Raggedly Rich

Canadian Finances, Musings, and Art

Raggedly Rich’s Lifestory Milestones

Lilly, over at The Frugal Gene, did a post about the Cast of Characters that formed the foundation of her approach to personal finance and influenced her growing up. I’ll wait here while you check it out, because it is a really great read! …

All done? Perfect! Then you’re sort-of warmed up for what I’m about to do.

We all have this cast of characters that’ve formed our pre-inclinations and mentalities, and I wanted to delve not only into my own, but the memories I have that shape my outlook. While I do believe that there’s a bit of genetics that goes into the formation of you as a person, I do also think there’s a lot of environmental influences that shape who you are, establish your ethos, and frame your observations and conclusions.

Obviously, my parents are hugely influential on my life. I talk about them a lot on this blog, and they’re genuinely the most amazing, hard-working, self-sufficient, kind, and family-oriented people I know. Together they’ve taught me a multitude of skills, attitudes, and habits that others aren’t so lucky to receive. One of them is:

Kindness and Sympathy for Others

Spattered throughout my childhood are these memories of my Mum being kind and compassionate. She never expressly told me or lectured me on the virtues of being kind to others and giving back, but there were numerous times she went out of her way to extend a helping hand.

I remember when I was young there was a man in the grocery story checkout ahead of us. He’d gotten a bunch of different things, but only had a handful of whatever the paper equivalent of gift cards were (they might’ve been food stamps, I’m not sure). There were a few dozen things that he set aside that he couldn’t afford, and I remember that it took forever because he couldn’t make up his mind about what he wanted to keep. After he paid and started packing up, my Mum asked the cashier to ring through all the food items he’d left behind on our bill before starting our order. There was a bit of confusion until he realized she’d covered the cost of the items, so he could take them, and he was incredibly thankful for the gesture.

Give Gratitude where Gratitude is Due

I don’t know why, but my Dad is especially sensitive to making sure that he shows his gratitude. It might be a cultural thing, but if someone does something good for you, you show them that you appreciate it. There’s nothing more emblematic to me of a above and beyond gesture than my Dad going: “Oh, that’s Nice. Very Nice.” with a nod and that rare, caught-off-guard smile.

Everyone’s out for themselves. And when someone goes out of their way to make your life better, or extend a kindness, that means something. That’s not to say you don’t have to gauge your audience – if they brush the gesture off and say it’s nothing, do something small and meaningful to thank them. It might be as simple as a hug or a word of appreciatio

n. Or it might be a small gift, or a recieretory offer. Or it might even just be that unsaid understanding that ‘I’ve got your back and you’ve got mine’.

Funnily enough, he always seems surprised when someone goes out of their way to express gratitude to him. The last time he did a bit of work for my bro’s friend, he got a bonus bottle of alcohol as a thank you. Never underestimate the power of a ‘thank you’, or a token of your appreciation.

Pay Your Debts, Especially to Friends

I was friends with a girl in elementary school who was a wolf-in-sheep’s-skin-bully. She wielded control of our little social circle with subtle cruelty. I realize in retrospect that it was classic lashing out, likely due to her home life and the medical issues with her Dad. Our social group was the one thing she could control and dictate, during a time in her life that was probably pretty hectic, traumatic, and frightening for her. I recently (last year), saw her in my joe-job store, and she was either extremely interested in our ceramic figurines, or she recognized me and couldn’t meet my eye. The only grudge I really still hold against her is that in Grade 2, she borrowed $2, and has yet to pay it back.

A couple years after the incident, I was explaining it to my Mum, who sighed and offered to pay me back the money so I could finally let it go. But it wasn’t about the money – it was abo

ut the gall with which she would mooch off anyone and everyone, and the entitlement that she carried, as if the money and the toys of others were her right.

This girls sense of entitlement might be one of the reasons I find that quality so distasteful and infuriating in people now. It certainly didn’t help. Paying back my debts, especially to my

friends and family – whether that’s getting the next pizza, or physically repaying them money – is essential to my identity. I’m loathed to take advantage of anyone’s good grace and generosity.

Be Rich, Don’t Act Rich

People who are rich get a bad reputation. I don’t know many of them, though my friend pile is firmly in the middle-class. The wealthiest family I know are also the nicest, sweetest, most generous people I know. The wealthiest couple I know go out of their way to value ‘good people’ over any other metric of standard. I don’t know how rich people are supposed to act, but the ones I know don’t act like they’re rich. They’re down to earth, they’re generous, they’re compassionate, and they don’t lord their possessions, position, or net worth over anyone. If anything, they see

m to want to share their good fortune with those they consider friends.

Even the people in the personal finance community who are clearly wealthy aren’t assholes with Ferraris, lording their riches over people. They’re humble, earnest folks (or at least they appear that way), who have a passion for money and saving.

You don’t have to rub your finances in anyone’s face. If money is the only thing you have, I’m sorry to say, but you’re not actually rich.

What’s the strongest memory you have that shaped your outlook or who you are as a person today?

8 Comments

  1. I love all the stories and values you’ve learned from your family and friends over the years. It’s so easy to just let money dominate every aspect of our lives, but we just need to keep our heads clear and do what we think is right.

    Your mom was so kind and generous to buy the man the groceries that he needed. That’s definitely an inspiration for kindness! 🙂

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      October 24, 2017 at 2:16 pm

      It takes a village… or some sort of saying 😛 I’ve really been blessed with the experiences and role models I’ve been fortunate enough to have.

  2. So cute Ms. RR! I definitely feel like I got to know you better after the character list. Your parents sound so awesome!!! Especially your dad. I think we had the same story, except mine was $2. Mine was $5 owed to a greedy witch. My family was much poorer and she actually told me “who cares about $5 stop asking me ” I should Facebook messenge her and ask for it with compounding interest.

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      October 27, 2017 at 11:13 am

      I know I sound like a broken record, but they’re such amazing people :’) And no one believes me until they actually meet them – we do have moments of frustration, but we’re human after all!

      What a jerk! Imagine how far that $5 could’ve gone…

  3. Your parents sound so sweet 🙂 It is amazing how certain memories will stick with you and form your actions years later.

    I remember my parents always teaching me to be humble and a bit “under wraps” about our family business. It was not out of hiding anything (it was a great business!), but more out of wanting me to learn that, while the business was a good part of our family, it should not be something I rub in others’ faces (“my parents own…”). In a way, it was my first intro to the concept of stealth wealth.

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      October 27, 2017 at 11:15 am

      They’re pretty great :’)

      Stealth wealth and the concept of being humble is such an important concept to teach kids. And not even in reference to money! Being arrogant doesn’t do anyone any good, unless your metric is for bullying… it sounds like your parents’ lessons have stuck with you too 🙂

  4. What a great quote, “if money is the only thing you have, I’m sorry to say you’re not actually rich.” I had a couple of mean girls at my elementary school, too. I’m glad you’re at the point where you can contextualize their behavior, and that your mom and dad were such good examples of generous and kind behavior for you. Those are two huge jewels in your net worth equation, for sure!

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      October 27, 2017 at 11:17 am

      I have one group of friends who came from some weird twilight zone school where there didn’t seem to be any cliques, but I think it’s relatable to most people – unless you were the mean girl! I just feel sad for her now, and hope that she’s able to grow up. And also, getting that $2 back would be nice.

      I wouldn’t be a fraction of the person I am today without my Mum and Dad. So grateful and blessed to have them in my life.

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