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?