I’m a firm believer that there’s a strong correlation between the behavior of adults based on the habits and behaviors of their parents during their formative years. This applies to everything from work either and scholastics to respect for others and interests. So, why wouldn’t it apply to money? That being said, I can at least look to some anecdotal accounts of people I know (and my own upbringing) for examples.
We were raised to be very frugal. Granted, my mom worked odd jobs and my father didn’t make a ton of money, especially when we were younger. So, a few memorable money-saving tactics I recall included the following:
- My parents always drove older cars. Like REAL old. Rust-old. As I grew older they got nicer used cars. But they NEVER bought new.
- We never had the “in” thing, you know, chasing fads. Parachute pants didn’t even get consideration. Cabbage Patch kids, Atari, all the stuff the other kids had, we didn’t bother getting. As it turned out, most of it was just a fad that passed quickly, but when you chase fads, you pay a premium for a short-lived experience.
- We conserved utilities. I remember taking a shower and after about 3 minutes, the banging on the wall from the kitchen would start. It’s funny, the first time my then-fiance had stayed over my parents house for a holiday, she took a shower and they pulled the bang-on-the-wall move and she came like, “Seriously? Is someone banging on the wall?”. It was so foreign to her, but the norm in our house. On top of conserving hot water, my dad used to get logs from new developments where they’d chop down lots on leave trees laying around. He’d then split the wood and use it for our wood-burning stove. And our bedrooms were still cold since the stove was in the basement. This was life, but it was a good life as I recall.
- When I reached my teen years and especially in college, my dad gave me various books on finance and investing, including the usual Rich Dad Poor Dad, the Millionaire Next Door, and also a book on George Soros.
What I’m Doing for My Kids:
I’ve been fortunate enough to make more money than my parents made when I grew up, and I also married a woman who came from a family that didn’t have the same habits so it’s been a little give and take as far as how frugal we can agree to live. It’s a decent mix that works for us, but we’re definitely more on the consumerism side than when I grew up. That being said, I still want to instill the same sense of financial prudence and frugality in my kids. As soon as they were born, I researched the best bank accounts available for kids and started routinely bringing them to the bank to deposit some money while saving some other for spending. I showed them the interest accruing to get them interested in saving. Aside from the banking experience, I’ve also sought to instill a bit of an entrepreneurial interest in the kids by teaching them about how business works, how they can create/sell things themselves for money (like pictures they drew, origami, etc) and I’ve explained to them why I’m a landlord and how that works as well.
What Money Lessons Do You Recall as a Kid and Which Ones were Most Helpful?