Short stories…. as short as I can make it anyway.
Now, it has been many moons since I’ve been a child and my memory may be fuzzy but I have never forgotten these two lessons:
FIRST STORY: PAPER ROUTE MONEY
When I was a little kid and I had a paper route, I saved all my money from it so I could buy candy.
I was told / led into giving that money to my father for safe-keeping to stick in a bank account because having actual cash on-hand, they were afraid at 7 that I would lose it, or misplace it somehow.
When it came time for me to ask for my money that I had saved from my paper route from my father, I have a distinct feeling that I was not given everything, because he had taken some sort of cut from my earnings to pay himself back for raising me.
All I knew, was that I didn’t get everything I had saved.
From that day on, I never gave my money to my father again.
LESSON #1 NEVER LET ANYONE ELSE HANDLE YOUR MONEY
If you don’t know what you’ve given to someone else, entrusted to take care of for you, then you deserve to not get it all back.
Sure, my father was a cheat and he probably stole $20 – $50 out of my savings from my paper route to pay for incidentals like my food and so on, but it was my fault (even though I didn’t know it) for having given my money over to him in the first place.
I should have locked it up in a box in my room.
SECOND STORY: A PURSE FULL OF COINS
When I started handling my own money by myself, I remember taking a trip somewhere and having a purse full of coins and cash. I kept it very close to me, even sat on it in the car so that I could feel it under my butt and know that it was safe.
We stopped at a gas station to get out and take a break, and I carefully concealed my cash underneath two blankets so that it couldn’t be seen.
I went to the bathroom and came back to the car… only to find that my bag of money was gone.
After spending the whole day in the city crying, searching and totally upset that I had lost my bag of money (it was maybe $100), we were on the way back home and I was candy-less from not having had the money to buy any, whereupon my father produced the bag of money and told me he “found” it in the car.
Found? Or stole?
LESSON #2 ALWAYS KNOW WHERE YOUR MONEY IS
I should have carried it with me to the bathroom but I didn’t want to drop it or lose it, so I thought it was safe in the car.
You should always know where your money is.
When you get change back from a cashier, don’t just dump it in your bag and go.
Take the 30 seconds to carefully count that the change is correct, and put your money away.
Never leave it even where you think it’s safe. Always have it within your reach and your sight.
THE MAIN LESSON FROM ALL OF THIS
I have learned a lot more about what NOT to do with my money and how to manage it from my parents, as well as how to treat and deal with children than I ever learned about what TO do.
My mom told me the other day: I hope you really take care of Baby Bun. Teach him everything you know about money so that he learns all the good lessons that I never taught you.
The past is the past, but I’ll never forget these lessons.
This is why we’re making Baby Bun save his money in his RESP, and I will be carefully tracking the progress of his savings for him until he can do it on his own with our help.