Living by example

Written by Amy, a mom without a blog.

Time and compound interest.”

I can still hear those words ringing in my ears from my father. My parents did an amazing job teaching me the fundamentals of finances. Growing up, they offered to match anything I agreed to put into the bank. If I wanted to take the money out for any reason, I would have to re-deposit what I had last taken out in order for them to match again. This was great motivation for me to save.

Now as an adult, it’s fair to say that I am a financially sound person. I make good money decisions. I am a saver. I am proud that I am virtually debt-free (mortgage only).

My husband on the other hand, came from a family with a lot of wealth. All of his cars were paid for, his private college and graduate school were paid for in total, and when he got into credit card debt hell that was miraculously taken care of too. (I forgot to mention above that I graduated from college with my own student loans and I paid for my own car which was a 1973 Pontiac Grand Le Mans – by NO means new, and by NO means nice).

Then, we say those magic vows and become ONE married couple with TWO very different financial histories. And then we have children …. and so the story goes ….

Producing financially sound children is a very big goal of mine. Yet, I have to say that trying to instill a sense of financial responsibility in my children has been one of the hardest things for me. I think about it a lot, grapple with the idea of allowance or no allowance, read books (loved Millionaire Babies or Bankrupt Brats), and generally worry about them being financially sound. It seems to me that our generation of raising kids has a lot to do with over indulgence in many areas – something I am also guilty of and something that scares me to death.

One real nugget that I actually implemented as recommended from the above book, was that we fired our house cleaners and we started a Family Clean the House Day. In our house, this is the first weekend of every month. In the morning we divide who is doing which rooms and then we vote on the fun activity that will happen once the house is clean (last month it was a trip to Baskin Robbins). This is one of my favorite days because I always feel good knowing that I am a living example of pulling my own weight. Don’t get me wrong … I do miss the luxury of my house cleaners, but at least feel like this is one concrete message for my children which is worth more to me.

Then, I think, how did I become financially kind of with it? The answer is simple… my father. Hopefully I will be able to give that example to my children and that’s how they will learn too. Although …

Back to my husband …. since the stock market is in complete turmoil and after losing almost 40% of our savings, he is often overheard saying “A penny saved, is a penny lost.”

At this point in my thinking, he just may be right. I mean really. What’s the point anyway?

Since he has now come over to my way of “saving” thinking, and since we’ve LOST most of our savings, why the hell didn’t we both buy new cars before the stock market went to shit? (we both drive 1997’s with 200k miles on each).

And, yes, in a way, in my “saving” kind of thinking mind, I’m weirdly proud of this. It’s that over-indulgence life-style that I buck with my old car. But, when I think about how we could both be driving new cars and still have the same amount of money in the bank, I have to wonder if there is something to be said for living in the now and forgetting about saving for the future.

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