I’m sure she meant well. I know she did, she wasn’t like a monster.
As an adult, I’m pretty sure I know why she did it. She thought it would motivate me to save money.
“Well it’s like a special account you put money in to keep for later.”
Ok that part seems normal I have a piggy bank, and I have pockets, so I understand the idea of a repository for funds versus funds for immediate dispersal, that’s legit. Maybe I even had a little wallet. How cute. So I had THREE different cash equity vehicles. But SELL me on this special account, because it seems pretty far from my bedroom and the aforementioned piggy bank has the lifestyle/convenience factor on LOCK.
“So you put money in there, and they invest that money, along with the money of other people, and they pay part of what they earn with your money back to you just for letting them borrow it.”
Ho now hold up like a piggy bank that puts the money in its mouth and poops out a little bit more money than you fed it. Oh I am with this this is great. I’m ALL IN. Put my WHOLE SAVINGS in there, all thirty or forty bucks of it.
Weeks pass. Months maybe. I feel good about my imaginary remote piggy bank eating and shitting more money for me. And with that little money shit pile growing… I was basically free to spend all the money I got. I had my nest egg started, and anything I made from here on in was cream. Literally, ice cream. For my face.
Mom gives me money for something and I stuff it into my wallet (short term storage) earmarked for toy purchases and or candy.
“Hey, do you remember your savings account.”
Hell yes I do, little money pig shitting money for me. He poops more pennies than he eats and it’s magic.
“I forgot to tell you that if you don’t put any more money into it for a while, they take it.”
Whoa hold up what the fuck did you just say.
“If you don’t add money to the account on a regular basis the account is “stale” and the bank can just take possession of it.”
What. Are. You. Talking. About. This can’t be happening. My money pig is getting stale. His penny shits are strangling him and I need to give him regular doses of fresh money now this is like a fucking responsibility, I have to keep this fucking thing alive now? It was living on MY MONEY to begin with. This can’t stand.
“Can I get all my money back out of it.”
“No, that’s silly just put some new money in and it’ll be fine for another while.”
“It depends that’s not important it’s just that you should just think about putting more money in there sometimes.”
“So they don’t take my money.”
“Mark it stale.”
“So they don’t mark my account stale.”
She made a face. I think she realized now that she had made some awful mistake but it is not in my parents nature to acknowledge such things.
I waited. I made a single small deposit at that time, five bucks or something. But then I saved everything else I made from then on in my piggy bank. Not in the front of the piggy bank where mom and dad can see it when they peek in there to look at how much money you have but folded up in a neat small square hidden in a little origami of paper, stuffed up in the back.
We were going to go to Kansas. For vacation, we were going to visit my Uncle and his family. They had a huge mall, something to put ours to shame. And they sold Capsela there and I was going to get one of the ones you put in the water and it floats. It is expensive but with my savings money, plus what I have hidden in the piggy bank back compartment (now a total of $88.38), I will be able to afford it, AND some passable presents for mom and dad. This is my opportunity.
In the weeks before the trip, I make my argument for withdrawl. And it is accepted. I remove $40 from my savings account, as you can only do such a thing in $20 increments, sadly abandoning the $11.25 that remained. I’m sorry that you will die of starvation money pig but I will be sailing my Capsela now and the ocean will be my home and I just can’t handle your neediness. Leaving only $77.13 for me to make my purchases. Mom’s perfume will be somewhat smaller this year I suppose. I unfold all my origami money. I array it together and see what it looks like to have such a fortune together at once.
I was so proud that I showed my friends. And told them about it at school. And word got round. And one day a new friend and his sister came home with me to play and look at my fortune and when he and his sister left I had two dollars and ten cents. His dad was a cop and my dad was scared of him so he pulled $20 out of his wallet and handed it to me like some kind of consolation price.
After that, I never talked to anybody about money if I could help it. I hid that $20 everywhere in the house over the next few weeks and never left it in the same place twice. When it was finally time to leave I was nearly in a panic because I couldn’t remember which place I’d hid it last. It had been so many places that it took me an hour to find it. When I did it was folded so tightly it was like a sugar cube.
Years later, my savings and checking accounts were still held in coffee cans, hidden deep under my headboard, with decoy savings jars with sacrificial amounts of money in them hidden in more obvious places. My parents never stole money from my cans, but neither did I ever want them to have a clear picture of how much money I had. I am crazy particular about bill facing, and had my own organizational method for keeping money in stacks assigned per expense. I’m sure it looked random when they saw it and that’s how they put it back. It only took one riffing of my stash to make me step up my security game.
Years after that, when I finally took the time to learn about how banks work in this country, at least from the consumer point of view. I felt foolish. I felt ashamed that I had been hoodwinked so long. But now, after more analysis I’m mad. Of course I believed her. She was my mom.