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Learning to manage money

July 25th, 2015 at 12:42 pm

I grew up in a family where we didn't value stuff. It was more about valuing experiences and people more than keeping up with the Jones. Both of my parents were social workers and thinking of others was important but so was living the life we have chosen versus trying to be boastful or prideful. It would seem that our family was religious based on our judeo christian values but religion didn't come into our family until later(another story and only includes some of my family).

My parents gave us allowance and I often spent it as soon as I got it as a child, usually on sweets. My parents (or maybe my father specifically) really believed in children developing their own autonomy so as children we were able to make a lot of our own decisions. My mother didn't work until we were all in middle school so she kept expenses down by doing more (home cooked meals, gardening and etc) instead of buying more. When she went back to work, all the family pitched in for housework because her extra paycheck would allow us more luxuries. I don't know how they did it because I saw my late father's Social Security Statement for his income and it was never above 40k. This was very surprising.

I started my first job(waitressing) when I was about 16 and used tips for spending money and banked all my paychecks. I usually always had some money in a savings account. I lived at home until I finished my 2 year degree. Within 6 months of completing my 4 year degree, I was pregnant and married. We lived in low income housing for a couple of years and then with the help of my family, purchased a home. When my son was born, I expected to go back to work but when he showed up, I fell so absolutely in love with him, I couldn't. Daycare would effectively zero out my wages so it was more worthwhile to me, to learn to live on one income. Thankfully, Amy Dacyczyn of the Tightwad Gazette helped me through those lean years. It also helped that I could delay gratification very well. I learned how to stretch money based on watching my family but also being motivated(public library is your friend for research!) to stay home with my son when he was a baby.

Speaking of Amy Dacyczyn, I just came across this blog post about one of her now adult daughters about growing up her family. It's very interesting to see her perspective then and now. http://thefrugalshrink.blogspot.com/2013/05/dacyczyn-interviews-jamie-part-1.html

I do think I was very lucky to have already been ok with a lower cost lifestyle based on what I grew up with. We went camping, to the library and to free events at museums or in the parks with our picnic lunches instead of hotel vacations, cable tv, restaurant dining and the like.

How did you learn to manage your money?

6 Responses to “Learning to manage money”

  1. VS_ozgirl Says:

    My family never had a lot of money but fortunately neither did anyone in our neighbourhood really! So we didn't have a lot but we didn't feel like we were missing out on much. Life was about simple pleasures and I fall back on that now. I think also really focusing on your own financial situation rather than trying to keep up with the Joneses is definitely a key to success.

  2. Tabs Says:

    Welcome to the blogs!

    You know, I'm going to tell you the real truth about life in general. The real truth is to Learn from the past, Live for the Present, and Plan for the future. All in equal parts. No part is greater or lesser than the others.

    Let me repeat that again: No part is greater or lesser than the others. They are all important to accomplish in life.

    The trouble we often find ourselves in is when we find a perspective that often emphasizes one over the others. For example, Carpe Diem! #YOLO! Spend now and live now!

    And yes, I believe that too... but not at the expense of not learning from the past and not planning for the future.

    And see, this is where most people will trip up. Even with the best of intentions.

    Ah, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and the best lies we tell ourselves is ones covered in truths. Yes, experiences and people are extremely important... but again, not at the expense of not learning from the past, or not planning for the future.

    But I think you realize all that. I think that is why you have decided to come to this site and set up a blog here. Good for you. Welcome.

  3. rob62521 Says:

    My folks never had a lot of money, but they were experts on making do and saving up. Between them and studying on my own, I have been careful with money and I spend less than I make. I found a good financial advisor who started me in a 403b over 27 years ago and I have slowly increased my investments.

  4. PatientSaver Says:

    My grandparents were very frugal and I think I learned from them. Also, I did not marry so I became good with money out of necessity. And finally, working as a copywriter in the financial services field, at mutual fund and annuity companies and elsewhere (now at a bank), I learned quite a bit along the way.

  5. CB in the City Says:

    My parents were poor. My mother had great frugal skills, but my father was a spendthrift. He was also an alcoholic, and he went through a series of job losses, which really decimated our income. My perspective was that I was poor -- ragged, compared to others -- and I was ashamed, although my family circumstances were certainly not my fault. It took me many years to overcome these feelings (I am not sure they are overcome yet!) I tried to "mend" myself with material things when I became an adult, but a divorce sent me back into poverty and self-defeating behavior. It was reading Amy's books that started me on the path to prosperity. That's when I really got what my mother had been trying to teach me. I still don't have much money, but I know how to stretch it. I know how to live a simple life and enjoy it. This has made an amazing difference in my life.

  6. MonkeyMama Says:

    Great post and comments!

    I am blessed to have the most amazing financial mentors in my parents. For the most part always very balanced (which is probably the takeaway I appreciate the most, with age). They went from "very poor" to "upper middle class" in their lifetime, which was common in the city I grew up, so I always appreciated such a wide perspective. It was made pretty clear to me that everything beyond food and basic shelter was just gravy. & I think this was compounded by growing up in such an expensive city. There was just never any expectation of much in the way of material things. You were grateful if you could afford a studio apartment. I don't remember any of my friends in teens and early 20s spending big money on cars; couldn't with the high rents. Most of my childhood was pretty modest because my parents started out with nothing.

    Since I have always seen such significant upside to savings and frugality, I don't associate anything negative with it. We've always been the types to pursue our passions and do what is truly important while also saving most of our income. We've often been accused of being too stingy, but this is just funny to me on some level since we have always lived life just how we wanted to and had everything we wanted. A lot of that is just focusing on what is truly important, to us, and not worrying about what everyone else thinks we should be doing. I think from my parents' example and also just how things have evolved for us, we have always been focused on fiscal efficiency. We live a lifestyle that for most would require 50% - 80% more income. I don't see the point in working *that* hard if I can achieve the same with far less effort.

    The other lesson that has always been crystal clear to me is that it's not what you make but what you keep. My dad's side of the family is all very poor but they can save like you would not believe. You can become a millionaire on a lifetime of minimum wage, no doubt about it. I put myself through college in the most expensive city in the U.S. and so know I can survive on very little if need be. Our current lifestyle is far beyond anything I ever dreamed or would feel comfortable getting used to. I think from my parents I have learned to splurge and enjoy, but it's nothing I feel entitled to or really need to be happy.

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