As spring springs, the color of the season is green. From green shoots to green clovers, it is everywhere this time of year. It also colors the currency of the United States. From an early age, I have always loved the topic of money. Not from a greed or gluttony standpoint, but more so from an interest in how it drives our economy. This curiosity was likely born out of seeing the entrepreneurial mindset of my parents. I was exposed to many facets of economics that never impacted my friends and classmates. I was constantly asking questions and striving to learn how it all fit together; from how a tax law change affected business planning and forecasting which, then, affected budgeting and capital expenditures. And, more so, how these aspects then influenced budgeting and cashflow at a personal level. My parents were generous with their time and knowledge which inevitably helped me to get to where I am today.
My parents taught me many valuable money lessons during my adolescence, however, there are two that have stayed with me into my 40’s:
Keep an eye on the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves
At the heart of this lesson is patience and staying consistent. The key to most any long-term financial plan is a systematic investment plan over a long period of time. Markets fluctuate, economic cycles go through ebbs and flows, and the news media constantly finds a new way to scare us – all things we can’t control. However, staying dedicated to saving in long term instruments is something we can control and it can lead to a tremendous amount of financial stability. The lessons don’t have to be complex to be effective.
Never be afraid to invest in yourself and your abilities
This one can be taken a couple of different ways. To me, it always meant that having a strong belief in your talents and abilities is necessary for success, and investing monetarily to develop those talents and abilities will lead to positive outcomes. This lesson was the impetus for one of the Walkner Condon Core Values – “incremental personal and professional improvements”. We, as a team, believe strongly in striving to be better everyday. Investing in yourself and your abilities is a great way to make that happen!
While it shouldn’t be surprising to recognize that kids can teach us adults a gigaton about life, I am always caught off guard when I learn money lessons from my kids. My most recent and now favorite money lesson from kids is rooted in dedication.
When you want something, save your money until you can buy it
This is maybe the simplest of all money lessons, but it is so often overlooked by adults. When kids want to buy something, they have one option; save their allowance or part-time job income over an extended period of time until they have enough to make the purchase. This isn’t the case for adults. We can use any number of instant gratification mechanisms – credit cards, payment plans, leases, installment loans, etc. When is the last time you can remember wanting something and delaying the purchase until you have saved enough money. Yes, it happens but far too often we fail the lesson and finance the purchase. Obviously not all financing is bad as is the case with house and car purchases. However, our country has a credit card debt problem and it is a direct result of not heeding the advice of our children.
We would love to hear some of the money lessons you have learned from your parents or children. Please share those thoughts with us. If we are able to gather enough lessons from our readers, I will put together a second blog post on this topic with the responses.