Column: Looking At ‘Generational Money Habits’

October 9, 2018

Carla Seely Bermuda October 2018[Written by Carla Seely]

Generational money habits – How did my grandparents manage their money?

One thing that has changed significantly over the past century is people’s attitude towards money and how they manage it. Do we learn these habits from our parents, or do we recognise their bad habits and implement change to ensure we don’t do the same thing?

When I was growing up, the phrase my parents constantly used was “We can’t afford it”; even today, when I hear those words it sets me off.

My poor husband has to deal with the onslaught of comments that come from me when he has to deliver the message that we need to “tone down our spending”. In all honesty, the overspending most of the time is down to me, but the fact that I have not been able to break the “can’t afford it” cycle infuriates me!

Many articles have been written about baby boomers spending everything before they die, or millennials being overwhelmed with student loan debt, but rarely do you read articles that describe exactly how different generations manage their money.

My 99-year-old grandfather is part of “the Greatest Generation”, people who were born between 1910 and 1924. It’s crazy to think my grandfather was actually born in 1919! However, what is almost incomprehensible is that in 1929, at the start of the Great Depression, my grandfather’s parents were both killed by a horse-drawn milk truck when he was only 10 years old. My grandfather was then raised by his older sisters and a spinster aunt, and even during the Great Depression his aunt, who was illiterate, made sure my grandfather went to school so he would not be.

I imagine the events of 1929 and later greatly influenced the person he became and certainly guided his choices and decisions on how he managed what he earned. Fast-track his life to 1969: he retired at age 50 and is still living a financially comfortable retirement 49 years on. Whatever he did, he certainly did it well!

One thing my grandfather was most proud of was the fact he never borrowed money, not even for his home. In fact, he has never borrowed from anyone or owed anyone anything. I can’t even imagine being able to buy a home without a mortgage – home ownership and a mortgage go hand in hand these days.

My grandfather told me that he saved 20 per cent of each pay cheque from day one because he wanted to make sure he could take care of himself and never have to rely on anyone financially.

Nowadays, the benefits of a company pension plan that requires both the employer’s and the employee’s contribution are pathing the way for our long-term retirement goals. Our grandparents, and even some of our parents, never profited from employee benefits, and although these are mandatory, they have been put in place to secure our financial future.

At the end of the day, if you look at money management through the generations, there are still binding principles that hold true: set aside money for your future and borrow as little as you can. The reality is, it doesn’t matter how much money you make if you can’t figure out how to manage it.

- Carla Seely is the Vice President of Pension and Investments at FM Group. If you would like any further details, please contact her at or call +1 441 297 8686.


20 Most Recent Opinion Columns

Opinion columns reflect the views of the writer, and not those of Bernews Ltd. To submit an Opinion Column/Letter to the Editor, please email Bernews welcomes submissions, and while there are no length restrictions, all columns must be signed by the writer’s real name.


Read More About

Category: All, Business, News

Comments (15)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Truth is killin' me... says:

    The Middle Class is being squeezed. Nowadays you’re either rich and can pay your bills or you’re poor and on financial aid! The Middle Class is on life support.

    • Onion Juice says:

      1929 Generational money habits.
      So did someone mention to her that Bermuda was heavily racially divided back then.

  2. Hope says:

    This is a really interesting topic and I’d love for it to be delved in to deeper. It goes without saying that not borrowing and saving as much as you can are good money management tips, but what generational habits were observed in older generations that would still result in the same success today? For example…how long did it take your grandfather to save for his house (based on saving 20% of income)? And how many years would that take now for a similar house? If a person today retired with the same level of inflation adjusted savings/pension as your grandfather did then how many years would it last them, based on average spending habits? My guess is that it wouldn’t last 49 years. I’d love to see this article go further.

  3. While much of what is being said here is very practical, the real truth that I believe this young lady does not fully come to terms with, is that even though she may feel and think she had the same or relatively the same upbringing as many in the poor or working class society, there is one thing that her fore-parents and herself had, that we did not have, They were and are still (White), and some will never get it, because white privilege still exist and they don’t suffer no were as much as the Black community, and in keeping with the realistic side of things, many Blacks have acquired great wealth, but not nearly to the tune of our counterparts, we are still below the average White person in many segments of our community, and worst still, the ones who are challenging us about our economic position, are in some cases the same who are taking from us, and in a legal sense may I add, and others in the white community, are stealing from us in an unprecedented number, that both this Government and the former Government continue to ignore, unpaid Social Insurances, and secondary pensions to name a few, so I read articles like this and wish that someone or this young woman would deal with this side of the equation and take her head out of the sand, because I can go on and on, and when she looks at the cost of living in Bermuda and how we got here, and educate herself in why there is a desperate need for an living wage vs an affordable wage, maybe reality of really hearing what we face in Bermuda in the majority, may be a wake up call, I have heard the spill before about your fore-parents and their advice, and it still don’t change the realities of what is being really done to the majority in this country, and while you are at it, do a research on Black women in this country who from a pay scale have taken the greatest hit economically, and why do white men and white women still out number them in the pay scale area, but yet we have more black personalities in these positions, but make no were as near as the white women or males.

    • 2 Bermudas says:

      There you go again assuming every white person is rich or comes from money. Do you honestly think black people live worse nowadays than people who went through the Great Depression?!

      Keep drinking de titty milk!!

      • Onion Juice says:

        Maybe not rich or came from money, but they had a better chance of getting a loan from the banks and better paid jobs.
        And if they work along side a Black person they made much more money (and it still happens today) with same qualifications.
        And when Black People protested for equal pay as their white counter parts, there was no support from the white community so they endorced the injustice.
        Get your head out of your @$$ and face reality.

        • Question says:

          It isn’t “reality”. It’s a freak cartoon world you and your ilk make up in your head. It’s total bu*ls*eet.

        • 2 Bermudas says:

          Keep drinking de titty milk… You have no clue. Ha ha ha!!

        • OJ says:

          ” they had a better chance of getting a loan from the banks and better paid jobs.”

          True in most countries, except Bermuda.

          “And if they work along side a Black person they made much more money (and it still happens today) with same qualifications.”

          Absolutely false…another lie by Onion breath to further his racist agenda.

          “Get your head out of your @$$ and face reality.”

          Please do, OJ…you’re really losing it here, you should be locked up.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      So Dwayne , you had your two cents now here’s someone elses.
      Are there any whites in your company with the same qualifications , seniority and work performance as you that earn more than you ?
      And you’ve also been around long enough to know full well , if you’ve been paying attention , that maybe this lady should next write an article about cultural differences in finances as well .
      Know what I mean ?

    • question says:

      I grew up living in public housing and rented accommodation. My father made a living as a driver. My mother was a low-level office worker. We didn’t have foreign holidays, or new cars, or fancy private educations. So you can take the talk about how ‘all white people are privileged’ and shove it where the sun don’t shine, Duane.

      • Onion Juice says:

        Oh boy, sombody’s chain got yanked.

        • Toodle-oo says:

          Just as your chain gets yanked when you get called out for your constant history revisionism and lies .
          I just LOL @ U though .

        • Question says:

          You just can’t take the truth. You’re not happy unless you’re a pathetic victim.

          • OJ says:

            “Pathetic victim” is the only skill he has.