As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, my relationship with money began to form at a relatively young age. Various childhood events provided me with a glimpse into my parent’s finances, and I quickly learned that my parent’s didn’t have enough money to buy everything my little heart desired. Although my parents probably wished those moments never happened, I think they are important lessons to be learned. In life, you cannot always get everything you want right away. Instead of playing the piano I learned to play my brother’s hand-me-down trumpet.

My parents taught me some valuable monetary lessons as a child. For instance, when I was young my parents would take me to the carnival. My dad would hand me a roll of quarters and tell me to make them last the next two hours. My best friend would often go to the carnival with her parents too. But instead of handing her a roll of quarters my best friend’s dad would hand her a wad of money. The one dollar bills were all mixed in with the fives and honestly I don’t think he ever knew exactly how much money he handed over.

Well we’d go off to play on the rides and win stuffed animals. Within no time at all my friend would have purchased a hot dog, french fries and cotton candy. She would take two bites out of each and then throw the rest away. We’d ride a few rides and she’d play every game at least two times, then she’d return to her dad for more money. Upon her request he’d once again pull out a wad full of money.

There are so many lessons parents can impart on their children and in this example my best friend never did learn to handle money. By age 20 she was leasing a new car every year. She’d turn in the old one and then lease one that cost more money, despite that fact that she worked in retail making less than $10 an hour.

As a child your parents should set boundaries for you and teach you the value of money. But even if your parents never impart this wisdom as an adult you must set your own limits on spending. In order to save money you must find the discipline not to spend. I know budgets work for some people, although I’m not one of them. But there are other simple steps you can take to save money. For example, don’t associate with others who spend haphazardly, or don’t associate with them in situations where you may be tempted to spend money. Rather than going shopping with a friend who is up-to-her eyes in credit card debt, suggest you go hiking. Meet up for an inexpensive brunch or lunch instead of dinner. Suggest a long weekend to a nearby destination instead of a week excursion in Vegas. Please note, I am suggesting limitation not deprivation.

Thankfully my parents instilled these boundaries in me from an early age. If your parents didn’t do the same, there is no time like the present to define them for yourself.