From the day I started this blog, I wanted it to not only be a series of posts about personal finance and money philosophy. I wanted each post to be a part of a greater whole, a full view of personal finance. I’ve made certain choices based on that vision. For instance, a lot of people have written on the topic of cutting cable. It’s low hanging fruit and I considered skipping it. But cutting cable is still an amazing way to save money while not sacrificing happiness. This blog would be missing a piece if I didn’t include that. Likewise, you’ll see that lately I have been trying to pull some of these posts together to give a bigger picture overview. If you combine 5 ways to spend less and 5 ways to earn more, you have a great overhead view of my financial strategy, complete with the ability to dive deeper into the individual strategies. To that end, my blog would certainly not be a complete picture if I didn’t write a post about my first financial role model: my mom.
I consider myself extremely lucky – no, she didn’t provide me with a huge trust fund and she wasn’t a financial planner with all the answers, but she did an AMAZING job at developing my curiosity about how money works and my understanding of the importance of finance. These are some of the actions she took that helped:
She Taught Delayed Gratification: Before I was old enough to actually get a job, I would receive and allowance. I must have been around 10 years old when I started receiving 75 cents per week! I loved those quarters. A few years later, I was given a 33% raise (unreal!) and started receiving a dollar. This lasted until I actually started getting Summer jobs and pulling in substantially more than that, but at the time, I treasured each and every one of those dollars. But why did I treasure them? Why didn’t I immediately go out and spend them on candy or a pack of baseball cards? My mom sat down with me and we discussed what I wanted. I’ve always been into music, so I told her that I wanted a stereo system. She showed me how I could save my money to some day afford one. Of course, they day came would I could afford a stereo system and by that time, I had decided that my sister’s old boombox was just fine and that I would rather save for something bigger down the line. These days, I realize that what I really want to save towards is financial freedom. But my mom was the first one to make me look at my priorities and make sure I was spending on what I truly wanted.
She Helped Me Open a Bank Account: For those of you who don’t know, I spent ages 3 – 13 growing up on the island of Maui, so I still remember the day my mom brought me into our local Bank of Hawaii branch. I had amassed $40 (life is great when you don’t have expenses!) and my mom thought it was high time I open a bank account. I remember thinking this account was mine. I had this new “thing” and I hadn’t even lost any of my money in the process. What an amazing feeling. This was the next step in the delayed gratification lesson. What a great tool to help me save towards my goals. It was also a great introduction to the world of financial products and services – the businesses surrounding money.
She Demystified Investing: As I became a high schooler and throughout college, my mom started talking to me about investing. She had a portfolio of stocks and bonds, managed by a big bank. She started talking to me about her relationship with her broker, what she looked for in stocks and the reason why you invest in the first place. Back then, CDs yielded a MUCH higher percentage, so we talked about those vehicles as well. These days, I don’t always agree with my mom’s investing philosophies, but instead of growing up thinking that investing was just for big, fancy, greedy Wall Streeters, I was comfortable with the idea, which allowed me to explore further.
Of course, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve done more research and found my own financial path. I’ve learned a lot and it was an amazing day when I was able to chat with my mom about a company I had come across called Vanguard and the great benefits of index fund investing. In a very small way, I was able to give some value back to my financial role model and she invests in index funds today! So for just the financial portion of everything she has given to me: Thanks Mom!
Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to have a financial role model. People struggle with debt, or worse, just accept debt as a given. How do we help those people? How can we give them a financial role model? That’s a question I’m still working on.
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