This week I’m featuring a guest post! Ashley Chorpenning is a Finance Blogger with a degree from University of Cincinnati in Finance. She has a deep passion for helping millennials gain financial literacy and planning for their futures. Check her out at moneygravity.net!
When we are younger we look up to our parents and grandparents. They can do no wrong in our eyes.
We idolize them and try to make them proud by following their guidance. I think everyone has a moment when they are struck with the realization that they are people too. They make mistakes and have their own set of obstacles we were shielded from for years.
For me, this reality shook me to my core. I never realized that one of my “idols” would change my life path forever and give me a true sense of purpose.
Memories of my grandparents’ home
One of the best memories I have as a child, was visiting my grandparents for Christmas. They had a beautiful house in the suburbs.
It was always decorated to perfection. The second you walked in, you were greeted with the smell of fresh pine, cinnamon, and fresh baked cookies.
Waking up Christmas morning and seeing gifts upon gifts under the tree. Nothing makes a child’s heart sing more than memories in the making.
Grandma’s house made the holidays special. I could not imagine the holidays without our Christmas night at their house. Unfortunately, towards the middle of my high school career, that was all about to change forever.
The home goes up for sale
During the summer of 2004, my mother began prepping my grandparents’ house for sale. So many memories were stored in that house, and we were going to have to let it go.
This was not a choice my grandparents wanted to make. I began to realize that my grandparents would not have sold this house by choice.
There had to be some other explanation. I looked up to my grandfather and wondered, how he could ever let this happen? How could he let this house we loved so much go after all these years?
The day the moving trucks came I sat outside with my grandmother. I could see the heart ache all over her face. I know she didn’t want to cry in front of me or show me weakness.
This was the house they raised their children in and made a home. The memories were now frozen in time, and it was the beginning of a new chapter for my family.
Since I was still young when they sold the house, I didn’t have a full understanding of why they had to move. I never really asked too many questions, instead I put together bits and pieces of information to gain my own understanding.
The truth of the matter was that my grandfather had never really made a strong financial plan for his family.
My grandfather and his financial mistakes
When he was just starting his career, he worked full time and went to school in the evenings. He wanted to get a higher education to be more marketable in the work force.
In the early years, his mother fell ill. He brought her into his home and took care of her.
During this time, my grandmother and grandfather had 4 children less than 6 years of age. They both barely had time to breathe, let alone think about the future.
My Grandfather was always hard working and motivated to do more. The problem was he never had a plan.
He wanted to provide his family with as much as he could. He never sought out the correct guidance to make his financial dreams a reality.
His whole life was excuse after excuse as to why he couldn’t save or make a solid plan. He was always chasing the next “big deal” or “get-rich-quick” scheme.
Instead of paving a solid career path, he moved from job to job, never truly making his mark. Retirement was never thought of and the conversation always ended with “we will figure it out later”.
Well, “later” arrived sooner than expected.
My grandparent’s house was paid off after 15 years of owning it. This was only after my grandfather refinanced multiple times.
The house sold for close to $400,000, and since they refinanced so often, they walked away with less than $30,000. That was all they had to retire with.
Lucky for them, they were able to use my grandmother’s social security. My grandparents were better off than most, but they would still come up short.
As the years went on, the toll of my grandparent’s financial situation weighed on the rest of the family. Not only was it hard to watch, but it was the topic of most conversations.
They were constantly reliving the past, and why it didn’t work out the way they thought it would. The heartache my family went through and continues to go through on a day-to-day basis was and is hard to watch.
They were living from check-to-check, and most months were not sure if they would break even.
How it taught me about financial independence
When the house was sold, I decided I was going to be financially free no matter what. I was going to educate myself and continue to gain financial literacy.
I would not allow my family to endure the pain and suffering I watched growing up.
This story has too often been told and it needs to change. I wanted to change how our story ended. I needed to change my relationship with money and help other people change theirs.
It is very rare that people learn about finances without seeking the information first. Money is not shameful and should be discussed openly.
We can only make changes when we see what is not working. My grandfather was always hardworking and was willing to go the extra mile.
Being strong and hardworking does not mean you will have a lavish future. The problem was he failed to plan.
We need to change the way we manage money and take control of our future. We all have the choice to plan ahead and make appropriate adjustments along the way.
What life situations have led you to learn more about financial independence? Please share below!