Save. Spend. Splurge.

Two Short Stories I Learned About Money As a Child

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:


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.



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.


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?



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.


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.



  • Shivansh

    Nice stories…

  • Msmoneymaximiser

    I can fully relate to this situation as I have experienced something similar. Lesson learned where I know a parent or family member has a problem with money I NEVER put it in their hand. If I know what it’s for and I’m inclined to give, I’ll go and get the item for fear of it going elsewhere.
    I’ve also learned to say no to bailing people out of financial situations they won’t take responsibility for.

  • Taylor Lee @ Yuppie Millennial

    Wow, your dad sounds like a piece of work.

    I learned from my parents what a bad failure mode looks like when disagreements about money arise. It’s helped me learn that I need to select a partner who I can trust with money, and that there are ways to argue about money that are productive vs. ways to argue about money that causes the other person to shut down completely.

  • raluca

    Yeah, our parents teach us so much by example, even if the lessons they pass on are not exactly the ones they meant to pass on.

    My parents taught me to eschew consumerism because they always spent their money on consumption and they never had a lot of money. My father worked 2 jobs for 15 years, not because we didn’t have enough money, but because we always had to have more. Always new clothes, always an update for the house, always more. My mother, to this day, has a wardrobe full of clothes but nothing to wear, because her body changed, but she can’t bear to throw things away, they cost a lot, you see. Also, they don’t really have a lot of savings besides their pensions.

    I feel that because I almost never got to see my father growing up, I am so money oriented. The trade-off was clear to me, even when I was 10 years old: if you don’t have money, you have to spend all your time getting some. And it was equally clear to me what a rotten deal it is to put in all that time for an extra dress or some pair of shoes. I remember telling my dad when I was 12 years old that I’d rather not have the new clothes but have him at home for more time. He probably didn’t want to listen to a child, but rather to his wife.

    I’m not judging my parents, they did what they thought was best and they definitely did not mean us harm, but the lessons they didn’t mean to teach will stay with me until my grave.

  • NZ Muse

    What a betrayal – to think that you can’t trust your own parents with your money. My experience on that front has been quite different – discovering mine had kept my paper route money, and added to it, which then was given back to me toward my house. At the same time, they have in the past used financial threats as a form of manipulation, so, yeah.

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