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Old 10-18-2012, 05:05 PM   #41
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I have lots of childhood memories of living with little money including the embarrassment of being seen handing over a ticket each day for a free school lunch and wearing hand knitted school uniform sweaters when everyone else was wearing the official versions bought from the store.

However, the best personal money management lesson I learned was between the age of 11 and 12. I had passed for grammar school which was why I stood out like a sore thumb with my home knitted sweaters and school-provided free gym kit (everyone else at the school had parents with money it seemed). I discovered that I loved tennis and was actually quite good at it but all my parents could afford was a cheap racket from Woolworths while all the other kids had real ones made by Spalding, Wilson etc.

I started working for my uncle in the evenings and weekends selling bags of kindling and logs. It involved bagging and loading the truck and riding in the back as he drove round the streets selling his bags. (Everyone had coal fires back then in my town).

Looking through my mother's catalog I spotted a Spalding tennis racket that I really wanted so she ordered it for me and I paid her back weekly over the next 52 weeks. While I loved that racket and never bought another one until after college I absolutely hated handing over my weekly dues for a whole year as they comprised a large % of my meager wages.

Apart from a mortgage I have never bought anything "on tick" ever again.
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Old 10-18-2012, 05:39 PM   #42
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Another paper boy and Scrooge McDuck fan. I used to love to pile my earnings (mostly in quarters) into stacks and admire them. Given what I'm earning on my cash now, maybe I should.....awe never mind.
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Old 10-18-2012, 05:50 PM   #43
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Sure, we can get our money in coins now and stack them to imagine ourselves as Scrooge McDuck to satisfy our childhood dream.

But, but, but he did it with Krugerrands!
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Old 10-18-2012, 06:11 PM   #44
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Even though we had no money (although I do remember now that I got an allowance starting at age 12 of 25 cents every two weeks, when apparently my dad began moving up in civil service job, and thereafter things loosened up somewhat), I don't remember feeling unhappy because of early childhood financial deprivation. Maybe that is the key--did we feel deprived and want to compensate for that in our own adult lives by either accumulating money or by overspending whatever we have on ourselves, or did we feel adequately provided for (even at a bare level) and therefore are able to now live as happily within whatever means we have?
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Old 10-18-2012, 06:25 PM   #45
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Parents constantly argued about money and bills, threat of loosing our house, government black and white label food and father passing away with a very large credit card debt that my mother had no idea about.

My wife and I had very similar experiences and decided that we didn't want the anxiety and pressure for ourselves or two kids. So we have always lived well below our means and saved a lot. Bottom line, believe we are shaped by child experiences and out of fear and the desire to have a secure feeling we went the other way. Don't think we have ever argued about money and always take the time to teach our kids about budgets and money mgmt. Our kids have always done chores for money and outside of vacation time, bday and Xmas they buy (toys, Xbox games, etc) and pay for (movies with friends, dances, etc) all other items they want. Although not popular with the kids or with the other parents in our neighborhood, we hope this will help make them less materialistic and financial secure.
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Old 10-18-2012, 06:36 PM   #46
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Maybe that is the key--did we feel deprived and want to compensate for that in our own adult lives by either accumulating money or by overspending whatever we have on ourselves, or did we feel adequately provided for (even at a bare level) and therefore are able to now live as happily within whatever means we have?
Our family was doing all right as I grew up. We were never hungry though there was a tough time, and my parents rarely quarreled about money. There were always people who had more than us, but a lot more with less. So, all in all, a reasonable childhood.

As I started my worklife and had my own family, my happiness level never really changed that much even as my income and my stash slowly increased with time. Our expenses did go up with our income, but stayed in the LBYM zone all the time mind you, and I never felt wanting for anything.

