When I was a little girl, I didn’t think much about money. I received a small allowance which went into my piggy bank. From time to time, Mom would take me to the bank to deposit my money. I enjoyed watching my savings grow and to be honest, I don’t remember what I used it for. Each birthday and Christmas, I would receive money from my relatives and it was earmarked for the savings account. Things that I needed or wanted usually ended up under the Christmas Tree or given to me for my Birthday. I seldom wanted for anything. I knew if it was important, my parents would see to it that we make it work somehow. When I was nine, my older sister became ill. It seemed to me that the financial focus at that time turned to her health and care.
My best friends, at the time, came from families that were financially secure. One family owned a successful retail store and the other family’s dad was a veterinarian. Both girls lived in beautiful homes and did not seem to have a money care in the world.
I remember the first time I asked my parents for money to go to Girl Scout camp. This was a two-week camp in Northern Wisconsin. We would take buses to the camp and stay in tents. Our meals were included and the entire cost was $50. My parents said if I wanted to go to camp, I would have to figure out how to earn the money. I sold cookies and nuts. I delivered flyers door to door. When I turned eleven, I began babysitting and my earnings went into my jar for camp. I know that this was probably very good for me, at the same time, most of the other girls were able to get these funds from their parents.
I was successful in saving these funds for three years in a row. Our family did not go on vacations, so camp was my special time. I had an amazing time. The last year, our group took a major canoe trip down the Wolf River. We slept on the shore in two-man Alpine Tents. We cooked our meals over a campfire. We became independent and yet took good care of each other. I valued these special times and yes, it was extra special because I had earned my own way.
We were a family that clearly lived within our means. If we wanted to redo the recreation room in the basement, we saved for it. As we got older, if we wanted the latest sweaters or other fashions, mom would advance the money and we always paid it back. When I got my first job at the YMCA at age sixteen, I opened my first checking account. I remember clearly, that when my bank statement came, my dad would sit down with me to go over what I was spending my money on and often disapproved.
I remember when I bought my firs guitar, I wrote a check for it and my dad was not happy. He said it was frivolous and not something I should be spending money on. I remember feeling that I was working for this money and it was mine. I resented being under such scrutiny because I felt I was very careful with my money. When I wanted my first pair of snow skis and accessories, I received half of the money for Christmas and I earned the rest. Again, my dad did not think this was a necessity. I worked hard to convince him that having my own equipment would make it more affordable to go with the ski club to ski at Little Switzerland or Cascade Mountain.
I think that by always having to justify my purchases I developed an attitude of lack in the area of money. I was jealous of my friends who had the money they wanted to do activities. My answer when I asked was always that we couldn’t afford it. I have mixed emotions about having taken this approach with us. I did understand that my sister’s illness took a large amount of money. At the same time, I wanted to have some of the advantages that my friends did.
As I grew older, I always worked. I worked as a swimming instructor and lifeguard until I graduated from high school. After school, I wanted to go to college but finances didn’t allow for it. Instead, I married three months after I graduated. Over the next 3 decades, I fought with my mixed emotions about money. I married young and did not know how to control my spouse’s spending habits. After I divorced, I rebounded into a second marriage that I thought would be more secure. This turned out to be a mistake as well.
As years went on, I realized that I had an opinion of money that included lack and limitation. I had feelings that told me I didn’t deserve money and I wasn’t to have the things I wanted.
Only recently have I begun to realize that this negative attitude about money is acting to block my attainment of the funds that I could have access to and honestly deserve. I have read about the attitude of abundance and realize that it never occurred to me that it was up to me to change my mindset about my ability to live an abundant life. I do believe now that most people do not live abundant lives because they never decide to. I now believe that we need to reach for our dreams and understand that we can “have anything we want, just not everything”. This was a quote I read in a book that one of my fellow Sidetracked Sisters loaned me.
My belief today is that money is a means to an end. Money does not buy happiness and the “Love of Money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). I believe that we need to spend our money wisely and that it is important to live within your means. There is abundance in the world for everyone. You having money does not mean that you have my money or that I have your money. There is adequate abundance available for both of us. It is up to you and me to decide what our plans are and to work for them.