Some of you are going to find this post harsh to read, but it’s really what has happened. I’m trying to tell the story as objectively as I can.
My parents won a small lottery (about half a million) when they were 30 years old.
The first things they did?
- Purchased brand new, expensive, matching his-and-hers luxury watches – $20K
- Took a trip for 2 weeks with us kids overseas flying first-class – $20K
- Bought a house in cash – $250K
- Bought a luxury vehicle – $100K
- Stopped working full-time for about 15 years; then my ONE parent got a real job
I hope you see where this is going.
About 25 years later, and they have just about half a million as their net worth, all tied up in their home.
Total financial progress? Zero.
Wasted investing opportunity of half a million 25 years ago? Immense.
We were rich…. but very poor in terms of lifestyle (food was the cheap canned and processed stuff, but we sure had THE BEST cable TV plan because my dad loved watching his shows.)
My parents didn’t pay for much (I think you guys call that “frugal or cheap living” these days), and their working part-time to helped cover those daily bills, but left $0 to save.
Even for school trips, I didn’t go on them with all the other kids because my parents didn’t want to “waste money”, although buying lottery tickets was a necessary line item in their budget.
I was that kid who stayed back, alone in the corner of some classroom while another teacher watched me for the week.
It was really strange to other kids that I wouldn’t go on school trips but my dad drove a luxury car and we lived in a massive home.
It made me even more of a weirdo, and they thought that I had some sort of mental problem or disorder, like not being able to be around people on a trip or something strange.
TODAY IT IS BETTER THAN IT WAS A YEAR AGO
It isn’t that bad now, because it was worse about a year ago if you can believe this.
A year ago, they only had their house and were about $75,000 in debt from lackadaisical saving, paying the minimums on their line of credit and mortgage, and gambling the rest.
(Did I also mention that they now make over 6-figures, combined?)
My parents had the brilliant idea (actually more my father, as my mother is an Ostrich), that they would spend every penny of their savings and money, and leave not even a penny to us kids upon their death.
So he started early by taking out a line of credit, buying a new car with it, “investing” in lottery tickets, and buying stocks on the stock market when he can’t even tell you what a balance sheet is, let alone how to read it.
This makes no difference to me (in theory) because I didn’t even want their money to begin with, but it’s just going into debt for something really RIDICULOUS.
Seriously, LOTTERY TICKETS as an investment!?
It isn’t enough that they already beat the super low odds and won the jackpot 25 years ago, but it is sheer insanity if they think they can win it again.
Today the only reason they are debt-free and have $4000 in savings is because I put them on a rather generous budget, and made my mother realize that the cash was just dripping out of their hands onto junk and crap they couldn’t even remember buying or eating.
IT OBVIOUSLY AFFECTED THE WAY I LOOKED AT MONEY
It’s no wonder I grew up all screwed up about money. It was a secretive, mysterious non-issue at the house.
The only times we talked about money was for my father to tell us that we couldn’t afford seafood, or nice steaks because that fancy food is expensive, and my mother promising me over and over again that I had $10,000 earmarked for me when I was ready to go to college.
Surprise surprise, the promised money to each of us had gone down the drain and into the pockets of the lottery corporation by the time I was ready to go to college.
Frankly they shouldn’t have said anything at all.
So no, I don’t understand what it feels like to have parents who sacrificed for their children because from what I can see, my parents acted like children, and sacrificed our futures for their own selfish, present wants.
I am not saying every parent should give every penny and asset they have to their kids so they can live on beans and rice, but I can safely say that my parents went a bit far in this self-indulgence category.
But then again, maybe this is the new normal, if modern parents these days are prioritizing designer furniture, eating out and wine over saving for their own retirement, let alone their kids’ educations.
Then I find out that we kids were the retirement plan all the long, even though as parents, they didn’t do jack squat in sacrificing in the slightest to deserve such filial generosity shown by other kids to their parents.
IT’S ALL GRAVY FOR ME FROM HERE ON OUT
The good news is that all of these mistakes just mean that I promised I wouldn’t end up like them, and I haven’t (except for the part about not liking to work full-time, that one is true for me as well.)
For one thing, I really dislike gambling.
I can buy a ticket perhaps ONCE a year (from those giveaway for cancer home lotteries, not the regular ones) because buying a ticket once a year is the best chance that you’ll have to ever win anything.
For another thing, when I have kids, I am never going to tell them I’m paying for their college education (and I most likely won’t, so that they don’t make dumb decisions about their future when free money is flowing in).
We’re going to talk about budgeting and money management in my house until they’re all blue in the face and can recite exactly what we spend each month on food and why they can either choose to swim or take gymnastics lessons but not both.
If I do decide to give my future kids money, it’ll be the same amount to each child so that no one feels slighted or unloved that their doctor brother is getting 5X as much money as their mechanic sister just because their tuition is higher based on their decision to make that career choice.
I am also not counting on my parents (or the government) for any money either.
Actually, I’d be happy if my parents decided to sell place and used the money for their retirement, as long as they stop getting into debt and learn that they can’t have their cake and eat it too. They need to sell the house and rent a small apartment to get the money, or keep the house and deal with not having piles of money to throw around on expensive wants.
Some people have asked me if I feel resentful.
I do to some extent (would be hard not to), but in the end, it is useless to feel resentment for actions that have taken place in the past.
I am also only able to control my own actions, how influential I am on their lives, and how I react to others’ behaviours, which is the best I can do. I’m not superhuman.
I’m really more interested in what they’re doing now to change for the future, and so far only one parent seems to be making the change and I couldn’t be happier and more proud of her.
The other? Still thinks he deserves more than what he gets, and can’t understand why I won’t give in to his selfish demands.