We all know about Jimmie Johnson’s impressive racing career with seven NASCAR Cup Series championships under his helmet (an all-time record he shares with icons Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt). Jimmie is now in his 18th season in the Cup Series, and we at Ally are proud to be partnered with him because, on top of being a highly accomplished professional athlete, he’s also a dedicated husband to Chandra and father to two daughters, Genevieve and Lydia.
We sat down with Jimmie to talk about family, financial responsibility, and which lessons-learned he plans to pass down to his daughters.
Q: Jimmie, how early do you think people should start learning about financial responsibility?
A: To me, financial responsibility is something that can be taught even at an early age, and I believe it’s important to do exactly that.
I can think back to when I was a kid — we grew up very simple. My father worked in heavy equipment, and my mom was a school bus driver. I, of course, had this love of racing from very early on. And the deal was that I had to earn my entry fee for races on the weekends.
Q: So, how did you earn the money for the race entry fees?
A: My parents set up an “hourly wage” allowance for us, and that started as soon as I could hold a shovel or rake the yard. For a couple bucks an hour, I would go out and chip in with my chores. It was everything from yardwork to washing dishes and anything else I needed to do to earn my opportunity to go racing each weekend.
Essentially, if I didn’t do my chores, I didn’t race. And it helped me learn to take care of my equipment — if I wrecked it, I had to pay for it to be fixed. It’s a tough lesson to learn, but if you couldn’t afford to fix it, you didn’t race.
Q: That’s a valuable lesson for anyone. Are there any other lessons you learned as a kid that have really stuck with you?
A: For as far back as I can remember, my parents instilled a certain framework in me and my brothers, and it was all about maintaining a solid grade point average in school and handling our responsibilities around the house. I’m so thankful that they did — maybe not always at the time, but it allowed me to follow my dreams of racing, and once I was a teenager, I had a little bit of money saved and put away.
That money I’d saved ultimately allowed me to buy my first vehicle. I remember seeing it sitting out there in the yard ready for me to drive, and just the excitement that went with that. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t wait for the freedom that having a license and my very own car would provide. It was the accomplishment of working for something that made it feel that much more important.
Q: Given the financial responsibility you learned as a kid, what are some of the lessons you’re hoping to teach your kids?
A: I’ve taken a lot of those lessons, and my wife, Chani, and I are trying to instill them in our girls, Genevieve and Lydia. We want to really help them understand the value of money, what a dollar equals, and the hard work and effort that it requires. Instead of just having something given to you, when you save up for something, there’s that feeling of personal accomplishment and satisfaction that comes with it.
It could be something as big as a car or a special event that they want to participate in — of course, right now, they just save up for toys. But hopefully those early experiences will help them understand and appreciate money, and ultimately work hard for their own financial independence. That’s really my goal as a parent.
- What is a valuable financial lesson you remember learning as a child?
- At what age do you think a child should start learning about financial responsibility?
- What financial advice would you give your younger self?