This is officially the cutest photo on the Internet

Ramit Sethi

Look at that photo from the New York Times!

My parents are in the New York Times in an article called “How to Raise a Financial Wizard,” and I could not be prouder.

Funny backstory: it was originally titled “How to Raise a Financial Guru” as you can see from the NYT URL, but apparently it could seem politically incorrect to have “guru” next to my dad’s turban. So the title was changed. HAHA

As you know, my parents had a huge influence in my life. Much of what I teach on IWT, I learned from them. No, they didn’t teach me about automation or peer-reviewed psychology studies, but they modeled much of what came to later become IWT. For example…

  • When my dad took a week (yes, a week) to negotiate for a car, then demanded free car mats at the last minute, I learned about asking for what you want
  • When my mom and dad would tell me to “Just write it up…what’s the worst that can happen?” I learned about taking risks for uncertain reward
  • When I watched my parents raise 4 kids on one income, I learned what Conscious Spending really meant

I also learned a lot about behavior, marriage, and gender roles from them. How many of us have invisible scripts about money that are directly traceable to our parents?

Maybe we believe that a man should be the primary breadwinner. Or that a husband and wife should both earn equally. Or something totally different.

Let’s share our best stories.

First, read the article about my parents in the New York Times. I’m so proud of them, and I want you to see what kind of influence two people can have.

Next, tell me what you learned from your parents about money and gender roles. (Feel free to comment anonymously, if you want.) Share your best realization — did you agree/disagree when you were a kid? What changed when you grew up? Will you behave the same way your parents did?

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  1. Lynn Berry

    I learned that the “wrong people” had all the money…… who wants to be the “wrong people” not me……
    no wonder I don’t have any!

  2. Barbara Saunders

    I love the photo of your parents! I agree. Cutest of the day. I learned from my GRANDPARENTS that men and women should earn equally. It’s only now in middle age that I’ve accepted that women who want to stay home and not work aren’t retro and rare. I had placed that image in the pile with cavemen towing wives by the hair.

  3. Jordan

    I learned to never be financially dependent on a man, and to always have my own bank account, however small, that remained hidden from him in case I ever had to leave or faced some other emergency.

  4. Amber

    I learned that one income wasn’t neccessarily enough to live comfortably and that it was unfair to expect one person, in this case my father, to be the primary bread winner and take on the financial responsibility and stress of having 4+ dependents. Looking back, I could see how my mother was only part of the problem by outright refusing to contribute in a responsible fashion. I’m sorry but 4 hours of bingo every night isn’t a JOB! I guess you can say that I learned about what counted as a legitimate risk from her.

  5. Vira

    I had to learn on my own in how to save my money

  6. Christie M.

    I learned from my father how terrible it is to work in a career you may not particularly like, say “Well, it’s too late now” in your fifties, and die before hitting retirement.

    I learned from my mother, who stayed home to raise four kids, that you can make a lot of money doing things that are fun on the side and easily hide the money from the government and not pay taxes on it.

  7. Louis

    I was the eldest son of a man who let us know there was an authority which we had to respect (at the risk of a spanking). As I got older, my father mellowed enough so that I saw not a stern authority figure but someone whose advice was usually right on the money. The best thing he taught me was that you can’t get bad experiences or bad people change you. There’s a proper way to treat people, with respect; when you don’t get it in return, cut your losses but don’t change who you are. Add to that a mother who gave us unconditional love (but not one that was blind to our misdeeds) and I had a wonderful childhood with parents who are role models to me to this day.

  8. Angélique


    Sorry for my english. I’m French and very content to leave a message. Very cut photo indeed.
    What i have learned from my parents (and my grandparents) and what have inspired my construction :
    -Try to be autonomous
    -Money have to be shared
    -no difference if you are a girl or a boy, equality of treatment

    Congratulations to your parents.

  9. Sue T.

    My dad was a loan officer for a bank. This was back in the days before national megabanks — banks were still local institutions, so the person deciding if you would get that loan or not was someone in your community, not somebody 1000 miles away looking at a computer. He frequently had to deny loans to doctors, lawyers and other well paid professionals living beyond their means because they were just too deeply in debt from buying fancy houses & cars. I remember him saying that even someone earning $100,000 a year (back when that was considered a sky-high salary, haha) could be broke due to poor spending habits. As a result, I have always tried to live a bit below my means so I could put away money. The only debt I have is my mortgage, and if I needed to replace my car tomorrow (though I hope I don’t have to — it’s 10 years old, but it still runs great!) I could pay cash for a new one instead of having to finance it.

  10. Jay S

    Congrats Ramit 🙂

    When I was a kid I listened to adults and their advice. As I grew older and was exposed to a world different than theirs, I learned that parents mean well, but what worked for my parents in their lifetimes doesn’t necessarily work for us in our lifetimes.

    Our parents grew up in a world where you go to college, get a job, have kids and retire. OURworld is full of constant change, and in order to survive you must constantly change, adapt and grow yourself.

  11. Greg S.

    I got very emotional reading the NYT article featuring you parents. You are so blessed having such beautiful and loving parents! One can’t help seeing the love in that photo!

    Both of my parents passed away in the last six months and my brother and I have been going through their financial wreckage. Fortunately we were able to get them to place everything in a Trust about ten years ago, so it’s fairly easy to deal with everything.

    My parents didn’t have a clue about money, and that was passed on to me. There was always secrecy and shame around money. It was never discussed. They suffered because of it, and it’s painful for me to think about.

    My brother managed to create a different life for himself. Beautiful family, nice home, and a son who is now, literally, a rocket scientist. I am a little baffled about how he did it, and I look forward to having a discussion with him about it.

    Your book is great, I wish it was around when I was in my twenties. I’m well beyond that age now and I am learning new ways to handle money. I started by going to DA, Debtors Anonymous, and UA, Underearners Anonymous. It was hard to fathom twelve step programs around money, but I am getting recovery.

    Again, you have beautiful parents, and the love in that photo is palpable!


  12. David

    I’m sure they are very proud as well. And I am quite certain that they were always supportive of your ideas and goals from the time you were a child onward.

    It must be great to be a parent and look back and see how cool it is to have raised a child who has made it to the top of his game.

    In fact, I would be willing to get that they get a bigger kick out of watching you succeed than you get from seeing their picture in the NYT.

    But on the other hand, you have to admit that both perspectives are very cool.

    Be happy that you had supportive parents to give you the stable start you needed in the world. Without that base, you may still have achieved success, but it is so much better when you have parents that support and love you.

    Not everyone gets to have great parents.

    Congratulations to both you and them for this sweet ‘victory’!

  13. Kris

    Ramit- My best to you and your parents. They must be so proud of you and your siblings.

    In my household, my father made himself scarce when my Mother tried to bargain – he was totally embarrassed. He said “there she goes again, trying to “jew” (that vendor)”. Yet every time they wanted something – he sent her in.

    With my mother staying home raising seven children and my Father a carpenter – he was the primary breadwinner until the construction industry hit a stand still. My mother paid the bills and did the shopping. She looked for sales, used coupons, bought a gallon of milk and made two out of it by using powdered milk. Winters were always tough because building stopped and then our family received support in food stamps and school lunch tickets and sometimes help from the church congregation to help clothe myself and my six siblings. When the construction industry tanked as I reached 14, my Mother went back to work. Most of us had paper routes or summer jobs. I remember taking some of their unpaid bills and sneaking to the vendor and paying them so they wouldn’t be in the to be paid pile. She rarely purchased anything for herself, had a tremendous vegetable garden, volunteered in girl scouts, boy scouts, and Sunday School as well as was a lector in church and helped with BINGO. She gave back in ways that she could so that she knew she wasn’t a taker.
    I learned, from my mother that it would take all hands on deck to get what we needed. I learned from my mother to give back as what we could give was also needed.

    • Stacey

      You have a beautiful story and a tremendous family for pitching in and not being a victim to your circumstances.

  14. A.K. Sandhu

    AWESOME picture of your parents RSS; I hate to admit it but first thing i did was imagine you with a Turban. You would look great with it! Let me know when you wear one, I’ll come take that picture for free 😉

  15. Lynn

    “If you don’t need it, it’s no bargain.” Spend wisely, that’s what I learned from my parents and have passed on to my kids.

    Great article!

  16. Chris

    Hi Ramit,

    I remember being sixteen when IRA’s made a big splash, because they had just been opened to everyone. This was 1981. Somehow I had a piece of paper explaining the compound interest calculations on $2000/yr on out to 50 years or so. It was one of the clearest thoughts I remember having during this tumultuous time in my life, that this might be a good idea. I took the paper to my dad and he promptly talked me out of it, poo-pooing the idea and I walked away feeling like an idiot. Now I feel like an idiot, but for a different reason.

    My mom taught me that the rich are mainly crooks and lucky (ie., politicians and celebrities), and if I wanted to get anywhere, get a good job servicing “some of those richies!” Not sure if this helps your gender study or not, but there it is.

    Lots of tough scripts on these pages for people to get through. Kind of amazing, at least for me, to see how varied they are in just the first few responses.

    Many congratulations to you for the write up and the photo of your Mom and Pop. Do tell, was there any response from them on the book in parallel to the grades? As in, “It’s a wonderful book Ramit, but the syntax on page 47 is a bit off…”


  17. Lori A.

    From my mother, I learned that Welfare is not charity. It’s a trap.

    From my father: no ‘junk’ drawers. No folders marked ‘Miscellaneous.’ No categories named ‘Other.’

  18. Meg

    I don’t think my parents intended for me to learn this, but I learned its normal for men to work very, very long hours. When I grew up, my dad worked at home n the weekends and often wouldn’t get home until 9:00 p.m. at night. This has carried over into my own marriage. Most of my coworkers are surprised that I “let” my husband work two jobs, which means I only get about one waking hour with him on weekdays and a few on weekends. But it’s normal for us; we both grew up with fathers who worked long hours and mothers who were always available.

  19. Jessica Mashael Bordelon

    I learned the necessity for cooperation. If the 2 adults managing the home cooperate on financial matters and tending to the needs of the home, things are much smoother for everyone.

