My parents have an amazing credit score, own their own home, are avid coupon-ers, and know how to live within their means. They provided my sister and I with a great childhood, and were able to provide us with everything we needed. While we were neither well-off nor poor, I’ve learned a lot about money from my parents, especially since I’ve been making my own money and learning to make my own financial decisions. However, as I have become financially independent, I’ve also begun to challenge my parents’ approaches and beliefs towards money to form an approach that’s my own. Here are some of the money lessons I was taught growing up that I no longer necessarily believe.
1. You can figure out your finances by yourself.
Other than consulting their siblings, my parents never had a financial advisor. I think there was the impression that having a financial advisor was a luxury reserved for the uber-rich, or those with more assets in general that needed special management. Since I started making a salary, I’ve found it helpful to get a financial advisor that I trust who is helping me plan to meet my goals.
2. Children are an investment in my future.
Sometimes I think it is because my parents are immigrants, and they grew up in a culture where it was common to have whole families (grandparents, parents, and children) under one roof, that having kids is a way to ensure you have company and someone to take care of you when you’re older. My mom says it to me all the time when she talks about the financial sacrifices my dad and she made to give my sister and I a great education: “We invested in you as an investment in our future.” I think this mentality is why my parents did not regularly contribute to retirement funds of their own. I currently plan my finances with the impression that somewhere along the line, I’m going to have to “pay for mom and dad,” and I don’t want my kids to feel the same way. I don’t want to move forward with the impression that having children will somehow secure me financially in the future.
3. Owning a home is better than renting.
I understand the arguments that owning a home can be advantageous. But owning a home is a huge responsibility. Both of my parents took little pleasure in the upkeep of our home— the walls were never painted, paintings and pictures were never hung, and when the fridge started to leak, my parents didn’t make a move to really fix the floor and do the expensive maintenance until it was time to sell the house and make it “buyer ready.” Though I think I do want to own a home someday, I think I will visit the decision with more caution and more consideration over home maintenance costs than my parents, taking classes on general home improvement, partnering with someone who is willing to take on the work with me, and hopefully starting a separate savings account to pay for those unpredictable home maintenance expenses.