What My Parents Taught Me About Money

I learned quickly the value of money – when it was finally my own.

Growing up, my parents always had their I’s dotted and T’s crossed when it came to their finances. They worked hard for all that they had, and they gave my siblings and I a very happy and healthy upbringing. I was lucky. They cared enough to teach me the basics of personal finance, and for that – I will always be grateful. It’s sad to say that not everyone has those opportunities. What’s even more depressing is that they should be given these opportunities in an educational environment like high school or post-secondary, but that has yet to be implemented. If I were ever to have children – I would ensure they did learn. Learn about what financial management practices are best, where to find the appropriate tools, and how to avoid any catastrophic failures.

Although I was taught growing up, I chose to learn from my own mistakes (don’t we all). And with that, I wanted to remind myself where I started, and why I should reconnect with these basic financial upbringings.

Waste not want not

In my home, dinner was always a time for learning. I learned that what you put on your plate must be finished. And until it was finished, you were not to leave the dinner table. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent staring at a few macaroni noodles due to my greed, but I can tell you it shaped my beliefs in food waste (among other things). If I didn’t finish my happy meal, I didn’t get my toy, and if I didn’t use my newest gadget, I would not receive another. Distinguishing needs and wants during this time was different than when my parents grew up, and I certainly appreciate their treatment of all things technology. They created an unselfish behavior in myself, and it has paid off greatly.

You’re never too young to learn about finance

At 12 years old, my mom spent one afternoon taking me to the bank. She signed me up to receive my first debit card, and my first banking book. I sat with a banker, and she told me the meaning of the card, as well as what a savings account was. As someone so young, it was difficult for me to truly understand what I was receiving, but I learned quickly the value of money – when it was finally my own.

Tracking your spending is invaluable

With my debit card, came my budget review and my mother recording all that I spent. Each month, we would go to the bank, and they would print me off a list of every expense made for those weeks. For those of you who don’t know why I would do something so insane, online banking was non-existent at that time (crazy, I know). My mom and I would look at where I was spending my money (mostly candy), and discuss from there. She kept me in check, and I can never thank her enough.

Hard work provides solid savings

They say that giving your children an opportunity for an allowance can teach them valuable money lessons, and I would have to agree. My parents taught me that working hard was one of the greatest ways to increase my savings, whether it was through chores or a part time job. Chores were my main source of income due to my extra-curriculars’ not allowing for enough time to work. Let me tell you, they were certainly not as painful as I made them seem back then. Mowing the lawn for $20? (We had 7 acres of grass mind you), I’d do that in a heartbeat today. At 16 I got my first job, and from then on my idea of hard work grew into reality.

You can’t always get what you want

Many children grow up never knowing what it means to not have everything they want. And for others, it’s the opposite. I’d have to say my parents did an excellent job balancing the two mediums. I was allowed new clothing before the start of every school year, but unless I earned my own money throughout the year, I would have to wait. The same went for dining out. We would indulge for special occasions, or important dates, but otherwise my mother cooked most of our meals at home. I was probably one of the only students in my high school who actually had a homemade lunch every single day, and that habit has stuck with me through till my working days.

In these valuable lessons lay some great reminders that these tools and tips for financial success don’t change as we grow. Although it’s difficult to understand some aspects of money, the rules are constant.

As for things I wish I was taught growing up, consider the following for when you need to share advice:

  • What are investments and how do they work?

  • What is debt, how will it affect me, and how can I stay out of it?

  • What are realistic expectations when it comes to careers, salary, and living expenses?

Age and finance go hand in hand, because for most of us, we’ll never stop learning. As we experience these things for ourselves, we will educate each other in the best ways possible. I guess that’s all we can hope for. Self-education. Take pride in your own finances, and build your own successes.

What are some of the best things your parents taught you about money growing up? Let me know in the comments!