Posted: Wednesday, December 29, 2010 7:29:41 PM
“You have to take care of that money,” my mom said giving me a stern look. I took the crumpled and partly ripped dollar bill out of the pocket of my jeans. She chuckled, took the dollar out of my outstretched hand and began to flatten it with the palm of her hand. After her futile attempt to bring back the dirty old dollar bill to its former glory, she sighed and folded it once over.
“I have to get you a wallet. Maybe one day, you’ll have more of this to take care of,” she told the five-year-old me.
It’s been eleven years since she got me that wallet and honestly, it was the coolest thing I have ever gotten. It was turquoise with a frog on it. I’ve had many wallets since then. The different wallets matched my interests and needs of the time. The contents of the wallet never changed though: green bills sculpted into flatness, a couple of coins that I would soon forget and a picture of my mother and me when I was five.
My mom always said that you have to earn money. You have to work for it and then care for it. You can’t neglect it or throw it away. The most important thing, though, is that you can’t live for it. Yes, the presence of money is seemingly inescapable, but money can’t be the reason you live or the reason you can’t.
Despite her wise advice, I’ve struggled to understand the meaning of a piece of paper that I could easily rip up with a simple motion. My brain aches wondering why having enough of this paper in our hands makes us feel invincible and why having none makes us feel vulnerable. I still can’t wrap my head around why our whole society is determined by green and why we continue to live by money despite the barriers it puts up. At times, it deprives people of education, food, homes, water and medicine.
The thought of those struggling with money has guided the way I treat it. Although I come from a middle-class family where money isn’t the top issue, I think about how a piece of green paper is as fragile as it looks. I could lose it and everything I have along with it so easily. The necessities we often take for granted could slip from my hands. That’s why I’ve been saving my money since I was little. Every birthday and every Christmas, I would take the money I received and pile them together and to see it grow. Every so often, I would take money out to buy something nice for myself. However, by far the most joy I’ve ever gotten out of my money has been buying gifts for my family and giving money to certain charities. Even though money never sleeps, it helps me to.