birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

MONEY. MONEY. MONEY.

During my lifetime money has meant different things depending on how much of it I had. When I was a child MONEY was a treat when my father gave me a nickel after church and sent me into the store by myself to buy some Sunday candy. As a young wife and mother MONEY was a worry. My husband was in law school and our only income was $180 from the G.I. Bill. I spent $85 on rent. There was a little left for groceries. I made two meals from a pound of hamburger, three meals from one whole chicken, and two more meals from a pound of hot dogs. Even on a tight budget everything went fine until someone at the post office stole the G.I. Bill check from the mail. When you leave are living check to check, a missing check can be a disaster.
Once our careers were on track and we had good jobs and in a nice home, MONEY had a very different meaning. We didn't need to worry about it day by day or even week by week. Money was something we could save. Save for future. Save for the holidays. Save for the children’s education. We could save just for saving. We could save for new furniture, for a bigger house, for a boat, for a vacation. MONEY is very different when you have enough of it

It is ironic that once you have more than enough money, significant worry comes back. I watched my mom and dad in their later years living on more than enough income from two pensions plus two social security checks. My mom wanted to spend her social security check, but my Dad insisted on banking it and keeping her on a budget just like he had their entire marriage. He watched the stock market daily. He wanted to be sure that his several-million-dollar nest egg would survive them; that it would, in fact, be enough to keep my brother comfortable for the rest of his life.

When my parents died, I inherited a pretty big nest egg myself. It's money we don't need. It is more than enough money. It's money for me to save for my children or an occasional splurge like business class airline tickets to Europe. I don’t mind spending the income, but I want to preserve the principle. I want it to grow. It’s a worry: What's happening with the market today? What's the rate of inflation? What's the price of gold? What's the dollar to euro exchange rate. Do I trust my financial planner?

We joke that we're going to spend the money because our kids don't want it anyway, just like they don't want our furniture or Waterford Crystal and Haviland China. But that's a joke. Just like for my parents before me, MONEY now means gift. A gift I can give my children’s future.
 

Not Keeping

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