Most people have a distinct memory when they learned about money. Mine was when I was eight years old and wanted a tent. My Mom took me to Kmart to look at the selection. I found an awesome six person tent that I had to have. The only problem was it cost $100. (Side story, I have a vivid memory of learning about taxes too. I saved up all of my Christmas money for a Nintendo NES. Back then it cost $99.99. I saved up $100 and had my parent’s OK to buy it. Then they asked me about the 6% sales tax. I needed another $6! I thought it was outrageous that I had to spend $6 extra for my Nintendo.) Back to my tent story, my Mom wasn’t buying me the tent. I needed to buy it myself. But she did offer to put it on layaway.
The idea was that I would do my weekly chores and when I got paid, she would take me Kmart to make a payment on the tent. The first week I earned $10. With the $20 that was put down to hold the tent on layaway, I needed another $70. At $10 per week, it was going to take me all summer to earn that tent! By the time I got it, summer would be over and I wouldn’t be able to use it.
So I ended up doing some extra chores the following week and earned $15. This continued for the next few weeks until I earned enough to pay for my tent. I still remember the smell of the tent and laying in it on summer afternoons creating comic books with my friend.
I consider myself lucky in that I had a foundation for personal finance when I was young. Sadly, most others do not. We learn our bad money habits from our parents and continue with them simply because we don’t know any better. If you are one who was not taught good personal finance skills, it is never too late to learn. You can become a better money manager and be able to afford the things you desire, be it a vacation, a house or retirement without unnecessary stress.
Going back to my Nintendo story, that money experience also had a profound effect on me. I can remember handing the cashier my $106 and getting a penny back. I think I realized more that $100 was a lot of money then as opposed to the tent. With the tent, it was $20 here, then $15. By making it a smaller amount, it didn’t seem so big. But handing over the $106 did seem like a big deal. Don’t get me wrong, I loved playing that Nintendo and blowing into it and the cartridges trying to get it to work. In fact, I’d love to get my hands on one again!
I urge you to learn all you can about personal finance. You will be better equipped to save money and make smart money decisions that will benefit you both now and in the years to come.
I’m interested to hear how you learned about money. Looking back, do you realize anything now that you didn’t then?