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It amazes me how things have changed drastically with finances for many families, both good and bad. My grandparents had grown up during financially strapped times. They were born in the late 1920s and due to circumstances and personalties they were able to pick up some practical skills.
I've been thinking about them lately and this weekend I was reminiscing about some good memories of them. I just want to highlight some lessons learned from my grandparents. I'm sure some of you will read this and hear your grandparents' voices, sharing their wisdom.
Financial Lesson #1 – Think Before You Buy
Impulse shopping was not common with my grandparents. Since money was tight every potential purchase was analyzed. Grocery shopping was typically the biggest shopping trip for the family. My grandmothers sometimes had to hunt for information or ask friends that purchased certain things.
It seems a bit different now. Technology has definitely increased the amount of information available for potential consumers to examine, but honestly how people many analyze their purchases?
Buying things is just so easy nowadays as we have debit and credit cards with us along with the convenience of online shopping. It's so tempting to buy and even though we try to be frugal with purchases, we are no different from many people. We have to focus on staying on our goals.
Financial Lesson #2 – Save Before You Buy
I never remember my grandmothers paying something with a credit card (they had one – I just didn't see it). If they wanted to make a large purchase, they saved. The other option was layaway. Being in debt was not something that they had in their minds.
Today there are signs on stores that you can ‘buy now and pay later'. The mentality has shifted to getting something because you want it or you deserve it. Entitlement, though, has some bad
Now we have a wide variety of brick and mortar banks, credit unions, and online banking options. ING Direct, for example, allows you to create sub-savings accounts for your specific goals. Right now we're trying to build our car replacement fund. My 10 year old is not a beater, but I've noticed an increase on maintenance. Rather than wait until it's obvious we need a replacement, we're going ahead and saving monthly for another car.
Financial Lesson #3 – Even Strapped, Always Save a Bit
My grandmothers never made more than average income, but they were always able to save, pay their bills, give a little, and still have a small amount for fun. It's amazing to me, but for them it was second nature. Put aside a small amount of money in savings. Period.
We've transfered money into our savings just like it was another bill to be paid and it has done wonders. We started small when we first tried it. Slowly, we increased it as we got raises. Automating our savings has been incredibly helpful when emergencies happen.
Financial Lesson #4 – Be Generous with What You Have
There were times when they had barely enough to feed their kids, but that did not discourage them from giving some of what they had to less fortunate neighbors. When money was tight, they donated their skills to help neighbors, family, and friends.
Today we can automate our charitable donations from our bank accounts to a charity. There are numerous worthy causes that could your occasional or part-time volunteers.
Financial Lesson # 5 – Make Do with What You Have
Part of their skill was seeing both of my grandmothers take simple ingredients and make fantastic dinners with them. Their places were always neat and they could get the job done with what they had. When they bought something, it lasted a long time.
Today we have some many gadgets whose purposes and functions overlap. Do we really need a desktop, laptop, netbook, and a Kindle? Can't we simplify a bit- not getting rid of these helpful gadgets, but just evaluating how much we use them?
Grandparents’ Advice on the Web
I asked some my blogging and Twitter buddies to share their grandparents' advice. I was happy to see that many of our grandparents were on the same page with finances.
- @ryanguina/@Matt_SF: At the end of the day, think how to make tomorrow a little better.
- @brokeinthecity: My grandparents have always said: “It never hurts to ask.” They meant for more money when you get a job to haggling in a store.
- @norcross: If you can't pay cash, don't purchase it.
Your Grandparents and Finances
Do you remember the advice your receive from your grandparents, whether it was by word or example? What has been your favorite tidbit that you've used?