Dave and I are both savers as opposed to spenders. This combination is great for accomplishing big financial goals like paying off $30,000 of student loans in 9 months, but lately we’ve been talking about our attitude toward the way we handle money and how it will affect our kids. I hope I never have to say the words “No, honey, we are not poor” because our words and actions attached to our frugal lifestyle cause our kids to think that’s the case.
Let me give you a view through the financial lens of my upbringing: Growing up I never wondered whether or not my family was financially secure. My mom clipped coupons and shopped second hand stores instead of buying new, but I never thought we were poor because of it. We took annual family vacations to Myrtle Beach and got plenty of gifts for birthdays and Christmas. We had chore lists we got paid for doing, but there were some chores we were just expected to do as a member of the family. We were taught that our money should be divided into three categories- giving, saving, spending. I had Tupperware containers labeled with each category and contributed to them every time payday rolled around. My parents paid for my three sisters’ and my first year of college. This led me to become an RA/hall mentor for the following 3 years so I could take advantage of free room & board and avoid paying over $8,000/year for it. My parents covered my phone bill and occasionally filled my tank or bought me groceries when I’d visit but otherwise I budgeted my hard-earned money from various jobs wisely to make sure I’d have enough to provide for myself.
Fast forward 20-some years and now I’ve got a 6-month old little girl who will be 16 before I know it. Much of what I learned about finances was caught, not taught, and I’m sure it will be similar for our kids. We’ve already run into situations where our frugal living has caused people to think we are on a tight budget because we don’t have much money. It only makes sense that our kids would think that as well. Here’s what I’d like them to understand about our financial approach:
- Instead of increasing our standard of living as raises and promotions come along, we’ve committed to increase our standard of giving.
- Just because we can afford it doesn’t mean we should buy it.
- We want to be good stewards of the money, gifts, and talents God has given us.
- Although we work hard to earn money, we strive to avoid the love of money and not let it run our lives.
You may have heard the quote “Character is what you do when no one else is looking.” There are times my parents thought I wasn’t watching or listening, but it was those seemingly insignificant day-to-day moments that molded my outlook about money. My hope is that as parents Dave and I will display a cheerful heart with giving, a confident, not desperate, attitude with saving, and a mindful approach with spending.
As a kid, how did you view your family’s financial situation?
If you have kids, how do you engage them on the topic of finance?
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.