Behavioral Finance

What’s Your Earliest Money Memory?

My Money Story

What’s your earliest money memory?

My first real memory was when I was seven. We were at a family reunion in BC, and I was bored. So, I decided to do what any seven-year-old would do and collected rocks from the near by riverbank. Inspired by my grandpa’s entrepreneurial spirit, I decided to bless the rocks with my non-existent artistic skills and drew pictures on them. I then decided to sell them as “souvenirs” to all my relatives. I thought it was genius!

By the end of the week, I collected around $75.

Despite having a sub-par product and only one customer, which was my grandpa, I remember feeling exhilarated as it was the first time I really made money. When my Grandpa ask what was I going to buy? I remember saying, “nothing! I just made this money, I want to keep it!”

With souvenir rocks in my pocket and cash in hand, that trip represents one of my earliest money memories. My childhood was secure: money wasn’t a source of stress or happiness in our household. Both of my parents had great jobs and to me, it just seemed like money came and went. It was not a big deal. I was aware that money “didn’t grow on trees” and that we couldn’t buy everything that we wanted, but I don’t recall any firm instances of it being a point of stress or happiness.

But a part of understanding our money stories—and how those stories impact us today—is really looking back to those formative years. In my money story, it was around 10 – 12 years old that I started to really pay attention to money and realize the impacts of it.

As a hockey loving kid, in a house full of boys, I remember watching TV and seeing rich hockey players. They always seemed to have TONS of money. They were always smiling and looked so damn happy. As a kid who was interested in money, naturally I started believing that if you wanted to be happy you needed to make lots of money… just like the hockey players.

As I grew older and started working, I found myself spending way too much un-needed time and energy concerned about money. Now, after years of reading and reflecting, I know that I had developed a belief that money was extremely precious, and that we needed to protect it at all costs. I started to develop wild habits like NEVER, and I mean NEVER, buying any consumer-related goods unless they were on sale. I would buy clothes that didn’t fit properly, just because they were on sale, only to find myself re-buying the same piece of clothing months later.

In fact, money was so coveted for me, that I knew I hit the jackpot when, for a few months, I saw a pair of brand new pants sitting in my little brother’s room with their tags still on. Obviously, he wasn’t going to miss them. So, what would any money-vigilant older brother do? I returned them to Winners without a receipt and stashed the cash. Sorry, Christan!

As you can see, my money story had me trying to save as much as possible, while also spending so much time and energy focused on money: I believed money provided me with security and happiness. As a result, I started feeling anxiety around money. For instance, when I received bills, I often left them unpaid until the past possible day – just to avoid parting with my money.

It made no sense. Doing this was actually damaging my financial health.

This is money vigilance at its finest.

Looking back at your early money memories, what’s your money story?

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