Have you ever received advice from parents – or especially grandparents – that seemed hopelessly outdated? If so, if you’re like many of us, you’ve probably questioned their suggestions on many topics. This might include their advice on personal finance?
I came across an article from The Street that lists some of the knowledge that grandparents may have about money that we might not. For me, this actually resonated because of my parents, not grandparents. In either case, these represent things that many of us might have heard at one time or another by an older generation.
When younger, I didn’t necessarily get all these tips. But now I get it. Experience has a way of getting things straight 🙂
Here’s the list of 10 ideas (reordered) with my comments after each.
- Frugality is Not a Bad Word. I totally agree with this. As long as one is living sensibly, and not taking advantage of others or mistreating them, I see nothing wrong in having a money-saving mindset. I remember being younger and told by friends that women don’t like guys that like to save money. Whether true or not, I would have let that influence me. As an adult, I realize that being frugal – as advised by elders – is actually a good thing that will help in the long run (even though some dates might not have liked it!).
- Use What You Have. I pretty much agree. Sometimes, it’s not worth holding on to old things if they don’t work well. However, sometimes working good enough is just that – good enough. When we spend money on an item, unless there is salvage value, it’s often a good idea to keep it and find some use for it. Replacing things to get the newest, brightest, best items may be fun but it can drain resources.
- Doing It Yourself Is the Way to Go. In this case, I partially agree. Sometimes it truly is worth it; in other cases, it’s not. If you have the skills to fix something, do it – unless it’s not worth your time. For example, working 10 hours to fix something that someone could take care of for $50 isn’t always smart, unless you make $5.00 per hour. Time has value. Plus, sometimes if we try to be a jack-of-all-trades, we do many things ok but nothing really well. There’s something to be said about a pro getting it done.
- Things Have More Than One Use. Agreed here as well, to a point. The t-shirt example is good, where one can take a battered old t-shirt and use it as a cloth for cleaning. When people reuse food containers, as a different example, care must be taken to be hygienic. Being frugal can be hazardous if gone too far.
- Debt is to be Avoided. I generally agree with this, though a reasonable mortgage is typical for many people in our society, and people do need the most basic transportation as well. Personally, I don’t like debt or financial obligations, but realize that of course shelter is a basic need and not everyone is in a position to comfortably have roommates, live with family, etc. To the people that proudly proclaim that debt is a tool that can be used for your benefit, I think it’s possible but it’s the exception rather than the rule – unless you’re the banker! As a rule, I would say avoid debt.
- Save for Rainy Days. Couldn’t agree more. You never know what can happen. Best to be prepared, and plan accordingly.
- Used Can Be Just as Good as New. I bought a nice business shirt from Nordstrom back in 1999 that I busted out the other day. Yep, it’s 12 years old. Somebody commented that it was a nice shirt. I said thanks, and then casually mentioned that I’ve had the shirt for a while. The person said it looked great. It was not cheap to begin with, but often paying for quality up front can result in “used” being as good as cheaper “new”.
- Functional Trumps Fashion. Well, sometimes. If many people wore jeans and t-shirts into the office, it wouldn’t go over so well. Sometimes you have to dress the part. However, as long as it’s open in terms of what you’re wearing – such as in your own personal time – why spend boatloads on expensive fashion? Some might totally disagree with me here.
- Bargains Are to Be Sought After. Yes, definitely. However, the bargains must be worth seeking. By this I mean its penny wise and pound foolish to spend 1 hour trying to save $2. Also, buying things you don’t truly need just because they’re bargains doesn’t make sense either. As long as you need something, and it’s not costing you extra time and money to make a purchase, bargains can be totally worth it and great to seek out!
- Homemade Cookies are Delicious. Hmmm…that’s an interesting choice they made to include this, but my take is that 1) homemade food is cheaper and often healthier than food from outside, and 2) they’re right about cookies made at home being tasty.