Life Lessons Learned about Finances

~ Life lessons I learned from my parents and grandparents about finances and how to use them ~

Having older parents gave me an advantage I didn’t recognize at the time. Not only were my parents older, but my mother’s parents were still alive during my elementary school years, so I grew up around people who lived during the Great Depression. In addition to that, my grandparents lived on a farm, so they also practiced practical farm frugality. The lessons I learned from my parents and grandparents have shaped the way I view financial stewardship.

Life Lessons about Finances

Lesson One: Finances are a Form of Stewardship.

“And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”

(Deuteronomy 8:18)

What is Financial Stewardship? Financial stewardship is managing the financial resources God has put in our care. It includes financial planning, earning, saving, protecting, investing and even donating the wealth God has placed with us. We don’t simply earn money so we can go out and buy more things. Never forget that your money belongs to God. Fortunately, the Bible contains some 2,350 verses dealing with how to handle money and possessions and 15% of what Jesus talked about dealt with finances, so we have a Biblical roadmap to follow.

Lesson Two: Don’t Be Wasteful

We live in a throw-away society. If something doesn’t work or it isn’t the latest model, we throw it away. I will never forget living in Oklahoma City the first year I was married and furnishing my house with the beautiful things people threw away on Big Trash Day. Gorgeous rugs, oil paintings, antique furniture, flat screen televisions, appliances–people left perfectly good furnishings by their driveways for the garbage trucks to pick up and I cleaned it up and decorated my house with it, saving us thousands of dollars. Yard sales, flea markets, junk stores, dollar stores, are all good way to get furnishings, books, clothing, appliances and more for a fraction of the cost of visiting a store. My parents and grandparents taught me the value of repairing and cleaning items rather than just tossing them.

Lesson Three: Don’t Go Into Debt

In a culture that makes credit cards so easy to use and where cash is becoming harder to use, my parents and grandparents taught me the value of saving up to pay with cash or to make large down payments if I could not pay the full balance. I set a $5000 limit on my credit card and never increased it, so that I cannot fall into bigger debt through carelessness. I always try to pay off a mortgage or a loan as soon as I can, and try not to take out loans except for emergencies or things I know I can pay off quickly. Some people are able to leverage their debt, but that is not a game I chose to play. I hope our society never goes cashless because that is a recipe for someone else– the government and big business– to control your money.

Lesson Four: Learn to Set and Stick to a Budget

This topic has been covered in another article, but the basic steps are:

  • List all your forms of income.
  • List all your expenses. 
  • Subtract your expenses from your income to equal zero. 
  • Track your spending. 

See How to Set and Stick to a Budget for more details.

Lesson Five: Use Online Tools to Help

My father especially was an avid user of graphs, calculators and other tools. If he were alive today he would be a fan of online tools such as online calculators and debt consolidation tolls. These tools can give you a broader financial picture.

The calculator on SavingsCalculator.org uses the US Dollar as the default currency symbol, but the calculation for figuring compound savings is the same almost everywhere and allows different compounding frequencies. There is also a feature which allows you to create a growth table of savings over time.

Other Tips from the Old Timers

Get a job. Be frugal. Invest wisely. Stay out of debt as much as possible. Save for a rainy day. Help those less fortunate. Keep your pantry stocked. Be prepared for emergencies. Don’t waste your money! Give to your local church.

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