Author Topic: What role did family circumstances play in forming your financial values?  (Read 1565 times)

frugalecon

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I was reflecting on how my younger sister and I have very different financial values, and it occurred to me that we were effectively raised in difference family circumstances because my family was poor when I was a kid (failed business, close to losing house, needed to raise food in the garden to have enough to eat, worn out clothes and shoes), but there was a big change soon after my younger sister hit 8 or 9, when my older sister and I were already out of the house, and suddenly my father began to earn a decent or even high salary. Money and stuff were just way more plentiful for her than they ever were for me. My experience led me to be very conservative and concerned about self-reliance, whereas my younger sister just always trusts that the money will appear somehow. I definitely think I was influenced by acute awareness that we were poor, but I suppose some might have reacted to that by craving a flashy lifestyle, whereas I went the exact opposite direction. I wonder which reaction is more common.

frugal rph

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Re: What role did family circumstances play in forming your financial values?
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2018, 07:57:48 PM »
My father was laid off when I was in high school. I didn't realize it at the time, but my parents had been exceeding their incomes for years. My mom still had her job as a teacher, but there was no way to afford our lifestyle on her salary alone.  The creditors were calling constantly and my previously happy parents started to fight a lot.  Because of these stressful years, I have maintained at least 6 months of living expenses in cash and lived below my means.  I never want to be unable to afford my lifestyle.

My younger brother reacted differently. He worked for years to build up his own business so that nobody would be able to lay him off.  I don't know how frugal he is, but he's definitely successful financially.

saguaro

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Re: What role did family circumstances play in forming your financial values?
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2018, 03:06:11 PM »
My folks were house rich and cash poor.  They never seemed to develop much in terms of having a savings cushion but they managed to pay off a house on my Dad's income by the time I was 11, having driven as much money into the mortgage payoff.  It was expected that things would be easier with a paid off house however, shortly after that, the inflation of the 70s hit them hard and we were paycheck to paycheck until my mom started working when I was 17.   Things were easier for about a year until I started college since they contributed to college and sending my sister to a private high school.  Back to paycheck to paycheck again.     

Having a paid off house isn't a bad thing but there didn't seem to be much for any emergencies / unexpected expenses.  It was those unexpected expenses that contributed to stress and arguments.  How they managed I don't know as they didn't share details of their finances with us kids, what I know was what I overhead in arguments in another room.  When I graduated college and started working my folks pestered me to get a life insurance policy because "they wouldn't have enough to bury me" wtf.

As a result, I made a point of building an emergency fund.   Even before getting a house.  I refused to touch the EF when buying it.   

Sugaree

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Re: What role did family circumstances play in forming your financial values?
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2018, 03:21:32 PM »
I learned a lot by watching.  From my maternal grandparents I learned what to do.  They were children of the Depression, but would both tell you that they were so poor even before that it didn't matter.  They had a nice, but fairly modest, house for the time.  No fireplace because they both despised having to empty the ashes as children.  My grandmother sewed a lot of their clothes.  They gardened and canned and hunted (though I don't ever remember eating venison so it may have been for sport by the time I was old enough to remember).  They had a freezer big enough to hide a couple of bodies that was always full of the vegetables that they had grown or gotten from her family.  I wish I had paid more attention to how to do some of those things.  They also splurged when it mattered.  The double-paned windows to lower heating/cooling costs, higher quality furniture that wouldn't wear out, etc.  My grandfather also had exquisite taste in jewelry for my grandmother. 

From my paternal grandparents and my own parents I learned a lot about what not to do.  When my grandfather died, we discovered that they owed something like $40k on 13 different credit cards on a state pension.  And that was after he had taken out a second mortgage on the house to pay them down.  My beloved grandmother was a shopaholic.  It explains why Christmas was always so overwhelming there.  My own parents have struggled for years with running up credit cards, doing something drastic to pay them off, swearing off credit (except that one card for emergencies), rinse and repeat.  They've had seven years left on their mortgage for years now (we moved into the house in early '92 so a 30 year would be done in 2022, so it's not quite as bad as it sounds but I know they've refi'd at least three times and probably more).  They both retired as soon as they were eligible for their pensions, but dad ended up going immediately back to work until he qualified for SSI. 

