Just like everything in life, wealth is based on your perception. Lately I’ve been told several times “we weren’t rich like you growing up”. Or ” we grew up poor, and couldn’t afford to have nice things” or my favorite ” poor people have poor ways” (which is a topic for another discussion)
I never thought I grew up in a rich family, in fact for me, it was just the opposite. I always thought we were poor, but looking back, I realize it was in the perception.
Even though many families around us had more money than we had. Their perception was that they were poor, and it is that perception that guided them. Even though our family didn’t have much money, I grew up with a few basic money principles, that guided when, were, and how what little money we had was spent.
First, if you don’t have the money, you don’t need it. Charging was something I didn’t even know existed. I remember the first time I encountered a charge account. I was in high school and was at the local drug store with a classmate. She picked up a few things that she wanted. When we got to the counter to check out, the clerk asked her, ” do you want to charge this?”. I was actually pretty surprised, because I never knew you could charge something. I discovered other people got stuff from a store, and didn’t have to pay for it right away. I remember thinking “her family must be rich”. Even though I wanted some similar items, I didn’t have the money in my pocket, so I didn’t get them. It was my perception that only rich people could get something from a store, and pay for it later. That “poor people” had to pay for it right away. And since I didn’t have the money I needed to get the money first. Which brings me to the second principle.
The idea that if you wanted something you had to earn it. Just because I wanted a ten speed bike was when I was in 6th grade, didn’t mean I got it. I needed to have the money in my pocket, which meant I had to figure out a way to earn and save my own money until I had enough to pay for it.
If I recall correctly, the bike was about a hundred dollars. Which was much more money that I had in my savings. It was about this same time my sister came up with an opportunity to earn some money. The local “paper boys” were looking for someone to take over the paper routes, so we became the “paper boys”. For almost an entire year, we would get up at 5 in the morning, get dressed, go outside, grab the stack of papers, sort them into 3 bundles, and put them in our delivery bags. Then my sister, my brother and I would step out the door, get on our small pedal bikes (when weather permitted) and bring the papers to each house. Since it usually took us about and hour to an hour and half to get the papers delivered, we would get home in time each morning, to eat a quick breakfast and then go to school. We did this every day, rain or snow, weekday and weekends, and yes even holidays. It took about 6 months to earn enough money to purchase the bike. I still remember that feeling of accomplishment being at the hardware store, picking out a new ten speed bike and handing the clerk a hundred dollars in cash. It was an amazing feeling of pride to be riding that bike to school each day. Of course it took a few weeks, but my classmates soon told me their family was to poor to afford a nice bike like that. Their perception was that because we worked hard, (sometimes walking through a foot of snow), just to save enough money to pay for a nice bike, made us rich.
Being rich or poor isn’t really about how much money you have. It isn’t about how many nice things you have. It’s how you perceive yourself, and how you portray that perception to others. If you perceive yourself as being poor, than you are poor and you portray that to others. I may have grown up broke, but I’ve never been poor.
AVON Independent Sales Rep