When I was growing up, my parents didn’t have a whole lot of money. Were not poor, but we also weren’t wealthy. The money my parents did make was hard earned, carefully counted, and wisely spent. Like a lot of American families, our day to day lives and how we lived was greatly dictated by what the finances said. I didn’t know much about it but I knew it wasn’t endless and I knew we needed it to live. So in my barely teenage brain, money mattered. A lot.
Then enter Fernando. He was the cute boy that liked to take me for lunch or ice cream around the mall. When I saw a trinket that I admired but wasn’t able to buy, Fernando was always happy to snap it up for me. See, Fernando had a J-O-B. And want he earned was all spending money for himself.
I remember the day I had my eye on some sparkly thing and he noticed the lust in my eyes as I stared at it. “Get it. I’ll buy it for you” he said. Not wanting to take advantage of this giving boy, I said to him, “No it’s okay. It’s too much and I don’t want you to spend all of your money on me.” That’s when he said the words I have remembered all this time.
“No. Its just money. So what if I spend it. I’m going to spend it no matter what anyway. I’ll go to work tomorrow and make more. Its not going to make me happy by just sitting in my pocket.”
“But you will run out.”
“Like I said, so what, its just money. If I run out I’ll go make more another day.”
What???? What was this strange, foreign thing he was saying? Its JUST money?!
But what if it was, just money. What did this money do anyway? It folded, it was generally cold and wrinkled, and frankly, a bit stinky. Why did we even trade for this stuff? And green? Really?
This is not to say that money has no importance. He was not saying to go and spend everything you have on junk you will never need. He was not saying savings isn’t needed. I understood. He was saying that I was putting too much value on something that is supposed to only be a tool in life. A great convenience, similar to the way a car can get you from one place to the other with more ease than walking.
Just like that, me and money took our relationship to a whole new level. It took my perspective on money from having it placed at the near top of my “Important Things in Life” list to its proper place, closer to the mid bottom. It takes its place now after time with my children playing games, after laying around watching a movie on T.V with my husband, and after sleeping in on Saturday just because I want to. Its value is below the pursuit of a higher education, below raising up loving and confident children, and below a healthy and happy family. And I work hard to keep it there.