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Parents ask son to save money after they were homeless and poor

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If you want to save money then don’t wait until things come crashing down and you need that money, do it now!

Being homeless and poor is not something to take lightly because it happens all around us. For those who have survived and experienced this life many go on to motivate others how NOT to land themselves on the streets.

Today’s fan question shares some deep secrets about the time his parents found themselves living on the streets with no savings and nowhere to go.

It’s either the parents writing to me or their children because for one reason or another money is a big problem. It doesn’t matter whether you are a student or have a high-profile job if you don’t know where your money is going it’s your own fault when you don’t have anything at the end to show for it all.

I’m not talking “stuff” either. I’m talking about cash and investments. If you earn money you should have some sort of system to save money and budget or in the least know your expenses and track them.


Life Choices


It seems from my experience with fan questions that either the parents don’t want to listen to what their kids have to say or the kids don’t want to listen to the parents. It all boils down to communication and what is right for the person at each stage of their life.

I can tell you that if you want to budget you are definitely on the right track to getting your financial house in order. You are also on the right blog because we live and breathe budgeting as it’s a BIG part of our life.

If you don’t care about how much money you have, will have or are spending then that’s the choice you make. Sure you may end up with a positive number in your bank account BUT you likely could have had so much more if you would have documented your journey with a budget.

I’ve said it once before that no business I know can survive without an accountant or someone budgeting the money. Treat your finances like a business that you are the CEO of and you will succeed.

Today this young man like many who write me have parents who clearly care about his future because they’ve lived through something they never want him to experience, life on the streets.

I’ve been called lots of things but “dude” here at CBB is new!!  That’s fine I can handle dude but it’s Mr.CBB just for the record.

Hey dude,

My mom and dad are a bit obsessed with saving money for their retirement and they want me to follow in the same financial footsteps they did.

I must admit my parents have a nice home and have always provided for me so it’s clear that their frugal living lifestyle has worked for them. My parents did manage to squeeze into our heated conversation that it wasn’t always easy.

Apparently they were homeless once when they were dating with nowhere to go and no money in the bank. They only had their clothes in a suitcase.

The place they were renting was the basement apartment of a house and the owners kicked them out because he needed the space for “personal reasons”. They had one weeks notice to move.

They found themselves homeless with $150 to their name and no saved money to get access to in case of an emergency. It was then they realized they had to make some serious changes in their lives.

They managed to get off the streets with that $150 and crashed at a friend’s house until they could save cash to rent a new apartment.

My dad said it was that $150 that changed their lives and he wants to make sure I understand that life with almost nothing is the hardest thing they’ve had to endure as a couple.

What bothers me is when they hound me about why I should save money. I work hard for my money and frankly I don’t owe money to anyone. Don’t get me wrong I get it but I’m still young and live at home.

This is a little about me.

I’m 19 and heading to University next year and working full-time this year as a waiter. My parents will fund my education and a portion of my living expenses. I need to come up with the remainder of the money. I’ll be moving away from home for approximately 4 years.

I found your blog when I was looking for a student budget two months ago because my parents in a round-about way told me if I didn’t start budgeting while I was young I’d likely blow through my money and end up poor.

I don’t know if that would actually happen but it scares the crap out of me. I don’t want to live like some of my friends do with their families on welfare or those complaining they have no money. I want a life where I can travel, afford anything with a decent career and income. Ambitious I know but I that’s what I want.

I think my dad knows my shopping habits as I like to dress well and don’t mind spending money to buy good stuff. I have no idea how to use a budget or where to begin and why I’m finally emailing you today. I honestly can’t believe I’m emailing for help as it’s not like me at all.

My savings account right now has about $3500 in it and my dad said that it should have lots more considering the tips I make and my net income. That and I don’t pay for anything. I guess he’s right. I do blow my money.

I haven’t bought a vehicle yet as I can’t afford one now but thought maybe I’d worry about that when I’m done University. I’m planning on working at least part-time as a waiter or bartender while in school to earn extra money.

I’d like to own a home one day and start a family but I’m not even near considering those options at this time. My dad says I should keep them in the back of my head and start preparing for it now saving little by little while I have no debt.