    I learned the importance of getting the work done and over with before you relax, because the only way to truly enjoy the relaxation is when the unfinished work is no longer in the back of your mind. (ex: washing clothes or dishes)

    For gender roles, I learned that my step dad was the one who protects us and makes us feel safe, and Mom was the one who cooked our meals, and kept us in clean clothes. When we were sick my step dad was not much help because his worry made him ineffective at caring for us, but mom was the one who always knew what to do in those times. and there were many other examples of slight differences.

    ONE THING was always the same for everyone no matter their gender. Everyone was expected to do what ever it takes to keep the family provided for. Who ever can work must when it is called for. My mom didn’t work until my younger brother was 5 years old, and that was when it was decided that she too would work now that we were both in school.

    This is just some of what I’ve learned.

  20. Vivian

    Growing up, I had assumed that my dad handled all the money (assuming the stereotype, I guess — he was also the breadwinner). It wasn’t until I was out of college that I realized that my mom was actually the one organizing and managing all of the bills. I learned good filing habits from her (she had a system for tracking which bills were due when and making sure no payments were ever missed). But I did not learn any actual financial management from either of my parents, and my brother and I are realizing now that they may need financial management advice from us. They have a lot of credit card debt and no spending plan, nor a real, numbers & dates-based plan for paying it off (they’re just throwing as much money at the bills as they can, but I don’t think they’re tracking what’s getting ADDED back to the bills each month because they’re continuing to use the cards). I’ve begun talking to my mom about how to create a conscious spending plan that is not about deprivation, but is about knowing what you want to spend on and doing so thoughtfully. And I’ve tried to explain (and hope she understands) that it’s SO important for this to be a process she goes through WITH my dad, so they both agree on it and neither feels like the other person is telling them they can’t spend money on what they want.

    So thanks, Ramit, for helping not only me but also for helping my family.

  21. My Own

    The lessons I learned when I was a kid were all bad. My parents (especially my dad) had a tendency to spend it as soon as it was in there pockets with little self control. I’m just now learning how to get away from that. It’s hard, because I do the same thing now and figuring out that just because I have money doesn’t mean it should be spent is a hard lesson I’m working on.

    The best lesson I learned from my parents were from my mom as an adult. She and my dad got a divorce and she started being serious and long term with her money. I learned it’s never too late to change things but it isn’t easy either.

  22. Foghorn O'Kalashnikov

    I learned from my folks give and take – ie there are times when one partner may be unemployed or being educated or on maternity leave or whatever and the other must pick up the slack. This is definitely something that we do in our marriage. Other things – that partners should work to their strengths in divvying up chores/tasks/responsibilities and that both partners should have the capacity to earn. All important stuff. On the bad side – I inherited from my father a real “worry wart” personality which makes me stress out about finances.

    Congrats to your folks on their big moment in the paper of record!

  23. B

    Unfortunately for my folks I learned what not to do. My mom came from a fairly poor family and married my dad who came from a family with some money. Although they had good jobs they were always looking to get rich the “easy” way. If it was a multi-level or get rich quick opportunity they would max out their credit cards to buy in. They would then spend their next several years to get out of the hole. They have been fortunate enough to have a couple of windfalls to keep them afloat and are currently retired. My current annoyance though is that they retired without having their house paid for!

    My approach has devoted into a stay out of debt (except a mortgage, which I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t married), work a good job, and develop as many side streams of income as possible.

  24. Stacey

    Ramit, I enjoyed the article and picture. Congrats to you and your parents!

    I was born in 1965 and had a traditional upbringing: stay-at-home mom until I was in 8th grade when she started working as a general office person at various insurance companies, mainly to help fund my 7-years’ older sister’s college; my dad was an electrical wholesale salesperson and was a realtor on a PT basis. We were solid middle class, with a suburban, split-level house and an above-ground pool, but we never really had extra money, which as a kid I only realized when my parents fought about money. We rarely took any family vacations, and if we did it was a driving trip to a neighboring state for just a weekend. When I finally did fly it was because I paid for my junior high school year trip to Mexico with my waitressing money. My mom never couponed…I started cutting coupons when I was 8 and taking them with to the grocery store to help her shop. Sometimes we planted a vegetable garden, but what kid is into vegetables? My mom wasn’t frivolous, she just wasn’t savvy.

    My fondest memories were helping at our annual garage sale. When I was in first grade we used what we had earned to buy a lemon yellow Schwinn tandem bike which provided hours of entertainment for me and my numerous beaus throughout my dating years, as well as for my parents. It’s still in their garage these forty-some years later. At these garage sales my mom would bake brownies and cupcakes for me to sell, along with yummy cherry KoolAid and I’d set out my bubble gum machine. I had a happy childhood!

    Nonetheless, I knew I would never grow up and be like them when it came to money.

    My dad was certainly the stronger influence on me when it came to being financially wise. Most of our furniture was from abandoned farm buildings or from folks’ curbside castoffs. Although he no longer refinishes furniture at 77+, he was a master in his day. So much of our household furniture is from his “finds”–one of my favorite pieces is a pine pie safe I use to hold my sweaters. I think one of his favorite memories of me was marching into our local bank and requesting the interest they screwed me out of on my Christmas Club…I was 6 at the time.

    Finally, I had to chuckle about Ms. Lyon Cole’s notebook about spending. I started doing that in high school and continued my tracking through my college years and beyond. Although now I do it through my Quicken software and it’s so much easier!

  25. Kevin

    From my mom I learned the importance of having someone at the home when my brother and I got home from school.

    She said “In 12 years of school, there were only a few days when something happened, and it was important that someone be home when you boys got home from school, but those days make a big difference.”

    My mom was right, and when we had moved states in my 8th grade year and I was stuck with a teacher who just passed out worksheets every day, I came home after a few weeks and tore apart my bedroom in frustration. She went and spoke with the principal and had me tested for the Gifted classes and I was switched mid-semester into classes that actually challenged the students to think.

    I always knew that I wanted my wife (whoever that would be) to stay home when we had kids, and it’s something I spoke about with my girlfriend. Now that we have been married for 5+ years with 2 kids, ages 2 and 1, she thanks me for making it a priority to allow her to stay at home with them, by managing our finances on my income.

    I know that not every woman dreams of being a stay at home mom, but I do think that having explicit primary spheres of responsibility is important.

    Building my business and expressing myself through small business has always been a core value of mine. Building her career was never her primary love, it’s just what she did as a single twenty something.

    Now, I help around the house, and she has a side job building her own internet business that brings in money, but we are always conscious that if it impacts her role as wife and mother that we can scale it back or shut it down.

    From my Dad I learned to look at all offers and deals creatively, to not poo poo an idea because it LOOKS impossible.

    I also learned about the too-often unmeasured risk that comes with “stable” corporate America. Everyone talks about the risk of starting your own business, but the risk of being downsized, passed over, under-paid, out of control of your job, and bored in a big corporate job are often not brought up alongside of the cliched risks of no benefits, failure rates, etc with opening small businesses.

    And so I’ve started two businesses since I’ve graduated college, sold one to my partner, and the second I’ve been running since ’08. So glad for the lessons my parents taught me!

    Now let’s see the pic of Ramit with a Turban!

    • Stacey

      Kevin, pardon my saying so, but that was such a sweet story, that you appreciated your mom’s being there. My husband and I also had a similar understanding about our roles when the children came along. Throughout their lives I’ve worked part-time here and there, but I agree it’s important to have someone at home whose main focus is their well-being, even if by Thursday I’m ready for a break–our 3 sons are 11, 13 and 17 now and can still wear me out!! Sometimes they drive you crazier at these ages!

    • Sarah

      I find your story kind of depressing. First, I really don’t think a ~3 hour delay in a parent’s arriving home is the difference between a kid feeling emotionally supported and loved or not. What if your mom had instead arrived home, found a trashed room, talked to you about better ways to express your feelings (i.e., in ways that didn’t hurt others), and then arranged gifted classes for you? Or what if your dad had done that?

      There might be some women whose idea of fulfillment is being a mom. That’s certainly the role that society glorifies: female as provider. But there’s a lot of parenting that is completely mundane, dirty, mind-numbing, and tedious. It seems unfair to shunt this on one person, unless this is really what he or she wants to do. I suspect it’s usually what we’re trained to want instead. Many women realize it’s not remotely enough–we also want to contribute broadly to society and exercise our other talents. Most men take it as a given that they’ll be able to do these things while enjoying the satisfaction of fatherhood. The unhappiest people in society are stay-at-home mothers of young children, and stay-at-home mothers tend to express more regret later in life than their working counterparts.

      There’s not enough space in a comment box for me to disagree in a way that might convince you, but I’d urge you to think more deeply about what these “explicit spheres”–which sound a lot like nonoverlapping spheres–really mean. I’m not convinced they’re good for most kids or women. Your family might be different.

  26. jay

    my father and grandfather were caterers. As a kid all I wanted to be was the next generation to follow in their footsteps, but their company went out of business when I was in high school. we went from solidly middle class to struggling to stay above water.
    the lesson I learned was ‘ALWAYS PLAN FOR A RAINY DAY.’ always have emergency savings b/c you never know when there will be an emergency.

  27. LT

    I learned a lot of great financial-management from my mom. She had the more stable, usually higher-paying job, managed the money, and bugged my father (correctly) when he forgot to pay his bills (work-related, as she took care of the family ones) or was otherwise generally financially careless. She also made sure I learned what to do by talking through her thought process when I watched her pay bills, etc. Growing up in an environment contrary to (what I perceived as) the mainstream stereotypes of money and gender, I didn’t get sucked into buying into a ‘men are better with money’ mentality. I’ve known both men and women who handle their money well, and both men and women who handle their money poorly (or ignore it and abdicate responsibility to someone else), but haven’t tried to keep track to have a sense of whether one gender is particularly better than the other.

