A Poor Man Should Live Like One [Fribble] June 5, 2000

Fribble A Poor Man Should Live Like One

By Chuck Chapmen (
June 5, 2000

Memorial Day brought to mind some reflections on my father. He died in 1992 at the age of 85. He'd been a captain in the army during World War II and an all-American basketball player at the University of Michigan. He'd been 22 when the market crashed in '29, and then, unfortunately, he had just retired in the early '70s when we had a serious bear market.

Having experienced these two cataclysmic events probably prompted one of Pop's favorite axioms: "If you're a poor man, live like one."

For the most part, that's exactly what he did. He was a time-study engineer at a plant that eventually was bought out by Ericsson, and he hadn't been well paid at all. At one point he had his three urchins in diapers all at the same time. He inherited over $60,000 in 1957 when his mother died; it was a tidy sum back then, which Pop frugally hoarded so that the three of us could go to college. Two of us did, and it never cost us a cent. I think I finally thanked him around age 25 when the magnitude of his sacrifice finally sank in.

I have never quite forgiven myself, even to this day at age 54, for selfishly taking his frugality for granted. Now, having funded my own daughter's education, I have more than just a glimmer of appreciation for what Pop's gift meant.

I heard "If you're a poor man, live like one" so many times that I can't begin to count. I especially heard it at some of life's key financial junctures: the birth of a first child, the purchase of a home, the buying of a car, and the moment of decision about an occupation. The virtues of saving money were relentlessly drilled into me. Dad would accompany his three kids to the bank every six months and smile proudly as our semi-annual interest wa's posted to our accounts. This was a lesson in the growth of money. Not a highfalutin one -- that's for sure -- but a valuable one nevertheless.

I never once, though, heard my father say, "Even if you're NOT a poor man, live, to some extent, as if you were." His commitment not to become financially strained is alive and well even today among his three kids.

Thanks, Pop. We owe ya.

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