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What Motivates You to be Financially Responsible?

For too many years, money ran through my fingers like water. Giving little thought to the long-term, I made unwise financial choices. When the economic downturn hit our family in 2009, it was a stern wake up call.  I desperately want to stop the cycle of overspending, overdrafts, and arguing about money that was the norm in my childhood home and was too quickly becoming the norm in my own home.

Like most parents, my husband and I want our children to have a happy childhood and grow up to be financially responsible adults, but we were not positive role models of the right way to manage money. After a loud argument over another overdrawn bank statement, it became glaringly apparent that our choices had to change if we want them to grow up happy and with good money habits.

Making Choices, Making Changes

I made the decision to save a quarter of our income so we could have an emergency fund. It sounded crazy when I proposed the idea to my husband, but he was on board.

I moved to a cash envelope budget, and when the cash was gone, the spending was done. It wasn’t easy to change my spending habits, but I cut every conceivable extra and scouted out free ways to meet our needs. We swallowed our pride and went on food stamps. (We dropped them this February.) We planned a $100 holiday, spending just $100 on Christmas gifts for everyone on our list.

My main motivators and biggest (and cutest!) cheerleaders, my two kids, excitedly helped me find spare change on the ground and take in recycling. They accompanied me babysitting and helped to count coins to add to the tally. We kept a thermometer chart on the wall and my five-year-old son was excited to help me color it when we added to our savings.

Maintaining Motivation

We’ve had unexpected expenses and have sacrificed to save, but having everyone working together has helped me to maintain motivation. It definitely hasn’t been easy, but I met my goal in December and we celebrated as a family! Ideas from the many personal finance books I’ve read have rubbed off on me, and I’ve rubbed off on my son. If you ask him, “what’s money for?”he’ll tell you that money is to manage first, save second, and spend third. It took me more than 30 years to understand that!

My kids have been the reason for me to finally take responsibility for my finances, and I finally feel like I’m doing right by them as the positive role model they deserve. I teach them simple banking concepts and even show them how I use a stock market trading app to make some investments. I hope that my effort now motivates them to be financially responsible for their entire lives.

Other Yakezie Blog Swap Posts
(I stole the list from Kevin at Thousandaire who was our fearless leader for this swap!)


    Thousandaire with

    Snubbed for “Most Likely To Succeed” 

    at Life and My Finances


  • Life And My Finances with 

    Fear, Family and Independence 

    at Thousandaire.

  • Khaleef writes about how how

    his faith drives his finances

    at My Personal Finance Journey.

  • Jacob shares the

    three things he does to keep focus

    and motivation at KNS Financial.

  • Andrea writes about how

    she is finally done with debt

    even though her friend might not be at Money Sanity.

  • Alan shares

    5 Great Reasons to be Financially Responsible

    at So Over Debt.

  • Kevin talks about

    experiencing the world

    at Financial Success for Young Adults.

  • LaTisha D Styles says

    Financial Freedom Brings Options

    at Debt Eye.

  • Robert tells the world

    10 Things That Motivate Him to be Financially Responsible

    at The Single Saver.

  • Denise talks about real life

    Horror Scenes and their Financial Impact

    at The College Investor.

  • Jason shares how

    three little monsters

    , better known as children, keep him financially focused at Narrow Bridge.

  • Eric just wants to

    Live the High Life

    , whether that’s being active and single today or settling down in the future, and shares at Live Real, Now.

  • Justin talks about

    taking after his financially responsible mother

    and wants to provide for his family at Mom’s Plans.

  • Melissa talks about finding enough money to

    send her kids to Japanese school

    so they can learn their dad’s language at Money is the Root.

  • Dave learned his lessons about gambling in college and now

    wants to retire young


  • Joe is about to be an asset millionaire, but

    he’s in it for the kids

    , not the money, and shares at Invest it Wisely.

  • Kevin shares a powerful story about growing up in poverty and

    taking control of his life

    as an adult at Smart Money Focus.

  • Barbara Friedberg 

    has some tips

    for you at Money in the 20s.

22 thoughts on “What Motivates You to be Financially Responsible?”

  1. Marilyn

    What Motivates You to be Financially Responsible?

    Ok this is a silly story. my hubby and I adopted a cat from a local animal shelter. We had her 48 hours and that little cat’s default setting was to love. She followed us everywhere and was super cuddly. But she was also super sick. She kept vomitting and she wouldn’t eat. It was so heart breaking to see this sweet little animal going downhill. We are poor students and it was just not an option to spend a couple hundred on tests and then who knows what kind of treatment. We took her to back to the shelter because we could take care of such a sick cat. And they told us she was so sick they woudl have to put her to sleep.

    I decided then that it sucked not having the resources to do what I wanted.

    I want to be financially responsible so I can drop the money to save sweet kitty if I want to. Or if I want to visit family or friends clear across the country. Or if I want to go on great vacations to DisneyWorld with my husband and future kids.

  2. Little House

    Thanks for sharing your story, Penny. A few years ago my husband and I were also tired of living on empty – we made plenty of money, but near the end of each month the bank account would be glaringly low or worse, negative. Even though I used Quickbooks and could chart my expenses and income, I didn’t know how to create a budget. I figured it out real quick and realized that I had to start saving a portion of our income. We now have a couple of savings accounts that are growing and I’m always looking for new ways to cut back and save.

