My money story

It’s a given that making a living in the arts isn’t easy. The Big Idea, a hub for those in the creative industries, is doing a series on money, designed to “jostle your understanding and perception around money” and enabling us to take control and improve cashflow.

Of course, one of the first things advised is to start tracking expenses – a money diary. But much more interesting is the Your Money Story, a series of questions which explore your views on finances based on your past. I’ve always tended to shy away from these things, but I was so pumped about the whole project I thought I might just delve in. And if you’d like to fill them out, I’ve pasted the questions below.

Answer the following questions as a way of revealing your real relationship to money:
• What was your family’s money situation, when you were young?
• Did you learn about money?  How did you learn about money?  What did you learn?
• What did your mother tell you verbally or non-verbally about money?
• What did your father tell you verbally or non-verbally about money?
• Was money talked about in your family when you were growing up?  Were you included in money conversations?
• Did you get pocket money as a child?  In this respect were you the same or different to your friends?  How did you feel about this?
• Were you trusted with money as you were growing up?
• Can you remember your first purchase with money of your own?  What was it?  How old were you?  How did it feel?
• Can you remember the first time you got paid in an employment situation?  How much did you get?  What did you do with it?  How did you feel?
• Have you ever achieved something big with money?  If so, what was it and how did it make you feel?
• What have you done with money that makes you feel bad?
• What have you done with money that makes you feel good?
• What is your attitude towards people who have a lot of money?
• What is your attitude towards people with very little money?
• If money were a person, how would you describe your relationship with them?
• Have you ever given money away?  How did you feel about it?
• Has anyone ever given you money?  How did you feel about that?
• Do you have any money secrets?  What are they?
• What position do you want to be in with money in ten years time?
• What do you tell yourself about money?  Do you feel guilt or regrets when you spend?
• How do you imagine others describe your relationship to money?
• How do you feel when you are paying bills?
• What is the most amazing thing you have done with money?
• Do you share the same attitudes to money as others close to you?

* * * The Next Step * * *
When you have finished look at your money story and see what patterns and themes exist. For example, themes of scarcity, recklessness, frugalness, hoarding, easy come easy go, money magnet etc.
What is the overall emotional tone?
Are you repeating your parents relationship with money?

Yep, there’s a lot.

Here’s how I answered:

• What was your family’s money situation, when you were young? Tight when we first moved to NZ. Then comfortably frugal. Middle class but with no frills at all.

• Did you learn about money? How did you learn about money? What did you learn? I don’t ever recall learning about money or sex from my family.

• What did your mother tell you verbally or non-verbally about money?  What did your father tell you verbally or non-verbally about money? I knew they saved money on my behalf, and that they used some (most?) of it to pay for building our house when we moved here. It’s not like I really knew I had it, or how much; after all, I hadn’t earned it myself. It meant no mortgage for us.

Mum hardly ever bought things unless they were on special. Not just at the supermarket, but literally anything you can name – clothes, electronics, etc. She’s the queen of bargains and also of opshopping. Also, she taught me to stock up on things.

• Was money talked about in your family when you were growing up? Were you included in money conversations? No and no.

• Did you get pocket money as a child? In this respect were you the same or different to your friends? How did you feel about this? For a while I got 50c a day (so $3.50 a week). That didn’t last long. I don’t really remember when that started/ended, or why. A lot of my friends also got allowances of similar amounts. I vaguely recall my parents giving me brother money…I seem to remember “selling” him some toys at one stage. Mum then said to Dad ‘We have to stop giving him money.”

• Were you trusted with money as you were growing up? I used to be entrusted with going down the road to the dairy to buy milk. I did that for quite a while, until one day I managed to drop and lose those precious coins as I skipped through the park. I don’t think I ever got sent on a milk run again.

• Can you remember your first purchase with money of your own? What was it? How old were you? How did it feel? It was probably something like food. I never bought lunch at school, although almost everyone else did at least occasionally. I always had packed lunches.

• Can you remember the first time you got paid in an employment situation? How much did you get? What did you do with it? How did you feel? I got a paper run when I was in third form. It was a princely sum at the time – maybe $80-100 a month. I didn’t do anything with it. It went into some sort of savings account – I was 12 or 13 and didn’t have access to any money of my own at the time. It felt good, although since I never saw it, I felt a bit removed from it all. I knew I was saving it though and it would be earning interest so I was happy with that.

• Have you ever achieved something big with money? If so, what was it and how did it make you feel? I bought my own electric guitar and amp. I think, off the top of my head, the grand total was $650 (might have been 750 even). IT FELT AMAZING. I did have a momentary twinge when it came to swiping my card, but it was the sole reason I’d been working two jobs, almost every day after school, and on the weekends too.

• What have you done with money that makes you feel bad? I’ve done some silly things in the past. But I don’t think my financial mistakes made me feel “bad” as such – I just didn’t see them in that light. I suppose I feel bad about that first year T and I lived together. He worked so much and made decent money, but we didn’t save any of it. That’s definitely a regret, not being wiser that year and not being in control of our money.

