It’s no secret our grandparents view the world differently. If you’re like the majority of people, your grandparents or great grandparents lived through the Great Depression. The financial lessons they learnt during that harsh time are a legacy worth sharing.
I only knew one of my grandparents and, as the Great Depression made its way across the Atlantic to Great Britain, she was a young mother with two small children. She also had the added challenge of her Merchant Navy husband being absent for long periods. I can’t imagine how hard that must have been for her but I know it probably helped forge the fiercely independent woman I knew and loved.
I was lucky to have been able to spend time with my grandmother learning the many life and financial lessons she had to share. Some I’ve learnt well, others I’m still working on. As Mothers’ Day is this Sunday, I thought I’d honour her memory by sharing some of those financial lessons with you.
1. Cash Only Economy
My grandmother never used credit. Ever. She only paid cash. If she didn’t have the cash, she didn’t buy it. Plus, despite living on an old age pension, she was always able to save. She was a classic example of ‘it’s not what you earn, it’s what you spend, that matters’.
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2. Value What You Have
When you value your belongings and consider them investments, you take care of them. Nowadays, it’s seemingly cheaper to throw it away and replace it than it is to repair it. That goes for everything from socks to power tools. My grandmother took care of all her possessions because she valued not just the item but the money it took to purchase it in the first place.
3. Practical Skills Are Priceless
My grandmother grew up on a farm and like most women of her generation she knew how to do and make a great many things that we now outsource to industry. She could knit and sew, milk a cow, garden… you name it, she could do it. She also used some of those practical skills to earn a little extra money and keep herself busy right into her 80’s.
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4. Emergency Fund
Of course, my grandmother never called it an emergency fund, to her it was ‘saving for a rainy day‘. And, it was a priority. She knew that having money in the bank was insurance against adversity.
5. Grow Food
There’s a great ‘allotment garden‘ tradition in England that’s still very popular today. My grandmother knew that a productive kitchen garden ensured you always had plenty of fresh vegetables available, regardless of the state of your budget. Good food is the foundation of good health.
6. Wants and Needs – Know the Difference
We’re constantly bombarded by advertising… It’s no wonder we can’t distinguish between a want and a need. Everything seems to be a need. Being able to make this distinction can mean the difference between living well with money in the bank and living from pay cheque to pay cheque with a mountain of consumer debt looming over you.
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7. Luxuries Don’t Have to be Expensive
Like knowing how to discern the difference between a want and a need, my grandmother also knew that sometimes the real luxuries were the little things in life: taking time out to enjoy a sunny day, fresh flowers in a vase, a special dessert. Not a Prada bag or luxury cruise in sight!
I’ve weathered a few financial storms during my life and I hope that, like my grandmother, I’ll be able to pass on some of the wisdom I’ve acquired (the hard way) along with the wisdom passed to me, to my own future grandchildren.
What financial lessons will you pass on to your grandchildren?
Which of those financial lessons are ones you’ve learned the hard way?