  3. Melissa

    Great story, Penny. You are giving your children a strong financial background. Kudos.

  4. MoneyCone

    Same here Penny! Happy to see your guest post!

  5. grace

    Great post Penny. You are setting up a wonderful example for your children.

  6. Sunil from The Extra Money Blog

    good post. the kids will thank you later when they realize what you have done for them. for me, of many other things, observing the people and the world around me gives me motivation to be financially responsible. i know i cannot change others, so why not do the best i can and help where i can

  7. Debt Free Divas

    These are great posts. I love the concept!!!

  8. Kevin @ Thousandaire.com

    Thanks for participating in the swap! It sounds like your kids are on the right way to being financially responsible!

  9. krantcents

    Congratulations! Your children learned an important lesson. Modeling good financial behavior for your children will have a huge impact on them. As far as what motivates me to be financially responsible, it is probably genetic! My parent taught me to be responsible and it literally permeates every aspect of my life. It is probably good that it does because I was a former Chief Financial Officer. I saw first hand what irresponsibility can do to companies. I once worked for a company which was under capitalized that I needed to keep afloat while it was being sold. I felt very much like a juggler who starts the plates spinning and just as you get the last one spinning the first one needs help.

  10. Crystal @ BFS

    @Marilyn, that doesn’t sound like a silly reason at all to me. Having enough money to save an animal, take a vacation, or visit family all sound like great reasons to me!

  11. Jacob @ My Personal Finance Journey

    Wow! Your son’s answer to the purpose of money question is awesome! Nice job teaching them the correct way to be! Sorry to hear about you having to be on food stamps though! But, great work stopping them!

  12. The Saved Quarter

    Thanks for all the positive comments!

    Marilyn – I love the “default setting was to love!” Definitely not silly!

    Little House – The budget makes such a difference, doesn’t it? Good for you for getting it together.

    Krants – Yep, the spinning plates is an excellent analogy. My husband calls it putting out fires, but same idea.

    Jacob – Hopefully he remembers the purpose of money when he has more than small bills to work with! 🙂 I’m not upset about needing food stamps, because it gave me the help I needed to pull us out of the temporary difficult situation we were in. Having that assistance meant I could focus on saving money and have a buffer in the bank so in an emergency, I don’t have to rely on assistance in the future.

  13. ODWO

    “What motivates me … financially?”

    To not end up like one of the people I/we see standing on street corners. Or even, having been there (a few times in life) and done that (a few more times in life) … I know I don’t like the ups and downs that go with lack of planning, lack of motivation, lack of caring (for my own being, AND family), and just being plain foolish with money (spending money just because … it’s there.) I guess it is also a lack of responsibility, too.

    Penny – your kids WILL remember what you did and even went thru’ to preserve money, versus running up debt because you wanted to be “the cool person” who “has it! No problem!”

    You words – “Making choices, making change” …. I can relate to that some years ago. I think those 4 words say much more than spoken aloud.

    Way to go! What you do now (and how you do it) will pay dividends many years from now! I wish my parents would’ve taught me such lessons about money at that age. (versus learning the hard way when I hit my 20’s).


  14. Jacob @ My Personal Finance Journey

    Good for you Saved Quarter! Thanks for sharing your story!

  15. Finanzas Personales

    That’s a very good story, Penny… and it seems you have a very possitive ralationship with money, now. There’s always some event that triggers the change. Lucky for you, that event came at a point when you could do something about it, change your habits and start a path to healthy finances while inspiring your children to have a healthy approach to money.
    I guess it doesn’t require much effort from all of you to keep up the healthy finances now… it must have come part of who you are. And I’m sure it has had the same effect on your children.
    Congrats for that!!!

  16. JT McGee

    You don’t have to be an A+ rockstar of a role model for the kids to learn about personal finance. We learn just as much from your mistakes–if not more–as we do from your positive influences. 🙂

    One thing that I will always thank my parents for is keeping me involved in their finances. They didn’t show me their budgets or balance sheets, but any time I wanted to make money/spend money on something, I had to make a list of pros and cons. If I wanted to clean around the house, for example, I had to make a list of exactly what I would do for $X. It did a lot to make me think about new ways of making money, not just learning how to save it.

  17. LaTisha @FSYAonline

    That is too cute! Your kids I’m sure enjoyed cheering you on to your goals and this also instils in them the desire to be financially responsible. Teaching and saving at the same time!

  18. Invest It Wisely

    Great job on meeting your goal! Even if you say it took 30 years it’s never too late, and good to see the lessons are being passed on.

  19. Edwin @ Stack The Chips

    I keep an excel file to track how much I’m earning. The only real goal is to see that number increase every month.

  20. Hareiana

    Yours is an inspiring story PS, thank you, it is so encouraging to hear that what you have experienced or are experiencing is stuff that other go through too.

    My story was very similar, it was the depth of my sinking in the the debt prison that made me wake up, accounts overdrafts, credits card, you name it… At one point I started to realize the nature of this debt prison circle closing on me and that was my turning point.

    But what actually saved me and pulled me out of my debt prison into a healthy state of positive cash flow within 2 years was BUDGETING. I started using a little free budgeting web app that a friend told me about called Out Of The Dark (OOTD) Budgeting and with this great tool I slowly but surely started to gain full control over my hard earned cash. Good old budgeting did it for me with a little help of a good tool too.

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