You don’t have to be perfect with your money to reach your money goals and financial freedom
We’ve heard a lot of money lessons from the personal finance scholarship essays. Readers have shared some great money habits and ways to teach your kids financial responsibility.
But with so much to teach about money and finances, where do you begin? How do you make sure your kids stay on track with their money?
It can seem overwhelming and it’s easy to get frustrated by mistakes and give up.
But one of the best money lessons you can learn is that you don’t need to be perfect. Try to follow these money tips as best you can and teach your kids to do the same. You’re going to have missteps but that shouldn’t throw you off your long-term goals.
You can be imperfect with money and still reach financial freedom.
Today’s scholarship essay is by Jacob Einwechter, a student at Western Governors University. He shares the three money lessons his parents taught him and how he’s tried to follow them even after making a few mistakes.
Check out Jacob’s story and please share on social media. The most-shared essay on how parents can teach their kids about money will win one of our two $500 personal finance scholarships, announced August 31st!
Check out Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness. A New York Times best-seller with more than four million copies sold.
Learning the Important Money Lessons from My Parents
My father is a retired JAG officer who now practices law in California and my mother was a stay-at-home mom. Together, they raised me and seven other children. It was a busy house, and one can see why my mother had to be at home: she had to supervise, nurture, protect, and feed eight children.
With that many kids, my parents had to be careful about their money. They had to be wise with their purchases, and from what I can tell as an adult now, they were very wise indeed. While my father did some of the teaching, I learned most of it from my mother. Together they taught me three important lessons about personal finance: always save your money in a reserve account; always live below your means; and never get too deep in debt.
Financial Rewards Start with Saving
First, always saving money is crucial to surviving hard times. I remember my mother giving me my first piggy bank when I was six. I vividly recall the magic of long-term thinking if I just put in a dime every day, in ten days I'll have a dollar! Back in the 1990s, a dollar could actually afford an entire candy bar.
The reward tasted so good, but the lesson was even more valuable. I carried that lesson all the way through my undergraduate career into my adult professional life.
I have seen good times and I have seen some hard times. Saving has been so important, especially when I have been forced to live off tuna and pasta.
Wealth isn’t How Much You Make but How You Spend It
Second, my parents taught me to always live “below my means.” I have been practicing this my whole life, but I still feel like I cannot get ahead. My mother taught me to live below my means by shopping at the Salvation Army on a regular basis. We would buy all our clothes there and would buy clothes that were out of season.
We saved so much money when I look back on those days! My mother gave me very wise skills here. I rarely buy new clothes. I have never financed a vehicle because of the interest charges. I have never paid high rent. I have avoided going out to eat too much, and I cannot stand buying alcohol at a bar when I compare the price to the grocery store!
Living below my means is sometimes a challenge, but it is related to the first lesson because one must save and be ready for the hard times that are sure to come.
Watch Out for Debt and Financial Burdens
Third, my parents taught me that debt is the DEVIL! They were right. I have student debt. I have credit card debt.
To be honest, I have not practiced their wisdom as perfectly as I would have liked. This is one area I have regrets in. Debt is the Devil and I have calculated my collective interest charges, including credit card debt and student loans. Over $12 a day is added to my balance, yes, a day.
I feel an incredible amount of stress and pressure to remove this debt and sometimes I try not to think about the math. I am currently working as I obtain this MBA, and I will not stop until I actually own everything in my possession, including the house where I live. The long-term goal for my wife and I is to get debt free and to invest in real estate, beginning with a duplex (a proven method for long-term wealth).
These lessons have been essential to my life even though I have not practiced them perfectly. I appreciate the wisdom in these teachings more now as a graduate student than I ever have. Moving forward, I will discipline myself to practice these virtues with strict obedience and daily inspiration.
I want to thank Jacob for his story of the three money lessons taught by his parents and how to reach your financial goals without being perfect. Be sure to support Jacob by sharing the article through social media and check in August for the winner of the personal finance scholarship.