My Story: How my Parents went from Poverty to Wealth and Taught me Life Lessons for Financial Independence
Categories: personal finance, money management, values, parents, saving
“A penny saved is a penny earned.”
If you remember nothing else from this blog, embrace Ben Franklin’s wisdom. His intelligence and strength embodies the essence of BarbaraFriedbergPersonalFinance.
My dad was born into terrible poverty. His father was an unemployed factory worker for 6-7 years during the depression and his mom sold odds and ends on the street. When his dad worked, he never earned very much. My mom was not wealthy, but born into a family that knew they had to be very careful with money, or they would end up poor. When my parents met and married, they both had a commitment to hard work and saving money.
My dad managed to earn money in college by selling sandwiches with 2 partners to the other students in the dorms at night. One of his partners had the car, and the other had a wife who made the sandwiches. He was poor, but very ambitious. When he learned that his university was selling some old pianos at a cheap price, he decided to buy them all. Next, he sold each one individually at a profit. The university came back to him and was a bit irritated with him, for reselling the pianos. When the university administration confronted him, he said “You could have done the same thing. Everything I did was legal!” The take away from this story and one that replayed over and over in my life is this: Look for opportunities to increase your income.
In sum, both mom and dad, believed in working hard and saving money!
Don’t stop here and say, Duh….. there’s nothing new here… Read regularly and find out how to work hard, save money, and still have time and cash left over for fun, hobbies, and even a few luxuries.
Flash forward many years, their habits and strategies led to their accumulation of wealth. My own financial acumen is based on their early lessons. But, I didn’t stop with the lessons I learned from my parents, I went out and worked in a variety of areas, had some successes and failures, and further grew my financial knowledge through education.
My dad made a lot of money reselling those pianos. When he got that money, he immediately put a good chunk of it in the bank. Part of it went into savings that would be used for the future and the rest went into checking for his living expenses. He adjusted his spending to his available cash; and he didn’t spend money he didn’t have. From the time he was a small boy, saving was an automatic habit! Poverty gave him an indelible life lesson. Dad knew he needed money to help with his present and future expenses, and that if he spent it all on something frivolous, he would regret it.
When I was a kid, I got an allowance. I was expected to put part of that money in the bank. (And of course give some to charity as well). When I got some money for a gift, part of that money was supposed to go in the bank. I grew up believing that saving was a normal part of getting cash. I didn’t realize there was any other way! The thought of spending all my money was not an option. Sure, I spent some of the money I got, but not all of it. Actually, I enjoyed and do to this day enjoy the power and control of seeing my savings grow. It’s actually more fun than blowing all my money on something I won’t remember or appreciate in a day, or a week, or a month.
Whenever you get ANY money; paycheck, gift, gambling winning, lottery winning, even cash you picked up from the ground, put part of it in a savings account. Don’t think, just do it! Make it a habit.