    I do disagree with Ramit that money and gender aren’t a topic of discussion — I’ve personally given female family members books on ‘managing money for women,’ every career site/counselor will talk about how most women aren’t aggressive enough in negotiating salary, and there are financial columnists who address the issue pretty regularly (e.g., Michelle Singletary). Doesn’t mean more wouldn’t help, though.

  28. Sue Swift

    I am actually learning more from my father now than I did when I was growing up, even though he’s been dead for ten years. I’m now living with and taking care of my elderly mom, and in control of the finances. I see how hard my dad must have worked, not only at his job, which pays her pension, but also to save so much in addition, which he tucked away in bond funds with two different companies. How many people have a multi-pronged retirement plan? Most of us figure, “well, my employer and the government will take care of this.”

    The other big influence on my financial life was my marriage and divorce. During my marriage, my ex taught me to loathe debt. So I’m debt-free and determined to never carry debt. And when we broke up, I left the country and therefore left most of my possessions. I don’t miss them.

  29. Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey

    My parents taught me to be financially independent. And though I am married, I should continue to work and earn, not just for the family, but for myself as well.

  30. Lynn

    I learned both my parents were hard workers. Dad was in the air force, then reserves while working carpentry jobs. The carpentry work wasn’t always steady (though when working, put in long hours), so mom worked at the hospital. She was the oldest of 3 girls and the only one to graduate college. Her life has been MUCH better than that of her sisters. Mom liked some aspects of her job, but not all and felt rather trapped as that was the only reliable way to carry health benefits as construction work didn’t provide that. Who earned more? I suspect there were years mom earned more than dad, but there was no ill-will I noticed. And when dad didn’t feel like working for someone or building in the area was slow, he’d buy a house to renovate and flip or rent for additional income.

    My parents built their own house with cash when I was 10 so they didn’t carry a mortgage, paid cash for cars and always looked for deals. Dad was often amazed at how much people bid up items at auction when new stuff (identical) could be gotten for less new. He knew when to stop bidding. It was also always a given that us girls (they had all girls) would go to college and get a degree. All 3 of us did and had/have careers, though 2 of us are currently SAHMs.

    In my marriage, I was the breadwinner initially while husband went to grad school (I had finished grad school) and for a few years after. Then his salary eventually surpassed my own. Share and share alike with our finances and it doesn’t really matter who earns more as we’ve the same basic goals and discuss large purchases w/ each other just like mom and dad [usually] did (there was the occasional large tool dad brought home but at least got used for work).

  31. Richard

    Ramit: Thank you for sharing your ideas, It is interesting how I stumbled upon the same ideas for networking when I lost my position at a major FI after 23.5 years. I used many of the same concepts not knowing what they were called but naturally leveraged the many connections I had to target and identify the decision makers I would ultimately interview with toacquire the position I was ultimately offered. It is amazing how change can be a beautiful thing. Been wanting to write to you for a while and finally had the time to do so. As far as gender financial perspectives and learning from your parents are concerned, here’s an interesting story for you. I come form a household of grade school and HS graduates. They raised three sons on a single income often unemployed due to structural/cycle issues in the knittng industry. My Dad was the breadwinner and my Mom ran the HH. Traditional HH. Ultimately my Dad turned entreprenure when he was privilaged to be financed by my grand mother (his mother-in law). My Dad worked day and night to support his family and pay-off his financing. He put three sons through college all with advanced degrees. He taught us the value of working hard and the value of a dollar. My Mom ran the books and the family checkbook. She was a natural CFO. She had no formal education but naturally created her own budgeting process which segmented each and every line item there was an obligation to cover. We had an envelope for each and every expense category which was funded each and every day when my Dad came home from work. Together they managed for 50 years until my Mom passed and my Dad 6 years later. Their legacy lives on in all they touched.

  32. Lean Ni Chuilleanain

    Hey Ramit,

    Yes, that is THE CUTEST. Great article.

    What I got from the description of your family was the sense that *paying due attention to money* was seen as the proper thing to do. Money seemed integrated, somehow – a normal part of life.

    Yeah, I know that sounds so obvious as to be barely worth stating. But I didn’t grow up with that perspective.

    Instead, I am in the process of shedding the invisible script that money is, essentially, something that happens to other people.

    Not in a hugely gendered way, I don’t think – at least, not beyond the generalised cultural messages that were floating around in relation to money in 1980s Ireland (e.g. I and the girls I knew were usually encouraged to choose our studies based on what we loved, whereas boys were encouraged to think about career when making those choices … I wonder has that changed?).

    Both my parents have worked full-time all my life (as tenured academics – utterly stable, not in any way connected to anyone’s bottom line). They’ve always earned comparable salaries. My mother does the day-by-day, cent-by-cent money management in their household, and hardly ever talks about it. She typically carries less than ten euros in her wallet. In contrast, my father has been living out of his overdraft since he was 19. He’s profoundly bored by money. He can’t force himself to focus on it at all. Likes spending it, though.

    (Actually … that is kind of gendered, when I put it like that.)

    I don’t ever remember discussing money at home when I was growing up. My parents never gave me any financial advice or commented on my choices.

    So what did I get from all of this?

    From my mother: I’m a good budgeter, saver, and manager of resources.

    From my father: I have this wacko belief that money should just *be there* when I want something, dammit. But actually thinking about it – say, putting strategies in place to earn more – can get tangled and painful surprisingly quickly.

    From both of them: money is not something we discuss. Money is something other people know about. (We know about medieval literature instead. You can’t know about both. OBVIOUSLY.) People like us never make a lot of money, because we’re just not clever in that way. And we’re kind of proud of that.

    Yes, it’s twisted. I’m working on it. (See under: avidly reading your blog for the last 2+ years…)

    So there you go. Not sure how useful this is to you from a “money and gender” point of view, but thanks for the opportunity to reflect!

  33. Ms Hanson

    I grew up with 3 brothers & one working mother, and learned that I really could feed myself without depending upon another. This mindset has evoked mixed reactions, although I believe it has given me a confidence many women admire. So do a few men.

  34. Katherine

    Growing up my Dad used to keep a wad of dollar bills in a cup in the cupboard. He did it because his father did it (which his friends growing up loved). The six of us children grabbed from it on the way out the door to school, when the ice cream truck rolled through the neighborhood, or just on our way out with friends. As we grew up and started to face the “real world” my older sister liked to point out that “money doesn’t grow from a cup in the cupboard”. I realized I had grown up with this subtle mentality: when I needed money, it would just be there. But that wasn’t true. I’ve had to work a great deal to get that mindset of money out of my head, and be responsible for what I spend (or what I don’t). I’m sure my father didn’t intend to imprint that lesson (I would say his generosity with money is actually one thing that has made him so successful financially) but it had an impact nonetheless.

  35. Juliana

    My parents are American, but they were young newlyweds with small children in Japan, where the tradition was that the husband brought home his salary, handed it over to his wife, and she used it to pay the bills, run the household, and give him his weekly allowance. If he ran out of money, he had to ask her for more. It’s changed there now, but my parents always kept the habit of discussing purchases before making them, where both were equal partners. My father would never have dared to say something like, “I make the money, so I make the decisions!” because making the money didn’t equal control.

    My parents taught me that value of buying something that’s good quality and repairing it, rather than buying lots of easily broken cheap things. When you understand how easy it is to get emotionally attached to physical things, you think more carefully about buying them. And when the attachment is over, give them to a local charity shop rather than throwing them away, so other people can learn to enjoy them too.

    My mom also set the example of doing yourself what you can’t pay for: she became a general contractor in order to remodel our house. I took auto shop in high school to fix my old Datsun. Saving money and learning new things at the same time can be fun!

  36. Phillip Van Nostrand

    I’ve learned so much from both my parents it’s astounding. From my mother: “Never own a credit card. If you do, pay it off in full each month.” As a family the only times we ever ate out were birthdays and graduations. Otherwise dinner at 6pm at home, together, every day. I also watched my father completely switch careers from being a successful plumber to successful therapist while I was finishing high school. We went to the swap meet (flea market) monthly and I was (and still am) a thrift store kid at heart.

  37. Holly

    From my (single) mom I learned that even if you don’t have a lot of money, you should never completely deprive yourself of occasional spending on things that make you happy. I still follow that mantra today and I enjoy life. I control my money instead of vice versa. I still have to budget, but I make sure that I can shop, vacation, go to movies, etc… without guilt!

  38. Cathy

    I never learned anything directly about money from my parents – I was never told how to spend or save. Money was never talked about – it was complained about, like a necessary evil. My mother always let us know how poor we were, although we probably were not poorer than my friend’s families. My father was the one who brought home a paycheck and he doled out money to my mother in little bits and then complained about her spending, though he could go out and spend money on whatever he wanted. My parents were hard working and loving, but it took me a long time to figure out that money isn’t bad, that rich people aren’t better or worse than anyone else, and that it’s not greedy to ask for what you want or expect what’s fair. For along time, I always had feeling of poverty no matter how much money I made. Thankfully, this is changing.

  39. ell

    My parents each had professional jobs (nurse and engineer), and had separate checking accounts. Middle class.. It was always implied we would grow up, acquire professional work, and be self-sufficient. This seemed completely normal to me.

    That said, we weren’t given any training on how to get there. No tutoring, no help applying to colleges or learning how to fill out a college application or FAFSAs. Minor assistance included partial (~20-30%) college tuition; the rest was loans. We figured those things out on our own. The result is that we ended up being self-sufficient and learned how to get things done without help.

    Notably, my one brother who received more financial assistance and “pushing” than the rest of us has not done as well financially. He makes a lot of money and supports himself, but he has more debt than the kids who weren’t given any extra help/advise or “pushing” did better. Is correlation causation?

    Anectodally, I’ve noticed among my middle-class friends who were given a lot of help (financial and otherwise) growing up are considerably socially more crippled and less self-sufficient than my family is. IME, it pays to let people figure things out on their own, even though it was often frustrating at times.

  40. Julie

    I love your mother’s story of saving up for a big expense, then taking the whole family along for the purchase and going to the temple afterwards!

