My parents’ lessons in saving and investing prepare me for life

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  • My mother was a shrewd frugal – she knew her financial priorities and focused on them.
  • Following her example, I never deprive myself but I also don’t waste money on expensive items.
  • My father taught me about investing. His example helped build a $530,000 retirement portfolio.

The year I turned 12, my mother drove me in our Chevy station wagon to the bank in Bethesda, Maryland, where the teller helped me open my first car. saving account. My mother insisted on a $6 deposit, half of the earnings from babysitting and newspaper delivery.

Savings were smart. Although our family goes to the beach every summer, we never go on luxury vacations, because mom thought a college education was more important. She even bought canned marinated vegetables for half the price.

My husband and I followed my mother’s example

Her example has served me well all my life. As my husband Barry and I have managed our finances carefully, we, in our 70s, now divide our lives between Eureka, a “Victorian seaport” on California’s north coast, and Guanajuato, a UNESCO World Heritage center in Mexico’s central highlands.

Throughout our marriage, we rarely bought new cars or new furniture. Today, we own a 1990 Mazda Miata, which we drive about once a week, and a 2003 EuroVan, which we use to explore the beauty of Northern California and Southern Oregon. In Guanajuato, we don’t have a car – which is a great benefit, because V.I Centro Where we live, homes don’t have garages or driveways, and paid parking is expensive. We walk everywhere in the city’s vibrant and colorful streets.

We also do not have a dishwasher or tumble dryer in either home. In Guanajuato, clothes dry quickly on the patio in the warm, sunny air, but even in Eureka, it doesn’t take long. You just have to be patient.

I admit, we’re not a complete minimalist. We couldn’t be – we own six kayaks, two paddle boards, and eight bikes! The bikes are divided between two houses. As for the kayaks, each has its own story. Another article!

Purple-haired Louisa Rogers in her front yard in Guanajuato, Mexico

The author is in her front yard in Guanajuato, Mexico.

Louisa Rogers



We visit Europe about once a year, but rarely pay for international tickets. By applying for a credit card in the amount of 50,000 or 60,000 Additional air miles Every two years, we build up our miles. We only apply for a new card when we know we can squeeze a lot of expenses into a short period of time, because you have to spend $3,000 to $4,000 within the first couple of months, which is way more than we normally would.

A friend recently called us “thrifty,” but I disagree, because we don’t deprive ourselves. I don’t think self-deprivation works in the long run: It’s like dieting – too much deprivation can lead to overeating.

My dad taught me how to invest for the long term

Meanwhile, my dad was not only a saver, but an investor. During my childhood I would overhear him discussing stocks with my mother.

In my early thirties, when Barry and I were living in Bellingham, Washington, a cheap hippie town at the time, my father encouraged me to Open IRABecause I was his only child who worked for her and didn’t have a pension. I wasn’t earning much at the time, but I took his advice and opened an account with $50. Barry did the same, and a year later we each opened a September Era. Our accountant advised us to put the max in both accounts each year to reduce our annual taxes, so we did, and today, 40 years later, the two IRAs combined are worth more than $530,000.

I made some stupid decisions, of course, like impulsively following Barry’s idea in the 1980s to buy futures. It will never happen again! I lost $1,500 this way.

But the other decisions were smart. When we moved from Bellingham to Palo Alto in 1987, I was horrified, because our rent jumped from $265 to $1,200 a month, and up to $1,400 a year later. But I had to earn serious money for the first time in my life, and it was good for my future. After networking for six months, I landed a continuing job with Apple, which led to other contracts, and leading training courses for companies like Hewlett-Packard and AT&T.

Seven years later, during a brief market downturn, we were able to scrape together enough money to buy a house from a friend of a friend, avoiding real estate fees. We worked hard to pay off the house.

In 2004, we left Palo Alto and sold the house. After we gave some money to our daughters, we invested about a third of our earnings in a bond, which has been earning us about $1,000 to $1,200 a month consistently since then. At the max, before the 2008 crash, we made $2,000 a month. They reach an average return of 5 to 7%.

And rather than pay someone to manage our inventory, we did I invested in index funds. We’ve discovered that no one has a “marketplace,” so to speak.

Between stocks, bonds, our IRAs, Social Security, and our part-time earnings, we’re comfortable financially. By following my parents’ examples—investing carefully and not spending our money on high-cost items like trips to Hawaii or new cars—we are able to afford the rich, diverse, bicultural lives we now enjoy.

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