Author Topic: Did You Grow Up Poor?  (Read 11366 times)

heybro

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Did You Grow Up Poor?
« on: April 18, 2012, 07:38:01 PM »
Just wondering if there is any correlation between growing up poor and wearing a mustache.

I was raised in a family where money was tight but parent's still spent a lot and went in to debt a lot and bought new cars a lot, etc. etc.

All of that, well, I think it influenced me to want to save a lot and spend little so that I have security for myself.  (even though money cannot make you safe).

Parizade

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2012, 07:47:08 PM »
Both of my parents were children during the Great Depression and my father served in China during WW2. Waste was not tolerated, and I learned the art of "haggling" before I learned to drive.

nolajo

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2012, 08:45:23 PM »
We were pretty solidly middle-class, with a couple of notable lean periods. My parents have railed against conspicuous consumerism for as long as I can remember - and it's as far back as trying to sound out those words because my little tongue couldn't keep track of all those syllables! It's definitely influenced me as far as not bothering to keep up with the Joneses, but the more hardcore MMM philosophy came later/is still in the works.

TLV

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2012, 09:08:07 PM »
I definitely did not grow up poor. My parents started off typically middle class, but my dad started making 6 figures around the time I was born, in an area with low cost-of-living. They had big houses ever since I can remember, and money was never short. And yet my dad still isn't retired. I think he'll make it before traditional retirement age - maybe by 55 (he's not quite 50), if his new wife doesn't spend all of his money. A big part of my motivation to reach FI early was hearing my dad complain about his job - he likes the work (software) but hates how little he gets to do it compared to when he was younger (too many meetings, etc. as a senior employee). Although he eventually switched companies and works from home now, I know he'd still rather work on open source projects if he didn't need the money.

shedinator

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2012, 09:12:16 PM »
hard to say. By any real global standards, no. We were a family of 8 living on less than 70k/year in a relatively low-COL area. My parents "own" their home (there's a mortgage), which is the classical marker of the middle class, and we always had more than we really needed-- although perhaps less than we wanted-- so I can't REALLY call us poor, but we can't have been any higher than lower middle class.

Tyler

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2012, 10:23:52 PM »
I had a great childhood.  I lived in a nice house, went to a decent school, always enjoyed Christmas, and had a hand-me-down pickup to drive around when I was old enough.

Only once I graduated high school and went to college did I come to realize that my parents were poor relative to everyone else and lived in a low-income neighborhood, that my school was receiving redistributed funds from the "rich" schools a few cities over, that the Christmas presents I loved so much were sparse relative to my new roommate's standards, and that my pickup looked old parked next to the BMWs in the school parking lot.

I grew up "poor" from the outside looking in, but "rich" from the inside looking out.  And yes, I do think that shaped how I spend & save money today.

Rich M

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2012, 10:49:46 PM »
At the time I grew up, I didn't think I was poor.  I had plenty of soda pop and food.  I had fun in a large yard with my friends playing outside.  We had a small b/w tv and I thought it was great.  My parents supported my wants as they could.

I was in a poor household for sure, but my growing up was rich in values and things that I treasure today.

Tyler

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2012, 12:56:26 AM »
True.  I have a good friend who grew up in the same neighborhood and has a similar background.  He's now very anti-Mustachian.  As he describes it, "I want my family to have all the things I never had as a kid." 
« Last Edit: April 19, 2012, 12:57:59 AM by Tyler »

catalana

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2012, 07:15:57 AM »
I had a great childhood.  I lived in a nice house, went to a decent school, always enjoyed Christmas, and had a hand-me-down pickup to drive around when I was old enough.

Only once I graduated high school and went to college did I come to realize that my parents were poor relative to everyone else and lived in a low-income neighborhood, that my school was receiving redistributed funds from the "rich" schools a few cities over, that the Christmas presents I loved so much were sparse relative to my new roommate's standards, and that my pickup looked old parked next to the BMWs in the school parking lot.

I grew up "poor" from the outside looking in, but "rich" from the inside looking out.  And yes, I do think that shaped how I spend & save money today.
Ooooo that is SO familiar - although I actually felt pretty wealthy growing up because we were a lower middle class family in a lower income area.  So my parents owned their own home, had 2 cars and we holidayed abroad every year.  It was a shock to arrive at university and meet people who had attended private school and were given a brand new car as a teenager.  Heck, one of my classmates even had servants!

