Under the Influence – Learn by Example

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By Shawndi Purselley, CFP®, CDFA®, Owner and Co-Founder, Wealth Advisor

As I have discussed before, I started this blog as a representation of how I grew up and the influence my adolescence still weighs on my adult life. I often write about the “clinical” side of money issues while bringing the human “real life” component to the discussion.

I think learning by example is a great way to learn. But whose example? Is it best to watch and learn financially successful, or financially unsuccessful people? The people that did it all correctly, or the ones that did it all wrong? Or just maybe those examples of people that just didn’t give up, the ones that kept getting it wrong, until they got it right. I think they are all valuable influences. I know for certain my family consists of all these types of influencers.

My grandparents had custody of me for the majority of my adolescence. They both owned relatively successful businesses but didn’t really make the best financial decisions. While they did save money from time to time, during their younger years, they enjoyed looking like they made more money than they actually did. My grandfather struggled with sobriety. Actually my grandmother and I struggled with his sobriety. He seemed to be perfectly content without it! My grandfather was very social and typically the life of the party. Because of this desire to be popular and envied he squandered away a small fortune at the local bar where he and all of his friends would dwell. They never donated to church, charity, took mind expanding vacations, saved money for their children’s education, nor their own retirement. In addition, they had several family members that didn’t mind bailing them out here and there. I never did without and they were always generous in providing care for me. They were always trying their best to give me the things I wanted.

My great grandmother Lucile was a hard worker and a money saver. She owned her own very successful embroidery business. She also invested her money in real estate and CDs at the bank. She was frugal and didn’t buy anything elaborate or wasteful. She never drove a fancy car. Lucile and her husband, Ernest, did have a very nice large brick home which was paid for very quickly and efficiently.

Did you have parents that talked about money? My grandparents didn’t. Do you feel like you grew up without a knowledge of how to manage household finances?

Did your parents overspend and live without a budget? My grandfather did try to teach me to save for the things I wanted, although he wasn’t very good at practicing what he preached. If your parents were big spenders maybe you never learned the value of planning for a large purchase, emergencies or retirement.

Did your parents live a frugal life? Being frugal is definitely a better option than being a spendthrift. But did your parents live so frugally that you grew up with a desire for luxuries and wants that were never obtained during your adolescence? Did you become one of those parents that overspent on your own children due to the fact that you have a desire for your children to not “suffer” like you did?

Our childhood experiences can have a lifetime impact on us. I believe in a healthy balance between spending and saving can be the best and healthiest financial habit to learn.

We know that our family history affects how we handle and manage money, but just because you may not have learned or developed the best habits doesn’t mean we can’t change for the better. Now is better than never! Here are a couple of quick things you can do to start changing your financial behavior.

1) Create a budget. A budget is the center of a healthy financial plan. If you do not have a budget in place, you will struggle to meet the following items on this list
2) Create an emergency fund.
3) Work to pay off credit card debt.
4) Consider utilizing your company’s 401(k) a as vehicle for savings for your retirement.

If you feel like you have made all the wrong choices with money and are ready to get back on track, please come sit down with us.

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