There is no better way to tell a tale than to start at the beginning, and so to comprehend my current finances you must first understand my relationship with money. When I think back on my life, even back to the earliest years of childhood, I have very specific memories of money. Despite the fact that I lived in a middle-class, one-income, family I rarely remember going without as a child. So given that fact, it seems particularly odd that I would remember those rare occasions so vividly.
Take for example, my 9-year-old desire to play the piano. While all the other girls I knew wanted to join the band and play the flute or violin I desperately wanted to play the piano. Honestly, I can’t even remember where I got the inspiration, I don’t remember any of my friends or neighbors playing as a child. For months I begged my parents to buy me a piano and finally one Saturday afternoon we arrived at Stu’s music shop. I remember the way the store was laid out, how the pianos took precedence in the middle of the floor, while guitars and trumpets hung on the walls behind them. The keys looked so black and shiny that I couldn’t resist sitting before them and tapping. I’m sure, my parent’s wanted to fulfill my 9-year-old dream more than anything else in the world, but within moments of our arrival it was all to apparent that they could not afford a piano. I remember the expression on my parent’s faces as we walked out of the music store, minutes later, empty handed.
Although I didn’t realize it at the time, in that moment I formed a distinct association between pain and money. In this case, the pain my parent’s felt in disappointing me. There are other moments in my childhood, like this, that I remember. I’m sure if you think back to your childhood you too can recall incidents with money, whether positive, like the time my dad found money at the ocean, or negative, like the time I lost a roll full of quarters at the carnival.
Although my parent’s didn’t set out to teach me about money that Saturday afternoon, lessons were learned, and ideas unknowingly formed in my 9-year-old mind. I cannot say for certain how that moment affected my relationship with money, but I can say that as an adult I have always been particularly cognizant of the correlation between money and goals. Obviously, not all dreams require money, but many of them do, and so I make a conscious decision with every purchase, to spend today or save for the goals of tomorrow.
If you are reading this, I encourage you to think about your relationship with money and the memories and experiences that have formed those correlations. If the relationship is negative, now is your chance to reflect on it and change it. Looking back on that moment in the music store I could have formed a million different thoughts and feelings about money. Of all the lessons I could have learned, I chose to recognize that saving money can help me reach future goals, while spending will decrease my chance of reaching them.