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Childhood memories about money
Old 10-17-2012, 07:52 PM   #1
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Childhood memories about money

I'm wondering if there any common experiences among this ER group. What was a childhood experience - good or bad - that helped you to development the financial habits needed for FIRE?

Side topic - Is nature or nurture more influential on a strong FIRE desire as an adult? (The board has plenty of threads suggesting the INTJ personality type has some correlation to forum-posting early retirees - or ER wannabes.)

From time to time - say with recommendations on money books for kids - we've had members recalling childhood money events that were influential.

There's quite a range of stories, though. From "We were so poor, I promised myself..." to "Daddy started me with a passbook savings account" to "I taught myself everything important about money after I got divorced".

This is the JFP article that made me think of the topic.
Interior Finance: The Micro-Level Exploration of Individual Client Money Scripts
I found much of the article bordered on "pop" psychology, but it mentioned childhood experiences in the context of a financial advisor exploring a new client's attitudes about investing.
Quote:
Putting Interior Finance into Action

Usually, people first consult financial planners during significant life transitions like marriages, divorces, inheritances, buying or selling businesses, and retirement. At these times, which are both financially and emotionally charged, people often have an increased awareness of their past money decisions as well as some fear about the future and uncertainty in the here and now. They are usually not looking for explanations of their money behavior as much as they are seeking ways to do things differently in the future. This is often the perfect opportunity to open the door to exploring their personal relationship with money.

That doesn’t mean it works well to start the first client meeting with, “What’s your most painful childhood memory about money?” Our first task with new clients is to start building a relationship of trust...
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Old 10-17-2012, 08:27 PM   #2
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Hmm, can still remember most of them clearly.

Preschool-early Middle School: Parents constantly having arguments about money, at first I didn't understand, but it became quite clear pretty early to me as I got a bit older

1st grade-2nd grade: Strict lunch money limit, couldn't participate in most school events that cost any money

3rd grade: Started having a serious list of chores, allowance was tied to each chore I did, parents heavily emphasized saving it

4th grade: More chores

5th grade: Parents had me start mowing other people's lawns, weeding, etc., for money, didn't particularly enjoy it, but it was mandatory, also had me do odd jobs from the local newspaper

6th grade: Parents had me start caddying. I hated golf. I hadn't had my growth spurt yet so that bags were almost as tall as me, most days I didn't get picked though, I had to sit in the sun for 6-7 hours staring blankly hoping for a job carrying a bag that weighed half as much as me.

7-9th grade: Kept caddying, had my large growth spurt and got picked for most jobs, it gradually went from excruciatingly painful to mildly uncomfortable

10th grade: Got my first car with the money I'd earned slowly...then the car got side-swiped at an intersection, most of the money I'd earned all that time went poof.

This was probably the point when I went from being a saver, to extremely frugal and careful about everything, this kept building from that point on, including anything I needed to know to be self sufficient and not make stupid decisions, like personal investing. I had some hellish commutes for almost all my undergrad+grad jobs, but I paid most of my way. The weird thing is, my parents don't remember most of this...
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Old 10-17-2012, 08:35 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Htown Harry View Post
I'm wondering if there any common experiences among this ER group. What was a childhood experience - good or bad - that helped you to development the financial habits needed for FIRE?
I was a childhood "collector" of things, and that included money. But in college I became a drinker spender, and after about a year of that I got tired of being always broke.

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Originally Posted by Htown Harry View Post
Side topic - Is nature or nurture more influential on a strong FIRE desire as an adult? (The board has plenty of threads suggesting the INTJ personality type has some correlation to forum-posting early retirees - or ER wannabes.)
Even the INTJ personality is thought to be about 50-50 nature-nurture, so I'm guessing that it depends on being at least a little bit hardwired and then having something flip the switch.

I think the INTJs who love their avocations would never see the point of ER.
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Old 10-17-2012, 08:38 PM   #4
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I can remember when I was maybe 10 or 11 years old and my Dad told me I could have anything I wanted, as long as I paid for it. The day I turned 16 I bought my first car for $150 and liability insurance was $165. Worked as a paper boy, bus boy, surveyor helper through my early and teen years and spent damn near every dime I made during that period. Those were the good old days.
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Old 10-17-2012, 08:39 PM   #5
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I think it's more nurture than nature when it comes to money.

The way I look at it, if you treat money well, it will do the same to you.
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Paper Route at Age 12
Old 10-17-2012, 08:49 PM   #6
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Paper Route at Age 12

I had a morning paper route in the 1950's at about age twelve earning about $5 a week delivering the Buffalo Courier-Express early in the morning, 365 days a year.

