Money provokes contradicting memories. Spending foolishly, saving wisely—and sometimes spending wisely and saving foolishly. Having plenty, having too little … most often the latter.
When my brothers and I were young, we decided to buy a gift for our parents. We wanted to save our own money to buy it, not use our mom and dad’s.
And we knew just what we wanted to buy. We’d seen an advertisement for a Ronco Record Cleaner, “guaranteed to make your LP records last longer” and keep them free from scratches!
But where would we get the money? We didn’t receive allowances and were too young for jobs. For my part, I went without lunches, saving every cent my parents gave me to pay for them. If my mom packed my lunch, I saved my milk nickel. Hunger pangs couldn’t compete with the excitement of buying the gift ourselves.
Six weeks before Christmas, the required delivery time, we proudly sent for the gift. I don’t know if it made the records last longer, but the lessons of saving and giving will last a lifetime. As well as the memory of our parents’ faces as they opened such an extravagant gift.
Over the years since, we’ve experienced many times of having no money. Once while living in Ohio for Kevin to attend college, our checking account was empty, as well as our wallets. The refrigerator held only cold air, and the freezer … well, ice cubes aren’t very nutritious. We drove home on gas fumes, knowing no reserves waited.
The week before, we’d sank to cutting open my pink poodle bank in which I’d been saving pennies since grade school. The coins clinked and scraped on the table as we dumped and counted them—enough to fill the gas tank and buy a few groceries. But now, they too were gone, the poodle empty and bearing the scars of our need.
At our apartment, I dropped onto the couch, wondering what we would do. Kevin joined me with the mail, including a letter from Nanny, my grandmother in PA. I slit it open and pulled out a note and a five-dollar bill! We felt rich! Grateful for this unexpected gift, we headed to the Big Bear Market. We bought a dozen eggs, some milk and bread, and still had two dollars left for gas. (Wouldn’t get far on two dollars of gas today, would we?)
Whether saving for a gift or needing groceries, God’s never let us down. He knows our needs … and our wants. He always provides … sometimes just in time!
***Everyone has a story about money—a little or a lot! Please tell us yours! To leave your story, click on the words beside the date under the title of this post. Then, scroll to the bottom of the comment section to find the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!
*** Next Monday we’ll take some virtual walks together. Come along and see where we go!
8 thoughts on “Money”
I love the way your stories inspire readers to write down their legacies. Let’s see, money. Hmm. In 1975, I remember working my first job, owning my own car, and living in an apartment with a friend. Her mother had helped me set up a budget including a savings account. After my boyfriend proposed, I went shopping in State College for a wedding dress. I found the perfect one and paid for it with a check. I had fifty dollars in my checking account. I don’t think I owned a credit card at the time. The cost of the dress? $49.99.
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Thanks for the encouragement, Sandy, and for sharing your “legacies” with us! Don’t you love it when God does that – puts something in your path for which you have the exact amount? That’s how I came to Montrose the first year, 1997. I went to a local critique group and someone had that year’s brochure. I became interested immediately and ecstatic when I saw that Elizabeth Sherrill was to be there! But the cost was a million dollars to me. However, I prayed and went home with the brochure and a determination to figure it out. I needn’t have worked so hard because God had it all figured out before I even heard about it!
First, a mom from the homeschool writers’ club I’d run for many years decided randomly to take an offering to gift me with on the final day. It was a start, but not enough. I couldn’t take any from our family income because we barely made it from check to check. As July drew near, I tried to think of other ways to get money. Then, when I thought it was a goner, I remembered a savings bond from my parents which I had never cashed in from 1968. It was for $25, but I’d heard that, at that time, savings bonds kept accruing interest. I went to the bank, signed it over, and waited, hoping to get a little closer.
And guess what? Yep…not the $50 I’d figured, but over $100! The exact amount to the penny which I needed to add to the money I already had! I joyfully, gratefully went and met Elizabeth Sherrill and fell in love with Montrose and all the people there. I’ve never looked back…nor doubted God’s ability to come through at the last moment! ❤
Beautiful story!I remember saving my money for a bike and I wanted a boys bike back then since I was a tom boy and looked up to my older brother. Mom and dad thought I should get a girls bike but my brother convinced them, so I rode all over the country side and appreciated it so much since I earned it instead of being given a gift.We would get an allowance but worked hard and were disciplined very well if we didn’t do our chores on the farm! Great memories and now have passed on the values to our 2 children who are very blessed with the fruits of their labor!
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Glad you liked this story, Lise! Now I know why so many of your Facebook photos show you with a bike by your side…although I never noticed if you still prefer a boys’ bike!
We also passed on these values to the girls. I recall both Sarah and Faith doing a savings plan from the American Girl company. Sarah used hers to earn a bicycle, too, but for her doll! And a desk for the other one. Faith saved for an MP3 player. All three girls received allowances and kept their own accounting books. As they grew, Sarah and Faith both had their own small businesses (Sarah made AG doll clothes and furniture; Faith had a magazine for which she had subscribers, then went on to a photography business.) They learned all about accounts receivables, payables, and overhead costs. Today, though running homes is never easy, all three can hold their own. I’m very proud of them.
