3 Financial Lessons we can Learn from our Grandparents

by Fox Symes on January 24, 2014

As 2014 knocks on the door and the economy stands in flux between political opinion and the middling information of other relevant bodies, the New Year begs us to look at our spending habits and apply a measure of control. While it’s hard to imagine Australia fifty to seventy years ago for those who weren’t around, the memories and realities of the era are still sharp in the minds of our grandparents. They were hardy, willing to sacrifice and struggle against the gripping occurrence of a miserable economic downturn, weathering the inherent need to eat, sleep and drink in a clean and safe environment with a stalwart perspective. They were frugal, savings aware and ready to think long term, and while Generation Y has shown to be more budget aware than their X counterparts, you could all learn a thing or five from your grandparents.

The Concept of Credit

Open your wallet and remove every plastic card from within, lay them out on the table and tabulate how much you owe. Do you have a figure? Wouldn’t life be sweeter without the mounting pressure of debt? Probably. Though debt seems to be unavoidable in modern times, your grandparents had to make do without the luxury of an emergency free hold, simply going without, re-using again and biding their time and savings until their cash flow allowed for whatever costly change the needed to address. The credit application process was rigorous and highly selective, as banks were eager to ascertain whether they were living outside their means or near enough to it, as when things go bust, repayments are down for the count. Now anyone can get a credit card, several in fact, without trying very hard at all.


Your grandparents lived through hardships that are currently inconceivable, though the lack of convenience in their lives may surprise most of you. Think about it, how much dough would you retain if you suddenly switched off your internet, cancelled your Pay TV subscription, sold your car and opted for public transport (or cycled to work!), said goodbye to your mobile phone and data plans, drank instant instead of home-made espresso, sold all but one of your TV’s, turned off the air-conditioner and only used electricity for a few hours a day? A lot, right? You are struggling to pay off your debts but at least 90% of you are spoiled by every single one of these things. Sacrificing two or three of them will save you serious dollars.

Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees

If you grew up in the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s, you may be familiar with this saying; a fan favourite among parents and grandparents, it emphasises the value of the dollar, encouraging you to be more aware of where your money goes and the finite nature of the resource. Our grandparents truly understood the limitations of private cash flow, versus expenses and income, budgeting and saving even during the economic depression.
What financial lessons did your grandparents pass on, either by example or verbally?

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