Money Questions: Did We Get A Good Education About Money?
Daily Origami is a way for us to record our off the cuff thoughts, feelings and observations about the world around us. Published every weekday, Monday through Friday.
Looking back, do you feel you got a good education
about money, either at home or at school?
Not really. My parents had a bad relationship with money and I went to a high school in a district full of rich kids - so I learned all the wrong lessons from my classmates.
Because of my parents’ relationship with money, I was never financially literate until my mid-20’s. Money was like politics in our household -- it was never discussed. So, whenever I had money, I’d usually spend it on someone in my family - because they would squander it on something they didn’t need to keep up appearances. Money always came and went. It was feast or famine.
I chose to go to a school that was outside of my assigned district in high school because this particular district had a lot more money, which meant they had better honors and advanced placement courses. The downside of this -- all of the kids in my high school came from upper-middle class families. They never had to worry about money because they got weekly allowances. So being surrounded by these kids meant I spent the way they spent - recklessly, because there would always be more. But in order to keep up with their allowances, I had to get multiple part-time jobs.
My parents have always been pretty frugal people. The only thing they didn’t cheap out on was education (though they didn’t believe in going into debt for it). For high school, they sent my brother and I to the best private school that money could buy in Taipei. The school had a robotics lab. For our junior trip, we had the choice between Italy, the UK, and Cambodia. Tuition at this school cost about as much as a four year university degree.
For eight years, I watched my parents plow all their monthly savings into paying our tuition. When college came around, I made the decision to forgo an Ivy League education and get a near full scholarship at a top Canadian school. I didn’t major in English or Finance. I wasn’t interested in being taught things I could learn on my own.
No one ever explicitly told me debt was bad or I should spend less than I earned. I just watched what my parents did and how they lived. Plus, personality-wise, I didn’t like the idea of being owned by anything. I have zero intention of ever becoming a starving artist.
To put it another way, I'd rather have leverage over people than let people have leverage over me.