My brother is only a few years younger than me, but is much less debt averse than I am.  He has no problem financing EVERYTHING from his wife's engagement ring to the new floor of the shed in his backyard.  I was proud of him for selling his car even if it was a Nissan and he kept the Ford Ranger.  I assume, but don't ask, that he just couldn't keep up with the payments.  I know that he has a 401k, but I don't know much more than that. 

stoaX

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Re: What role did family circumstances play in forming your financial values?
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2018, 03:31:59 PM »
I learned a lot by watching.  From my maternal grandparents I learned what to do.  They were children of the Depression, but would both tell you that they were so poor even before that it didn't matter.  They had a nice, but fairly modest, house for the time.  No fireplace because they both despised having to empty the ashes as children.  My grandmother sewed a lot of their clothes.  They gardened and canned and hunted (though I don't ever remember eating venison so it may have been for sport by the time I was old enough to remember).  They had a freezer big enough to hide a couple of bodies that was always full of the vegetables that they had grown or gotten from her family.  I wish I had paid more attention to how to do some of those things.  They also splurged when it mattered.  The double-paned windows to lower heating/cooling costs, higher quality furniture that wouldn't wear out, etc.  My grandfather also had exquisite taste in jewelry for my grandmother. 

From my paternal grandparents and my own parents I learned a lot about what not to do.  When my grandfather died, we discovered that they owed something like $40k on 13 different credit cards on a state pension.  And that was after he had taken out a second mortgage on the house to pay them down.  My beloved grandmother was a shopaholic.  It explains why Christmas was always so overwhelming there.  My own parents have struggled for years with running up credit cards, doing something drastic to pay them off, swearing off credit (except that one card for emergencies), rinse and repeat.  They've had seven years left on their mortgage for years now (we moved into the house in early '92 so a 30 year would be done in 2022, so it's not quite as bad as it sounds but I know they've refi'd at least three times and probably more).  They both retired as soon as they were eligible for their pensions, but dad ended up going immediately back to work until he qualified for SSI. 

My brother is only a few years younger than me, but is much less debt averse than I am.  He has no problem financing EVERYTHING from his wife's engagement ring to the new floor of the shed in his backyard.  I was proud of him for selling his car even if it was a Nissan and he kept the Ford Ranger.  I assume, but don't ask, that he just couldn't keep up with the payments.  I know that he has a 401k, but I don't know much more than that.

After I stopped chuckling over the "bodies in the freezer" comment, the two things you said that really struck me were: "I learned a lot by watching" and "I wish I had paid more attention..."   I think many people can relate to that.

The only explicit thing I remember from my parents was them saying "if you can't pay cash for something then you can't afford it".  So while they broke their rule by having a mortgage they never had car loans or any other debt.  I'm grateful that they set that example.

use2betrix

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Re: What role did family circumstances play in forming your financial values?
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2018, 06:12:00 PM »
My parents were lower middle class. They always drove super old crappy cars. Not cause they chose to, but because they had to. My earlier years we lived in dorms as my dad was an RA, then a duplex, finally a house when I was in elementary school.

I have two siblings and they treated us all the same financially. We got gifts of the same value for birthdays and Christmas. We had a small weekly allowance for doing a good amount of chores. They virtually never bought us anything aside from that unless it was like clothes or school related. It was fine though sometimes hard when my friends got new bikes, rollerblades, etc.

My parents always supported and encouraged me to work. Around 11-12 I started mowing lawns and raking leaves. At 13 I started working at a restaurant washing dishes and breading chicken getting paid cash. I have worked basically non stop my whole life since. I had regular, working hours jobs since that point on. In 2005/2006 I made $10/hr working as a nursing home at 16 years old. By 19 I was a CNA making almost $14/hr. It’s all been uphill since.

My parents have always supported me working, my career changes, and responsibility. I went from business, to nursing, to business, to welding. I started making 6 figures around 23 and have since, making what I consider an insane amount now. I only have my associates, but it’s the responsibility and work ethic that I got from my parents that has made more more successful than any amount of financial support they ever could have given (they did pay for a chunk of college)

Funny story - when I was around 12 I terribly wanted this bike that was about $220. Of course, they wouldn’t buy it for me. So I worked and saved and put it on layaway. After 6 months, the bike had to be paid off or I’d lose all the money I put down. They paid the bike off for me, but They wouldn’t let me ride it until I paid them back. I’ll never forget riding that bike in circles in the garage secretly while they weren’t home lol.

