The Best Financial Advice My Parents Ever Gave Me: Sharing Their Mistakes
I have really enjoyed Benjy’s financial independence series and appreciate him sharing his path to reaching it. In part 1 he mentions his parents taught him the value of saving money and tracking his spending at an early age. That is a lesson many people are never taught because, to be honest, most people have no idea how to do it themselves. It got me thinking about how I got on my financial path and how I was able to get a head start on most of my peers. A path that allowed me to take advantage of this awesome miles and points hobby. This path definitely came from my parents but not in the same way as Benjy’s experience. My parents got me on my financial path by being open to sharing their mistakes along the way.
Here are his articles in the series so far:
- Financial Independence: A Points/Miles Enthusiast’s Perspective
- Financial Independence: Where We Cut Expenses the Most
- Points, Miles & Avoiding The Dangerous Lifestyle Creep
- Financial Independence: Enabling Travel Without Limits
- Financial Independence: How I Reached My Goal – Part 1
- Financial Independence: How I Reached My Goal – Part 2
- Financial Independence: How I Reached My Goal – Part 3
My Parents Background
To understand my story you need the background on my parents as well. They are high school sweethearts, just like me and my wife 😁. They decided to get hitched right after high school graduation. At the ripe age of 18 and 17 they were off in the world to figure it out on their own. That is a daunting task for anyone but they didn’t stop there. They added a few kids to the mix pretty early on; having my sister at 20 and me at 22. If you have kids then you can imagine how difficult it was for them at times.
They didn’t come from much, my father actually moved out on his own his senior year of high school. He worked all night and then went from there to school, only sleeping a few hours in the afternoon. My mom’s family helped where they could but they were left mostly to their own devices.
When I think of how stupid I was at 18, 20 and even still at 22, it amazes me that they were able to figure it out while strapped with two toddlers. Having said that, the learning curve was steep and mistakes were made for sure.
Sharing As I Grew Older
As I grew older, my parents progressed through their industries and made amazing strides in the work force. When I was in middle school, my dad decided to strike it on his own and made a risky bet on himself. That one business venture grew into a few businesses. Some that were partnered with other family members as well. Overall the businesses were a success; but of course, mistakes were made along the way.
Overall they were successful in everything they did but there where some wild financial ups and downs mixed in. The thing I cherish most during this time is how open they were with us. They shared their good decisions along with their bad decisions and did it openly. Where many people try to hide their failures, out of embarrassment and shame, they were an open book.
As I got into high school I was very interested in the aspects of business. I would work for my father in the summers and it was an eye opening experience. We butted heads, as fathers and sons do, but I will always cherish that time together.
When I would take a break from the 90+ degree heat in the plant, to find refuge in his air conditioned office, I would ask him questions about invoicing, payroll, profit sheets, improvement projects etc. Amazingly, he would answer them all. I knew as much about the financial security of the business as a stock investor would know from the quarterly reports. That took an immense amount of trust on his part and it was a truly transformative experience for me.
What I Hope To Pass Along To My Children
My experience was a rarity in this day and age. I realize now how blessed I was to go through it. It is something I hope I can pay forward to my kids as well. I hope that I am able to be an open book with them about my mistakes and successes in our financial life. I don’t think there is a better way to learn than through shared experiences and first hand accounts, aside from actually experiencing it yourself.
I hope this inspires some of you out there to be okay with your failures and being okay with sharing them. This goes for finances, miles, points and just life in general. I encourage you to be open with those closest to you. To share your highs and lows along the way, especially with your children. It is a lesson that I promise will stay with them and they will appreciate down the road.
To this day one of my family’s favorite past times is playing the what do you think would have happened if we did this or that game while having some beers by pool. I think we enjoy doing it because there are a handful of decisions made throughout life that can change so much. One of those such decisions, in my life, was them willing to share the good, as well as the bad, with me.