Who Had The Most Financial Impact On You As A Child?

I’ve written about my frugal grandmother, and one might assume she would be the one who impacted me most as a child, but she wasn’t. She was a positive influence, and to tell you the truth I think I inherited some genes from her, but the person I feel had the most impact on me was my foster mother.

When I was sixteen I lived with another family.   I was put to work to begin earning my keep and was essentially the main breadwinner for the family for five years.  I was only making minimum wage, but I was the only one that contributed my entire paycheck each and every week without fail.  I saw a lot of waste in that household which would affect me for the rest of my life.

Things I’ll think twice about doing because of my foster mother:

Waste money on food.  Extravagant and unnecessary amounts of money were spent on food.  For example, consider this was in the 80s, the mother would spend twenty dollars on a spaghetti dinner.  Every item purchased had to be the highest cost premium product, from the extra lean hamburger down to the commercially produced garlic butter.  This meal was to feed three adults, a teenage girl and a two toddlers.  I used to spend time thinking about how many meals I could have put on the table for twenty dollars.  They ate a lot of commercially prepared foods, like Hamburger Helper and everything had to be name brand.  For example, they’d buy Ritz crackers, which cost twice as much as store brand saltines.

Eat out excessively. The family ate out a lot.  At least two or three times a week they would go to Jack-in-the-Box or McDonald’s and drop twenty dollars on a meal.  The mother was a musician and earned $25 a night. This splurge usually took up her whole night’s earnings.

Expensive drinks instead of water. Water was rarely drank by anyone in the family, instead they drank Coke, Tab or milk. At least a six pack of Tab and a gallon of milk was downed each day. And they didn’t recycle the aluminum cans.

Pay to look fake. The mother paid a professional wig stylist to create elaborate wig hairdos for her each month.  She dyed her real hair regularly, and once damaged her hair so badly that it turned straw-like.   She wore fake nails, and fake eyelashes.

Try to pretend I’m rich, when I’m not. The mother leased a big fancy car so that people at her job would think she was wealthy.  She also bought expensive dresses from places like Diamond’s or Saks Fifth Avenue to wear once and return.  She bought shoes with purses to match to go with every new outfit. We lived in a neighborhood that we couldn’t afford to live, and three months later we’d move in the middle of the night so we wouldn’t get evicted.

Life with this family was so far removed to the way I had been raised.  I spent a lot of time thinking how I would NEVER, could NEVER be as frivolous as these people.

Who had the most financial impact on you as a child?

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21 comments to Who Had The Most Financial Impact On You As A Child?

  • Goodness what a story!! I can see how you’ve developed such an aversion. I only had my parents for the most part, but they were frugal yet wasteful. A strange mix, but in the end I guess I picked up the best and left the rest.

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    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @Fabulously Broke, that is an interesting combination. 🙂 Usually frugal folks aren’t wasteful. Sorry you were stuck in my spam folder, I just fished you out tonight. Thank you for visiting and commenting!

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  • My mom had the most influence on me. She kept meticulous records of her spending. I don’t think she ever summed up her expenses or added things in categories. She only reviewed her spending now and then looking through her expense book to see where the money went. I think recording her expenses helped her keep her expenses in check and taught me that I could do the same.

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    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @ctreit, thanks for sharing about your mom.

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  • nancy

    I hate to say it, but both my parents were horrible influences. My dad was a teacher and obsessed with retiring. After he retired, he got into some horrible investments, parents divorced, and my dad lost everything.

    My mom was able to save the house, and has always worked 2 jobs. Still…she over spends, and it is a horrible “disease.”

    My mom does not buy fancy clothes, or goes on trips. She buys more expensive food items, and is compulsive.

    I am beginning to feel it could be/is a mental health issue. It is what I know, and have grown up with. With all respect to my parents.

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    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @nancy, so have you learned from the ways of your parents and done differently?

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  • My mom definitely is the most influential as far as finance goes. She is very frugal, works hard and never spend frivolously. I had a good saving foundation, but my parent didn’t teach me much about investing. The were self employ small business owner so that’s their focus. I had to learn about stocks and other form of investing on my own.

