Who Needs Millions When You Have $120?

Today we welcome our newest contributor, Daisy Flower!

I was in a summer day camp when I was eight, which my brother and I attended with some friends from our neighborhood. After the day camp, one of the neighborhood parents would carpool us back to their home, where my mom would pick my brother and I up.

When you’re eight, there’s not much to spend money on. Your parents buy your clothes and food, put a roof over your head, pay for school supplies, and buy you toys. So any money that I got for my birthdays, Christmas, or change from the cart at the grocery store that my parents would always let me keep ($0.25) was deposited into a savings account that my parents had opened for me. At one point, before I pooled my money with my brother’s to buy a trampoline, I had saved just over $120.

I was playing one day with the daughter of the family with which I carpooled. Somehow the topic of money came up and the little girl told me how much money she had in her piggy bank. She asked me how much I had, and I told her $120. She wouldn’t believe me. She said that if I had $120, that meant I was rich and she knew I wasn’t rich so I must have been lying.

Now I can only wish that having $120 in the bank meant I was rich.

Material Things Signify Wealth

When I was eleven, I spent some of my free time making money by washing my mom’s car. She’d give me $2 per wash, but for some reason she wouldn’t let me wash it twice in one day. Something about it not getting dirty just two hours after the previous wash.

I’d save up for two weeks, or two car washes, to get enough to buy a Lipsmackers lipchap. My favorite flavour was Cotton Candy, but I was also a fan of Dr Pepper flavor.

I was under the impression that having Lipsmackers in various colors and flavors was a symbol of wealth. Most of my friends only had the Lipsmackers that their parents put in their Christmas stockings or ones from party loot bags. I, on the other hand, must have been a high roller, because I had several different flavors and colors.

$8/Hr Is a Great Living Wage

This one is actually quite embarrassing, as I was likely far too old to believe this, but when I was in my early teens, I got my first job working in a fast food restaurant. I was hired at $6/hr (training wage) and did not get a raise until I worked over 500 hours. Naturally, 500 hours is quite a lot for somebody who only works 8 hours per week, but it was completely fine with me. It was more than the $5/hr I made babysitting, and the job was easier, too.

I had a co-worker who was a single mother to two children. She would sometimes take her lunch break with me and tell me about her financial and emotional struggles. I thought she was crazy – she was already making $8/hour, how could she possibly be struggling?

By my (poorly thought out, never researched) estimation, $8/hr ($1280 after working a full-time, 160 hour work month) should have been able to house, clothe, transport, feed, and care for three people adequately.

I figured it out as soon as I gave it more thought, but I guess because $1280/month was so much more than I made, and I was able to do what I wanted with my money (because my parents paid for everything), I figured it should be more than enough.

The thought process of children and their delusions are entertaining and harmless for the most part, but it’s always interesting to look back and compare realities. Wouldn’t it be nice if a wage of $8, or $120, or several flavors of lip chap meant that you were rich?

What is the funniest delusion you had as a child about money?

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  1. I can relate to working for min wage and feeling rich..I worked at a movie theater for $5.15 an hour and I thought I owned the world. lol I actually really liked working there and would work doubles (10 hour shifts) back to back, so I did earn quite a lot of money—especially for a teenager with low low expenses.

    When I was young I could imagine people making money for the US. It’s just paper, right? Green paper! My delusion was (and still is :)) that I want to collect all of the money and that it is totally possible. It has been a really big drive for me to earn scholarships for college and work really hard and save.

  2. I remember thinking any job was awesome (even min wage) since I was spending it all on crap. I also never understood “saving” and I really wish I had. I thought money was meant to be spent!

  3. My first earnings was $2.50 when I rented out parking spaces on my parent’s land. In the early 50s, I thought I was rich! I took the money and bought a wallet and nothing to put in it for weeks or months. As an adult, I never keep money in my wallet. Apparently, my ;childhood influenced me, but I have much more in savings now.

  4. That’s so cute. I used to think that writing a check equaled free money. I used to tell my mom, “Just write a check!”

    • Hahahaha that’s so funny Cat! My brother one time when we first got our bank cards “deposited” a blank check when my mom was waiting in line at the bank. bad move!

  5. Justin @ The Family Finances says:

    I grew up in a poor family, and when I got my first job in high school at Wal-Mart making $6.50 I thought I had struck it rich. Ha, but then my parents started making me pay for things like gas, car insurance, and my own clothes. Talk about a reality check, lol.

  6. I used to have this little card that when you opened it up it held slots for $.25. Once I filled it up with quarters I thought I was super rich. I think I was 7 or 8. 🙂

  7. I enjoyed reading this post, because I totally can relate with some of your experiences when you were younger. One is that there was a time in my life as well that I felt richer than any of my friends simply because I was earning/receiving more money than they did, and was wearing more expensive stuff, but now I just laugh about it everytime it crosses my mind.

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