The Winner of the August 2015 Call to Action!

The Winner of the August 2015 Call to Action!

renee-giddensYou have your mom's eyes and your dad's sense of humor, but you may also have inherited some less attractive qualities—like an impulse spending habit.

So, perhaps in one of those "I can't believe I'm turning into my parents" moments, you decided to change a particularly bad financial practice.

That kind of scenario was the inspiration for our August Call to Action question: What not-so-good financial habit did you inherit growing up—and how are you teaching your kids not to make the same mistake?

From lacking the discipline to save part of each paycheck to the desire to keep up with the Joneses, we got a variety of responses. Thanks to everyone who shared!

And congratulations to this month’s winner, who will receive $100 to help her achieve her financial goals: Renee Giddens, an executive assistant and office manager in Raleigh, N.C.


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Seeing her parents argue about saving and spending caused tension in the household, but it also helped Renee realize how she had to take control of her own budget—and find a partner with a similar financial outlook.

Now she's becoming a mom herself and already planning the lessons she wants to impart. Here's her story.

"My parents took turns with the checkbook, and every time it changed hands, there was a fight over how the money was spent during the not-in-control-person's month.

The problem was that they were on total opposite ends of the spectrum when it came to shopping. My mother was spoiled by grandparents while my father grew up somewhat poor, so purchases that my mom considered a need were seen as frivolous spending by my dad.

To make matters worse, my mom was very bad at balancing the checkbook. If the numbers didn't add up because she forgot to enter an expense, she would make a 'checkbook adjustment' and just show the bottom line.

Forgetting to enter an expense may or may not have been on purpose given the situation—whatever the case, it would infuriate my dad. The breakdown in communication would just continue to snowball.

But what was done was done; the money spent was spent.

I decided to take a different approach to money management when I was in high school and started making my own cash by working retail. I tracked my spending via Excel spreadsheets so I knew exactly where my earnings were going.

Learning from my parents' mistakes, I also made myself the promise that I would keep an open line of communication with my future spouse when it came to household spending and saving.

When I first met my husband, he had a lax attitude toward money management. But after he saw my spreadsheets, he realized how much he could save if he paid more attention to his own money. So, I offered to manage his money spreadsheet for him with his input. When we got married the spreadsheets merged, and we put our money pots together. It was a pretty easy transition.

Now my husband and I check in at the end of each month on our financial status. He can see from my projected spending spreadsheet when we will have certain items paid off and therefore more flex spending in our budget. We've also agreed on savings goals and future big ticket purchases.

My biggest takeaway from my parents is to stay on the same page about finances with my spouse and to let our kids see us communicate about our money—where it is, where it goes and where it needs to go in the future for both short-term and long-term goals. We don't want our kids to see us argue and fuss over our own money.

We're currently expecting our first child, so we haven't had much practice on passing along better money management skills just yet.

But we've already discussed some methods that we want to put into action, like a minimal weekly allowance for behaving and doing basic chores, plus the option to do more chores to earn extra money when working towards a purchase goal.

In addition to serving as good money role models to our little one, we'll definitely be incorporating smart financial management lessons along the way."

Thanks for sharing, Renee!


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