We each have at least one money story.
I’ve heard many. Every single one is interesting and telling- even if it’s as simple as someone describing their family drives every Sunday afternoon when they would drive higher-end neighborhoods imagining life in the bigger houses and along the tree-lined streets.
Money quickly becomes much more than a coin in one’s pocket. It often starts with a want or a need that requires money at some point along the way. We want an ice cream or a candy bar and we learn that we can’t just go into a store and take one. We need to pay for it. We need milk or gas for the car and eventually learn that things are priced differently. Our little minds start to understand how money plays a role in family dynamics – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
What is your money story? If you can’t answer right away, close your eyes and think back on your earliest memory of money. One woman told me that she proudly handed her $5 to the bank teller only to be told, “Is that all?” She remembers that to this day. Another woman shared how she had no idea that they were poor until a camp counselor told her she no longer qualified for the program she loved because they were “just above the poverty line.”
Our money stories become a guidance system whether we’re aware of them or not. They can whisper messages of belonging or what to trust or not trust. They can direct our path like that of the 13-year-old boy whose father dies or walks out and leaves the son taking on far more responsibility than he expected or planned for. They can echo in the background, telling us that we will never be rich because “people like us don’t live like that.”
If you have a money story, please share it. Journal about it. Talk about it with a loved one. Ask others about their money memories. I guarantee that a long conversation will follow along with some surprises and maybe even some insights. It could be the beginning of a longer tale – and one that deserves to be told.