    What I learned from my parents about money:
    (my dad works as a financial advisor for a bank)
    – “Yes you got €2 pocket money from your Gran – how about putting it in your savings account? You know you have a savings account, right? If you put the €2 in it instead of buying sweets, when you’re 18 you will have a lot more money and you can buy something like a car…”
    – “At least put half of that pocket money in your savings account!”
    – “Are you really SURE you don’t want to put any of that money in your savings account? Look, this is your savings account statement – every month your mum and I put some money on it for you!”
    – Every month or so I would watch my dad collect “credit” card receipts and tally up the amount in an Excel spreadsheet. Sometimes, when he was a bit behind, he’d ask me to sort the receipts by month before he could input the amounts in the spreadsheet. (I write “credit” with quotes because credit cards are less popular in France – I’m French – but everyone would have a “delayed debit card” where all your expenses are debited from your account at the end of the month. Nobody in my family has ever had a real credit card – credit cards are Satan)
    – We always had two cars but they were either second hand or kept as long as possible. I remember one we had for over ten years, until it broke down. When my brother and I left home my parents decided they didn’t need the two cars anymore (which had been used to ferry us around to music lessons etc, and then for us to drive when we were of age). They gave the second car to my brother, gave me an amount of money reflecting the price of the car on the used car market, and now my mum rides the bus to work. My dad tried public transport but considering where he works it was impractical.
    – Same thing for the tv set (we still had a tv set that you had to get up from the couch to push the buttons on when everyone else already had a remote). The tv set my parents have now is the second I have known them to have. Flatscreen tvs are for gullible sissies.
    – The washing machine was exactly my age (30 years old) when they replaced it with a new one.
    – My dad explained how the stock market works (but never recommended investing in it directly), how to manage surplus money (don’t put all your eggs in the same basket) and how to consider financial decisions like whether or not to take out a loan, whether or not to buy a car / a house, etc.
    – The most important thing I learned from them is: consumer society is not your destiny. There are alternatives. Money should be spent on functional items, not to get an ego boost. Advertisement is all about misleading you into buying useless, low quality things that will break down immediately. Clever people don’t buy into it.
    – Other lessons: save up for it, don’t ask for credit, unless it’s a really big item (house). When considering a big expense, consider your long-term needs. Eating out is for lazy people who can’t cook (and besides it will never taste as good as what we cook at home). Spend money on experiences, not items. Invest in yourself (although university is still very cheap in France compared to what it is in the US, my parents always said they would support the cost of our education no matter what, even if we wanted to attend a private university, so that we wouldn’t have to work to pay our way through college).
    – The lesson I’m not following: “Study hard, and you’ll get a good, stable job as a civil servant/teacher”

    All in all, I’m really glad I got that kind of financial education: even though I earn less than some of my friends, I’m in a much better, less stressful financial position than they are. I also like it that I can be frugal if need be without resenting it, without feeling uncomfortable or “punished”.

    Gender roles: my parents make roughly the same amount of money, both have always worked. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a girl or a boy, a self-respecting person is financially independent and works for it. I wouldn’t say there was no gender bias in our education, but for the most obvious stuff (cooking, cleaning, housework, earning money, taking responsibility for important decisions in the household) the idea was always that it’s shared and that you should never expect somebody else to do it for you.

  41. Jill

    Your parents are ADORABLE. Must run in the family!

    From my parents I learned:

    – work is important, because you need to have your own money
    – childcare is really freaking expensive, but better than not working (not applicable yet, but I remember)
    – always know how much money you have (I have automatic bill paying for practically everything, plus online banking.)
    – always have a little money somewhere else in case of emergency
    – From my Dad: save. From my Mum: spend.
    – Divorce is also really freaking expensive, financially and emotionally: try to marry someone awesome and work as hard as you can to make your relationship great.

    I think this may be my first comment here, Ramit, so I’ll add: I love pretty much everything you write, even (possibly especially) the stuff that makes me go, ‘Yeahbuhwha?’ You’re awesome.

  42. Frank

    I learned that both parents can earn income…and the big one: DEBT IS SLAVERY! Credit cards should be paid in full, every month!

  43. Sonja

    I learned from my parents that I should live without debts, to make sacrifice for other members of the family, to help people since money comes and go, but people are important.
    I also learned that you can live without money, but you cannot live without the people you love.
    Although only my Father had a salary, we had everything we needed most of the time. But, when we needed something it was much easier for us to cope with it, since we new how to live without material goods. It was just important to us that we are together and healthy.

  44. John

    My father was a cop and my mother a flight attendant. They buried themselves in debt in order to raise my sister and I in the right neighborhood and send us to the right schools. Every month when my father sat down to revolve his debts he would make me sit at the kitchen table with him as he covered it in bills and credit card offers. As I sat there I would promise myself that I’d never wind up in that situation.

    My sister, however, never had to sit through the monthly bill torture because finances weren’t a girls job (nothing in my house was a girls job but cooking and clearing the table). Now in adulthood, my sister is tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt, and I pay mine off monthly.

    I guess I learned that being financially savvy is not gender specific.

  45. Betsy

    I learned that how you grow up determines how you treat money. My mom grew up really poor, and then her father – the sole bread winner – died when she was 12. The whole family had to start working. She made it – got a scholarship to college and law school and then began a middle-upper class life. My dad grew up middle class – had enough to get buy, but things were tight. His parents both worked as teachers, but there were 4 kids so they had to make the money stretch. He never went without, but the family was constantly afraid of becoming poor. Fast forward to their marriage: my dad was always worrying about money and had a constant fear of “becoming poor”. My mom didn’t worry about money – knew how much she could spend, and wasn’t afraid if something went wrong. She had been poor before and she survived, so she didn’t have a fear of being poor. I think it’s all very interesting.

  46. Andreas Kopp

    Great article about your parents! Reminds me of my parents. I think I have to start picking up on a couple of lessons they thought me.

    On what was real valuable is that my mother always writes down all her expenses and keeps a book. This is a habit that I have been also picking up.

  47. Ellen

    Congrats to the well-deserved recognition for your parents, and for you, as well!

    Growing up, my father worked full time, my mom part-time. It was hard to tell when I was young, but they shared responsibility for paying the bills, and money was really, really tight. (For example, 2 days before my father would get paid – which was bi-weekly – we’d be eating peanut butter and crackers for meals.) My father has a big sense of responbility, and spoke often of paying what you owe in a timely manner, not getting into debt, etc. I saw this in his daily activities, too. He also spoke about making more money and being self-employed as the best method for controlling your time and income. It was only later that I realized many of these “lessons” he was talking about were also directed to my mother, who has a big spending problem. Luckily for me, I picked up on my dad’s way of viewing money. I became self-employed; I am very conscious about what I do with my money. My father never could reach for his dream of being self-employed — my mother’s huge debt load kept him from being able to do it without risking the basics for me and my 3 siblings; he’ll be paying for her unhealthy habits for the rest of his life. I did well enough that I was able to travel when I wanted (and even take my parents on a 3-week European vacation) and that when I had a life-threatening illness, I was able to not work for 3 years, get the medical treatment I needed, and pay for it all. True… I’m starting over again now (at the tender age of 44), but I feel I have the mindset necessary to do it again.

    So… what did I learn? Basically what you’re teaching on IWT, Ramit.
    What about how different genders view money? Yes, I definitely see differences here, but I also see exceptions to the generalizations that are often made. I also see that often these views change after life-altering events such as severe illness, divorce, and the realization that your parents aren’t the way you thought they were. Luckily, we can choose to learn from our experiences and change our opinions and make small changes in order to dramatically change our experience of how we view and handle money.

  48. anonymous

    I think men and women are definitely different so of course I’m glad to hear that you’re going to write some hard-to-hear information about money and gender.

    I am a woman and I actually do think that it would be best to stay home with my young kids. But I grew up with a stay at home mom, and all she did was whine about money and my parents constantly fought about it. She always wanted a house and didn’t want to rent. When she tried to go back to work when we were all older and in school, it was a disaster. I don’t want to be her. I wish she had gone to work.

    So my husband stays home with the kids (he’s a fantastic father) and manages our rental properties (which bring in more gross, but less net, income than my salary does) while I work full time. We both really work full time. In the long term we hope that our income streams can allow me to work part time or not at all at a W2 job at some point, but in the meantime I bought a house on my own (before married), and I’ve got a good jump-start for retirement. While I think my kids would benefit from a mom at home, I also think they’ve got the best dad in the world and I don’t want them to be around a mother who frets about money but doesn’t DO A DAMN THING about it.

  49. Becky

    I ‘learned’ not to live above your means and never, never get into debt, especially credit card debt. At least that’s how my parents lived and what my parents tried to teach me. I didn’t learn. I should have. Now I’m having to learn the hard way. ouch.

  50. Davy

    I grew up in a family that constantly argue over money. My father is the only breadwinner in the family, while my mother stays at home. What my father earns is never enough to support our basic needs (we are seven siblings in the family), thus he resorts to credit. What you notice in his pay slip are huge amounts of debt deducted from his salary. In addition, he also gambles in the cockpit. So I grew up with the mindset, that money is difficult to earn. Now, i’m doing my best to educate myself to look for ways in earning money, legally, of course. And in the future, to be financially stable so that money will not be a big issue in my married life.

    By the way, nice photo of your parents, I shared the article to my girlfriend, she is just as curious as I am what your parents look like, thanks to your book we know a bit about your parents.

  51. Danielle

    When I was 19, my parents encouraged me to open a Roth IRA. They said for every dollar I put in, up to $1000, they would match it 100%. So with their help I began my Roth with $2000, and now I have over $30k in there.

    After working 30+ years for a giant global corporation, my dad discovered in his late 50s that entrepreneurship and discovering the “next great idea” was a far better way to make money, so now he actively encourages my husband and I to think big and find success through our own merits.

  52. Susan

    I loved the article on your parents. It was, indeed, the cutest photo on the net. I especially liked the way your mother described involving the whole family in financial decisions, saving for large purchases, and giving thanks afterwards.

