20 August 2009

My father's logic

Not quite a year ago, I remember having a conversation with my brother and as I watched him speaking, I could clearly see the expressions of both my mother and father passing across his face. It was eerie. Not only do we carry the genetic makeup of our parents, we also carry their mannerisms, behavior and speech patterns.

Sometimes I surprise myself at the realization that I am walking along a path my father cleared for me. Growing up, my lessons in fiscal responsibility came from my parents, but I attribute most of the lessons to my father. The lessons were:

  • Save money for purchases and pay cash, don’t buy with credit
  • Spend money wisely, not wastefully
  • Save for retirement
  • Maintain a liquid reserve fund for emergencies
  • For major purchases, borrow the cash from your own savings and make installment payments to yourself to replenish the capital.

I don’t adhere to all these principles, and I certainly do not hold myself up as an example of fiscal responsibility. However, the words of my father reverberate in my head as though they are my own. Case in point: within the past year, I spent down my liquid reserve fund to address some long overdue house repairs. As I dipped more deeply into that balance, I became acutely aware of an increased level of stress. I was veering off a charted and comfortable course living in territory that did not feel economically safe. And being the type of person who appreciates the boundaries of a safety zone, I felt vulnerable and that vulnerability expressed itself to me in a big ball of worry.

So of course there is something to be said for learning to be flexible and making decisions for the right reasons, even if they contradict a core belief. But no one ever said arriving at that beautiful equilibrium of flexibility and safety was going to be easy. One day at a time. Thanks Dad.

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