What Matters / What is your Money Story?

What is your Money Story?
Laurie Adams

Laurie Adams


What is your Money Story?

I participated in an exploratory exercise recently to identify my Money Story. We were asked to sit quietly, use a small box of crayons and plain paper, and illustrate our personal relationship to money.


How did we feel about money, where does it exist in our sense of reality and possibility, or limitation? How does it impact our lives? At first, I wasn’t at all sure how to deal with the assignment. Even as a financial advisor I had not thought about money at my own very personal level. Well, thinking cap on and virtual crayon in hand…

The first memory that came to mind was my kindergarten birthday in Arlington, Virginia. My heart was full as I saw the bike my father took out of the car and put on the street for me to learn to ride. It was sturdy, blue, and just my size - a bit smaller than this one, and with training wheels to start, but of similar character. I learned balance, autonomy and freedom from this.

And with this gift, I saw my parents’ frugality and good money judgement. We were given thrift shop items throughout our childhood. That is how we four kids learned to bicycle, ski, camp, and more. “Waste not, want not” was a familiar phrase. Reuse, recycle, and renew. Those values stuck and have stayed with me throughout my life.

When I was in 6th grade and had opened and built a savings account from babysitting and picking strawberries, I bought my next important set of wheels, this time a new blue Schwinn 10-speed. For years, I rode it all over Whidbey Island, visiting friends, exploring the island, feeling the wind in my hair, the exhilaration of exercise, and the freedom and adventure of independence. I’d bought that independence with my own hard-earned money, and I can still recall the transaction at the bike shop, handing over the $67 dollars to the cute guy at the cash register.

A few years later I paid $275 for a sewing machine with fancy accessories, upgrading from an ancient Singer. I love the experience of creativity, envisioning and bringing things to reality with my own hands and my own money. Hours and hours with that sewing machine led to me spending a year after college at FIT in New York, living a very creative chapter in a city filled with inspiring energies, then stepping into my career in international business. Again, bringing along freedom, nourishing adventure, and independence.

That is all history - Now, decades on after the babysitting gigs, and with a much larger savings account, I still love the freedom to do what I want with my life. Recently I took a very close look at my investments and spending, and I realized that a lifetime of frugal freedom and savings had built a solid foundation. By looking closely, I saw that I have ‘enough’ and can now afford to give more and spend more.

Money has bought me freedom, nourished adventure, creativity, and independence. I have a new budget item called ‘Giving’ and it gives me as much joy as these three stories; a new freedom to share and nurture others in a bigger and more intentional way. It feels like a significant new life chapter and I’m excited about all of it.

My Take – This may be a Kondo exercise. If you look back on the life experiences that brought you the most joy and pride, what were they? How did you choose them, or they you? How did money play into those most memorable experiences? For me, exchanging my time and talent for cash has returned freedom, adventure, creativity, and independence. What about you? What about your story do you want to alter, add to, or remove?



[email protected]

(201) 881-1529


Join Our Email List


104 Summit Ave., Summit, NJ 07901

Journey Logo

Privacy Policy & DisclosureForm ADVForm ADV 2BForm CRS