Don’t put pennies in your mouth because you don’t know where they’ve been.
That advice came directly from my mother, after catching me more than once sucking on copper pennies as a kid. It’s advice, silly as it sounds, that’s always stayed with me.
With that in mind, I asked financial experts from around the country for the best advice about handling money they ever received from their own parents (or grandparents).
Here are some responses, with a tip of the hat to the contributors:
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▪ Brandie Farnam, a financial planner with LearnVest: “The most important lesson I learned from my parents is that your credit score is like your GPA — it sticks with you — so start off and stay on track.”
▪ Sharon Marchisello, author of “Live Cheaply, Be Happy, Grow Wealthy”: Save for a rainy day. My parents gave me my first piggy bank when I was 3 years old. Actually it was an oil can that my father cut for me. You could put coins in, but you couldn’t get them out. He finally cut the can open when I was about 10, and we moved my nest egg to a passbook savings account. My parents taught me about the magic of compound interest, and instilled in me the joy of watching my savings grow.
▪ Leslie Girone, of the Money Smart 101 website: The best financial advice I received was from my grandmother. She said, “Live below your means.” This helps prevent money worries, and enables us to enjoy opportunities when they arise. Having savings provides more opportunities. Small sacrifices now enable us to have more choices in the future. Living below your means also helps us see how little we really need, and prevents over-consumption and the feeling of never being satisfied.
▪ John Hewitt, chief executive and founder of Liberty Tax Service: Growing up, we barely had enough to live on, but dad would sock money away for safety. He grew up during the Depression and his family was incredibly poor, so he lived that kind of mentality. It was very difficult on my mom, and most of her family members shunned him. Still, when my mom’s oldest sister divorced and was living hand to mouth, raising four children, my dad helped....I’ve found that when you give to others, life gives back to you.
▪ Marsha Goetting, professor at Montana State University: My grandmother taught me to comparison shop. She had a stroke in her 60s and could not buy groceries. She sent me with grandpa to the grocery store with the (orders) to comparison shop to save money and you’ll be able to buy red licorice strings and a Superman book. With that incentive I really learned to save money on store brands and sometimes was able to buy two Superman books.
▪ Art Resendez, senior vice president, Bank of Hope, Northridge, Calif.: My mother was a Spanish-speaking person with only a sixth-grade education....Her financial counsel to me, of course in Spanish was “Lo Barato siempre cuesta Caro,” loosely translated to mean what seems to be a great deal, a real bargain, will cost you more due to its poor quality. It has been a rule I never forgot.
▪ David Bach, author of “The Automatic Millionaire:” My father pounded into my head to pay yourself first each year by funding an Individual Retirement Account, and then my 401(k) plan. Today at age 50, thanks to his wise advice and saving money automatically, I’m a multimillionaire. The miracle of compound interest truly works.”
▪ Luke Fields, partner, Foley & Foley Wealth Strategies, Worthington, Ohio: My grandfather taught me that you work too hard earning your money not to take good care of it...All people do not need to become or should be an expert in financial matters, but everyone does need to be responsible and understand basic planning, investing, and how professionals should appropriately assist them.
▪ Roslyn Lash, financial educator, Youth Smart Financial Education Services: My mother’s advice came in small anecdotes. She was a teenager during the Great Depression of 1929...She shared stories that taught three morals: Never live beyond your means; prepare for the future; and do not overspend. These stories translated into budgeting, saving, and minimizing debt. I value her teachings because when life happens, car breaks, loss of job, it’s wise to be prepared.
Steve Rosen: 816-234-4879
What’s the best advice about handling money that you ever received from your parents or other family member? Parents, (and kids) send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, and they could be used in a future column.