I don’t know maybe they are right I should save money and start thinking about my future. Why the rush though? Can’t I start when I’m done studying?

Do I really need to budget if I am debt free?

Sorry so many questions but I’m hoping you or the fans can help me out.

Thanks for any advice.


Hey dude… (haha) just kidding!

Hi Steven,

Thanks for sending me an email this past weekend wanting help with your parent’s advice but mostly your budget.

The student budget has been very popular at CBB and no wonder because so many students have heard how many of their brothers, sisters and even friends have come out of school with a pile of debt. You’re very fortunate your parents are helping you financially with your education. Never forget that.

If you want to save money your parents are right you should really start the budgeting process now while you were young. Just reading the bit about how they were homeless with only $150 to their name was scary but motivating to read how they managed to get out of that mess.

It sounds to me that lots of money lessons were learned by your parents from that experience. Give them some credit when they share that story with you. Not all parents have hard-core experience like that to use as motivation towards their children to save money.

I’m the first to admit that I didn’t budget when I was in University but it also wasn’t something my parents did or pushed me to do. I’m pretty sure had they of told me about budgets back then I would have given them a go just because I loved to save money.

When I was 21 I bought my first house and you know what, it was a great feeling knowing I owned something. It was scary because at any time if I didn’t pay my mortgage I risked losing my house. I was fortunate that my parents pushed me to save money and to watch how I spent my money.

In an undercover type of way I guess that was like budgeting my money without a budget. I held on to money for dear life and only spent it on necessities not “wants“. Having said that moving forward many years my wife and I are now mortgage free and have zero debt under the age of 40.

I will tell you without a doubt in my mind that if we hadn’t budgeted our money or in the least watched how we spent it we wouldn’t be here today with a net worth over $600,000 and no debt. It takes hard work and it won’t fall into your lap, not even close unless you win the lottery. Odds are slim.

My wife and I both had to pay for our own education and had to work while we were in school. It was tough but we did it. Partying was made only a small part of our lives so we were able to save money rather than go out and blow it with our friends.

Over the years we continued to live a frugal lifestyle because we saw how our bank account was growing and we really liked seeing those numbers grow. Simple and frugal living doesn’t mean you need to be cheap either. It’s a learning process that you will latch onto along the way.

I don’t know if we would be poor if we didn’t save money but I can tell you that we wouldn’t be where we are. A budget is a great idea and I support anyone who wants to use it 110% BUT it’s up to you.

Only you can define what “poor” means to you and if that means you are left homeless or you have no food and have to rely on the food bank and welfare system is up to your own discretion.

For others being poor might mean they can’t go on holidays twice a year like their friends do. So it’s all about interpretation.

I’m sure your parents who were at one point homeless just want the best for you and aren’t trying to scare you as much as motivate you to not have to experience life on the streets like they did.

I know many people who come out from having debt and NEVER want to go back because they learned how horrible it can be when creditors are calling, utilities are shut off and nowhere to turn but bankruptcy or government agencies.

Budgeting is fairly straightforward and I have a 10 Step Budgeting System that we wrote in the early days of the blog. I should probably go back one day and do a full overhaul and update but for now the basics of what we did is written in those blog posts.

I know you said you came here to get a student budget and I wrote a post about students and budgeting that I hope you will read.

You can go on to download our budget free which has all the instructions as little notes around the budget to help you out. If you have any questions you can email me and I’d be happy to help you out.

My three tips to you….




Only you know what you want from life so take a step back and write out your goals. I can guarantee you that they will change and with change that means you must always keep on top of your budget.

No one needs to know you are budgeting unless you tell them and if you don’t have the cash to hang out with your friends, you don’t. You can’t steal from the emergency savings pot to go out drinking or you will never learn the idea behind “emergency”.

Your parents want you to be safe and save money in the bank or in other investments so they don’t have to worry about their son as they age.

Even though you might not want them to they will. They are your parents after all and knowing that you are financially safe will make them happy knowing they did the best they could to send you in the right direction. .

Not all kids listen but maybe you can be the one that does. Who cares what everyone else is doing… this is for You!


