Lessons From my Father

My father was of the old school philosophy, “save money for what you want, never go into debt.” He lived his life the way his Norwegian-born parents had. Personal trust and a shake of the hand represented a promise – a deal.

Even later in life he was suspicious of credit cards and when we first introduced him to a cash card to supply his needs while in the care home, he practiced using it. Went to the bank across the street, lined up to the teller’s booth and took out $5 or $10 at a time. And did that daily to be reassured the magical card still worked!

             The only time that I remember Dad and I having a serious difference of opinion was when I asked him to sign for a loan for me to travel to Europe that summer. Following my university graduation, I would return in the fall for teacher training to get my teacher certification. After that I would be employed and not free for extended travel. He understood my reasons, but they did not sway him. In desperation, I turned to his brother for a loan signature where I held an account at the local Credit Union. Uncle Ingolf had traveled a bit in Europe and knew its benefits. He complied.

Mortgage and Credit Cards

So it was that with the exception of a home mortgage and two credit cards, paid in full monthly, I’ve tried to live by my father’s rule. The happiest day of our married life was when we ceremoniously ‘burned the mortgage’ in our back yard. The economists and professional financial advisers that up to early January, I had followed, suggested that we could be entering an uncertain period of decline, not unlike 2008. The world has since turned upside down and will be that way for more months than we want to anticipate. Presently none of us knows what we are facing health-wise, never mind financially.

Borrowing and Bankruptcy

People are being laid off, some are going bankrupt, businesses are closing, homeless people in tents appear wherever there’s a grassy spot. We have rules to follow to keep healthy. Thankfully our governments have stepped in to help, but I do wish those same governments had spent less of the surplus during the good times.

The benefits that are being given away, with borrowed funds from taxes, will mean we have debt that’s impossible to repay. It will be a drain on this country for many years, especially if interest rates rise, which they eventually will.

By now Dad would have been apoplectic!