Money Observer: First money memories

What’s your first memory of money? Psychoanalysts could have a field day unravelling how people’s first memories shape their views of finance. So, what do you remember?

I remember finding a bundle of German banknotes in the playground. I gave the notes to my mother, who asked around at the kindergarten to see if anyone had lost money, but nobody came forward.

In the end she put the bundle on our piano, where it lay, unclaimed, for the next few years. In retrospect, I wonder who would carry a bundle of money around and lose it near the kids’ climbing frame? Maybe someone threw it into the sandbox while being chased by police.

My friend Tom’s memory dates back to Red Nose Day at his primary school. His mother gave him £2 so that he would have enough money to buy some cookies at the charity stall. The cookies cost 20p.

Tom bought one and thought: ‘What a great deal! You get some money back and you get a cookie as well!’ So he re-joined the queue several times. ‘Who knows how many cookies I went through in the process?’ he says.

In due course, though, came ‘the disappointment of finding out I eventually didn’t get any money back’. He complained to the teacher, who promptly asked the older pupil behind the stall why Tom hadn’t had his change. Of course, he wasn’t due any.

‘They realised I simply didn’t understand the concept of money. I had no idea how much a cookie was, or the value of my coins. At first, it had seemed like such a good arrangement.’ But not such a bad way to learn the dangers of spending to excess.

This column was originally published in Money Observer, March issue 2018

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