The Best Financial Advice My Parents Ever Gave Me: Sharing Their Mistakes

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The Best Financial Advice
I hope to share my life lessons with my kids like my parents did with me.

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:

The Best Financial Advice

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.

The Best Financial Advice

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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12 COMMENTS

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Good read, thanks for sharing your story. I too am very honest with my kids. My oldest is only 6, but she’s too smart for her own good. I try to be as transparent as possible. Kind of my personality, can’t help it. I don’t mind her seeing any frustrations or hurdles we all go through. They’re all teachable moments and she learns that life has a wide range of good and bad times.

    • Awesome Anthony – that is the approach I am trying to take as well. The endless questions get annoying at times but I try to do my best haha.

  2. Living well below our means and never taking anything for granted (because unexpected things happen) and thus being prepared for worst case scenarios has is the way I acheived financial independence and security. Plus none of my spending is influenced what others do or don’t do.

    • Those are two big time things to follow. True wealth is only possible by living below your means and not playing the keeping up with the Joneses game is a great way to make that happen.

  3. My dad’s advice was pretty simple: “don’t do what I did.” In other words, go to school with a plan, save money, and financially plan for the future. I appreciated his honesty as well.

    He has some great stories from his decade after high school (4 years in the Navy, hitchhiking across the country multiple times, etc.), but he was in his late 30s by the time he started down a decent financial path. A bit late to begin.

    • Allowing me to learn from their mistakes…not advice per se but allowing me the opportunity to learn along with them.

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