How a Hard Lesson and the Power of Frugality Changed My Life

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One reader shares how a hard lesson and his mother’s love taught him the power of being frugal

Sometimes it’s the hardest lessons in life that teach us the most. There’s nothing like being poor to teach you the power of being frugal and how to make ends meet on less.

Some people are able to keep this lesson even after the financially difficult times end. They continue to live modestly and are able to reach their financial goals with saving and investment.

Others aren’t as fortunate, forgetting the lessons from hard times and spending their money as soon as they earn it. They may still squeak by but will always be living paycheck-to-paycheck.

Today’s scholarship essay is by Jake Tran, a student at Estrella Mountain Community College. He shares how his mother taught him the power of being frugal through hard lessons learned.

Check out Jake’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!

Frugal Habits Through Hardship

“When we are rich, can we get that?” I said as I stared at the mesmerizing video game in the store window. That was my attitude growing up as a kid and that very same attitude remains to this day.

My family were like many other immigrant families growing up in the states. After settling in Southern California from Vietnam, we were poor with no one to help us. Not even our relatives that reside in California spared a dime of relief for us. But that didn’t stop my parents from pursuing the American dream.

The transition from Vietnam wasn’t all that different from a financial standpoint. We were poor in Vietnam and we were poor in Orange County as well.

From the day we set foot in America, my mother knew exactly what she had to instill within me and my sister about the importance of financial discipline. Every time we bought something, every time we wasted money going out for fast food, my mom repeated the same few lines of wisdom to us about how crucial it is to handle your money correctly.

I’ll always remember how whenever we went to McDonald’s, we would order only one cheeseburger for me and my sister to share. No fries or drinks though. That was far too expensive.

Being the gullible little kid I was, I took everything she said straight to my soul and believed every word of it. Not just because I trusted what she had to say, but I wanted to make her proud of my decisions. It was the least I could do for the woman that gave up all her hopes and dreams to raise me.

The Power of Being Frugal Sticks

Going into my teenage years, my mindset had not changed a bit. For my sister though, it was a different story.

She quickly got caught up into the material world. Everything from make-up to clothes to electronics, she had to have it all. It didn’t matter if it was her money or my parents’. One would think that once an older sibling falls into that route, the younger one will follow suit, but not me.

How could someone be so comfortable spending another person's money? How could someone sleep at night without any financial backup?

So, I took her mistakes as a personal lesson and vowed to never let myself turn into her. While this was transpiring, my mom had not changed her stance either. She still offered the constant reinforcement to keep me in check, so far to a point that from around 13 to 14 years old, everything that I got, I paid for myself.

Because I had dedicated myself to this position of personal responsibility, I allocated my finances to things that I was passionate about. From building my own computer to purchasing new guitar equipment, whatever I wanted, I simply directed my focus, saved up some money, and went for it.

These life-lessons will stick with me my entire life and you can never put a price on something so valuable.

So, what does the future hold for me? At the moment, I am financing a personal YouTube project with my business partner. We started a media production company for the world of modern sport Taekwondo.  Our short-term goals with the company is to continue expanding and growing our income to finance more trips and better equipment all for the betterment of the sport. My long-term goal is to one day achieve financial freedom and be able to do this passion full-time.

Thanks Mom.

I want to thank Jake for his story about learning hard personal finance lessons and the power of being frugal. Be sure to support Jake by sharing the article through social media and check in August for the winner of the personal finance scholarship.

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