The majority of my grandparents were born in the 30s and early 40s, two of them vividly remember the end of WWII. Their viewpoints on things were often radically different than my mother and father and they also viewed money very differently than my parents did.
My parents oftentimes viewed money as an endless resource while my grandparents were constantly planning ahead for the future (something that happens as you get older, my mother would say). It is true that as many people get older they also get tighter where their money is concerned. It is because they know how long it takes to save and hard it can be. My grandparents spoke with my sister and I about money, saving and financial planning often. Through these talks, I learned some extremely valuable information.
- Always have your own bank account. Even if you get married, you should have some separate funds. If the entirety of your money and credit is tied up in a joint account, it can cause some issues if you and your partner split. My grandmother went from living a fairly privileged and easy life to having little-to-no credit when she got a divorce. If she’d been building her own finances up, the financial process of the divorce may have been a bit easier (yes, Nana, every time you spoke to me about saving and credit I was listening).
- Plan ahead. Planning has always been one of my favorite things to do and that was instilled in me by my grandparents. When it comes to your finances, you have to plan ahead for just about everything. Plan ahead for vacation. Have a savings account for unexpected emergencies. Plan ahead for retirement. You have money, make plans with it.
- Investing can be fun. My grandfather pointed my attention to the stock market at a young age. He had a diversified portfolio with some focus on companies like Apple and Disney. He taught me at a young age to research companies, see what their plans are and trust my gut when making an investment.
- Tax planning is important. Until my grandfather passed away, he did the family’s taxes and he did my taxes when I began to work as well. One year that we went to visit, he taught me how to file my taxes and plan my my finances based on withholdings, etc. Without planning, you may find yourself owing the IRS a significant amount of money or paying too much into taxes.
- Own things. If there is anything my grandparents taught me it is that it is important to own things. My grandmother worked hard to own her home and my grandfather always bought his car outright. They each grew up in families that lived in apartments and never owned much of anything growing up, so owning anything was a pretty big deal. Each of them worked hard to maintain what they had and they were proud of that.
- Teaching young people about money is important. Although my grandparents may have never noticed I was taking these life lessons away from them, I learned a lot of important lessons about money at a young age. I learned that opening a savings account at the credit union at the age of eight would be one of the smartest things I did with $25 (it took me almost six months to save $25 at $1 a week allowance). When I have the chance, I will teach my children the value of saving like they taught me.
- How your family approaches money can affect your entire life. By taking notes from my grandparents, my entire financial life has differed. How has your family impacted the way you think about finances? Is there anything you’d like to pass along to your children? Are there any habits you’d like to get rid of/keep?
Photo: Flickr: Laurence Simon