Save Money


This is always the hardest part next to keeping receipts to fill out the budget. If you want to save money you need to put an effort into spending less than you earn. I’ve written so many articles over the years on saving money that I suggest you give them a read.

Even though it may seem like a task you aren’t willing to take on trust me asking for receipts and keeping them organized gets easier as you go along. Once you see your savings grow you will know that asking for a receipt is money in your pocket. Nothing to be shy about.


Motivate Yourself


There will be times you want to give up but do your best not to. Budgeting is like dieting where it takes effort and time to see results.

Since you have no debt right now you should start to see your savings grow once you get your budget put together provided you keep realistic numbers and pay yourself in the process.

If there ever comes a time where you don’t want to continue think of everything you want out of life and ask yourself if it’s worth tracking your money for.

The push you might need would be to volunteer at the local Food Bank or a Soup Kitchen because maybe just maybe putting yourself in the environment might help you to understand just how tough life is for some people. It may not have been their choice but for some reason that is where life has taken them.

A budget might not be your forever but it will certainly be a platform to get your mind thinking about money, frugal living and ways to save money in all aspects of life.

Your parents are looking out for you and even though they are going to the extreme it’s because they’ve been there so trust them because they do love you.

What other tips do you have for Steven about budgeting and saving money even though he has no debt?


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  1. Hello Steven,
    Your lucky to be starting out with budgeting in mind and that you have no debt…. Problem is that right now you have it easy – its easy to be debt free when you have few financial responsibilities. Its not until your in the thick of paying tons of bills and trying to plan buying a house or a special trip that you will truly find out just how important a budget is. Its not just about Saving money – Its about knowing where your money is and where its going. Its about being able to plan months to years ahead with Confidence, because you have financially prepared for emergencies etc.

    Starting now, you will be able to give yourself a real chance to learn about your finances and build a substantial savings/emergency fund (You will never ever regret having this! Ever) hopefully long before you end up in a situation where you have to have it working for you Now – because sometimes things happen in life. Good luck out there.

  2. Steven, I agree you should budget! Budgets are amazing! (I really like budgets)

    You don’t have debt, which is great, but you’ve got a few years of expenses coming up with only part time income coming in. If you’re trying to motivate yourself to do a budget when you’re living at home, try to estimate what your student income and expenses will be. Figure out how much you’ll have to spend. You’re young and you want to blow your money. That’s ok. If it fits in your new budget.

  3. Saving money is a good thing to do. My husband and I were doing quite well a few years ago. That was then. He was off work for 10 months after a fall while trying to re-do our roof. Not only did we suddenly not have any wages coming in we had to pay someone to finish the job. We were still trying to recover from that when hubby became ill 2-1/2 years ago. You think it won’t happen to you??? Think again Sweetheart….. It can and it does. He has had to retire early as he can’t do the job he had before. He was diagnosed with something called Amyloidosis, feel free to google that one. It’s not cancer as such but it gets treated with chemo. He is stable these days but he has no endurance now. I am caregiver. Any savings we had were spent surviving. What you get from the government isn’t much but I stretch it as far as I can to get through the month. …… Nothing in this life is for sure….you can’t count on things being sunshine and roses forever. Best plan for those times when life hands you lemons to get you through looking for lemonade recipes…..

  4. I think it’s great that Steven is asking for help. I am always shocked to learn that people don’t have budgets, although I do know that this is quite common. Since Steven is living at home for free, I think he should start contributing financially. I believe this is a great way to learn the value of money and how to handle it. If you have absolutely no expenses, I can see how your full income could quite easily be thought of as “fun” money. But, like I said, it’s great that Steven is looking for help. I wish him success.

    1. I agree that many people Don’t have a budget and then wonder about debt and how they got there. If you know exactly where your money is going and how much you are bringing in you should be able to make a financial decision as to whether you can afford something or not. I agree maybe he should start contributing to get the feel for paying for rent.

  5. Should you budget even if you don’t owe any money? Absolutely!

    There are a few necessities that require money: food, shelter, and clothing. These are not optional. Anything other than these IS an optional expenditure, and you need to cut them down (or cut them out completely) while you’re a student.

    When your income is small (or non-existent), you have to adjust your expenses accordingly. Don’t get used to buying expensive clothes and blowing money, because it will make it that much more difficult to save while you’re in school!

