I learned about money from my Grandmother. I was a precocious kid. As an only child, I spent a great amount of time with adults. The adults in my life had the tendency to try to have a dialog with me as if I too were an adult. Friends from school would come over to my house to play quite often, but I remember spending a great amount of time with my Grandmother.
My Grandmother owned her own small business. She was a seamstress. She worked for a few different bridal shops. She also worked for a men’s clothing store. Most days, she would pick me up after school and take me to her shop. She would watch me until my Mother would pick me up on her way home from work.
It did not take me long to catch on to the theory of commerce. Her customers would drop off clothes to be altered. She would make the alterations with her sewing machine. The customers would pick up their clothes and pay her. When I earned good grades, she would take me to KB Toys and buy me Star Wars action figures. Even though I was only 5 or 6, I understood this process.
There were also times when I would ask her to buy me a toy and she would say that she could not afford it. She would explain that business was slow and she did not earn much money that week. She said that she only had money for food, gas for her car, and other needs. She taught me at a young age that if you want money, you must work to earn it.
That was a complex theory to comprehend at such a young age. I was only in first grade. I do not have a psychology degree. I can, however, see that my frugal ways and entrepreneurial spirit were shaped by her teaching me how the business worked.
The second lesson that she taught me was equally as profound. She and I would sit together in her shop. I would do my school work and she would be sewing. I would spend about one hour per day with her. We would have conversations. She would ask what I learned at school that day? She would tell me about her work and other stories. She would talk about her life when she was growing up, her church, and money.
Money was her favorite topic. She once told me that she invested in CDs that had paid out an interest rate of 13%. She would double her money in 6 years. She was so excited. I am now referring to the early 1980’s when inflation and interest rates were sky high. She explained that she would let the bank borrow $1000 from her and in 6 years they would give her $2000 back. I found that fascinating. Now, remember, I did not understand compound interest. I was not introduced to multiplication yet.
This first blog post is a tribute to my Grandmother. Looking back, she truly shaped my view of money. If you want money, you must work for it. Also, if you have money, you should invest it.
In case you might be interested, my Grandmother is still alive. My parents take care of her now. She is 94 and ran her business until she was in her 80s. She had to finally give it up because her body was breaking down. Sewing was her passion. At the end of her career, she was just doing alternations for her neighbors. I don’t think she even charged them. She just liked them coming over to talk with her.
Occasionally, my Grandmother will call my wife and ask her to come over for a visit. She wants to teach her how to use her sewing machine and pass on her legacy. Maybe she will also share some investing tips with her too. We have never consistently earned 13% returns on our portfolio.
How did you learn about money?