I think what did filter down was living within your means.  My mum and dad never spent beyond their means, saved up to buy everything except the house (I remember the celebrations when they paid off the mortgage when I was a teenager) and now enjoy a comfortable retirement that they started in their 50s.  Their sensible attitude either came to me in the genes or in the upbringing - I'm not sure which!
« Last Edit: April 19, 2012, 07:50:04 AM by catalana »

catalana

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2012, 07:25:36 AM »
True.  I have a good friend who grew up in the same neighborhood and has a similar background.  He's now very anti-Mustachian.  As he describes it, "I want my family to have all the things I never had as a kid."
Ooooo I've got a close friend like that.  She came from one of the poorer families in the area growing up.  Her parents (mostly) didn't work, they lived in social housing and she shared a room with her sister growing up. 

I know she has a good job now, but I still look at the closet with s of handbags and designer clothes and wonder whether the lack of "things" in her childhood made her this way, and whether she is running debt to do it.

arebelspy

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2012, 07:33:04 AM »
Nope, solid middle (maybe upper-middle) class.  Parents consume quite a bit.  Don't know when, if ever, Dad will be able to retire.
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James

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2012, 07:59:00 AM »
I grew up being the kids with the "rich" parents who didn't spend much.  I always knew we had decent money, my mom stayed at home and we had a big house in the woods on lots of property.  But my parents spent money on land and helped others, they didn't spend it on us.  We often had used bikes, we earned our own money at jobs as teenagers, we didn't have a TV until I was a teenager, and we almost never ate out.  We had a huge garden which supplied much of our food, which was frozen or canned for winter use.  We heated our house with wood and spent much of the summer and fall cutting, splitting and stacking wood for the winter.

Having said that, my parents both came from poor homes and probably didn't know how to instruct us about money.  They encouraged us not to spend a lot for education which saved a lot of student loans, but my dad loaned me money to buy a nice car after the cheap one I had was damaged in an accident, instead of encouraging me to just fix up the old one and finish college with that.  I consider that the first step in my trend of always having debt of some sort, always pushing to get something "a little nicer".  Those early habits and patterns have such a huge impact when moving up to homes, as well as the smaller things that come up so often.  But overall, my parents demonstrated a great sense of restraint with their spending and taught us a strong work ethic.  If I had been paying more attention I think I could have learned a lot more from them than I did.

Ben

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2012, 08:20:08 AM »
Probably an upper-middle class income but middle class lifestyle with a large family (7 kids) and stay-at-home mom. I would say I've been fortunate to inherit good frugality genes on both sides, parents and grandparents were all early savers w/ some lifestyle inflation in later years when they were at or near FI.

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2012, 08:23:09 AM »
We grew up lower middle class in a low-income town of mostly manual labourers. My father was a blue-collar worker and my mother spent most of our childhood at home, raising us. We had everything we needed and most of what we wanted.

My mother is the child of post WWII eastern european immigrants who were strict about using what you have and not wasting anything. My mother liked to buy a lot of stuff though, and still does. Nothing major, just little things like picture frames, dishes, small games, that kind of thing, that she doesn't really need and ends up never using. I detest this wasteful nature and always felt that our household bought to excess.

Even as a kid I would sock away every last dime of my lawn-cutting or babysitting money. I remember getting 10 dollars from my grandmother for my 8th birthday and socking it away in my money box to be deposited soon thereafter. My mother *forced* me to go to the store with her and buy a toy with it. I think my frugality was woven into my genetic code and I was simply born with the desire to not waste money.

We never took fancy vacations and we didn't have a mortgage because my parents had bought our house in cash in the early 80s. Our cars were bought new but driven until the wheels fell off. I had friends who were much more wealthy than us as well as much poorer. My friends who were much poorer are now extremely materialistic and I am sure it is because they feel the need to make up for all they lacked as children.

My parents did not prepare for their retirement appropriately. My mother left that in the hands of my father who she ended up divorcing anyway. She remarried, but her husband died several years ago leaving her with some cash but nothing significant enough to retire on really. "Well I might die tomorrow so i may as well spend it." Yup, great philosphy mom.

chrissyo

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2012, 08:46:35 AM »
Not at all. I grew up middle/upper-middle class, and while not as hard core a mustachian as MMM, DH and I are quite mustachian (his parents are much more frugal/mustachian). Some others from middle class families have commented their parents aren't or mightn't ever retire, but mine have been retired/self employed (they manage rental property and own a residential property development, but don't work any sort of normal hours, and will disappear to another part of the world for months on end) for about 20 yrs. They don't think about their spending much (Dad has an affinity toward gadgets and electronics, Mum is often browsing the internet for travel deals and has intermittent late night liaisons with QVC), but also haven't ever worried about keeping up with the Joneses. They've lived in big/nice homes nearly my entire life, because they like them, but couldn't care less about expensive clothing or cars. The flexibility in their lifestyle allows them to travel on the cheap - they typically use home exchanges rather than hotels, which is helpful, as does the fact they're not materialistic. They also don't actively think about their spending or where to cut back, because they've fortunately never needed to.

