I’m lucky. Even though I was born in America, the land of abundance and excess, I was raised by parents who were extremely thrifty. I’ve joked with other friends born from immigrant parents that we need to compile a book of all the cheap things our parents did (i.e., never turning on the heat: that’s what sweaters are for). Anything we purchased was always on sale. Honestly, I did feel deprived growing up because other friends had these beautifully-decorated bedrooms filled with dolls and clothes. I remember a classmate asking me, “Why do you wear the same dress all the time?” That hurt.
While I didn’t appreciate it then, I’ve grown to fully embrace my parents’ extreme fiscal responsibility. I don’t have to worry about taking care of them. They’ve accumulated great wealth despite their limited resources. I look around and see people who have to work beyond retirement age. Or other parents who have to move in with their children. And it makes me really proud of my parents. They deserve to retire early, travel, and enjoy their golden years for all the sacrifices they made early on.
Because of my upbringing, these words have no bearing on my life: credit card debt, bankruptcy, underwater mortgage, foreclosure. I have never in my life gone into credit card debt. If you can’t afford that big ticket item today, don’t charge it to your credit card and think you’ll be able to pay it off down the line! Isn’t it common sense? Yet there are so many people who can’t seem to manage their money. Why?
It’s a lack of financial education. These concepts were drilled into my head as a kid:
- Often times, you cannot have what you want. If you want something, you have to work for it.
- Buy on sale.
- Save as much money as possible, then save some more.
- Credit card debt is evil. You must pay your balance off every month.
School is useless because I have yet to see a curriculum that includes anything about teaching our children about finances or budgeting. So don’t expect your children to learn about this from someone else. You are responsible for teaching them.
What financial lessons did you learn from your parents?
How are you teaching your children about fiscal responsibility?