Save. Spend. Splurge.

Money Talk: What money habits did your parents practice? How did you feel about those habits?

I learned that spending money was love.

Spending was how you showed your love, giving gifts was love <— my mother.

I learned that money was scarce and not for us to spend <— my father.

Which ones did I pick up? Both.

I love buying things for my mother to reciprocate, I like looking at my bank account and feeling like money is scarce in the sense that I have to hide the money from myself to feel like I don’t have any so that I don’t raid it for a fancy purse too often because then I feel like I am poor…*cough*

What is funny is that my mother will not spend any on herself and then goes on a splurge.

(But she would FLIP if she knew how much some of my clothing purchases cost….)

She won’t do things like buy a very warm Canada Goose jacket even though she takes public transit during winter with snow and ice, and is well into her 70s. I had to buy it for her because she wouldn’t do it.

And yet, she will spend money on nice men’s leather shoes to wear (she doesn’t like women’s shoes), and $2000 on fancy cookers for each of us kids (she bought one for each child, no matter how much money we make).

It is all sacrifice and then binge spending on stuff, with my mother. A lot of binge spending is on other people or on grandchildren, and not necessarily on herself for anything practical or useful because it is BORING to spend money on practical items… or she just thinks a coat cannot be worth that much money and worth it, you know?

With my father, it is the opposite.

He LOVES to spend on himself. He will buy things like 7 screwdrivers in different lengths and sizes because it is a deal.

He will try and get us kids to buy him things (under the pretense of buying it for my mother) like the big screen TV I bought them when their other TV melted near the stove (yeah I know, who puts a TV NEAR A STOVE, but I digress), or a fancy toolbox, or part of a payment towards a car.

He likes to use other people’s money and hoard his own money for himself.

He very rarely gives any money to anyone, and when he does, $80 is considered generous. In contrast my mother gives $1000 without thinking and thinks she should have given $5000, to put things in perspective.

As for other money habits — saving was all about penny pinching and being cheap AF about EVERYTHING .. and then weirdly binge spending on other items.

Neither of my parents know how to really save money and make it grow. They can either save it (penny pinch), and then REALLY spend it, but to know that the money saved should not sit in a savings account and should be invested, completely eludes them.

And yet, they like things that show as if they have money — used luxury vehicles, expensive luxury watches…. it is all very confusing to be honest.

I am still working through a lot of those learned habits. I am trying hard to combat that things = love and spending = fun, but it is definitely hard to combat these deep-seated, ingrained feelings from spending habits I picked up over the years.

What money habits did your parents practice? How did you feel about those habits?


You can read the rest of the Money Talk questions here.


  • Sense

    Wow! Great question.

    My dad is like your mom and uses money to show love. He also spends willy nilly on himself, though. He has no concept of money being a finite resource–since he was like 6 he always made his own money and gave it to his family. Unfortunately, he became disabled about 20 years ago and his ability to bring in money diminished to zero, but he didn’t stop spending like he could always make more. I’m 40 and he still insists on giving me money for nonsense things that I can definitely pay for myself! Because I know that this is how he shows love, I take it but it’s taken me decades to be OK with accepting it, esp during the times that I knew my parents couldn’t afford it (that $$ oftentimes was snuck back into my mom’s purse!).

    My mom, however, has always been super duper sensible. I’d ask for stuff like clothes for school but every purchase had to go through a major vetting process:

    1. does this fit?
    2. is it comfortable?
    3. what will you wear it with? does it match anything else you own?
    4. will you wear it? Do you PROMISE?

    I’m most like my mom. I find my dad’s attitude really worrying and frustrating, because it put my parents in very horrible situations many times. I almost had to drop out of college because they couldn’t make the payments they said they would handle, and my parents almost lost their house several times because my dad would spend lots of money without telling my mom.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Gosh that is frustrating. My mother is starting to be better with the saving bit though, I have worked on trying to teach her about saving and money, but I almost feel like I have to withdraw money from her to give her a sense of scarcity so that she is forced to save for things like taking her lifelong dream trip to France.

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