When I was a kid, I loved playing outside, climbing trees, running around, playing kerb ball and rollerskating everywhere. I was a bit of a tomboy to be honest! I didn’t have tons of toys but I had enough to keep me busy.
I was thinking back to my childhood recently in relation to money matters and whether my early impressions of it have had any bearing on the way I’ve handled money over the years.
There are three key money memories – pearls of financial wisdom in fact – that stand out for me during my childhood.
Money memory no. 1 – giving money felt good
When I was around 5 years old, I knew that we paid for our shopping at the supermarket with money. My dad went out to work everyday and he told me that was how he earned money for our family. It dawned on me that my parents liked money. I knew this because they told me they were saving money to buy Christmas presents at Christmas time!
That same year, I decided that I wanted to get my parents something nice for Christmas. I didn’t know what though because I didn’t have a lot of money myself, being 5 years old and all. I wasn’t able to pop out to the shops just like that. But what I did have was a pile of copper coins (2p and 1p coins), so I stacked up 6 x 2p coins for each of my family members and wrapped them up in plain white craft paper and sellotape. Each family member received 12p from me on Christmas Day!
My family were over the moon with my gift to them (so it seemed) and I felt really happy to have made them happy!
Money memory no. 2 – gold coins were precious
When I was a bit older and was allowed to go to the local shop by myself, whenever my favourite uncle came to visit, he’d often give me a £1 coin to spend on whatever I liked there. I remember feeling that these £1 coins were like gold dust! I was able to buy so many sweets with these gold coins and sometimes I’d even save some of the change too! That way, I knew I’d have enough to repeat the experience another day.
I had a little pocket money from my dad from time to time (if I’d helped with chores and had been good!) and I treated that in the same way.
Money memory no.3 – I saved a small fortune (for ages)
I was twelve when my Nana passed away. Her death really affected me because she was the first person who was close to me to have died. She wasn’t at all well off so she hadn’t made a will but she left £100 to me, my brother and my sister. She must have known for a while that the end was near because she’d written out the envelope herself with my name on it.
I kept that money safe for a couple of years inside a drawer in my bedroom. I didn’t want to spend it because my Nana had given it to me, I even kept the envelope in pristine condition. My parents asked me from time to time if I’d like to spend it on something but I didn’t want to part with it.
In the end, I did spend it on some things for my bedroom because my mum said my Nana would have wanted me to enjoy it. I think she was probably right.
Financial wisdom from my younger self
With each one of these memories, I feel like I had a good instinct around money at a young age. I enjoyed giving money to others because it made me feel happy. I knew that gold coins were worth much more than coppers and I even saved some when I found myself with money in my pocket!
I also knew how much amounted to a lot of money – and that sum of money should be treated with care – especially if it was once someone else’s and they had wanted me to have it. I took my time spending it and made sure that when I spent it, I had considered my purchase very carefully.
So where did it all go wrong?!
From the age of 18, I totally lost my good instincts for dealing with money and started to spend money that wasn’t even mine left, right and centre! I was tempted by all the shiny new things that I saw when I walked past a shop and I just splurged on material possessions for a number of years.
The concept of saving money went completely out of the window and I just focused on having as much fun as possible. Roll on many years later and I’m still paying for some of those purchases even now.
It’s good to have fun whilst you can and all that. But I do wish I’d retained some of my younger self’s common sense around money in the process! Hindsight is a great thing of course – and obviously when you’re a kid, life is usually relatively simple compared to the challenges of being an adult.
What’s your earliest memory of money and has it had any bearing on how you handle money now? Do you have any childhood pearls of financial wisdom to share?
*Photo courtesy of Flickr, modified by Disease Called Debt