I have many, many more stories like that, which taught me an infinite amount of life lessons today.

I am, forever grateful of those lessons. I am 30 now, and am happy to be in a position to “pay them back” for everything they’ve done, big or small. My dad just turned 60, and I spent about $1800 on a weekend for him, my mom, my wife, and myself. Away Football game tickets on the 50 yard line to the college him and my mom graduated from and an Airbnb for 3 nights. We’re meeting them for the game this month and could not be more excited. While they didn’t have to shower me with money, the older I get the more I realize how fortunate I was to have parents that taught me more than what money ever could.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2018, 06:13:48 PM by use2betrix »

Gremlin

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Re: What role did family circumstances play in forming your financial values?
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2018, 06:52:14 PM »
My mum in particular grew up poor.  Her father emigrated to Australia not knowing a word of language and spent years at night school to get an education.  She would relay stories of when she was little and she went shopping with her mum (my grandmother) and they would get to the register and then work out which items went back on the shelf, because they could never afford everything they needed.  She remembered nights when her mother wouldn't eat dinner, so that the kids could have (barely) enough.

She used to tell me stories of her being so incredibly cold at school in winter, because her family couldn't afford to buy her a jumper or tights to wear under her dress.  She lived in a place where you really only experience winter for a month a year.  And money was too tight to justify that expense for that short a period of time.

These experiences really impacted her mindset.  They played a huge part in the lessons we learnt about financial values.

When she and dad married, she took control of the family's finances.  She budgeted like a champion.  Food, shelter, education and safety were a priority.  She was mustachian before it was cool.  I remember every fortnight her and dad sitting down and reconciling every last dollar.  Any salary increases that came mostly went directly to their retirement account. 

Dad was generally money careful, but it was always mum who was the one saying "we can't afford it" when he'd want something outside what they'd agreed.  Only in the very days did it ever mean "we can't afford it".  Usually it meant "it's not our priority".

I learnt very early on that cost and value were not the same thing.  I learnt about using the finite resources you had to deliver the best outcomes and I learned about different forms of value hacking.

But despite being very, very careful with money, mum and dad were incredibly generous with many other things.  Their time, their love, their wisdom and their attention.  I always felt like I was the richest kid in the world growing up, although deep down I knew we weren't.

They are now financially set for life.  It gives me much pleasure to see this given the sacrifices that they have made along the way.  But it's also shown me a path that I feel very lucky to have seen.

Mrs Gremlin and I are now in a very different financial position to both my grandparents and parents generation.  As a parent now myself, I'm very conscious that my kids grow up understanding that financial security and the freedoms it offers is an enormous privilege and they recognise the mindset over multiple generations that have enabled this for us as a family.

fuzzy math

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Re: What role did family circumstances play in forming your financial values?
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2018, 07:43:42 AM »
My parents both grew up poor and with the mindset that they didn’t want their children to grow up like them. My mom always told stories of growing up on the wrong side of the tracks and how her parents bought her the school shoes that cost $3 instead of $4 and all the kids could tell.

We lived a very nice middle class lifestyle with our own bedrooms, a used car for the kids to share and our undergrad education paid for. My parents even let me go to an overpriced liberal arts school, but we’re pretty thrilled when I transferred to state U a year later. I grew up snobby and remember looking down on people with less means.

It was only once they divorced while I was in college that the house of cards came tumbling down. My sister and I worry about supporting them in their 70-80s. So I learned a lesson only in what not to do. I appreciate very much the love and opportunities they gave me, but they never taught me anything about the value of a dollar or making modest choices. I had 10 rough years before becoming mustachian.


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PoutineLover

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Re: What role did family circumstances play in forming your financial values?
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2018, 08:20:05 AM »
My parents grew up middle class, maybe on the lower end but their parents had very different mindsets towards money. On my mom's side they grew up during the depression/war in Europe and immigrated to Canada with nothing, and worked hard to buy property and make for a good life for their kids. They made their own clothes, never wasted food, and saved for the future. On my dad's side, their parents were a bit better off but wasted a lot gambling and moving often. My parents did all the right stuff, bought a house, paid off the cars, saved for their kids education, and we were never rich but we never went hungry. They instilled good values in me and my sister and we both save a lot, live frugally and spend according to our values. I still remember my grandma telling me how she sucked the marrow out of the bones because they had just 1 chicken to share in a family of 10, and I think growing up with those sort of stories made me realize we had it good and that we should appreciate it. I want to give my future kids a good life, but I don't want them to take things for granted.

