I look back on my upbringing and realize that my parents taught me to value money by buying things on sale. They taught me to save for the future and, inadvertently, to be scared about not having enough money, which is why I have always lived beneath my means.
My parents also, without realizing it, taught me how to enjoy the money I do have today. Once I found out the amount of wealth they did have, and calculated how much they actually needed to support their lifestyle, I couldn’t understand why they didn’t spend a bit more.
My father nobly wanted to leave it for the children, but clearly there was more to it. The truth is that they were still scared that there would never be enough.
I noticed, however, a dramatic personality shift in my mother when she was in her early 60’s, and I asked her what had happened to bring about the change. In the past she had been very uptight, and now she really had a lighter, more carefree nature about her. Had she been through some therapy, or was she taking some medication? No. She said she had come to a point in her life when she knew they had “enough” money. She now struggles with wanting to loosen up and spend more. But my father simply could not break out of the poverty mentality, and this was an ongoing challenge for both of them.
What conclusions can I draw from all of this? I think an appreciation of the value of money is one of the greatest gifts my parents could have given me, in addition to the value of hard work and perseverance. I am who I am today, and have the wealth I have today, because of them. But from their struggles I learned to be a little more reasonable. Financial planning helped me to see that I could plan for the future and still enjoy some of the fruits of my labor today as well.