Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has the more one wants. -Benjamin Franklin
A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of. -Jane Austen
I grew up in a generation when parents did not talk to their children about money. Especially not girls. We got a small weekly allowance and learned by experience that if we spent it on candy today we wouldn't be able to buy a comic book tomorrow. "You can't have your cake and eat it, too," our parents said, the sum total of our education in handling finances. It worked, to an extent, because they stuck to it; limited in spending money themselves, there was no hope they would shell out more than once a week.
The first thing I learned about money from this allowance business is the joy of competition. When my older brothers and sister were handed a nickle on Saturday morning, I wanted something, too. Mom gave me two pennies, because I was two years old. My siblings supported her by hiding their smirks and pointing out that I got two coins while they only got one. I was happy.
The coins were retrieved each week as soon as I forgot about them, and the story goes that I got the same two pennies for the next two years, until I was old enough to learn about stores! That realization increased my financial knowledge tremendously, and my allowance to a nickle. For years, Saturday morning was synonymous with popsicle, unless I was playing with a friend, when it would be enough penny candies for two.
When I was ten or eleven, I fell in love with horses. For the first time I wanted something too expensive for Mom or Santa or, apparently, even Jesus. I decided to save my allowance and buy my own horse! Mom told me I'd need a hundred dollars - an enormous sum. Thus I learned about saving. And persistence. At 50 cents a week, it would take years to buy a horse. I doggedly saved every penny I got, and asked for peripheral equipment - a bucket to bring him water when I finally got him, a horse grooming kit - for birthdays and Christmas. I became, I'm embarrassed to say, a bit cheap about buying Christmas gifts for my family, but I did do so, setting back my horse fund as little as possible.
My mother never discouraged me. I'm sure after two years she began praying I'd lose my love of horses before I reached my goal of $100. And she was right. I never did get that horse, but I could have, if I had wanted to. And I learned to save, to put off small gains for larger future goals. And most important, I learned that goals, no matter how apparently unrealistic, were achievable if you stuck with them.
Mutual funds? GICs? RRSPs? TFSAs? I had to learn all that myself, but it all started with that 2-cent allowance!
What experiences taught you about money, and goals, when you were young?