The World Go 'Round

We don't really talk a lot about money. By "we" I mean people online who don't want to offend other people, make other people feel like they are doing things wrong, or don't have enough money, or don't make enough money, or...

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?


  1. Bigtime saver here. I never spend money I don't have so there's never been debt of any kind. And yes, I was raised that way.

  2. That was a great post and so is yours! I'm definitely a product of what my parents taught me and I learned how to save, budget, balance a checkbook, responsibly use a credit card. I remember opening up a checking account and credit card long before any of my friends did, but I knew how to use it and am proud of the fact that I've never had any debt (other than ok debt like a mortgage and car payment but have always paid off everything before term and have an excellent credit rating). I had high school summer jobs where I worked 40 hours a week while my friends worked 20. I remember my Dad encouraging me to use a savings bond given to me by my grandmother and buy a mutual fund with it. My husband has a different approach but we've actually come together in our styles. I've always saved and I knew how much money my parents made when I was pretty young, I think it helped me understand the whole cycle and learn saving/budgeting. I look around at people in my neighborhood and wonder how they afford what they do and wonder if they are a product of the debt cycle as well. On the other hand, I'm sure they look at us who own 4 vehicles and 2 houses and think we're debt ridden folks too but we have a plan a plan for the future and on our way to get there for retirement.

  3. Wow, I didn't realize the topic of my post got your wheels spinning so hard! Tickles me pink. =) You know, it's funny, but your sentiment about not telling your parents how thankful you are they made you work/save so much (because you were so bitter at the time) reminds me of something ... when I was a senior in college, my parents made me spend my spring break looking for jobs (well, I think their exact words were, "You can do whatever you want on spring break, but if you don't spend your time looking for a job and you still don't have a job after graduation, don't expect to move home.") ... so, while all of my friends had fabulous beach vacations, I spent a week in COLD and SNOWY and WINDY and IT'S NOT SPRING Chicago interviewing for jobs. One week later, my friends had amazing tans and hilarious stories, but I had a job (and a pretty snide smile to boot). That spring break sucked and yet, I was thankful for it, too. =)

  4. I am a saver and my husband is a spender. Can be tricky sometimes:/

  5. I'm really big into savings right now. Cash is king, always. I spend what needs to be spent to do what I want to do, but it's always a challenge and I try to be as thrifty as possible with it. You only have to rack up huge debts once to see the danger in it. And by huge, I mean hundreds of thousands of dollars. it gets painful.

  6. My money habits are inherited from my mom. I'm not a saver at all and I've been trying to force myself to be for years. It's a hard habit to break when you're in a spending cycle and living paycheck-to-paycheck.

  7. I have a similar background to you, somewhat, because my parents also own a business. I have no idea how much they make, never have, probably never will. I never wanted for anything, but I was raised to be frugal. It's the reason I bring my lunch to work, and have a hard time spending a lot of money on things like meals and such because I think about how hard i work to spend money, so I want to REALLY appreciate the things I purchase with it.

    I would say for most of my 20s, I was more of a spender than a saver. I always contributed at least as much as my employer match to my 401k and I saved here and there, but I wasn't consistent until my late 20s/early 30s. Now I am definitely a savers, and I am working very hard to be student loan debt free, which really impacts the decisions I make. Yes, I still travel alot and buy treats for myself, but I do it within reason (and most of my trips are to visit others which make them affordable).

    Back to the question about the checkbook - I got my first checkbook when I turned 16. My mom taught me how to reconcile my bank statement. 16 years later, I still do it EVERY SINGLE MONTH. Without fail. I got my first credit card in college when i opened my bank account with Wells Fargo. Again my parents really emphasized that it's not to be used for day to day purchases and that I should never put more on it than i could pay off, and that lesson stuck with me. In my mid-20s I did carry a balance, but not since then. I pay it off each month and strategically use the credit card to earn miles or points.

    Great post - I think money is such a taboo subject but always love reading others thoughts on it!

  8. I have been both a spender and a saver. Interesting how we change with needs.

  9. I would describe myself as a saver but saving has been hard the past year or so for us with a lot of big expenses coming up and Eric not working full-time (being in school before and then he didn't get a full-time summer job until July) anyways, I digress. I do still put money into savings every single time I get paid and I have a decent amount of money in both my RRSP and my Tax Free Savings Account. I would like to have more money saved though... I've also been carrying a small balance on my credit card for the last 6 months or so that I'm trying really hard to get rid of! I can be bad for using it for day to day purchases so I've started just leaving it at home until that balance gets paid off in full!

  10. Such an interesting topic! I'm like you- I grew up working and learning to save money from a pretty early age. I definitely feel like my parents set me up well to handle money responsibly.

  11. Yes...we sure do change as we "grow up". I always worked, as early as 10, babysitting. I say, SAVE but absolutely go for that splurge!! Both of my parents worked too. I knew it was important to be independent too.

  12. My husband and I grew up with blue collar parents, frequently we were living paycheck to paycheck. This had a very big impact on us. Sure, we have our luxuries but savings come first.
    The odd thing is my sister is the absolute opposite. Spends everything she has, already been through bankruptcy twice. Strange how we had similar upbringings but such different values.

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