Amy Tan with her husband Lou and mother Daisy in Beijing, China, in 1987.
Amy Tan with her husband Lou and mother Daisy in Beijing, China, in 1987. - 
Listen To The Story

The most important lessons we learn about money don’t come from textbooks, TV or even the radio. They come from our family.

Every week, we invite a prominent person to tell us about the money tips that they inherited. 

This week we hear from Amy Tan, author of “The Joy Luck Club,” who just published her first novel in eight years: “The Valley of Amazement.”

When Tan’s mother came to the United States, she left behind an opulent life with a wealthy family in Shanghai. “She left China to be the wife of a very poor minister, who earned fifty dollars a month, and he gave five dollars back to the church!” says Tan.  “So, she had a hard adjustment.”

Tan recalls that her mother had particular tastes for food and could tell when clothing was finely made, but was also insistent on never paying full price. “We were a family of bargains,” Tan says.

(courtesy of Amy Tan)

That trait is something Tan is still proud to display. “I could go through almost everything in this apartment,” she says, indicating the Chinese antiques and textiles that decorate her open loft in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood, “and tell you what bargain I got for it.” Indicating one of the chairs sitting nearby, she says that the set of six, with a table, came from Ebay for a hundred dollars.

“I think, you know, it matches with what my mother would say was good frugality,” Tan says. “She never looked at anything that I bought and say, ‘Oh you shouldn’t have bought that.’”

What did your parents teach you about managing money? Comment below, through the Public Insight Network, on our Facebook page or tweet us @LiveMoney. Also, we're asking listeners to tell us about their emergency savings. Tell us about your safety net below:

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.