Thursday, March 5, 2009

Money for nothing...

My dad sold insurance for a lot of years.

He didn't like it.

And he wasn't good at it.

So, around our house, money was always a huge worry.

We were fed (lots of generic grocery store brands) and clothed (Target was frequented) but there weren't a lot of extras. My parents were always counting pennies. They "borrowed" my bat mitzvah money to buy groceries. (That is in quotes because I never saw that money again.)

Ironically, my dad has also worked in some sort of financial advising capacity- and he has really good advice! It's just, for some reason, he is totally unable to take that advice and use it himself.

I went to an expensive private university- only because our family income was so low that I had major financial aid. With the exception of my first semester and my last semester (when I was student teaching) my parents helped me very little financially.

I graduated and was broke as shit. I made such a low salary as a first year teacher; that year was a constant struggle to make ends meet month to month.

Over the years, I worked 2-3 jobs at a time. I limited my purchases of clothes, books, and any other 'extras'. I had 1-4 roommates. I never went on vacation. I figured out my finances and started trying to save some money.

When I was 27 I bought a condo in one of the most difficult housing markets in the country. I could only put 5% down, but it was one of the proudest accomplishments of my life.

III's experience couldn't have been more different. His great-grandfather founded a company. His grandfather and then his father worked hard to make sure that the company was successful. He went to a very small, very exclusive, and I'm guessing very expensive private school. His parents have been gifting him money since he was fifteen. Luckily (for me), III is very responsible (kudos to his parents) and put that money away. With it, he was able to buy a condo in his home town, and then later we were able to use that money to help pay for our wedding and buy a house.

So we come at money from different perspectives. III knows his family has always worked hard for their money, and have worked at spending responsibly. I come from a family where money was always stressful and caused a lot of issues.

Because of this, when III's parents gift us money each year, it's very uncomfortable for me. We always put it towards our mortgage. (Actually, his mother instructs us that is what we are supposed to do with our 'gift'. It's what we would do anyway, but that kind of rubs me the wrong way...)

We have about 1/4 of our mortgage payment left, and from what I understand, it looks like they are going to pay it off for us. I know I shouldn't complain. And I'm not really complaining. But the feeling I have about this house is so different from my old condo- the condo that was a little too small, but that I worked so hard for and accomplished so much for.

On top of that, MIL mentioned to III the other day that we probably want to start 'saving money for the taxes on the lake house.' There is a very nice lake house back where III grew up. The lakefront land used to be his grandmother's, and when she died her 3 sons inherited it and built a beautiful 'vacation' house on the land. the 3 families that live near it take a lot of day trips there, but III and I are really the only ones who stay there overnight (since we come from much further away when we visit once or twice a year).

When FIL, MIL and the uncles and aunts pass, III and I and the cousins will inherit the house- and the taxes. I used my google and internet searching skills last night to determine just how much those taxes are.... $35,000. A year! For a vacation house!!! H O L Y S H I T. It just reminds me that this a whole different level than I am familiar with.

I'm trying not to complain. But in some ways, I'd rather have grown up how I did than how III did. His parents did an amazing job raising him, and he has a really great attitude about money and spending. But the independence and the financial savvy that I have developed because I had to is something that I would never take back, even if it meant stress and worry and kraft mac and cheese every night for a few years...

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