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.
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.
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.
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.
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.