Thanks for sharing, Lise!
Money, wow what a subject! Everyone has stories about that, I’m sure! When I was 15 I got my first “real” job. I’d babysat before and did get an allowance when I was younger, but this was a real workplace. I was a telemarketer for Olan Mills, the photography studio. My mom got me the job. She worked there too. At the time I didn’t think much of this, but now I know that I was not legally working there. I was too young and the boss paid me in cash, under the table if you will. I didn’t know about such things then. I hated the job but I really liked having earned money of my own. For once I could Christmas shop for my family without using money my parents gave me — just like you saving up for that record cleaner for your parents. I saved every penny. I only worked there about 4 months, just until Christmas. When I left the job, I shopped for Christmas gifts, bought myself a purple shirt with sequins all over it that I loved, and went to a movie, all by myself for the very first time ever, and I didn’t tell anyone I did it. I saw “Other Side of the Mountain 2”. I felt so grown up! I think it was the freedom of being able to make all those choices without first getting permission or being given money by my parents, and then questioned later about everything I did. It was my very own secret! At least for awhile and that was special. When I was older and a single parent to 3 sons, there wasn’t much money so we had to be creative. Thankfully there’s a lot of creativity in our family!
Although we couldn’t afford a vacation or even an overnight in a hotel locally, we lived near enough to Chicago and there was a commuter train to get there. There were days 2 kids could ride for free if under a certain age and for older, they had specials of 2 for 1. So for the price of 1 ticket, the four of us could go to Chicago and back. I think it might have been all of $9 at the time. I packed poptarts and juice boxes to snack on during the 2 1/2 hour train ride. I packed sandwiches, chips and pop for lunch in Chicago so we wouldn’t have to buy lunch. We went on “free museum” day so there was no cost there either! We ate our packed lunches on the back steps of one of the museums overlooking the Chicago River. Our big splurge was buying supper at McDonald’s before heading home. The Sears Tower (now the Willis Tower) looked so close from the steps of the museum, we decided to walk there, just to say we’d been there. Couldn’t afford to ride the elevator to the top though. Well it looked closer than it was. We walked 3 miles on a hot day and went inside to cool off in the AC. Since we couldn’t afford tickets to the express elevator going to the skydeck up in the clouds (practically), we decided to get on a different elevator and rode to the basement. We sat there resting our tired feet and cooling off. I burst out laugging and the kids looked at me wondering what was so funny. I said, “I bet we’re the only people in the world who come to the Sears Tower and go to the basement!” Oh we roared with laughter. That was a great moment! Then we ran for the bus that would whisk us back to the train station but didn’t think to get correct change. All I had was a $20 bill. I couldn’t afford to spend that! I’d taken it in case of an emergency but definitely needed it for gas or groceries. I told the driver who’d already pulled away from the curb that we’d have to get off because I didn’t have correct change. I cringed because I didn’t think we had time to walk to the train in time to make the last train home and didn’t know what we’d do. A nice lady sitting in front handed me enough money to cover all of us. I couldn’t believe it! I tried to ask her how I could repay her and she didn’t care to be repayed. I thanked her profusely as we sat back down. We made our train and got home. Without very much money at all, we’d had a wonderful day in the big city, making some great memories and God took care of us all the way.
Sorry this is so long. I had even another story to tell but won’t!! Funny how the best memories or thoughts on money come from the lack of it rather than an abundance of it!
Thanks for igniting the conversation!
— Julie (Leafy)
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Wow, Leafy! You won’t believe how your comments hit on two things I left out of my story to shorten it – the fact of the best stories from the lack of money and how you opened your reply with “Money, wow what a subject!”
My original opening was, “Money – now that’s a loaded password!” This whole idea for the blog site came from the book, Passwords to Your Past, by Max Kelly and Dorothy Evslin. It dealt with using “passwords,” simple everyday nouns or verbs, etc., to pull out memories long forgotten. I fell in love with it right off and have used the technique in workshops, speeches, retirement centers, articles, devotions, and even short stories.
I hope you will share your other story, though, I’d love to read it! Don’t worry about it being too long! In fact, I’ll tell you part of our Chicago story.
When our middle daughter, whose birthday happens to be today, turned 13, her gift was a trip to the American Girl Place in Chicago. This was unheard of for many reasons: the cost (which God provided again), the fact of traveling so far (from PA) with just another woman and her teens, and the fear I have of big cities. But in August, two brave mothers and five teen girls set out. God watched over us every minute, from the fact that we NEVER got lost driving (pre GPS and cell phone days) to an occasion where, unlike your experience, a Chicagoan tried to lead us wrong.
