Saturday, May 16, 2009

Banking Life Lessons

Practically my whole adult life I spent working at the bank. I finally set myself free about eight years ago. After twenty years, these are some of the lessons I have learned. 

Life Lessons Learned at the Bank - Lessons #1, #12, and #32

# 1) I’ve learned that the definition of poor is relative.

I had two customers that had nothing, lived sparsely, clipped their Beef Carver coupons and ate there three times a week, taking the leftovers home providing meals for the rest of the week.  Both of the their coats were old, tattered and need of repair. Both women would bemoan their poverty. But one had an account with just about sixty dollars, so she could cash her monthly social security check of $69.  The other had accounts with over a quarter of a million dollars.

# 12) That never buying yourself anything is no way to live.

Many customers had money in their accounts but could never bring themselves to buy anything.  They were obsessed with their large account balances and how much it would grow or didn’t grow, checking it four times a week to make sure it didn’t somehow disappear.  These were children of the depression. They fretted constantly. They were unable to buy a new coat, a new refrigerator, or a new roof because it would take precious money away from their balance. They lived poorly because they were afraid of becoming poor. They sacrificed quality of life for a sense of security. Living in fear is no way to live.

# 32) Do what you can, now. Don’t wait.

This is a particularly sad lesson.  I’ve watched elderly couples whose love seemed as fresh as when they met. They talked about their future retirement as though they were waiting to begin their lives anew. The trips to Hawaii, getting the fifth wheel and seeing America, the cruises, staying more often at the cabin and how long they have waited to enjoy themselves and their retirement together.  With only four or five more years to go they start to dream and plan in earnest. They would share their aspirations. But their dreams never came true.  A spouse becomes ill with cancer or Alzheimer’s, or suddenly dies. They feel robbed.  I’ve heard the same advice from so many of them. With tears in their eyes, they said, “Don’t wait.  You think you have all the time in the world but waiting until retirement is a lie. They tell you to wait until you retire, the golden years, but it’s all a lie. Don’t wait for a specific time in your life to go do the things you’ve always wanted to do together. Do what you can together now.” 


Middle Aged Woman said...

I never wanted my tombstone to read, "All her credit cards were paid off."

Chris said...

I think lessons #1, #12, and #32 are worthwhile, and it's nice of you to share! :-)

Money has it's place and we all need some, but we often give it too much power.

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