Your income comes from somewhere. For most of us, that means a paycheck — or did, back before retirement. For some, it will also include profits, dividends, rental income, or the like.
For now, let’s look at this from a perspective back before we had direct deposit. You know, a time when we had that precious slip of paper in our own hands — the one we’d endorse with a signature on the back.
Have you ever taken your paycheck in cash?
If you have children, taking your paycheck home this way can present an unforgettable lesson as they watch you divide the pile of greenbacks according to your family’s expenses; watch their reactions go from “Wow! We’re rich!” to a disappointed “That’s all that’s left?” They’ll soon see that money has limits.
By the way, would you feel comfortable having that much money in your hands?
The frequency is another assumption to consider.
How often are you paid — weekly, every two weeks, monthly, or every harvest? How does that timing affect your feelings about your money or its use?
Having been on all of them but the annual harvest, I want to hear more about your experiences. How would you feel, for example, having your current frequency changed to another? Do you do something to celebrate payday — like going out to dinner or a movie? If you’re a farmer or a commercial fisherman, I want to hear more about dealing with the uncertainty of an unpredictable source of income. Me? I’d be nervous.
Have you ever calculated your lifetime earnings to date? How long did it take you to earn the first half of that total?
This one was an eye-opener for me. Let’s just say the union membership made a huge difference.
By the way, wrestling with these queries within a discussion circle will probably have you amazed by the range of experiences voiced.
I remember hearing Depression-era memories of one father who brought his entire paycheck home each week and handed it over to his wife, who then gave him pocket change for the week. Or the Merchant Marine husband who would be placed ashore in places like Hoboken, New Jersey, at midnight — with six months’ pay, in cash, in his pocket. Or how being paid once a month can lead to a “welfare-cycle” feeling, a minor splurge before nursing the remainder along to the next payday. Being paid weekly has an entirely different rhythm. Farmers, of course, may have to stretch one year’s harvest payment clear into the next year’s autumn.
Which income rhythms have you experienced?
Which of your own childhood lessons in money are you now passing down to your children and grandchildren?