My father-in-law often teaches me deeper lessons than he knows — like valuing money by picking up pennies, for example. Here’s another example of what I mean.
I took the freshly laundered socks from the washer and put them in the dryer. I closed the door, punched in the settings, and then hesitated.
A thought came to mind — something that happened months ago.
The Obvious Isn’t Always Common Sense
“Ronnie, now, when you put clothes in the dryer, just take one of these used fresheners — they’re clean still — and then pull out the lint catcher and wipe out the lint. Ok…? Just like that,” explained my father-in-law.
“Ok,” I said, but I was thinking, “Really? Come on, man, I’m 45 years old. I’m not an idiot.”
But today, doing the laundry, it dawned on me: Wow. What a great simple lesson that I had never learned before.
The Real Lesson Isn’t Always Obvious: Valuing Money
In my formative years, my early-twenties, single-parent mother had her hands full with three little ones and I imagine there wasn’t always energy for lessons in the proper care of things. My father wasn’t around. Valuing money wasn’t a thing I learned.
Now, in 2016, my in-laws don’t know the great value that living with them is bringing to me:
- Low-cost living is allowing me to get a solid financial education, learning about valuing money properly.
- It’s allowing us to slowly pay off credit card debt.
- Its been an introduction to owning a home.
- It permitted me to get my health back.
So, yeah, I’m 45 and living with my in-laws. They’re great people. And it’s been comforting to know that I’m not the only one living with in-laws during a money-journey like this.
Every Penny Counts
My father-in-law walks every morning. I’ve joined him a few times.
During one of those walks, when we were moving at a good clip, he unexpectedly came to a halt. Had he been a car, it would have been a screeching halt.
I turned to see what was going on. He had stopped to pick up a penny.
The humble penny.
I’ve passed plenty a penny in my life and wasted many thousands of pennies, but my father-in-law stopped to pick up the penny.
I realized then, that despite the times we had walked together and he had not picked up any money from the ground, he had been watching for it all along.
That habit stood in stark contrast to my life with money. Not only was I not planning ahead, watching for money opportunities, I was squandering money. For me, not valuing money, meant not picking up pennies.
Needless to say, I pick up pennies now. And now that I think about it, my grandfather had set the same example of picking up pennies.
Ever wonder what a penny is worth? When you have some time, listen to this Planet Money podcast episode, “What’s A Penny Worth?”
Lots of Pennies in Owning A Home
All of my life, I’ve been a renter. Mom rented a place. When I moved out, I rented a place. Renting is great. When there’s a problem, someone else comes to fix it.
I like that. I like it so much that I’ve never wanted to own a home.
However, living with my in-laws has given me a glimpse into owning a home. I mow the lawn, take out the cans for garbage pick up, prep the gutters for winter, etc. I like it more than I thought I would.
I’ve been there for getting the HVAC fixed, the air ducts cleaned out, and for talk about updating the flooring in the kitchen. I’m sure there’s lots more to owning a home but this has been a great initial education.
I still don’t want to own a home, however, I’ve been exploring and getting educated about owning rental properties.
And thankfully, my father-in-law continues to provide valuable life lessons and money lessons without even realizing it. Well, there’s plenty of times he knows what he’s doing. Just the other day he reminded me to check the air pressure in the tires.