Professional Perspectives: Your Money, Your Independence

9

Glenn Brown, CFP
Glenn Brown, CFP

Thanks, Dad — For Showing How to Lead, Then Trusting to Follow

Fatherhood isn’t just about providing; it’s about leading by example, imparting wisdom, and instilling values that echo through generations. As Father’s Day approaches, it’s time to pause and express gratitude for these silent architects of our lives.

This will be my first without my dad, who passed last month at 94. He had a great run as he lived an active lifestyle with emphasis on volunteerism, a farmer’s work ethic and humility.

Growing up on a dairy farm in Hampton Falls, NH, he attended nearby UNH to study agriculture and worked on the farm through his late 20s. As with many farms in the 1950s, financials and scale would impact their ability to operate, so he took a job as a rural mail career.

He’d retire 34 years later in this same capacity, never seeking to climb the corporate ladder nor amass great sums of money. He, along with my mom who left teaching high school to stay at home, found more value in being present for my childhood and creating an environment to provide better opportunities than they had.

I experienced his leadership through my involvement in team sports, Cub Scouts, and school activities. But what awe-struck this kid was his being in the Volunteer Fire Department (including Fire Warden) for 20-plus years. The visits to the firehouse with guys greeting “Forrest!”, his gear ready to go in our hallway, fire scanner in the bedroom and of course, seeing him come home. Sometimes it would be in the middle of the night or in the early morning where he’d shower, eat breakfast, and go to work as the only mailman in town because “someone’s gotta deliver the mail”.

As my dad led by example in work ethic and volunteerism, he also learned to trust in my expertise and insights as an adult. This reciprocal exchange of trust signifies the evolving nature of the parent-child relationship. Fathers trust their children to carry forward their legacy and ensure their well-being in old age. This trust with my dad was nurtured through open dialogue, shared decision-making, and a mutual commitment to the family’s collective goals.

Let me be clear, it wasn’t always easy. It can be a humbling realization – to see the roles reversed, to witness the wisdom and innovation of the next generation, and to have the courage to follow their lead. There were times he’d feel anxiety towards change, whether all proper precautions were being taken and he’d reference others who were doing something different.

From a financial planning perspective, some examples of actions taken (with his initial reaction) included: establishing a revocable trust (“Why, we’re not loaded”), maintaining long-term care insurance (“It’s getting so expensive, I might never use it”), and converting his modest IRA to Roth in January 2009 plus switch to growth investments (“I’m too old for that”).

And of course, the greatest combination of financial and well-being in old age planning – knowing when it’s time to get support for elder care (“Your mother and I are going to sell our home, move to Mass and live with you, your wife, and young kids – are you crazy?!”).

As I look back on the last 5 ½ years since that decision, his ability to trust and follow plans made for some of the most relaxed experiences together as a father and son. We could both focus on developing fond memories and instilled values with our girls, his granddaughters. For this, and many other reasons, I say thanks Dad and Happy Father’s Day.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Glenn Brown lives in MetroWest and is owner of PlanDynamic, LLC, www.PlanDynamic.com. He is a fee-only Certified Financial Planner™ helping motivated people take control of their planning and investing, so they can balance kids, aging parents and financial independence.

 

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