• Mommas don't let your babies grow up to be Greebos

    I want to share a cautionary tale to all the parents out there who are sheltering their children from choices, that sooner or later, they will have to face, and even more so, from the consequences of those choices. This cautionary tale is mine.

    My parents never made a lot of money, but they were both post-Depression children, born in the 1940's. They lived on very little growing up. My paternal grandparents lost a house in the 30's, during the height of the depression. My maternal grandparents and their 6 children lived in another woman's house because they couldn't afford their own, leading to battles for who would parent the children between the two women in the house.

    So when my parents married and started making a life together, they were, naturally, very frugal. Most depression children ended up that way, I think. However, Dad was less so, and generally left the financial management to Mom - he just got money from her when he needed it, which in fairness wasn't often. Meanwhile, Mom managed the banking and investing, and did a great job. I don't think they ever carried any non-mortgage debt. They used credit cards, but never carried a balance. EVER. I don't mean like people say they don't today, I mean they REALLY didn't. They didn't use the card w/o money in the bank. If there had been debit cards back then, they would have used those instead. My mom still does now. They were very cautious with every penny.

    But they failed in one very important area - training their son to manage money.

    I cannot remember my parents really EVER teaching me anything about money. I remember I had an allowance as a teen - $1.00 per day (this was in the 80's), and I was allowed to borrow against my allowance. I was perpetually - PERPETUALLY 1-2 months ahead on my allowance.

    I remember being made treasurer of the computer club to which I belonged, and I used that money inappropriately, and they bailed me out.

    I remember taking money from mom's purse - many times - and when I was younger I got called out on it once and told not to do it, but later I did it again and never got called out on it.

    I remember having candy sales where I'd eat the candy and they'd pay for what I owed.

    I remember going to college and them sending me money anytime I asked for it - bailing me out again and again.

    I remember leaving college before I finished, with them having paid cash for the whole thing, but having no consequences for me just up and leaving.

    Oh and I left college with 3 maxed out credit cards. I financed everything in college: Pizza, clothes, more pizza, cigarettes, you name it. I paid bills with cards. I paid cards with other cards. I was a hot mess.

    It wasn't until I got into a Multi Level Marketing business, in college, of all things, that I started hearing lessons from successful people about personal responsibility that I realized I needed to stop leeching off of my parents. But I still never learned how to manage money. So I became good at working hard, but never was able to work so hard that I could out earn my stupidity. My income grew - and fast. In 1995 I was making $28k a year. 5 years later I was making $75k and 5 years after that I was in six figure territory. And every year my income went up, so did my debt. Credit cards, car loans, mortgages, second mortgages, refinancing, debt consolidation - I've had it all.

    It wasn't until I was in my 30s that I finally started actually getting control of my money, with The Mrs' help. I remember being so ashamed of my money situation, and being afraid to ask her to marry me because I didn't want to have to tell her how bad my money situation really was. The day I came clean and she accepted me anyway was the day I actually proposed.

    All those things my parents did - they did to help me, but it was the wrong kind of help. It was giving a drunk a drink, letting a druggie have one more snort. It didn't help me - it hurt me very badly by enabling habits that damaged my finances for decades.

    Parents - please, please, please, for your children's sake. DO NOT make your children into another me. Do NOT shield them from having to learn about money, do not hide money decisions from them, and DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT bail them out if they get into trouble unless they COMMIT to you to change what they're doing.

    This is one of those areas where I KNOW you don't want your children to struggle, but you HAVE TO TEACH THEM and then LET THEM FALL DOWN from time to time, or they're never going to be able to function on their own.

    If you are new to Debt Free Fanatics, and want to learn more about techniques for getting out of debt, we encourage you to register and participate in our forums. Our members have been managing their money for years and are happy to offer advice and instruction on how you can manage your money better and get out of debt.