But money is a part of everyone’s life. Somehow we learned, or didn’t learn, how to make it, save it, or spend it. I was really inspired by this post written by Nilsa. Both her post, and all the comments that followed, really sparked something in me. Her post touched on how money played a part in her life growing up and how she deals with monetary issues now.
For instance, if you take five people and set them loose in a grocery store, they will each have a different way of shopping. Person one has coupons and only buys what’s on sale. Person two has a special list of things for a certain meal, and buys them no matter the cost. Person three just grabs stuff willy-nilly without looking at cost or even checking to see if things go together.
You get the gist. Similarly, if you take 5 friends your age and had them honestly tell you how much they have saved and what their savings strategy is, they would be 5 different stories.
So, what Nilsa’s post did was make me think: was it my childhood that made me the financial person I am now? Or was it something else? Is the way that you save nature or nurture?
My parent’s owned their own business when I was growing up. This meant a couple of things for me. First of all, since I can remember, I worked for the family business. I did get paid. At first it was 25 cents an hour. My dad made me keep track of all of my hours in a little notepad and every couple of weeks, there would be a “payday”. I had a bank account where each month or so I would deposit my pay.
I remember asking my Dad how much my parents made. Were we rich? Were we poor? We never were lacking in the creature comforts, but we didn’t have anything extravagant. We went on vacation, but we always drove an RV and camped and it was always on the off season, as that was when my parent’s business was less busy, plus it was cheaper. He told me that it was hard to figure out how much they really made because most of what they made went back into the business.
I learned more about this when I started doing the bookkeeping for the business. All of the salaries of the people working there, the taxes that we had to pay in addition to that, and all the bills, bills, bills! It seemed like for every dollar we made, 99 cents went back into paying for something.
Because of this, I learned to save. I learned to budget. Don’t tell my parents, because when I was a kid, I was so bitter that I always had to work when everyone else my age was at the beach with an inner tube and a smile. When I turned 11, I would go and stay with my Aunt and Uncle in the Bay Area for a week in the summer time and we would buy school clothes. I would use the money I had worked for, the money I had saved. And let me tell you, this meant that I really watched what I spent. I had given up beach time for these clothes. They were precious to me.
Fast forward a few years…and I still do the same thing! Sometimes I splurge, but usually I am saving my money for the future, because that is what I was taught. I have tried to go buckwild from time to time and change my Scrooge-like ways, but saving makes me feel more secure. I don’t know if I will ever change because it has been ingrained in me, this saving, and it has been for years.
Are you a spender or a saver? How did your parents / your childhood influence the way you spend (or save) now? When did you get your first checking account / credit card?