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-   -   What % of FI'ers are motivated by childhood memories? (http://www.early-retirement.org/forums/f28/what-of-fiers-are-motivated-by-childhood-memories-94637.html)

Tekward 11-06-2018 09:59 AM

What % of FI'ers are motivated by childhood memories?
I noticed several great comments related to financial pain during childhood and I wondered how many of us savers are motivated by our early experiences.

I was - broken family, federal housing projects and welfare. The month was longer than the (poorly planned) budget and I remember being hungry with no food in the house; checking the mail constantly for a check. Knowing we were poor left a mark.

As an adult I was very conscious that I would provide for my family and worked 2-3 jobs for decades. Of course my children experienced no such deprivation (except for the pain of my stories ;)) and they are not as careful with money. But they are learning slowly and avoiding the worst of the pitfalls (like student loans).

pjigar 11-06-2018 10:06 AM

Yes, we were farmers and our year was always longer than a yearly budget. We lived whole year on borrowed money and paid tons (30% of our annual income) of interest every year.

Growing up, I promised myself that I will never be in such a trap.

NYEXPAT 11-06-2018 10:19 AM


pacergal 11-06-2018 10:21 AM

DH raised by single mom, never had $, lived in subsidized housing, frequently went without adequate food or clothes..
I was raised middle class, reinforced to always save something each paycheck. Always had roof over my head and food in the belly, but there were times we lived on beans! DF frequently lost/changed jobs while I was growing up. Landed his dream job when I was in high school and they did well after.
Both of our histories have influenced our spending/saving during our marriage.

big-papa 11-06-2018 10:26 AM

Between a couple of marriages, there were 11 of us kids. Because of age spans, we weren't all at home at the same time, fortunately. I recall it being a struggle for my parents, including a bankruptcy that I later discovered in some paperwork, and I recall noticing that most of my friends' situations were quite a bit different than ours. By the time I got to high school I was absolutely certain that this wasn't going to be me.

I ultimately found an interest and went to college thanks to working summer jobs, grants, student loans and scholarships and feel I've done well. We save a lot and don't really live what I would call a frugal lifestyle, but definitely below our means.

My siblings results have been mixed but none of them ended up with an excessive number of kids to feed, either. Several of them have already retired and seem to be doing OK.

The discussion reminds me a lot of some of the Depression ERA kids, like my Dad, and how they approach financial matters.

Anna J 11-06-2018 10:28 AM

We were on food stamps but my dad taught us that no matter what, you need to save at least a little from your pay for a rainly day. Each kid had an old yogurt/butter tub that was made into a bank and when and if we got $ for birthdays/holidays, dad would really incourage us not to spend it all and to put some of it in the bank. I am no longer on food stamps but am still saving....for a rainy/sunny day and my DW and I will be retired on Dec 7th....me 47 and her 49!...She is technically retired in Jan when she turns 50 but is being allowed to burn a few weeks of leave :)

Jerry1 11-06-2018 10:37 AM

I don't know how much it motivated me, but I recall it and I'm very thankful to not have repeated what I grew up with as a child in my adulthood. Similar formula, single mother, welfare, food stamps, limited cloths (certain none "in style"), at times sharing the worry of not having money to eat or the possibility of losing our house. One story I tell my kids - "There was no point in my asking my mom for a car when I turned 16. She couldn't keep herself in a car." Therefore, I knew the only way to get out was to work. Learning to save came later but it did come in time.

gauss 11-06-2018 10:43 AM

I think we were ok growing up for the most part (only child and two parents working), BUT, they made me believe otherwise.

There was always this bit of uncertainty how college would be paid for -- especially when periods when DF was out of work.

I think this fear of uncertainty definitely instilled in me a desire for FI ASAP. Thank you Mom and Dad -- it worked out quite well.


pb4uski 11-06-2018 10:49 AM


Originally Posted by Tekward (Post 2137466)
I noticed several great comments related to financial pain during childhood and I wondered how many of us savers are motivated by our early experiences. ....

Not for me. I grew up upper middle class but our family lifestyle was well below family income... while I sensed that growing up I didn't realize how much until later. However, both my dad and mom grew up poor or perhaps a tad better than poor. My paternal grandfather went broke in the 40s and later created a successful residential construction business. My maternal grandfather died in a car accident in the 1940s and my grandmother worked but never made much but did a lot with what little that they had... my aunt has said many times that she didn't know how poor they were until she was an adult.

DW was middle class and her dad died in an airplane crash when she was 12 and her mom worked... with 7 mouths to feed they did ok but did struggle some financially.

As a result of that experience DW is the more frugal of the two of us.... almost to a fault... she really hates throwing anything out. Both of our kids are frugal too... its sort of in the genes.

