I wrote this article for anyone between the ages of five to thirty about saving and investing money. Young people, especially should learn to adopt frugal habits that will become a way of life. Many people do not know enough about maintaining a financially rewarding lifestyle based on frugality – saving and investing more money than you spend, rather than spending more money than you earn, over a long period of time.
However, you don’t have to be a certified financial adviser to save and invest your own money. I was fortunate enough to have parents who were my greatest role models in dealing with financial matters; they taught me by example and teaching me unforgettable lessons about money that have served me well my entire life.
Mom and Dad were born before the Great Depression of 1930. It hit the U.S. economy which brought almost complete financial ruin to our country. Although my folks were just children at the time, they knew that money was scarce. Most people lost everything during this time. So, saving and using what they already had become a way of life.
At that time, my mother’s father was the vice president of Caldwell Securities Inc., one of the largest financial corporations in the American South which managed money for a thousand clients. He taught my curious young mother much of what he knew about money management and advice that was just as valuable then as it is today. In 1957 he passed away. That same year my mother met my father- a patent attorney who was starting his own law office. Like Mom, he had also been schooled by his parents to live a thrifty way of life.
When I was young, my parents didn’t spoil me. We were neither poor nor rich, but we lived like paupers. My dad taught me the concept of thrifty spending. Forty years ago, when I was eight years old, my allowance was a whole 10 cents per week. When I turned twelve, I was getting 25 cents per week, which I guess led me to respect the value of a dollar, and probably kept me honest.
They only bought what we needed. Most of what we owned were hand-me-down items. The largest asset they shared was my mother’s parents’ old home, which included all of its antique furniture and appliances. We didn’t have a tv set until I was old enough to watch. They rarely used air conditioning, unless the temperature inside was either extremely hot or cold. I got my first car as a high school graduation gift. Of course, it was a used vehicle.
My parents didn’t read much for pleasure, nor did they watch much tv. My father and mother read the “Wall Street Journal”, “Forbes”, and “Consumer’s Digest.” We watched “Wall Street Week” every Friday night. Mom usually took notes as they listened to the host, Louis Rukeyser and his panel of financial experts. This show introduced me to learning about all types of investments. The show reviewed how well or bad the financial markets performed during the week and what the outlook might look like for those markets next week and in the long run.
Dad carefully bought stocks from large, well-known companies and followed several families of company stocks: the Dow Jones, Nasdaq, and S & P 500. Mom taught me about all of the other financial vehicles: money markets, mutual funds, stocks and CDs (Certificates of Deposit).
In 1991 my father passed away, leaving my mom to keep a family trust fund he and she owned. My mother was left to financially maintain the cost of the trust. She used what she learned from her own investment research and understanding of what her father taught her. She always left the tv on CNBC on a daily basis to vigilantly watch as the stock market rose or fell.
Mom died in 2004. She left me well prepared to invest carefully and logically for myself. Ever since, I have followed in my parents’ financial footsteps for me and my own family. I was blessed to have parents who cared enough about using money properly and teaching me the value of a dollar.