Editor’s Note: My Father Was the Kind of Dad Who…

Reader's Digest editor-in-chief Liz Vaccariello on life lessons learned from her father.

Liz VaccarielloPhotographed by Melanie Dunea/CPILiz Vaccariello
My father was the kind of dad who wouldn’t let me take my driver’s test until I could parallel park. He taught me the trick by setting up cones in our driveway and took me to the DMV only when I could whip into position in a single try. (The state of Ohio didn’t care how I got into a parking space, but no daughter of his was going to hold up traffic as she nudged her way into a spot.)

My father was the kind of dad who then wouldn’t let me drive anywhere until I could change a car’s tire by myself three times. (Flat tires were frightening and dangerous. Being helpless in the face of one? That was simply foolish.)

My father was the kind of dad who sat me down with a pencil and a calculator the day I got my own account at Huntington Bank. “Money is to be respected, Elizabeth,” he said. “And the best way to respect money is to know exactly where yours is. So balance your checkbook every month.” To this day, my husband, Steve, will shake his head when he sees me working in the midnight glow of my desk lamp, searching for a missing 78 cents.

In “Suze Orman Thinks I’m a Slacker” (published in this month’s Reader’s Digest), comedian Heather McDonald withers under the financial guru’s exasperation when McDonald admits she doesn’t know the mortgage rate on her house or what stocks she’s invested in—but says not to worry because her husband does.

My father? My father was the kind of dad who would have liked this story a lot.

—Liz, @LizVacc, liz@rd.com

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