I was always a saver as a kid. There were times here or there where we would get money from Mom and Dad, but we didn’t receive a regular allowance. There would be money-filled Easter eggs in the spring, $5 in the birthday card from Grandma, $20 from a babysitting job, and most notable maybe $100 or so from the 4-H baking auction (that my dad always won the bid for). That money would need to get me through the year, so I was very selective with what I spent it on.
Our family has always been big into gift giving at Christmastime. My mom would take us shopping with our own money, and we would buy gifts for our siblings, parents, grandma, etc. Gift giving took about 90% of my spending money for the year… but I never viewed that as a bad thing. Starting in the summer months, I would count through the dollar bills in my little, yellow, tin safe. I was thinking ahead to setting that money aside for Christmas and birthday presents. Rarely did I spend any money before Christmas (aside from my sisters’ birthdays)… if I did, it was on the occasional trip with my mom to Dollar Tree where I would carefully select for myself a rubber snake or dinosaur toy. I was a bit of a tomboy…
After all the gifts were purchased, I would usually only have $5 or so left in my little safe, and I would start saving up again for the next year. Once I got to high school, I had a more regular babysitting job, so I was able to accumulate enough cash to buy more than just Christmas presents. Mainly, I had to have enough cash to pay for my regular trips to Dairy Queen with my team before our home soccer games.
I recall my senior year that I had an assortment of bills adding up to $100, and I traded my dad for a single $100 bill. I don’t know why we did that… I honestly think he just needed the change and asked if I had it. That said, it was my very first $100 bill. It felt different – meaningful somehow. I did all I could to avoid “breaking it.”
However, my second semester of my freshman year at college, I noticed my checking account was getting a little slim. I hadn’t yet started a job while at college and I had textbooks to buy, so I decided to deposit my special $100 bill into my checking account. Weeks later, I bought a $120 textbook. It hit me like a ton of bricks. That $100 bill was so meaningful to me. It represented years of thrift and careful planning, and yet it wasn’t even enough to cover a full textbook that a professor probably would only crack open once.
$100 once meant so much. Now, years later, I spend more than that on half a cart of groceries. If $100 was missing from my checking account, I honestly wouldn’t even notice. Some people would though. To some, $100 still means very much indeed. It is all relative to a person’s unique situation and mindset.
I remind myself of this often. A client is down 15% in their portfolio. From my perspective, that’s a normal market correction – nothing to fret over. From their perspective, it’s devastating.
I’m right… it is a normal correction.
They’re right… it is devastating.
Never apologize for the way you feel about your money. I do, however, encourage you to understand why you feel the way you feel. Consider your own money story. Think about how your own history with money has crafted your money beliefs today. Then, take ownership over whether or not your feelings are healthy and productive. If your feelings need to change, talk with your financial advisor to express your concerns or anxieties. Take the steps necessary to work through those emotions.
Lastly, have empathy and understanding for the way other people feel about money.
If you are my client, I want to understand your money story. I want to know how it makes you feel when that inevitable market correction happens. I want to know if it is going to affect you the same way the loss of that special $100 bill affected me. When I know this about you, I am more equipped to guide you as you make financial decisions.