Still, those stacks of Krugerrands, no, a sea of them, looks sooo nice, even now.
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Old 10-18-2012, 06:53 PM   #47
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My Dad grew up relatively poor during the depression. His mom's husband left the family for a job in the city and never returned. They had to move in with his Grandmother. My mom's family was better off. They had farms and my grandfather owned a store. It was where I spent most of my time during childhood. Amongst the lambs, the chickens, the smoke house, the pecan trees...etc. Both of my parents were college educated. My Dad went on the GI bill. After college my mom was a teacher and my Dad was a purchasing agent for a large company. Then they had 4 children. Plus my Dad was still supporting his mother or at least sending them money every month. My mom made a decision to stop teaching after my twin and I were born to start a business. She started it in her kitchen. She said she knew my Dad would not be able to afford to send us to college or provide the things she wanted for us with his purchasing agent job. Both my Mom and Dad worked day and night. When my Dad wasn't working his day job as a purchasing agent, he was doing the finance side of the business my mom started. I can still hear his rata tat tat on the typewriter in the kitchen as he typed out invoices. My Dad ultimately became President of the purchasing department and my mom's business took off. We all worked in this business growing up. It is where all of us learned hard work. While I would say we were definitely middle class, we ended up higher than that. When we reached the high school years my parents joined the local country club. What is interesting is that a lot of people assumed we had it good. What they didn't know is that while we were fine...during the years of struggle....I had only 3 or 4 outfits of clothes and only 1 baby doll that I can remember. Didn't bother me as I really wanted a horse. For years I salivated over saddles and bridles in the most recent Southern States magazine dreaming of a horse. A friend of my Dad's thru his job arranged a "free horse" which I kept in my grandparents lamb stable.
Bit I digress. My parents fought a lot. I think it was the stress of trying to grow a family business and having 4 children under the age of 6. I don't recall that it was about money because I don't think it was about money. We had everything we needed. One of the nicest houses in the town. Great grandparents and hard working parents. The world was different then. There were not as many thing to "want" as there seem to be now for these generations.
I still remember my Dad going around the house cutting the lights out. He would not waste electricity. He never got over growing up in the depression.
I do think one of the fall outs of this is that most of us work hard and may not know how to have as much fun as we probably should have. Because our childhood was "about work". As in most family businesses, there are sacrifices to the family but there are also lessons to be learned.
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Old 10-18-2012, 06:58 PM   #48
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Well, all of these stories are making me think that I should give our college daughter a raise when she helps with yardwork and car maintenance...
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Old 10-18-2012, 07:53 PM   #49
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The lack of money was a constant and oppressive theme of my childhood. My parents were teenagers when I was born. Dad had left high school at 17 to join the Navy and Mom left school at 15. They were young, uneducated and had too many kids to feed. My dad was career enlisted in the Navy (which was an even crappier financial deal in the 60s and 70s than it is now) and my mom never worked until I was in high school, when she got a job at Montgomery Wards. They were constantly in debt to Household Finance Corp and they were constantly fighting about money.

We lived in a variety of run down trailer parks and cheap apartments, occasionally base housing (although we did get kicked out once when my dad got busted from E-4 to E-1 for some offense), and, once, a tent for several months. Sometimes my siblings and I got sent to live with relatives (usually my grandmother).

Not having money affected every aspect of our daily lives. We couldn't buy decent food at the grocery and, to our embarrasment on occasion, we never had the proper clothes. We never had proper school supplies, like paper and pencils. We could not take music at school because you had to rent the instruments. We couldn't go on school field trips. We could never invite friends over to our place. I learned early not to ask my parents for anything, because the answer would always be 'no, we can't afford it'. Perhaps the saddest thing was when my infant brother died and my parents could not afford to bury him. My grandmother's boss covered it and my parents spent years and years paying him back a few dollars a week.

You can see where this is going. At a very early age, I vowed that I would never, ever be so poor when I grew up. Most of all, I promised myself that I would always be able buy anything I wanted in the grocery (and I do). The prospect of returning to this kind of life was what kept me going when I really wanted to quit the Naval Academy. And ever since, I have always saved my money and watched my spending.
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Old 10-18-2012, 09:18 PM   #50
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My first job was at age 16 and I made $9.00 per week working a total of 20 hours/week. I thought I could do better and got my Dad to talk to the manager of a large grocery store who hired me. First day on the job I went home with $12.00 in tips for bagging groceries plus I got paid a salary too. My parents always said "if you want something then save your money to pay for it". I got my first car after graduation and I paid cash for it myself. I have followed this practice all my life including saving for retirement and now here I am......retired. It was all worth it.
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Old 10-19-2012, 01:52 PM   #51
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More importantly, I wonder what lessons and memories we are giving our kids now. We try hard to talk about money and not make it taboo, the kids get allowance and have a steadily increasing chore list as they get older, and they have bank accounts and piggy banks. DW and I generally do not squabble over money and I don't believe the kids want for anything. Are these the right lessons? Time will tell, I suppose.
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Old 10-19-2012, 07:27 PM   #52
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More importantly, I wonder what lessons and memories we are giving our kids now.
If you carry through with your threat to make your kids learn how decrypt bond circulars, we'll probably be hearing from them on this board...
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Old 10-20-2012, 08:04 PM   #53
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We seem to be soul mates. I deeply admired Scrooge McDuck too. Loved the idea of diving into a swimming pool full of coins ... although I never thought about the landing.

So, I am not the only one. Scrooge was my favorite comic book character. I think it was because he was so unabashed about being a skinflint.
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Old 10-20-2012, 11:01 PM   #54
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My family was 'lower middle class' growing up. When I was very young I remember my parents buying me a G.I. Joe every now and then when they went to walmart. I remember it taking all year for me to save up $65 for a video game [that would sell for $1.00 in the app store now].

When I was 17, my folks let me start driving my mom's old car. I have cerebral palsy, so I couldn't work most minimum wage jobs, but I did get a job at the local power company office. My supervisor was very kind. He showed me how the local power system was managed, and it was very interesting.

When I turned 18, I started receiving disability, which amounted to a grand total of $580 / mo. I saved what I could, because I knew I'd have to get a 'new' car before heading off to college, as mine was just about old enough to get it's own drivers licence.

