Spending Less, Loving More - In The Beginning

>> Monday, February 9, 2015


In the beginning.....

I'm not quite sure I can pinpoint exactly when my issues with money started. It's been with me for that long.

I suppose it could have started when I was a kid -- middle school even. My dad worked for U.S. Steel - a great job pre-"closing-all-the-steel-mill" days. My mom worked part time for the rental office in the complex where we lived. Looking back now, I never really wanted for anything. There was always a home-cooked meal, gifts for birthdays and Christmas, clothes to wear. We never really took a family vacation until I was in 4th grade. We didn't need to -- there were big public pools that we would go to every summer with my mom, aunt and cousin. There was an amusement park 10 minutes from my house. There was so much to do. It was a simple lifestyle that I long for now.

When the steel mills started closing my dad got laid off. I remember him telling me about it one day when I came home from school - and I just remember hugging him. I remember going with him to get his unemployment checks and going to sign up for classes. I'd go with him to the Community College on Saturday mornings and watch while he'd do homework in the computer lab - or else I'd just wander the halls reading all the campus fliers dreaming about college opportunities for me. But there were subtle changes in our home. Even though the gifts were fewer at time, I still continued dance lessons and other music lessons. If my parents felt the financial strain - I never knew it.

The big change for me came when the clothes started coming. Trash bags full of hand-me-down clothes from cousins and friends who were 5+ years older than me. Clothes that were incredibly dated. But instead of being grateful, I was bitter. I remember one day going to school when it was so cold out. I was wearing a hand-me-down coat -- God awful wool plaid. I vividly remember some of the "mean girls" saying things like "nice coat, where can I get one?" and being so horribly embarrassed that I never wore that coat again. I would take it off the minute I rounded the corner from my house and walk in the cold all so I didn't have to face the ridicule.

Then daddy got another job.  Through his new training, he was hired by a downtown department store -- Kaufmann's (which is now Macy's). He'd be repairing cash registers and other equipment. At the time, Kaufmann's was a high-end department store - one that I longed to shop at. And along with daddy's new job came the coveted employee discount. That year for my birthday, I was allowed to shop downtown and pick anything I wanted. I was in heaven! I remember picking a very soft, Christmas white sweater dress and grey suede boots. I cherished those items and wore them until they both fell apart.

When I graduated college, I started working downtown too. Daddy and I would commute together - stopping for coffee and donuts before getting to work. We'd listen to the local morning show and laugh at all the skits. It was then that I found out how much my daddy hated that job -- but he kept going and kept working -- for us.

It was probably my first real lesson -- and I just didn't see it at the time. Because at the time, I was basking in making my own money and using all those credit cards that I had opened over the past year or so.

Little did I know at the time that it was just the beginning of my downfall.

(To Be Continued.......)


Michelle February 9, 2015 at 12:27 PM  

Thank you for sharing a private part of yourself. I too spent weekends at the university library with my father. It was a wonderful experience that I thought was true heaven. I agree that it inspired my college dreams and future successes. I loved that Saturday mornings began early with breakfast together and talking about our week, then off to the library where we would both be lost in our own worlds for hours, I would bring homework if I had it, but loved just diving into books. A great memory, thanks for reviving it for me.

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