Wednesday, June 5, 2013

My Treasure Chest

  When the subject of savings comes up, I always get funny looks from my friends. Some wonder how I even have savings. Most of them don't posses a freezer stash like I do. Sometimes I can see the gears slowly churning in their heads- they think of themselves as hopeless spenders.

  "Never will I have enough to take my family on vacation."   "I can't afford to buy organic food."
      "Never will I save enough for a down payment on a house."    "I don't make enough money."
          "Never will I be able to buy a car without a loan."    "I could never pay that much for shoes."

  Pretty sure all of the above is absolute baloney. Silly excuses. I can back myself up on that because I pretty much do all of those things earning much less than everyone else.  I am single. I have two kids, a dog, two cats. I made $20k last year working 25 hours a week average. I buy nice shoes. I own my home and car outright. I swing by my local cafe on occasion to subdue an afternoon craving. We take vacations. I have no debt. This is not me bragging, it means we all start somewhere taking lots of small steps. Which is what I want to teach all of my friends to do.
  My first memories of money offer insight into how I manage it as an adult. I had this orange wicker basket shaped like a pumpkin about the size of a soccer ball. It even had a cover that fit perfectly on top with a painted green stem and little curly vines that hid what was inside. That thing was packed full of coins, and each time I picked it up I feared it would break. My dad used to toss in the leftovers from his pocket, which became my first stash.
  I have silly fond memories of shutting myself in my room, dragging that thing to the middle of the floor and tipping it over so that the change spilled out in a rush of sparkle and delight. The tangy metallic smell made me smile. I would scoop it up in greedy handfuls to watch it slip between my fingers, and hear it musically clink to the floor. Sometimes I would run my palm across the heap, smoothing it flat to see how big an area of the floor it would cover. I made patterns and piles, counting each stack, and on occasion ran across the hall to the sink so I could try to scrub a dirty penny clean. This was one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon as a 7 year old.
   As far as I can remember, I never thought to spend it. I loved having it tucked away in my room where I could keep an eye on it. It was my vessel of possibility, my treasure pumpkin. It really helps to have a special place to keep your cash. My dad used to hide his in the back of the freezer. He has a great name for it- cold cash. My friends used to think that was hilarious, I thought it was pretty neat. So when I got a place of my own, the freezer became my piggybank. My friends still thought that was hilarious, and I still thought it was neat... but none of them had a lump of savings like I did.
   About 6 years ago I had a bum tooth. It was a wisdom tooth that was falling apart in my mouth. It hurt so bad I wanted to pull it out myself. I was just getting on my feet after a divorce, and finances were tight. My cold cash barely covered rent. The only dentist I could find to pull my tooth without charging a fortune was in RI where my family lives. I made an appointment on the weekend of my birthday. It was short and sweet and slightly gross, but I got out of there only paying $125 for the procedure . Life was good again and I headed back to my grandparents place for a little birthday chill and grill. After our meal, my Gram handed me a white envelope with "From the Tooth Fairy" written in her shaky scrawl across the front. Huh? Then I opened it and pulled out the bounty inside. Right. She gifted me the cash that covered the tooth. The whole family got a chuckle.
  That envelope became my new treasure chest. It has spent years in the back of the freezer, years at the bottom of  underwear drawers, or tucked between mattresses. I had to clear tape the whole thing- inside and out- because it started to disintegrate. Now that my sweet Gram has been gone for a few years, it is a treasure with or without my weekly earnings hidden inside.
  Find yourself a treasure chest. Make it something special. Then start filling it with treasure. Touch it, count it, smell it, love it. Give your money the respect it deserves. I guarantee you might start holding onto it a little longer. xoxo


  1. Another great post, Lori! I too stash my cash in an envelope that someone once gave me a birthday card in. It was a dear friend and seeing my name in her writing with a cute balloon that she drew always makes me smile, as does tucking away my hard earned cash. I'm pretty good at keeping most of it, but am working on cutting back on my spending. I look forward to hearing your tips and strategies on how to make that happen!

    1. Awww thanks for sharing Michelle! The love is key. Do you have a picture of it with your weekly stash bursting out? I was thinking of making a gallery of treasure chests to motivate people- and for fun! I hope I have some fresh ideas to offer you as well!

  2. Replies
    1. Me too. That was a really nice dinner with Gram and Gramp, and Dad! We sat outside in their yard and ate mako shark that one of Dad's friends caught. My envelope always reminds me of that day :)

  3. This is fantastic, Lori! I see great things in your future. Let's collaborate and rock the internet together! xlxl

  4. We have a huge glass jar that looks like a genie bottle next to our washer and dryer. I wrote, "Let's Create some Change"on a piece of tape on it and that is what we fill it with, lots of change! Last year, it bought christmas presents for our family and this year it has helped get us out of a pinch when we spent too much on the farm. I like putting dollar bills in it from tips because they add up so fast and when I see a bigger bill in there it is always exciting. The only thing is that is incredibly hard to get the money out of the thin necked bottle, so we have to really need or want it to bust into it....

  5. I love that! Nice name too! I like that you can see what's inside. I also keep a glass jar over the washing machine that I toss pocket change into before washing. We usually use that to go see a movie or to splurge on sorbet cones in the summer...xoxo

  6. Very inspiring. I have a stash always but it's usually a short term savings for something specific. I'd love to make that stash grow bigger for an important and more long term goal. Now all I need is a special place.