While this holiday season will look different for most families this year, the opportunity to start new traditions is well underway.
Celebrating what our families have taught us about building wealth is a great way to add an extra dose of gratitude and levity to the typical dinner table banter, and just like American families are a mosaic, so is their advice!
For many, it’s time to consider a new lens on how we approach the oftentimes uncomfortable conversations between family and money, and bring more love and humility into the mix. For those with different money values, it’s a model that can serve divided households well.
Consider these prompts for an upcoming get-together or Zoom chat:
- What was the best piece of financial advice your family passed down to you?
- Have your thoughts on personal finances evolved over the past few years?
- What are your philosophies around wealth building and money?
- And, for fun, what’s the worst piece of financial advice you’ve ever received?
Colleagues, friends and broader community members were happy to share their thoughts when asked the same questions:
In the oldies but goodies category.
The perennial “pay yourself first” mantra is always front and center. Individuals shared recommendations on utilizing automatic transfers into savings and investment accounts to help achieve that goal. The pay yourself first notion was also countered with the balancing act of saving enough for a rainy day, but also remembering to enjoy life. Paying bills on time, paying off principal on loans, and not carrying a balance on credit cards rounded out the list of “oldies but goodies.”
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The takeaways: focus on the fundamentals – be sure to put some of your paycheck into savings, pay your bills on time, and make sure to enjoy some of your hard earned money.
Care for your biggest assets!
The importance of owning and taking care of a vehicle has always been apparent. One person remarked that besides providing transportation, it could also be used for shelter and heat, and had once allowed them to keep their job and find better work until they could settle into a new apartment. For many, a car is one of the most valuable assets they will own, and taking care of those assets is a smart step, as well as a larger metaphor for wealth building in general.
The takeaways: regardless of the make, model and year, a car is one of the biggest assets most people possess. Be sure to keep up on oil changes and regular maintenance so it can serve you well for years to come.
File under: good life lessons.
Sometimes lessons about wealth building serve as good life lessons too!
One commenter shared that her parents and other Hispanic parents were always focused on saving money growing up. When she was little she’d ask “what is it that you’re saving for!? Are we going on a family vacation?” But the reason was always “just in case”. Her parents worked and worked without truly enjoying their money. Heartbreakingly, she shared that her dad had worked since he was ten years old and passed away at the young age of 64, having only enjoyed his retirement for three years. To this, she shared that the mantra of ‘saving as much as you can’ can be both a good and bad example.
Being a thoughtful consumer and evaluating needs before purchases, as well as repurposing items that are already owned, is both an economically- and environmentally-smart decision. One individual proclaimed that continuous self-education had the best Return on Investment, and that considering money as a tool and not a goal, was a great mindset. Let’s keep these top of mind heading into the new year.
The takeaways: balancing wants and needs is a larger part of maturity and adulthood, and if the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that being prepared and appreciating the joy in each and everyday are concepts not to be overlooked.
Now, it’s your turn to pass it on
Perhaps it’s not surprising that one commenter recalled never receiving financial advice at all, her parents lived paycheck to paycheck and didn’t save much of anything; she was the first to attend college. The advice she now shares with her children is to “save/spend/share” – one-third each. And to be mindful of where the “spend” part goes towards.
This is a great reminder that we can always move future generations forward by leaning on what we did, and did not, learn from our relatives and doing our best to guide our children in the right direction.
This concept of neither success nor failure being a final destination is an important reminder of how necessary it is to talk about real issues with the ones we love. This holiday season, whether in-person or virtually, take time to connect with family and friends both young and old. You never know what you might learn.