Yes, I actually did have money lessons from mom growing up. Not that she had a chalk board out and gave me lectures, but she showed me by example. It’s not her lessons that mess me up with my finances in my adult life, it’s me forgetting or ignoring those lessons that brought me to where I am.
1. Hand me downs
I hated hand me down clothes growing up. But this was what my mom did to save money on clothes and not spoil me, I guess. It’s just me and my brother in our household, so we got our clothes from our older cousins, mom’s friends’ older kids, and anywhere she can get hands on. She did buy new clothes for us once in awhile, but it either was a special treat or was an unbelievably great deal that she couldn’t pass up. I come to realize that people buy clothes from thrift stores, vintage stores, and swap with friends without being poor. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. You’re saving money and recycling perfectly good clothes to build a new wardrobe.
2. Cook at home
We used to only eat out once a month on my dad’s pay day. It’s not like we went to a fancy restaurant all dolled up. We went to a Korean style Chinese restaurant and shared 2 or 3 dishes that costed few dollars each dish. I used to count the days until the pay day, so we can go out to eat together. Not eating out of course saves money and everyone knows that. But after I started living on my own, I never ever ate at home. I never liked cooking and I convinced myself that unless I have a family of 4 or more, cooking for myself was more expensive than eating out. I didn’t even want to think about how unhealthy it is to eat out every single day and I forgot how I used to cherish those once a month special treats. I miss those days when I was grateful for little treats like that and everything was so special. I want to rediscover that in me by living modestly and think about all that I do have.
3. Do it yourself
Long before DIY projects became trendy, my mom used to make everything from what was laying around the house. There were no boxes, containers, or wrappers that got thrown away. At the end of each semester, she would collect my notebooks and cut out unused pages and make another notebook out of it by binding it. She used to make me practice spelling and handwriting out of those home made notebooks. When I first came to the states, I was shocked at seeing kids rip out pages of unused notebook pages to just throw around for fun and break pencils. Aside from saving money, it’s good for the environment to recycle and it helps you with your creativity to make something new out of something old.
4. Grow your own veggies
My mom used to grow peppers, green onions, sesame leaves, and lettuces. These are veggies that are easy to grow and that she often used in her cooking. It gave her joy to grow things and feed healthy veggies to her family as well as save money in the grocery store. I kill plants. I do. Maybe I’ll try growing some things later in my life, but for now, I’ll stick to freezing them to not waste any that I do buy.
5. Side hustle
My mom used to have many side hustles that I remember. These side hustles didn’t pay her much, but she’s an advocate of making and saving every penny. One of her side hustles was peeling garlic. I mean she peeled bags and bags of galic by hands. It made her hands peel too from soaking it in strong garlic water all day. Another one is hot gluing stuffed animal nose. I used help her with it too. We got burnt frequently, but I was happy that I played a role in whatever she was doing. She didn’t and couldn’t have a full time job(I won’t get into the reasons.), but she found every side gig that she could do to make extra dollar.
There are more, but I’ll stick to these today. These all demonstrated that a)she only bought what was needed, b)the importance of recycling, c) importance of minimal approach to spending, and d)you have to make more to save more. But the most important thing I got from her example is that she didn’t do this to be cheap or eventually buy something big for herself, she did what she had to for her family. I appreciate everything that she did and sacrificed for us. I hope I don’t forget it again.
What financial knowledge did you learn from your parents?