Sunday, April 18, 2010

Standing On Your Own Two Feet

My buddette One Frugal Girl asks an interesting question: "How much do you (or did you) rely on your parents for money?"

To answer her question, my folks were very generous about money -- but I tried very, very hard not to ask them for any. I worked all through high school at a hardware store to help pay for college -- and my incidentals. Worked again part-time through college, and took care of a family home for room and board in grad school. I had scholarships, which helped too, but I know the folks paid for my schooling, as well. I was unaware of how much until during an argument, Brother said he'd been at the kitchen table watching my mom sob, wondering how they were going to pay the latest college bill. (I was TOTALLY clueless about this until Brother said something -- they'd never mentioned it. Boy, did I feel guilty..)

Dad was 100% Dutch on both sides of the family, and held onto his pennies until they screamed in protest. Mom and he planted their own food, raised their own beef and pork, and taught us to take advantage of garage sales and hand-me-downs. More importantly, though, they believed in the value of an good, honest name...that you could walk into any situation with your head high, because you worked hard for your money, didn't lie, cheat or steal. They were Christians, and emphasized that this was the best way to honor God, as well as living your life.

That meant standing on your own two feet, regardless of how tight your money got. (One memorable Christmas, pretty much all of the family presents came from the thrift shop -- but we made it through.) Early in our marriage, we borrowed money a few times from the folks and Husband's mom. But we paid it back with interest, on time.  I still believe in the value of this -- fortunately, I married a man who also thought it was important. We've tried our darndest to pass the value of a good, frugal, honest name and reputation on to the girlies, too.

Now that Dad is gone (more than a year now), Mom's Social Security income was cut in half. She seems to be doing ok...I've noticed that her purchases have been much more careful for some time now. On the other hand, they were cutting back even when Dad was alive -- having cancer for three years, especially if you're self-employed, isn't exactly conducive to preserving income. They were saved by a special insurance policy that covered only cancer, in addition to their regular policy.

Does Mom have enough to live on? So far. (Brother is more worried about it than I am.) But I try to pay for meals when I go back to Michigan, (When she lets me -- pride is important in the DeVries household!) I pay her for any work done for Brickworks. And I've regularly sent a small check that she can use for lunches out or a goodie now and then. She and Dad took such good care of us that it seems only fair now.

What about you? What was your situation like? Have things changed at all for your children, because of this?


kerrykatiecakeskeb43 said...

This is very interesting Cindy. I did borrow from my family early in my marriage, but nothing was bought or spent and no one went out for a meal or did anything not absolutely essential until it was paid off. A couple years into my marriage my parents said no when we asked to borrow some cash for a woodstove - their right to do so of course. Well, there we sat with the dog's water freezing in his dish, the houseplants dead from frost and two shivering kids until we had saved the money for the woodstove. It certainly taught us to stop leaning on anyone else. We had quite a few lean years before we got to where we wanted to be and I think the fact that the kids knew what was going on helped shape them into the people they are today - self-reliant, good with a dollar, and fairly thrifty. But I have to say we bend over backwards to help them out when they need it - even to the point of putting ourselves in precarious financial situations, because that is what we want to do. Seems like when you have children, they become the center of your universe and that doesn't change when they kit 20, or 25, or whatever.

Cindy Brick said...

I know what you mean! Our girls had way more out-to-eat meals, airplane trips and other goodies than either Husband or myself experienced. (In fact, I'm taking them both to New York City this summer while I'm attending a conference there.)

Have they become as thrify/self-reliant as we were forced to be? Yes...and no. I'm glad you brought this up -- I want to write about it in a forthcoming post. Thanks for telling your view on the subject.

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