Looking back just a few generations you might wonder how everyday people like laborers, shop keepers and farmers managed to not only get by but live a fulfilling life and pass on an inheritance. Most lived by tried-and-true money values which still hold true today.
First among their strong values concerning money was to always be sure to keep your expenses lower than your income. Only by creating a nest egg could one protect against unexpected emergencies and set aside some money to reach individual goals like buying a new truck or having a down payment for a new home. For wage earners working in factories and established businesses, a paycheck made it clear exactly how much they could spend before running out of cash. But even farmers whose income and financial stability was very much dependent on the success of their next crop knew to set aside extra seed to ensure they could plant (invest in) another season’s growth. It seems that today’s generation, with an instant gratification mind-set and credit cards at the ready, expenses too often out-pace income and cripple efforts to get ahead.
Past generations also seemed to know intuitively that to build their nest egg required them to save wherever they could. That meant scrutinizing every expenditure on a “need vs. want” basis. If purchases were deemed non-essential, they were very carefully considered as saving took priority. This mindset extended to everyday activities like carpooling or using public transportation where possible. Cooking meals instead of eating out. Repairing clothing instead of discarding them. It’s still true today. One of the quickest ways to building a nest egg is to take a hard look at your expenses and eliminate what you can wherever you can.
Once secure financially, our elders looked to invest for future income. For many, that meant investing in solid blue-chip stocks or bonds or a life insurance policy with an investment component that would pay dividends when they retired. Like today, knowing that you have something of a financial cushion that will provide income for the future and that you can pass on to your heirs brings tremendous peace of mind.
So, let’s learn from the past. Let’s strive always to keep our expenses in line with our income, save wherever we can and invest in future income.