What My Dad Taught Me About Money
And why I’m trying to unlearn it all
When you grow up poor, money is always on the mind.
McDonald’s was a treat.
Pizza and ice cream cake was reserved just for birthdays (and I don’t remember getting this until I was a bit older).
Both my parents worked to the bone to make ends meet with three girls and their own parents to take care of.
We were poor but somehow my parents made it work.
They provided for us and was even able to pay off their mortgage in just a few years. How they managed to do that, I’ll never know.
We’re a family of savers. We always have been and I suspect always will be.
I’m grateful to have that mindset instilled in me. That money mindset is what afforded me a downpayment on my house, the ability to pay for my car in cash, and still travel while not feeling the pinch. That mindset gave me the ability to afford a life of comfortable luxury.
My parents, specifically my dad, has been a big influence in my life with regards to how I treat money and think about money. He’s taught me life lessons about money that I will forever be thankful for.
And I’m trying to unlearn them.
Money is a scarce resource
Saving money has always been important in my family.
I’ve been raised with the scarcity mentality my entire life. I can’t remember the last conversation with my dad where he didn’t bring up money. He doesn’t rant about it or anything but the topic of money seems to make its way into our conversation every time even if he’s just making a joke about it. A comment here, a comment there. Money always manages to poke its head up from its cave.
My sisters and I were brought up believing that money is a scarce resource and to protect it at all costs. While I have an actual number in my bank account and there is a limit to how much I can and am willing to spend on something, I’m trying not to be so tight-fisted about my money.
My parents are close to retirement age now and although they can technically retire early, they don’t. I am always asking my dad when he’s going to retire and he often (jokingly) asks me where the money will come from if he retires. Although he plans to retire this year (finally!), I know he is worried about not having enough even though he has enough.
This idea that money is a scarce resource has made me fearful and anxious.
I honestly can’t even spend $20 on something without overthinking it to death.
Is it really worth it?
I can spend this money on a meal or something else.
Do I really need this?
There’s a lot of thought that goes into giving up a $20 bill for me (even a $10 bill sometimes).
And I absolutely hate it.
If your main focus has been purely to hold on to something for so long, it’s hard to let go.
I’m trying to let go.
I’ve always thought of myself as someone who’s just getting by when in reality, I’m far better off than most people.
This idea that money is scarce has seeped into other parts of my life and it has become the foundation of which I base a lot of my decisions on. This idea has made me believe in my limitations rather than my potential abilities. It has made me focus on boundaries rather than opportunities. It has made me waste so many hours thinking about small purchases!
So I’m trying to let go.
To let go of this idea that money and security can only be made through one avenue (which is through a 9–5 job).
To let go of my limitations and instead focus on my potential.
To let go of scarcity and adopt the idea of abundance instead.
Money is not worth risking
I’m not promoting that we should all gamble our money away thinking that $5,000 on red is an investment but there are times when we need take a risk with our money without an expected ROI.
My parents have built their entire life around security. I don’t blame them in the least because security is what they needed when they came to Canada. Their income was never guaranteed and they had a whole family to feed. They were trying to make ends meet for years.
I’m fortunate enough to be in the position where I’m not trying to make ends meet. I have a family to support and bills to pay and I am not uber rich but I am not struggling to do either of those things.
So I’m trying to learn to be a bit more risky with money, more specifically, investing in myself.
All of my parent’s income went to us. They never put any of their money into their own personal growth which is saddening because they had and still have so much potential. I feel as though they never really lived up to that potential because they didn’t want to spend the money on themselves.
I don’t know if it’s because they never believed in their potential or if there was another reason they chose not to invest in themselves but I want to believe that I’m worth the risk.
The best way to make money is through a 9–5
Having a steady job has always been at the forefront of my education and my career. I chose the most practical job ever, accounting, when my real desire was to major in English.
Steady income and security have always been a top priority for my parents so when I took a 6 month hiatus from my job a few years ago I was constantly questioned about my decision. To them, me quitting without having another job lined up was insanity in its purest form. I eventually did return to the workforce and am currently working at an organization I believe in and doing work I actually enjoy but I know that there are better ways to make money.
Having a steady job may be an “easy” way to make money but it’s not the best way. After all, will working for someone else while putting off your dreams really make you rich?
I doubt it.
So I’m trying to hustle.
Currently failing miserably at it but it’s giving me hope which is more than anything money can buy.
My parents sacrificed everything they knew and had to give me a better life and to say I’m grateful is an understatement and I understand why they taught us to view money as scarce and not worth risking because that’s what money is to them — something that afforded them a new beginning.
That’s how I want to see money too — as a new beginning.
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