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Frugal Genetics?
Old 03-30-2005, 06:14 AM   #1
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Frugal Genetics?

Here's a spin on why people like us are different. Maybe its not the INTJ Engineering Democrat thing that some have suggested, because many of us are none of the above. Is it possible that we are we frugal because our parents were? My parents are for the most part as a result of my dad. My mom is a bit spendy. My parents were also very open with me about their finances. What kind of household were all you raised in money-wise.
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Re: Frugal Genetics?
Old 03-30-2005, 07:15 AM   #2
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Re: Frugal Genetics?

I grew up with nothing. I don't think I learned anything from my parents in terms of money or at least nothing I would want to adopt (Dad has a gambling addiction). I tried to educate myself over the years by reading as much as possible and graduated with a Bachelor's in Finance. I guess I just wanted to go a different route. I think some people grow up and see what they don't want to be and that can influence them just as much as the opposite. I know!! That was quite a sob story
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Re: Frugal Genetics?
Old 03-30-2005, 07:24 AM   #3
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Re: Frugal Genetics?

I think I would fall into the frugal genes category. It can be clearly traced from my grandparents (immigrants, grandpa started in the coal mines at 14, grandma keeps many months worth of canned goods in the house) to my mom (by working the sales and double coupons she often gets stores to PAY her for taking things) to me.

But it seems hit or miss in my family - mom's sisters are not nearly so frugal, and my brother definitely did not inherit any savings gene (though he seems to be coming around a little bit lately).
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Re: Frugal Genetics?
Old 03-30-2005, 07:29 AM   #4
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Re: Frugal Genetics?

Maybe not genetics but certainly the way I was raised influenced my attitudes toward money and work. I was born in '47 and my parents came of age during the Depression. My mother never worked outside the home and my father never earned alot of money as an engineer. Nevertheless, by living below their means, they managed to put two kids through college and we never lacked for necessities.

Dad never worked late and never worked weekends and only travelled for work a few times as I was growing up. This probably affected his advancement but he was willing to make that compromise to have time with the family. At age 68 he had a heart attack that the doctors said was not fatal only because of his good physical conditioning. He retired then and continued to be active ( playing tennis every day) until near his death at age 89. He told me that if he had known how great retirement was going to be, he would have done it sooner.

The family was very careful about how it spent money. Family vacations consisted of piling into the family car with a cooler full of sandwiches and lemonade and heading for Canada or Florida or New England. I remember driving around in each new city to find a reasonably priced motel.

Mom handled all of the family finances. She was a shrewd judge of value. Even with their modest means they managed to save and invest. In their later years they were able to afford to move to a very nice continuing care community where they lived until their deaths.

I knew when I went to work for Uncle Sam in 1969 that I would retire at age 55. My wife stayed home for nine years while our kids were young. I turned down opportunities that would have demanded more hours. It was tough to make ends meet but my experiences growing up allowed me to enjoy our modest lifestyle. Once she went back to work as a teacher we saved virtually her entire salary.

Now we are both retired (58 and 57) and living in a wonderful "55 or better" community. We are financially secure. We have sufficient resources that we can splurge a bit on things we previously would not have.

My family jokes that I have my mother's money management gene. I guess that's part of the explanation. The rest is the good example my parents set.

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Re: Frugal Genetics?
Old 03-30-2005, 09:43 AM   #5
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Re: Frugal Genetics?

I'm frugal because I grew up poor. You never forget it. Never say never, but I will NEVER live from paycheck to paycheck (or ss check to ss check).

OTOH, it could be genes. Since I have plenty of income/investments, I still have the inclination to LBYM. When I reach mandatory withdrawal age, it's gonna be agonizing, but I'll probably withdraw from IRA and just reinvest in bonds or elsewhere.
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Financially I was blissful...
Old 03-30-2005, 03:54 PM   #6
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Financially I was blissful...

... blissfully ignorant.

Money wasn't discussed where I was growing up. You were yelled at if you were wasting it, but a penny was as serious an offense as a $20. Guidance descended from the heavens as predictably as lightning.

But in college I consistently managed to outspend my income. And I got tired of the aftereffects of maxing the credit card. Self-imposed, the frugality grew quickly. After that the INTJ engineer stuff didn't hurt a bit...
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Re: Frugal Genetics?
Old 03-31-2005, 07:22 AM   #7
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Re: Frugal Genetics?

Great thread...

