I am extremely lucky. I know it. But sometimes I forget, or take it for granted… The Frugalwoods did a post about how they are privileged to have the opportunity to pursue financial independence. And while I am nowhere near their advanced level of frugality and proximity to financial independence, I did relate to a lot of what they were saying. I have often wondered how different my life would be now, if only one or two things had been different while I was growing up…
I have mentioned in other posts that before I started this blog, and before I started reading personal finance blogs, I had been going through life on auto pilot. That’s not to say that I wasn’t enjoying my life, but I would often just take the default path, with little intention or thought put in to it. Luckily for me, my upbringing was such that this didn’t lead me down the path of financial disaster. I somehow managed to end up in a pretty good state, with no student debt, no consumer debt, and a mortgage on my “forever” home as my only debt… so I thought I’d go through my past and examine how that happened…
So, I should probably start with my parents… I was fortunate enough to be brought up by parents that had both attended university. I’m not sure of their financial background completely, but I think it was pretty good. I grew up comfortably in a very upper middle class neighbourhood. In my childhood, my mum was the saver, and my dad was the spender. This may have come from the fact that once I was around, my mum didn’t work full time, she was a stay-at-home mom for the first few years of my life. Then, once I was in school, she started working part time. So, for pretty much my entire childhood, my dad was the primary bread-winner of the household. But her affinity for saving may also stem from the fact that my mom was a banker’s daughter, and although I have heard stories of her penchant for stylish clothing as a teenager, I’m sure the savings mentality was ingrained in her. My dad, on the other hand, came from a more blue collar background, so while he did go to school and become a banker himself, he may have had a bit more of a thirst for the finer things in life once he was able to afford them. In any case, I was extremely fortunate to be brought up happily middle class with a very frugal mom.
My parents never gave my sister or I weekly allowances. Some of my friends would have Saturday morning chores in order to get their weekly spending money, but my parents didn’t do that. If there was something that we wanted to buy, we would have to explain what it was we wanted, and why, and then if it was deemed a necessity, or something valid, it may have been purchased… or we’d have to wait for a special occasion for a gift. If it was something that was a special toy or if I wanted money to go to the corner store for candy, we would have to save up for it… and where would that money come from? From jobs of course…
Somewhere probably around 6 or 7, when I started walking to school, and thus walking past the corner store (with all the penny candy), was probably when I started wanting my own spending money. I’m not sure when my sister started her newspaper route, I’ll have to ask her… but I remember at about the age of 6 or 7, I started helping her with it. It was a once a week, local newspaper. My portion started with just the neighbours that I knew (the closest 4 or 5 houses to ours), and I’d get a couple cents of the pay cheque (probably actually from my parents, not my sister, but I’m not 100% sure about that). But starting that early, learning that we had to work for our money, was probably a good lesson to learn. I have never shied away from hard work because I know the reward.
Once I got a bit older, I took over one whole street (the full route was 3 streets). This was probably when my sister started to get babysitting jobs, so she wasn’t as interested in the all-weather manual labour of the paper route… Then we would split each pay cheque, 1/3 for me, 2/3 for her. We’d take the cheque to the bank, and put the money in our savings account. We didn’t keep the money around, but could go to the bank and get it if we wanted to buy something. I remember I saved up to buy myself the Playmobile barn. It was too expensive to ask for as a birthday gift (but I asked… many times…), so I had to save up my money to buy it myself. But doing this taught me the reward of saving up for something I really wanted.
Once I was about 10, I took over the whole newspaper route myself. It sucked some days, having to come home in the rain after school and walk the three streets alone with my paper cart, not getting home until it was getting dark… but I did it, every week, for quite a few years… and every pay cheque would end up in my bank account, gaining whatever small amount of interest it could.
By the time I quit my newspaper route, right before heading to junior high school, I had accumulated enough in my savings account to purchase some Canadian Savings Bonds. At the time, I didn’t really understand what I was doing, but I think my dad (he was a banker at the time) told it to me like this… “You have $x now, and if you lock it away in this special savings account for a certain amount of time, it’ll increase to $Y!” In my little brain, that meant twice as many Playmobile sets, so “yes please!” And that was my introduction to investing.
So before I even made it to my teens, I had already been given a pretty good background in working hard to earn money, then saving it up for my goals, and also taught about the benefits of investing.
Next week, I’ll go in to my spendy teen years… and onward…
What were your first financial lessons that you learned? Did you get instilled with good financial habits as a kid?