Gyosho

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Re: What role did family circumstances play in forming your financial values?
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2018, 09:02:34 AM »
My father made a good salary but was SPENDY. He would always worry and complain about the bills and clutch his ulcer (this was back in the days when people believed ulcers were caused by stress), while all the time buying new cars/boats/horses/wives.

I said to myself - I'm never going to be like that.

doggyfizzle

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Re: What role did family circumstances play in forming your financial values?
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2018, 09:08:18 AM »
Both my parents came from lower middle class, 5 child families, and never really shook money or work habits they learned from their parents.  Both went to college/graduate school, and entered extremely lucrative fields early-on in their careers.  I grew up in a very affluent community, but definitely recognized the lifestyle difference between my family vs. others: my parents always lived well below their means - specifically based our entire lifestyle around my mom's income (which was about 1/3 of my dads).  I'd say my parents were FI around age 40, but were both extremely risk-averse and worked into their late 50s/early 60s to max out pension benefits.

I'd say that my family circumstances are entirely responsible for the foundation of my financial values (invest always, debt averse, seek stable employment etc.)  I see where my parents are at age 63/71 and I fully believe that my wife and I will also be in a comparable "totally set" financial situation by following the example I observed when I was a child.  Not that family circumstances mean anything is set in stone - my sister had the chance to absorb all the same things I did from my folks and she's 31 now and a broke dumbsh*t without an ounce industriousness or discipline within her.

verfrugal

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Re: What role did family circumstances play in forming your financial values?
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2018, 01:12:54 PM »
Our family was on the border of working poor and lower middle class across several decades.
We had a blessed upbringing in many ways, but we loss our house, and the late 80s were very unstable.

It made me very debt averse, and a bit irrational and not good at long-term planning.  I think the memory of the financial instability made me more prone to be perpetually pessimistic, and to always assume there was going to be a collapse, or something would unwind or go sideways.

I also learned from the actions of my father, to be responsible, and persevere.

legalstache

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Re: What role did family circumstances play in forming your financial values?
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2018, 04:42:06 PM »
My parents' attitudes towards money played a huge role in forming my financial values. I'm coming at this topic from a slightly different perspective, since we were well off growing up. Despite that, I never got the sense that money was something that was easy to come by or should be spent freely, and my parents were frugal and didn't buy flashy cars, take fancy vacations, etc. Although my dad was fortunate to have a long career in a field he enjoyed, when circumstances changed at his work he was able to walk away with FU money in his late fifties (unlike one of his former partners who is forced to continue working due to several divorces and a series of expensive hobbies).

My dad likened work to indentured servitude, which I don't think is that much of a stretch. He (and my mom) definitely instilled a solid sense of frugality in me.

frugalecon

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Re: What role did family circumstances play in forming your financial values?
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2018, 05:43:04 PM »
It is very inspiring to read the stories of gratitude for good examples that have so obviously influenced so many. Thanks for sharing! I, too, saw the value of my parents’ modest habits, but in many respects they were terrible investors, and I am glad that I avoided internalizing my dad’s obsession with precious metals and scammy companies listed on the Toronto stock exchange.

ysette9

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What role did family circumstances play in forming your financial values?
« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2018, 09:57:57 PM »
I have wondered many times on where my sister and I got our financial goals and view. My mother (who worked at various times at a bank, in the mortgage industry, and as a CPA) taught us about saving and encouraged us to sign up for our 401k plans immediately and save as much as possible. She always was the rein on my father who would otherwise spend everything and then some.

On the other hand my sister and I both ended up more frugal than our parents somehow. Even as a teenager I was surprised when I asked how they were paying for the big kitchen remodel and the answer was “refinance and pull money out of the house”. I can’t say where my 16 year-old self got the idea that if you didn’t have cash to pay for it then you should buy it, but it was there. That voice wasn’t strong enough to stop me from doing stupid things like buying a new car right out of undergrad.

