My parents are awesome, they may have driven me mad (okay maybe I drove them mad) as a teenager, but there’s no doubt that they taught me a lot about money. Some of what I learned was a direct result of what they taught me, but there are also a lot of things I picked up just by observing the way they handled their money.

The money lessons we learn growing up can make a huge impact on our lives forever. Fortunately for me, what my parents taught me about money were all positive experiences.

6 Things my parents taught me about money

Shop at discount stores – Growing up, my parents would frequently take my brother and I to discount stores including BiWay, Bargain Harolds, Kmart, and Zeller’s. My parents had no interest in paying more than they had to, so if a product was cheaper at a discount store vs. a brand name store, you better believe they would take the savings. As an adult, I now love shopping at Wal-Mart and No Frills, the savings over time is pretty significant.

Save for the things you want – I don’t know if money was ever “tight” for my parents, but one thing is for sure, I never got all the things I asked for. Sure they would buy me small things, but if I wanted to buy something “big”, I would have to pay for it myself from my savings. With credit so easily accessible these days, I’m incredibly grateful that my parents taught me to save for the things I want. Too many people out there are abusing credit.

My parents taught me to save for the things I want

Eat ethnic food – When it came to eating out, we always went to Chinatown. I suppose it reminded my parents of Hong Kong and it was a nice treat for my brother and I. The funny thing is, whenever we went out, it was always for Chinese food. My dad would say, why go somewhere else when Chinese food is so much cheaper? He’s right, a dinner for 4 at a Chinese restaurant is easily 25% cheaper than going out to a family restaurant. My palette is a little more diverse these days, but there’s no arguing that eating ethnic food offers incredible value.

Related: 10 Tips to save money at restaurants

Look at flyers – For as long as I can remember, my parents would always look at the flyers to see what was on sale. They would scan through every flyer and circle any items that interested them. Buying things on sale saved them a ton of money over the years. Even now when I head to my parents place, I still see circled flyers on the kitchen table. Scanning flyers has become a lot easier with technology these days. I use the app Reebee to find out what’s on sale at all the different grocery stores, and then price match them at my preferred store.

Mom always looking for a bargain

Mom always looking for a bargain

Save for your retirement – As soon as I got my first job at 17, my dad encouraged me to begin saving for my retirement. He suggested that opening an registered retirement savings plan and purchasing mutual funds would be a good idea. Back then I didn’t really understand compound interest very well, but the idea of getting a tax refund was very appealing. I immediately set up monthly auto-contributions and never stopped until I joined my company’s pension plan. Saving early is just one of the reasons why my RRSP is now valued at over $100K.

Related: Compound interest is my BFF

Budget for a single salary – As soon as I got engaged my mother started talking to me more about money, she stressed the importance of budgeting. The one thing stuck with me is that she suggested to try your hardest to live on a single salary;  this way if one if my wife or I were every laid off or unable to work, we would still get by. Considering the cost of real estate these days, it’s pretty tough to live on a single salary, but it’s still solid advice. The main point is, keep your expenses down and save.

Final word

My parents were pretty fortunate in the sense that they were both able to land jobs as soon as they arrived in Canada. They were able to raise my brother comfortably, pay for our education, and save for retirement all on a modest income. There’s no doubt that my life is a lot easier these days, not just because of what they taught me about money, but because of the sacrifices they made.

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Image courtesy: Jeremy G / Flickr