I often ask myself why, without any concrete financial role models in my life, I became the financially repsonsible person in my family. Admittedly, I was raised by a grandmother who was not frugal, but cheap. And when I mean cheap, I mean cheap; the cheapest of everything from soap to toilets. Quality was not even an issue for her. For her, it was all about the lowest price. Her motto was, 'If you have a dollar, save a quarter.' And while I never strived to be that extreme and am definitely not cheap (because 'cheapest' comes with its own set of problems that my grandmother learned the hard way), I somehow got "it"; don't ask me how or why because I don't know. My sister, who was also raised by my grandmother, didn't get "it", in my very humble opinion. Don't get me wrong, my sister is financially responsible in her own way. But, she is the type that likes the latest and greatest of most things. She is not in debt (that I know of). But, she is one of those "I work hard, so I deserve it" people.
My sister and I couldn't be more different financially--although, I would say we are the two most financially responsible in the family. I attribute our financial independence on the fact that we didn't exactly have quality parents, hence living with the grandmother. My sister and I both are single, no kids and are both homeowners. My home, although, could have been smaller, is reasonable in size and cost. My sister, on the other hand, has a HUGE house. Based on my expenses I can live comfortably from only one paycheck and save and invest the other. My sister on the other hand, has taken on a second job because she wants to "build up her savings". Here's the catch: Her home is in Hammond, LA, which is a suburb of New Orleans and a 45 minute drive. Her full-time job is from 8 to 5, from which she goes to my grandmother's home and sleeps from 5:30pm to 10:30pm, then goes to a second job from 11pm to 7am. Then, she returns to my grandmother's to change for her full-time job. She does this Monday-Thursday. She never needed to build up her savings until she bought the big house. So, basically she is currently spending her entire life working in order to pay for the big house that she is NOT even living in. When I question her choices, she says the work situation is only temporary.
Every financial decision I've made, I've told my sister about it in hopes that she would get on board. But, needless to say, she has a different mentality than me; which is fine--no judgement. Everyone is entitled to be who they are and make their own choices. For me, money is not about material possessions. Instead, in my mind, money is about security and freedom. I never want to be stuck in a job I hate, stuck in a bad relationship, forced to borrow money, etc because of my financial choices. This is just my own personal logic. But, I often ask myself why do I think this way, but no one else in my family?
I know part of the answer is I've always been inquisitive--about EVERYTHING. As a result, I became a ferocious reader. At some point, I found personal finance books and my journey started. I've always studied successful people, both in real life and from TV and biographies. But, don't most people do this in some fashion, no matter how small?
So, what do you think the difference is between people who see money as a tool/asset and those who view it as a means to material possessions? If you are a PFer, what do you think is the difference for you? I ask because I still haven't figured it out...