By Jessica Wright
When I was younger, my father would send me to the store to run his errands: “Jessica is the only one who knows how to bring back change,” he would jokingly say.
I learned about credit cards from my mother and cash from my father, but the most important lesson I learned from my parents is to take care of home first. With that being our family’s golden rule, we understood that when money came in, we would take care of living necessities before spending on leisure activities.
I grew up in a middle-class family with strong values in Mesquite, Texas. My mother was a free spender, but only when my brother and I needed clothes for school or we needed something for the house. I often remember hearing her say, “Charge it,” but rarely did she splurge on herself. She used to take me with her to pay bills and sometimes let me give the teller the payment. I learned that if you use credit, you still need to pay more than the mini¬mum amount before the due date.
My father tracked the family’s finances, so he was less willing to spend money unless he had already written out a plan to do so. I remember watching my father at his desk marking up a ledger with our living expenses. I now do the same thing when money comes in—I sit down and write out where my money must go before spending on where I would like it to go.
My parents acquired secure careers that allowed them to buy a home and put my brother and me through college. Growing up it may have been tight, but financial issues never affected us as children. My parents were very good at showing us the right way to handle our money. These experiences have taught me to track my finances and only use credit when I can afford to.