My parents weren’t perfect, but they did a great job of raising one financially savvy kid.
The money lessons my parents taught me as I was growing up have served me well in adulthood; I’ve never had consumer and student loan debt, I save nearly half my income, and I’m working hard to launch my own business in part to better my personal finances and grow my wealth.
I don’t say this to brag, but as a testament to the excellent money examples my parents set for me that I was able to follow to financial success. Here are four of those examples that have helped me the most:
Consumer Credit Is Not the Same as Cash
My parents made it clear to me that all the credit in the world meant nothing if you didn’t have the cash to back it up. They explained that if I didn’t actually have the cash in the bank with which to pay off whatever balance I racked up on a credit card, that I would be stuck paying more than the purchase price of what I swiped thanks to interest.
When I was a kid, they led by example. They often paid in cash or with their debit cards, and my mom had a monthly routine of sitting down to balance her checkbook as she paid the bills.
Money Is Derived from Hard Work…
My dad’s “day job” was as a firefighter, which is hard work on its own. But my father supplemented this regular income with other part-time jobs with the county he worked for. He drove a bus for a service that helped elderly people get around (and called it his “driving Miss Daisy” job). He also had a landscaping business.
He worked these side hustles for years, and set a clear example for me to follow as an adult: if you want more money, you do more work. It’s no wonder that when I realized I needed more money to reach my financial goals, I chose to start my own business on the side, too.
…and It’s Not Grown on Trees
My parents set an excellent example for me by not being afraid to say, “we don’t have the money for that.” They valued the money they earned for that exact reason – they earned it. They taught me that in order to obtain money, you had to exchange your time and effort for it. No one would hand it to you.
Happiness Comes from Within
The money example my parents set for me that I am most grateful for was the one that showed happiness doesn’t need to be bought. They showed me how to be grateful for what I already did have rather than pining over stuff I didn’t.
From my parents’ example, I learned that I didn’t need to spend money on things to be happy. I needed an appreciation for how good I already had it and a willingness to spend time, not cash, on finding new things to do and fostering better relationships with my friends and family.
This post originally ran on GoGirlFinance.
Kali blogs about common-sense financial advice at Common Sense Millennial. She’s passionate about personal finance and helping millennials manage their money and live well on less. Currently, she is pursuing the ultimate dream of writing for a living and moving abroad. You can connect with her by tweeting @KaliHawlk.