7 Father’s Day Money Lessons From TV Dads

4 Minute Read

Every father owes his kids some guidance on how to take care of their money. That’s probably why so many sitcoms and TV dramas feature Dad sharing his money smarts with the family.

In honor of Father’s Day, here are some of the best lessons we learned from TV dads.

Spending Dad’s Money Is Easier Than Spending Your Own

Danny Tanner, Full House

The cost of living in San Francisco in the ’90s was sky-high. But single-dad-of-three Danny taught his daughters to handle money well, especially the time teenager D.J. longed for a pair of designer shoes. Though they were outside Danny’s budget, he encouraged D.J. to take on an after-school job and earn them for herself. D.J.’s first paycheck brought her more than enough cash to buy the shoes, but all her hard work inspired her to put it into a savings account.

The Diligent Prosper

Ward Cleaver, Leave It to Beaver

There’s a lot of money to be made in sales—but not when your product is awful-smelling perfume! And that’s exactly what Wally and the Beaver signed up to sell in a contest to win a movie projector. Despite the perfume’s awful scent, Ward encouraged his sons to work hard on their goal. Though the boys fell short of winning the sales contest, their dad rewarded their hard work with a projector anyway.

Charity Begins at Home

Jason Seaver, Growing Pains

Sometimes even when your heart’s in the right place, you end up doing the wrong thing. Jason’s young son Ben learned that lesson on his dad’s birthday. Ben made Jason a heart-shaped ashtray, but hearing about his older siblings’ high-priced gifts made him ashamed to give a homemade present. Ben’s solution—asking neighbors for “charity” money to get Jason a camera—wasn’t exactly to his dad’s liking. Jason asked his son to return it, telling him he much preferred Ben’s original heartfelt gift.

You Can’t Fix a Car at a Casino

Carl Winslow, Family Matters

Crime doesn’t pay, especially when you’re trying to cover up one wrong with another. As an unlicensed driver, Eddie put an $800 dent his in dad’s car. Instead of coming clean, he made matters much worse by visiting an illegal casino to pay for the damage. As he raked in thousands of dollars gambling, his plan seemed to be working—but he was caught in a police raid. After bailing his son out of jail, Carl reminded his son the only good way to handle money is with complete honesty.

Give Your Kids a Little Credit

Andy Taylor, The Andy Griffith Show

The truth about money doesn’t always flow from father to kid—sometimes the teacher and student roles are reversed. Like the time Opie taught Andy a lesson about charity during a benefit drive for underprivileged children. Andy was ashamed to hear his son had given only three cents to the cause at school, and grounded him for not giving more. Eventually Andy realized his pride made him misjudge his son’s character—Opie was actually saving all his money to buy a coat for a friend who couldn’t afford one.

Let the Buyer Beware . . . of Goats

Charles Ingalls, Little House on the Prairie

In the pioneer days, bartering was a more common way of exchanging goods. And it’s still a great way to arrange win-win deals today—as long as a third party doesn’t butt in! When a neighbor offered to pay little Laura for farm chores in the form of a goat named Fred, she thought she’d earned a useful pet and a friend. Her father Charles saw Fred a bit differently, though, after being introduced to him with a head-butt in the backside. After Fred’s repeated rear-end collisions with friends and neighbors, Charles insisted on having the goat re-homed.

Keep the Change
Mike Brady, The Brady Bunch

Every child must learn the basics of household budgeting, particularly in a large family like the Bradys. After getting an outrageous phone bill, Mike came up with a creative way to teach his kids how to keep expenses down. He removed the house phones and installed a pay phone requiring coins for calls. The children soon learned to conserve their cash for crucial calls only, and the Bradys enjoyed both thrift and peace.