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Do you remember the first time you held a $1 bill? Do you remember when you owned your first $1 bill? I remember for me it was trading in my saved up change for $1, which I stuck in my change jar at my grandpa’s lake cabin. It was an awesome feeling to have real buying power outside of trading my fish sticks for half a tombstone deep dish pizza (remember those?). Having $1 gave me endless choices about what I could buy, whether it be a handful of candy, a pack of baseball cards or some candy (did I mention candy?!). But I chose to save it, because if I spent that money, my endless possibilities disappeared. It was enough for me to just think about all the wonderful things I could do with $1, so I kept the dream alive by sealing it in a jar.
As I grew up, I received an allowance (whether or not I agree with giving an allowance is another topic for another time). It was something like $10 a week or so (it seemed to fluctuate), but I remember when I got that money, the first thing I would do is pull out my savings and count it all up. From an early age, I loved getting as many $1 bills as I could because then my “stack o’ cash” (that’s what I named it) would get bigger and bigger, making me feel like I had saved up thousands (thousands = about $47). I would specifically ask for $1’s in change back when making a purchase.
I’m not sure where the motivation came from, but I felt like saving money was WAY more fun than spending it. This motivation carried into getting my first job. I had a small box where I kept all of my cash after getting paid. I saved up $1,600 in less than a year working part time at minimum wage and bought myself a car. I still valued a dollar, and tried to save every one of them that passed through my hands.
Too Much Money
I know, I know, such a thing doesn’t exist. But at age 18, I don’t recommend handing over $100,000 to your kid and letting him have card blanche on where it goes. Suffice to say, having my bank account balance over 6-digits helped completely ruin the value of a dollar, and I blew Every. Single. One. Dollars no longer held any value to me, as I could easily go to the mall and drop $500 on clothes without batting an eye (not that I regularly bat my eyes…I mean….I blink, but it’s more of a manly “I’m re-hydrating my eyeball” than a “batting of the eye”). I had too much money for my own good, and burnt through the money faster than MC Hammer at a pants store (I’m sure there are stores dedicated to only pants…somewhere……just go with it, it’s a great punchline ).
How I Regained My Appreciation For A Dollar
Having had a ridiculous amount of cash at my disposal for a few years caused me to overlook all the small places my money would disappear. Teriyaki every day, gas money, beer money, clothing, CD’s and movies, video games and stereo equipment, I didn’t think twice when spending on these things day after day after day. Then one day, it was all gone. ALL MY MONEY WAS GONE! And I still had rent and bills to pay, no job and a quarter left in college. I had to sell my pimpin’ truck to pay rent, ended up moving home with my parents and luckily got a job right out of school.
But I still didn’t care. I spent as much as I pleased and didn’t care about paying off debt or savings anything. Luckily, I didn’t get into things like gambling or small cash loans, but I still had no regard for my financial future. Then it happened. The girl I loved and enjoyed dating for the past 3 years suddenly become my fiancé. Marriage was no longer something we talked and dreamed about, it was a reality that was heading my way. FAST! It was then that I realized that I needed to know where EVERY DOLLAR WAS GOING! Now every dollar that I forgot about was a dollar less going towards our wedding, our honeymoon, our home together and our future. So those little expenses that I couldn’t care less about became VERY IMPORTANT to me. I started to track where every dollar went, and eventually made a budget and told every dollar where to go. And I’ve kept that same motivation ever since.
What Does $1 Mean To You?
It’s a simple question that can have a million different answers. Instead of telling you what it SHOULD mean to you (heck, who am I to tell you what money means to you), I want to give you a list of a few things that $1 means to my family and I:
- A fun toy for our son
- A book from goodwill
- If I daily contribute $1 to my 401k, I get a $126 match every year. After 30 years, that’s a total of over $60,000 (averaging 8% return).
- Extra money to gift to church
- A dog treat for our awesome chocolate lab
- A small step toward saving for our son’s college
- Each dollar NOT spent on junk that doesn’t matter helps keep my wife at home with our son.
Comments: So, how about you? Do you value $1 at all? What are some things that $1 means to YOU?