Parental Advice

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Postby Sam » Sun Aug 12, 2007 1:06 pm

My parents never really provided a whole lot of personal financial advice. But they both lead by example. My parents were serious hippies and as a result shunned the consumerist/materialistic lifestyle, they were both employed as college professors and while they did not make a whole heck of a lot of money they were able to afford a historic home on the water, a sailboat, a second home (really a cabin) in a very high end resort area, skiing, camping, sailing vacations for the family. My parents put their money into experiences rather than things.

When I was growing up we spent out entire summers together as a family in a super fancy resort area. We had a tiny cabin in the woods and all my parents friends would come out (island) and spend time with us, they would bring their tents and live out in the meadow of our cabin and everyone pitched in to cover expenses. We also made money by gathering berries and making jam and selling the jam at the famrer's market. And we cut our costs by gathering food (fishing, clamming, gathering berries, greens, etc. to eat). We got by with a lot of cold showers, no tv and a tiny radio, no toys (we had the woods, beach, and friends), the local library and the community center, free outdoor concerts, theatre, festivals, the fair, etc. Those summers were awesome!

There were certainly times growing up that I was really angry that I didn't have the 'right' clothes or my parents didn't drive the 'right' cars or I didn't know what was going on with TV (b/c we didn't have one) but I came to realize that my parents did the right thing by scrimping on stuff and spending on time.

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Postby teeladog » Wed Aug 15, 2007 10:35 am

My dad has given me a ton of financial advice regarding just about every aspect of financial life. He is still the person that I most often turn to when I have a question about anything financial. However, the thing that had the biggest impact on me by far was an incident that happened when I was in Jr. High School. This incident shaped how I have dealt with borrowing money my entire life...

Somehow, I had gotten in the habit of borrowing small amounts of money from my best friend Wendy every day during lunch. Things like 35 cents here and there to buy a peanut butter bar or french fries or something like that. Well, I just kept borrowing from her every few days over the course of weeks and I ended up owing her around $5 or so. I probably would have just kept borrowing from her indefinately except that we had an open house at school. I was standing in the cafeteria with my parents and Wendy made some joking remark about how I owed her $5. My dad didn't say a word. He just slid his glasses down to the tip of his nose and looked over them at me (he is MUCH taller than I am), pulled out his wallet and handed Wendy $5. Now, this may look like my dad bailing me out of debt. However, that look he gave me said more than any lecture would have. Since that day, I have never, ever owed anyone money (except for my mortgage and the occasional very short car loan that I have always paid off very early). Debt of all kinds makes me EXTREMELY uncomfortable and my dad had to convince me when my husband and I were buying our house that it was ok to take on a mortgage. Now, Dad told me many times growing up about the evils of consumer debt but none of that had the same impact on me as that look he gave me when I was in debt $5 to my Jr. High best friend. That moment is still absolutely vivid in my mind.

The irony of all that is that I am still in touch with Wendy to this day and she is about the worst money manager I know. When we were in our 20's we both lived in Atlanta (very far away from our families and where we grew up). Her finances were a disaster - she had bounced so many checks she couldn't get a bank account anymore and she had debt collectors calling her constantly. She is in a better place financially now but her lessons were much harder for her than mine was in Jr. High...

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