We had a wonderful time at the AG Place, had a superb dinner at the Rainforest Café, and were headed back to my friend’s aunt’s house in upper Chicago. We got off the “L” at the wrong stop, however, probably because we were a little stressed trying to wrangle five teen girls – all with huge red bags from the doll shop at the AG Place (people from home gave us money to buy things for their girls while we there) – on and off a subway-type car with all people and packages intact. We also had a few left-overs in containers from the Café.
We decided we had to be close, so we started walking. First, the spaghetti in one of the containers leaked over my friend’s white skirt. Then, her daughter’s shoes caused a problem and her mom gave her hers, which meant she was walking the streets of Chicago in barefeet with a red-stained white skirt! I’m sure we looked hilarious. At one corner, our oldest and I thought we recognized a store, which meant we should turn right and continue our trek. However, we asked a man standing nearby for directions, and he told us we were miles from our destination heading the OTHER way! We were distraught and confused. Remember, this was pre-cell phone days, so there was no way to call unless we found a phone booth.
Since Holly and I felt certain he was wrong, we urged the rest to try the other way first. When we started off, we looked back, and the man was laughing at us! He literally tried to take us away from where we needed to be, which ended up being only about two or three blocks the way we were now headed. God…watching over us…every minute!
Ah, this is what I love! Sharing our lives through stories! Thanks for sharing, Leafy!
Good heavens, Cathy! I can’t imagine someone purposely trying to misroute you! One thing I’ve found in Chicago is that people are so very nice (like the lady on my bus), and that always has surprised me, being a big city and all. How funny about the spaghetti-stained skirt and bare feet! My husband and I rode the El train there for the first time a few years ago when we were between Amtrak trains coming home from Wisconsin. He wanted to eat at Red Lobster while we were there so we found the nearest one and which El train would get us there and away we went.The El was fun to ride though a bit scary because of some of the people we ran into that were not so nice.
That’s interesting about the “Passwords to Your Past” idea! I really like how you are doing that here. It really does work. One word can conjure up a boatload of memories! One thing that is sort of like that, that I do sometimes, is I’ll ask somebody a question like “If you could live anywhere you wanted, where would it be and why?” Or, “If you could travel to anyplace, where would it be?” Or “If you had your dream job, what would it be?” I’ll sometimes post that on Facebook and watch the answers come flying in. It seems to set people’s minds to dreaming and I like inspiring that because too often we settle into our ways and we rationalize every dreamy thought and lock it up somewhere in our souls, deeming it impracticle. Once in awhile, it’s good to take the key and let them out where they can breathe again and test the waters. Some dreams are for another time, later. Anyway, questions like that can stir up someone’s thoughts. Maybe not all dreams are meant to come true, but just the act of dreaming can lift us up a little higher in our thoughts and faith, and just like being up on a mountain (or the Sears Tower!) gives you a view to see for miles around, maybe being lifted up in our thinking or wishing, dreaming, can give us a little more vision for our lives.
My other story was going to be about the time I took my kids on a mystery trip. Again, not much money, but I had some discount coupons and a few buy one- get one coupons. I got this idea to blindfold my kids as we set off in the car. I had them try and guess where we were going by the way the car was going and where we turned, etc. Can you just imagine the looks we got as cars passed by us seeing 3 blindfolded kids?! That would never fly today. Someone would call 9-1-1 and we’d soon be pulled over! Of course that would have only added to the adventure and memories of the day, lol. Our first stop was Burger King for lunch. I had some coupons that cut our cost in half. Plus it was a newly opened BK with a new indoor playground. So we had a cheap but good lunch and the kids had fun in the playground. Next stop was a place called Kids Kingdom, a newly opened park with very fund and interesting structures for kids to climb , play and have fun in. No cost. Next stop was the library where they could pick out books and movies to borrow. I think there was another stop but I can’t remember. They came close a few times to guessing where we were or at least the vicinity, but always were pleasantly surprised. It was a really fun day and a treat for the kids when there wasn’t much money to spend. My boys are grown men now and they don’t remember all the things we ever did but they do remember that day!
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What a fun time and a delicious memory! We had many such excursions (minus the blindfolds LOL!) while homeschooling. We didn’t have money for expensive field trips, so God brought us ones in unexpected places at unexpected times. Once, we went to a cat show while studying pets (and for only $5 for me, the girls were free!) Another time during that study, we toured a dog kennel where the owner trained search-and-rescue dogs. That was interesting, as well as funny. The “funny” part came when our then 5-year-old asked the trainer if he would like to see how she was training her dog. This would have been normal IF the dog had been real! You should have seen his face as Sarah put her stuffed dog, complete with a hand-braided leash she made, through several tricks: “Sit and stay.” The dog sat and stayed! “Roll over.” The dog rolled over…when she gave it a shove! Oh, the delightful times we had during those days. Many of those will be talked about in my blog posts, so I don’t want to give them all away! Blessings, Leafy!