Who did you learn your financial skills from?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I agree that most of who I am is made from influences of those around me. I am here today to share with you who some of those people are what I learned from them.

My grandfather on my dad's side: I learned to save money. No, more like hoard money. Even after my grandfather died we still found jars of coin and bills tucked all over his house. My grandfather wasn't just frugal, he was extreme frugal. He'd build things instead of buy new - he drove his cars into the ground. He saved bacon grease to use for cooking later (I know, it's gross!). He never went out and spent money unless he absolutely needed to. He lived in a house that he built from the ground up. Whether that was all as a result of living through the great depression and several wars or something else I'll never know.

My mother: My parents struggled a lot when we were growing up. I never noticed as kids, but now looking back I know it was rough sometimes. Things like sharing bath-water, I thought was normal for kids. As i've gotten older, my mother has always frowned upon my periods of excessive spending, but at the same time, encouraged us to take risks and 'see the world' now, because we may not be able to do it later. My mother was a stay-at-home mom for most of my formative years, and would cook dinner, pack our lunches, bake bread from scratch and sweets rather than eat out. In fact, I don't remember eating out at all until I hit junior-high.

At the same time, my mother is very brand-loyal. She doesn't buy generic, and is probably one of the reasons why I feel that generic stuff is low-quality (which it isn't always!). She was very concerned with how we 'looked' to others - discouraging my teenage habit of wearing ratty clothes (they were the most comfortable!).

My dad: My dad is the biggest influence on my adoration of technological gagdets and cameras. He gave me my first SLR camera, my first laptop, my first calculator, my first webcam, and many other gadgets. He is a sucker for the latest 'it' thing and isn't always responsible with money. As a kid I thought he was the 'cooler' parent since he bought us all the stuff, but as I got older, I realized how his irresponsibility still stresses my mom out to this day.

My sister: As a kid, my sister was a spender - I was a saver. My sister would get her $20 allowance money and promptly spend it, begging for more from my parents. They would usually give in, to my dismay. My mother used to praise me for my spending habits and scorn my sister, even though she never really discouraged her spending since she would cave and give her more money. I'm glad to say that my sister has changed her habits a lot, saving over $14,000 for college in only 1 short year (she is two years younger than me).

My elementary-friends (most of whom I still see): I am lucky - only one of my elementary school friends made some bad life choices and is now living with some guy, her 1 kid, his 3 kids, she's preggo with another one of his, and no savings to speak of - oh, and a drug habit. All the others have ended up good people. Most watch their savings and have little to no debt. During most of my junior high and high school years, we spent our weekends having 'parties' (pretty tame parties - most involved LAN games, other computer games, or chilling in my rich-friends fancy house and hot-tub!). They were a good influence on my saving habits.

My high-school friends (some of whom I still see): These really were the group of people that affected my desiere to spend. Many of my friends had started to drive, so leaving without parental help was possible. Most of us started getting jobs, and with our parents still paying for most things, had a huge amount of disposible income. I'm pleased that I never got into alcohol or drugs (still don't!), but my purse collection sure grew in size during those years. The desire to keep up with everything cool, along with the desire to please boys was hard on the finances. Some of my friends, including H, still seem to live in this phase.

My college friends (I still see quite frequently): Most of my college friends (save for S) are married with husbands and/or children. In their cases, money was tight. They would rarely buy lunch, and we'd spend our time hanging out having potlucks at each other's homes or simply visiting and playing (already owned) video games.

All in all most of the influences in my life regarding money have been positive. Overall, I'm a big hoarded, although, I have had (and still do!) moments of wanted to have something 'nice' or something to 'show off' and come close to spending as much (or more!) than I've earned.

Today I'm getting the most pleasure from knowing that my savings is sitting at $5,000 more than most people I know and that I have a plan for the future. So they can go buy those 'it-bags' and eat their fancy food for lunch, I'll stay right here and eat my tuna wrap, because I think I'm getting more satisfaction in life.