Where do we get our frugality from? How do we form our money blueprint? Do our parents have that much influence over our money decisions? I received several requests from readers asking about my dad and how he achieved his retirement dream of Hawaii at the young age of 46.
Welcome to the first in a series of posts where I’ll be asking my frugal dad money questions ranging from childhood lessons, frugality tricks, retirement and his take on parenting and money. I’ll have a new post every Wednesday with all new questions and money topics.
For my dad, growing up in a post-world war II household in the 50’s and 60’s, life meant dealing with lack but never for the essentials. The essentials were a priority for the family, anything in excess or wanton was not a priority.
Who is Budget Bloggess’s Frugal Dad and Why didn’t she inherit his wisdom?
Frugal Dad current age: 66 Years Old
Retirement Date: 1993 Age 46! How’s that for awesome!?
Employment History: Worked for same company for 26 years; started at the ripe old age of 18 and progressed from hands on fieldwork up to a supervisor role at retirement.
Retirement Dream: To retire in Hawaii and by age 46. He told fellow co-workers 2 years after starting at the company that he would retire by 46 and live in Hawaii. There’s some in your face dream making!
Education: Grade 13 High School education
Did you have a desire to go to College/University? Yes, to a technical school. Unfortunately, the only school was in Toronto – Ryerson Polytechnic at the time. Sadly, it would have meant moving several hours away from family and require working in Toronto to survive. My dad being a math fanatic calculated he would have to work 8 hours a day after school to keep an apartment and do school. In the end, the decision was to head to work instead of to higher education. His main reason? “The workforce had been significantly depleted of men from WWII and Vietnam, there were jobs in droves. It was the perfect time to go to work.”
Did the family have funds to send the kids to post-secondary education? No. There was no money saved for College/University, his father’s line of work (carpentry) wasn’t the type to offer extra savings for school for the kids.
Family History: Family of four kids, father’s income was only enough to help family survive with the essentials. His father was a carpenter and laid off seasonally. At the time, there was no unemployment in Canada, so they had to plan and save to make it through the off-season.
Why does it seem like your daughter didn’t inherit the frugality gene? “I had very good math skills growing up that I attribute to my success with money.” Little Spenderella here had a laugh at this comment from my dad. My reaction? I always sucked at math. Ultimately, my dad did try to teach me and he further added, “I think it was the friends you grew up around. Things were different for you and we had a different lifestyle.” Yep, uh huh, you are right daddy-o, being ten years old and having family vacations to Hawaii can cause problems in the friend department.
Growing up to be a Frugal Dad – The Childhood that Started it All
My dad’s childhood was not easy by any means and he made that perfectly clear to me while I asked these questions. There was only ever the “essentials” never any luxuries and if you wanted them, you had to work for it.
Frugal Dad Quote: Employment is never guaranteed, people nowadays think they’re entitled to a job. Back then, nothing was guaranteed. If you had no job, you had no job. No one owed you a job.
Where did your frugality come from? How early was it in your life? Frugality came from a hard lifestyle, his father was very frugal.
What did your parents teach you about money, if anything? “All my money lessons came from my father. At around 10 years old, I really understood the value of money, but it started even earlier because us kids were exposed to the harsh reality of how much money our father brought in. Some Christmases were very meagre. It was essentials first and luxuries later if money was available.”
Don’t owe anybody anything.
Do not carry a mortgage for the long term. A mortgage is only a stop gap to help you make the purchase.
You will never get the value out of your house if you let the mortgage go full term.
Did you get an allowance as a kid? Yes. Not until 12 years old and 25 cents a week. “I was told to save it up to buy what I wanted, like records. If my father wasn’t working, there was no allowance.”
“To get more money, I started doing odd jobs in high school, at about 15 years old. As a kid, I would collect pop bottles to get money for bubble gum; 2 cents per pop bottle. I mowed lawns, babysat, and collected lots of pop bottles. In my early teens, I worked with my father making patio stones. I had to mix cement and I got paid nothing to do it.”
Take your kids to work day takes on a new meaning. “I remember standing on a roof, straddling 2X4’s and holding trusses together while my father nailed them together. It was expected that I help out being part of the family and not to expect money in return.”
Dreams of a First Car: “When I was 17 years old, I wanted this ‘54 Ford that a buddy was selling for $150. My father told me he wouldn’t finance it unless I went out and got a part time job. So I got a job at a grocery store. My friend brought the car around and my father said it was junk, that dream died quickly.”
When did you buy your first car? “At age 19. The only reason I could buy it was because of my new job. I had no money and had to take out a car loan but I had no credit history. That meant my father had to co-sign. He told me he would only co-sign if I met his conditions: you have 6 months to pay for the car or it goes back to the bank. It was a used car, a 1963 Pontiac Parisienne that cost $1200 and was 4 years old. About 15% of my gross monthly pay went to the car.”
Frugal Dad Frugality Flashback
1950s Style Polishing the kitchen floors.
“We had linoleum floors that had to be hand washed, wax applied by hand and then hand polished because we couldn’t afford a floor polisher. At the time, it cost $40 for a floor polisher.
My mother had a frugal non-backbreaking way to polish the floor, she would get us kids to throw on old socks and let us slide around the floor to remove the wax and polish the floor. We had loads of fun skidding around back and forth and she didn’t have to get on her hands and knees to polish the floor.”