Today’s prompt, from the district sales office in Montpelier, Idaho: What is a life lesson you feel everyone can benefit from learning?
Learn how to earn, save, and spend money.
This is a huge issue for a lot of people. I understand, there are things far more important than money – love, empathy, compassion, etc. – but love won’t buy milk, empathy won’t pay the rent, and compassion won’t get you to work. You must be able to handle money. A lot of people are poor or in serious financial difficulty because they never learned how to handle money.
After my father died, my mother fought her union to be allowed to put the same amount into her pension as a man did, knowing that one day she’d retire and have to support herself. As a teacher, she’d go the summer without a paycheck, so she put money aside every month to guarantee that we were able to eat, pay the rent and utilities, and have a little left over for fun. She got a mortgage at a time women "couldn’t get mortgages." Thinking back on it, she was a genius.
My father-in-law took every penny he didn’t need right away and put in the bank, or should I say banks: there was a bank and two savings and loans in the neighborhood, and he had money in all of them. He would arbitrage his money when one of the banks would offer a higher interest rate savings account or CD, calculating how much he could take out of which account to move to the new CD. He was able to pay Mary’s grammar school, high school, and college tuition without loans. I don’t think the man ever made more than $6 an hour and went through stretches of unemployment that could be fairly lengthy, but he had saved for all those eventualities. When it came time to spend money for a car or new appliance, he did his homework and got the best he could for the least amount of money. When things like bath soap, aluminum foil, or toilet paper went on sale, he bought the most he could and stored it in the basement.
I worked with a guy who put $1 into the company credit union for every day he worked. It wasn’t a lot of money, but with compound interest, he had a nice little pile of dollar bills when he retired. He had other savings, too, but this was a case of discipline: he made himself a promise to save a dollar for every day he worked, and he kept it.
Thy knew how to handle money. Obviously, times are much different than they were in the ’50’s and ’60’s, but the principles are the same. There are good books on earning, saving and investing money, and more people ought to avail themselves of them.