I've always been naturally frugal and budget conscious (even as a kid with a small allowance, and then with my earnings from my first job at 14). I would balance my Mum's accounts for fun in high school, have always had an aversion to debt, and like planning where my money will go.

For reference, my attitude toward money is also completely different than that of my 4 other siblings. We're radically different in most ways, and would probably make a curious study for the nature/nurture theories :)

Mrs MM

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #15 on: April 19, 2012, 09:46:40 AM »
Both my parents grew up poor, but probably didn't realize it because their lives were rich in other ways. 

My father grew up in a primitive village in Northern India and my mother grew up on a farm in rural Quebec. 

Both of them were the first kids in their families to go to University and try to make more of their lives.  They were very hard working and in the early years we didn't have much (although I never noticed).  My Indian grandmother moved in when I was born and took care of us at home for 11 years (when she died) while my parents both worked full time.  I felt like we were "normal" compared to other kids, although I know some families were considered the rich ones in our neighborhood.

My father is an entrepreneur and started his own business, and when it began to thrive, they started making more money.  So, as a teenager, our family became more "rich" and that's when we started to get spoiled a little bit.  It's like my parents were making up for everything they didn't have. 

I am older than my brother and much more frugal than him.  My brother is very spendy and has always had trouble with money.  We are completely opposite on the money spectrum, which I find interesting.  My mother is also a bit of a spender (mostly clothing), while my father is more frugal and counts every dollar and plans for its use.  I think a lot of it has to do with the types of personalities we were born with (and perhaps with the roles we fell into as brother/sister in childhood).

AJ

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #16 on: April 19, 2012, 10:42:33 AM »
Just wondering if there is any correlation between growing up poor and wearing a mustache.

I think it might have more to do with what your patents' attitude towards money was. DH and I both grew up poor, but turned out very differently.

My parents' money motto was "we don't make much, so we have to be smart with what we do have." We saved up for things we needed, cooked homemade meals every day, drove used Toyotas until they died (>300k miles, min). Our vacations were awesome: camping locally. They minded their pennies, because all we had were pennies. DH's dad's motto was "we'll never have enough, so spend it while you have it and worry later." They would routinely eat fast food dollar menus because they "couldn't afford anything else" (the fact that cooking at home is cheaper than dollar menus was lost on him). DH remembers going to the grocery store for dinner and picking up a pack of pop tarts or a can of chili. He did find money for cable TV, new cars, and beer, though. His dad was forever on the run from creditors and the IRS, and was perpetually depressed about money.

When we were first married (in college) DH refused to eat Ramen or return pop cans for deposit because it made him "feel poor". He didn't want to shop for clothes at thrift stores for the same reason. "Poor people activities" reminded him of how depressed his dad was about money, but they reminded me of some great times as kids. I loved going to the thrift store for our new clothes, it was just another clothing store to us, there was no stigma.

I've worn off on DH over time, but you can see how hid dad's bad attitude has affected his other children. They are poor by choice (which is fine, they have jobs they enjoy) but they want desperately to be thought of as middle class. New cars, big TVs, iPads, they use status symbols to make up for feelings of inadequacy. Reminds me of this article: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-perils-of-paying-for

zinnie

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #17 on: April 19, 2012, 01:50:21 PM »

I think it might have more to do with what your parents' attitude towards money was.


I agree with this. My parents were definitely in the top couple of percent salary-wise, but I didn't know it because we didn't spend it. If my father didn't think he had to work until 59.5 based on what was commonly-accepted knowledge about how much you need to retire, he certainly could have retired as early as I plan to. He's a much better saver than me, and that's saying a lot.

My grandparents/ great grandparents did grow up very poor and in war-torn countries. I know that influenced my parents a lot and in turn, me. My grandparents' money philosophy was very much tied to the cultures that they came from, as well as always having to prepare for uncertainty. My memory of them still inspires me to be more mustachian!

Praxis

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #18 on: April 19, 2012, 02:03:55 PM »
I grew up upper middle class.  But my mother had frugal qualities- my parents would spend money like nuts for experiences and travel, but my mother would shop around for everything, never buy brand names, cook at home and rarely go out to eat, check all the prices at the department store, and bargain hard on everything.  Plus, all of my friends were poor.

arebelspy

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #19 on: April 19, 2012, 02:08:23 PM »


I think it might have more to do with what your parents' attitude towards money was.


