I was about eight years old, and hypervigilant about the ‘state of affairs’ in my home, one night, laying in bed to fall asleep, listening to my parents’ grown-up talk, the kind of talk that was reserved for after the kids were in bed, they discussed the sad state of financial affairs.
“We have seven dollars in the bank.” My dad said.
I don’t remember much more of their conversation, except they spoke in worried, hushed tones.
Seven dollars? Not yet understanding the concept of pay periods, salaries and living paycheck to paycheck, I only understood this as a dire, crisis situation.
I climbed out of bed and grabbed a knapsack and began rummaging in the dark, collecting things around my room that I might be able to sell the next morning at school. A pair of snoopy socks, like new. Some books, some knick-knacks, nail polish… I would do my part to get my family out of trouble, and away from the brink of financial ruin.
A day or two later, I told him I knew we only had seven dollars I asked my dad if we were poor. “No, silly! I just got paid. We’re fine.”
We are a composite of our stories. This story was a seed, no doubt, that influenced my experiences after that. I’m not saying it was this story’s fault, or my parents’ fault that I’ve lived my life struggling from paycheck to paycheck, scraping by, afraid , teetering at the brink of financial ruin, rescued every two weeks, where for a glorious few days, I’d feel wealthy. But it’s part of my money story.
I’m currently engaged in the process of creating new money stories. I believe that to heal our money stories, the ones that do not serve us, it helps to look at their roots.
What money stories did you learn from your parents?
What messages did they teach you? That money came and went? That money was something to be feared? Perhaps you learned there was never enough, or that people with money were not to be trusted.
Whatever money stories you picked up along the way could very well be playing a part of your experiences today. Consider them. Understand them. And then, if it makes sense to do so, let them go, and create space for your new story.