"I earn more money than you, little boy, that's how," I tell the envious little sprog when he expresses a whining jealousy over the lovely home theatre I've created in my home. They come over with their parents or friends, see our setup, and wish they had one. More often than not (depending on their breeding and manners), they whine to their parents about why they don't have a similar setup at home.
I tell them the same thing time and again: do your homework, stay in school so you can get a good job later. Then, when you've earned lots of money at that good job, you can afford toys like this.
Some day, some of them will. And they'll be able to watch Star Wars VIII in Surround Sound.
But some of them won't. And when that happens, and they fail to keep up with the Joneses, they have only themselves to blame. I told them what they had to do, but they didn't listen.
I wish every kid could hear and heed such advice.
When I was but a kit, my poppa bunny told me, nay, expected me, to go on to university and get a degree. While I didn't like homework, and my grades suffered slightly for it, I was nevertheless a smart little bunny, and was able to get into a good school. At my tender young age, I didn't really understand the importance of school. But I knew my poppa bunny knew what he was talking about. I heeded his advice, and stayed in school.
Poverty and higher education go hand in hand. I dislike poverty greatly. But once I had some education under my belt, doors began to open. To support myself through grad school, I was able to get a decent part-time job, where, due to my previous education, I was paid more than I otherwise would have earned.
Nice! So much for poverty... I deferred paying off my student loans until after I moved to Australia, and was able to get a full-time job.
Man, the money just poured in. When I once considered myself fortunate to have more than forty dollars in the bank, I was suddenly staring at five figures. Where did all that come from?
In all wisdom, I should have invested it, but for that first year, I didn't. For the first time in my life, I had scads of money!
As I was still in the poverty state of mind, with debts scratching at the door, the windows, and behind the walls, I did the smart thing and paid off my student debts. In one blow, even. And they never came back.
A few months later, I was back up to scads of money. So what did I do?
I spent it. I bought a house, a car, and paint for the walls.
(Oh, and I did invest a little of it.)
The more I worked, the more the money kept rolling in. Spend some, save some, invest some, not necessarily in that order.
I was young. I was educated and I had a few years' job experience. No wonder people wish for a million bucks or rob banks. Money is a nice thing to have...
Well, money itself is pretty nasty, despite the pretty colours, but the lack of money hurts. Never again, would I have to scrimp and save and secretly raid friends couches for change just so I could buy something other than ramen noodles or macaroni and cheese. Never again, would I have to dread opening the mail box or answer the phone, in case there was a bill or a call from a creditor. Never again would I avoid shopping malls because they were depressing reminders of my financial state.
Having been relatively debt-free for a few years now, I hardly ever think about money. But I do remember poverty, and how heavy it was. I don't think I ever will. Even as I sit in my lovely home theatre, watching the latest movie to come out on DVD, a tiny little corner of me remembers that poverty pinch, and I am thankful I listened to someone all those years ago tell me, "do your homework, stay in school so you can get a good job later.
Then, when you've earned lots of money at that good job, you can some day afford the toys we can't have now."
I just hope someone listens to me.
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