    I’m older than your usual demographic. My parents were both alive during the Great Depression of the 1930s. What they taught me about money, was only by example:
    — The man in the breadwinner, the woman is the homemaker.
    I disagreed, as I wanted many things (pets) they didn’t want to provide. So I started earning money on my own at age 3 and continued until I became disabled as an adult. I made sure my 2 daughters were raised to understand they should be financially independent adults, no matter what.
    — Making investments is for men. Woman are only good for pinching pennies that are doled out to them by men.
    I disagreed. I learned as much as I could about investing, retirement savings, and identifying what made me feel rich at an early age. (The part about “making me feel rich” is so right in your book, Ramit.) I invested accordingly. So while most people didn’t understand why my only piece of furniture was a baby grand piano for years and why I didn’t own a TV, I made those choices because they made me feel very wealthy, indeed.
    — Women are terrible at math, so they shouldn’t handle taxes, paying bills, or have any access to bank accounts.
    I bought into this until I got to college. Then I had to take math classes and found out how fun and easy statistics and probability theory were. From there, I did all I could to learn about taxes, interest rates, investing, etc. Math may not have always been fun (remember, I had to do it on a slide rule, as calculators were not yet available), but it was extremely useful.
    — Women should learn nothing career-related. They should only learn the social graces so they can attract a man with a good career. That is, a woman should go to college, after learning to play an instrument, dance, speak 2 additional languages, and becoming highly cognizant of art and literature. In other words, the aim for women in college was an MRS degree.
    Sadly, I bought into this. I learned to play 3 instruments proficiently before college. I soaked up art and culture like a sponge. I could not dance because I had 2 left feet, so I learned to become an accomplished rider and gymnast instead (acceptable alternatives)
    When I got to college, I studied only topics that interested me, including numerous language courses, Uralic-Altaic studies, theater, human sexuality (the Kinsey Institute was on my campus) psychology, comparative literature, philosophy, etc. And shortly after graduating college, I got that coveted MRS degree.

    The MRS degree turned out to be a terrible mistake. My first husband (so very charming when we met and of identical ethnic origin) lied about money and was abusive. He wrecked my perfect credit rating and built up huge debt without my knowledge. (Needless to say, he destroyed my trust in men, too.) After 19 months of living hell, I left him by borrowing enough for cab fare and a plane ticket to sneak away with my baby, myself, and a large bag of diapers.

    My parents did not support my decision to divorce (no one in our family had ever done that), so I had to hide out until the divorce became final. I took 2 part-time jobs and started a small translation business while I picked up additional college courses in computer science so I could support myself and daughter. Five years later, I was working for a Fortune 500 corporation, in a decent position in an R&D software lab.

    I eventually remarried, but only after much financial discussion and disclosure with my current husband. We had another daughter and I raised both kids to understand the stock market, the futures markets, IRAs, REITs, 401Ks, statistics, probability theory, etc. They went to college understanding they could study anything they wanted, but that becoming financially independent was to be their goal following college.

    My second biggest financial mistake was becoming disabled. My parents never brought up this possibility and I was young and healthy and never gave a thought to becoming disabled. If I could give any financial advice to your other readers, it is to study the probability of becoming disabled. I did not.

    It sounds like a lot of parents out there have given much better advice than mine did. It is encouraging to hear there is so much progress in the world.

  53. Jessica

    I learned from my mother that you look for a bargain, ask if someone will take less, but be kind about it, and you track every penny. I also learned that an item on sale (even an incredible one) that you don’t need is still a waste of money. I learned from my Dad that it’s okay to use some of your money to have fun, like go out to eat or go on vacation, as long as it’s done within your means.

  54. Lucille

    Ramit…it’s great that you’re so positive about your parents. I’m a second gen. Asian but my parents taught me fear. There was no love in our home, certainly not the unconditional kind, it was abusive – emotionally and financially. I’m on the other side of the coin…the immigrant failure story. All I can do is work and educate myself as best I can. That said, I thank my parents for what they couldn’t give me…’cos it means that I’ve started at the bottom, on the way up, and it’s all credit to the power of purposeful negativitiy!

  55. kate

    The things i learned from my mother were to not have credit or pay it off immediately, always make/stash your own money (never be financially trapped in a relationship!), and take a small part of any windfall and spend it on something fun and frivolous lol

    my father (divorced, obviously) i learned you should really just fix stuff yourself, there are books, go learn how to do it and don’t pay someone else (i may have learned this, but i rarely practice it)

  56. Jill

    I learned that education is not the reason for wealth. My mom who didn’t attend college was an unlikely entrepreneur in my family while my dad with an MBA struggled to get noticed in his field. She had a unique product that turned into a home business and made tons of money while my dad worked 9-5, hated his job and took no risks.

  57. Jennifer

    I learned good stuff and bad stuff. Good stuff – you don’t spend what you don’t have, you save for the things you really want and if they’re not worth saving for then you probably didn’t really want them in the first place, that part of what you have should be spent to help those who have less than you do, that once you have enough to meet your needs and some of your wants it’s better to spend time at home with your family than trying to make even more. And how important it is to have dinner as a family almost every night.

    Bad stuff – if you’re really, really rich, you’re probably doing something unsavory at some point, the only way to be successful is to get a good education and work for a reputable company, that boasting about your accomplishments are in bad taste because if you’re doing good work then people will notice, and that people who get ahead because of who they know instead of what they know are pretty skeezy.

  58. Caitlin

    My first financial encounter was when I was around 12 years old and wanted to join a popular CD mailing company. My mother immediately told me “You’re going to screw up your credit!” and, while this didn’t make any sense at the time, I knew she was worried about something important from her tone. She closely monitored me and taught me the importance of paying bills before the due date. When I graduated high school, I was taught about credit cards and how to only spend what I can pay back at the end of the month. Sometimes I feel like my mother is more concerned with my credit score than my grades! She definitely has taught me to be financially responsible from a young age.

  59. Tim Rosanelli

    My dad was a bank manager and my mom was a accountant so finances were discussed fairly openly. Plus, we have multiple generations of entrepreneurs within our family.

    Most of the lessons seem very simple but they were very effective.
    1. Spend less than you earn – We were influenced to save money from a very early age. My dad got us a saving account at the bank at about 5 yrs old.
    2. Always have an emergency fund – Things always happen so prepare for it.
    3. Invest early – My dad got me to invest in my first stock (McDonald’s Reinvestment Plan) with money I saved from side jobs at about 12 yrs old back in 1982. This one decision has had a huge impact on my finances to this day.
    4. Work for what you want – My parents never bought toys or anything like that unless it was Christmas or a Birthday. We got an allowance and we’d have to save for it. If we want to get it faster, we had to work for it with side jobs like mowing the neighbors lawn or snow shoveling.
    5. Live close to where you work – My dad and mom both worked in town less than a 1/2 mile commune. They would eat lunch at home everyday. My dad had a chance to get a better paying job, but passed it up. My parents felt that the longer commune would cost more in car related expenses and they enjoyed their lunches.
    6. Don’t chase status related things – My family never had status related things (big house, fancy car), but they were willing to pay alot of money for experience like education and training.
    7. Learn to do your own taxes – With my mom being an accountant, she taught us to do are own taxes. I still remember sitting at the dining room table with a pencil filling in the paper tax forms (no electronic in the late 80’s) that I picked up at the Post Office and her correcting them like a homework assignment. I continued to do them myself until I became a business owner because I felt that having a competent accountant was helpful. I still do my kid’s and started teaching them.
    8. You only pay taxes on the money you spend – If you invest money in a 401K, the money remains unrealized so you don’t pay taxes on it. This idea of unrealized income is very important to understand when you become a business owner because money spend inside a business is never realized therefore never taxed.

  60. Logan

    This is such a fascinating topic. Thank you Ramit.

    My father grew up wealthy. My grandfather owned a number of businesses but he and my grandmother were profligate spenders, never saving a penny that they earned. When my grandfather died at 86, he was still working, and my grandmother now qualifies for Medicaid.

    My father was smart enough to learn from their example, and got a doctorate, worked hard, and earned a good peak salary before retirement. He and my mother spent frugally, saved heavily, and invested wisely. My Dad recently told me that he has never once not paid off a credit card bill in full. My parents were able to put a down payment for more than half of the value of the house they recently purchased.

    My mother had a different experience growing up. She grew up in a large Catholic family that was completely broke, and as a woman, was offered no support for her education. She remains frugal when it comes to herself, my father, and their lifestyle, but not when it comes to me. She, I think, never wanted me to feel the kind of want she felt growing up and often doled out love in the form of money and “things.” Do you want it? Then buy it. Better yet — I’ll buy it for you.

    As I transition into adulthood, I recognize the influence of both of my parents on my spending. Broadly, I think I’m doing well — I automate, save, track, invest, have an excellent credit score, etc. But I definitely do not always live within my means. I have trouble with impulsiveness in terms of buying things, particularly online shopping for clothes and the like. The rush of happiness and fulfillment (which is, of course, fleeting) from purchases has become problematic. I also still rely quite a bit on support from my parents especially as I finish my professional degree and have a lot of guilt associated with that.

    Anyway, interesting topic, Ramit. I don’t think we realize how much of our family’s influence carries through in our dealings with money.

  61. tesseracts

    My father is overly cautious and frugal. He has a good job with a 6 figure income, but he lost a lot during the stock market crash of 2008. I have trouble affording college now, although with my dad’s income I think I shouldn’t.

    My mother told my father to sell his stocks soon before the crash. He said he would, and never did. The reason he did not sell the stocks is because he feels like he loses money if he sell the stock and it continues to rise.

    My fathers overly cautious attitude has saved me from the financial stupidity and unawareness that many young people suffer from. It has also made me determined to never end up like him. His fear of losing money ironically prevents him from earning as much as he can. You know what they say, buy high, sell low. He wears his shoes until they literally have holes in them. Recently we had a yard sale and we sold nothing because he could not decide on a price for any of the items. Somebody would ask about the price of a lamp, he would say he had to “think about it,” and the costumer would leave.

