It’s funny isn’t it, as we strive to help other people we learn so much more about ourselves too.
The more I’m writing about my experience of bankruptcy (and I’m writing every day as I create e-books, courses, webinars, seminars and books) the more I’m learning about my attitude to money.
In years gone by I was taught to save for a rainy day by my mother, a former Building Society manager. But at the same time as saving I saw her scrupulously counting every penny that was spent and rarely treating herself to anything. This comes from her parents, my late grandmother’s father (that’s my great grandfather) was a very successful retailer who lost everything in the great depression of 1926. My grandmother went from having everything a young girl could possibly want to having to get by on whatever the family could cobble together. Naturally my mother grew up with the attitude “We have to save for a rainy day – we don’t know what’s around the corner”.
As a teenager I recall asking “What’s the point in saving so much to the extent that you can’t afford anything nice now?” I’ve always been someone who lives in the moment and believes the future will look after itself – somehow!
When I got my first job and hence my first bank account with a cheque book I had the attitude “I’ve worked hard for this money, I deserve to spend it”. I rarely saved anything but I had a whale of a time and somehow or other all my bills got paid and I managed to buy pretty much what I wanted, when I wanted. However, that’s not to say I spent like it was going out of fashion but needless to say the last week of every month was painfully long!
I guess that pattern continued until I became bankrupt. What’s interesting now though is that without any conscious change I seem to have changed my spending patterns considerably. I like to think I’m pretty adaptable and flexible and that I just naturally adapted to having significantly less money.
Or so I thought! It seems I now have a fear of spending money. In my e-books I share my resources and thoughts about coping with bankruptcy but I’m also still living as though I was shackled by the confines of quarterly reporting of my income and expenditure to my trustees. I shop with a list and stick to it meticulously. I use up all left-overs and instinctively buy cheaper brands even though I can now afford something better. If I want to spend more than I would have previously I ask the other half for his opinion, as if I’m asking for permission. I’ve lost count of the times he’s said to me “You don’t have to ask me if you can buy it – if you want it and can afford it, then buy it” And even then I hesitate.
It seems that now, at 40, I’m finally understanding the importance of saving for a rainy day.
I’m trying to teach my son about the value of money. Rather than give in to pester power, which isn’t easy but it’s worth persevering and continually saying no, they do learn eventually. I no longer hear “I want”, “Can I have” every time we walk into a shop, instead, by giving him weekly pocket money (not a huge amount but enough to make a 6 year old feel rich!) he now asks, “Can I take some money when we go shopping so I can buy a magazine/sweets/toy?” I don’t let him every time but each time I ask him “Do you really NEED it?” It’s surprising how often he says “No, I’ll save it”. And his rainy day is school holidays when I take him to the local Lego shop and let him buy the Lego of his choice (up to a pre-agreed budget).
He really looks forward to this and one school holiday to the next is far enough in the future for him to feel like he’s saving for ever. But the next thing I’m going to do is take a tip from Nancy Phillips’ website and blog www.zelawelakids.com and build a bank with him. Take a look at the site and see what you might be able to do to help teach your kids about money.
I’m hoping that my son will have a far healthier attitude to money than either my mother or myself. Somewhere inbetween I’d say is a happy medium. Wouldn’t you?
What’s your attitude to money? Do you have a story you’d like to share with me? You can share it with me at this link in confidence.