I donno, my parents are all about spending, live for today, etc.  I could be an exception though.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with three kids.
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Bakari

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #20 on: April 19, 2012, 02:41:12 PM »
I used to go to school an hour early, to eat the free breakfast that was provided.  Lunch was free.  We were only allowed to buy sugar free cereal because it was paid for by WIC.  When my brother and I were too old for WIC, we still got all our food from foodstamps.  Rent was partially paid by section 8.  Sometimes we had a car, sometimes we didn't, but when we did, we rarely got rides anywhere, we walked or took the bus or rode bikes.
The only things we didn't get from the thrift store were underpants, socks, and shoes.
I learned bike mechanics because if I didn't fix my own bike, I couldn't ride it - bringing it to a shop wasn't an option.
And it is possible that some - perhaps much - of the items in our household were acquired by somewhat less than legal measures...

At the time I didn't think anything of any of this, because most of my neighbors and relatives lived the same way, and as far as I knew, basically everyone did.

My mother got her master's degree and first real job when I was in high school, and before you knew it, she had bought a house, new appliances, even a subscription to consumer reports magazine.  But (save the mortgage) she never went into debt.  A few years ago when she bought a brand new car (for the first time in her life) she bought it in cash.  She never understood the stock market, but a few years ago bought a rental house (now underwater, but bringing in consistent rent from a stable tenant).

I definitely think those experiences had a direct effect on me

Gerard

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #21 on: April 19, 2012, 03:53:57 PM »
I grew up below the poverty line, the child of poor (and cheap!) immigrants. They owned our house, but never finished paying it off. Vacations were camping. Had my first pair of store-bought jeans at 14. First in my family to go to university. Luckily we lived in Quebec, so medicare and education was free or cheap.
Did it affect my attitudes toward money? Maybe not directly. But I definitely don't recoil at low thread count sheets, I can sleep anywhere, and I'd rather eat low off the hog (that might just be a Quebec thing!). I guess the best thing I learned from my parents and my childhood is that most things in life aren't "needs".

AJ

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #22 on: April 19, 2012, 05:20:57 PM »
I think it might have more to do with what your parents' attitude towards money was.

I donno, my parents are all about spending, live for today, etc.  I could be an exception though.

I didn't mean to imply that you necessarily end up just like your parents. Only that there is a (potential) correlation between how our parents viewed money and how we do. It goes without saying that, as adults, we are free to choose our own path, and are influenced by more than just our parents (i.e. strangers on the web). :)

mm1970

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #23 on: April 19, 2012, 07:15:59 PM »
Yes, we were pretty poor.  I grew up in a small rural town of mostly manual laborers.  My dad was an auto mechanic, my mom mostly a SAHM (she had worked at a bank before she got married, and went back to working at the bank part time when I was 12, because my dad got laid off and his new job paid 1/3 of the old one).

We had a big family - 7 kids over a 21 year span (2 different moms there).  So we had a garden, canned, only wore hand-me-downs, didn't vacation or get a lot of things, and money was tight.  Money was tight for most people though, but I'd say we were on the bottom half of the spectrum.  But not the very bottom.  We had heat.  When I was in HS, I moved to a "richer" town 20 miles away, and some of those kids had parents who had degrees and worked at the university and they went on vacations to Florida.  (We lived in PA.)

I learned my frugality from my parents.  My dad was born in the 20's and was in WWII.  My mom was a lot younger.  My dad was frugal and not wasteful.  My mom was frugal too but I think she resented having to handle the money and things being so tight.  Mostly because my dad wanted to spend money on himself for going out to drinks and she had to say "no".  I'm not sure if other families had that relationship, but my mom's 2nd marriage  had the same one...man earned the money, woman handled the bills, man gets mad when the money isn't enough for him to have his toys.

Most of my siblings are pretty frugal too.  Early paying off the houses, helping their kids get through college on less, not paying for weddings for their kids.  I was the first kid in the family (I'm almost the youngest) to go to college right after HS, but one went nights for almost a decade to get her degree and one went when she was in her 30's (she's a VP of a company now).  But my younger brother, who lived with my dad after the divorce, always liked to spend money.  I think my dad's attitude of how mom "put him on an allowance" might have been a factor.  I lived with my mom, and remember having 16 cents to last us a week until the next paycheck.

Compared to other countries, I was not poor.  For the US, we were.  It's kind of weird being in the high income brackets right now, because the things I don't spend money on seems weird to others.  They don't understand my upbringing.  I'd just rather have money in the bank.

