This is my contribution to Connected Recollections, the journal collaboration project for the MEMOIR webring. The topic this month is:
What was your first real encounter and understanding of money?
Did you receive allowances, and what did you do with them? Were you a saver? Did you believe money grew on trees? Did you believe money to be evil? Did you believe wealth equals power? Did you worry about your parents' finances or were you sheltered from financial worry? What money lessons have influenced how you spend, invest and think about money?
This entry was inspired by Money Money Money, the August 20th entry of Exposure, written by recently returned journaller Matt Sturges; quoted and commented upon with his permission. According to Matt, it wasn't written for the collab but is just a freaky (my word) coincidence. Has the journalling community started to channel each other's thoughts?
Matt relates attitude toward money to upbringing and childhood experiences. I beg to differ.
I too was brought up middle-middle class. My father made a good living as a salesman and my mother stayed home and brought in some money by running a small import business, and later, typing transcripts for a court reporter. I think she needed something to do more than she needed the money.
Vacations were two or three weeks in the summer, usually in deluxe rooms at a Catskill hotel; occasionally we went to New York or Florida in the winter. I remember once staying on the 48th floor of the then Americana Hotel in Manhattan, and once at the City Squire. My parents did not skimp on comfort away from home.
I don't recall ever being denied anything for monetary reasons - but I always had simple tastes. I needed books and records and portable radios more than expensive clothes or jewelry. If I had the use of my mother's car, why would I need my own? If my TV set worked, I was happy.
I am a saver. I always was. If I wanted something I would research the best price. I'm able to occasionally splurge but have to make a conscious effort to do so. How did I turn out this way, growing up in a very comfortable home? The same way two of Hubby's three siblings turned out to be spenders, coming from a necessarily frugal household.
(Hubby and I think alike when it comes to money. Whatever problems there may be, that isn't one of them.)
I think attitude towards money is more a basic personality issue than a learned response. I can't explain it any other way. I think that genes determine a great deal, including how a person will respond to environmental conditions - thus, having to scrimp and save has different effects on different people.
The basic dichotomy is this: to me, spending money is an expression of freedom. You work hard at your job, so you can have the freedom to go and do things you want to do and have the things you want to have. You could die tomorrow, and then all that money you saved turned out to have been good for nothing. You have to live, at least partially, for today. To the Wife, however, saving money is an expression of freedom. Every penny you save means that you’re that much further from desperation. The more money you have in the bank, the safer you are. To her, the worst thing about money would be running out of it. To me, the worst thing would be having it and not being able to spend it.
I had never stopped to consider what motivates people who freely spend their money. I never thought that spending freely was a choice, in the same way that saving is; I thought it was an absence of restraint, if I thought about it at all. The freedom analogy works; I'd also relate it to what makes the person least uncomfortable. Being reassured that you are worth something in the sense of being able to purchase it, perhaps? These are all new thought processes for me.
Money isn't the only currency that we spend or save. Our health is another.
In his very next entry, Matt talks about quitting smoking. He harnessed the energy of his self-professed hypochondria to work for him and enable him to do the responsible thing. I, au contraire, refuse to consider the consequences of my bad habits (mostly, eating whatever I please and never getting around to exercising) because I feel fine, right now, and I might as well enjoy myself today since I could get hit by a bus tomorrow.
Does it make any sense to carefully guard one's money but be cavalier about one of the few things that money can't buy? Absolutely not. Am I going to change my ways? Maybe. Can't be any more definite than that.
I gave in to temptation and set up a weblog. It won't be heavy on links (I save those for the Linque du Jour) but on minutiae. My bowling scores can go there, as can my weird search engine hits; random thoughts (maybe even deep ones?) while I'm at the computer, which is most of the time. Kind of an Inertia-Lite. More Pauline, less filling. There's also one of those time & temperature buttons and a newsfeed of Canadian headlines; all the stuff not fit to print here.
You guys are going to love this:
A site devoted to old (pre-television!) radio. Yes, there was life before TV. I don't personally remember it but so I'm told. What they did before radio was invented, I can't imagine.
Anyway, this has information about old programs and books for collectors, pictures, links, software, discussion lists, AND best of all, sound clips from various shows and commercials! There's a special section for children's shows, too.
This is bound to bring back the good old days!