It’s 10:00 in the evening and I am thinking about my first bank account.
I don’t remember opening it, but I remember clearly how I funded it. My grandfather made me a deal: he would match each quarter I saved with a dollar and all of our combined money would go into the bank account.
If I saved seven quarters, together we’d put $8.75 in the bank.
It was a great system for getting me to save money, and opening the door to the world of managing money for me. Saving my quarters, and going to the bank with my grandfather every few months, is one of the clearest memories I have of my childhood.
We stopped this practice around the time I was 12. I think my grandfather thought I was getting too old, and to be honest, I wasn’t as good at holding onto my quarters as I had once been. My attention was shifting, and my grandfather had other things on his mind.
Still, my grandfather had accomplished his mission. I am now, and always have been, an excellent saver. I haven’t always had a lot of money to save, but I have always had something tucked away for future me.
More on saving your dollars (or quarters!)
I recently lost my grandfather. It was expected, but it hurts, always. We’ll never talk again. He’ll never see Bravely grow. And he would have loved that, because my grandfather was a ruthless capitalist who loved making and having money.
A Money Legacy
My grandfather was far and away the person in my life who loved money the most. He talked about his money almost incessantly in the later part of his life. (Part of this was due to his illness, which caused him to focus on one topic.) He was deeply proud of the businesses he had built, the money he had earned, and the lifestyle he had provided for his wife and his family at large.
To him, money meant power and it meant control. At work, no one could tell him what to do, because he was the one who wrote the checks. At home, no one could tell him what to do because he was the only income.
As his grandchild, I was beloved. I was his favorite, and everyone in the family knows it. Being the favorite didn’t exclude me from the money rules that dominated his life and personality though. Money was so deeply ingrained into my grandfather’s life and personality, it was his defining feature. Step outside of the boundaries of his financial rules, and you would lose types of access to not only any financial support, but to him as a person.
In my mind, his money legacy is both one of generosity and control. Of bringing his businesses to incredible heights, and of obsessing over what could have been next.
I see myself in him. I wish that he could have understood, these last few years, what I had done with my student loan debt, and how I had become the next entrepreneur in the family, after him. He’d be proud, and I’d be proud to have earned his respect.
I also fear letting money become the defining characteristic of who I am. Of letting money become the defining point of my time here on earth.
A Legacy of One’s Own
I love watching tv. I’ve spent…weeks, probably, of my life consuming tv and movies. I love stories, I love watching hot people do dramatic things, and I love not doing anything. Hollywood serves up exactly what I’m looking for.
On my deathbed, will I be glad I watched so much tv? Probably not. Which is why I also make time and devote resources to things like traveling for extensive amounts of time, or making homemade cards for my friends.
On my deathbed, will I be glad that I spent so much time talking about money? That I devoted years of my life to teaching others about money? That I got deeply involved in the online money community?
I think yes. Because my work and time here is not just about hoarding as much money as I can for myself. Bravely Go is about teaching people the tools they need to become financially stable so that they can devote more time to changing the world than to managing their budget.
I’m not here to simply make you rich. Or to simply get rich myself. I’m interested in changing the way the world works, and also having enough money to afford healthcare. I want my money legacy to be one of helping people change their financial lives.
People leave impressions on us as they come and go in our lives. My grandfather impressed upon me that having money was important to being heard in this world. (Sad but true.) He also showed me that a love for money, gone unbalanced, can change who you are. It can change how you move in the world, and how you view others.
Life’s a balancing act, and we’re all hoping that we land gracefully. I loved my grandfather, and have memories that I will cherish forever. But I don’t want to be him, and I don’t want to have his same money legacy. And I know that he would be glad of that, because there was nothing he liked more than someone who went out and carved their own god damn path in this world.
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