In 19 years of marriage, my parents remained financial opposites — and looking back, I think that’s a good thing

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The author, Rebecca Chamaa.

  • My dad was frugal to the extreme and my mom liked to spend on things she enjoyed.
  • They both got what they needed in life, and I’ve learned a lot from their different money views.
  • I’m generally frugal like my dad, but I love to buy gifts and good food like my mother.

If I’m with my mom, people say, “Oh, you look like your mother,” but if I am with my dad, people say, “She looks like you.” These statements are factual because I have some traits of my mother and some of my father. It is also true that everything I learned about money, I learned from my parents, but the two of them are almost opposites when it comes to work and saving/spending.

My dad had one job almost his entire career, and my mom had dozens of jobs in various fields throughout her working life. My dad went to work on the railroad as a young man and stayed there until he was at full retirement age, sometime in his 60s. My mom worked in a restaurant, at a radio station, as an administrative assistant, as an office manager, at a ski resort, and even owned a small art gallery. As different as my parent’s ideas were about work, their ideas about money were almost equally opposite. 

My dad is extremely frugal

My dad is frugal. Not frugal in the sense of liking to save here or there, he is extremely frugal. He wanted all things to have a discount, be free, found, or given to him. Before he went into a care facility, he used to go to the autobody shop to get free popcorn and the bakery at the grocery store to get free cookies. One of his hobbies was riding his bike across town to see what treasures people lost or discarded. He would bring home ball caps, plastic toys, tools left by the side of the road by drivers who must have broken down. He would also find the occasional piece of jewelry, some money, or a winning lottery ticket (never the jackpot). My dad reused, recycled, and kept everything until it was either unable to be fixed or so worn out it was useless. 

My mom likes to spend on things she enjoys

On the other hand, my mom updates her furniture at least every 10 years, likes to buy gifts for people, keeps her wardrobe fresh, and purchases supplies for new hobbies she takes up frequently. She also doesn’t let money dictate what she does or doesn’t buy at the grocery store — she buys what she wants to eat without consideration for the price. 

When I think of my money habits or financial health, I take some parts of both of my parents (I lean closer to my dad). Still, I also like to give gifts to others and buy what I want to eat at the grocery store (I shop at discount stores). Although I wouldn’t say I am extremely frugal, I am thrifty. I am always there for the free stuff, and I have a habit of looking down to the ground when walking in case there is a treasure I didn’t know I needed on the street. I use and recycle almost every possible item, and most of my furniture is hand-me-downs. 

I’m not sure how my parents survived a 19-year marriage with such different approaches to work and money, but I’m thankful to both of them for their influence on me. I feel like my parents balanced me out and set me up for a healthy amount of saving and spending. I don’t feel deprived by my saving, and I feel free to splurge on the occasional treat for myself or a loved one.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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