So if fair is fair, I can’t write a post about the financial lessons learned from my 80-year-old grandmother on her birthday, and not include a post about financial lessons learned from my grandfather on his 80th birthday. Happy Birthday Papa! I love you!
My grandfather is an adorable man who has worked incredibly hard his entire life. He was drafted by the Army and served proudly in Korea. Although he doesn’t speak much of his military service, we know that he helped save a friend’s life and has the fragmented grenade shards in his legs to, “prove it”. He’s not a man of many words, but when he does have something to say, you’ll hear about it. He’s stubborn as a mule, but has an incredibly selfless spirit. So without further intro, here are the financial lessons my grandfather (papa) has taught me:
- There’s No Shame In An Honest Days Work-My papa worked many jobs throughout his lifetime. He worked at grocery store/deli, in a fish canning factory and at my high school as a janitor. He was never afraid of difficult or dirty work, and never said, “no” to a job that others might feel was, “below” them. He taught me that any work is better than no work, and beggars can’t be choosers. That being said, he busted his hump working those low paying jobs so that he provide for his family and help my mom, “get ahead” and go to college. A few years ago he told me that he wanted her and I to go to college and get an education so wouldn’t have to work as hard as he did (melt!).
- Grow You Own Food to Save Money-My grandfather saved the family a ton of money by growing his own fruits and vegetables. As a young child I remember him digging up rows of potatoes with a clam hoe. We’d dust them off and put them in the cold, dark cellar where they’d stay all winter (or until we ate them all). Carrots, beets and tomatoes were all boiled and canned in glass mason jars. Dill pickles and sweet pickles and piccalilli (a sweet relish made out of green tomatoes-I found some made in Amish country on amazon if you’re curious-see below) were jarred and enjoyed throughout the year.
- Hunting-Ok, I’m not a hunter, and I don’t eat red meat, but both of my grandparents (grammy grew up hunting and according to local folk lore, was the far superior hunter of the pair-you go grandma!) were hunters in their younger days. If they shot a deer they would freeze and can the meat and eat it for the whole winter. They also caught and preserved fish, and froze the clams that my grandfather dug from the local shore.
- Modesty Breeds Savings-My grandparents bought a modest two-bedroom home where they lived for their entire adult lives. They never, “upgraded” my grandmother’s engagement ring, went on vacation (my grandma had never been on a plane until she visited us this past Christmas), or splurged on expensive dinners or entertainment. As a result, my grandmother was able to stay at home with my mother and they were able to pay off their house and save for retirement on his salary alone (my grandmother later worked after my mother went away to college).
- Homemade is Better (and cheaper!) Than Store Bought-If papa could make something at home, he did. One of my favorite memories of growing up was making pints of homemade vanilla ice cream each winter. Lots of heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla blended in that old ice cream maker made a really fabulous treat. Sometimes we made coffee flavored, which was equally delicious. Yum!
- Hustle, hustle, hustle-My grandfather sat in my grandparent’s dining room for years, knitting bait bags on a hook he screwed into the doorway’s molding. He’d sell the bags to the local fishermen for their lobster traps. He also sold raspberries by the quart from the front lawn (old school with a homemade sign and money jar. We trusted people back then!). After he, “retired” he continued to work part-time. Until his late 70’s, he was still working as a stern-man on a lobster boat with a friend.
Is My Papa the Cutest? How Lucky Am I? Tell Me About Lessons Learned From Your Grandfather or Father.
Image: 401(k) 2013