What your parents didn’t teach you about money

Let’s face it, Baby Boomers haven’t set the greatest example for those who are just starting out.



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As I crossed the country earlier this year promoting my latest book, Money Rules, I spoke with thousands of university and college students about what it takes to not make the mistakes their parents made. Let’s face it, my generation has done a gawd-awful job of setting an example for the young’uns who are just starting out. Here are some important lessons your parents likely didn’t teach you, at least not in practice:

Don’t spend money you haven’t earned yet. If you let yourself get distracted by new and shiny as your parents have, you’ll end up carrying a whack load of consumer debt just like mommy and daddy. Show you have some self-control. Demonstrate that you know how to prioritize. Live within your means.

Your income and your stuff don’t say jack about you. My generation has bought into the branding tomfoolery like no generation before. If you define yourself by the labels you wear, by the model of the car you drive or the amount of money you make, you’re walking in the wrong footsteps. Let’s face it, a guy who makes $100,000 a year selling stuff people don’t need isn’t a better person than the guy who makes $35,000 helping an autistic child integrate into a classroom and learn to socialize. Your actions define who you are.

How much you make doesn’t matter as much as what you do with your income. Sure, you may not make bundles of money, but if you can live a worthwhile life and make your money do what you need it to do, you’re way smarter than the Ritchie Rich with the flashy lifestyle and debt-rot at the root of his financial foundation. Live a real life and keep track of every penny.

Watch who you choose for your peer group. Once upon a time we measured ourselves against our family, friends and neighbours. (Hey, you can say we shouldn’t measure ourselves against anyone, but that’s just not reality!) My generation decided to measure how we’re doing against the people we see on TV and in magazines.  If there were no décor-porn, we’d all feel a little less like our homes constantly need upgrading. You don’t need granite counter-tops to turn out healthy and delicious meals for the family. Build a life of substance and focus on what’s really important: stability, happiness and a sense of belonging.

5 comments on “What your parents didn’t teach you about money

  1. Another great Article Gail. Thanks for sharing


  2. hear, hear!


  3. I'm so tired of the media telling everyone how a certain group of people behave. We are baby boomers, born at the end of the boom, but still baby boomers. I feel we have set an excellent example for our children. We paid of our mortgage in 15 years. We pay off our Visa every month. When we want something or want to travel we make sure we have enough money in our savings or we save until we do. We invest in RRSP's every month and have since we were first married. We donate to charities monthly and other times throughout the year. When we buy a car we drive it until it doesn't run any more. Our entire personal debt right now is $479.93 on Visa which will be paid off before it's due. Some baby boomer are terrible examples some are not. Your article is offensive to those of us who are responsible and I'm tired of being told by the media that I'm drowning in debt. Get off your high horse and talk to some real people.


  4. Great advice. Hopefully history won't repeat itself with my generation!


  5. being on a fixed government disability its next to impossible to budget and just have to go cheque to cheque and some times a pay day loan to help in any short fall..


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