Money through the ages.

When I was five, loonies and two dollar bills made my eyes go wide with wonder. A lone loonie was enough to buy a bag full of candy. The world was a magical, sugar-fuelled place of wonder. When I got a five dollar bill in a birthday card, I thought I was rich and should get a hat like the monopoly man (because rich people wear top hats obviously).

When I was ten, I earned a dollar a day doing what chores I could out in the barn – usually feeding the calves, cats, putting straw down, carrying the soap and rinse buckets, and sweeping the manger. My Dad would pay me on Fridays, usually pulling out the right change from his pocket. I hoarded my loonies and used my money to buy a teal, 10-gear bike. A week later, I won a better bike.

When I was fourteen, I got my first summer job – tour guide at a local lighthouse. I worked 35 hours a week and earned $6.45/hr. My first pay cheque was huge. Where was I going to spend $200? I bought myself a pair of running shoes and a whole bunch of nail polish (lime green, anyone?) with my first pay cheque. I saved most of the money I made that summer because I didn’t know what to spend it on.

When I was eighteen, I got my first loan. Over $11,000 as part of a student loan. I moved to Ottawa for school, and managed to pay for my stay in residence and tuition out of my savings, without having to touch the student loan. I fretted about the loan, but shopped and spent like never before because it was just so easy to do so in the big city. Money was second to having fun.

When I was twenty-four, I had just over $36,000 to pay back to the government in student loans. Money equalled stress. I was just starting my first post-school job and I just bought a new car. I had managed to save a fair bit of money during my Masters, but didn’t have a plan for paying back my loan. On top of all that, I had to start thinking about adult things, like retirement savings and insurance.

When I was twenty-six, I was debt free. Money was no longer my master. I started saving my money in earnest, making budgets, and planning for the future. I loved the feeling of being debt free and having essentially no money worries.

I am twenty-seven and back to worrying about money. I worry about my mortgage and housing costs, I worry about saving enough for my retirement and finding the balance between saving and spending. Despite my worries, I feel better prepared to be responsible and pragmatic with my money.

It’s interesting, or at least I think it is, to think about how your view on money has changed. My perspective on money has undergone some significant changes, primarily based on life changes like going away to school, having debt, getting out of debt and becoming an independent adult. What factors have changed how you view money and finances?

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Categories: Personal, Review | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “Money through the ages.

  1. Love this post! I definitely went through similar stages with regards to money. Probably the biggest factor that changed the way I view my money was getting in a car accident.

    Up until then I’d just assumed that money was going to work itself out, that it would just take care of itself, that my $26k in student loans would take care of themselves. Turns out you have to actively manage your money.

    I’m often stressed about money, but as long as I know I’m moving in a positive direction towards being debt free, I can handle that stress.

    • Thanks kindly! I made those same assumptions during my first couples years at school. I figure a little stress is good, it keeps us on ours toes right?

  2. This is so cute! Can I copy you? Lol.

    I love the lime green nail polish thing. So funny. My vice was hot pink jeans. Or, really, anything super tacky.

  3. SWR

    As kids, we didn’t get paid for doing chores around the house/property, but I did earn a bit of money babysitting for family friends. I was never allowed to keep much of it- my parents put most of it in my bank account and I never learned to think of my account as something I could take money from.

    I didn’t really “see” much money while I was in college- school was taken care of, and I worked part time on the side to pay for housing, food, books, and occasional fun. There was always enough for what I needed, but not too much more.

    Now, in graduate school, I feel like I see money all the time, and especially all of the money I’m spending on tuition, books, rent, food, transportation, etc. But I’m also acutely aware of the economy, doing well in school, and the fact that I’ll need to pay back every cent some day, which makes me look at ways to limit my spending as much as I can because earning more isn’t a possibility. After school, I hope to strike a prudent balance between the two.

    • I understand about seeing money. While I was in school and even after I graduated, I often thought of things in terms of the cost of a textbook. It was really strange. I’m glad to hear you’re planning for when you’re done school – that’s half the battle when it comes to paying down debt as far as I’m concerned.

  4. Cait

    This is one of the best posts I’ve read in the personal finance community in a while. I remember the days when $5-10 made me feel rich. I often *think* about how much getting a $0.25/hour raise used to mean to me, when I was 16. And sometimes I recall my journey into credit card debt, starting from when I got my very first card with a $500 limit. But I’ve never blogged about it. Thank you for doing so! 🙂

    • Thanks for the kind words! It’s fun reflecting on how your perception of money changes as you age. I’ll admit I still occasionally get a birthday card with $5 in it and I want to go spend it on candy.

  5. TLC

    One financial habit that followed me through the years started when I was about 7 y.o. My parents gave me a $2 allowance – I would spend a $1 and save $1 for Christmas. I LOVED being able to buy gifts with MY money for my family. So to this day, the hubby and I save a little bit every paycheck to pay for gifts around the holidays (I refuse to use CCs!)

    • Wow! You were a much more responsible seven year old than I was. That’s a great strategy for holiday gift giving – good for you for not using credit cards.

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