• What have you done with money that makes you feel good? Save enough so I hopefully will never need to rely on others. Give to charity. Treat my best friends.

• What is your attitude towards people who have a lot of money? I guess I’m envious, and aspire to be more like them. I have two friends with very well-off families, but you’d never know it. I hope I’d be the same.

• What is your attitude towards people with very little money? Depends. If it’s because they don’t know how to manage money and have a pattern of making poor decisions then I see it as nobody’s fault but their own. If it’s because they’re down on their luck (ie laid off), I’m sympathetic. If it’s because they’ve just spent it all travelling the world, I’m awed by them and start thinking about when I can do the same (but more responsibly/boringly).

• If money were a person, how would you describe your relationship with them? Volatile. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it. It’s all to do with how well I manage my finances though, and the relationship is a lot healthier now.

• Have you ever given money away? How did you feel about it? Yes, I try to donate money every month. I give regularly because I can – not huge amounts, and I could give more, I’m certainly not giving away 10 per cent or anything – it’s the right thing to do. So many people are less fortunate than me. And I believe in reaping what you sow.

• Has anyone ever given you money? How did you feel about that? My family. A mixture of grateful, and, er, reluctance to take it? I used to swing between bouts of feeling sorry for myself because so many of my friends got so much from their parents, and wanting to stand only on my own two feet. Now I try to accept gifts gratefully.

• Do you have any money secrets? What are they? Money nearly broke my relationship. Although maybe that’s not such a big secret. And it was due to joblessness, not money directly.

• What position do you want to be in with money in ten years time? Age 32. Hoooboy. Okay. I want to be settled in a house with a comfortable mortgage repayment. Contributing fully to Kiwisaver. Able to travel on the odd weekend, and an overseas trip at least once a year. Would be great if we could live off one salary and save the other.

• What do you tell yourself about money? Do you feel guilt or regrets when you spend? That I am in control of it and only I can prioritise what I spend on. I hardly ever buy on impulse…rather, I plan my purchases and stalk sales, so regret is rare. While T was unemployed I did feel guilty if I bought anything for myself, and would try to smuggle them into the house and hide them away.

• How do you imagine others describe your relationship to money? I was once told by friends I was “sensible” with money. They’d probably still say the same thing. Either that or reckless because I use my credit card for almost everything, and that’s what they see. They don’t see me paying it off every week.

• How do you feel when you are paying bills? Indifferent. It’s gotta be done. I do it so often it’s just an automatic thing.

• What is the most amazing thing you have done with money? Depends how you define amazing. I am amazed at how much I’ve been able to save, and especially how quickly it accumulates once I made it an almost unconscious thing, not to mention once T got a job again. And I have been able to give (aka buy) some generous gifts for others. And lend money to others as needed.

• Do you share the same attitudes to money as others close to you? I’d say a lot of my friends are more carefree with money and more likely to blow bigger amounts on anything from alcohol to clothes. T is not much of a planner while I can’t help but look ahead, but I think  we both believe in spending money on experiences – food, travel to new places. I’m naturally frugal and will deny myself things – delayed gratification – to achieve my goals. He’s more likely to spend and deal with the consequences tomorrow.

When you have finished look at your money story and see what patterns and themes exist. For example, themes of scarcity, recklessness, frugalness, hoarding, easy come easy go, money magnet etc. It’s not obvious from these answers, but I’ll answer them taking into account everything that’s not here. Scarcity. Uncertainty. Control (or lack of). Frugality, definitely.

What is the overall emotional tone? A desire for independence and stability? To be able to give back and to share my fortune (not literal) with others?

Are you repeating your parents relationship with money? I hope so. I definitely loosen the purse strings a little more – they seem to be enjoying money a bit more lately, but growing up, we never went on holidays and we only ever bought huge bottles of Coke (never cans) which always went flat before you even got halfway through them. I’d like to think I could own my house free and clear well before retirement. I’d like to one day switch gears from just ‘saving’ to ‘investing.

7 thoughts on “My money story

  • Reply findingserenity2010 September 21, 2010 at 01:59

    You always find the most interesting sets of questions! Very insightful, I might add. Congrats to your parents for raising a financially-smart daughter from the outset. It still gets me that parents don’t talk about money with their kids, though. It would prevent so many problems later!

    I hate to copy others, but this is too tempting – I may do this by hand and post some of it later today

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  • Reply FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com September 23, 2010 at 12:45

    I LOVED reading this. LOVED! 🙂 I feel like doing it too but it seems so long…

    • Reply eemusings October 2, 2010 at 16:30

      HELL yeah. I sat down one night and spent probably the better part of an hour doing it!

  • Reply Jenn @ Paying Myself October 6, 2010 at 16:22

    I’ve set up a few posts with these questions divided up in them – going to start working on them soon!

    Your statement about never learning about money or sex from your family could be my answer too!

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