Like most kids, I understood the concept of money. Money got me toys. Money got me candy. Money got me into a movie. At a certain age I was able to start doing chores around the house to earn myself an allowance. Like all kids, every quarter seemed like a treasure and every penny worth stopping to pick up.
I had numerous piggy banks to store my precious coinage. My absolute favorite was Robie the Robotic Banker who ate up my change with creepy pleasure and stored them in his belly. Just look at this face!
Unlike most kids, my mother worked as a bank teller from my kindergarten years into my teens. With this came the privilege of spending lots of time in the bank when schools were closed. I remember sitting on the break room couch watching the CCTV of all the customers coming and going. I got to go into the big old style vault with the rows of lockboxes and the thick heavy door. At the end of each day I recall the bank having to reconcile and the little hiccups when the numbers didn’t add up exactly.
At some point my elementary school introduced a program called Savings Makes Cents. After the initial account setup, there was a weekly “Banking Day” where a representative of the bank would come in and kids would make deposits. We all received official bank passbooks and were eager to watch our savings accumulate and grow magically with interest! Of course I ended up being the cool(?) kid with the mom working at the bank.
As I grew up that account continued to grow and occasionally I wanted to buy things. Those purchases were almost entirely video games. This is when the problem started. While I was more fortunate than others to have all of these educational resources and family support, my financial knowledge literally never grew past this elementary level. I was definitely aware of things like the stock market, certificates of deposit and a few other basic terms, but I didn’t seek out to understand them. At this point, a savings account was all anyone needed to handle money for their whole life. And money was designed for buying the wants of life.
I did eventually continue my financial journey by opening a checking account. Of course that just meant that the larger quantities of money I earned during my seasonal jobs became easier to spend. So despite a relatively large advantage, I still ended up trapped in a dangerous cycle of spending what I earned. Only now that I am looking back on this part of my life am I able to see just how easy this cycle became integrated into my life. I don’t know who to compliment here, but it is absolutely amazing how imperceptibly this system assimilates into your life. Give someone just enough knowledge to think we understand healthy financial practices, only to try and trap us at this level for the remainder of our useful working lives. Bravo!
As someone whose life has changed dramatically because of the personal finance bloggers already writing passionately about this subject, I am here to do my part by sharing my financial journey towards Financial Independence. My goal in starting this site is to awaken a true financial awareness in anyone looking to get off this wild ride by sharing my adventure of breaking free. My desire is for those following my journey to join me in increasing our financial empowerment by always moving closer to financial enlightenment. And like so many aspects in life, achieving your goals only becomes possible when you ultimately stop passing the buck.