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    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @retirebyforty, sorry for the delay in posting your comment, you were stuck in my spam folder. Your mom sounds like she was a great influence!

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  • Probably the person that affected me most financially during my childhood was my Dad. I liked how he was very frugal with the things that don’t really matter in life (having nice cars, nice clothes, etc), but did spend money to take the family on learning experiences on vacation to interesting places.

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    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @Jacob, sounds like your dad was a smart guy. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

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  • Wow–thank you for sharing! That must have been so hard to see your hardearned money going for stupid/unnecessary things.

    Both of my parents divorced, and then within ten years of that they each took turns filing for bankruptcy, so I believe that had the most impact on me. I also had a scroodge for a grandfather, which is probably where my frugal tendencies come from…:).

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    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @Amanda L Grossman, yes, it was frustrating. It affected me strongly to never do the same! Here’s to frugal grandparents!

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  • My biggest influence was my mother in a negative way. We didn’t have much growing up until the mid to late eighties when credit started becoming more plentiful and easy to obtain. She got on the credit card band wagon and encouraged me to continue on that ride. What I remember most from my twenties is her telling me constantly when I started becoming more reluctant to use credit was “Your going to get it anyway, you might as well get it now.”

    She was also the one that encouraged me to take out the maximum amounts allowable in student loans. I really regret this the most. I knew going to grad school I’d have to take out loans, but I had only planned to take out the minimum necessary. I ended up taking out more and am now $80,000 in the hole for school. Grad school is the biggest mistake I ever made.

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  • DEFINITELY my parents. No doubt about it. They were so frugal, and that is what I’ve become. I need to spend more and live a little!

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    Jacob Reply:

    @Financial Samurai, It definitely is good to have a balance! This is also something I’ve been trying to work on the past few years as well!

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  • I would have to say my frugal mother…she is always about the sales and getting everything discounted…that’s not to say she won’t buy nice stuff (but only if it it’s on sale)…I think it’s helped me be as frugal as I am, though I admit a little TOO frugal!

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  • My parents were both negative examples — at opposite ends of the spectrum.

    Dad was not frugal — he was a miser. He didn’t like to spend money on anything, and he might not have spent it on anything were it not for …

    Mom, who was a spender. Mom liked (likes) to shop, likes having stuff and buying stuff. They live alone in a four-bedroom house (where my siblings and I grew up), and there’s no way any one of us could move back into our old room without a yard sale first. She was all about quantity over quality (unless she could have both).

    I am pretty frugal — moreso as time goes on — but am not unwilling to spend money on things that are worth spending money on. I do struggle from time to time with letting go of cash, but overall, I think I learned lessons on what NOT to do from both of them.

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  • Janette

    Neither of my parents shared any information about money. We always had it and were never taught how to work with it (except my younger sister who went into business with my dad). I have to admit that your foster family was typical of the 70-early 80 moms of my mother’s group. They seemed to think that is what we all wanted. It was a sad truth- bleached hair and Jack in the Box. My brother( 48) does not remember my mother EVER cooking a meal. Remember Swanson’s TV dinners?

    I learned the most from the habits of my very wealthy step grandmother. She told me about never using a dry cleaner (turn your clothes inside out for a week), using all the parts of a chicken( she had a cook- but she was definitely in charge), and how to simply love being in the place you are at.

    All matters of money I learned from Jane Bryant Quinn and my stock broker in 1981. My stock broker was a woman (gasp!) who saw me as someone she needed to teach. Thank the Lord. Armed with their teaching we often lived well on one salary, bought our first house with cash and have saved plenty to retire on a school teacher salary. Anne’s best pieces of advice (my stock broker): ” Only buy stock in something you use at least three times a week. AND watch for bubbles. Get out when the bubble looks too good!” Since I am the middle class- she spoke well and I have done well.

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  • […] Out of Debt Again wants to know who had the most financial impact on you as a Child? […]

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