My Financial Heritage: A Mother’s Day Reflection

In light of Mother’s Day, I’ve been reflecting on the financial legacy my mother and grandmother have left me. I learned more about frugality and generosity than investing or growing wealth. I’ve never expected to inherit a dime and that’s fine with me, because I’ve inherited something much more valuable.

My mother and grandmother passed on their values of generosity and volunteering. Of putting people before money. Of hard work and the value of pouring that hard work into your kids for a season.

Let me first brag about my grandma. She fostered 17 children in addition to having three of her own. After a season at home, she worked as a special education teacher for children with emotional and behavioral difficulties. She volunteered as a Sunday school teacher and vacation Bible school teacher at her church. She won numerous winning awards for being an outstanding educator and volunteer.

After retirement, she volunteered extensively as a guardian ad litem, a child’s voice in court. Her experiences as a foster parent and affinity for detective novels served her well as she got to the bottom of what would be best for the child and represented their interests regarding custody. She regularly spent time with these children, took them out to lunch, and stayed in touch with their schools and guardians.

She helped neighbors, friends, and family in need.  She befriended a young woman with a terminal illness. She helped out a struggling neighbor. My grandparents were extremely hospitable, always hosting parties and barbecues, providing lots of food, and even took in people who needed a place to stay.

My grandparents were very generous to us grandkids, but also to those whom they didn’t know. Whether it was the Angel Tree at Christmas, the food pantry donations, or contributing to a mission trip, they put their faith into action by providing for people in need. I’m sure I don’t know the half of what they did because they never put on a show about it.

They clearly passed these values onto my mother, who is generous almost to a fault. Somewhere in the midst of having five kids, she found time to volunteer at our church in the music and children’s ministries. We almost always had neighbor kids over at our already bustling house or backyard.

While “staying home” to raise us, she side hustled like crazy to supplement my dad’s income as a teacher. She provided before and after school childcare and sometimes babysat all day. She taught private music lessons several evenings a week. She sold hand-made oboe reeds, first to her students and then to a widening circle in her network. I also remember her taking on various side gigs sewing, cleaning, baking, and playing oboe in performances. Where did she find the energy?! She now owns and runs a small music store and plays side gigs.

I also learned the art of thrift from my mom. She somehow managed to hang laundry, shop sales, clip coupons, and cook 99% of our meals at home.

At age twelve I started earning a regular allowance. She taught me to give away some of this hard-earned money, and because of her generous spirit I never viewed this as a stupid rule, but a wise suggestion.

I couldn’t be more grateful that these values were modeled to me and I hope to pass the same onto my kids. We’d also like to teach them more financial literacy, while carrying on this legacy of sharing time, money, and skills.

What type of financial heritage did you receive? And what do you hope to pass onto your kids?

12 Responses to “My Financial Heritage: A Mother’s Day Reflection”

  1. Kim says :

    This is a marvelous financial heritage that you have been gifted. Mine was very sad. I had a dad that despised volunteering, forced my mom to work 6 days per week outside the home and then do all the housework at night while he relaxed. He told her the most important thing a wife can do is earn a paycheck. As a result of her fatigue, she was a screaming, raving maniac who had nothing left with which to loving nurture us four kids. It was truly a stressful, sad childhood.

    We had a big new house and new cars every few years. He bought many “toys” while we kids went without dental care. He and mom complained about how much a dr. appointment would cost while driving us there. He took all of his mother’s assets while she was still alive and let her live on welfare in a nursing home………………..while we watched him play rancher on the 40 acres that had been hers. I believe God had provided all that land to proved good care for my grandmother in her old age, but that was not how it was utilized.

    He bullied and criticized my husband and me during my “stay at home mom” years b/c I was not using my RN license……….though we never one time asked them for a dime of help. ( Also, except for $500, I paid for my entire college education, so it was my degree to “waste” if I wanted.)
    He has chosen a lifetime of using people and loving things. He has cost much heartache to many people

    Praise God for my dear husband who dearly loves people, especially me and our two now adult daughters. We still live in a starter size house and drive used cars. But, believe me, I have had more respect and peace in my 41 years of marriage than I ever did in my childhood. Just keepin’ it real.

    If m bluntness if offensive, I am sorry, but perhaps this story will help others to make good choices or appreciate the good choices their parents made.

    • Teresa Baker says :

      My mother was sadly an unhappy person who cautioned us that laughing too much was bad luck. We never had friends over in case she had a temper tantrum. As a teen after she reluctantly took me to the hospital with a life threatening infection the doctor told me to call 911 myself next time and not to wait for her . I have one child now, a daughter, and I’m so happy to be that house that all her friends love to hang out at and the mom the other mom’s call on to help out. My mother’s attitude definetly taught me what not to do. It is bittersweet to think back on my life as a child. I have a younger mom in my circle who’s mother passed and doesn’t have any family support that has leaned on me for advice and help through the years. I’ve tried to be “the person you needed when you were young” as the saying goes. I hope that my story and experience has helped her. I have been married for 21 years and like you I have the peace, love and respect I will always be thankful for and made it out with the love in my heart intact. And for that I say Praise God too.

    • Kalie says :

      I’m so sorry to hear about your difficult childhood, but it’s truly beautiful that you’ve been able to change that legacy by being there for your daughter and her friends, helping a younger mom, and building a loving marriage. Praise God indeed.

    • Kalie says :

      So sorry to hear about your own financial heritage and upbringing. But praise God you and your husband were able to turn the tide there!

  2. Tonya says :

    wow your mom and grandma sound awesome! I think most of the financial sensibility came from my dad. He was always really smart about money and is now really enjoying his retirement without worry. I think what I get from my mom is her boldness. I have to say though when it comes to volunteering and whatnot, we weren’t that kind of family. 🙁 My mom did coach us in jr. cheerleading but that was it. But I will say my mom has been an incredible caretaker to people. Almost at the risk of her own health. I’m not sure how to take that because I’m not 100% sure that’s a great thing…ya know?

    • Kalie says :

      That’s great that your dad modeled financial sensibility, and that your mom had other great traits to share with you. I do know what you mean about care-taking at her own risk. Sometimes that’s a hard balance to strike.

  3. Oldster says :

    You are lucky, indeed. To have such strong role models is a true blessing. I have had similar examples to follow throughout my life, the most important being my father. He was a child of the depression, and understood what it was to be hungry. He was a mid-level government worker for most of his adult life, never making much, but always providing what we needed. He volunteered in the community and there was never an occasion where he learned of someone in need that he did not help.

    He was also not very good with money, and though that might have been a negative in his life, it has been instructive in mine and has turned me into the FI oriented person I am today. I am still staying in touch with my father’s giving and generous nature, and make a conscious effort to follow his example.

    • Kalie says :

      That’s wonderful that your father modeled providing, volunteering, and helping others in need. And that you were able to learn from example what you wanted to do differently. I had that same experience regarding debt.

  4. Diana says :

    What a beautiful tribute to the hard working, generous ways of your mom and grandmother!

  5. Prudence Debtfree says :

    What a great Mother’s Day tribute! Really cool that your grandmother represented children in court. And I have never heard of home-made oboe reeds. It’s wonderful that your mom is playing side gigs now. The live you’ve described sound not only generous and frugal, but also abundant. I’m more and more convinced that all of the above go together as a general rule. I hope that you had a great Mother’s Day, Kalie.

    • Kalie says :

      You don’t want to play oboe on anything else! Of course it takes an oboe nerd to know anything about that.
      So true that generosity often leads to abundance. Thank you!

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