avatarRuby Lee

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My Parents Didn’t Teach Me About Money Management Part 2

I haven’t done any better with my kids, but it’s not for lack of trying

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

How many of us have ever talked to our children about money management? If not, then why?

I grew up in a household where money was never discussed. It was the way of the world fifty years ago. Parents didn’t discuss money with their children, just like employees were trained not to discuss salaries with their co-workers. It just wasn’t done.

Even though parents weren’t discussing money and money management with their children in those days, be sure that they were watching and learning life lessons. They noticed if the electricity was cut off or if there was enough money for food or new clothes.

They noticed if Dad went to work or stayed home watching TV or drinking beer. They also noticed if their parents worked steadily or took an extra job to pay bills. My mother worked as an RN, and my father was a blue-collar worker who often took extra jobs to make ends meet.

They showed us kids what work ethics and family obligations were. My father once told me that my mother sent money home to help my grandparents pay off their farm, and my father did the same for his widowed mother. Money was to be earned and used to help the family. Bills were to be paid on time.

I saw my father step in time after time to assist family members if they needed something fixed. If there was a cost for the repair, he covered it. My mother provided financial assistance to her parents, widowed sister, and anyone else who needed help.

I watched, and I learned. I also observed some unhealthy financial habits. My parents were spenders. By the time I came along as the caboose baby in a family with four kids, they were earning a good salary. They had paid off their house. They had a lot of cars that they paid for in cash. My father didn’t need the cars; he just liked them.

What my parents weren’t doing was saving a significant amount of money. They weren’t investing, and they weren’t buying real estate. The small town that they first moved to was booming, and they could have easily cashed in. But they didn’t. My guess is their decisions were influenced by their lack of understanding of how investments worked and their desire to play things safe. Growing up in extreme poverty made them cautious.

I know now that they were not spenders when they were first married. They were frugal and paid off their house early. They were responsible for their bills. My father moved to Georgia long before my mother did because she stayed in Kentucky to pay off a furniture loan. Her job as an RN paid the most, and my father had an opportunity to work at the army base in Georgia. I’m not sure how long they were separated, but it was several months.

After their reunion, they lived with their baby in a small apartment. My mother stayed home with her. As their family grew, they bought a small house in the small military town. They stayed in this house for the next forty years, adding on rooms as they needed them.

I don’t ever remember a time when I was denied anything that I needed. My older sisters and brothers didn’t have it quite as good as me, but they never lacked anything they needed. My parents would have gone without first.

I never saw them sit down and work on a budget. I never heard them discuss their financial situation. As a child, I thought money just appeared from the sky and there would be more if we needed it.

I can only wish that my parents had educated me more about finances and how it worked.

stay tuned for part III

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