Pin It My dear friend at The Quest for $85000 wrote a great post on role models in her life and how it influenced her financial decisions years later. It really made me think of the role models in my life.
We grew up poor. Not living under-the-bridge type poor but more of the-same-as-my-neighbor poor. In the Soviet Russia everyone lived about the same, and those people who lived differently...well, we didn't have any among our friends.
My Grandma grew up during a famine in the south of the USSR. She still remembers how she and her brothers would try to find edible plants and berries in the woods, and their usual food was a turtle soup because there was an abundance of turtles where they lived. Then there was World War Two...All of this left my Grandma feeling deprived, emotionally and financially. She got a medical education, became a surgeon and worked in the ER for more than 40 years. In Russia doctors are more like teachers. They don't get paid much. But even when her experience (and salary) grew, she still never had enough. She never talked about her financial problems. Every time after she got a salary, she behaved like she was rich buying clothes and things she didn't need, stuffing the fridge with food she couldn't possibly consume before it went bad. Surely enough, by the end of the month she had no money at all and ate buckwheat for days in a row. And then with a new salary the cycle would start all over again.
It's not surprising that growing up in a house with a Mom who worked too much and had too much, my Dad felt deprived too, but mostly of attention. My Dad is amazing but he made some poor decisions with finances just as my Grandma did/does. The difference is he likes to spend money on gifts, little meaningful things ( like a million fridge magnets that he got for me over the years...They are cute and all but I do love my fridge clean...Inside and out.) He loves to buy surprises for others. Now that my parents' financial situation is better, they can at least afford those things but when I was a kid, it drove my Mom insane.
My Mom grew up in a financially sound house. My Grandpa on her side worked a lot. Her Mom died when she was very young, and he married again. Her step mom kept a meticulously clean house and the same order in their finances. She taught my Mom how to make good decisions with her money and prepared her for trials in life too.
As I said before, when my parents got married, they had very little. So my Mom would teach us how to stretch a dollar (or a ruble in our case) very far. One thing I'm grateful for that my parents did is that they never lied to me or my sister about family finances.They didn't give us details but they never pretended either. We didn't have the latest toys or clothes but we were always dressed in good clothes (made by my Mom 90% of the time), we were fed, we had enough. They taught us how to work hard. I had my first job (tutoring) at 14. Over the years I've learned both from their mistakes and their successes. My Dad's wasteful habits softened over the years of being married to my Mom. He's still terrible with saving money though (my mom has a separate account for their retirement and a couple of stashes:).
I'm grateful for all of these experiences. I'm not perfect with our finances but all of these role models in my life (or not exactly role models...) taught me to be serious about money. I love nice things (my Grandma here...), I love to give gifts but I value hard work, I understand the importance of budgeting and saving. I hope we will be able to teach our boys all these things. We don't have much but our kids are dressed and fed, and have a roof over their heads. I'm grateful for all the blessings in our life! And I do hope we can teach our kids the importance of gratitude and care. I might sound like a cliche but I'm grateful that my parents taught me how to love in different circumstances in life.
Did you have a role model in your life growing up? What did you learn from this person? Did anybody show you a great example in life about managing finances? Who inspires you?
All this conversation about my parents make me so anxious for tomorrow...because my parents are coming!!:)