Yesterday I put forth a hofzinser's BLOGGER challenge. Here is my submission.
The challenge: You did not have perfect parents (none of us do/did). They set your sites 'off' on a few things. Blog out one of the sites you now, as an adult, realize your parents set wrong.I was blessed with amazing parents. This is a tough one as so many of my sites are perfectly set. If I miss a target, it is my own bad aim, not the fault of the sites calibrated by my parents. I did have to recalibrate one of my sites, one that my parents, by example, set wrong.
I had to teach myself how to manage money.
Growing up my father owned a successful contracting company. We had a large house, cars, boats, vacation homes, satelite TV (when the dishes made your yard seem like a rebel outpost from Star Wars) and big screen TVs. We went on vacation every year to Disney World. My parents made annual jaunts to Vegas. Christmas was coming down stairs to see a tree with presents spilling out from under it.
They were good about not spoiling us. We never got presents outside of events like Christmas and birthdays. But, as swimmer pointed out in his post, they set a strong example. When my parents wanted something they whipped out the Visa and got it. The buying power of credit was instilled in my mind. How credit worked was not.
Granted, I was not stupid. I knew what you bought on plastic added to a balance which you paid off on a monthly basis. What I did not intrinsically understand was how interest worked and not only how long it took to pay off cards but how much you ended up paying for anything you bought on credit.
My sites were set and I was sent off to college. The flood of credit card applications started immediately. I filled them all out. I had the coolest dorm room. Stereo, nintendo, microwave, CDs and nice furniture. Wow, being an adult was so nice! I was able to surround myself with anything my heart desired. Like Mom and Dad, when I wanted something the plastic sugar-daddy got it for me.
When I graduated I had already had two cards closed on me. I left campus with a degree and over twelve thousand in credit card debt. As a bonus, I stopped getting credit card applications when my credit score fell like a single dude's standards at last call.
Finally I realized this could not continue. I started having visions of where I wanted to be in five, ten or even twenty years. The debt monkey would never let me get there. I got a job out of school and locked down the checking account. I closed all of my credit cards (vs. them closing them) and put together a plan. I paid and saved, paid and saved. After eight (EIGHT!) years I was credit card debt free.
I now have two cards. They hold small balances that are paid off within sixty days. My credit is recovering from the sins of the past and my finances are in damn good shape.
I will teach my children how money works. How to make your money a tool not an overlord. How to fight the consumer urges that drive us into debt. I will set their sites right. I can only hope that I can also raise them as well as I was.
It was hard to think of where my parents could have done better. I like me (really? Nobody could tell!) and I am who I am by the grace of their scary child-rearing talent.