I had all of $610 / mo. for living expenses. Even accounting for roomates [and neighbors that kept me up all night], I only had about $3 / day for food (Thank goodness my mom sent me leftovers from time to time). I knew that even if I was ok with the way I was living, no woman would ever be. I often wonder if all the folks that constantly bash those on welfare have any conception of just how little they live on? I knew I could not go on 'living' like that.

I enrolled in college, and thankfully, I managed to get enough grants and scholarships to pay my way. About half way through college, I got a 'real job'. First as a software tester, then as a programmer making real money [$17/hr!].

I don't think you can overstate this. Going from real grinding poverty to a job that pays more than the bare minimum every month was WONDERFUL. Of course, I was 'off' disability, but for the first time I had a little extra income, and was so nice not to worry about every penny I spent.

Of course, by then I was frugal by nature, so I started saving what I could, reassuring myself I would never go back to that life. To date, my income has expanded roughly 10x, and my living expenses 2x. I save over half my income, and likely will continue to do so until I can support myself with a ~3% SWR. I don't know what I'll do when I hit that point, but that's ok. I have about a decade to figure it out.
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Old 10-21-2012, 03:50 PM   #55
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I believe my childhood experiences taught me work ethic more than saving. If you do not work you cannot save.
When growing up both my grandfathers were self employed and did rather well, but worked hard. I did not know at the time they were wealthy, never really compared our family to others. I had a job when I was 12 and always worked. One grandfather drove a Rolls Royce and still worked. Guess he liked cars. None of my family retired early, I have the means now at 47 but probably won't. I think work may be in our genes.

I do remember my grandfather used to bury $50 each week in a jar in the back yard, my father told me he did this from 1948 to 1979 . Never more, never less. Parents need to realize saving and work ethic need to be shown to the upcoming generation, if not they are doomed.
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Old 10-21-2012, 05:41 PM   #56
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I had parents and grandparents that were upper middle class, but we lived as if we didn't have a lot of money. I remember wearing outdated hand-me-down clothes for a number of years, while also hearing my mom talk to the tenants of a property we owned, or going with my grandma to the stock broker. We were never given the newest, coolest toys or clothes or anything like that. I didn't get an allowance until I was in high school. I grew up in an area where a lot of people had money, so a lot of high school kids received cars from their parents. Not me. I think my parents were basically like the "Millionaires Next Door."
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Old 10-21-2012, 07:56 PM   #57
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Many memories, but let me pick two:

First, my parents made sure we had passbook savings accounts. We were encouraged to save portions of our birthday money. Rarely, mom would take me to the bank with her and I'd put in some money. I got a huge kick out of seeing the magic interest posted. I wanted to save more.

Second, I got a lot of US Savings Bonds for presents from my family. Back then, there were little explanations and tables about how they mature printed on the back. I remember thinking, "Wow, they bought this for $12.50, but it will be worth $25 when I grow up." Perhaps I'm wired that way. I have friends who would say "Cheapskates: it says $25 but is worth $12.50."

When I hit my 40's, I cashed in those bonds that had just matured or were near maturity. That was a lot of fun to be surprised to see how much they were worth.
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Old 10-21-2012, 08:03 PM   #58
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My memories of early childhood are mixed. My parents/grandparents were farmers, so cheap the Queen screamed before they let her go (Canadian phrase).

We lived 5 miles from the nearest town and only went there once a week (gas cost money). We had a huge garden and a couple of 'eating animals'. I always thought we were poor even though until my older sister hit school age, we wintered in California. A few years after school was a problem, we wintered in Ontario where DF could work as a member of the Bar.

GF retired when I was 12ish, sold 1/4 of the farm. A few years later he un-retired and took another 1/4 of the land base to make a farmer out my n'er-do-well cousin. Then he died. A couple of years after that, DF died and I took over the farm, or about half of what it had been. While not the biggest around, it was probably around the 80th percentile in size and profit.


It was only then that I realized we had been very well-to-do when I was a kid. It was all in the bank.
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Old 10-21-2012, 08:10 PM   #59
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Remember those savings account envelopes you got in school in the 1950's? The small one with a string that you wrapped around the red raised cardboard dot to secure your passbook + deposit in?

That's what I remember. I think the passbook had entries filled out by a clerk. I'd put in my small change + passbook and get back my balance some days later. My starting allowance was something like 15 cents when I was about 10 years old. That would be boosted by 10 cents per year --- WOW!!!

Then one day, I think I was around 14, I decided to buy a pair of binoculars with some of my stash. Mom approved the purchase and those were great binoculars. They are still in our house ... somewhere.
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Old 10-21-2012, 08:13 PM   #60
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... My parents/grandparents were farmers, so cheap the Queen screamed before they let her go (Canadian phrase). ...
That's really funny.
Let me guess, the Queen was on one of those Canadian coins?
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