I didn't grow up poor, but we had very little money when I was a kid. I think that prevented me from having the sense of entitlement to consumer goods that a lot of other childrean had. My dad did teach me that savings was important, but didn't spend much time on the subject. In fact, at one point, my parents (with great trepidation) liquidated mine and my brothers savings account, which we recieved as a small inheritance, to make the rent payment. It was never returned. I think that just reinforced to me that money was important and you needed it to live.

In college I never was in debt, but I didn't save either. I started to buy stuff that I always wanted. Nice TV, car stereo's, stuff and junk. I think I still had a healthy respect for money, but I didn't have much thought of building a stockpile of it.

Fast foward to 1998. My salary was way up. I was bringing in way more than I was spending so I bought a house. Much less of a house than I qualified for, but still, I was in debt. More and more money came...stock options...good investments and I started to think about living the high life. I bought a nice car, spent lots on eating out, bought name brands and paid full retail, and did a lot of the stuff that people with lots of money do. I wasn't any happier though and I realised it. When my paper worth dropped about 50% in 2000, I had a serious wake up call and I think that gave me the last piece of the puzzle.

The philosophy of frugality was cemeted in me then. I understood that money was important and necessary to live from my childhood and I understood that buying stuff and junk doesn't make you happy and I understood that just because you have some doesn't mean you always will. The only thing that is really important is that you spend enough to live and every purchase above that you think about very hard because if it doesn't make you happy then you shouldn't get it.

Add to all of this a realization that a lot of my sense of freedom is about choice in where I live and work and who I take orders from. I realized that I wanted freedom and the only way to do that is to have a lot of money in savings.

Frugality is now part of me and I live well below my means (which doesn't reduce my happiness one iota). Its probably 5% genetic, 45% how I was raised and 50% learning my lesson.

One part of that lesson that I am not so comfortable with is that I take much fewer risks with my career and investments than I used to. I am very hesitant to do anything different work wise because I make really good money which allows me to build that stockpile much faster if I am frugal. However I am greatly reducing my chances of getting lucky by being so stagnant. I miss taking chances, but I guess in one sense that is part of being frugal.

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Re: Frugal Genetics?
Old 03-31-2005, 07:37 AM   #8
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Re: Frugal Genetics?

Mat. grandF left "mother" country as 9 yo with the T-shirt on his back and a pair of shorts to serve as gopher for a rich merchant. Story always emphasizes that he had no shoes. By age of 25 had his own department store.

Pat grandF did something similar but in another country.

Parents, both very frugal, made it on their own without family help. They actually calculate that it's cheaper to eat out at hole in the wall's than to cook similar meals because of where they live.
Memories: recycling brown bags until they disintegrated, the surprise that you could actually buy garbage bags, watching the road markings through the rusted hole in the floor of parents' first car (VW bug). On the other hand, remember brother asking "how come we don't have bills?" after listening to friends' parents. Childhood like that affects you; hard to pay full price for anything.

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Re: Frugal Genetics?
Old 03-31-2005, 02:46 PM   #9
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Re: Frugal Genetics?

Saw step-mom crying when she couldn't pull 20 bucks out of the ATM for food. Had to eat plain oatmeal because that's the only kind that was payable with our food stamps. Sticks with you.
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Re: Frugal Genetics?
Old 03-31-2005, 05:04 PM   #10
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Re: Frugal Genetics?

I learned NOTHING about money from my parents. Not too sure why, although they had (and have) almost no knowledge to impart. It's not that they are stupid.
It's just that finances are not something they know about. Their ignorance is pretty extreme. I wonder if
they are representative of the population in general?
My guess is that they are, and also that most posters here are in the upper reaches of financial understanding.

JG
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Re: Frugal Genetics?
Old 03-31-2005, 06:23 PM   #11
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Re: Frugal Genetics?

Quote:
I learned NOTHING about money from my parents. *Not too sure why, although they had (and have) almost no knowledge to impart. *It's not that they are stupid.
It's just that finances are not something they know about. *Their ignorance is pretty extreme. *I wonder if
they are representative of the population in general?
My guess is that they are, *and also that most posters here are in the upper reaches of financial *understanding.

JG: My opinion is that it is more generational than anything else.
My father raised a large family, and mother was a stay-at home homemaker.
My dad was a logger that worked until he was 70 years old, and then only left because his back was shot.
They knew nothing about investing, because there was always too much month at the end of paycheck.
Never gave it a 2nd. thought as a kid, as that was the way most folks in the area lived.






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Re: Frugal Genetics?
Old 03-31-2005, 06:38 PM   #12
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Re: Frugal Genetics?

