I was recently asked the question, “What is your first memory of money?” As I started to think back to my childhood, I made it to about age 5 when I remember swimming in a lake with my Mom and Dad. My Mom was sitting on the bank of the lake with my baby brother; I was splashing around in the shallow water with my Dad. My Dad would dive under the water and come back up with a silver dollar. I remember him pretending he had found a buried treasure chest full of them. He would hand the silver dollar to me, and I would run up and show my Mom and shout, “Look we found another one”. Then I would turn and run back into the water where my Dad would dive under the water and come up with another silver dollar. Little did I know at the time that my Dad had a pocket full of silver dollars and there was no buried treasure. But for me, at age 5, it was a real adventure. I cherish that memory, but i’m not sure I would have recalled it if I never would have been asked the question.
So lately, I’ve been asking just about everybody I meet that question? Many of the people we serve had parents who lost all of their savings during the Great Depression. And it’s interesting to hear how that loss impacted them. In some cases they remember their parents being very tight with money and saving everything they could get their hands on. In other instances they remember their parents adopted a “live for the day” mentality and didn’t save much because they figured they could lose it all at any time so what is the sense in saving. I’ve heard stories about how people remember their parents handing them a nickel to put in the offering plate every Sunday morning at church. One gentleman told me a story about walking down to the corner store when he was probably about six years old and buying two eggs with the six cents his mom had given him. Then on the way home the eggs broke, and he got in a lot of trouble.
Money has in many instances played an important role in shaping our client’s lives. One gentleman told me that over his working years he had “traded his life’s energy to accumulate wealth,” and how important it was to him not squander his life’s energy “in the pursuit of meaningless things.” I really thought that was powerful, and it has stayed with me.
One of the things I love about the work I do is that I am able to ask our clients questions that help me understand and learn more about who they are and what is important them. These types of questions help me better understand the sacrifices that were made, the opportunities that were pursued and ultimately who they had to become in order to achieve their financial success.
What an honor it is to be in the position to be able to ask these questions. I often times say I am blessed to have the good fortune to learn important life lessons from some of the greatest people in all of Kitsap County.
I’m curious to know, what is your first memory of money?