Thankfully I married a frugal immigrant who encouraged the frugal side of me to blossom more than not. I still spend a ton compared to my sister who is the true mustachian and my role model. Our only saving grace is that we still save a ton because we lucked into very well-paying careers. Our $ lifestyle has inflated but our % savings rate has more or less stayed the same or gone up over time.

I’d say my parents now are good Bogleheads people. Always saved and invested and also have a preference for high quality and are willing to pay for it. I remember money being tight as a young kid and my mother stressing about it. That left a mark on me and made me really appreciate not struggling with money at the same time struggling with becoming parents. Upon reflection though I can also see that my parents stressed about money because of the choices they made. They chose to live with less financial buffer than we choose to live. I am profoundly grateful that we have the income to allow us that buffer and that we have chosen to make that a feature of our lives.

Work is really tough right now for both of us and I feel like we are barely keeping our stuff together. The thing that I repeat daily to myself that makes it all bearable is that we can walk away at any moment if it becomes too much. We aren’t yet FI but we are close enough that we could do a massive and permanent downshift and not derail those plans. That means that every day we get up and slog through it all is a decision to actively continue down that path, not resignation to our fates because we can’t afford anything else. That choice is powerful, even unexercised.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2018, 10:01:56 PM by ysette9 »

Spiffsome

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Re: What role did family circumstances play in forming your financial values?
« Reply #15 on: November 17, 2018, 08:52:29 PM »
My mother's parents set out deliberately to instill their financial values in us kids and succeeded.

The big thing was the 'Christmas money' - each kid had a piggy bank at Grandma's that Grandma and Grandad put spare change into through the year, and at the beginning of December each year the piggy bank would come down with about $40 in it. Each kid then got guided through the process of listing out close relatives that they were required to buy a gift for, dividing up the money to see approximately how much per relative they had and shopping to acquire that number of gifts of roughly equal value. It was a master class in budgeting that started around age 8 and repeated every year.

Other things were an appreciation and encouragement for higher education, even though neither of them got past junior high (farmers) and approval for acquiring skills and DIY. I was shocked to learn that some families do not encourage or celebrate their younger members' achievements, because there was always moderate praise for ours.

joonifloofeefloo

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Re: What role did family circumstances play in forming your financial values?
« Reply #16 on: November 17, 2018, 11:17:55 PM »
20% interest on mortgages when I was ~12. My parents managed to continue ownership, but many didn't. It spooked me forever on having a mortgage renewable every few years, and I've avoided that.

Also witnessed my closest relatives develop poverty despite similar starting points. I saw how decisions for the day and for the long term make a tremendous difference in quality of life, assets, etc.

soccerluvof4

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Re: What role did family circumstances play in forming your financial values?
« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2018, 04:04:17 AM »
This is a good thread- Little reflection.

Growing up my parents were definitely on the lower middle class. We moved 7 times before I was in 6th grade and the finally bought a house for 45k that finally got us out of the ghetto. But it was the thing that killed my Dad. He drove a sraightt truck all day and then worked in the garage till exhaustion pretty much 7 days a week building small furniture for either people or mom and pop furniture stores. They never had a savings account until My older brother moved out and to Alaska where he has been 30+ years now and I haven't seen him but much like the shows living off the land and always moving around. They finally got ahead when my mom started wheeling and dealing, buying and selling furniture and stuff. Slowly my dads shop as he got older got replaced with my moms stuff to re-sell. He past on early at 63 and is insurance paid off the house. Then my mom passed away about 5 years ago and I was shocked she had saved about 80k and the house sold for about 160k. But growing up many times my Dad would buy 5 gallons of oil enough to heat the house and fortunately he was handy.

So my brother as I mentioned was a workaholic and started up in Alaska working on one of those fishing boats and back then guys died all the time. Then He did some mining and finally ended up working for the school system. But he doesn't save a dime. Hes happy though so that's all that matters and spends his time fishing and hunting. I always look for him on those Alaska shows figuring he would be in the background somewhere.

I too became a workaholic and by 21 i believe was making more than my parents so was paying them 250$ a month rent. 33 years ago that was a lot of money. But finally by 27 I started my first business and as success came so did the spending . Figured I owed it to myself but I was so afraid to fail. My mom (dad had already passed) would always say you gotta slow down but it was how i was wired. Long and short of it I made it, spent it and by early 40's 3rd wife (of 21 years now) and 4 kids 19-13 I was burnt out and mid 40's my thinking started to change, found MMM late 40's played the catch up game and fire'd at 50.

