Bankrate: What was your money environment growing up?
Sue Grafton: My father was a municipal bond attorney, but he was not good about setting money aside. I don't think we ever had insurance. If he got tight for money, he knew all the bankers so he would just go down and get some at the bank. When I was 12 years old, I had credit cards and I would go downtown after school and spend money. I would come home and I would say to my father, "Gee, Daddy, I just bought these five outfits," and he would ask how I paid for them, and I would say, "With a credit card." And he would say, "Oh, that's not like spending money." Which he did tongue in cheek, but in a sense he meant that. I have no idea what our financial situation was because we lived in a quite old, decrepit house, but I think there was always ample. But it had this peculiar freedom attached to it; it was not money in the way most people think of money.
Bankrate: So you were carrying credit cards at a time when most adults didn't have them.
Sue Grafton: Exactly, and yet I don't think we lived on credit by any stretch. In fact, I think my father paid cash. I was really very ill-informed about the family finances, but I always felt quite secure.
Bankrate: Did those cards warp you for life?
Sue Grafton: Well, I have noticed in life that it is always better to have money, and quite a lot of it is better than just a little bit. But we pay as we go. My husband, who now manages our finances, is just fabulous at investing and conserving. We pay cash for cars. It has carried over into my life as an adult, but by the same token, I know very little about the status of our finances. I just know we're comfortable.