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- My dad had lots of creative ways to save money, including weaving all over New York City to avoid tolls.
- Growing up, I learned the value of money from him and have applied his lessons over and over again.
- When I wanted to buy a house, I cut back on expenses and took on side jobs to save on a down payment.
Whether it was sitting by the parking meter as a kid so I didn’t have to waste a dime or weaving through New York City to avoid paying the highway toll, my dad’s habits have taught me a lot about how to save and use money. wisely.
Growing up during the Great Depression, the son of immigrant parents, he learned about the value of money and instilled it in his own children. Following in my father’s careful footsteps has allowed me to pay for two houses and a new car, all on a teacher’s salary.
So how did I do it? It’s simple, I imitated my father. Well, for some things anyway.
My dad’s habits rubbed off on me
Although San Remo was the first card in our Rolodex, we never received their pizza. That would mean paying a tip. So we would order a large cake and one of us (usually me) would come over and pick it up. We did this for all of our takeout. It may seem like such a small thing, but I soon learned to be careful with money. That if you were able to do something for yourself, you didn’t need to pay someone else to do it for you.
As I got older, I discovered that some of my father’s habits rubbed off on me. When video stores were all the rage, he would run out in the middle of the night before paying a late fee. In fact, I can say that I have never paid a premium for anything. Ever.
When my friends in college were charging their credit cards with large purchases, I took a part-time job. Then another. I always made sure I had enough money to spend on my own. I know people who pay only the minimum each month on their cards; that never made fiscal sense to me. I often use cash to help me better balance my finances so there are no surprises when the bills come.
I love to travel and as a teacher I can take advantage of summers off. From South America to safaris in South Africa, there are no limits to the destinations. Instead, I trade fancy hotels for hostels or host families, or even take care of cats for free or reduced accommodation. I search the internet for hours, sometimes days, until I find the best rate. I never felt like I was missing out on anything, and it allows me to get to know the locals better.
I’m probably one of the few people without Uber or Lyft on my phone. I will walk for hours or take public transportation before taking a car service. All these little things add up and I have never found myself in debt.
Although I used to splurge on purchases when I received my tax refunds, I realized that if I wanted to own a home, something had to change. So I spent five years saving all my tax refunds, cutting corners and cutting corners until I had a down payment on a second home. I saw how little my father needed to be happy and tried to emulate him.
His stinginess may have gone to extremes at times, but I still follow his lead.
My father’s care with money can sometimes be excessive. When we got really hot in the summer or stayed in cheap motels, my mom said she just fed him a bargain. And he is. You can still see his face light up when he gets something free or an offer. I’m the same, but I like a fancy item once in a while.
A few years ago, when Covid hit, I was able to buy a small second home for myself in upstate New York; I live primarily in a co-op in Brooklyn. It was tight, but he knew he had the tools to hold it. I used the money I carefully saved over five years for a down payment. I bought second-hand furniture from trustworthy companies to decorate it, and took second-hand items and items from Buy Nothing sites and made a cozy home.
While not very useful, I try to cut costs and do what I can on site: build furniture, paint, and even DIY my own backyard. Many people would have renovated the house right away, but I fixed it. I learned that being creative is much more fun than buying from a catalog. When I can’t use it, I rent it out to help with maintenance.
My father came to visit me recently and together we repaired an old stool instead of buying another one. He came out great. Never waste anything. I too am nourished by a bargain, and my life is richer because of it.