When I was a kid, I was terrible at saving money (I’m better now, all be it marginally) If I did manage to consciously sock a few bucks away, it didn’t take long before I’d formulate some good excuse to spend it. I’d be turning that piggy bank upside down in no time because I wanted to buy some hockey cards, or a badminton raquet, or comic books etc. I had no discipline and lived in the moment. Patience was not one of my virtues, especially when it came to money. My brother, on the other hand, was the exact opposite. He always seemed to have some savings . I should also mention, that my brother started to work part time when he was hardly old enough to be spending large chunks of time unsupervised. I think his first gig was on the janitorial staff that tidied up at Athabasca University in my home town, I think he was 13 or 14. Me? I was busy playing sports, and interacting socially with any group that would have me. Anything to NOT work. Ironically, that’s sort of what I do today…but that’s another story. My brother Mitchell was keen to the whole “saving” thing when we were just young kids.
Growing up, my brother and I spent a lot of time in our family’s businesses. My dads parents owned a drycleaners, my moms parents owned a flower shop. The business’s back door’s were separated by an ally. It was cool to be able to go from the back of the flowershop, to the back of the cleaners by simply walking out the back door and crossing an ally. Next to the cleaners was Ken’s Confectionery. Ken’s was where my grandma would send us to buy her smoke’s. In those days, all you needed was a note from your Grandma, and they’d sell smokes to a child! Again, I digress. After a few hours of helping around the shops, one grandma or another would give us a few bucks to go to the confectionery and buy treats. I bet we walked across the ally, or down the street to Ken’s, hundreds of times. One trip I remember vividly, it was the day I learned about saving money.
It was a sunny, hot, beautiful afternoon. At that point in my young life, I couldn’t get enough Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Bars. They were my favorite. A peanut dusted, vanilla ice cream bar with a ribbon of strawberry ice cream in the middle. I lusted for these bars. On the day in question, Mitchell and I had each had a 2 dollar bill. Yes, BILL. We went to the confectionery to buy treats. Obviously, I bought a Shortcake bar and probably some penny candy. I did have some change leftover, but it wasn’t much. As we walked out of the store and back towards the ally; and this is the part I remember like it was yesterday; I opened that ice cream bar and dug in. Either I didn’t have pockets and my hands were full, or the physical act of carrying change frustrated me, either way, I gave the change to Mitchell. It was only a few cents, maybe 50 or 60, but those few coins felt like an unwanted responsibility than anything else. I happily gave them to my brother, I was living in the moment, and had no thought of tomorrow…or the next Shortcake Bar. Then it hit me: “Hold On. No wonder I’m always out of money, I’m not taking advantage of change! If I save the change from the next 3 times I buy an ice cream, I could buy a fourth ice cream!” Just as quickly as the notion came, it passed…and I lived the rest of my life, more or less, not being very good with that aspect of saving money. Things have gotten better, but there’s still room to grow.
I tell the story because today Mitchell called me, to check up on a birthday card he sent 2 weeks ago. I never got the card, but that’s another thing. Turns out, he had mailed a cheque for $100 with the greeting to put towards the new bike fund! He’s going to check up on the lost card, and if it’s ended up in the hands of evil, he’s promised to send another cheque. The conversation we had today brought back all those memories. I’m proud to say that I haven’t dipped ONCE into my change jar, which even has a BILL in it! Lindsay gave me $20 for the jar for my birthday. I have this feeling, they there will be almost enough for a kick-ass new bike when the time comes to count it up and splurge in September.
On another note: I got my second copy of “The Green Guide” in the mail today. I gave away the original copy to a friend when he was visiting from Alberta. That book changed my life, and I gave it to a friend hoping it would change his. 2 weeks ago or so, I was on ebay (after a few glasses of wine if memory serves) and I found it at a great price, so I bought it again. If your interested, you can borrow it. But you have to promise to give it back.
Global Warming: 2
Modern Living: 1