Post from the perspective of Lindsay Nichols. There are some great insights and tidbits that we can all learn from.
When I was a kid, I didn’t realize that my family was living a frugal lifestyle. My Mama (who raised my sister and I as a single mom) did a really good job of hiding her stress about making our mortgage payments and putting food on the table. Although we were usually financially strapped, we still enjoyed shopping and playing sports and occasionally eating out (even if it was Subway!).
Whether she meant to do it or not, my Mama managed to weave some important lessons into my mind throughout my upbringing that set me up for how to successfully manage my finances as an adult:
1. You don’t have to buy name brands
Take a walk through the grocery store with me and you’ll find that in most cases, I buy generic. Does it really matter what kind of canned beans, tomatoes or toilet paper you buy? Heck no! The good news is that there’s a usually a great generic option for most products – for example: the generic extra soft TP is so good these days you won’t even feel the difference from a name brand (don’t worry, you don’t have to buy the scratchy TP!). If you add up how much money it saves you to pass on the name brands and buy generic, it’s substantial.
- Read how I grocery shop for $150 per month and snag my grocery shopping list
2. Secondhand clothes are always “in”
I had no idea that most of our clothes came from thrift stores when I was growing up. We shopped at upscale secondhand stores where we found jeans from the Gap or the last year’s styles from all the popular stores. As an adult I still enjoy going to thrift stores once in a while, but since we have the internet at the tip of our fingers, I’ve started to buy all my used clothing online. For example: I love designer jeans, but there’s no chance I’m dropping $200 for a pair of pants. I know what size I am in the brands I love and now I frequent sites like Ebay and Poshmark to find what I’m looking for at a fraction of the price.
3. Credit card debt will haunt you
You can’t really explain to someone in their 20’s how hard it will be to dig out of credit card debt in your 30’s and 40’s. When you’re younger, you anticipate that your income will increase so much over the next decade that you’ll find a great job and easily be able to pay off 5 or ten thousand dollars of debt at the snap of your fingers. Newsflash: it’s not that easy. Sure, your income will likely grow over time, but so will your expenses and so will your taste. This makes digging out of debt harder than you can fathom when you are young.
My Mama taught me that before going into debt, I should think hard about what I spend my money on and only use credit in times of emergency. This is a great theory! But guess what? Emergencies happen. My emergency was getting pneumonia in my 20’s when I didn’t have health insurance. The bills piled up and I found myself sitting under a mound of debt. It was daunting. I found a way over the next 15 years to pay off 6 figures of debt by diligently setting aside more than the minimum payment each month and chipping away at the block until I was debt free, but it wasn’t easy and it was stressful. (There’s a second lesson here: even if you are healthy, having health insurance is extremely important.)
The morale of the story is: buy only what you can afford to pay for upfront, but also have a plan for emergencies.
4. Contemplate impulse buys
I learned a fantastic trick from my Mama about impulse buying that has helped me with countless purchasing decisions over the years. Let’s say you’re at Target (as I’m sure you know – Target is an impulse-buying black hole…) and you’ve come to buy shampoo and Tylenol, but you walk through the clothing section just to see what’s new. You find a sweater that you love… you try it on and you know you don’t need it, but you really love it and it fits perfectly. Put it back on the rack. Buy the items you came for and head home. Sleep on it. If you can’t stop thinking about it the next day, you can go back to the store and buy it.
When it comes to impulse buying, most often I don’t end up going back to buy the item that I didn’t really need. By sleeping on it you can curb the impulse to help you stick to your budget. You can do it!
5. Be Financially Independent: Don’t depend on anyone else.
One of the most important things my Mama taught me was to be self-sufficient. (Bear in mind this is coming from a single mother who learned that she couldn’t depend on a man to pay the bills.) Being independent was a value that my Mama believed to be important and it’s a value that I appreciate very much to this day. When you are financially independent, you’re in control of your destiny. There’s a sense of freedom and pride that comes with knowing you can take care of yourself, and it feels great!
I’m so grateful that my Mama instilled financial values that set me up for successfully managing money as an adult.
What values did your Mama teach you? Comment below and share some of your lessons learned.
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