Family finance lessons: Punk rock professor Greg Graffin

The most important lessons we learn about money don’t come from our accountants or our radios. They come from our family. 

Each week, we invite someone to tell us about the money tips they inherited.  

This week, we hear from Greg Graffin, best known as the lead singer of punk band Bad Religion. Founded over 30 years ago, the band is still at it, this year putting out both an album of original songs — True North — and a just-released (and somewhat tongue-in-cheek) Christmas album. “The longevity of our band has been a shocking success to everybody who looks at it,” says Graffin. 

Less well known is his long career as an academic, with a master’s in geology and  a Ph.D. in biology, and a job lecturing in evolutionary biology at Cornell University. “That was something that was probably driven from my upbringing in an academic household,” says Graffin. His father was a professor of English; his mom a professor of English and educational psychology, as well as university administrator. 

He may be financially comfortable thanks to music, but the values that have kept him from spending it all are decidedly less punk rock. 

“I never purchased fancy sports cars, and so instead you go and you buy a house a little earlier than your peers,“ he says. “I was, I would say, somewhere between a well-paid professor and a university president in my values.”

What did your parents teach you about managing money? Comment below, through the Public Insight Network, on our Facebook page or tweet us @LiveMoney.

About the author

Stan Alcorn is a multimedia journalist in New York City. He has reported for NPR and WNYC, where he has focused on business and the New York tech scene.

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