“You are a tightwad dad!” I said this to your grandpa many times in my life. I couldn’t understand why he had such a hard time spending money I knew he had. I rebelled against him, and I used this as one of the motivators for being rich. I would show him…..
When I was your age, I would spend any money I received very quickly. If I got $20 for my birthday, it was spent within a day. I usually bought something stupid that I ended up not having for long. It was like the money was burning a hole in my pocket, I had to go shopping.
If I was in a store, I had to buy something. At my last job I was so stressed out that I bought things to help make me happy. I thought if I was going to stay in this job, I deserved a reward for putting up with everything. It didn’t really help.
When you were born, I went crazy buying you presents for your birthday and Christmas. It wasn’t like I was trying to make sure you had a better childhood than I did, my childhood was great. I had everything I needed and much more. I just liked to spend money. I would buy meaningless gifts just to make it look like you had more presents. Guess what? I ended up throwing away or giving to Goodwill most of those toys I gave to you. It was a waste of money as you only played with them one or two times before they ended up in a bucket or drawer in the playroom.
I spent money like I had more than I ever needed. You would think I had a money tree in the backyard. The many times I was in between jobs in my life I would still continue my spending. My justification was that once I started running out, I would try harder to find another job. I knew once the funds started running low that your mom would start getting on my case, and the stress would force me to figure out what I was going to do next for work. I was immature and foolish. I lived in the moment. If I wanted something, I found a way to get it.
Over-spending can get you in a lot of trouble. It can leave you in a situation where you don’t have the money to pay your bills. It can force you to end up selling things that you wish you never had. Two of the things I regret having to sell were my Jeep and a video camera your grandparents gave me. I loved that jeep, but I needed the money. The video camera was my first video camera. It was supposed to help me start filming and making a movie. It was so cool, but I ended having to hawk it at a pawn shop for virtually nothing just to be able to keep living in my apartment. I think your grandma knew I sold it, but I never admitted it until now.
This time of year is tough for a lot of us spendaholics. We want to show our family how much we care by showering them with presents. The best present I can give you is to help you understand what got me in trouble and that the only present you need is my love and attention.
I know it is hard for you to think about how things will be for you 10-20 years down the road, but maybe seeing how much money I wasted will somehow sink in. You also have your mom you can mirror as she is a great example of how to treat money. I certainly hope you take after her. I am getting better, but I am still not as frugal as she is. It is only now that I am finally starting to get it.
Someday I will tell you how much money I spent living the crazy life in my 20’s. The amount of money I wasted on beer alone would have easily paid for the old car you and I always talk about getting. Had I not needed the money to pay for beer, I might still have that old mustang I told you about.
I love you son! When your mom and I get on your case for wanting to spend your money on silly things instead of saving it for something you need, you will know why.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.