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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?

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About Elle Martinez

Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..

10 comments comments closed

  1. My grandparents worked at a lumber mill and as a cook. They had one car that lasted forever, but was very shiny. They lived just out of town on Homer road and had a huge garden. My grandma canned and preserved most of the stuff to last the cold Minnesota winters. They never complained about not having a fancy life. I think they loved each other and faced what life had to offer in an open and grateful way. I wanted a rich husband and an adventorous life. That was fine too. But there life was simple and sweet and leaves me wondering about different ways to be. I could live like my grandmother and be happy.

  2. My grandparents never really said anything about saving money, but every one of their actions spoke loud and clear what their views were on debt. My parents however, were not shy to tell the kids “NO” without compromise.

    We still managed to have our fun and memories. Now that I think about it, you don’t really need money to make a fond lifetime of memories.

  3. Amazing advice.

    Our “old” people are a constant resource of ideas and great advice. I was raised by my grandparents too and they taught me the same. We were able to get by with little money, while today many people, who earn 10 times more than we did, claim they cannot live “decently”.

    • @Ramona: It amazes me how people can have so much and not be content. I always have great memories of hanging out with my grandmothers. We had fun and we didn’t need a lot of stuff or money.

  4. I don’t know much about my grand parent’s finances except that my dad’s dad owned a bunch of buildings on 2nd ave in Manhattan and had to sell around the time of the crash. I could have been an heir!

    I do know that The Wife’s grandparents were both factory workers who saved their entire lives. They were able to help us with a down payment on our house! Amazing people.

  5. My grandparents are very careful with their money. They are also ahead of their time when it came to reusing and recycling, which contributed to their frugality. I grew up watching my grandmother reuse everything. Some of my habits, I know came from watching her. They are also the most generous people that I know, contributing to their church and causes that are important to them.

  6. I’m a big believer in paying close attention to the advice of older, experienced family members. They can often tell you what worked for them, and what mistakes they made. While it’s not always advisable to follow every singlebit of advice, it’s important to be open to listening carefully to it so that the pearls of wisdom can be recognized.

    For me, I have only really known one of my granparents – she’s now 97. Two of the other 3 passed away before I was born, and the other died when I was really little. So, I only got advice from my grandma. And really, she doesn’t say much about money – but if she ever did say anything, it was to save. Save, save, save. Which, of course as a personal finance blogger, I try to do:)

    By the way, I really enjoy this topic. It’s great to see such respect given to grandparents, especially remembering them and thinking about them whether with us or passed. I sometimes wonder what my other grandparents were like. There’s something very special about grandparents that just can’t be replicated anywhere.

    I just might write my own post on this topic. Thanks for the inspiration!