A lot of inspirational stories about sacrifice by parents. My mom told me years later that she would take toys away during the summer and wrap them up and give them back to me and my sister at Christmas. We had completelly forgot about them 6 months later. But I think a lot of us were impacted in a positive way by our parents and the sacrifices they made.

*On a side note, I've been a member for about 6 months now and this will be my 100th post. To compare, John Galt has had his name registered for 20 DAYS, and he has 234 posts! 11.7 droplets per day of conservative knowledge. I love it.
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Re: Frugal Genetics?
Old 03-31-2005, 09:32 PM   #13
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Re: Frugal Genetics?

Quote:
Here's a spin on why people like us are different. *Maybe its not the INTJ Engineering Democrat thing that some have suggested . . .*What kind of household were all you raised in money-wise.
I certainly think there is very little to the INTJ Engineering Democrat theory. But I'm not sure frugal genetics works either. I have two brothers who don't seem to share the same gene. I think I recall others on this board who have mentioned siblings with less than LBYM habits.
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Re: Frugal Genetics?
Old 04-02-2005, 06:58 PM   #14
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Re: Frugal Genetics?

My parents were both fairly frugal, although now in their 60s, they are kicking it up a notch in their retired state and enjoying everything they sacrificed for earlier in their lives.

My paternal grandparents were pretty darn frugal themselves, and I seem to have inheirited the frugal gene. It's almost like I enjoy seeing what I can go without and sacrifice just as much as some people seem to enjoy pampering themselves with countless luxuries today (manicures, massages, etc.). Sure, I do splurge every now and then, but both my splurges and my frequency of them still leave me at the bottom 99% percentile of meager living (while I'm not trying to make light of them, it'd be interesting to see how those living in 'poverty' and those receiving assistance choose to spend their meager financial resources, and compare it to how someone like me makes the choice to simply do without).

I wouldn't say it had anything to do with environment growing up - I started working at 10 cutting the grass at my dad's office, and then started caddying at 12. Continued cutting grass until I was 14, and kept on caddying until I was 19. All of the money was saved up, and later invested (which could lead to a post on the current thread of greatest financial mistakes of all-time...but I'll spare myself the painful memory of those times ). I would have chosen to save it all whether my parents were spendthrifts or frugalites.

My two sisters and one brother must have been taken by the stork too soon when God was handing out the frugal gene, as they don't seem to have inheirited any of it. My one sister has, however, seem to have come around in the past 4 years (after getting married), and both her and her husband are somewhat frugal.

I'm hoping to give one last run to break the "12k annual budget cheap SOB" record held by what's-his-name before I find a significant other (man, dating sure can play hell with a 12k annual budget ...especially when they're long-distance relationships ).

Despite my parents handle on money, it was never discussed or brought up. We kind of knew that our parents had a decent income and saved a majority of it, but they never flaunted anything...whether any talks with my siblings would have changed their current view towards money is doubtful. Given some current problems with my other not-so-frugal sister, I'm beginning to think that self awareness of financial responsibility must come from the school of hard knocks for most people - all the lectures and graphs in the world won't work for the die-hard spend thrifts (it could for those who were never introduced to saving and investing, but for those who are addicted to spending, bankruptcy may be the only eye opener).
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Re: Frugal Genetics?
Old 04-14-2005, 07:48 AM   #15
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Re: Frugal Genetics?

I think the INTJ thing (or INTP thing in my case) affects how you approach the issue but not how you discover it.

Neither of my parents have been frugal overall. I think three happenings effected my low-grade frugality. My parents divorced when I was 13; the lawyers won, and that's when I realized not every kid had a big house, corner lot and all the toys money can buy. The house was smaller and the money was tighter, although I never had to worry about going hungry. Second, around age 29 I started running very tight on money every month when I was making the most I ever had; I knew something was wrong with that, and that led to my 5-year debt elimination program. Third was finding the REHP board and homepage and deciding that was the answer for me.
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Re: Frugal Genetics?
Old 04-14-2005, 12:54 PM   #16
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Re: Frugal Genetics?

I don't consider my parents frugal, they spend it pretty much as fast as they get it, and after riding the 90's bubble without a thought to the future, they don't have much to go thru anymore, just enough to be comfortable, but the crazy days are over for them, by their own admission.

I may well have a genetic disposition in line with them. While I've learned from their mistakes, I'm not heavily invested and will never be held hostage by market forces or good/bad investment decisions.

The truth is I'm not frugal at all. If DW and/or I commit to something we tend to go first class. Otherwise why bother? I expect that will be challenging in my upcoming ER. My plan is to stay on a cash basis for "stuff" and let the chips fall where they may...
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