The newspaper required that new carriers deposit $1 per week with the newspaper until there was a balance of $50. I was so pleased when I reached that balance that I asked if I could increase mine to $100 which they allowed. Later, when I still wanted to go higher they responded that "we are not a bank" and wouldn't allow it.

When I finally stopped the paper delivery job, that $100 transferred to a savings account became the beginning of my life savings which now supports my retirement, and began a lifelong habit during my working years of saving a fairly large percentage of my earnings each pay day.
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Old 10-17-2012, 08:50 PM   #7
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We didn't have much but my parents were good at hiding that fact. Matter of fact it wasn't until fifth or six grade before I realized that they were both rich and poor people in the world. We simply made out with what we had. Yes, I knew other kids has stuff I didn't have but I didn't feel like was missing anything.
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Old 10-17-2012, 08:50 PM   #8
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I remember being thrilled when I would find money that some one dropped.

Trips to a local lake (Lake Welch) with a man-made beach was a bonanza for dropped money. I could easily find enough in the sand and on the walkways to get myself an ice cream. People were very careless with coins.

Same for a summer day camp program I attended. Finding coins in the constantly mowed open grassy fields was a cinch. If I had been stupid enough even thought about announcing my find, I'll bet every kid would have claimed it as theirs.
Finders keepers, losers weepers.

Hell, I ain't proud. I still pick up money off the ground if I see it.
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Old 10-17-2012, 09:19 PM   #9
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Late 60"s - 1976 had a paper route.My mom brought me to the corner bank to open my first bank account.I made about $25.00 a week.I would take my passbook with me,deposited $20.00 every week and kept $5.00 for my play money.Eventually opened a CD,man that interest rate seems awesome today.My mom was raised in an orphanage through the depression.Taught me the value of money,and not to trust until earned.Thanks mom.I really miss you.
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Old 10-17-2012, 09:22 PM   #10
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I was always a worker . When I was young I had a kool aid stand .I then set up a lending library for my Mickey Mouse Magazines . In teenage years I babysat , worked as a lifeguard , taught swimming & was a Mother's helper . All these jobs prepared me for forty years of hard work.
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Old 10-17-2012, 09:25 PM   #11
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Back in the 1950's my older brother had a job that paid $45 per week. For the first several weeks he obtained 45 silver dollars at the bank. Back then silver dollars were really silver and those dollars today are worth more than an inflation-adjusted dollar. He would carry them around in a bank bag and make a lot of noise jingling the bag. Unfortunately, he did not save very many of the silver dollars.

There's no moral to this story. It's just a memory.
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Old 10-17-2012, 11:12 PM   #12
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My parents never gave me an allowance, like most of the other kids, I had to work for it. I appreciate that now.

Also, I remember my dad being into stocks, IBM in particular. I remember looking at stock prices in the old Stars and Stripes.
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Old 10-17-2012, 11:30 PM   #13
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Like most people here, I have always had the personality trait of deferred gratification. And because my brother always likes to have his dessert ASAP, yet was raised in the same environment, I will have to say that it must have been nature, not nurture, that makes me a saver.

As a kid, I always felt as good having money in my pocket as I did spending it. In fact, I often felt buyer's remorse. And I dreamed of having as much money as Scrooge McDuck. Other than that, my childhood was fairly benign, without any traumatic experience about money.

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Old 10-18-2012, 12:03 AM   #14
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My earliest memories about money and finance are these:

When I was born or shortly thereafter, my uncle bought me one share of Ford Motor Company so every 3 months I received in the mail a check for like 40 cents or 80 cents dividend. My dad showed me how to look up the stock price in the Sunday New York Times we had delivered back in the late 1960s and into the 1970s.

My parents had a custodial passbook savings account for me so it was nice to see interest credited to the account if I had not been to the bank in a while.

So, between the Ford stock share and the interest on the passbook savings account I quickly learned that I could earn money without having to do anything for it LOL (think about that Seinfeld episode in which George tells Jerry the same thing.)

I received a small allowance which later got increased to include food I bought at school once I hit the 7th grade.

But once I turned 16 my parents pressured me to get an after-school job which I did, and that enabled me to buy things on my own such as a new bicycle I used to go to work and school. I saved most of what I earned which helped fund my college expenses.

My grandmother, meanwhile, had been putting small amounts of money into passbook savings accounts for me and her other 3 grandchildren. Even at $10 or $25 every few months it added up after 10 years, and we got that money when we turned 18 (she died when I was 18) so we could use it for college. It was a few thousand dollars for each of us which was decent money back in the early 1980s. She and my other grandparents used to slip me a $5 or a $10 whenever they came to visit.