How you are brought up  surely plays a roll in your thinking but in the end you make the decision in life of who you want to be. Just like our house was filled with a lot of personal issues. Always fighting, cops coming over etc.. But I didn't want any of that so I chose not to. Cant stand it when people blame things on their child hood. Knew plenty of people growing up in families I envied that ended up screwed up so its all about the choices we make which for me at least now I see within my own kids.


Hula Hoop

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Re: What role did family circumstances play in forming your financial values?
« Reply #18 on: November 18, 2018, 06:39:20 AM »
My parents, especially my father, were always frugal verging on cheap.  Both my parents are immigrants which might be part of it.  My dad, in particular just doesn't like spending money.  I remember him wearing shoes with holes in them when it rained or snowed, having no food in the fridge and he has always shopped at thrift stores even before it was fashionable.  I remember being embarrassed by this in elementary school.  My mother spends a bit more but still nothing like the American norm. 


Now they are both in good shape financially due to living within their means and having great pensions.  Also they live in an incredibly HCOL city in the US (they are divorced) and each their property prices have gone through the roof - not because they did anything but because they bought in the 70s and 80s for almost nothing in areas which are now very fashionable.  But of course they live in their homes so these values don't really effect their daily lives in any way apart from the fact that there are no cheap places to get coffee or groceries in their neighborhoods anymore. 

Neither of them know anything about investing or handling their money so a lot of their savings is just sitting in bank accounts collecting no interest.  That's their choice though so I don't try to tell them what to do.  I actually think it might be good that they know so little about investing.  I remember during the run up to 2008, the husband of one of my friends told my father that he should cash in on his fully paid for apartment to get out some money to invest in the stock market as it was "red hot".  Dad just laughed and told the guy that he wouldn't have a clue where to start investing in the stock market so he preferred to just leave well enough alone.  Probably just as well.


My parents always expected me to work part time and over the summers and I didn't get hand outs from them (apart from living with them for a couple of summers while a student) took out student loans.  At a certain point after college I was up to my eyeballs in credit card debt for things like buying groceries and paying utility bills.  I would not have dreamed of asking my parents for financial help at that point (or even telling them about my debt) even though they could have helped me financially.  I think my memory of being harassed by creditors and having $20 in my bank account has inspired me to really hustle for decent paying work and be frugal. 

I also have never been tempted to rely on a man for my income probably because my mother always worked full time in a professional job and I saw how that set her up to be able to get divorced and still have a decent retirement income.  She and my father earned more or less the same money in similar jobs - and that's what I saw as the norm since I grew up with it.  My husband and I both work full time but I earn twice a much as him.  Even if I earned the same as him or less, I would really hesitate to give up paid employment altogether as so many of my mother friends have done.  I think that's a direct result of growing up with divorced parents where my mother had the same income as my dad so there weren't any huge money issues when they split up.  Also just seeing my mother put on work clothes and go to work every day meant that I saw that as a norm for a mother.  I had a friend in elementary school whose mother was a SAHM who later went back to work part time.  I used to sometimes go to her house after school and it always felt weird that her mother gave use milk and cookies and was around monitoring us.  I kind of liked being a 'latch key child' as I had more freedom.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2018, 06:44:53 AM by Hula Hoop »

CatamaranSailor

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Re: What role did family circumstances play in forming your financial values?
« Reply #19 on: November 18, 2018, 08:36:19 AM »
My mother is manic depressive and refuses to manage it. My father grew up the youngest of 6 children, born to first generation immigrant parents. Needless to say the financial lesson modeled to me as a child ranged from sensible/frugal...bordering on Scrounge McDuck Cheap....to manic fueled insanity buying accompanied by the sounds of the financial house of cards being atom bombed.

I will say...my sister and I never starved. We always had our own bedrooms and for the most part led average middle class lives. But even as a little kid, I remember thinking (I didn't think it...I knew it) that there was something wrong with my mom. My dad dealt with the situation by being gone all the time.

We (my sister and I) were actually never taught anything regarding finances. My mom would clip along, keeping things fairly even keeled and then BAM! Go on some wild spending spree. As a little kid, these spending sprees were great! She'd take us to the mall and literally buy us something from every store. But as a 6 year old...I knew that the spree would end with a screaming fight between her and my father and my dad angrily cussing every time he saw one of the items my mother had purchased for either my sister or myself. So after the initial adrenaline hit wore off...all the new purchases usually just ended up generating a lot of guilt.

