So yay for sort-of-anonymous blogging! It means I can discuss this without embarrassing everyone. I always felt I grew up in a family that was poor. We wore hand-me-down clothes from our cousins and grocery day was scheduled according to when the baby bonus cheque arrived, not how hungry we were. I was constantly teased in elementary school for not having the trendy toys and clothes of my classmates.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered in a casual conversation that my younger sister had never felt this way. Her memory of our childhood finances was that we weren't rich, but certainly not below the norm. It's as if we grew up in two different families, and maybe in some ways we did.
What seemed like a constant financial struggle growing up really made an impression on me. I remember realizing around the age of 16 that any material things I wanted in life I was going to have to obtain for myself. And that I should get off my ass and start applying myself in school, because an education is the golden ticket if there ever was one.
Right about now, some of you are probably climbing up on your pedestals, ready to preach about how money isn't the only thing in life. You're right. In my career as a chartered accountant, I could be making a significantly higher salary if I had taken a different path within my field. I made other choices because I value my personal time - with my husband, my daughter, myself.
But money isn't irrelevant, and I don't see why we should apologize for wanting a certain amount of it. Rampant materialism is distasteful and even immoral, but money means more than surrounding yourself with things. Here's what money means to me:
- Safety and security. If anything happened to my husband, I would have the financial (if not emotional) resources to care for my daughter. She wouldn't have to cope with losing her house and her future along with her father. Our neighbours don't beat each other in their driveways and stray bullets don't fly through my kitchen.
- Beauty. Silk sliding across my skin. Twilight sunset twinkling across the pond beyond the lush green grass outside my back door. Foreign language lilting in my ears as fireworks blaze against the inky sky.
- Memories. Of the blue horizon spinning around my feet as I zipline through a Hawaiian forest. Watching the shimmering dancing fountains of the Bellagio through a flashing rainbow of Las Vegas lights. Opening my eyes and seeing the world naturally for the first time after LASIK eye surgery.
- Freedom. To leave a toxic work environment or an abusive relationship. To sleep peacefully while the baby sleeps because the monitor will wake me if anything goes wrong. To not make decisions based on fear.
What does money mean to you?