What Is Money for Anyway?
I’ve heard many people say they didn’t realize they were poor growing up because they were shielded or sheltered from the harsh reality of not having enough money. My first tainted view of money was that it was something made to spend. This wasn’t from a lack of mentality, but rather consumer training. My mother bought everything I wanted. She made sure I had nice stuff—toys, clothes, and everything else. When I got them, it made me feel good and made her happy to spoil me. She taught me early on to respond to the question that people would often ask, “Are you spoiled, Clyde?” to which I would respond that I was fortunate, not spoiled. I did feel complete because I got what I wanted and didn’t have to work hard to get it. I just asked for it. I did the minimum required. I think this same mentality followed me into adulthood until I was slapped with the harsh reality that good things comes to those who work hard to make their vision a reality and execute their plan.
I think I might have been 5 when I was given money by my uncles every time I visited them. They just gave me a dollar here and maybe a two-dollar bill there. On a great day, I’d get a five. No one told me what to do with the money. I had seen my mother and others use the money to buy the things they wanted or needed. At 5, there weren’t many things I needed that weren’t already provided by my mother or others, so, of course, I began to use the money to purchase things I wanted like candy, toys, and that sort of thing. (I was beginning with no plan or direction. This never ends well.) Unbeknown to me, I was creating a money mindset that was not going to be conducive to building wealth of any sort. As a matter of fact, it was the complete opposite. It was a path to use all that I had to get what I wanted.
Sure, you might say I was just a kid and that I should have fun and use the money to get things I wanted. But I still could have done that and also saved maybe 20 percent for my rainy-day fund or future fund. Think about it. If I would have been educated about the power of compound interest and just saved some of the money I was given from the time I was 5 until now, even in a low interest-bearing account, I would have had a substantial amount and a foundation to begin on. Instead, I got a mouthful of cavities from too much candy that helped build wealth for some dentist whose name I don’t even remember.
As I got older, that “easy come, easy go” mindset would prove to be the prevailing thought process that would govern my life. If I had money and wanted something, I would buy it. Or if I wanted something and didn’t have the money at the time, I would find a way to get the money to just consume that thing. It’s sad when you think about it. I was living to consume. My only strategy was to get, to have, and figure out the details along the way. My perception of money was that it was a tool to consume and nothing more.