Somnambulist

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #24 on: April 20, 2012, 11:37:59 AM »
I had a great childhood.  I lived in a nice house, went to a decent school, always enjoyed Christmas, and had a hand-me-down pickup to drive around when I was old enough.

Only once I graduated high school and went to college did I come to realize that my parents were poor relative to everyone else and lived in a low-income neighborhood, that my school was receiving redistributed funds from the "rich" schools a few cities over, that the Christmas presents I loved so much were sparse relative to my new roommate's standards, and that my pickup looked old parked next to the BMWs in the school parking lot.

I grew up "poor" from the outside looking in, but "rich" from the inside looking out.  And yes, I do think that shaped how I spend & save money today.

I am not sure why, but I am in the same boat. We lived in a college town so the townie kids were usually professor's kids or kids of local business owners who did very well. Most of my classmates and the students attended the university all drove new or like new cars, often sporty BMWs, etc.

We lived in a house my folks rented until I was in middle school and then finally bought when they decided they could afford it. It was decently sized, I shared a room with my brother, and we had a huge yard. We loved it and I have tons of great memories. It was in a lower income ex-mill village neighborhood so we were surrounded by other poor people. I never noticed it until I was figuring out how to pay for college.

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #25 on: April 20, 2012, 12:58:23 PM »
I grew up relatively poor (not below poverty line, but, we definitely wanted for things)
My parents (Mother...) is a terrible spender. Terrible. Bankruptcies, credit card debt, you name it.

I am now, fairly mustachian, but it has taken time.
I knew more about general finance than my parents by the time i was 21.
Maybe I wanted to make sure I DIDN'T end up like them?

I'd say more realisticly, mustachianism is really a branch, or extension of rationalism.
Efficiency, asking why, and true understanding leads to mustachianism.
Why do I want this? Why do I need this? What makes sense in the big picture?
I feel that there wouldn't be a big correlation between growing up poor and mustachianism. But in reality... if you grew up rich I don't think you'd be visiting financial independence blogs!

PS, I'm an Engineer.

Phundit

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #26 on: April 20, 2012, 03:50:40 PM »
My dad made good money, Mom stayed at home to raise the four of us. We had a big house for a while and moved a lot. I remember being worried about our debt from a young age; Mom always said that their number one priority was to give us a good life and as many opportunities as we could get. And there were plenty of those--we had a motorhome and put over 100,000 miles on it, visited more national parks than I can remember--all kinds of experiences. But we would usually try to stay at the cheapest campgrounds possible. One of my strongest memories is living in a big, new two-story track house and having to make our own bread because there wasn't enough in checking to get groceries.

It was sort of a weird upbringing, and I later learned some of the problems were due to Dad's "save then spree" money mentality. Not gonna happen to me.

Sparky

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #27 on: April 21, 2012, 10:19:17 AM »
Did not grow up poor by any means, maybe between middle/upper middle class. There was always food on the table, but more than a few times they had to borrow money from my bank account to pay for something.

These days they are much worse off as the parents business collapsed (partly to blame on big box stores and the internet) and they are slowly digging themselves into a hole from living beyond their means. They refuse to take money advice from myself to deal with their money issues (having 200k in debt is OK in their mind).


gooki

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #28 on: April 23, 2012, 03:00:55 AM »
At a guess my parents would be upper middel class based on income, in their ealy years, but our lifestyle didn't reflect that. Ultimately they were frugal, with a few luxeries thrown in (One new car, 33 foot yacht that my father took 7 years off work to build).

My wifes parents are similar upper middle class, with a few work related luxries (paid for chauffeur, live in maid).

The big thing is when either of them spent money it was on experiences for the whole family. Camping, travelling etc. My brother and I had very few toys, I even remember stealing a Transformer from a class mate because I wanted one so bad - I think at that point my parents realised their extreme frugality towards kids toys may have been a little detrimental.

Arbor33

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Re: Did You Grow Up Poor?
« Reply #29 on: April 23, 2012, 07:44:43 AM »


I think it might have more to do with what your parents' attitude towards money was.


I donno, my parents are all about spending, live for today, etc.  I could be an exception though.

I come from a similar background. Parents both had a well above average income, nice cars, nice houses, nice camps etc. (upper middle). They said, and still say, "you can't take it with you when you go". While my parents were nowhere near mustachian, I was raised to understand the work that went into generating a dollar. Never got an allowance, but they allowed me to work for the family business at a young age. As a little kid, working a dulled down version of construction with my dad, I quickly learned that spending money on things meant I had to trade my time for them. I didn't shed consumerism, but I saved as much as I could.

IMO responsibility, even pseudo-responsibility, at a young age can definitely lay a proper foundation despite the spending habits of parents.