Friday, October 15, 2010

Flashback Friday - Show Me The Money!

How was money handled in your family when you were growing up? Were your parents savers or spenders? What are examples of ways they saved or splurged? Who paid the bills? What, if anything, did they teach you about money? Did you have an allowance? Whether received as an allowance or through other means such as gifts, when you had your "own" money, were there restrictions on how you spent it? Were you paid for making certain grades on your report card? Did your parents tithe or give money to the church on a regular basis? What about other charities? How old were you when you got your first checking account or credit card? How has the way you were raised impacted your handling of financial issues today?

Like many who grew up in the time of the Great Depression, my parents were very frugal. Money was carefully budgeted and deliberately spent. My folks had a very traditional marriage, so my dad paid the bills, balanced the checkbook, and told my mom how much cash to get at the bank each week. (After he died in 1996, I vividly recall sitting at the dining room table with my mom as I tried to explain balancing and bill-paying. Although overwhelmed and doubtful of her abilities, my mom put whole-hearted effort into it and managed virtually all of her affairs, including quarterly taxes, for almost five years.)

To paraphrase an old Barbara Mandrell song, my parents could say "I was recycling when recycling wasn't cool!" Many things were used and reused repeatedly. My dad kept nails and screws and other tiny bits of hardware in old baby food jars and orange juice cans. We reused wrapping paper; I remember an unusually big ugly roll of Christmas wrapping paper with ornaments on it that we called the "ball paper". I bet we used that roll for ten years, and I was so glad when the last of it finally disappeared! It was the same with gift boxes. You always knew that whatever the box said it was, that was not what it contained!

While my parents were careful with their money, I'm grateful that they considered many things a priority and worth spending money. Tithing was unquestioningly done. My missionary sister and I both had glasses (and eventually, contacts) and braces. And I was extremely bowlegged as a tot and wore ugly, brown, corrective shoes until I finished the sixth grade. We had to go all the way to the Houston Medical Center to buy them each time my feet grew. I hated them with a passion and struggled as a result of the teasing I got about wearing "boy shoes", but I am so grateful that they deemed that a necessity.

We never had an allowance as kids. The only thing any of us ever got paid for was mowing the grass when we were a little older, except for my sister painting the garage one summer. And several years in the fall when leaves covered the ground I would spend an afternoon raking to surprise my dad when he got home from work, and occasionally he gave me a quarter for doing that if I hinted enough! That was the only money I had, except for the occasional birthday dimes that relatives sent me and change we collected from turning in soda bottles for the nickel redemption!

One frustration I did have with my mom was her control over my money. When I was old enough to mow and then babysit and then get my first job. I still had to ask before I spent it, and she would often say no. Her intention was that I not spend it on something she deemed to be foolish and later regret it, but I think I would have learned that lesson better if I had actually experienced the consequences of my bad choice! I decided way back then that I would let my kids spend their money as they wished, and I have kept that promise to myself!

We absolutely did not get paid a single penny for grades. It was expected that we would do well - or at least the best we could. My children don't get money for grades either; we wanted them to learn the intrinsic reward of doing well in school.

I got my first checking account when I was sixteen and working at Sears. Back then, the best "starter" credit cards were Palais Royal (part of the Beall's chain) and Sears, so those were the first (and only) ones I got in my late teens. Fortunately, I have never struggled with credit card debt; to me (and my man), a credit card is simply a convenience and it gets paid completely each month. I can't stand the idea of paying all that interest!

As much as I didn't like my parents' frugality as I was growing up, I was very grateful when the time came for my mom to move to assisted living that my dad had so carefully invested. They were never rich, but he wisely planned for their later years.

Now it's your turn! Post your memories on your blog and link up here!


View blog reactions


Nel said...

Enjoyed your post, I think our childhoods were a lot alike. It is funny the older you get the wiser your parents were!
until next time... nel

Unknown said...

The thing I love about Flashback is the perspective, we don't get perspective until we are looking back on the situation.

Great prompt!!


Lea @ CiCis Corner said...

I so enjoyed this prompt as it brought back some wonderful memories for me and the valuable lessons by parents taught us about money. Many of our lessons overlapped.

Blessings to you and thanks for hosting us each week! Hugs!

Craig Weeks said...

Hey, I still save leftover screws, bolts, washers, etc. Not so much for financial reasons as convenience. I've avoided more than one trip to Lowe's by digging through the leftover parts of some product that had "some assembly required".

Kathy said...

This was a tough post for me. I debated about skipping it. I finally decided to be "brutally honest" about my upbringing and let it all out. In case you didn't already were blessed to have such an upbringing!!! Until next time...Kathy

Lyn Cote said...

I was raised to be frugal too. The one thing I wish my mom had taught was investing in stocks and bonds. I had to learn that on my own and much too late!

Heidi said...

This was a fun read. Financials were kept under wraps at my house growing up and since my dad reads my blog, I'll not participate in this one, out of respect for him, who still considers everything financial private. But I am enjoying reading all the others who have answered.

Barbara H. said...

I'm having to sit this one out, as my parents didn't really teach much about money. Allowances were inconsistent. I don't think we were ever paid for grades (and I am fine with that). The only real memory I have concerning money is that my dad would sometimes borrow money from us kids, never get around to paying it back, and then get mad at us if we asked about it. :-( You are indeed blessed to have had your upbringing.

bekahcubed said...

I enjoyed your memory of your dad's baby food jars of hardware. I remember that there were jars of carefully organized used nails and screws and the like in my grandma's basement growing up. They'd been saved and sorted by my Grandpa (who died when I was still a preschooler). I don't know that Grandma ever would have used them--but they were well-sorted so that anyone could have.

My dad saves all sorts of hardware, computer parts, technical gadgets, and whatever--but they're not very well organized so he usually ends up buying something new anyway.

As for myself, I'm a cross between the two. I save almost everything and find a way to reuse it. I keep my junk organized, but not quite as neatly as my Grandpa. And I ABSOLUTELY end up using everything I save! :-)

bp said...

I've seen both sides of how planning vs. not planning for the future by parents can really impact the children.

Hope you are having a great weekend. We are packing....and praying we get to move and close on the 22nd!

quilly said...

Between the ages of 12 and 14 I saved evey bit of money I earned (Baby-sitting, working the hop fiends, and collecting recycling from the dump)until I had $600.00 for my first car -- but I ended up buying a $250.00 motorcycle. I never saw the balance of my money.

After I bought the motorcycle I quit digging through the dump, but at that point, I babysat almost every night of the week. When I would come home my step-mother would be waiting at the door with her hand out. Rarely did I ever see any of that money again. I am going to pass blogging on this one because I have a lot of bitterness and anger stored up on the topic.

quilly said...

Oh -- Do I need to add that I wish my parents had been more like yours? But if they had, I would likely be less "me". ;)