    • tesseracts

      I want to add that my father came from a really poor family on welfare which really screwed up his attitudes about money. My mother had the opposite background. She developed a habit of spending too much. She spends beyond her means on luxuries like bags and sushi. If she cannot buy things she feels deprived. Although my mother paid my fathers way through college, and she has her own smaller income, so it is not a totally parasitic relationship.

  62. Jay

    As the youngest of three and only son of two war refugees, I didn’t realize how different the perception of money can be to different cultures and generations especially while growing up.

    My parents came from nothing, literally – their lives turned upside down during the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia following the Vietnam War. They watched their friends and family be murdered before their eyes; they were forced into hard-labor camps before valiantly escaping the Khmer Rouge to Thailand after which they were miraculously sponsored to the US by an Italian-American family. Before their first year in the States, they moved out of their sponsored home. The year after that, they bought their first home – in cash. I knew all of this, but it didn’t quite equate to the life that I was living as a first generation American.

    Growing up, we were always loved; fed well, sufficiently clothed and had toys to play with. They focused on our health and education – all things that weren’t promised to them back in their war-torn home. My parents provided us with what is considered a typical (middle)American upbringing. We had fantastic birthday parties and memorable family vacations. There was nothing that would make us feel that we were lacking[as individuals and as a family]. I thought that it was normal until I matured enough to understand the sacrifices and compromises that they had to make in order for us to live the way we do.

    Our family ran the gamut of financial highs and lows – one income, dual incomes, no income, side income, bartering and borrowing with some years better than others, but even at the lowest point… nothing to complain about. My mother bread-winning while my father was not and vice versa – she making more money than he did at one point. It didn’t matter though. It did not matter because money about selflessness and family instead of selfishness and greed. My parents would even lend money to help other families even though a new school year was coming up and we needed clothes and supplies. You know what though? We could wear last year’s shoes and we didn’t need new Trapper Keepers in our backpacks. There was no room for selfishness when you’re fresh in a new world with five mouths to feed and a future to uphold for your entire bloodline.

    From time to time, my sisters and I would reflect on our childhood and the word best used to describe how we grew up is: comfortable. We never asked for much, but when we did we usually got it. The times that we didn’t, we got a lecture instead – not so much a lecture as it was a value story. A story that would inject a new perspective on the situation and force us to rethink what we were asking for. My mother is better at telling them than my father is, but as they say, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.” In hindsight, I like to believe that we were just gullible children duped by clever adults, but there’s a lot of worth behind what they did. They didn’t necessarily teach us THE value of money as much as they did TO value money and the opportunities that it could afford us.

    I went to college to learn finances yet I learned only numbers. My parents went through war and genocide and grasped sensibility. Their situation afforded them a sense of forward motion – there’s no going back to what they came from… there’s only room for improvement from where they started. Through perseverance and selflessness they established roots in a strange place by raising a loving, fruitful family. From them, I learned value and discipline not only in money, but in life.

  63. Rachel

    I learned that I need to be able to support myself – after high school I was on my own. I think my parents sometimes wished I wasn’t quite so independent…but I wish I would have learned things like networking and running your own business from my dad.

  64. Ani

    Dear Ramit,
    I learnt from my grandparents that I’m the greatest person on Earth. This helped me cope with a lot of difficult times as I got by by laughing at the rest of you losers.

    Congrats on featuring on the NYT!


  65. Matt

    Speak….once you deliver your price you need to Shut up and not say a word..this is the hardest thing to do..

  66. Amarjit S Duggal

    How can we meet this guy

  67. Antonia Lo Giudice

    Hi Ramit

    I laughed so much at the part about your dad negotiating for a car and getting the mats in the end:) I am of Italian background, let me tell you, my parents generation would negotiate for practically anything! My mom would ask for a discount at the check out counter of the grocery store! In those days, we had corner store grocery stores. In the neighbourhood I grew up, the grocery store was owned by an Italian. Well, although she did not really get a discount, she did always come back with some special treat that she would get for being a loyal customer.
    We (my sister and 2 brothers) also learned 2 very important things. How to appreciate the little things and use our imagination instead of complaining. My mom is a seamstress. She sewed our clothes when we were growing up. Now, we all know that a child grows rather quickly out of their clothes (maybe every few months). My mom had that covered. She would add a hem to our pants, skirts and dresses. Therefore, when we would out grow them, she would just undo the hem and adjust the clothes. It was hilarious because we would walk around with a white ring at the end of our pants. I remember one time, she added so much extra material, she adjusted my pants 3 times. That’s right, I walked around with 3 white rings at the end of my pants. My poor sister, my clothes got handed down to her.
    Another thing, is that my parents could not afford to buy us toys. So, when the groceries were delivered to the house, my mom would save the boxes for us to be creative and play with them!
    I have learned and am the person I am today because of this. Not only that, they were wonderful memories:)

  68. hannah

    my dad started teaching my sister and i about saving when we were pretty young. i got the lecture on compounding interest, complete with excel spreadsheets, every year starting in middle school. around then, we started getting an allowance for doing chores around the house, but he would “match” however much we put into our savings – so we had an incentive to save rather than spend. my parents then set us up with a roth IRA when we turned 16, and trained us to contribute yearly. then fast forward through college, being careless and stupid (not being thoughtful about saving, not that i went into thousands of credit card debt or something really stupid). but i went through my first few jobs without really thinking about having any plans regarding money – i guess part of me just didn’t want to be a grown up. then about a year ago, got introduced to your book, and decided to get things straightened out. set up all my automated things and just sit back and watch it all do its thing. i told my dad a few months ago. he was so thrilled.

  69. Angela

    My parent’s had the exact same furniture as your parents did in the photo. Haha They definitively taught me how to stretch a dollar. Without their guidance (or, really lack thereof) I would not have learned to be responsible in any spectrum of my life. Hated it when I was younger, but in retrospect I have grown so much.

  70. Kat

    Great article about your family.

    What I learned from my parents…

    1.) The Golden Rule: Whoever has the gold makes the rules.

    This was one of my dad’s favorite sayings and it still makes me laugh. I learned that money gives you options and choices. The more money you have, the more choices you have.

    2.) Love fades. Marry for money.

    This is another direct quote from my dad. I should note that come June, my parents will have been happily married for 41 years. My dad’s point was that “passion” and “chemistry” aren’t enough to sustain a relationship. You should marry someone you can actually live with for 40+ years.

  71. Edward Wong

    I was a kid coming home from school and I blew away my day’s pocket money on a large ice-cream cone. My dad got angry and he went on to lecture me about money. I probably missed 90% of it, but the one thing that did stick was this line: “If you want to buy a drink that costs $1, but you only have 90 cents, YOU CANNOT BUY IT!!!”. I thought he was crazy at the time, I mean, it’s just a friggin’ ice cream cone.

    But many years later, I finally realized the wisdom of his words and what he really meant was not spending beyond your means. To this day, I do not have massive debts, I spend within my means, have ample savings and able to support two kids.

  72. Anand Gurumoorthy

    Been following your website for a month. Planning to read your book soon. Happy to see a fellow Indian doing well as a wealth advisor.

  73. Claire

    The first thing I heard about credit cards from my dad was that you don’t use it as a loan but pay it in full monthly. The first thing I heard about stocks was buy and hold. The other was to read about Warren Buffett and Peter Lynch. My dad opened Roth IRAs for us in college. Those several years head start have a HUGE effect which will amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars difference.

    My mom tells us to be prepared for the worst like every day. In my late 20s, I thought if I ever became disabled and couldn’t work, I had enough savings to support myself for 10 years and figure out something else during that time. What do you know, it happened.

    Regarding gender roles, growing up, I saw no happy marriages in my parents’ generation which are breadwinner/housewife. I saw lifelong stay at home moms who were ill-prepared to prepare kids for an adult life they had no exposure to.

    In my social circle, in one generation, the female role changed from our moms being lifelong stay-at-home moms from their early 20s to the daughters and sons being equally educated, equally likely to be doctors, etc., the daughters getting married after age 30 and having their first child around age 35 +/- a few years. When you raise daughters to be doctors, etc., the breadwinner/housewife thing obviously changes.

    The gender role problems I was trying to figure out in high school (e.g. how to be a working mom in the future) were not as much of a problem by the time I finished grad school 10 years later. The gender role problems I was trying to figure out in grad school (e.g. can I find a husband who will be equally responsible for housework and childcare?) are again not as much of a problem now 10 years later.

  74. q smith

    i learned:
    overt scripts – discussions with mom and dad:
    – men see a $ as a step toward freedom (imagine you are a puppet with a million strings. every dollar saved is like cutting a string. when you have a million you are free…)
    – women see a $ as a way to make the home nicer, to make the family happier
    – these 2 views conflict and cause divorce when mom buys curtains and dad fears the “death of the salesman” (my dad was a divorce lawyer from 1956 until retirement in 1971)
    – the man and woman should partner on their life ambitions including common goals, then set a supporting budget. the man needs to allow the woman to make the home nice. the woman needs to allow the man to amass wealth.

    unwritten scripts:
    – it is a “man’s” world, let the man make and invest the $
    – the man should make the big decisions (car, house)
    – women are wiser shoppers and thus should manage the daily budget

    i have tried to cherry pick the best of my parent’s views (set common goals and a common budget).

    in 2000 i offered my wife the opportunity to quit working for $. we moved to a small town, bought a small house, drive used cars. she has been at home with the kids, making quilts for charity and church.

    she was a computer programmer for 10 years, then managed multi-million $ projects for a fortune 200 company, and has a masters in finance. now she can’t tell you our net worth, debt, or annual income.

  75. Tara M.

    Thanks for sharing that link, Ramit!

    I think I’m very conscious of spending because I was raised by my grandparents who had a solid WWII-era economic mindframe. My grandmother was very big on saving every last drop of everything…she would swish water into nearly-empty condiment bottles to get that very last bit of ketchup or mayonnaise. She would also save soap slivers in a plastic bag and, when she had enough, she would put them together and make a new bar of soap. My grandfather, who was a mechanical engineer at GE for most of his career, would fix just about anything himself…I don’t recall a plumber or handyman ever setting foot in our house.

