My parents never sat down and talked to me about money. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t teach me anything. They certainly did, but not with direct instruction. The vast majority of what I learned about money from my parents came from their actions
One memory I have is of my mom standing in the kitchen saying “you mean, take it out of savings?” in a tone that said “you’re an idiot”. I have no idea what they were talking about but it still conveyed quite a bit of information. First of all I learned that people have savings accounts. That saving your money was a normal and expected thing to do. Secondly, I learned that you don’t go dipping into savings for every little thing. I could see that the savings account was sacred.
Another lesson they taught me through their actions was to live within your means. To start with, my mom drove the wheels off every car she ever owned. We never went out to eat and we never went on vacation. And during the recession in the early 90’s they barely even spent money on groceries. I remember my mom’s student loan company calling every single day looking for a payment during that time. (Maybe fielding calls from creditors every day at age 13 is what gave me my fear of debt.) But no credit card company ever called. I’ve never seen my mom use a credit card.
But they didn’t teach me everything. There are several things I wish I known when I went out on my own.
I wish they had taught me how to balance a checkbook. I figured it out on my own and have only bounced a few checks in my life, but I could have been more prepared. I also wish they had taught me how to make a budget. Again, I figured it out, but it would have been nice to be taught. But mostly, I wish they had taught me about investing. Investing for retirement especially. I think they reason they never brought it up is because they themselves were not saving for retirement. In reality, I was the one telling my mom the importance of an IRA. She does have one now, but I had one first.
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Picture by digitalsextant