This Financial Lesson I Learned When I Was Young Has Helped Me the Most

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  • My parents never shied away from talking about money.
  • One tip I received as a child has bailed me out often as an adult.
  • I'm grateful I learned early on about the importance of keeping an emergency fund.

It's really been a lifeline.

In some families, money is a taboo topic never to be discussed. Thankfully, my parents weren't like that. Rather than shy away from talking about money, my parents were very open about different financial matters.

At one point when I was a bit older, for example, I asked why we rarely went away on vacation. My parents explained that we couldn't really afford too many getaways, and that they had to prioritize their expenses to make sure our essential costs were covered.

My parents also told me that contributing money to savings would always take priority for them over fun but unnecessary expenses. And that's advice that's come in very handy through the years.

I'm super grateful for my emergency fund

I started working on a consistent basis at age 12 as a babysitter, and once I was old enough to branch out, I did so. As a teen, I was tempted to spend the bulk, if not all, of my earnings on things that are very important to people that age -- things like magazines, makeup (which I wasn't even allowed to wear to school), t-shirts with my favorite bands' logos, CDs, and posters.

Instead, I put the bulk of my earnings into a savings account because my parents encouraged me to. And I don't regret it.

Through the years, I've made an effort to add to my emergency fund. In fact, as a general rule, I like to keep enough money in the bank to cover a year's worth of essential expenses.

Some people might call that overkill. But in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, some financial experts have raised the bar on emergency savings and have said that a year's worth of bills is actually a really appropriate sum to target.

Meanwhile, my emergency fund has come in handy on many occasions during adulthood. At one point, I went from being a salaried employee to a self-employed writer. My income dropped significantly at that time, and I also lost my health insurance in the process since I wasn't yet married. Thanks to my savings, I was able to cover my expenses and keep myself insured until my income rose and I was able to hop onto my husband's plan when we got married.

My emergency fund has also covered a host of home and car repairs through the years. Without that money in savings, I could've been looking at heaping piles of credit card debt each time something went wrong with one of my cars or my house.

The most important thing my parents taught me

My parents did a great job of teaching me important financial lessons as a child. And perhaps the most important one was to always have emergency savings.

Even now, when my bills climb or I worry about sudden expenses, like unplanned repairs or medical bills, I can find my inner calm knowing my emergency fund is there for me. And I'm grateful that my parents encouraged me to build that foundation at such a young age.

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