15 thoughts on “My Financial Upbringing…”
Being willing and able to work hard for what you want is a great lesson to learn, and I was also privileged to learn it at a young age. I earned a small allowance for babysitting my little brother and I started my first job at 11 or 12 years old. I’m pretty frugal, especially right now as I recently left my job to pursue my small business dreams.
One thing I did not really learn about from my parents was investing. It really intrigues me now and I feel like I am playing catch up figuring it all out. I think it’s awesome that your dad introduced you to savings bonds!
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That is exciting that you are starting a small business. If you know how to work hard, then you shouldn’t have any trouble making it a success!
If only I had taken a more active interest in learning about investments from my dad when I was younger… He taught me about it a bit… but I definitely wasn’t really interested in being an active participant…
This is such a great topic to discuss! There were a lot of subtle things that occurred during my childhood that led me to make poor financial decisions in college. To this day my mom still insists you can’t live a comfortable life and be debt-free (crazy talk!). My husband, on the other hand, grew up with a lot of financial transpirancy from his parents who also made better decisions with their money than mine. I am very lucky to have him as a good influence. Although I still have to talk him out of some irresponsible purchases every once in awhile!
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I’m sure a lot of what we start out doing as young adults is based on what we were taught (or not taught) by our parents (or the decision to rebel against our parents…) but it’s not until we take an active interest in our own finances that we can really learn and carve our own path. We learn from those around us, and when we are young, that is mostly our parents. Once we are out on our own, others influence us, like your husband has to you. It does seem like your husband has helped you move away from your mother’s belief that you must have debt to live comfortably… I think that’s a very good thing. 🙂
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I am fascinated that you are allowed to work as a child. Here it is forbidden to eork for someone outside the family until you are 13 years old. Then you are allowed to work 9 hours per week until you are 16 I think. Afterwards you could work more.
Technically, children under 15 aren’t allowed to work in a traditional job without parent permission and a few other stipulations, but delivering newspapers is one of those things that isn’t really considered a real job… I know that kids in Canada are not permitted to work during school hours as they are legally required to attend school…
My upbringing around money sounds very similar. We were expected to save money and have jobs at a certain point but were also shown how to withdraw money and buy something that was really important to us. I don`t remember the exact conversation, but I know it was also expected that we would contribute financially to our post-secondary educations. I used to always work after school and full time during the summers while in highschool and university. Before that I would babysit. I really think this helps with teaching kids about money management. Now, I have an 18month old and a second baby on the way and I`m excited for the day we can start talking about money management and bank accounts!
That is so awesome that you are already thinking of ways to teach your kids about money and personal finance. You upbringing does sound similar to mine. I’m working on part 2 of this post that will explain my postsecondary school arrangement.
I look forward to it! I am always storing ideas for teaching my babies (when the time comes).
My financial upbringing is to save save save. Mom was the saver. Dad was the one with big ideas (meaning money is needed for investments). Unfortunately a lot of his ideas floundered which made me more cautious. O_O;
Saving is a good habit to have. My mom was also the saver… And being cautious isn’t really a bad thing, is it? My dad is a bit of a spender… He likes to buy things…
Ha, playmobile sets! My parents too never bought us anything simply because we wanted it. We had to wait for a special occasion or buy it ourselves. I think that’s such an important practice with children!
I still have some of my playmobile sets… My nieces LOVE playing with them! Bonus means that when they are around I have an excuse to play with them too!
I definitely agree that learning to value and work for things you want is a very important lesson for kids.
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I’ve had this tab open for weeks, because I knew I wanted to read this post — better late than never. 🙂 I love that you wrote this, and took a look at some of the things in your upbringing that influenced your money mindset. I’m like you — grew up middle class, and never faced real hardship, so I can’t know what it would have been like to grow up around constant money struggles or stress, or worse, to worry about where my next meal was coming from. I’m grateful for that every day! And I loved reading your story about easing into your sister’s paper route, and learning to work hard and save from an early age — what a great lesson, and a great way to instill a strong work ethic! Thanks for sharing your story. 🙂
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Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post! As you say, I definitely haven’t ever faced real hardship, so that makes me extremely lucky and very grateful for the life I was given. I find it interesting to think of the habits that my parents had that I have inherited from them. I’m sure I could do a few more posts on all the strange frugal or spendy things that I’ve learned from them…
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