I like to think of myself as a hard worker. Whatever the job might be, I am doing it to my full potential. I give it everything I can and as good as I can. I owe this to one person.
I think hard work is something that is learned. Personally, my work ethic came from my father. We were kinda poor when I was a child. I don’t remember everything very clearly but I think my dad had a pretty good job when I was about 5. I’m not sure if my mother worked at the time, I’m doubting it because my parents had 3 young children to raise. I don’t remember the exact day, but I vaguely remember one thing when my dad was laid-off from the good job. I remember visiting Grandmas house more often and that we ate there more than usual. I didn’t think anything of this at the time, but now it makes sense.
So a little after my pops was laid off, I remember that he started working with a logging company. This eventually led to him starting his own logging business. He started it with just a chainsaw and a measuring tape. With both my mom working and nobody available to watch us kids, my dad would bring us out to the job site and have us stay by the vehicle while he was working. Eventually I grew bored with sitting there and decided to put sticks in piles. My dad saw this and figured he would give me a job. At 7 years of age I had my first job. What I would do is hold a measuring stick for him, put it on the end of the log and he would cut the log where the measuring stick ended. He kept track and paid me 2 cents for every log he cut. The money was then put into a bank account that he set up for me. This was my first lesson in finance. He wanted me to know the value of money, what it took to get it. At the age of 8, I bought my own school clothes. I did this pretty much all throughout my schooling, although the parents added a little bit for clothes. At some points during my junior education, I thought it sucked that I had to pay for clothes myself. Now, I couldn’t be more grateful for that small responsibility.
Eventually I did different jobs from my dad as I grew older. I started putting logs in piles. I think it depended on the kind of tree, but that ranged from .05-.10 a log. After a while my dad was able to buy a tree harvester (skidder, you pick up the logs and put it on the back to haul them) and so his business grew. While people may think that because he owned a business he was rich, this was not the case. I think he averaged like $20-30k/year logging. Working 6 days a week and probably 12 hours a day. Me and my brother would sometimes work after school, if the job site was close enough, and we would work all summer long as well. I can’t remember how many times we both got fired, or how many times we quit. My dad was kinda hard to work for, because he always expected the best from us. At the time I thought it was just him being mean. Now, I realize what he meant by that. Eventually he got a better job with insurance and a retirement, but even then on his days off he would be out in the woods logging. Doing extra so it was easier on the family.
When I was about 12, my dad started letting me work for other people. Doing odd jobs, like raking and mowing grass. I did this all through high school and it really helped with my savings. Although a lot of it was spent on sports cards. The summer before my 16th birthday, he told me if I saved for a car he would let me buy one. When I turned 16 my dad gave me his old car. It was a 1987 Ford Taurus. Brown with a blue hood. Just plain ugly. The transmission slipped on it. But it was still a car and I was so grateful for it. I thought I was going to have to buy it and was surprised when he just handed me the keys. It was the first thing that was handed to me. He set up insurance and plates for it and then I paid him the total. I also thought this sucked because at the time all my friends that had cars didn’t have to pay for any of that stuff. I was in high school, paying for school clothes, car insurance, gas, plates, even food when we had away games with sports that I was in.
My parents divorced when I was 15. I had always preferred to live with my mom because there wasn’t any responsibility. I could do what I wanted and go where I wanted to go. My dad got custody of us from the divorce and I really started to resent him for making us earn everything. It was way easier with my mom. I realize now that I had the whole situation backwards. My dad was being responsible and teaching us life lessons. My mom on the other hand was living way out of her means and was teaching us entitlement.
I realize now, that those 4-5 years that I resented my dad was one of the dumbest mistakes in my life. He is one of the best people I know, would give the shirt off his back and expect nothing in return. He taught me a lot about money, but more about life in general. He taught me to help others, to give and not receive. That what you get in life is from hard work and earning it. That I should expect nothing to just be given to me. He is retiring in about 4 years. It will be nice to see him settle down and do what he enjoys to do after all the hard work he put in. Hopefully I will be able to repay him for all that he taught me.
What life lessons did you receive from your parents? Do you practice the lessons they instilled upon you?