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Friday, 31 March 2017

What's your earliest money memory?

Remember this blissful ignorance of youth? When food magically appeared, mounds of toys were gifted every Christmas and birthday and you wanted for nothing? Then at some point you discovered 'money' and things were never the same. Suddenly those toys had a cost, but if you had money you had the power to buy things!

Sometimes discovering money is wonderful, sometimes it's not. I asked some of my favourite bloggers what their earliest Money Memory was, and how it shaped their path to Financial Independence.

LadyFIRE - Me!

My earliest money memory is checking my bank statement in March. I couldn't tell you what year, but I distinctly remember it being March. I got a three month statement for the high interest account my parents had set up. There would have been a couple of hundred dollars in there, and this is back when accounts were earning a lot more than they are now, so maybe 6% or 7%. We'll say 6.5% for the sake of argument. I remember reading how much interest I earned, in December it was $1.10. In January, $1.10. In February 99 cents.

Only 99 cents? Outrage! The banks were ripping me off! My dad sat me down and I learnt that banks pay interest daily, and since February only had 28 days it paid less than December and January. It definitely got me hooked on the idea of Free Money.

I still check my interest payments religiously to this day. I love being rewarded for leaving my money alone for a month.

Mrs. Picky Pincher from Picky Pinchers

My parents never talked about money in front of my sister and I. We didn't have much money when I was a little kid, so I suspect they kept us sheltered from a lot of tough conversations.

Although I didn't know things were tight, I was naturally frugal. I had a piggy bank and saved loose change I found while using metal detectors with my dad. But my earliest money memory happened on the aisles of K-Mart. 

My sister and I both got a very generous $5 weekly allowance. At first I spent my entire allowance each week on candy and cheap toys. However, one day my eyes spied a beautiful My Little Pony doll. But alas! The toy was $10 and I only had my meager $5. It wasn't until this very moment that I realized I could save money until next week to buy something nicer.

I remember walking out of K-Mart with my $5 in my hand, vowing to return later for the My Little Pony. My mom was so perplexed that I didn't buy anything. I explained that I'd rather save my money and buy one nice thing instead of blowing it each week on small things. She realized I learned what it meant to save, so then I got my $20 monthly allowance upfront from that point on.

At the time I didn't think anything of it, but this was genius on my parents' part! I got to learn money lessons on a small scale while I was young and I learned the importance of saving.

1500 Days to Freedom

Learning the Value of Money through a Big Red Wagon and a Little Red Bank

The Big Red Wagon
For my 5th birthday, my parents bought me a Radio Flyer wagon. I had wanted one for a long time and I was filled with joy when I laid eyes on it. I took it outside and hauled my toy tractors around for the entire afternoon.

That evening, I forgot to put it away and the next morning, it was gone. Someone had stolen it. I didn't even have it for 24 hours. When I realized what had happened, I cried. Then, I asked my parents for another new one. Their response was a firm 'No' along with a lecture of how I shouldn’t have been so careless. They also let me know that my dad worked hard to at his job to buy me the wagon.

It was on that day that I connected work, money and stuff. That I still remember the ordeal clearly 38 years later reminds of how powerful that lesson was.

The Little Red Bank
For Christmas when I was 6 or 7, someone gave me a little bank that looked like a old-time cash register.

You'd deposit a coin into it and pull the lever. The bank kept a running total of money you deposited. The catch was that the bank wouldn't open until you saved $10.

At first, owning the bank was infuriating to my little child brain. $10 seemed like a fortune and it angered me that I couldn't get the money out whenever I wanted. I remember it usually took me months to accumulate $10. One time, I even tried to smash it open.

However, a funny thing happened when I saved the $10 and my money was liberated; I didn't spend it. I like to think that the bank made me appreciate the money. 

J. Money from Budgets are Sexy

My earliest money memory was probably getting an allowance of a whopping $1.00 a week growing up. I'm sure my parents tried teaching me before that, but nothing puts things in perspective until you're holding cold hard cash in your hands :) I learned fast just how expensive all those things I wanted were, and even more so how important prioritizing is. Things went from costing "only $10.00" to "only 10 weeks of allowances" which completely changes your mindset! And all of a sudden I didn't want as much as I used to ;)

The Wealthy Bogan

When I was 14 I managed to rack up a gigantic phone bill. "Are you 18+?" they would ask. Absolutely I am, now let me download things.

Bordering on the line of legality, I had downloaded to a few $5 apps ("games" in those days) on my dad's work phone, unaware that they were indeed subscription based and he would also be charged $5 for the 'Welcome' text, $5 for the 'Unsubscribe' text, and $5 for each daily text. That added up pretty quick. To be honest, after he found out, I considered myself lucky to still be alive.

