Saving money didn't come naturally to me, I learnt from my parents

When people say they learnt from their parents, it’s usually a good thing. But my parents taught me how to save…by being frivolous spenders.

I was having this conversation today with my friends when they commented on how savvy I was with money. I guess I’d never thought about it before but then I thought about my parents.

My parents were never well off when I was growing up – in fact, quite the opposite. My mum was a stay-at-home mum and my dad was a businessman who was rarely home. On the occasions I did see Dad, he’d drag me along to a custom fitting at a tailor. Mind you, we were living off rations at this point but still, my father wanted to make sure he looked his best even if his home life was in crisis! I never understood why you would live beyond your means. And my mum, when she did have money, would waste it. She received an inheritance from her uncle and spent it on a cacophony of different things, none of which she had anything to show for later on.

This pattern of money wasting and lack of penny-pinching went on until I was old enough to earn my crust. I started working at a local chicken shop and was able to save up for my own car, and my mother was confused as to how I could have done it. From that point onwards, I prided myself on my ability to save. I saved up for my first trip overseas and was very independent. Nowadays, I live off $300 or less a week, and spend about $150 on rent (I live in housing commission) and the rest of food and other things. The rest I save and so far I’ve been on cruises, flown overseas to see friends and family, and have been able to buy a nice car (though second hand). I have learnt a valuable skill and have been fortunate enough to give this life lesson to my own children, who are both savvy savers.

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I taught them to value experiences and not the dollars that buy it. I taught them that money doesn’t equal happiness but it can buy it if you purchase the right things i.e. travel, a home, a gift for someone. I taught them not to let money rule their lives.

I know so many other baby boomers have come from poorer families that scrimped and saved but there’s surely a few of us who had parents who would spend money on things and didn’t think of the consequences. So thank you, to my parents, for all that you gave to me so I could live a happy life with sense (and cents)!


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