Powerful Life Experiences About Money

As we grow up, we are constantly bombarded with experiences and emotions. Some are so powerful that they change us and make us who we are today. Take a moment and move yourself back through time. What are some of the experiences that shape your life; in particular about money? Here are some events that I can still remember vividly from my past.

The Pickpocket

When I was 9, my parents sent me to a boarding school so that I can more fully experience life. One Sunday before the semester starts, my parents and I went shopping for school supplies and clothing. The mall was busy and the sale section was jammed packed.

Everything seemed normal as we searched through the piles for bargains. There was even a friendly lady who offered to help my mom look through the piles. After a short while, we got a few items in hand and headed to the cashier. As my mom reached for her wallet, she realized that someone had cut through her purse and took all the money. She was distraught because the wallet had my tuition money in it (credit card was not popular back then).

That day, I learned to be cautious and guard things that I valued.

The Remote Control Car

Two years later, my father brought me over from Thailand to live with him in New York. One day, he took me to his friend’s house. His friend’s kids each had a remote control car and they invited me out to play. These were not the $50 ones you buy from department stores, but $700 professional off-road racing RC cars that comes in a kit which you have to put together yourself. I played with them for a while and I was hooked. I never had so much fun in my life!

Afterward, I begged my dad to buy me one. At first he was reluctant because it was very expensive. But I insisted and he finally gave in. I was overjoyed. We went out and bought a kit. For many days, I put all the pieces together, and turned them into a car. I was very happy and proud of my achievement. For many months, I played with it every day. But not too long thereafter, the car found itself on top of the cabinet…forgotten.

I still have that car, (and it still runs). Every time I see it, I ask myself “Was that brief moment of joy worth the $700 and hardship that I brought dad?” Now that I think of it, my dad probably spent more than his entire paycheck on that car.

Since then, I learned to use my money wisely and to not act impulsively.

The Ice Cream

When I was 12, I went to a groceries store with my friend. We bought a few things that her mom had asked us to buy. On the way out we spotted some ice cream cups in the fridge. She wanted one, but I did not. Since she already spent her money on the groceries, she asked me for a dollar. As you might guess, I refused (to be fair, I had really bad experiences lending money while I was at the boarding school).

When we returned to my aunt’s apartment, my friend told her about the ice cream. Boy, did my aunt let me have it! She scolded me and called me a cheapskate. She told me that there are things in life that is worth more than money.

Another lesson learned.

The Taxi Cab

After the courier service company my dad worked for lowered its commission for their truck drivers, my dad had to look for another job to support us. His friend told him about being a taxi driver and how much money can be made as a cabby. After a year of driving rented cab, my dad told me that he did not want to drive for someone else anymore because the taxi company was making all the money.

A few weeks later, he took me with him to pick up his brand new taxi. Actually, it was a used NYC police car repainted yellow. He paid the garage that sold him the cab and we drove off together. A few minutes into the ride, I saw tears streamed down his tired face. My dad was crying! I asked him why, and he simply said that he missed his mom. But deep down inside, I knew that it was about money.

That day, I promised myself I would learn everything I can about money so that I can master it and not let it hurt me.

I hope you enjoyed my stories. They certainly changed me for the better. What are your powerful life experiences

This article was featured in the Carnival of Money Stories #22.

About the Author

By , on Aug 2, 2007
Pinyo
Pinyo is the owner of Moolanomy Personal Finance. He is a licensed Realtor specializing in residential homes in the Northern Virginia area. Over the past 20 years, Pinyo has enjoyed a diverse career as an investor, entrepreneur, business executive, educator, and financial literacy author.

Leave Your Comment (11 Comments)

  1. Pinyo says:

    @fern – I think it’s really healthy that the entire family talks about financial matters. As far as mortgage, have you consider paying the regular about and invest the difference? I think it’s better overall unless your mortgage interest rate is really high. I discussed this in Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step 6: Pay Off Home Early.

  2. fern says:

    We didn’t have a lot of $ when i was growing up. My mom supported the 3 of us on a secretary’s salary. Every so often, she’d call a “family meeting” on a Saturday morning and explain to us that we’d just gone through a gallon of milk in 3 days, or instructing us (really, this is true), not to use more than 4 sheets of TP per wipe.

    This taught me not to waste food, or anything, for that matter.

    My grandparents offered to help my buy a Schwinn bicycle if i saved up as much as i could. Months later, they probably forgot about our agreement, but i’d been saving every dollar i could. (I was probably about 13 or so.) We went to the store, but the money I’d saved wasn’t enough to cover it, so they chipped in the rest and i got an orange Schwinn 10-speed that carried my many happy miles.

    This taught me that if you really want something, bide your time and save for it. To this day, i don’t have that credit card mentality of buying on impulse. My only debt today is my mortgage and even that i’m steadily chipping away at so that i’ll have paid it off in 20 years instead of 30.

  3. Pinyo says:

    Cameron – welcome to Moolanomy. Those are great life lesson. I agree completely. On our last vacation, my wife and I spent quite a bit of money. However, the best part of the trip was free — a visit to a lighthouse on a small island. Go figure.

  4. Cameron says:

    I’m in my sixties now and have learned two things from my periods of poverty and affluence:
    1. The best things in life are free.
    2. Money makes the journey more comfortable.

  5. Pinyo says:

    Don – welcome to Moolanomy and thank you for your comment.

    That’s the thing. It was the first time she asked and for only a dollar. I should have given it. I guess lesson learned.

  6. dong says:

    Pinyo, I’m softie so I’m with your Aunt and the ice cream. I mean it’s one thing your friend was know to have some chronic problem with borrowing or taking advantage of you…., but otherwise I think it’s better to be less of tightwad especially when it comes to friends and family.

  7. Chris says:

    “She told me that there are things in life that is worth more than money.”

    And your aunt was right; however, it shouldn’t take money to obtain those things, as would have been the case if you’d exchanged money (the one dollar) to keep a friendship intact, which is (I think) what your aunt was implying that you should have done.

    P.S. Thanks Pinyo – my dad and I have rectified the silence between ourselves (although I would never ask him for money, ever again, LOL!)

  8. Pinyo says:

    Chris – you are right. People have the tendency to come back for more. And thank you for sharing your story. I hope you and your dad get along fine now.

  9. Chris says:

    and think about it, Pinyo. Had you have given her that dollar for the ice cream because she, for whatever reason, had no money at the time, how long would it have been before she asked you for money again for something else she couldn’t buy for whatever reason? It gets that way. You give someone money once, and then you become a perpetual resource for them.

    I learned that lesson the hard way with my dad, after he finally cut me off at age 37. I thank God he did now, but I miss all the years he and I didn’t talk because of it.

  10. Pinyo says:

    Matt – well, it was only a $1 and she was my friend. As much as I think my aunt made a good point, I think your point is also very valid. There’s just too much peer pressure out there, and that’s why so many people are in debt.

  11. Matt says:

    I don’t see what’s so bad about your decision on The Ice Cream story. I would take the lesson to be “don’t let other people coerce you into spending money on things you don’t want.” That’s something very important to learn in a consumption society.

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