What’s Your Money Story? (Part 1)
We all have one. It’s as unique as our own fingerprint. And, the impact on us today might be greater than we realize.
It’s taken me time and serious reflection to figure out my own money story. I’m going to share the “short and sweet” version with you today with the hope that you will start thinking about your own story. Once you figure it out, your money behaviours, both healthy and unhealthy, may start to make sense. Only then, can you make positive change to eliminate the unhealthy ones and make the most of your money.
Growing up, my parents were the king and queen of thriftiness. I admit that it caused me much embarassment. In my family, money was treated like a very scarce resource. Mom and Dad were practical, hard-working people (products of the depression) and extremely careful with their money. Shopping was considered a chore to be done when we NEEDED something; not an activity for enjoyment when my sisters and I wanted something. My parents rarely purchased anything unless it was on sale; discount stores were my mother’s best friends. The main message drilled into my head from a young age was that money doesn’t grow on trees. Materialism was always frowned upon. Much to my parents’ credit, they were very happy with their life and choices. They couldn’t care less what others thought of their spending habits.
I wish I could say the same. I hated feeling “poorer” than my friends. As a pre-teen, I often felt that my clothes, appearance, activities and possessions never quite measured up. While this sounds terribly and inappropriately materialistic to my adult self, I couldn’t shake this feeling back then. I also learned to believe, rightly or wrongly, that spending is BAD and saving is GOOD. I began to crave having money of my own. By the time I was eleven, I jumped at the chance to babysit and do odd jobs around the house for money. Once I hit sixteen, I “graduated” to a part time job at McDonalds and a slight increase in income. This was heaven. The ability to earn my own money and spend it however I desired was really important to me. Looking back, perhaps money became an unhealthy obsession?
These ingrained beliefs from childhood can be hard to shake and can hold us back, even as intelligent, capable adults. Is spending really bad and saving really good? It feels great to finally recognize the faulty logic of this belief. To this day, it still can sneak up on me if I’m not watching. But I’m better now at giving myself permission to spend, especially on the things that matter to me. Even today, money is a bit of a security blanket. When I have it, I feel comfortable. When I’m spending it, I can feel scared or vulnerable. Sounds crazy, right?
Whatever your story is, I’m sure it’s quite different from mine. I hope you can figure it out; it’s surprising what you might learn if you’re honest with yourself. And, the benefits are substantial. Even simple changes can help you better enjoy the money you have.
A word of caution: Be careful when you judge people’s money habits. You don’t know their story. When their behaviour differs from yours, give them some credit and be understanding. Your relationships might thank you!
Stay tuned for next week’s sequel: What I Learned From My Money Story (Part 2)