By Peter Andrew
To my late maternal grandparents, the Great Depression wasn't history. They lived through it. And, although they fared better than most during that difficult time, they were from a generation that learned to value financial security above almost anything else. I can still remember their taking me, age maybe six or seven years, to open my first savings account. My dad's much older brother had a similar attitude, and made it his unbreakable rule never to save less than 50 percent (seriously!) of his income every month. Clearly the saving habit flows through my blood.
Nature and nurture
However, in what may be a triumph (or more likely disaster) of nurture over nature, saving has played little part in my life. Should I blame my parents? They were fairly affluent and never experienced much hardship or financial insecurity, so they never saved much themselves -- at least until later in life. And they never particularly encouraged me to do so either.
No, it's not mom and dad's fault: They lived their lives their own way, and it worked well for them. But, if they'd realized, all those decades ago when my sisters and I were growing up, just how much some financial discipline would have benefited us, I bet they'd have worked harder to make us savvy with money. Today, I envy people who have good financial skills and habits, and if I had kids now I'd definitely do my best to equip them well, even if it were on a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do basis.