If a money tree started to grow in my garden, it would have to be a weed. Real plants die for me (or get dug up by the local squirrels). I’m useless with plants – but my weeds flourish beautifully.
But I digress.
Several blogs on this topic have been about what people might buy if they had a money tree; others have highlighted the various things that money can’t buy – family, friends, love, happiness, health. Here’s my experience:
When I was a child, my father had a low-paid clerical job, so there were no luxuries, only necessities. Just as an example, when I was about 7 or 8, I had one thick exercise book in which I used to write my stories. I learned to write very small so as to fit more on a page! In pencil too, not pen, because when the book was full, I would erase one story in order to write another. My mother, who’d learned ‘make do and mend’ during the austere years during and after World War 2, was adept at patching and darning worn clothes, or unpicking an outgrown cardigan and using the wool to knit another. By today’s standards, I guess we were poor, but at the time I wasn’t aware of it, since many of our neighbours and friends were the same.
Later, when I was a single parent, bringing up two girls, money was tight. I had a reasonable salary as a teacher, and my mother’s ‘make do and mend’ strategies stood me in good stead, as I was able to sew and knit clothes for my daughters. One major problem was that I had no ‘reserve’ funds so the breakdown of any equipment, such as the washing machine, or worse still the car, assumed titanic disaster proportions. A money tree at that time would have come in very useful but, looking back now, I survived without it. The advent of credit cards helped, but I dreaded getting into ‘debt’ (apart from my house mortgage) so the credit card was restricted to the direst emergency!
Now my girls have flown the nest, and they both have their own homes, partners and families. They’re not ‘rich’, they’ve both had their own ‘lean’ years but they can now afford far more than I could at their ages, so I’m delighted for them.
And me? Well, in retirement, I guess I have my own ‘money tree’ now, in the form of several pensions – money coming into my bank account each month without me having to go out to work to earn it. Okay, I know I ‘earned’ it in the past through my contributions to pension funds, but it still feels like ‘money for doing nothing’!
I live well within my income – maybe because my upbringing and later experiences as a single parent have taught me to be careful with money. I’m not extravagant, I look for cheap offers in the supermarket, I don’t buy things I don’t need, but I do have the money to buy what I need and do the things I want to do. A couple of (relatively small) legacies have allowed me to make-over most of the rooms in my house, and in the last 10+ years since I took (early!) retirement, I’ve done a lot of travelling, in mainland Europe, USA and Canada, and the Middle East.
So, somewhere along the way, I must have planted my money tree and, like the weeds in my garden, it’s now flourishing. Mind you, if there WAS a real money tree, there’s this VERY nice little cottage near Galway in my beloved Ireland that I would LOVE to buy!