All of these things helped show me the value of saving and compound interest, as well as being able to earn money by not working, something I would perfect by the time I turned 45 5 years ago! This is not to say that I did not work hard as I did when I was 16.

My mother used a spiral notebook to develop a budget and I helped her organize the bills when she worked on them. She also filled out her income taxes by hand and I helped her with that (I still do mine by hand today).

My grandfather was very organized, something I saw in my Florida visits when I was a teenager. I noted that and am very organized in that manner today.

I like to think I took the best features my mom and (paternal) grandfather had to offer and included them in my daily life.
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Old 10-18-2012, 12:22 AM   #15
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When I was very young, my parents could barely make ends meet while working several jobs. I remember them worrying about money. So much so, that when I was 5 years old I gave them a big jar full of coins to help with the bills (much to their embarrassment). Then my dad got a good job and the money problems went away for a while. When my parents divorced, I lived with my mom for several years and things were tight on her small income (she did not get much in the form of child support or alimony). When she lost her job, things got really difficult. Sometimes we had to go eat at my aunt's house because there was not enough food in the pantry. During that time, my mom accumulated tons of consumer debt which took years to repay. Finally, I had to learn to live on very little money when I was in college. So I learned to be frugal. I tend to hoard food because I am afraid to go hungry. And I have an aversion to debt.

But reading old Scrooge McDuck comic books that my dad collected as a kid gave me much financial education as well. I didn't want to always be broke like Donald Duck. Constantly begging for money didn't seem much fun. Scrooge had it right. Save, save, save.
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Old 10-18-2012, 12:46 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Htown Harry View Post
Side topic - Is nature or nurture more influential on a strong FIRE desire as an adult? (The board has plenty of threads suggesting the INTJ personality type has some correlation to forum-posting early retirees - or ER wannabes.)
I've forgotten anything I might have known about Myers-Briggs, but reviewing INTJ, I don't think my square peg fits into that round hole.

Tyro
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Old 10-18-2012, 12:58 AM   #17
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This is exactly my situation. I have always been the same about money. My parents' education would not have changed that. My brother, on the other hand, spends every dime he earns.
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Like most people here, I have always had the personality trait of deferred gratification. And because my brother always likes to have his dessert ASAP, yet was raised in the same environment, I will have to say that it must have been nature, not nurture, that makes me a saver.
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Old 10-18-2012, 01:08 AM   #18
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When I was quite young, the neighborhood kids began bringing snacks to share on the playground. When I told my Mother that it was my turn, she got very upset. Turns out she barely had enough to feed us. I still remember the mix of embarrassment and shame I felt. Both at upsetting her, and the fear of going back empty handed.

I learned not to ask for money for things like sports or dances. I got my first job at 14 to pay for clothes and pocket money.

The funny thing? Back in elementary school I had a "rich" friend. Her family took vacations, and she always seemed to have a wealth of toys. In the summer, there were always popsicles in her freezer. As an adult, I drove past her childhood home that once seemed like a palace and was shocked at how small and humble it was.

I don't doubt I'm a saver today in part because of those experiences. The more I save, the more secure I feel.

In some ways, hardships make us stronger.

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Old 10-18-2012, 08:30 AM   #19
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My parents were middle class, we lived in a prosperous area, but my memories are of them arguing about money whenever my dad would spread out the bills on the dining room table. He would call these family meetings and tell us that we all had to cut down on our spending and show us the in/out. I would worry after these meetings, and look for ways to economize, and then realize that no one else ever did. I felt bad for my dad and hated imagining how difficult it was for him to be so ineffective at managing finances in a household of spenders.

My imprint was to be in charge of my own money, make decisions based on what I needed not what other people had, and find someone like me and not like my mom when it came time to select a life partner.

Oh, and I had to pay for my car payments, insurance, etc when I was in high school, but my spendy and jobless older brother did not.
My dad gave me my first job, at 10 I helped transplant a whole field's worth of young plants in one long hot summer day. He gave me a crisp $20 bill for my efforts. I never have forgotten how immediately I related that money to the work I'd done. In high school and beyond, I continued to work for my dad, and learned how to treat people, if not how to manage money.

All good lessons.
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Old 10-18-2012, 08:38 AM   #20
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In some ways, hardships make us stronger.

SIS
Hardships indeed make us stronger. Having difficulty to make ends meet also speeds up the learning curve of the value of money. I always remember my dad working hard, making many sacrifices and making sure all of his children are given a good education (so that we get a good career start in life and a good chance to earning money) including lessons on being thrifty.
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