Summary: It’s Kinda Silly.
The above image and the story behind it have haunted me since 7th grade, when I first saw it in my World History textbook. It was the moment I stopped thinking about Germany as being populated entirely by Nazi hellions, and started to seriously consider the people who are just trying to live their lives in the middle of what often becomes a warzone.
When I was 11, money was tight. My family lived simply. Oh, I got a $20 allowance, if I did all my chores to spec; but 10% came right off the top to tithe, and the remaining $18 was split in half. Nine dollars went into a savings account I wouldn’t have access to until I turned 18. The other nine was mine to keep — whether to save up for something, or spend at lunch, or the perennial, “To buy a present if you get invited to a birthday party”.
This was the extent of my money management education, and it’s not really the fault of anyone in particular. My folks ran a household on a budget so tight that this meager exercise in budgeting, which I had exactly no say in, was a lavish expense meant to set me up for success. Meanwhile, any meaningful economics or life skills classes had been stripped from the local school curriculum.
To summarize, my knowledge of how money works is as limited as you could expect from a qualifying “millenial”. It was a nebulous concept in middle school, and continues to make my head hurt if I think too hard about it. I start getting all abstract, like:
And that’s been my general sentiment about money for the last few years: irritating, but necessary. Money just keeps getting more and more virtual, though, which…