The two biggest contributors to my attitude towards money have been my parents and seeing their successes as well as mistakes in managing it. They had fairly different outlooks on life and money, and until recently I never realised how fluidly I adopted each approach in various forms through different stages of my life.
Through my mother, I learned to appreciate money as a precious commodity, to be used for a clear purpose, rather than spent just for the sake of it. It was worth spending on a nice home, piano lessons, and a university education; but we pinched pennies on clothes and never wasted food. She was a ferocious budgeter, which helped during the very lean times following some bad business dealings and a bankruptcy. Key learning experience here: dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s could mean the difference between having a home and not. Get a good advisor if you can’t do it yourself (and even if you can)!
Through my father, I learned to appreciate money as an enabler of a different purpose, convenience and leisure. It drove my mother crazy when he came home buying something at full retail price, instead of waiting and scouring magazines and leaflets for a deal. He preferred to buy whatever it was he needed (which wasn’t much) on the spot and free up his mind enjoy something else. For him, (free) time was money. Like him, I value and will pay for comfort.
Now it is my husband with whom I’m learning about money, specifically how to grow it. While I come from the finance sector and have doled out plenty of advice on how to manage other people’s money, investing my own was never a top priority (like the saying goes about the cobbler's children not having any shoes). Of course I had and was putting money into my pension and investment accounts, but I can't say I was actively managing it. Blame it on compliance hurdles, grueling work schedule and whatever else, but at the end of the day the main culprit was my lack of motivation.
Perhaps it’s because when I logged on to my accounts, the numbers on screen were too abstract (real estate was more concrete and luckily I made some good decisions there). Or I had a salary that increased that number anyway. Or the gazillion other things I needed to do on a daily basis. But now, as both my husband and I have forgone corporate salaries to pursue other interests, we actually need to make our money work for us to pay for living expenses and one very hungry child.
They say necessity is the mother of invention. My husband was just as guilty of letting his savings wallow in his accounts. But no more. We now have bi-weekly meetings (aka “date night”) where we discuss important family matters, devoting at least some time to discuss markets and investment opportunities. It isn’t formal, but that structure wouldn’t work for us anyway - we are horrible crash dieters. For us, it’s been about making it a routine in our lifestyle and using each other as motivators, like workout buddies. And so far it’s working.