Yesterday, I met an interesting woman. She asked me what I did for work, and I said that I wrote about money. Most people’s eyes instantly glaze over with boredom, but she was very interested. As we chatted, she mentioned the financial lessons that she had learned from her parents. They were very good lessons: make savings a priority, and never purchase on credit. (We did not get into discussion of mortgages; I should have asked.) She felt that those two lessons had been enough that she had been financial stable throughout her life.
Our conversation caused me to think about the lessons that I learned from my parents, and the grandparents with whom I lived. I don’t actively remember being taught about money, but obviously some things came through even if it wasn’t being said with words. My grandparents were Depression-era kids who avoided debt, but were more than glad to spend the money that they earned. My father was not good with money; I think most of my learning was from seeing what NOT to do. If I had to summarize the financial lessons of my upbringing, it would be that credit card debt is bad. I watched my grandparents thrive by avoiding it, and I watched my father struggle due to credit card debt. I was also acutely aware that my grandmother was concerned about what would happen financially if she were to outlive my grandfather. That caused me to be very aware about the finances of women.
Each of us learns something about money from our parents, even if they don’t talk about money. What have you learned from your parents? Did you learn any good lessons, or did you learn bad habits?