    Anyone can outspend their income [as demonstrated in my article on the Millionaire Mindset: Being debt-free is a great start, but it’s just that–only a start. If you want to be able to afford anything, you’ll have to save money, which means doing without some optional expenditures. Instead of spending $70 on a stylish pair of jeans or $50 on a name-brand hoodie, use what you have already! That doesn’t mean dressing poorly–it’s just a wise use of the items you already have!

    Hang out with friends instead of shopping–it doesn’t require spending money, it will make you feel more fulfilled than buying stuff, and it will save you money (as long as you’re not “hanging out” by shopping or eating out). For the immediate future until you get to college, commit to spending no more than 50% of your paychecks. Just put that remaining 50% in savings immediately; pretend you never even earned it. Once you adjust to this, you’ll find that it’s much easier to adjust to living on a meager income. It’s just good practice; you never know what costs will pop up unexpectedly. Prepare beforehand, and you won’t have to worry about money–ever! 🙂

  6. All I can say is that if I knew then what I know now, my life would be so much different. I’m taking this year to try and put a big dent into my debt and have plans to have the majority of it (if not all) gone within the next 3 years. I live with the uncertainty of my company which helps with my motivation of killing my debt so I can have a life before death.

    I didn’t grow up with a budget or even parents talk about budgets. When I moved out, I had to ask my mom about how much is reasonable for groceries because it wasn’t something that was discussed. I heard stories about them working 2 or 3 jobs and how my dad paid for our house in 3 years and even making the payments early, if possible. So I grew up with frugality but never knew that it was that. Due to my childhood, I am open with my daughter about my finances so she can witness how hard work pays off and “real” life can begin. Only time will tell if my lessons will pay off.

  7. Steven, I was taught to budget starting with my first ever “allowance”. It became so second nature that as soon as I had my first job, 18% went to my RRSP every year. It’s a good thing too! I have no pension plan for my retirement and those RRSP savings will be the difference between my living above and below the poverty line when I retire. I also max out hubby every year on his RRSP as well as our TFSA’s. For us, that’s a $30,000+ savings BILL every year and I say BILL because it simply is not optional. I am very much of the mind that you pay yourself first…who else is going to? Those savings come off right away, every single pay day and even when we have had no pay day we’d moved funds from taxable to non taxable assets. Hubby went back to school to re-train but we still maxed out his RRSP and that’s no small task when only one of you is working. It depends on how you want to live down the line. Do not count on someone else to provide for you! What if CPP/OAS/GIS are all discontinued and you aren’t lucky enough to have an employer indexed pension? You say you just don’t retire. Ha! What if you are downsized, outsourced and/or just eliminated from your position at 40+ and can’t find alternative work?? Part of becoming an adult is to be ready to stand on your own 2 feet no matter what life dishes up to you. Carpe Diem…seize the day! Now is the time for all good and responsible men to start building their future. Good luck!

    1. Now I will say, a budget also means we save for the “threads” we want and we “travel” regularly (sometimes 5 trips per year) because we own our home, we own our vacation property and we have absolutely no debt whatsoever. How did we get there? Budget, budget, budget. Hubby is in his early 50’s, works within walking distance of our home and is sitting mighty prettily if you ask me! Was it always easy, no. But if you stick to it under all conditions and do whatever you have to do to make it happen, you can have ALL that your heart desires. While hubby re-trained I was working TWO (2) full time 40-hour a week jobs. It was exhausting but it was worth it in the end. 🙂 Anything worth having is not easy but there’s 3 things to remember: 1. start the process, 2. don’t quit when it’s difficult and 3. don’t blow it in celebration once you meet your goals. We have the money right now to take a pretty nice trip to Europe but I am waiting for hubby to retire for that one. This years trips…I save every single pay day, clip coupons, sign up for email discounts, attend free activities and festivals, use air miles and reward points to cover the airfare, car rentals and hotel rooms + 2 meals a day included with the hotel. A little gas for our rental car and our lunches, snacks and spending money are all that we spend on vacations. It sure makes travel affordable. 🙂 It’s all in the planning and budgeting. 🙂

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