Thursday, December 2, 2010

Grandma's Money Lessons Still Are True

As we grow up we are influenced by many people. Perhaps the most influential in my life was my grandparents. Grandma and grandpa were always there to set me straight. They were no nonsense and taught me many things. They didn't live exstravagant lives. They always cooked from scratch with rare exception. As I look back there were many instances where they would try to share with me some facet of their life. Some of those lessons were about money. Here are a few of the best.

1. Always save for a rainy day.

This sure was grandpa's favorite lesson. I think it was one of the most talked about by them. Saving money and using what you had wisely. Not wasting money, food or anything. For me it helped me prepare for life's future needs. Like saving for retirement or kids going to college. Never wasting money on interest payments when borrowing. They taught me to be aware of every penny I had.

2. Credit is not your friend. 

Grandpa used to say how proud he was that he never owed a penny to anyone. In his day he would save and pay cash for his needs. It's a foreign idea to think that way today. We make excuses that we would never have anything if we didn't borrow to pay for it. They lived on much less than we do today. Grandpa would say how his pay was only $5 per week when he was a young man. But it was relative because things were much cheaper then.

I believe they had less things to spend money on than we do today. We have all kinds of gadgets and conveniences, that in our minds, have become necessities. They had less things to spend money on. We have a never ending supply.

3. The only person that won't let you down is yourself.

Being self sufficient was a more common trait in the the days of my grandparents. It was a necessity because you had less outside help than you do now. The lifelines we have today like social services, food stamps and housing help didn't exist in their day. They learned to be self-sufficient. More people cooked at home. They sewed and made clothes. In Grandpa's day you could count on neighbors, friends and family to be there and help you through your tough times.

4. Always live below your means.

I would watch my grandparents not be wasteful with their money. They would cook every night. If there was a party they would never think of having it catered. They would prepare all the food for it. Lights would be turned off. Water would never be wasted. Clothes would be mended and worn till thread bare. The homes were simple and they were not very big. There was never an expensive car and th car was driven till the wheels fell off.

Money was regarded as a precious commodity and never misused. Vacations were few and far in between. There were no credit cards or debt. My grandparents were in control.

5. Nothing good or bad lasts forever.

This is my favorite lesson of this list. When things are not going so good in your life like a relationship or a financial problem, Grandma would tell me that this is only temporary and it would eventually get better. She said time would eventually heal all wounds. This is very true and comforting when your going through a hard situation.

The opposite is also true, when things are going well, look out because its only a matter of time when they could go bad again. The lesson here is prepare and get ready for that time, its coming. I have seen many people riding high on salary increases or business booming like never before. These folks think it will last forever. They don't put a thing away for the rainy day. They spend every dime and when the ride is over, they are broke. Again.

6. Waste not, Want not.

I agree that being frugal and not wasting is also a way of preparing for the future. Not wasting assets today will only provide more for future use. It's that Recession, Depression mind set of being ready for that time when things may not be so good. We see this demonstrated many times in nature when animals display survival skills. They are ready for the coming cold weather, drought, or lack of food. Observing their behavior should teach us a lesson of taking care of our lives, come what may.

Our money and what it provides, is our means of surviving in the world. It's something we must learn to not waste. We must plan by using budgets and making wise decisions. Grandma knew all about this, it was just plain common sense to her.


  1. I was raised on these lessons. The classics never grow old or outdated.

  2. Your grandparents were wise people.

  3. Hi Dave, Beyond being a handsome couple, your grandparents were sensible! You cannot go wrong with those basic tenets. In fact, I believe and practice them as well. (this one's going in my next round up)

  4. Thanks Barb. The best way I can honor them is passing their wisdom down to my own children and grandchildren.


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