Friday, October 13, 2023

Money & Me: School uniforms and Red lipstick (4/12)

My high school, "Malchika", was in the city of Plovdiv, the second largest city in Bulgaria. It was five miles away from my parents’ town. It was strategically located two blocks away from the main pedestrian-only shopping mall. During school recess, we would lose track of time checking the fashion trends in the apparel stores. At that time, high schools required uniforms. Every high school girl across the country wore the same boring dark blue cotton apron with an oval white collar, and two pockets, tight with a belt. You could wear whatever you want underneath it as long as it is neatly covered by the apron. 

Identity was only to be found in personality, not in appearance.

One December, a traveling carnival set the stage on the vacant parking lot by my school. Oddly, the shooting stall also sold lipsticks and nail polish. Committed to standing out in school despite my dull uniform, and because my personality was not quite colorful yet, I decided to buy lipstick. I skipped buying lunch for two weeks in order to afford the coveted beauty product. And even though I only could enjoy wearing it in recess, when school rules didn’t matter, or on a secret date with a boy after school, I was giddy to liven up my dark blue uniform with fire engine red lipstick. 

Most rewardingly, I had learned that if I wanted something I could make it happen, with enough financial discipline and sacrifice.

Money & Me: Found at home ( 3/12)

Photo Credit Drazen_

Do you remember the first time your parents sat you down and talked to you about money? 

For me, that was one summer, halfway through middle school. 

The three months of summer vacation were filled with summer camp, helping in the garden, playing with friends, reading books, and from time to time, I liked exploring the world of my parents, a.k.a their bedroom. Putting on my Mom’s jewelry and browsing through the photo albums kept on one of the nightstands. That’s when I found a shoe box with some documents, receipts, and a few notes and coins. I started helping myself to a few coins from time to time. 

It didn’t go unnoticed that I was buying snacks costing more than my daily allowance. One day Mom asked me about it and I explained how I had found money in the house. What I learned that day, luckily in my Mom’s calm voice, was that money found at home is not lost nor found, but that it belongs to us. That is the money we live off, what puts food on the table and pays the bills. They are earned by working. They are not mine to spend if I am not given this money. 

She also explained the concept of saving money, which for some reason intrigued me. I started saving coins in an orange beaded purse. It was almost full when I lost it. I am sure there was no more than a couple of dollars in it, but it was my first savings, my treasure. I never took it out of the house, so it was not really lost, just misplaced, but I also never found it. To this day I think my sister must have found it, and maybe, just maybe, she hasn’t heard Mom’s lesson about money found at home, yet.