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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Money

My mother always said money is meaningless probably because she never had to worry about not having enough. Throughout my childhood, she would refer to certain friends as having the first dollar they ever earned. When I had my first paying job, babysitting at the age of 14, I kept the first dollar I ever earned. I sealed it in an envelope and wrote in my neat cursive handwriting “First Dollar Ever Earned – Many More to Follow.” I still have that envelope with a slightly ripped corner from a time when I felt I needed that money but stopped myself. I keep this sealed dollar in my safety deposit box. When anyone looks at me in disgust and says, “She has the first dollar ever earned,” I will be happy to offer proof that I do. When I was around four years old, I asked my mother if we were rich. She said, “No.” I disagreed with her. “Of course, we are rich!” I ran around saying it because I like the “ch” sound in the word rich. As the daughter of a CPA, I have always been very circumspect about sharing details about income and wealth. My father emphasized the importance of keeping that information confidential. I was always a saver. I felt pride in my passbook account that I opened as soon as I could earn extra money. My father and great aunt Fanny taught me the value of investing by osmosis rather that pedantic advice. When I would accompany my father as he drove the car, I would read him the tiny print of the previous day’s stock closing. I always liked looking up a company called Superior Oil because in the 60’s it was the most expensive stock on the New York Stock Exchange. My Aunt Fanny was a wealthy woman who lived like she was a poor one. From the time, she arrived in the United States and worked in a garment factory as a seamstress, Fanny invested a bit of her money every Friday. She held many of her stocks through the Great Depression. She was a disciplined investor and didn’t believe in churning her holdings. This uneducated but wise woman was my father’s mentor is a strange way. Both of them became wealthy beyond their expectations but never lived like they were rich. I used to tease my parents that they had a ghetto mentality. They would laugh at me because I think their real joy in life was being able to fund the college educations of their six grandchildren rather than living extravagantly. I am also a saver and an investor, in charge of the family money that I have managed by people wiser than me in this area. However I am not as stingy as my parents were when it comes to self-indulgence. I don’t go overboard but I do enjoy some of the better things in life, travel and good food. I think one of the best investments anyone can make is in themselves. At some point in your life, you have to ask, “What is more important a few extra thousand dollars in the bank or a body that works at 85?” Lately I have invested in my physical future with private training sessions that in earlier years I would have considered an unnecessary luxury.  

Money

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