Friday, October 15, 2010

Flashback Friday: Show Me the Money!

Linda (Mocha with Linda) wants to know about money in this week's Flashback Friday.

How was money handled in your family when you were growing up? Were your parents savers or spenders? What are examples of ways they saved or splurged? Who paid the bills? What, if anything, did they teach you about money? Did you have an allowance? Whether received as an allowance or through other means such as gifts, when you had your "own" money, were there restrictions on how you spent it? Were you paid for making certain grades on your report card? Did your parents tithe or give money to the church on a regular basis? What about other charities? How old were you when you got your first checking account or credit card? How has the way you were raised impacted your handling of financial issues today?

Ooooh, the "M" word! Thankfully I had good role models growing up. My parents were both savers, though Mama spent more than Daddy. My sisters and I never lacked for necessities, and we frequently got new things like clothing, games, dolls, books, etc., but big ticket items like game systems, bicycles, etc., were saved for special occasions like birthdays or Christmas.

Daddy paid the bills, handed out the allowance, etc. I remember when I was in college, he would give me a certain amount of money per week. That included money for eating out, for gas, etc. When it was gone, it was gone. He even went so far as to figure how many miles per gallon my car averaged, how many miles it was to and from school, and any errand mileage I might use. I also had extra money from babysitting that I'd use for special things - a new outfit, an extra night out with friends, and so on.

Mama bought most of my clothes, but there were limits on what I could get. If I wanted the current "in" pair of blue jeans, Mama would pay what a "regular" pair would cost and it was up to me to pay for the rest. I don't think I ever owned a pair of the hottest brand because I didn't want to give up my money for that. I survived just fine wearing the less popular brands of clothing. Thankfully I wasn't a popularity hound, or I might've spent my high school years broke.

I'm pretty sure my parents tithed regularly. When I was little, Daddy would hand me a little money to put in the offering plate as it was passed. I don't know what charities my parents gave to other than the usual church programs: the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Now Mama sponsors a child or two through Compassion International, and she helps work their booth at concerts and other events. I think she also participates in Samaritan's Purse's Operation Christmas Child.

One thing that stands out to me about Daddy is his Christmas list. He always puts something practical on there like socks or a belt, but he also wants us to spend the money we would normally spend on him and buy something for someone in need - making a donation to the Salvation Army, buying something for someone on an angel tree, sending a soldier a care package, etc. All he wants is a card with a picture of what we gave. I have yet to remember to do something like that. I get so caught up in the busy-ness of the season that I forget. It shames me. Since I'm thinking about it right now, I should go ahead and put that under his name on my list for this year.

I was in college when I got my first checking account. Daddy helped me set it up, taught me how to keep a check register, and showed me how to balance my checkbook when my statement came each month. It wasn't that I was stupid about those matters, but he wanted to be sure I knew how to keep myself out of financial difficulties. I'm happy to say he never had to bail me out of anything. He also gave me a lot of cautious advice when I got my first credit card later on. Of course I waited until I had a job other than weekend or summer babysitting. I knew I needed some steady income for that privilege.

I'd like to say that I've been as cautious as Daddy taught me to be. Unfortunately I do have debt, but it's manageable and my credit score is high. I'd like to be debt-free one day, but it'll take a while. I read Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover a few years ago, and I really liked his approach. We've done a few things to start reducing our debt, but not to Dave's extremes.

I'm in the process of getting my own jewelry business set up. When I resigned from The Pampered Chef in January, I had a few hundred dollars in my business account. I turned that into a jewelry business account and have used what's in there for my supplies, replenishing it with money I've made on sales. I'm trying not to use my credit card for anything, but if I need to, I'll transfer money from my business account to our personal account to cover it. It's worked well so far, and I plan to keep it that way.

In my personal life, I'm pretty frugal. I save (and save and save) my birthday money until I find something I absolutely must have, and then I only spend a little of it. I'm very choosy. I started clipping coupons and shopping sales, saving a little money that way. Planning a weekly menu helps me save, too, since I plan the next week according to the current week's sales and only buy what's on my list. Okay, sometimes I buy something that's not on my list, but that's infrequent. When ALDI opened, I started shopping there, just a little at first until we could see what their quality is compared to their savings. It only took a few weeks before I was doing the bulk of my weekly grocery shopping there instead of Wal-Mart. The savings are incredible! I'm still brand loyal on a few things, so I do still shop Wal-Mart (and Brookshire's when they have exceptional sales - like this week!).

I also clip restaurant coupons. When we want to eat out, we look through my coupons before making a decision. One great coupon we used recently was from Genghis Grill, where two kids eat free for each paid adult meal. I have one more of those coupons, which expires on Oct. 31, and we "earned" a free bowl on our next visit. Since we'll all order water to drink, the only thing we'll be paying for is one adult meal!

Another way we're saving money is by switching our cell phone plans. Our AT&T contracts for our iPhones recently ran out and we were going month-to-month. After a little research, my husband found a better deal with a different carrier. We still have our iPhones, but now they're more like iPod Touch gadgets with all the Internet capability - as long as there's a wireless connection. That way I can still play my games, use my grocery list program and calendar, take quick pictures, etc., but we're paying almost $100 less for service on two less fancy phones. Every little bit helps!


Mocha with Linda said...

I laughed about your not wanting to cough up the extra money for the popular jeans. I always am amused when my kids really want something, and then when I tell them they have to use their own money, suddenly they decide it's not worth it!

Weekly offering, Lottie MOon, and Annie Armstrong. . . .sounds like we had similar experiences!

bekahcubed said...

I love how your parents handled "in" clothing--what a smart idea! Of course, if my parents had done the same thing, I'd still have never bought the "in" stuff--since Mom rarely paid more than $5 for any article of clothing (and that wouldn't even make a dent in the cost of the really "cool" stuff!) Thankfully, I wasn't really too into dressing "cool".