My #Italian Grandma’s #Money Lessons Are More Fantastico Than Yours


(The following excerpt from My Grandma’s Money Lesson Are More Fantastico Than Yours by Beth Strojohann recently appeared on To view it in its entirety click on the link below.)

My grandma is awesome. Not just the cute, little old lady kind of awesome –- but the “I don’t give a heck what you think about me” kind of awesome.

There are a lot of lessons that a full- (and hot-) blooded Italian learns while growing up. Talking with your hands? Acceptable. Pulling over to the side of the road to knock on a stranger’s door and ask to pick figs off of their tree? Definitely OK. Accordion jam sessions in the backyard? Absolute musts.

Being Italian comes with fun life lessons, but having a grandma who emigrated from Italy has also provided me with some of the most practical money advice I can recall. There is a ton I’ve learned from her, but when it comes to money, these three lessons take the cake … or the cannoli, whichever you prefer.

1. Decide Where to Save and Where Use Those Savings to Splurge

To this day, my sisters and I still stand horrified at the kitchen sink while cleaning up after family gatherings. Not only are there pots and pans to be washed, but plastic plates, cups, utensils and Baggies — even Saran Wrap has made it into the mix a few times. My grandma is relentless when it comes to reusing things. And despite the heckling, the whining and the poking fun, she’s never backed down.

2. Be Persistent

Have an old set of pots where one has a scratch? My grandma is the master of negotiation. It doesn’t matter if the company doesn’t make the product anymore or if she bought it 15 years ago. This woman will pull out her files, search for the warranty, and demand a replacement item even if the warranty has expired. She’ll climb a customer service call center chain until she reaches the top, and can sweet-talk her way into a new vacuum, set of pots, or some other household appliance.

3. One Person’s Trash Is Another’s Treasure

My grandma started downsizing some years ago, which people often do when they age. What transpired over the following few years resulted in some holidays and birthdays to remember. Members of our family began to receive clean (but used) coffee cups with a $20 bill inside, or random blankets or knickknacks from around her house wrapped up in the guise of a birthday gift.

Ultimately, our families are a key part of our money histories and beliefs. Growing up exposed to good or bad habits can have their effects on us. My grandma always set an example by working hard and being tenacious, which my Dad picked up on and passed down to me. What kind of money lessons have you learned from your family?


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