I was a kid so I had no way to pay that bill. My parents barely had the money themselves, and I wish I hadn't put that kind of financial stress on them.

The only thing I was good for was chores, so that's how I paid them back. For the next 3 years, I washed and dried the dishes after every meal for the whole family. I did this 365 days a year until I moved out.

There was so much guilt over what I'd done. I had offered to empty my bank account to put towards the bill but my parents refused. That money, $500, is what I moved to the city with, I used to set up my life here and to build what I have today.

When I got a phone of my own, I made sure it was pre-paid, and I have learned not to waste money quite so liberally.

Mrs. ETT from Enough Time To...

I have two early money memories, and both unfortunately have negative connotations. When we went on excursions in primary school, we were allowed to take some pocket money to buy something. I remember coming home from a day at the museum with some gemstone chips from the shop, along with my change. My mum berated me because I hadn’t bought home any presents for the family - “you used to be so generous.” I didn’t remember being generous, but I guess it must have been around that time that I became careful with money, which sees me as a natural saver today (Mr. ETT used to comment about moths flying from my wallet when I open it!). My other memory of that time is when mum and dad had to take some money out of the bank. I can’t remember what for, but I do remember excitedly asking to see it in the foyer of the bank once it was withdrawn, and being shushed quite emphatically. It was later they explained to me that it could be dangerous for people to know we are walking around with a lot of cash. That taught me that money was not something to be talked about, and that maybe we were lucky to have money that others didn’t have. Today, left to my own devices, I would keep as much as my money locked away as I could. Luckily, I have Mr. ETT to balance me, and encourage me to spend when it is important, just like mum was looking for."

LadyFIRE note: Mrs. ETT sent this through to me saying "This was an interesting exercise. I tried to think of some positive stories, but honestly couldn't remember anything." I think it's super valuable to include 'negative' memories like these to highlight that not everyone has pleasant money memories, but we can rise above them. Thanks for sharing Mrs. ETT!

Adventures with Poopsie

When I was in grade two, a boy in my class named Thomas told me that he had a share portfolio. I probed a little deeper and it turned out, his dad had started each of his son's a share portfolio when they were born. I thought this was amazing! I didn't know what a share portfolio was, but I imagined that he had a leather bound portfolio that he kept safe at home. I imagined this little seven year old boy walking around with his portfolio, and I knew I wanted one too!

I ended up asking my dad about shares and he explained them to me, showing me how to track the prices in the newspaper. Fast forward a number of years and I now have my very own share portfolio. I don't keep the information in a leather bound portfolio, but I am thankful for the introduction Thomas provided me all those years ago.

A huge thank you to all the bloggers who responded. I'm super chuffed to have superstars like Mr 1500 and J. Money here! Leave a comment and tell me your earliest money memory, and who I should reach out to next time!



  1. Great list of earliest money memories from lots of great bloggers here. I'm so sorry we never got back to you when you asked us, I feel really bad now. It's been such a whirlwind of busy over the last few weeks, not that that is an excuse to ignore a fellow blogger. (sorry again)

    I really like that your first money memory was a positive one, instilling the value of saving and how much free money you can get out of it from the banks.

    My earliest money memory is a bit of a negative one - I was out with my dad and saw a $50 on the ground, I picked it up and showed it to him, telling him what I had found - I was so pleased with myself, it seemed like a million dollars to my tiny human mind. He said "oh that'll help pay for xyz" and took the $50 from me, claiming it as his own. I think that really instilled in me that the only person that truly has your financial interest at heart is you - even those closest to us can be jealous or selfish.

    Mrs DDU

    1. That's heartbreaking :'( I hope your dad needed the money, and didn't take it thinking it was irrelevant to you.

      And no worries at all, I did turn around this post pretty quickly, so I understand that some people may have missed out - I was considering a follow-up if you're interested?

    2. Hey, we sent you a Facebook message, could you take a look? Also, do you have Twitter? you should really get onto it if you don't, so easy to send direct messages and have blogging chats there :)

      Mrs DDU

    3. I've seen it and sent you a reply :)

      I keep hearing that twitter is a thing that I should have. I'm smack bang in the right age demographic to be into twitter but I just don't get it. Facebook exists, why do we need another avenue for people to post every inane thought that pops into their heads?

      I probably give twitter a bad wrap, but it all I ever see / hear about Twitter is the marketing fails and terrible Trump tweets.


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