In country I was born in there were no credit, credit cards, direct depoists, banks, installments loans etc. A salary was paid by cash to everyone, no individual has bank account. We could have savings account which bore very small interest and managed by post office and of course reported to authorities. All bills were paid in post office in cash including housing (no morgages). If one made big purchase, he was allowed to pay it in installments but had to pay it in cash in the same shop where purchase was made. It is all different now and they have all credit and banking products.
My second country was a litttle more developed. When I started working over there I was asked my bank account number and was very reluctant to give them, so it was the first time when I was introduced to term "direct deposit".
Well, I worked and lived as I used in my first country. Some day I visited my bank and clerk offered me credit card. Of course, I knew a general concept behind credit cards, but no more. It took about half an hour to that clerk to convince me to agree to get credit card. I've got card in a mail, it had huge CL, about $6000 and was dormant like 3 years, till the moment when I needed to buy gas and had no cash. Latter,I was introduced to morgages, personal loans and car loans.
2.5 years ago I immigrated to the States (legally). I learnt about revolving balance a year ago from this board, I learnt about BT about 9 mos. ago from this board.
Turned out, that my undeveloped credit wise first country provided me with the best skills. Do not live beyond your means and do not carry balances.
Most of the details I learned from a combination of experience and logic: I'm good with numbers so given a few basic principles I can run scenarios on the computer quite easily. But the fundamental values I got from my parents, who grew up in the Great Depression so they understand the value and limitations of money. Aside from obvious stuff like being responsible and sharing with those less fortunate, the most important life lesson I got from my parents was that Doing is better than Having.
Another important thing I've learned is to figure out what works for me and my wife. We both have extremely demanding jobs that require intense focus on details, so we do not want to bring that sort of attention to our personal finances. So we deliberately choose to keep our major expenses far enough below our income that we can afford to allow impulses to drive our discretionary spending (within reason). Similarly, my wife and I have separate accounts to minimize the amount of day-to-day consulation. Finally, intelligent use of technology can make it much easier to keep on top of things: every weekend I pull up the list of payees in my online Bill Pay page, sort by Date Of Last Payment, and see who hasn't been paid yet this month. When I was paying with paper checks maybe once a year I'd forget a bill and get a polite reminder, but I haven't neglected a single payment since I switched to managing my finances online.
I learned ALL my bad habits from my family and as a result of that my experiences.
I wish I had better examples, but in all fairness my family did the best they could. Growning up in the projects of NY created some hard time. I was a good student and stayed out of trouble. My mom, who was a single mom did what she thought best to give me the best.
Me, not realizing at that age thought we "had it like that". From then on it was all she wrote. I mess my credit up to the point where I was in the LOW 400's. Still feeling the brunt of my "mis-education" I am on a mission to beat a system that is now preying on the hardest working people who make up America.
I have mentioned in an earlier post that I owe my high FICO scores largely to Suze Orman. For those of you who are Costco members, Suze has a fine article on page 17 of the January magazine, Costco Connection. Her new book, Suze Orman's 2009 Action Plan: Keeping Your Money Safe and Sound, looks excellent.
Postscript: I bought the book yesterday for under $6. This book came out after November 19, 2008 in time for the new year. If there is only one new book that you are buying, this is the one I would recommend. I would give it a helpful rating of 10.