Money has meant different things to me at different times in my life.
From my Depression-era parents I learned that money means work. They taught me to work and save for what I wanted. At 14, I wanted contact lenses. My parents made a deal with me: you earn half the money, we will pay the other half. I did odd jobs around the house--cleaning windows, washing cars--and earned my half. Perhaps it was this monetary investment that made me persevere and learn to wear and care for hard contact lenses.
In my early 20s I learned that having money means security. My tenure as an instructor had ended and we had moved to a small town near my husband's research area. After deposits, down payments, truck rental, we had virtually no money left. I begged $200 from my parents and used that check to open a new bank account, which was frozen until the check cleared. How were we going to eat? I purchased the basics--coffee, flour, sugar, bread--and we lived on homemade cinnamon rolls, tomato sandwiches, and roasted feral boar. I applied for unemployment insurance and food stamps and never told my parents.
A birthday gift of $10,000 from my former father-in-law taught me that money could mean fun. For the first time in my life I had my own money to play with. I had savings and retirement money, but this $10,000 was mine to enjoy. And I did. I traveled, gave to others, helped my family, and treated myself. Beyond providing a certain level of security, what good is having money if you can't have pleasure from it?
Although I lived for most of my adult life from paycheck to paycheck, I am now comfortably well off. I am assured by my financial investment people that I have enough money for the next thirty years. Money means that I will be able to take care of myself in my elderhood. It means comfortable independence.