Important Lessons About Money You’ll Ever Learn

The first teacher in everyone’s life is their parents. Whether it’s providing wisdom on how to use his hard-earned money or how to build a successful marriage, a man’s parents are responsible for assisting him in becoming the man he wants to be.

  1. Respect The Credit Card
    In my 20s I treated available credit as if it were points in a video game. I had absolutely no respect for my credit score, my income-to-debt ratio or anything else that would wind up being a residual effect of my truly awful youthful credit card habits. But my disregard for credit card responsibility was certainly not a lesson I learned from my parents. In fact, this situation was the polar opposite. Ever since I was old enough to be approved for one, my parents made a point that I should build credit, which is of course important, but that I should never abuse it, which, sadly, I did.

  2. Invest In Yourself
    My father has always been a great believer in education and self-improvement. Even though he is now in his eighties, he remains intellectually curious and is constantly signing up for courses. This has definitely been passed on to me and I have always followed his advice of investing some of whatever resources I have in further education and study.

  3. Don’t Dodge Creditors
    It’s tempting to ignore collection calls in the hope that they’ll go away, but don’t. If you’re a little behind, they’re often more willing to work with you than you’d think. No one wants to admit (or be faced with) the fact that they’ve fallen behind on their debts, but in a still-slow economy it happens all the time. Creditors know this. If you man up and talk to them, they’re often willing to lower your payment, offer forbearance or sometimes even a settlement. Maybe not so great for your credit report, but it’s better than defaulting.

  4. Build A Pad
    In contrast to the Gilded Age miser-wisdom that my mother brought to the table, my East End-of-London-bred father’s was harsh and fearful: The street is close. The difference between you waiting out some life-disaster in a studio apartment or a phone booth can be measured in dollars, and you should always be in possession of that precise number. When calamity strikes, $600 is the same as broke, and without a few months’ salary and a few months’ rent in pocket, you’re gambling.

  5. Stay Within Your Means
    There will always be people who find the need to impress others with lots of “stuff” — clothes, cars, vacations and the like. Oftentimes, those same people have a pretty tough time getting gas and groceries. Prioritizing what is truly important in life is a fundamental step toward achieving financial freedom.

6.Never Spend Capital
Of all the hardline East Coast WASP knowledge that my mother passed down to me over the years, this little fragment is the WASPiest. It’s also one of the best — even counting the various gin-related dictums I have accumulated. Essentially, if you plan to invest, gather enough money to reasonably invest with and then leave it alone. What my chef father would tell me about omelets is what my blessedly Protestant mother would tell me about money: don’t mess with it. Sure, you can take a dividend, and interest is a given, but if you find yourself spending capital you are not really investing. You just have a really unstable savings account.

  1. Keeping Things Separate Is OK
    It’s fine and convenient to have a joint bank account for paying bills and whatnot. It’s also an easy way to transfer money to one another. But, you should still have one of your own. Not everything has to be shared. Provided you manage your (and your family’s) finances responsibly, the wife doesn’t have to be aware of every expenditure you make, and she’s entitled to the same privacy. In a world where just about every household is a two-income one, everyone deserves to have some discretion over the money they’ve worked hard to earn.

  2. Give As Well As Take
    Like my father, I am a great believer that if something good happens to you, you should always try to pay it forward. This approach is something I learned at an early age and has definitely improved the quality of my life. It doesn’t have to always be a big gesture, but can range from buying a hot cup of coffee and a sandwich for someone who is sleeping rough to sponsoring a child in a developing nation who might otherwise not have the chance to get an education.

  3. Don’t Stick Your Head In The Sand
    Being aware of your money problems is 90% of the battle in overcoming them. Spending like they don’t exist or worse — pretending like they will go away all on their own — is dangerous to your financial health. While that can certainly be fixed, the toll the stress takes on your physical and emotional health may never be fully undone.

  4. Be Insured
    I’ve always been taught that it’s better to be safe rather than sorry. Paying the premium in order to make sure that something — or someone — is covered in case a situation that’s beyond control arises is well worth it. But even with the protection that comes with insurance, it’s smart to be careful at all times.