My parents are a couple that anyone can look up to financially — not because they drive fancy cars or have a home in Boca (spoiler: they don’t) but because they are resourceful and forward-looking with the money they earn. I’ve always known that financial responsibility is important to my parents, especially my mom. I wasn’t allowed to even borrow the car keys until I had passed the personal finance class offered at my high school. I thought it was a waste of an elective, better spent on an additional dance class, but I learned some essential truths and opened my own Roth IRA at the ripe age of 18.
The following are nine simple tips I learned from my parents, either through the back seat of the car or by being lectured, which I often returned with deeply rolled eyes. Some are specific, others broad — but all valuable.
1. It is NOT economical to buy dinner out, even at the dollar menu. To feed a family of four on the way home from soccer practice, it would cost at least $12 to feed everyone even from the dollar menu at a fast-food joint. At a grocery store you can get a rotisserie chicken ($6), green beans and carrots ($2) and potatoes for baking ($2) to bring you in at $10, plus some tax — still the same price, but more food, and better food for you.
2. A $50 Costco membership can pay for itself, especially if you need to replace your tires or update your vision prescription and order eyeglasses.
3. Make your money go further on clothing by shopping at thrift stores. If you are patient and careful, you can shop at thrift stores and get the same clothing as is sold in a department store, but for 95% less and a season later.
4. Now is the time to contribute to retirement savings.
5. Buy used cars!
6. An allowance is earned by chores, because in real life, money is earned by doing good, honest work.
7. Due to the naturally occurring event known as Murphy’s Law, you should always have an emergency fund.
8. Joint bank accounts can be a good way to create more financial accountability in a relationship.
My parents are wonderful people with ordinary jobs in fields they love. As a couple they decided to take control of their spending and saving, it wasn’t something that just happened. Their decisions together brought them to where they are now — financially stable, continuing to save for retirement and manage their money intentionally as a team.
More Money-Saving Reads:
Main image: iStock; inset image courtesy Maggie Perkins