Kids are like sponges. They are constantly observing and soak up everything you do and say whether you recognize it or not.
As a parent of 2 young kids, I’ve started to realize the importance of your actions because you’re the example for your kids. They’ll become their own person but they’ll also develop many of the traits you exemplify. That’s why you have to walk the walk in all things and especially when it comes to finances.
The older I get the more I see and appreciate my parents and the examples they were. With regards to finances, I definitely picked up on a few of the habits they had whether they noticed it or not. I clearly didn’t realize it at the time but as I become more aware of my habits, I can’t help but reflect and recognize that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
We didn’t talk about money all that much growing up but my parents set the example through their actions.
I’m starting to realize there are several habits I have that I probably picked up from my parents along the way that impact our finances.
I rarely saw my parents go out to eat for lunch. The town we grew up in was pretty small which allowed my parents to come home for lunch every day. They didn’t necessarily pack their lunch but would both come home and make sandwiches or eat left overs. I’m not sure if they had money in mind when doing this but it’s something I definitely have carried over into my working life. I’m not able to go home for lunch but I do pack my lunch. I rarely eat out at lunch unlike most of my colleagues and this saves our family a ton of money.
Pay to have someone mow your yard or do your landscaping? Not in our house growing up. My parents were the do-it-yourselfers. They mowed, planted flowers, planted trees, did landscaping, racked leaves, trimmed trees, etc. I’m not sure it ever crossed their minds to pay someone to do these things. I’ve followed in their footsteps in this area, although sometimes begrudgingly. North Texas summers can get pretty hot and it’s awfully enticing to consider paying someone to do this work but I haven’t succumbed to the desire. We do our own yard work and landscaping.
We enjoy cooking at home and making delicious healthy meals. We involve our daughter because she is old enough to help in small ways and she enjoys being a part of the process. My parents did a lot of cooking at home and especially making dinner for the entire family. We ate dinner at home and sat as a family around the table most nights. This is definitely something my wife and I strive to do for our family as well. Cooking at home saves us money and provides the quality time as a family we covet.
Dusting, mopping, scrubbing toilets, vacuuming, etc.; these were all tasks that were completed by the household when I grew up. Most of these chores were done by my parents but as my sister and I got older and were able to push a vacuum, we started to get involved. Similarly, we clean our own house now. It does take time and effort but we hope we’re setting a good example for our kids like our parents did for us. In full disclosure, we have hired someone in the past to do a deep clean but that has been few and far between. If we could hire someone to just clean bathrooms and shower glass doors, I think my wife would be all over that!
-Care For Your Things-
My parents took care of what they owed. If you were going to have nice things you were expected to take care of those nice things. My parents washed and maintained their cars. They took pride in keeping up the yard and making sure our house was in good shape and looked nice. They made the bed every day, cleaned dishes, and decluttered living spaces and kitchen counter tops. This healthy respect for caring for your things trickled down to me as well. They simply took care of what they owned which made the things they owned last longer. They set a great example in this regard. It’s important for us to take care of the things we have. That’s part of how you get the most value out of what you own.
-Live Within Your Means-
This may be one of the most important of the financial examples our parents could have set for us. Our parents didn’t spend extravagantly. They were okay telling us kids “no” when they needed to. They made sound purchases and never seemed to let on that there was a money problem or that our finances were tight. As kids, we never felt deprived and I think that shows what great stewards our parents were with their money. We currently try to live by this example. We live within our means and at times below our means so we can save more. We don’t spend extravagantly on things we can’t afford. We pay cash and don’t carry balances on credit cards. We do spend but when we do we make sure it brings value to our family.
We have learned and continue to learn so much from our parents. We learn directly and indirectly from them. Being parents, we now recognize that we are models for our kids. We are the example that they will rely on as they grow up and start to make decisions for themselves.
We want to make sure we’re walking the walking and set good examples for them.