Just_Steve 11-06-2018 10:51 AM

I did without but didn't know didn't know without how much until H.S. I moved out of the house at 17 and never did without again, it was a non stop spend fest until I was 30.
Settled down at 30 and retired at 55. Life is good.

FIREd 11-06-2018 11:36 AM

My family was pretty poor when I was very young (I don’t have many memories from those early years) but became middle class when my father landed a better job. We went through another rough spot after my parents divorced. I was living with my mother and she lost her job. My father was not paying much in child support and I vividly remember the empty pantry and fridge. Later, as a college student, I was living on very little and I had to make tough choices at the grocery store. If anything, I learned to always have a good stock of food at home from those experiences.

The motivation to reach FI ASAP came later, after a rough career start. It is only then that I realized that I should not count on a stable source of earned income to make it through life.

Teacher Terry 11-06-2018 11:46 AM

I am the youngest so by the time I came along my parents were doing well because my Dad had a skilled job at a auto plant. My older sister said there was always food but not in style clothes or toys. My parents saved. If we wanted to go to college we lived at home and they fed us. They borrowed us the money to pay for it with no interest. We were expected to pay it back. They grew up poor during the depression.

Red Badger 11-06-2018 12:03 PM

We were middle class. Dad owned a restaurant and catering biz; mom did the book-keeping. I was lousy with money until I met DW. It took some tine, but she got me on the do-right program.

There was no allowance handed out at our house. As a product of growing up in the Great Depression (and then getting shipped off to war), he thought we needed to pull on the proverbial boot straps. He was strict, but loving and fair.

But if one of us kids got whiney, he had the following helpful grammatical guidance, "If you're looking for sympathy, you'll find it in the dictionary between sh!t and syphilis."

Freedom56 11-06-2018 12:40 PM

I wouldn't say that it was my childhood that motivated me into early retirement but what I saw happen to employees when I started my career in 1980 after graduating from University. I witnessed countless employees in their 50's and early 60's walked out the door. It got progressively worse in the 90's and 2000's. Granted many of them were asking for trouble by being habitually absent and sleeping at work, but it became too routine for companies. Some were just deemed too old and unproductive. In a lot of cases it was plain wrong. I knew then that anyone can be expendable and the only way to mitigate a problem is to become financially independent as early as possible. As I progressed up the management ladder, it became obvious that the policy directed from the top was drop the bottom 10% every year and bring in new talent. When I was in executive management, I just got fed up with this policy of ranking employees and ruining people's lives. So I elected to retire early not deal with this Darwinian approach to running a company.

razztazz 11-06-2018 12:55 PM

The Three Horseman: Anger, Ignorance, and Alcoholism

I had the benefit of good examples of bad examples

Wasn't that hard to do better. Just avoid anger, ignorance, alcoholism, a fake family, and more kids than one can afford.

Siblings did not turn out bad in that sense bit did not end up successful. Still working, struggling, aging. etc. Not exactly sure why that is. I think they were seeking perfection, which never comes, and leaves you holding the bag. Or maybe they didn't think growing up in that world was bad as I though it was...?

target2019 11-06-2018 12:58 PM

Back 3-4 generations, half were immigrants from Ireland and Russia, fleeing from persecution and famine. Other half were merchants in the area for 4-5 generations. I did not know much about that history as a youngster in the 50's and 60's. There were 7 of us in a 3-bedroom cape cod. We were not poor, but there was not spare change lying around. The one lesson I will not forget, is that mother was poor as a child, and walked the train tracks that ran through the city, looking for coal to take home for heat.

timemoveson 11-06-2018 01:06 PM

Depression-era eastern European immigrant parents, penniless. Grew up lower-lower middle class. Parents did not own (that is, be somewhere in the process of paying for) a home until they were in their 50's.

No parties, no travel, no eating out until much later in my childhood.

Absolutely and unequivocally motivated to become educated and to not be poor.

Gumby 11-06-2018 01:16 PM

It certainly motivated me. As a child, whenever I thought about my adult life, my dream was not to be rich, but just to be not so poor as we were.

I've been the "rich relative" in my family since the day I graduated from the Naval Academy at the age of 22.

razztazz 11-06-2018 01:23 PM


Originally Posted by Gumby (Post 2137566)
It certainly motivated me. As a child, whenever I thought about my adult life, my dream was not to be rich, but just to be not so poor as we were.

Yes, I guess you told my basic story without the sturm und drang. Ha ha I just didn't want to be so poor

coveredbridge 11-06-2018 01:27 PM

It wasn't a financial thing with me, although we certainly received a modest upbringing in our family. For as long as I could remember, all my father talked about was retiring so he could do the things he really wanted to do. But with 9 children and an aversion to credit of any kind, that made things tough. He finally retired at 65. Two years later, he was gone. I vowed that would not happen to me. His experience made me determined to FIRE while I still had a decent number of years to enjoy it.

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