants to buy before spending.

What financial advice would you give to other new parents?

Open a 529 plan the minute your child is born. Have the application prepared on your mobile device and push the button as soon as the umbilical cord is cut. Not only is a 529 plan a great way to save for college, but it's a fantastic way to allow family members (grandparents, aunts, uncles) to participate.

What do you (or will you) tell your children when it comes to money and finances?

When your money runs out, it's gone, so spend your money wisely. My money is mine to spend, not yours to spend. So don't expect me to buy you stuff. And don't pull that "don't you want your only child to be happy?" stuff with me, kiddo. Your daddy is no pushover.  

I tell my son stories about when I was a kid and my money could be counted in cents, not dollars. I made a Monopoly game from cardboard (seriously). I learned to solve the Rubik’s Cube by borrowing a book from a friend, then going to the store and solving their cube, because I couldn't afford one.

What financial advice did your dad give you as a kid?

I learned what not to do from my dad. He would fall for get-rich-quick schemes. There's no such thing.

Dan Yoo, COO of NerdWallet and dad of Brandon amp; Patrick

What are some key financial lessons you've learned since being a parent, or leading up to being a parent?

As a parent you always want the best for your kiddos, so the cost structure of having littles increases household expenditures substantially. There are diapers, clothes, child care, preschool, car seats, activities, birthday parties, summer camp, Disneyland -- the list goes on and on. Setting enough money aside or budgeting properly for the first six years is critical until public education and full-time school kicks in and some of the larger expenses subside.

What financial advice would you give to other parents-to-be?

Resist the temptation to buy baby things new. Don’t make an emotional purchase. You want the best for your kiddos, but they grow out of things so quickly. Save that money in a 529 plan.

What do you (or will you) tell your children when it comes to money and finances?

Believe in the power of compound interest and index funds. Save consistently and put it into index funds that track the broader stock market. There will be good times and bad times in the market, but over decades money will work for you in substantial ways.

How has NerdWallet helped you as a parent when it comes to personal finance?

Aside from paying me a paycheck bimonthly, the content and tools around all of life’s financial decisions are amazing. Learning about 529 plans to save for the kids’ college expenses or understanding how much life insurance is needed to keep the family protected are just some of the topics that NerdWallet can help parents think through.

What financial advice did your dad give you as a kid?

My dad once told me that not every debt is bad debt. He thought that buying a TV or even a car by financing it wasn’t the right use of debt. But buying a home, starting and growing a small business, or the right real estate investment requires more risk to be successful. I used debt in the right way to leverage up on the areas that I wanted to take the most risk, and luckily it has paid off in all the right ways.

Sean McQuay, credit cards expert and dad of Evette amp; Miriam

What are some key financial lessons you've learned since being a parent, or leading up to being a parent?

Since becoming a parent, I’ve learned that getting the best financial products is no longer simple math. In addition to finding the best rates, I also need to account for an increasingly rare resource: time. I now need to optimize on cost/rewards/benefits along with effort required.

What financial advice would you give to other new parents?

Find a budget that matches your approach to money and stick with it. More visibility into your finances means more financial freedom.

Get credit cards that match your lifestyle, earning valuable rewards where you spend your dollars. Those rewards can cover the cost of an extra seat on an airplane or cover the cost of some baby gear.

What do you (or will you) tell your children when it comes to money and finances?

Teach budgeting early. Give kids examples of financial restraint and saving up for exciting or meaningful purchases.

How has NerdWallet helped you as a parent when it comes to personal finance?

Being surrounded by Nerds forces me to constantly regulate my money and how I use it. Just like a journalist at a fashion magazine needs to dress fashion-forward to fit in, I need to be extra nerdy with my finances to fit in at NerdWallet.

What financial advice did your dad give you as a kid?

My dad taught me the importance of investing in the future. He went to school late, beginning his undergrad when I was 3 and his MBA when I was 6. I know my family wouldn’t be where it is if he hadn’t made those sacrifices.

Kevin Yuann, GM of Credit Cards amp; Banking and dad of Eva amp; Oliver

What are some key financial lessons you've learned since being a parent, or leading up to being a parent?

Kids grow fast and can be pretty rough on possessions. Distinguish between items that are temporary and will need to be replaced quickly, like shoes or clothes, that should be bought on sale or inherited from other parents, versus items you want to last, like car seats or strollers, where it makes sense to pay for quality.

What financial advice would you give to other new parents?

College is getting more expensive every year. Setting up a 529 account early is like retirement, it can really help due to asset growth from market performance over the long term, and the growth is tax free. Seeing my kids’ college savings account grow provides amazing peace of mind.

Many of the medical expenses you’ll pay for having a child and after having the child are predictable. Putting money into a FSA (flexible spending account) can make your salary go much further since it’s deducted from payroll before taxes.

What do you (or will you) tell your children when it comes to money and finances?

I tell my kids life is about trade-offs, you can’t have everything. You’ll have to make decisions about what you need and/or want. Sometimes being patient will pay off.

How has NerdWallet helped you as a parent when it comes to personal finance?

They pay my salary so I can buy my kids toys! Seriously though, our 529 tool and life insurance tool were incredibly helpful in making a decision on what to do.

What financial advice did your dad give you as a kid?

My father loves to give advice, most of which I ignore, to his frustration. However, there are two behaviors which I admire and aspire to. My father grew up very poor and immigrated to the States with only $50. He’s become very successful, but still treats money as an incredibly scarce resource. More importantly, regardless of the situation, he’s almost always able to find something to enjoy and appreciate in any experience.

Ron Nitafan, Accounting amp; Operations Nerd and dad of JT amp; Trinity

What are some key financial lessons you've learned since being a parent, or leading up to being a parent?

Make sure your family is financially protected in case anything happens to you or your spouse. Which means, secure a life insurance policy. God forbid, if anything ever happens to you, this is one way to ensure your family will not be burdened financially. Whether it be whole life or term life, just having this in place is key.

What financial advice would you give to other new parents-to-be?

Start a college tuition plan, aka 529 plan. Sheltering money aside for education is long term, so just starting this early would benefit your little munchkin when they become a big munchkin in college.

What do you (or will you) tell your children when it comes to money and/or financial advice?

Teach them the value of money. As the old adage goes, Money doesn’t grow on trees. The earlier they can comprehend this, the better.

How has NerdWallet helped you as a parent when it comes to personal finance?

Having my kids visit the office has piqued their curiosity. They may not understand what their pappy does, but they do have a grasp of what NerdWallet is all about. It has opened up an avenue for them if ever they are looking for financial guidance.

What financial advice did your dad instill in you as a kid?

My father enlisted in the US Navy from the Philippines. He was our trailblazer to start our family from abroad just to give us a chance for a better life. We did not have much, so having the ability to start with barely any money to position the family to where it is today is a testament to everything that can be done, including financially. He expresses the importance of being fiscally responsible, but should also enjoy some of the fruits of your labor. Save your dough, but also reward yourself with something nice once in a while.

Anything else? 

The one quote the family lives by is, Fall seven times, get up eight. No matter how life knocks you down, get up and keep fighting. Financially, there will be some decisions that don’t go as planned. Pick yourself up, learn from your experience and continue to march forward.



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