The best career and financial advice we got from our dads



With Father’s Day coming up this Sunday, the staff at CNBC Make It took some time to reflect on life lessons from our dads.

Here’s the best advice we ever got from them.

There’s a difference between a ‘want’ and a ‘need’

Every Christmas, my dad takes me shopping for a “go-to gift.”

Kathleen Elkins

“I remember distinctly the first time I heard my dad’s, ‘Is that a want or a need?’ speech: I was in kindergarten and tried to order a chocolate milk at a restaurant. Most of the talk went over my head, but the conclusion of his message stuck: There are ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ in life, and chocolate milk classifies as a ‘want.’

I promptly changed my order to an ice water.

As I got older, I learned how to separate larger potential purchases into those two categories and developed a frugal lifestyle, much like my dad’s, centered around needs, rather than wants.

Of course, there’s always a time and place for a chocolate milk: The occasional splurge keeps you sane. I just make sure to weigh the pros and cons before splurging and ensure that I’m spending on things that truly matter to me.

Kathleen Elkins, senior money reporter

‘If you have a passion that doesn’t pay, it’s called a hobby’

Courtesy of Megan Leonhardt

“My dad has always been very practical about his approach to life, especially when it comes to finding and building a successful career. He always told me and my sister growing up that we should find careers that we found interesting because we were going to spend the rest of our lives doing it. But when it came to a job within that career, he always stressed that it was important to keep learning. You should constantly be learning new things or you become stagnant. If that happens, it’s time for a new job.

“That said, he encouraged both his girls to choose college majors and careers in which we could earn enough to comfortably afford to eat and have a roof over our heads. If you have a passion that doesn’t pay, it’s called a hobby. He wanted us to be able to stand on our own, and thanks to his little lessons along the way, we’re both doing just that!”

Megan Leonhardt, senior money reporter

Talk less and listen more

“My dad isn’t a man of many words, but he did teach me every lyric to Alison Krauss’ ‘When You Say Nothing At All’ by the time I was three years old. I still keep the lyrics with me since it is a song that means so much to us.

“One line says: ‘You say it best when you say nothing at all.’ Those words have always reminded me of the power of listening (rather than talking) and the impact one’s actions (rather than their words) can have on those around them.”

Anna Hecht, money reporter

Passion is important, but so is your paycheck

Courtesy of Lindsey Stanberry

A “CNBC Make It dad” and his kids


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