My father (to this day) is a walking billboard for "penny wise and a pound foolish". Growing up, he almost drove our family into bankruptcy through bad real estate deals and starting a business with some very questionable characters. But, to his credit, although he'd make silly decisions he could eventually recognize them and manage to extricate himself, but not before major financial damage had been done.

Needless to say, growing up was one disaster after another, usually with charred dollars bills being shot out of a cannon...either hers or his.

They finally split up when I was in my teens and as one previous poster said...that's when everything really collapsed. Now I will say that although both my parents were (are) bad with money (in vastly different ways) they were both workers.

Thank God...because that was the only thing that might possible save them. My mom, although manic depressive, did manage to stay in the same profession (government) long enough to qualify for a standard pension. My father as well.

As far as the OP's question. Short answer....I was financially stupid, incompetent, uninformed,moronic, dull, dumb, foolish, laughable, ludicrous, naive, senseless, shortsighted, rash, thick, unintelligent, brainless, dazed, deficient, dense, dim, doltish,
dopey, gullible, half-baked, half-witted, idiotic, imbecilic, inane, mindless, thick-headed, unthinking and witless when I left home.

Luckily, I have one quality that has saved me from myself on countless occasions. I intentionally learn from my mistakes.

I left home without a dime and went to college (borrowing heavily of course). I hated the idea of debt but back them I didn't see any other way (see list above). I made all kinds of silly mistakes but I credit three people with saving my financial life.

My wife...who busted her ass all the way through college and came out with zero debt. Wife=Hero.

Dave Ramsey (yes he gets a bad rap here and no I don't listen to his investing advise) But Dave Ramsey got my wife and I together on the same financial page and is the number one reason for our financial turnaround. Dave = Financial Boot Camp

And of course Pete who ties it all together. Mr. Money Mustache = PhD in BadAssity

My parents are both retired. Both continue down the same oddball/disaster in the making financial path coupled with a steady income.

My father. Pays off his house (Yeah!). Goes out and FINANCES $100,000 RV (Boo!)

My mother. Still goes through the manic/depressive cycle. Refuses help. Spends wildly then cries poor. Not going to end well.

My sister. Financial disaster. Worthy of her own very long post in the "Relatives Who Don't Get It" thread.


Blueberries

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Re: What role did family circumstances play in forming your financial values?
« Reply #20 on: November 18, 2018, 07:14:39 PM »
I grew up in a high violent crime/low income area.  My parents lost a home twice, went through bankruptcy, and often had help from the church.  There were a lot of bad spending behaviors, but also no-fault layoffs, lack of education, medical issues, etc.  I became aware that things could change when I watched Tony Robbins and Suze Orman on TV as a teen.  I had a job as a young teen so I bought Suze's first book because it came with a second "mini book" that had her number in it, which she encouraged people to call.  My parents never called, despite my requests.  I stole that book back many years ago and still have it to this day.  I always wonder what would have happened if I had called her for advice. 

My parents are not in good shape now as they refuse any advice or help beyond financial assistance (which has largely stopped).  I'm debt averse, frugal, and often hear from my partner that I'm not poor anymore. 

dacalo

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Re: What role did family circumstances play in forming your financial values?
« Reply #21 on: November 18, 2018, 09:26:06 PM »
My father is a self-made man. His parents passed away when he was only 15 and he delivered newspapers to support his younger siblings (3 of them) and help them through school. As result, he never went to college himself but was a creative and hard-working man. He eventually started his own business and became very successful and was a millionaire in 1980's. He retired in 1990 but passed away in 2000. I miss my father dearly, but he taught me a lot including work ethic. My mom came from an upper-middle family but she is wise with money and saved and invested well. She has been retired to close to 30 years now. My parents worked nights and weekends growing their business; I still remember spending nights in their office sleeping on the sofa.

dodojojo

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My brother and I grew up food-stamp poor and we're just about apart in age not to be called twins.  But here I am on the MMM board and generally frugal all my life and my brother has been up to his eyeballs in debt for his entire adult life.  We reacted in polar opposite ways to our impoverished upbringing.