    In some ways the frugality paid off…we never lacked for money, even though the three of us lived solely on my grandfather’s retirement income. But in other ways, it was obnoxious and stingy (watered-down ketchup tastes TERRIBLE!!) I mean, it’s good to save money, but what’s the point if you don’t enjoy it?

    But there was also a burning inequality to this mentality that I have always hated: because my grandfather was the sole breadwinner, he believed that he should control the money. When he wanted something, he just went out and bought it. When my grandmother wanted something, she had to cajole and sweet-talk him and rationalize the purchase and hope that he would come around. He also never consulted her on anything: once he had the whole kitchen remodeled with brown cabinets and a brown-and-white rug (yes, rug) on the kitchen floor…without even caring that my grandmother hated brown, and ignoring her wise observation that the rug would become filthy in no time flat. But on the other hand, my grandmother, when asked, would always proclaim that she knew nothing about money and left everything to her husband because he knew what was best for them. She had been conditioned to believe that the wife should be dependent on the husband. Watching that kind of life as I grew up has made me determined to have my own money…I’m not married, but I can’t imagine ever giving up my job for any reason. Even if I did have kids, I have no problem with daycare. I really don’t think women are doing their kids any favors by hovering around them 24/7. One cautionary thing I will say from watching an aunt who quit her job to dote on her children all their lives is this: children learn by example; if you tell your children that women are just as strong and smart as men, and wax infinity about gender equality, but all they grow up seeing is their mother puttering around the house until her husband comes home and demands to know why dinner isn’t ready, they will not believe a word of what you say. (Take it from me, some of the crap my cousins say about women is straight out of the 50s). The reality is that it’s not enough to TALK about gender equality, you have to SHOW them that women can hold their own in the workforce.

  76. Gerard

    I learned this lesson late, because my dad taught it late. But one day, we were walking past a Peugeot 307 CC (a convertible car that America does not have) and he asked me how much it cost. I told him and he told me that he thinks that that was an awful lot of money for a very small amount of car.
    Mind you, my dad’s a millionaire.

  77. Chris Hess

    Growing up we lived comfortably. I never really thought about my parent’s money but it turned out it was because my Dad was financially wise. He saw early on in their marriage the things my Mom loved to spend money on (giving gifts for example) so he started a budget for those things so there was always money. I didn’t learn this until I was older but that habit just makes sense to me when I read about Ramit’s automatic savings plans. I’m not sure if Dad taught me it without me realizing it through his daily actions.

    I’ve always been a bit of a saver and entrepreneur and this is a gift my parents gave to me. I honestly can’t remember if it was my idea or my parents but I got a paper route when I was 11. My parents helped to get me up and kept me doing it and I will be eternally grateful for that. I learned a good work ethic and how cool it was to technically be buying the newspapers from a company and reselling them for a profit.

  78. Dustin

    My parents did not teach me about money. They divorced when I was 11, and my mom became a single parent. I knew how to save money for big purchases, but that was all.

    When I became an adult, I learned the hard way that DEBT IS BAD. Nobody taught me this growing up. If there was a way this lesson could have been taught earlier, it would have saved me a lot of trouble.

    • Dustin

      I should also add my personal beliefs:

      Money is shared by the family. I am the primary bread winner, and I plan for my wife to stay at home to raise our children (on my teacher’s income, yes we can do it!) When I become the sole breadwinner of the family, the money is still family money, not just mine.

  79. Sean

    Love this post.. it resonates with us. We have managed to force ourselves through the whole process but have only seen a very small ROI on time and money invested, however it proves the model works, with the right product and market mix. We are planning attempt 3 very soon. Thanks for the inspiration!!

  80. Nitin

    Hi Ramit,

    Nice to see the cutest photo in the whole world.

    My dad grew up in a family of 12 siblings, he was 4th kid in the family and he had to work in the family farm whole day. Out of the 12 siblings only my dad and his elder brother used to work in the farm and then try to attend school and rest of the siblings were given a chance to go to school, but out of them only my dad went to college on his own, without my grandfather paying for his school or college. He tried to force all his younger siblings to go to school and college, but none went past high school. My dad is very financially sound and he doesn’t need to work but still works to keep himself busy. He always said that whatever u need to buy u need to save for it. We never got pocket money in our childhood and he always use to say why do u need money when I provide you with food, shelter and clothes. He said that if you bring grades I will teach you whatever you want to learn. He used to give us money for doing chores around house and would ask me to save if I want to give party to my friends for my birthday or for going to movies with friends, so from childhood I had a knack of saving money here and there in my room and that habit of saving money has still with me… and I save almost 50% of both mine and my wife’s salary every month and it grows exponentially.

  81. Financial Advice for Young Professionals

    I am content with working a good paying job now so that I may semi-retire to a profession I really enjoy in 5-10 years. It’s all about making the small sacrifices now so that you may benefit later..

  82. Sara Youner

    From my father I learned that being fiscally irresponsible means you get what you want but your kids are screwed. Do I sound bitter? I’m trying to figure out how to pay my father’s funeral bills out of his nonexistant estate. From my mother I learned that saving is important but you shouldnt forget to enjoy life a little. She left me a little money but practically wore rags to work(not kidding)

  83. Timothy Moser

    I learned that high income doesn’t mean rich lifestyle.

    1. You can make a lot of money but spend most of it on mortgages and auto loans.
    2. You can make a lot of money and save and invest most of it for your later years.

    After seeing my parents’ example, I will hopefully fall into the second category better than they do.

  84. Angela

    Both my parents are spenders and I learned my spending habits from them. I saw them spend money on clothes, toys, stuff for the house. My parents will spend money like its water. My dad had the mentality that he could always make more. He had his own diesel repair shop. He did make a lot of money and has been successful for many years. My sister and I did not need or want for anything. I wish my parents had taught me more about saving. I am very thankfully I have been following you for the last four years because I have worked hard to employ a lot of your methods. It is not easy to change, but I am slowly getting there.

    As for involving gender, my dad told us we could be whatever we wanted to be and make as much money as we could. There was never any gender bias in our home. My mom worked for my dad. She taught us that we should know what is going on with our finances even after getting married. Both had to understand because if one day your spouse got ill or left you could left taking care of the books.

  85. Jordan

    Honestly, my parents didn’t talk with me a ton about money. They started me out with the jars for saving and spending when I was little and gave me some pointers when I got my first debit/credit cards, but other than that financial advice was pretty sparse. I usually had to really, really push them to get any info on how we were actually doing. We were always fine, but I usually got told that it wasn’t something I needed to worry about. I was just curious….which is why I’m here I guess. I want to learn.

  86. Les

    Great article! My parents are immigrants, both working until I was 7, when my brother was born and my mom stopped working to raise us. In fact, she was making more money than my dad (a carpenter) as a housekeeper. My first lesson in savings and banks occurred at a young age. Growing up I had a ceramic Mickey Mouse piggy bank (it was 3 feet high), and my parents would always give me their change at the end of the day so that I could “feed” Mickey. When I was 8, my mom broke Mickey apart with a hammer because he was full. We started counting the change and put them in coin wrappers. I had accumulated around $85 (I still remember the amount clearly) and she took me to the local bank where I opened my first savings account.

    Even though my mom stopped working, I learned most, if not all, money lessons from her. She was the money manager of the household, even for my dad’s business (whether he liked it or not). She always told me the hard lessons from my dad’s mismanagement of money, for example, when he lost thousands in a pyramid scheme. I was a teenager and didn’t understand what a pyramid scheme was, but I learned, never put money in a pyramid and always be skeptical of others who want or ask you for money. Or when he bought 2 cars for himself which he crashed later, while my mom still had to drive a junk car, which she maintained on her own and lasted longer than my dad’s 2 cars. My mom’s most important lessons were, and still are, never ever be financially dependent on a man and enjoy life with the money you earned!

  87. Trinity

    My mother never saved any money for any emergency and she was always asking different people to help her pay the bills. As I got older I learned to always have some sort of savings even if it was a few hundred dollars because you never know when life will throw you a curve ball. I never want to deal with the stress of not being able to pay a bill on time.

  88. Giri

    Hey Ramit,

    This sure is a SWEET picture!
    I dont know if this is an Indian thing – my dad always took me out on all shopping errands right from when I was a 4-5 year old kid. I would carry the coins and he would pay the exact amounts just so he could ask me for the change and get me to count. Then I was moved on to collecting the change from them. I would be terribly shy to point out if they were wrong. Another time, our regular shopkeeper’s assistant had given me a rupee more in change and I kept quiet about it until we had come out. My dad absolutely saw to that I went back and showed him the handwritten receipt and returned the excess. And said sorry!!! I was 14 when I was first sent to our family Goldsmith. I still remember the excitement on going all by myself carrying about 1200-1300 Rupees to buy whatever I fancied, within that budget. (I had collected that amount in just one rupee coins.) The only condition was that I had to come back and explain to my dad the calculation. Now, anybody who has shopped for gold in India will know how all the calculations are handwritten – weight, rate of gold, stones or gems, making charges, wastage etc and they write all this in way you are not supposed to understand and many times you dont even get this piece of paper – you only get the final neat looking one with the final price. While the rate is not negotiable, many other things are and that day I really must have driven that man nuts. I would not leave the place until I had understood every number that he had scribbled. And I finally walked out with a Pearl and Ruby set in a Gold pendant after what felt like ages!! They gave me a discount just to get rid of me, I think.

    From my mom I learnt the wisdom and joy of complementing. I saw her as a working woman and then I observed her as she became a home maker for good after my sister was born. Mom and dad seamlessly changed roles with ease all the time. If he cooked, she cleaned. When she earned, he planned. Work needs to get done and anything that is worth doing is worth done impeccably was and is their motto. My husband and I have come to adopt this same precept now!

  89. Suzette

    Im in my very early 40’s. My Father raised me to never rely on someone else for your income. ( meaning a husband in my case). He was a Doctor and my Mom was a housewife. She ended up with nothing after their divorce when I was a young girl and she lived her life always struggling. Also, my Father was an extremely frugal man.

