The timing of Teacher Appreciation Week (May 7–11) and Mother’s Day (May 13) got me to thinking about what my mom taught me about finance. While mothers may not be teachers in the official sense, they play an important role in teaching us about the world around us.
I remember learning about the concept of money at an early age, but it was around simple things like how many nickels go into a quarter. I also learned that money paid for things, like groceries. I remember my mother pulling out her checkbook—the big desktop kind, not the one carried around in a purse—which made me think of paying bills as a very important and formal process.
While I don’t remember any explicit lessons about money or saving, it was clear from the way we lived that managing within our means was paramount. Many of the trips we took were to places that were free (how many kids get to celebrate their 10th birthday watching the ships pass through Canada’s Welland Canal?) but just as memorable as anything that had a price tag.
I grew up in a pre-ATM world, but my kids didn’t. They grew up watching me get money from the machine and assume all we had to do was go to the “money store” to get what we needed! I very quickly helped them make the connection between work and money. Modest allowances and early jobs were stressed as a way to balance needs with wants. Our son, Andrew, remembers being taught that it was more important to have money for things we needed, or for emergencies. He also remembers the message that financial decisions impact the people you care about the most—your family. Our daughter, Claire, had similar thoughts and added one of her own: money isn’t the most important thing in the world, but it can be used to support, enhance, and provide for the most important things in the world.
While our family’s messages around money may have been more general than specific, I’m glad to know another generation has the right perspective.
How did you learn about personal finance? How did you pass along your knowledge to the next generation?