These Fathers Know Best: Zions Bankers Share Their Top 5 Financial Tips
In honor of Father’s Day, four dads offer the top financial advice they give their children — some of it gleaned from their own fathers.
It's not an exaggeration to say Jake Heugly’s style of being a father is identical to his dad, Mark. “I’ve tried to be a great reflector of the lessons that I found valuable for me,” says the director of Fee Income for Zions Bancorporation of his father, a former senior manager with Zions Bank.
“My dad would say a fool and his money are soon parted,” Heugly recalls. “Anybody can make money, but how you save it, and how you use it, and how you budget it and plan for the future to your own advantage is what will separate you from other people.”
In honor of Father’s Day, Zions Bankers offer the top financial advice they give their children — some of it gleaned from their own fathers.
Father’s Day Financial Tip #1: Help them learn from your mistakes
Zions Bank CRA Administrator James Jackson III remembers when credit card companies were all over college campuses handing out free T-shirts and candy — along with credit cards. He says he amassed his fair share of debt during those years, and instead of saving his tuition reimbursement, he spent it.
He talks to his children about his own past in the hope they will learn from his mistakes. “My daughter has tuition reimbursement, and she’s putting it in a CD so that when it matures, she can pay off the loan and have a little money saved up,” he explains.
“Personal finance is tribal knowledge. You learn from influencers like your friends and family, and that’s the problem,” says Jackson, who also teaches personal finance classes at Salt Lake Community College. While Utah has had a financial literacy education mandate in place since 2007, in many states like Idaho, it’s not required, which Jackson says is “pretty crazy because it’s the most important thing you need to know to live.”
Business Banking Relationship Manager Saul Hernandez also uses his own experience to impart lessons to his son, Bryce, 15. “I tell him that in my 16 years in banking, I’ve seen it all: wealth and poverty. I’ve seen very good use of money management skills and very poor management skills,” Hernandez says. “I give him examples of how I struggled to pay for my education and have a family, and I tell him to wait to have a family — then you will really enjoy the benefits of a better financially prepared life.”
Hernandez emigrated with his mother and sibling to Twin Falls from Mexico when he was 13, and his mom struggled to support the family by herself on a migrant worker’s salary. “I’ve shared all those stories with my son so he can understand,” he says.
Father’s Day Financial Tip #2: Hone the saving habit
Jackson says as soon as his children got jobs, he encouraged them to accumulate $1,000 in their savings accounts and “just watch the magic happen.”
Hernandez requires his son to save 50% of any money he receives as a gift, and then he matches it 100 percent.
Marketing Manager Brad Herbert and his wife, Carmen, teach their four boys to follow their example of the 80-10-10 rule: Spend 80%, save 10% and give 10% away to a charitable organization.
Father’s Day Financial Tip #3: Teach them to spend wisely
Zions Bancorporation’s Director of Fee Income Strategies Jacob Heugly is passionate about taking his family on vacations around the world. They’ve traveled to Iguazu Falls on the Brazil/Argentina border, stood in the Coliseum in Rome and visited Queen Elizabeth’s home in London.
He gives them their own spending money — he calls it “flash cash” — with the caveat that any souvenir spending has to come from that budget. “It was amazing to watch my kids rationalize about whether they wanted a shirt that costs a lot a Disney or wait and go to Wal-Mart afterwards and get three shirts.”
The goal, Heugly says, is to “get them into the mindset that they didn’t just get whatever they wanted.”
Father’s Day Financial Tip #4: Underscore the importance of the credit score
Heugly tells his children that they need to manage their credit score the same way they manage their reputation. “We sit down quarterly and get on Credit Karma. They show me what their credit score is and how they actively manage it,” he says. “I teach them the importance of credit and how it dictates loan pricing and credit worthiness.”
It’s become a bit of a competition to see who can achieve the highest score (For the record, it’s Jake with a score in the 800s.)
Father’s Day Financial Tip #5: Cultivate contentment
This advice is courtesy of Herbert, and he says it’s due to the direct influence of his father, Gary. “My dad always taught me to appreciate the things that we had,” Herbert explains. “It didn’t take my dad a whole lot to be satisfied. We didn’t need a fancy car, boat or giant house for us to feel like we had everything we ever needed and to be happy with what we had.”
Says Herbert: “If you can learn to be content with what you have, your life will be much better – and your bank account will be much larger.”