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Over 60...and Getting Younger: July 3, 2009

A Sense of Money

It is possible to know a person and not know that person’s “sense of money.” We do not always readily see where that person grew up and if there was poverty in the home. Later in life, growing up poor may have different consequences.

In one scenario that person may become a spendthrift and react totally against all things that remind him/her of the years of deprivation. Poverty is not pretty and it may burn scars into the psyche that are not evident at a quick glance. “I’ll show the world that even though I came from a poor home I won’t allow anyone to see my inner feelings,” is one way of reacting.

Another tack is also possible. The individual sees everything in terms of money. His wife, his children are all channels that his money escapes through. Every purchase whether it be for groceries, buying a home or subscribing to a newspaper or magazine sends shocks through the system of someone who was born into poor surroundings. Turning out the lights was important. “We don’t want to make Con Edison rich.”

As I examine my own life I laugh at the road that I have taken. My early years in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s were interesting. My parents were victims of the 1930s Depression. They couldn’t spend money easily. They passed the “Depression syndrome” on to me. I had to save regularly or I did not feel secure. In other words, “I was a cheapskate.” Even though my parents owned a store, and could afford it, they were very conservative with money. I was what I later termed “neighborhood royalty.” While other fathers were working in the garment industry or as furriers, my folks had a successful business.

Only later in life did I feel easy about spending and buying things. Much of this new attitude I owe to Lorraine, my wonderful wife. She taught me how to spend and enjoy life and to have no fear of purchasing things I truly desired. It lifted a huge burden from my shoulders and allowed me to appreciate life. She also has contributed financially.

I repeat, you may know a person superficially, but you do not know his or her “sense of money.”