    I finally married recently. I started my own businesses by the time I was 26 and have had many other businesses in my life up until I married recently…my knowledge of business helps my husband.
    There is nothing wrong in joining forces to make a business profitable. My husband needed my help desperately as he didn’t know how to market himself and neither did we want to hire out for the skills I had to save the business money.
    Although my husband likes to have a wife take care of the home, I am the home economist and I have the better aptitude to direct how finances are best managed. He happily gives that responsibility to me.
    Once his business has grown and we can hire out for the work I do in it, I look forward to having another business endeavor once again, but not something that takes away form our life together. Meanwhile, Im reading Rami to do some freelance on the side – just because – it is nice to have your own income.
    My 2 cents.

  90. Sunil

    I learned several important financial scripts (and not-scripts) from my parents:

    1) As both my mom and dad worked hard to earn a living after immigrating here, I learned that Hard Work really can be rewarded.

    2) As my Dad has always been very risk adverse, and from my perspective too risk adverse, and my Mom has always been very risk seeking, almost too risk seeking, I gained a great sense of what to avoid and what to go “all-in” for.

    3) I learned that how important having a budget and a plan with your money really is. My parents were people who always lived at their means, but somehow did not follow traditional paths to increasing their capital.

    4) Lastly, I learned that there is always a smart way to do things, and if your going to do something, do it with a smile and go “all-in”. This is very important, and a constant source of inspiration when starting my own business.

  91. James

    My dad taught me that I was destined to succeed via palm reading, and that I would do it specifically through providing tremendous amounts of value to others and receiving a tremendous amount of value in return.

    I’m doing pretty well for myself, and a lot of it has to do with this ingrained sense that it’s just part of who I am to do good things and receive a good reward. That sneaky, conniving bastard. I don’t even believe in that stuff, but it caused me to believe in myself.

  92. Ian

    I learned: Money doesn’t grow on trees, except when it does.. then we are broke except we can get a brand new tv… I learned not to ask about money, let alone discuss it. When we wanted to do something we were more or less intimidated with the cost (and a very angry looking parent.) In essence, I learned money was a very scary evil thing.

  93. Adam P

    I am lucky to have parents like you Ramit. I grew up with Dad at work and mom with me and sis. She took the apartment caretaker position for reduced rent and it was something she could do with us around. She cried when they bought their first house. She was so afraid that $39,000 was way too much for them to handle. She took a production artist job by the time I was in junior high. What I didn’t know was we continued to live on my father’s income and she saved everything! That house she cried over sold for $289,000. With that and a fraction of what she saved they have built their dream house with zero debt. I don’t know how much she saved over thirty years but I know she has no worries about retirement anymore. She always kept a budget and they always lived within their means. Easier said than done but I know it works.

  94. her every cent counts

    Here’s what I learned from my parents about money roles…

    By the time I was born, my mother had quit her job as a fashion designer to become a stay-at-home mother. This was in 1983. My father had dropped out of graduate school and was already succeeding in his professional career as an actuary. While we were never rich, we were definitely upper middle class on a one-income salary. Life was good. Or so it appeared.

    But inside my family life, my father was very abusive to my mother. Much of the fighting had to do with money. She would spend and spend, and my father would get angry at her for this. Even though we had a lot of money, we didn’t have unlimited money. My escape became spending money too. We never bought fancy things (it wasn’t until my 20s when I shelled out $200 for a pair of designer jeans) but we’d spend $1000 on a season’s wardrobe with the same shirt in every print and color it comes in. Buying stuff filled the hole of our sadness, and for a while I thought it was all that mattered.

    Even though my father was abusive, my mother had quickly become scared of going back into the work world, knowing she’d never be able to earn the same amount as him, especially with children, so she stayed with him. I don’t know how she ever managed to handle her own finances because if you ask her now about the family finances she does not understand and does not want to know. My father is currently ill with terminal cancer, and it is necessary for her to again understand the finances. I have stepped in to try to help.

    I feel very fortunate that I came upon a personal finance blog in my early 20s and realized that spending is not the route to happiness. It was an addiction that I needed to overcome. I’m by no means perfect now, but I’m carefully monitoring my budget in It has been very hard to change the way I think about money. Back in college I couldn’t understand how much money it would cost to just live the lifestyle I was accustomed to, and how hard it would be to obtain this income. Now I make $90k per year and I’m comfortable, but I’m still scared of not earning enough to have a family with the lifestyle I want and expect.

  95. Shaquita

    I learned what not to do with my money. Both of my parents are 43 with no emergency fund and no retirement fund. Last August they moved in with me for a year to get their finances together and to date they have saved nothing.

    My financial education began in college when I joined a smart money group. Through them I learned about books like Smart Women Finish Rich and I Will Teach You to be Rich. These books changed my life and my financial future.

    Since reading them I started contributing to a ROTH IRA (which I am maxing out now), started an emergency fund where $100.00 is deposited automatically from each paycheck, started contributing 10% of my income from my parttime job to a 401k to get the company match, and bought a house before my 25th birthday.

  96. someone

    My parents taught me to read Consumer Reports, research big purchases, and focus on value. My dad apparently had a subscription to CR in college or law school, and it was one of the things that attracted my mom to him. Yeah.

    My mom taught me to be assertive in holding vendors to their warranties, advertised sales, and so on.

    My mom taught me very the importance of saving, opening a Roth for me when I was self-employed as a babysitter in high school. She took my sister and me to attend a seminar on financial planning for women when we were in high school.

    My parents also taught me at a young age what kinds of tradeoffs I would face in valuing my time. We lived in the most or second most wealthy zip code in the country, but all of the money I spent on my friends’ birthday presents had to come from what I earned babysitting. I worked two nearly full-time jobs the summer before college to earn spending money. I learned how boring and painful work can be.

    They also taught me through their own mistakes about the dangers of insufficient diversification (real estate), investment bubbles, and how health problems can disrupt well-laid plans.

    • someone

      Also, I learned that there’s nothing weird about a weird about a woman earning 2x more than her husband. I was told what kinds of discrimination I would face in male-dominated fields and how this might limit my advancement. There was always the expectation that I would pay my own way, though I never wanted to be as wealthy as my parents–they clearly traded some of their own happiness (jobs they enjoyed) for money. Ten years after college, I’m working as hard as they do but earning ~6% of their combined salary.

    • someone

      Last flashback: One morning, I asked my parents why they weren’t using all the coupons that came with the newspaper. I remember my mother explaining to me exactly how she valued (i.e., calculated the worth of) her time, and that it didn’t make sense for her to spend any of her leisure time clipping coupons for 50 cents off a box of cereal.

      In the same conversation, we established that the coupons represented a relatively great source of income for me. My parents kindly let me keep all of our savings from coupons, as long as I did the work of clipping, organizing, and presenting them at the grocery store.

  97. nha

    I learned a lot from parents. Both died in the last 10 years, I was fortunate to inherit, not a fortune but a reasonable amount. They saved all their lives but were unable to take advantage of it. What I draw from this is that we need balance. Provide for the future but enjoy the now. After clearing my mother’s house of stuff, I realized that most of what we collect through our lives is crap and worthless. Only buy something if you are going to really use it our love it. Really, just remain conscious of your actions with an eye on the future. Moderate your consumption and make sure you live now!

  98. Patti

    Thank you for sharing the article and all of the comments. You show credibility and I’m grateful for finding you.
    I look forward to a great financial future.

  99. Susan

    My Mom and Dad would take us out to dinner every now and then, and one night I was sitting next to my Dad and the bill came, and he got out a credit card. I had never seen one and I asked him what it was, and he said it was a credit card and he said that you could use it like money and then a bill would come the next month. And then he said, “but the first month you can’t pay your bill in full then you need to cut it up”. He said if you couldn’t pay them in full each month then you shouldn’t have them. That stuck with me , and to this day, I hate to have credit card debt. It’s not to say that I don’t carry a balance here and there, but I hate the feeling it gives me.

  100. A. Mehta

    This is how you have proved to be great!
    Respect your Elders, But most of all Respect your Parents!

    Nice Pic Ramit – & Thanks for sharing with us.
    A. Mehta

  101. BV

    My parents never taught me a thing about money, really. At school my mobile phone bills would be £100/month, regularly, and I’d get yelled at but not taught.

    My father was rubbish with payments/being responsible – he almost lost his flat in town because he was away and had forgotten to get payments handled, my mother was the one who saved it (even though they were divorced)

    My father was adamant that I got sent to a (good) and very expensive school. He contribued one year’s fees out of 7, if we only take into account secondary school. Simply put, he couldn’t afford more.

    Even though my mother taught me nothing about managing money, she has managed her finances really well, all things considered. I learnt how to manage my money after spending the first 2-3 years as a constantly broke student – mainly, by doing two things:

    1) Reading (mainly two) blogs: IWT and Simple Dollar
    2) Realising that knowing exactly how much money I have brings freedom, and learning how to manage that allows for choices to be made.

    So I really taught myself. Oh and my phoen bills are closer to £40/month, which an incredible contract.

  102. mercadeo en linea

    i think just having heard parents discuss finances, having a “moola moola” account with my little savings book, having a piggy bank…etc. then, when i was 13, knowing that my parents wouldn’t give me money for anything i wanted at any given time, i started working at a local motocross track with my dad on weekends when there was a race. it was my dad’s friend’s track, and they always needed help. i’d make $30-$50 depending on the job i did that weekend. i saved up my money and spent it on things i wanted that my parents couldn’t buy. so i learned that if i wanted a pair of oakley sunglasses, i needed to work x amount of weekends to save enough. i think that helped teach me the value of money earned. it’s also what has made my pyschotic about having my savings in a 1.5% account isntead of a 1.4% account. every penny counts. so i don’t know if my parents “taught” me or if i observed it. but i know my sisters think slightly differently than i do…so it’s got to be something inside of you as well.

  103. SB @ One Cent At A Time

    Oye tu pubjub dee puttar ho? Good to know. You probably don’t know me but I read your articles all the time, not every one of them. You’re one of my inspiration.